Best Donuts in New York City
New York City may be nicknamed the Big Apple, but there’s another circular treat that New York is even better known for — donuts! America’s favorite dessert has made a home all over the country, but it is in New York where donuts hold the richest history. From the first mention of the word doughnut, then dropping the “ugh”, to the first donut machine, to the birth of the most famous donut of all the Cronut®, there’s no denying it, New Yorkers are nuts for donuts.
But it’s the diversity that makes NYC a premier donut destination. It’s a place where you can experience century old recipes and unimaginable new flavors and designs; where a carwash and a donut robot make beautiful donut babies, and a “taste of home” greets you around every corner even if home is thousands of miles away. Here are the best places in New York City to go for fried dough.
Those who visit this little shop should come with a big appetite and an adventurous palate. The specialty here is oversize donuts that are crisp, fluffy and uniquely flavored. Dulce de leche, hibiscus, orange glaze, and lemon poppy seed are among the fan favourites and can be credited for converting many donut doubters, too. Part of Dough’s charm is the classic craftsmanship put into each donut. All the cutting, frying, and dipping is done by hand, and the donuts are baked in small batches, guaranteeing that they’re always fresh.
2. Doughnut Plant
A basement of a Lower East Side tenement building is where this donut shop began—a humble bakery where owner Mark Isreal made and sold donuts (using his grandfather’s recipe) on a bicycle to local coffee shops. At the same time, he began perfecting his own techniques of making donuts using fresh fruit and nutty glazes that inspired delicious donut flavor combinations like Matcha Green Tea, Rose Petal and Peanut Butter and Blackberry Jam. Some would say this was the start of the city’s gourmet donut movement. Now, more than two decades later, Doughnut Plant is a New York City staple, sprouted in four locations across the city and even in Tokyo. Signature donuts include Tres Leches and Blackout filled cake doughnuts, the jelly-filled square donut, as well as the world’s original crème brûlée doughnut.
3. The Doughnut Project
A quick read of this donut shop’s menu is enough to get anyone in the door, with intriguing item names that include Those Beetz are Dope (sweet beet glaze and ricotta cheese), Constanza (a salted chocolate glaze with buttered pretzel, ritz, & potato chip crumble), and the Everything Donut (light cream cheese glaze, roasted poppy seeds, black and white sesame seeds, pepitas, and a hint of garlic and sea salt), It’s unique flavour combinations like these that keep people coming back time and time again. And the names are fun to say, too!
4. Dun-Well Doughnuts
Many ideas are born out of necessity and some are created from just being hungry. This all-vegan donut shop was built on both. The initial inspiration came after Christopher Hollowell (the “Well” in Dun-Well) watched a donut-themed episode of the Simpsons. He shared the idea with his buddy Dan Dunbar (The “Dun” in Dun-Well) and the quest was on; not only to create a killer donut shop, but to create the best vegan donut shop in the world! With old-fashioned charm and a hipster vibe, NYC’s first all-vegan donut shop was born. There are over 200 different flavors in their menu rotation, including french toast, peach cobbler, chai tea, and root beer. The donuts aren’t just for the activists and diet-restricted either, even non-vegans are known to enjoy these animal-conscious confections from time to time.
5. Underwest Donuts
While donuts and car washes sound like an unlikely pair, Scott Levine seems to have nailed the concept with his boutique donut shop that’s nestled inside the 24-hour Westside Highway Car Wash. The decor may not be fancy, but their donut-dispensing robot is definitely impressive, and their array of flavors such as brown butter, maple waffle and a vanilla-lavender combo appropriately named “Carwash”, make this quirky donut spot a must-try. Bonus: you can trade-in that new car smell for the aroma of freshly baked donuts, instead.
6. Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop
When a donut shop gets a celebrity endorsement like this: “If I had a penis, I would put it in this doughnut,” (Tina Fey telling Esquire about her white-cream-filled powdered donut experience) you know they’re on to something. This classic pastry shop is another New York gem whose tales are old as time. A place where there’s no shortage of the usual suspects like crullers and jelly donuts done to perfection. If a donut can make you rethink your sexual orientation (as Fey so eloquently put it), you’re sure to become one of Peter Pan’s glutton groupies too.
7. Orwasher's Bakery
This beloved bakery on the Upper East Side has been feeding hungry New Yorkers for over a century. Its rise to fame started with its handmade breads, then a few years ago they decided to expand their offerings and take a stab at donuts, literally. Orwasher’s filled-to-order donuts (plain white sugar or chocolate-iced) are injected with a “jam-gun” and pumped full of delicious, farm-fresh jams right in front of you. The rotating selection of flavors, including strawberry, sour cherry, red and black raspberry and blueberry are sourced locally and are, hands down, the best jelly-filled variety in the city.
Bigger doesn’t always mean better, but the proof is in the powdered sugar, so to speak. One bite of a mini cake donut from this small booth in the Chelsea Market and you’re hooked. The mini treats are made fresh right before your eyes in a donut machine, then they’re shaken in a specialty sugar mixture of your choosing. Some must-try flavors include Urban Monkey (coffee, banana, and coconut), Paris Time (lavender, pistachio, and vanilla) and Cacaoboy (cacao nibs, chocolate cookies, and mesquite). Kick your sugar rush into overdrive by ordering a side of one of their own DoughDips dipping sauces.
9. The Donut Pub
When your stomach rumbles for a melt-in-your-mouth glazed donut in the wee hours of the night, a trip to this 24-hour retro shop on 14th street is sure to satisfy your tastebuds. Still rocking the 60s decor with the neon signs, shiny metal bar stools, and marble countertops, it’s one of the oldest donut shops in New York City with over 50 years of decadent history. It’s a place where honey-dips and chocolate glaze rule and the frilly fritters take a back seat. Starting at $1.50 a pop, you can experience a traditional-style donut in all its glory and an authentic New York donut dining experience, to boot.
10. Mike's Donuts
The name is simple; as are the donuts and prices of this family-run shop in Brooklyn. But what this long-serving establishment lacks in fandangle it more than makes up for with its scrumptious donut recipes. Traditional favs from jelly and cream, to marble cruller, Boston cream and more are served fresh daily at unbelievably low prices (a dozen donuts for only $4.50!), When both your wallet and stomach are empty, who you gonna call? Ya, that’s right, they deliver, too!
11. Sullivan Street
This bakery located in Hell’s Kitchen is known for their amazing bread, so it’s no surprise that their Bombolini tastes more like a light sweet bread than a donut. This signature Italian donut contains vanilla and lemon zest and comes filled with vanilla bean custard, chocolate cream, or fruit jam. It’s the perfect morning treat with just the right amount of sweet. Now you can feel a little less guilty about having a donut for breakfast.
Since 1961, this iconic bakeshop in Bay Ridge has been serving Scandinavian sweets and some of New Yorker’s favorite desserts. Their take on the peanut butter and jelly donut is a popular choice; fluffy, soft, smothered in a sweet peanut butter glaze, and stuffed with blackberry jam. It’s the perfect afternoon snack that tastes just like the PB&J sandwiches mom use to make; only better, because it’s covered in sugar, and well, it’s a donut! Sorry, mom.
1. DoughBrooklyn, NY 11216
2. Doughnut PlantNew York, NY 10002
3. The Doughnut ProjectNew York, NY 10014
4. Dun-Well DoughnutsBrooklyn, NY 11206
5. Underwest DonutsNew York, NY 10036
6. Peter Pan Donut & Pastry ShopBrooklyn, NY 11222
7. Orwasher's BakeryNew York, NY 10075
8. DoughnutteryNew York, NY 10011
9. The Donut PubNew York, NY 10011
10. Mike's DonutsBrooklyn, NY 11220
11. Sullivan StreetNew York, NY 10036
12. Leske'sBrooklyn, NY 11209