America's 50 Best Donuts

America's 50 Best Donuts map
America's 50 Best DonutsJosée Bisaillo/Morgan Gaynin

America's great donuts are fragile and heavyweight, old-fashioned and artisanal. Aside from the fact that a warm one is taste-buds heaven, we're always on the lookout for donuts because the search leads to the kind of joints we love best, where eaters of every stripe enjoy a pastry so unfussy that it flouts utensils and rarely even comes on a plate. A good donut in hand with a steaming cup of coffee is democracy for breakfast. Here are 50 of our favorites. —Jane and Michael Stern

California donut shop

California

Doughnut Hut [Pictured] Orange glaze holds bits of zest, making this spot's eggy Frenchie (aka cruller) downright aristocratic.
2025 West Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank; 818/840-8718 Earl's Donuts The devil's food old-fashioned from this unlikely strip-mall source is gnarled and knobby, all the better to hold the spill of frosting.
20429 Devonshire Street, Chatsworth; 818/341-2869 Marie's Donuts This minimalist cinderblock shop offers substantial cinnamon "butterflies," whose wingspan provides maximum donut surface.
2950 Freeport Boulevard, Sacramento; 916/444-5245 Stan's Doughnuts You don't have to be Elvis to love the peanut butter and banana donut topped with chocolate chips sold at this cute little corner store.
10948 Weyburn Avenue, Westwood Village; 310/208-8660 or stansdoughnuts.com
Barb Ries
Bouchon Bakery donuts

California

Bouchon Bakery Brioche donuts are a weekend-only delicacy at Thomas Keller's wine country boulangerie.
6528 Washington Street, Yountville; 707/944-22531 or bouchonbakery.com Bob's Donut & Pastry Shop The right place for cake dunkers and glazed featherweights under fluorescent lights 24/7.
1621 Polk Street, San Francisco; 415/776-3141 Donut Man You almost want a knife and fork to attack summertime's fruit-loaded fresh peach donut at this always-open coffee shop.
915 E. Route 66, Glendora; 626/335-9111 or thedonutmanca.com Dynamo Donuts Sidewalk noshers line up at this 21st-century fry shack, helmed by a trained pastry chef, for the organic whole-breakfast donut topped with bacon, apples, and maple glaze.
2760 24th Street, San Francisco; 415/920-1978 or dynamodonut.com
Courtesy Bouchon Bakery
Connecticut donut shops

Connecticut

Dottie's Diner Deeply tanned cake donuts, made from a decades-old recipe at this country-road diner, are topped with cinnamon sugar or chocolate frosting.
740 Main Street South, Woodbury; 203/263-2545 or dottiesdiner.com Neil's Donuts and Bake Shop [Pictured] The raspberry jelly donut is a tsunami of sweetness enrobed in a fragile sugar glaze. No seats here. Fans just stand and eat.
83 N. Turnpike Road, Wallingford; 203/269-4255 or neilsdonuts.com Orangeside Luncheonette At this family diner, the winner among the distinctive square-shaped donuts is the almond-spiked buttercrunch.
135 Orange Street, New Haven; 203/773-1000
Landon Nordeman
Fractured Prune donut shop

Maryland

Fractured Prune "You create 'em, we make 'em" is the motto of this high-concept design-it-yourself bakery. Successful combos include the mocha-Oreo "morning buzz."
2808 Philadelphia Avenue, Ocean City; 410/289-1134 or fracturedprunenj.com
Courtesy Fractured Prune
Southern donut shops

Georgia

Sublime Doughnuts The berries are big and fresh in the strawberry 'n' cream donut at this cheeky bakery whose motto is "Eat One That's Worth It."
535 10th Street Northwest, Atlanta; 404/897-1801 or sublimedoughnuts.com Missouri Donut Stop It may look like a gas station, but regulars know this St. Louis standby for its holeless "cinnamon globs," which deliver butter and spice richness in a generous coat of sugar.
1101 Lemay Ferry Road, St. Louis; 314/631-3333 or thedonutstopinc.net
Courtesy Sublime Doughnuts
Chicago donut shops

Illinois

The Doughnut Vault [Pictured] In this new-wave donut nook, Chicagoans wait patiently for their mini spiced donuts and full-size chocolate-almond beauties before inventory runs out (usually by noon).
400-1/2 North Franklin Street, Chicago; thedoughnutvault.tumblr.com Old Fashioned Donuts Though this shop discourages loiterers, it's still a must-visit for the mighty fritter, crusted with apple nuggets in cinnamon goo.
11248 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago; 773/995-7420 Dat Donut The gargantuan glazed Big Dat at this Southside staple is fine and fluffy, while the Boston cream heaves with vanilla pudding.
8249 S. Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago; 773/723-1002
Ariana Lindquist
Louisana donuts shops

Louisiana

Morning Call Coffee Stand [Pictured] Since 1870 this 24-hour institution has been serving airy beignets hot from the fryer with high-octane cafe au lait.
3325 Severn Avenue, Metairie; 504/885-4068 or morningcallcoffeestand.com Cafe du Monde Hot nuggets of fried dough called beignets, served three to an order and smothered with powdered sugar, are an unforgettable New Orleans experience.
813 Decatur Street, New Orleans; 504/587-0831 or cafedumonde.com Meche's Donut King Known for regional specialties such as king's cake, this bakery excels at Cajun-country beignets, yeast-risen triangles rolled in cinnamon sugar.
125 Courthouse Street, Breaux Bridge; 337/332-3577
Todd Coleman
Kane's Donuts

Massachusetts

Kane's Donuts Standouts at this homey, sun-filled spot include caramel frosted with buttercrunch and cartoonishly large coffee rolls.
120 Lincoln Avenue, Saugus; 781/233-8499 or kanesdonuts.com Betty Ann Food Shop Lemon curd-filled donuts set the bar at this salty joint with famously brusque service.
565 Bennington Street, East Boston; 617/567-1479 Donut Dip Grab a seat at the horseshoe counter to enjoy donuts that are studies in texture, such as crisp-skinned sour cream sinkers and ultralight crullers.
648 N. Main Street, East Longmeadow; 413/736-2224 Marty's Donut Land The creme-filled Long Johns are outstanding at this vintage breakfast counter.
8 Central Street, Ipswich; 978/356-4580
Courtesy Kane's Donuts
Texas donut shops

Texas

Gourdough's [Pictured] Donuts are fried to order at this shop inside a converted Airstream. Best donut: grilled banana with cream cheese icing.
1503 S. First Street, Austin; 512/707-1050 or gourdoughs.com Round Rock Donuts Sunny orange-glazed raised donuts, light enough that four to six are a reasonable breakfast, have made this a place for a donut lover's pilgrimage.
106 W. Liberty Street, Round Rock; 512/255-3629 or roundrockdonuts.com
Ryann Ford
Sweetwater's Donut Mill

Michigan

Cops & Doughnuts The pastry to eat at this police-owned shop is the triple chocolate: smooth chocolate custard, chocolate frosting, and chocolate chips.
521 N. McEwan Street, Clare; 989/386-2241 or copsdoughnuts.com Friske Orchards The main business here is apples and cider, but cherry donuts made with local fruit are sweet-tart marvels.
10743 N. U.S. 31, Atwood; 231/599-2604 or friske.com Sweetwater's Donut Mill This 24-hour drive-through wonder sells the fluffiest crullers and craveable chocolate clouds: chocolate-glazed raised donuts filled with creme.
Multiple locations; sweetwatersdonuts.com Ohio Bill's Donut Shop This low-slung, swivel-stooled favorite makes a twisted and glazed pretzel donut that packs maximum cake satisfaction.
268 N. Main Street, Centerville; 937/433-0002 or billsdonutshop.com
Courtesy Sweetwater's Donut Mill
Bloedow Bakery

Minnesota

Bloedow Bakery At the place everyone goes after church on Sunday, the hefty yet fine-textured cake donuts and Long Johns are well nigh perfect.
451 Sixth Street, Winona; 507/452-3682 Lindstrom Bakery The moist and eggy Scandinavian donuts--plain, glazed, chocolate-drizzled, or cinnamon--are coffee's best friend at this humble wood-paneled bakery.
12830 Lake Boulevard, Lindstrom; 651/257-1374
Courtesy Bloedow Bakery
Doughnut Plant NYC

New York

Doughnut Plant [Pictured] Mark Isreal's luxe organic donuts include outside-the-box flavors such as the panettone cake donut--a seasonal creation studded with golden raisins, candied citrus zest, and pine nuts, inspired by the Italian sweet bread.
379 Grand Street, New York City; 212/505-3700 or doughnutplant.com Cupcake Cafe Ornate cupcakes get top billing at this midtown legend, but the whole wheat orange donuts are among New York's best.
545 Ninth Avenue, New York City; 212/465-1530 or cupcakecafe-nyc.com Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop The summer special at this old-school lunch counter is vanilla ice cream sandwiched between a halved red velvet donut.
_ 727 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn; 718/389-3676 or peterpan-donuts.com_
Todd Coleman
Frosty's Donuts

Maine

Frosty's Donuts Come early! Toasted coconut and other favorites at this quaint barnyard-red bakery often sell out before 9 a.m.
_ 54 Maine Street, Brunswick; 207/729-4258 or frostysdonuts.com_ Congdon's Doughnuts In a state better known for muffins, locals gather here to chat and enjoy textbook-perfect honey-dipped donuts that have earned legions of devotees.
_ 1090 Post Road, Wells; 207/646-4219 or congdons.com_
Josi Omdal for Frosty's Donuts
Voodoo Doughnuts

Oregon

Voodoo Doughnuts The pride of this over-the-top goth bakery is the maple-glazed Long John ribboned with bacon strips.
22 SW Third Avenue, Portland; 503/241-4704 or voodoodoughnut.com Annie's Donut Shop The old-fashioned sinkers are a duet of crispness and softness with a fluffy center at this pre-Portlandia relic.
3449 NE 72nd Avenue, Portland; 503/284-2752
Courtesy Voodoo Doughnuts
Federal Donuts

Pennsylvania

Federal Donuts The donuts at this ambitious newcomer include the Appollonia, served hot and rolled in cocoa and orange blossom powder. The other specialty? Fried chicken.
Multiple locations; federaldonuts.com
Helen Rosner
Mrs. Murphy's Donuts

Vermont

Mrs. Murphy's Donuts At the busy counter, dedicated dunkers immerse cake donuts in cups of joe. Best of the bunch are the sour cream.
374 Depot Street, Manchester Center; 802/362-1874 P & H Truck Stop Truckers and tourists visit this roadside stop for barely sweet plain donuts that are as substantial as pound cake.
2886 U.S. 302, Newbury; 802/429-2141
Courtesy Mrs. Murphy's Donuts
Kentucky donut shop

Kentucky

Nord's Bakery At this homespun bakery, the generous cream puffs don't skimp on the filling.
2118 S. Preston Street, Louisville; 502/634-0931 or nordsbakery.biz North Carolina Britt's Donuts Fragile-skinned, tender glazed donuts are all this shop makes. A seasonal spot right on the boardwalk, it's open May to September.
11 N. Carolina Beach Avenue, Carolina Beach; carolinabeach.net/britts1 Virginia Do-Nut Dinette [Pictured] By noon the ethereal glazed donuts at this diminutive diner are gone, and the place reverts to a good old greasy spoon.
1917 Colley Avenue, Norfolk; 757/625-0061
Flickr - By Fuzzy Gerdes
Allie's Donuts

Rhode Island

Allie's Donuts Crunch-crusted raspberry jelly sticks star at this take-out-only destination.
3661 Quaker Lane, North Kingstown; 401-295-8036
Courtesy Allie's Donuts
Le Cave's donuts

Arizona

Le Cave's This specialty donut shop has been making fritters since 1935. Though they're vegan and gluten free, the lemon-filled Bismarcks are still pure indulgence.
1219 S. Sixth Avenue, Tucson; 520/624-2561 Vantastic Donuts & Bagels Iced buttermilk bars from this hole-in-the-wall diner have a tang that makes their sweetness glow.
4729 West Olive Avenue, Glendale; 623/435-2024
Courtesy Le Cave's
Ronald's Donuts

Nevada

Ronald's Donuts Far from the action, Ronald's makes vegan apple fritters that are moist and loaded with fruit.
4600 W. Spring Mountain Road, Las Vegas; 702/873-1032
Erin Weldon
Top Pot Doughnuts

Washington

Top Pot Doughnuts The flagship store has the ambiance of a rare book library, and its donuts have a wickedly crunchy surface and an interior as moist as warm cake.
2124 Fifth Avenue, Seattle; 206/728-1966 or toppotdoughnuts.com
Chelsea Pomales