Chicago Eats Top 8 Doughnut Shops

Chicago Eats Top 8 Doughnut Shops
Photo: David Turner

 Donuts or doughnuts, either way you spell it, are hot

When it comes to doughnuts, Chicago is not lacking in places to get your doughnut fix. Doughnuts have been around for many moons and seem to be getting hotter every day.

According to the NEW York Post (June 1, 2014), “Early 19th century: Legend has it that Elizabeth Gregory, a New England ship captain’s mother, made a deep-fried dough so sailors could store pastries on long voyages. From the ship’s spice cargo, she used nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon rind, and put a hazelnut or walnut in the center because the dough might not cook all the way through. There you have it: the literal birth of the “dough nut.”

I’m not sure when doughnuts made the leap from Hostess Donettes and Little Debbie’s powdered donuts–six for $.99–to sexy and gourmet–with many going for $3.50 for a single donut.

Krispy Kreme, a step above most grocery store doughnuts, was a favorite in the South since its beginnings in 1937 in Winston-Salem, N.C. It expanded north to Chicago and other northern locales in the 1990’s and then even further north to Canada.

When Krispy Kreme doughnuts hit the Chicago market, they became an instant must have with people driving miles to get the elusive doughnuts to bring to a variety of events from after game treats for high school sporting contests and Little League to kids birthday parties, fundraisers and backyard BBQ’s.

I remember my anticipation as I waited to get my first taste of a Krispy Kreme doughnut at a media outing with Margie Korshak PR at the first Chicago-area Krispy Kreme store in Summit when it opened in 1998.

Doughnuts are big business with the Krispy Kreme chain having grown to more than 1,000 retail shops in 24 countries and trading publicly at $20.98 at closing yesterday while Dunkin’ Donuts, also publicly traded, on Nasdaq (58.42 close, June 1, 2017) is actually surpassing Starbucks in number of locations.

Trending in today’s world of donuts are the boutique or gourmet donut shops–those places where hybrid donuts command hour-long waits in line, black-market purchases along with creative knockoffs like the cronut (doughnut/croissant), the donart (doughnut and tart) and the duffin (doughnut and muffin) all competing for the brass ring. doughnutvault

Donuts have gone from powdered, sprinkled and glazed to a whole new world of tastes like the Sicilian Pistachio Old Fashioned donut at Firecakes or the Lemon Poppy Seed doughnut at Doughnut Vault or the Chocolate4Chocolate cake with chocolate ganache glaze and topped with dark and white chocolate curls–at Glazed and Infused.

Here are some of Chicago Eats favorites around town:

  1. Do-Rite Donutsdo-riteoldfashioned

Do-Rite Donuts is doing it right at their three Chicago area locations in the Loop, Steeterville and the West Loop.  A favorite combo of ours is Do-Rite Donuts and Chicken–both fried–available at West Loop and Streeterville. Do-Rite doughnuts are made in small batches, never more than 36 at a time.

2. Doughnut Vaultdoughnutvaultchocolateglazedct-best-doughnuts-chicago-photos-005 Doughnut Vault in River North and other locations offers an array of wonderful flavors like toasted almond, coconut cream, and lemon poppy seed that keep customers standing in line hoping to score one (or more) before they run out.

3. Firecakes Donuts

Firecakes Donuts features a roster of artisanal donuts that are made-from-scratch in small batches. Choices include honey glazed, buttermilk, old fashioned, triple Valrhona chocolate, lemon verbena meringue and their chocolate hazelnut long john among others–available in two Chicago locations at 68 W. Hubbard Street and 2453 N. Clark Street.

4. Stan’s Donuts

Stan’s Donuts, out of LA, has taken Chicago by storm opening many area locations and offering an interesting menu of gourmet donuts, gelato and coffee drinks brewed from Intelligentsia beans.

5. Glazed and Infused

Glazed and Infused, is a favorite of many, with their mouth watering offerings including maple bacon long johns available at five Chicago area locations.

6. Dinkel’s Bakery

Dinkel’s Bakery, a Chicago favorite since 1922, is a bargain compared to many of the newbies and is really good.  The family owned bakery offers traditional German baked goods and tons of doughnuts–both yeast and cake versions–fried daily in-house (see their Donut Day special at the bottom of this post).

7. Beavers Donuts

Beavers Donuts, a popular Donut truck, also has a brick and mortar location inside Chicago’s French Market. Expect hot off the conveyor belt mini’s and regular donuts with flavors including buttermilk and s’mores in strawberry sauce with a coating of Pop Rocks and others.

 8. Lee Donuts

With so many great donut choices in the city–why ever leave town? Maybe to head to Libertyville for Lee Donuts. The northwestern suburban bakery, a favorite of many in the area, turns out fresh donuts daily with natural ingredients and NO preservatives. Popular choices include their Apple Fritter and Maple Bacon Long John.

Donut Day Specials for Friday, June 2

The first Friday in June is National Doughnut Day. The holiday goes back to 1938, when the Salvation Army served doughnuts to soldiers during World War II. Here are some Donut Day specials around town for today, June 2:

Dinkels Bakery is featuring 6 Donuts for $5.99 a package at their store at 3329 N. Lincoln Ave.

Dunkin’ Donuts is offering guests a free doughnut of their choice with the purchase of any beverage at participating locations.

Krispy Kreme is offering guests a free doughnut of their choice at their Homewood location.

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