Oh, the things we sacrifice for you, dear reader. Our pride. Our dignity. Our waistlines. In search of the best donuts in LA, we may have surrendered to all of the above, but it was well worth it. These classic, retro desserts (or breakfast/brunch items, depending on who you're trying to kid) are a staple in Los Angeles, and with a scorecard in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, we set out to find the best donuts in nine different categories: glazed, chocolate, cream-filled, sprinkled, frosted, old fashioned, fritter, jelly-/fruit-filled and specialty. Among 264 donuts from 15 different donut shops across the city, here are the ones that rose to the top.
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To see how it all went down, check out our behind the scenes sneak peek.
If there is one true determining factor of a donut shop's credibility, it is the quality of their classic glazed donut. And during our taste test, Stan's took the (proverbial) cake. Light, doughy and with just the right amount of glaze, Stan's didn't leave us feeling like we'd just chomped through an inch-thick layer of sugar, but more like we could die happy right then and there with a cup of coffee and this particular donut. The Westwood donut shop has been in operation since 1965, and with beauties like these, it's easy to see why people keep coming back. Price: $1 Runner-up: SK Donuts & Croissants
Hold on. Before you get all hot and bothered and bring out the pitchforks, know this: Krispy Kreme not only won a couple categories in our taste test, but it made its way to the top three spots across multiple fields. For chocolate, though, it was a close tie—Tony's was a favorite on many of our lists. Yet when it came down to a bite from each, Krispy Kreme's cake donut simply delivered on both consistency and rich, chocolate flavor. Deal with it. Price: $1.19 Runner-up: Tony's Donut House
While the standard cream-filled donut usually means that of the Bavarian kind, there were donuts stuffed with everything from marshmallow fluff to chocolate pudding at our taste test. Along with quality, quantity of the cream was an important factor, too: if it took more than a couple bites for us to find the filling, the donut didn't make our list. The eventual winner? The Donut Man's Bavarian Creme, a chocolate frosted beauty with a healthy amount of rich, sweet cream stuffed inside. We'd sink our teeth into this pastry any day. Price: $1.50 Runner-up: Tony's Donut House
Eating a sprinkled donut—hell, even the simple act of ordering one—has the ability to make you feel 10-years-old all of a sudden. So we couldn't help but feel slightly childish with glee as we sampled the brightly adorned donuts in this category. The winner—Stan's—featured bright blue and yellow sprinkles (for UCLA) atop a plain glazed donut, and gained high marks for both its overall quality (it did, after all, win best glazed donut, too) and proportionate amount of sprinkles (too many and it can feel like you're in danger of breaking a tooth). One item to note: You may ask for jimmies, and that's fine (transplants, we love you!), but you may also get blank stares in return. You've been warned. Price: $1 Runner-up: DK's Donuts & Bakery
Improving on its already stellar glazed donut, Krispy Kreme won top marks for its frosted variation—which is, simply put, a layer of chocolate frosting on a plain Krispy Kreme donut. The pastry's melt-in-your-mouth consistency leaves you feeling like you could eat five, six more, unlike some of the heavier, cake-based frosted donuts we tried. So, uh, yeah, we're about to go do that right now. Price: $1.19 Runner-up: Tie between Kettle Glazed Doughnuts and Randy's Donuts
The ideal old fashioned donut is a perfect balance of doughy cake and a crisp, glazed exterior. Tony's Donut House satisfies both of these requirements with its version of the classic breakfast pastry. While this Huntington Park donut shop is best known for their Cravenuts (a version of the Cronut), it's their excellent and no-frills old fashioned that should really be getting everyone's attention. Pair with a cup of coffee and you're golden. Price: $1 Runner-up: Ms Donuts
Fritters can be a polarizing pastry: You either love the (traditionally) apple-infused treat with a slightly burnt aftertaste, or you abhor them. If fritters are your thing, though, then you'll want to pick up one at our top choice, Stan's. With its lightly glazed exterior that includes hints of maple, the apple fritter at Stan's could convert even the most ferverent fritter hater. Price: $3 Runner-up: Randy's Donuts
The majority of donuts in this category follows the same formula: stuffed with primarily strawberry jam. The only difference is whether there is a dusting of powdered sugar on top. SK's concoction, however, takes far more liberties with its fruit-filled masterpiece. Here, the glazed donut is split into two and stuffed with huge chunks of fresh strawberries, which earned this shop top marks from every taster. And yeah, it even beat out the famous strawberry donut from The Donut Man. Price: $2.50 Runner-up: Donut Friend
The donuts in our specialty category ranged from peanut butter and jelly to passion fruit, s'mores to sriracha glazed. But after sampling an array of unique (and sometimes bizarre) flavor combinations, the winning vote was a unanimous one: Donut Friend's Jets to Basil. Stuffed with goat cheese, strawberry jam and a heavenly balsamic glaze, the basil-garnished treat was an indulgent mix of sweet and savory. Price: $4 Runner-up: Coconut passion fruit from Fonuts