The best breakfast in Chicago is round, dipped in frosting and showered in rainbow-colored sprinkles. Yeah, we're talking about the tastiest donuts Chicago has to offer. We're always on the lookout for exemplary specimens of the pastry, and we found them at old-school bakeries, new-wave donut shops and everywhere in between. The best donuts in Chicago come in all shapes and sizes: cakey, raised, craggy and filled—there's something for everyone. Looking for things to do in Chicago this weekend? Start your day with one of the best donuts in Chicago.
RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best bakeries in Chicago
The best donuts in Chicago
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 a buck and change.
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.
If you grew up in the Midwest, there’s a good chance your archetype of a bakery looks a lot like southwest side institution Weber’s. After all, the focus at this perpetually-packed spot is on hearty, comforting fare that’s descended from German, Polish, and Scandinavian roots, yet over time has evolved its own regional character. The cake donut, surprisingly light beneath an icing of chocolate ganache, is a customer favorite.
Stan's is one of Chicago's most prolific dough purveyors—we're talking nine 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.
Families with strollers crowd this Lakeview bakery on weekend mornings in search of fresh-baked cinnamon buns and donuts. Grab a number and contemplate your choices, like a classic chocolate-glazed long John or a craggly cake donut dipped in vanilla frosting. Once your number is called, resist the urge to jump over the pastry case to retrieve your doughnuts.
On Saturday and Sunday mornings, in-the-know Chicagoans head to Logan Square for donuts that rotate weekly along with a caffeine fix from Dark Matter Coffee. Find it for yourself just behind Longman & Eagle, next to the small sidewalk patio out back. You'll be rewarded with custardy chocolate crullers, pillowy pockets filled with mocha custard and rounds glazed with cranberry and kumquat icing.
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.
Jonathan Fox's offering to the donut-crazed masses is adorably vintage, with rows of donuts both classic (buttermilk old fashioned, apple fritter and jelly-filled) and wildly imaginative (churro, orange-poppyseed and maple-bacon). Make note: The epic, sprinkle-coated Birthday Cake donut will make you the hero of every office party. With locations in River North, Lincoln Park, Wells Street Market and a mobile truck, Firecakes is one of Chicago's most beloved donut makers.
Formerly known as Beaver's Coffee + Donuts, the Dapper Doughnut slings piping-hot made-to-order mini donuts from a stall at the Chicago French Market. Choose how many you'd like (12 is perfect for two people) and select your toppings. Go classic with cinnamon-sugar and powdered sugar or kick things up a notch with the indulgent s'mores, which coats the fried nuggets with chocolate sauce, marshmallow and graham cracker bits.
Most Chicagoans know this South Side stalwart as a beacon on Paczki Day, but Bridgeport Bakery slings donuts every day of the week, starting bright and early at 5am. Drop in to secure a box filled with the classics—from sprinkle-topped cake donuts and long Johns to warm, jam-filled pockets of fried dough.
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.