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The 8 best donuts in Boston to try right now

The ubiquitous Dunkin’ may have local roots, but a full range of donut spots offers a sweet alternative to national chains

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
By Eric Grossman and Time Out Boston Staff |
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Who doesn't love a great donut? There's only one proper way to break your gluten-free, diet-determined resolve: donuts, and lots of them. Start your day in style at one of these superior purveyors, spanning the latest cult bakeries and under-the-radar mom-and-pops. The antithesis of mass production, Boston’s best donuts are lovingly made everywhere from the South End to Allston. Unusual flavor combinations—an everything bagel donut? blackberry lavender?—mean they’re not just for breakfast (or brunch) anymore. Whether you’re seeking a traditional honey glazed or a pricey, new-school option, use this guide to determine where to get your next donut fix.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston

Best donuts in Boston

1
Union Square Donuts
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Restaurants

Union Square Donuts

icon-location-pin Fenway/Kenmore

The award-winning team behind Union Square Donuts, led by co-founder Josh Danoff, has been serving up mouth-watering treats throughout the Boston area for more than a half-dozen years. (We're partial to the Time Out Market Boston location.) USD takes its craft to the next level by making each donut from scratch every day; brioche dough is used to create light and airy pillows, each with a soft and fluffy texture. All glazes, sugars, jams, and creams are made in-house using real ingredients. Need proof? Try inventive flavors like Vietnamese coffee, brown butter hazelnut crunch and maple bacon.

2
Blackbird Doughnuts
Photograph: Courtesy Blackbird Doughnuts/Brian Sacco
Restaurants, Bakeries

Blackbird Doughnuts

icon-location-pin South End

This South End shop helpfully explains the differences between its raised donuts (made with a brioche dough) and cake donuts (made with buttermilk and sour cream). Keep an eye out for offbeat flavors such as sesame sriracha, blackberry lavender, and everything bagel (brioche doughnut filled with whipped cream cheese, topped with toasted garlic, onion, sesame, and poppy seeds).

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3
A box of yum from Kane's Donuts
Photograph: Courtesy Kane’s Donuts
Restaurants, Bakeries

Kane’s Donuts

For 60+ years, the nationally-renowned Kane’s in Saugus has churned out a rotating menu of some 40 daily flavors, from crème brûlée and lemon chiffon to eggnog. The huge coffee rolls are standouts too. The Boston location in the Financial District ensures worker bees can get their donut fix — paired with Stumptown coffee — in between meetings.

4
Anna's Hand Cut Donuts
Photograph: Courtesy Anna’s Hand Cut Donuts
Restaurants, Bakeries

Anna’s Hand Cut Donuts

icon-location-pin West Roxbury

How can you tell this place is a relic? “Do-nut” is hyphenated in the sign, it’s cash only, and the tiny shop closes at 1pm. But what’s old is still delicious, which is why regional residents trek over to West Roxbury for their donut fix. Here, the donuts 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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5
Doughboy Donuts
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jackie O.
Restaurants

Doughboy Donuts & Deli

icon-location-pin South Boston

This no-frills joint in South Boston has been a fixture for more than 40 years. Craving a doughnut at 3am? You’ll find a wide variety of fresh ones at any hour: Maple Frosted, Honey Dip, Boston Cream, Fruity Pebble, crullers, and more. Even the drive-thru is 24 hours, when you need that sugar fix, stat.

6
Twin Donuts, Restaurants and cafés, Boston
Photograph: Sara Skolnick
Restaurants, Bakeries

Twin Donuts

icon-location-pin Allston/Brighton

This long-standing shops 1950s facade is an Allston icon — as are its cheap, tasty donuts. The compact joint opens at 4am, making it a regular haunt of early risers and night owls alike. Also an inexpensive spot for a hot breakfast, the kitchen churns out basic egg dishes and the like.

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7
Clear Flour Bread Bakery
Photograph: Courtesy Clear Flour Bread Bakery
Restaurants, Bakeries

Clear Flour Bread

On the Brighton-Brookline border sits a European-style bakery that makes 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. Arrive early or you may find it has sold out.

8
Flour Bakery & Café, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Flour Bakery & Café
Restaurants, Bakeries

Flour Bakery & Café

icon-location-pin South End

Only on Sundays, the city’s myriad Flour locations put 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 usually a raspberry jelly version available too.

See the best donut shops in America

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