The best donuts in Chicago
If yeast-raised donuts are your jam, Do-Rite is the place to go. The vanilla bean glazed is a crowd favorite—it's pillowy and flaky, sweet but not cloying and quite large. On the creative front, you can't go wrong with the cinnamon crunch raised, Michigan apple fritter, pistachio-Meyer lemon or Valrhona chocolate cake. Do-Rite doesn't discriminate against vegans or the gluten intolerant; there are daily specials for each, including a delightful orange-olive oil pastry that's 100 percent vegan. Get there early or order ahead—all three locations shut down when they run out of dough.
Even with two brick-and-mortar locations, this Hogsalt (Au Cheval, Bavette's and more) spot is notorious for selling out fast. Follow Doughnut Vault's Twitter account for updates on new flavors plus daily closing times. Once inside, you'll find classics like the buttermilk old-fashioned alongside wacky specials including honey bun cake, birthday cake and whiskey caramel old-fashioned with pecans. These pastries aren't cheap, but trust us when we say they're worth every penny.
You can find fried dough at this Chatham institution 24 hours a day, and when you try these pillowy pastries, you'll find good reason to venture back at all hours of the day and night. If it's your first time, go for a box of the original glazed yeast donuts, which practically melt in your mouth. The best part? Unlike costly downtown shops, Dat keeps its prices low; one donut will run you just $1.05.
Stan's is one of Chicago's most prolific dough purveyors—we're talking eight locations and counting. Though the company was originally founded in Los Angeles, Chicago-based Labriola Baking Company brought the brand to the Midwest, and we're thankful they did. No matter what store you frequent, the massive pastry case is sure to be filled with Biscoff pockets, Captain Crunch Bismarks, dozens of old-fashioneds and sprinkled cake donuts galore. Unlike others on this list, Stan's keeps its shops open late (until 9 or 10pm at most locations), so you can get your donut fix any time of day.
We could take a cue from the cops, who stalk this bare-bones donut shop and go for a couple of the poofy glazed beauties in the case. Or we could make like the locals and snatch up chocolate-slathered cake donuts as if there were an apocalypse coming. Any time we make it to this South Side institution, we’re too busy homing in on the apple fritters—unparalleled rounds, as big as your head, with cinnamon-spiked peaks and valleys dotted with gooey apple hunks.
Beavers serves mini donuts from a stall at the Chicago French Market and a roaming food truck, making it the cutest breakfast you could possibly ask for. Sugar toppings are free (cinnamon, powdered, granulated and chocolate), but you'll pay a little more for signature toppings like s'mores, Nutella and turtle. And with four size options (four, nine, 15 or 35), you can share these tasty morsels with a crowd or keep them all to yourself.
If you're searching for the city's most wildly indulgent (and Instagrammable) dough, look no further than BomboBar, a walk-up window on the side of Bar Siena in the West Loop. The counter specializes in bombolini, hole-less Italian donuts that are tossed in sugar. Each cloud-like pastry comes with an injectable tube of flavor; pick from salted caramel, raspberry, vanilla bean custard, Nutella and s'mores. The best part? You can squeeze jelly or cream all over every nook and cranny of these sweet Italian treats.
Jonathan Fox's offering to the donut-crazed masses is adorably vintage, with boxes of mostly classic flavors (old-fashioned buttermilk; chocolate-glazed) wrapped in cute bakers' twine. The triple-chocolate is a solid replication of chocolate birthday cake, and the old-fashioned is one of the most modest in town—a fact that will thrill smaller eaters. Yet the only Firecakes donut that really makes a statement technically isn't a donut at all: It's the crisp and surprisingly light apple fritter.
Find more donuts in Chicago
Sometimes you can get a great donut at a restaurant that's not necessarily known for its pastry selection. Check out a few spots that surprised us.