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The best donuts in Boston

The ubiquitous Dunkin’ may have its roots in Quincy, but Boston’s new wave of donuts are a sweet alternative to national chains

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

There is only one proper way to break your gluten-free, diet-determined resolve: donuts-and lots of them. Sin in style at one of these superior donut shops, spanning the latest cult bakeries, pop-ups and under-the-radar mom-and-pops. The antithesis of mass production, the treats are lovingly made from the South End to Somerville. And unusual flavor combinations mean they’re not just for breakfast (or brunch) any more…

Best donuts in Boston

Blackbird Doughnuts

Critics' pick

From the folks behind The Gallows, the newest donut spot on the block has already won legions of loyalists thanks to its new-wave flavors. The South End shop is currently churning out 5,000 donuts a day, from sesame sriracha to salted toffee to blackberry lavender, which have inspired local Instagrammers. Look for a donut food truck this spring and expanded evening hours in a few months, when the bakery will begin serving soft serve ice cream and (dear God) donut sundaes.

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The South End

Union Square Donuts

Critics' pick

Just follow the crowds and the aroma of fried dough. The uber-popular bakery has made waves from day one, turning out inimitable flavors like maple bacon, berry pistachio and sea salt bourbon caramel. With its new and larger space, Union Square Donuts now serves even more quick-to-sell-out options, including donut holes and vegan versions. 

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Union Square

Kane's Donuts

Critics' pick

Who would have thought the region’s best donuts would be found in a nondescript North Shore storefront? For 60 years, the nationally renowned Kane’s (Bon Appetit is a fan) has churned out a rotating menu of some 40 daily flavors, from crème brûlée and lemon chiffon to eggnog. The 3:30am opening time means you need to get there as early as possible, but stay tuned for the still-pending opening of a second outlet in downtown Boston, which might single-handedly tip the neighborhood.

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Boston Metro

Clear Flour Bread Bakery

On the Brighton-Brookline border sits a European-style boulangerie (owned by husband-and-wife team Christy Timon and Abram Faber) that turns out one of the most unusual donuts in the city: a currant donut that’s baked not fried. Based on a rare Swiss recipe, the donut received the ultimate accolade from Food & Wine, which named it one of the best in the country.

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Brookline

Flour Bakery & Café

Critics' pick

Martha Stewart blew the secret back in 2011: On Sundays, our city’s most celebrated bakery turns out a vanilla cream donut that’s more than worth an early-morning rise. Joanne Chang received her training from a French pastry chef, which explains why these textured babies are so unrepentantly decadent. (There’s a jelly version, too.)

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Anna's Hand Cut Donuts

How can you tell this place is a relic? “Do-nut” is hyphenated in the sign.  Oh, and it’s cash only and closes every day at 1pm. But what’s old is still delicious, which is why regional residents trek over to West Roxbury for their do-nut fix. Where Dunkin’s Donuts are dense and chewy, Anna’s are light and fluffy; coconut and honey dip are two of the musts, as well as a jelly stick that might take two visits to consume.

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West Roxbury

Ohlin's Bakery

Extended lines and no seating be damned: This is a weekend must. The creamy chocolate and honey-dipped donuts are standard faves, but it might be the so-rich maple donut—drizzled with chocolate—that cements patron loyalty. Even the plain version surprises with its fluffiness and flavor.

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Boston Metro

Stacked Donuts

Stephanie Cmar, formerly of Top Chef and No. 9 Park, began popping up around town last spring with a series of donut installations that caused a veritable frenzy—we’re talking 500 donuts gone in under an hour, thanks to flavors like blood orange and Bavarian cream. Cmar has since teamed up with Trademark Tarts, which means her donut pop-ups are also pop-tart pop-ups. Which means they are doubly mandatory.

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Boston

Verna's Coffee and Donut Shop

The mom-and-pop stalwart cooks its heavy, dunk-worthy donuts fresh every morning, with favorites like apple cider, chocolate honey-dipped and butter crunch often disappearing well before 10am. One workaround? You can call ahead with your order. Another? They deliver. You’re welcome. 

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Cambridge

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