Cronuts kind of came and went, didn’t they? I mean, just shaping a croissant like a donut and putting glaze on it may not have been quite as revolutionary as it was cracked up to be.

However, it was one of the only big donut trends that focused on the actual dough. As a result, many high-quality shops are now experimenting with dough composition. Whether it’s a substitution for dietary reasons or just playing with the make up of dough using local ingredients, there is an increasing number of donut dough varieties today.

Holy Donut in Portland, Maine, is one of the top donut shops in the country, with recognition from the likes of Fodor’s Travel Guides, Elle Magazine, and CNN. In addition to a few awesome flavors like pomegranate and coffee liqueur, Holy Donut’s primary claim to fame is their moist, springy, chewy-but-light dough and their not-so-secret ingredient mashed potatoes.


Photo from 1952 issue of “Mechanix Illustrated.”

Potatoes are a serious Maine thing, and owner Leigh Kellis states on the shop’s website that they were the only thing that gave her the texture she was looking for. Using mashed potatoes or potato flour in donuts is nothing new—it goes back to a (likely) German origin in the 19th century. In the 1950s there was even a popular national chain called Spudnuts (here’s the sad story of its rise and fall). But, after the fall of Spudnuts in the ‘70s, no one was really experimenting with donut dough; that is until the donut resurgence of the aughts got a whole slew of innovative shops like Holy Donut. Such shops included Tasty n Sons in America’s other Portland, Carlson’s Donuts in Maryland, and Red’s Dogs and Donuts in Colorado.

Such experimentation goes way beyond just potatoes. Other traditional dough variations like apple cider and sour cream are being re-popularized and classed up by places like Union Square Donuts in Boston and The Heavenly Donut Co. in Alabama. But regional dough variations can go beyond the traditional, with things like Whoo Donuts of New Mexico making a blue corn donut, and the popular Japanese donut chain Mr. Donut’s signature donut, the Pon De Ring, which uses some combination of rice and tapioca flour for a chewy, mochi-like texture.

When it comes down to it, almost any kind of dough will taste delicious when you fry it and put some sugar or glaze on top, which leaves a lot of room to experiment—either for flavor, like the folks above, or to accommodate allergies and special diets.