New York’s classic foods go heavy on the carbs. Pizza, deli bagels and black-and-white cookies are all popular choices, but there’s perhaps one carb that reigns supreme over them all. Yes: it’s the donut.
Or the doughnut. However you choose to spell it, this fried, sugar-coated, sticky, frosting-slathered confection is one of those New York musts. Luckily, they’re not hard to find: there are bakeries across the city devoted solely to this art form, with some specialising in just one, perfected flavour. Loosen your belts or, better yet, pack some clothes that are one size up: these are the best donuts in New York.
1. Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop
Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop, a family-run joint hidden away in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, has been on the scene for over 60 years, and you can go old school and chow down at the counter, cup of joe in hand. Note that devotees swear by the Chocolate-Glazed Red Velvet Donut, which is cakey, moist, and beautifully vermillion when you bite in – a definite contender for one of the best donuts in New York.
Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop, 727 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
2. Dominique Ansel Bakery
These days, there are probably five people left in the world who don’t know what a Cronut™ is (what other baked good is so popular that it has to be trademarked?). The man behind the year-old invention is French pastry chef Dominique Ansel, who sells the croissant-donut hybrids from his bakery in quantities limited enough to have hungry hordes lined up for hours for their chance to taste. Take their cue and get there early.
Dominique Ansel Bakery, 189 Spring Street, Manhattan, NY
Dough’s treats are of the yeasty and airy variety, though they’re glazed with all manner of unusual flavours – try the hibiscus, passion fruit, or dulce de leche offerings. Pro-tip: While Dough’s original outlet is located in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, you won’t have to make the trek much longer, as a new Manhattan outpost is slated to open this summer.
Dough, 448 Lafayette Avenue, Manhattan, NY
4. Doughnut Plant
One of the key bakeries that can be credited with kicking off New York’s current donut obsession is the esteemed Doughnut Plant, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Originally opened on the Lower East Side and now spread across several locations, the pastries here rank among the best donuts in New York. While the Crème Brûlée flavour has won plenty of fans, it’s the Tres Leches donut that’s almost impossibly delicious, filled as it is with a ribbon of sweetened condensed milk.
Doughnut Plant, 379 Grand Street, Manhattan, NY and other locations
5. Carpe Donut
You can tell who the real New Yorkers are by their taste in apple cider donuts. An unfussy staple of farmers markets across the city, the treats are soft, cakey, and taste like autumn. Is it any wonder, then, that the Carpe Donut food truck, which only makes the one flavour, is a hit in the city? Follow its Twitter account to see where it will park next, and grab a cup of hot chocolate on the side.
Check Twitter for daily locations
6. Dun-Well Doughnuts
Vegan donuts might not sound like a great idea (unless you are vegan, in which case they probably sound like a godsend), but trust Dun-Well Doughnuts to do them well. These are confections that appeal to all, and with flavours like Peanut Butter and Jelly, Chai Tea, and Ginger Snap, they’re far from dull. Trust us: you wouldn’t even notice that they’re absent of eggs or dairy.
Dun-Well Doughnuts, 222 Montrose Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
7. Dough Loco
At his uptown bar Earl’s Beer and Cheese, Chef Corey Cova gained fame for once serving Eggo Waffles topped with lobes of foie gras. He brings the same playful and iconoclastic approach to nearby donut shop Dough Loco, where flavours include off-kilter combos like Maple Miso and Raspberry Sriracha. A cup of Blue Bottle iced coffee, sourced from the roasters in Brooklyn, washes it all down nicely.
Dough Loco, 1261 Park Avenue, Manhattan, NY
8. The Donut Pub
Of course, not all donut shops in New York need to be avant-garde to attract attention. Donut Pub provides a window into old New York – the unpretentious Chelsea shop has been a city staple since the 1960s. The light and airy Honey Dip Donut is a favourite, while the bakery is also reputed for its Boston Cremes and jam-filled varieties. It’s also open 24 hours: use its retro neon signage as a beacon to guide you to hot donuts and coffee once the sun goes down.
The Donut Pub, 203 West 14th Street, Manhattan, NY
9. Bouchon Bakery
Donut or art? It can be hard to tell during a trip to Bouchon Bakery, founded by chef Thomas Keller. Though the bakery also offers a huge range of other sweets, its donuts are quickly snatched up as soon as they come out of the fryer. Some, including the Boston Creme, also come coated with eye-catching chocolate and vanilla beads.
Bouchon Bakery, 10 Columbus Cir #3, Manhattan, NY
10. Pies 'n’ Thighs
As its name suggests, Pies ‘n’ Thighs is best known for its mouthwatering fried chicken as well as its selection of dessert pies, but locals know that this comfort food destination is also something of a donut expert. Flavours change each month, and can vary from a raised donut packed with strawberries and topped with powdered sugar to a pistachio glazed number that comes filled with lemon curd. After sampling its various delicacies, you’ll probably be in need of a good sit down – and some sit-ups.
Pies 'n' Thighs, 166 South 4th Street, Brooklyn, NY
Header Image: The donuts at Dough Loco are colourful and creative © Liz Barclay
Do you prefer your donuts classic or cutting-edge? What do you think are the best donuts in New York? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Written by Claire Bullen
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About the author: ClaireBullenClaire Bullen
Claire is a born globetrotter: before relocating to London, she spent time in New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. When she's not in pursuit of the next exciting meal, she can be found haunting indie bookstores and sketching outdoors. Follow Claire @ClaireMBullen