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Café San Gennaro
Photograph: Café San Gennaro / @sangennaromtl / Facebook

The best donuts in Montreal to stuff your face with

Seriously dough, these bakeries and restaurants' dessert menus have got a world tour of the best donuts in Montreal

JP Karwacki
Written by
JP Karwacki
&
Colin Rier
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From North American rings and puffy and fully-stuffed pastries to international varieties like churros, bomboloni, paczkis, beignets and more, the best donuts in Montreal contain a more-than-satisfying variety. Whether it's starting your days with the best brunch or breakfast in Montreal or ending it with the best dessert in Montreal, you can't go wrong with some deliciously sweet and fried dough. While shopping around the glass cases of a Tim Hortons is a time-honoured Canadian tradition, pastry wizards from the best bakeries in Montreal have not been afraid to add their own touch to the classic dish with innovative takes that stand head and shoulders above chain varities. The shade's thrown, and no apology's necessary.

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Here’s where the time-honored pairing of coffee and donuts gets taken up a notch, with impeccably pulled shots and brilliant brews of beans sourced directly from the Canadian Roasting Society—a central hub for Montreal’s all-star indie coffee roasting scene— that are served alongside gobsmackingly good fried biscuit and brioche donuts you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Together, you’ve got a dreamy combo that puts Tunnel a cut above the rest. There’s no question about it: If you’re not a coffee connoisseur already, you’ll be one after tasting the goods here.

Where to find the best donuts in Montreal

Not all donuts are pretty enough for TV, but the whimsical creations of Remy Couture sure are. The talented pastry chef made his name on the Food Network show Donut Showdown, and put his doughnuts up against some of the best in the country. Remy prides himself on being able to connect with the nostalgia of all of his diners by creating a flavour callback to classic pastries, such as his signature red velvet donut.

Another contender in the gourmet donut ring, Léché uses a basic yeast donut as a canvas for them to paint all over with an abundance of delicious toppings. Where else are you going to find our favourite desserts of cheesecake, ginger ice cream and brownies turned into perfect donuts. Heads up to our vegan friends, Leche makes some of the best vegan donuts in the city.

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Don’t come in here looking for a chocolate glazed. The bakers (or is it fryers?) at Trou de Beigne work tirelessly to craft some of the most thoughtful donut flavours found in Montreal. We suggest trying one of everything, but make sure to grab one of their signature S’More donuts which combines all of that campfire cosiness into an over-the-top donut confection!

This creative donut wonderland sees the top, and blows it right off! Their menu abounds with items like the Doughclair, Slam Dunk-Aroo, and the Waffle House. Yes, for those in the back, those are a donut topped with an eclair, a doughnut with animal cracker frosting, and a donut that’s been put in the waffle iron. They also offer their donut flavours in “seasons” so there are always more reasons to come back.

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From its first location in Montreal, Mr Puffs has grown with locations across all of Quebec serving their signature loukoumades, or as they call them….puffs! While traditional loukoumades are a simple fried dough soaked in honey, Mr Puffs turns it up a notch by covering them in a wide variety of sweet, and sticky sauces including hazelnut biscotti, maple syrup and salted caramel.

This steady all-rounder restaurant excels on a lot of fronts, but their donuts are one of the areas in which McKiernan reigns supreme. Good enough to merit a donut bakery on its own, their always-shifting menu that gets stuffed with seasonal options like jams and pumpkin compotes—plus some apple fritters now and then to keep things fresh—are perpetually delicious and worth a trip to the southwestern side of the city. Better yet: They occasionally use them as bread for sandwiches.

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When famed New York pastry chef Dominique Ansel unleashed his Cronut creation (half croissant, half donut) on the world it created lines so long people are still standing in them. Luckily for us in Montreal, La Corneterria is there for us. They combined a cornetto (the Italian version of a croissant) with bombolone (the Italian version of a donut) to the make the absolutely delicious cronetto. Why not keep in the Italian vein, and ask for it to be filled with Nutella.

San Gennaro is a neighbourhood stalwart in Little Italy serving up fresh filled cannoli, pizza al taglio (square slices) and of course bomboloni, Italy’s take on the donut. Much like everything else on the menu at this small shop, they made with the highest quality in mind, using the best ingredients available with traditional techniques. Make like the locals and grab a bombolone (or two) to pair with your morning cappuccino.

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As good as the new wave of gourmet donut are, sometimes you just want a good sturdy hunk of fried dough with a slick of icing to pair with your morning coffee (not to mention one that won’t set you back $5). Samos is the classic donut shop that every city needs, and they have been serving Montrealaise their fine fritters for the past 60 years...they’ve gotta be doing something right.

Patisserie Wawel specializes in Paczki. A traditional Polish variety of donut in which a slight amount of alcohol is added before frying makes the dough as light & fluffy as can be. While the name may be unfamiliar, they taste like the best traditional donut you’ve ever had. What really sets them apart from the rest of the pack-zi (sorry, had to) is the delicious fillings including prune jam, raspberry jam and chocolate cream.

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You know this Italian bakery is bringing it, with a full fleet of the best iterations of fried dough that Italy has to offer. Of course, you can grab some pillowy bomboloni, but you’d be severely missing out if you didn’t grab a fritelli as well. Opposite to the bomboloni, fritelli are a much crisper fried dough, and traditionally served without filling. That makes them easier to scarf down by the dozen, which you’ll definitely want to do.

In this modern world where donuts can be piled high with all kinds of confections, it takes a bold baker to show off their pastry dressed plainly, or not dressed at all. That is exactly what the masters at Delices d’Antan are doing at their multiple locations where the only toppings on offer are maple syrup, honey, powdered sugar and cinnamon sugar. It doesn’t matter when the topping is just an aside to a deliciously chewy potato donut.

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A relative newcomer to Montreal’s crowded donut scene located out west in the Cavendish Mall, this shop serves up sfinge. A Moroccan style donut that is both unsweetened & unleavened, but oh so tender. Don’t worry though, there will still be enough sugar for your sweet tooth as they bring it up to level 10 with crazy toppings like candy, chocolate and sprinkles.

The Cheskie’s experience is an experience of being overwhelmed. You walk in and your eyes might first fall on the black & white cookie, than move to the cheese crowns, or the babka, or the kakosh! Amongst this cornucopia of sweets, it’s easy to lose track of the sheet pan of donuts they have resting on the back counter. It would be a huge mistake to pass on these rich yeast donuts made with the same traditional care as the rest of their pastries.

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When the empire builders of Michele Forgione & Stefano Faita put their heads together to create the “best” iteration of a casse-croute, they’re going to accomplish their goal. That means not only are they serving up perfect burgers & shakes, but also serving perfect, freshly fried potato donuts. Now I know you may be thinking “I don’t want potato in my donuts”, but don’t worry it doesn’t taste like potato...the tuber just gives it a pleasant chew.

Most of the donut shops you’re able to just walk right in & grab yourself a dozen. Unfortunately, these donuts are only available at the very in-demand brunch service of Lawrence, one of Montreal’s finest restaurant. On the bright side, Lawrence’s brunch is one of the best in the city and their trio of donuts (1 each of lemon curd, vanilla custard & chocolate) are the perfect ending to such a meal.

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This chic take on the classic British pub hits all the right notes: great room, cold beer, big menu…..and gluten-free donut holes. Like Lawrence, this isn’t a place where you can walk right up to the counter and grab a dozen to go, but that doesn’t mean they’re not frying some of the best in the city. Treated simply with a light dusting of cinnamon sugar, they are perfect.

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Sometimes we, as humans, overthink things. We feel the need to find the small mom & pop donut shop that is only open 2 hours a day and serves a very special kind of doughnut. We need to stop overthinking, and appreciate all the fried dough no matter its provenance. Krispy Kreme is an international chain famous for serving their donuts “hot & fresh”. Few things in life rival the pure pleasure of warm original glazed donuts.

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