Chicago doughnuts taste test: We try (almost) every doughnut

Now that we have a wealth of doughnut shops, the time has come to taste test which doughnuts in Chicago are worth your...dough.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Buttermilk cake doughnut from Dat Donut
Tasting notes: This one left a bad, shortening-like taste in our mouths, and several tasters noted "off" flavors.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Chocolate doughnut from Dat Donut
Tasting notes: Nice crunch, but dry.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Chocolate raised doughnut from Dat Donut

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Toasted-coconut doughnut from Dat Donut
Tasting notes: Faint coconut flavor from flakes sprinkled on the frosting.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Pineapple glazed doughnut from Dat Donut
Tasting notes: Are you sure this is pineapple? (No.)

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Sprinkles doughnut from Dat Donut

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Strawberry glazed doughnut from Dat Donut
Tasting notes: Though basically identical to the Old Fashioned Donuts version, this strawberry-glazed was a touch lighter.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Strawberry filled doughnut from Dat Donut
Tasting notes: Eep. Under-fried and doughy.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Strawberry sugar doughnut from Dat Donut
Tasting notes: Though no one was wild about the synthetic strawberry flavor, this one was slightly superior to its nearly identical competitor, the strawberry-filled sugar-dusted doughnut from Old Fashioned Donuts.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

CRITICS' PICK: Glazed doughnut from Dat Donut
Tasting notes: Flawless. An exemplar of the form. Yeast flavors shine through. Superlight. Like God.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Chocolate Chocolate Old Fashioned doughnut from Do-Rite Donuts
Tasting notes: Heavy on the frosting, this was like eating a doughnut-shaped cake.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

CRITICS' PICK: Chocolate Old Fashioned doughnut from Do-Rite Donuts
Tasting notes: Incredible crunch, just enough chocolate, pure satifsaction.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Fruit Fritter from Do-Rite Donuts
Tasting notes: Love the halved fresh strawberries.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Candied maple bacon doughnut from Do-Rite Donuts
Tasting notes: Not only are all bacon doughnuts wrong, but even sans bacon, this doughnut is overly soft.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

CRITICS' PICK:Pistachio passion fruit doughnut from Glazed & Infused
Tasting notes: The tart passion-fruit flavor was a delightful reprieve from a sea of sweet doughnuts.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Pistachio Meyer lemon doughnut from Do-Rite Donuts
Tasting notes: The crumbly, cakey doughnut doesn't come together with the big chunks of pistachio and sweet icing.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Valrhona chocolate glazed cake doughnut from Do-Rite Donuts

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Photograph: Martha Williams

CRITICS' PICK: Vanilla bean-glazed cinnamon crunch doughnut from Do-Rite Donuts
Tasting notes: Love the layer of cinnamon woven into the dough, love the crackly glaze, love the pronounced cinnamon flavor, love this doughnut.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Vanilla bean glazed doughnut from Do-Rite Donuts
Tasting notes: So light. Almost too light. LIke sugared brioche, passed off as a doughnut.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Vanilla glazed doughnut from Doughnut Vault
Tasting notes: Performed surprisingly poorly in the taste test. Tasters loved the texture but felt the strong flavor of the glaze was a detriment to overall doughnut bliss.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

CRITICS' PICK: Chestnut glazed doughnut from Doughnut Vault
Tasting notes: Nutty, puffy and with absurdly flaky icing, this is doughnut perfection.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Chocolate glazed doughnut from Doughnut Vault
Tasting notes: Very subtle, delicate chocolate flavor.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Gingerbread stack from Doughnut Vault
Tasting notes: Strong, dark ginger flavor.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

CRITICS' PICK: Old Fashioned doughnut from Doughnut Vault
Tasting notes: With a more moist interior than its competitors, this specimen is our pick for best Old Fashioned in Chicago.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

CRITICS' PICK: Grape jelly-filled doughnut from Doughnut Vault
Tasting notes: The jelly doughnut to end all jelly doughnuts. Inspired.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Pistachio Old Fashioned doughnut from Doughnut Vault
Tasting notes: Spunky combination of pistachio and coconut.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

CRITICS' PICK: Bacon butterscotch doughnut from Endgrain
Tasting notes: Enoch Simpson is the only person who understands how you properly put bacon on a doughnut. He does so minimally, subtly and with a nutty butterscotch foil that makes the whole thing taste like caramel corn-not like a skillet.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Carrot cake doughnut from Endgrain
Tasting notes: There is actual shredded carrot in here. Ambitious, but...

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Lemon bar doughnut from Endgrain
Tasting notes: Good move tucking bright, lush lemon curd inside.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Nutella milk stout doughnut from Endgrain
Tasting notes: Tastes like a chocolate bagel.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

CRITICS' PICK: Coconut cream doughnut from Firecakes
Tasting notes: Between the crunchy coconut-coated exterior and the perfect proportion of cream filling, this was a surprise stunner.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

CRITICS' PICK: Apple fritter from Firecakes
Tasting notes: Not too sweet, with big chunks of apple. Bonus points for being one of the few apple fritters on the North Side.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Honey glazed doughnut from Firecakes
Tasting notes: Strong flavor left a bad aftertaste.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Maple glazed pineapple and bacon doughnut from Firecakes
Tasting notes: The most restrained of the bacon doughnuts, Firecakes' take on the genre was actually too subtle.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Buttermilk Old Fashioned doughnut from Firecakes
Tasting notes: Intense flavor and oily texture.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

CRITICS' PICK: Peanut-butter cup mini doughnut from Firecakes
Tasting notes: Mini-doughnuts are the future. Win.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Valrhona Chocolate iced doughnut from Firecakes
Tasting notes: Sounded more exciting than it tasted.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Vanilla bean glazed doughnut from Glazed & Infused
Tasting notes: A close runner-up to Dat Donut for best glazed doughnut, but a touch overglazed.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Banana cream cheese doughnut from Glazed & Infused
Tasting notes: On the one hand, kind of good. On the other hand, actually kind of gross.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Bismark Special from Glazed & Infused
Tasting notes: like having a doughnut with fresh jam on it.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Blueberry lemon doughnut from Glazed & Infused
Tasting notes: Tart, lively flavors. Almost like eating real food and/or fruit.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Coffee glazed doughnut from Glazed & Infused
Tasting notes: Crumbly texture, deep coffee flavor.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

CRITICS' PICKS: Cr�me br�l�e doughnut from Glazed & Infused
Tasting notes: Genius. The glaze is a dead ringer for the crackly top of cr�me br�l�e, which is the best part anyway.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Maple bacon Long John from Glazed & Infused
Tasting notes: Like many G&I doughnuts, this one suffers from an overly heavy hand with the glaze, here coupled with harsh spicing.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Terry's Toffee doughnut from Glazed & Infused

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Cake doughnut from Old Fashioned Donuts
Tasting notes: Tastes like oil, feels like a brick.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Cake doughnut with vanilla icing from Old Fashioned Donuts

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Caramel raised doughnut from Old Fashioned Donuts

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Cake doughnut with chocolate icing from Old Fashioned Donuts

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Chocolate-glazed, cream-filled doughnut from Old Fashioned Donuts

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Devil's food cake doughnut from Old Fashioned Donuts
Tasting notes: One of the stronger doughnuts from OFD, thanks to a pleasantly crunchy chocolate-glazed exterior.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Glazed raised doughnut from Old Fashioned Donuts
Tasting notes: Funky oil taste.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Strawberry-glazed raised doughnut from Old Fashioned Donuts
Tasting notes: Ever-so-slightly heavier than the otherwise identical Dat Donut strawberry-glazed. Neither especially notable.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Strawberry-filled doughnut from Old Fashioned Donuts
Tasting notes: Not wild about the synthetic strawberry flavor.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Glazed raised doughnut from Old Fashioned Donuts
Tasting notes: Spoiled by a funky oil taste.

We are living in the golden age of doughnuts in Chicago. To prove it, we picked up a dozen doughnuts from the best spots in Chicago—Glazed & Infused, Endgrain, Doughnut Vault, Do-Rite Donuts, Old Fashioned Donuts, Dat Donut and Firecakes—and did a taste test of all of them in one sitting, to determine the standout flavors from each. Check out the slide show to find out the best doughnuts, the worst doughnuts and more notes from the tasting.

RECOMMENDED: Best doughnuts in Chicago

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