There are a lot of places around the country that you could call “donut obsessed,” but here in the Northeast, we have verifiable evidence. According to a study by BestPlaces, eight of the country’s top (i.e. most abundant) donut cities are in New England and New York. While we have unquestionable proof that we do, in fact, run on Dunkin’, we still love to support the little guys. Here are some of the best independent Northeast donut shops.
The line around the block may be a hint that PVDonuts is something special, but a taste will have you fully convinced. The menu changes every month, and always with fun and inventive flavors that are equal parts tasty and nostalgic, like their Wild Berry Pop Tart, Funfetti and Dunkaroos donuts. At Thanksgiving, PVDonuts makes a special Friendsgiving donut topped with cranberry glaze, stuffing and fried chicken.
Knead gets top marks, not only because their donuts are insanely delicious – the brown butter pecan and peanut butter and jelly-filled are among the best – but because they’re also available fresh from their “Night Cruller” window on summer Friday evenings at their location on Providence’s West Side. The donut shop also has Downtown and East Side locations in the city.
Back Door Donuts
Oak Bluffs, Mass.
We can’t talk about late-night donuts without mentioning Back Door Donuts, the legendary donut shop on Martha’s Vineyard. During the day it’s all business at The Front Bakery Café, but at night it’s a party in the back where people line up by the hundreds at the purple door for hot and fresh donuts. Don’t, under any circumstances, skip the big-as-your-face apple fritters. Open seasonally from April through October.
Blackbird Doughnuts has grown to six Massachusetts locations (including Fenway Park) for a reason. They’re really that good. In addition to the classics, they serve up creative flavors like Everything Bagel, a brioche donut filled with whipped cream cheese and topped with toasted garlic, onion, poppy seeds and sesame seeds. Seasonal flavors include Jalapeno Popper Fritters and BBQ Butterscotch.
Cold Hollow Cider Mill
Waterbury Center, Vt.
Apple cider donuts are one of New England’s signature treats – and the ones that come from Cold Hollow Cider Mill are special. The secret? The fresh-pressed cider made on premises using a vintage 1920s machine. While you can get them hot out of the fryer all year round at the mill, you can also order them online and ship them straight to your house.
Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop
Peter Pan hasn’t changed much since it opened in the ’50s and like the true classic it is, it doesn’t have to rely on gimmicks or trendy flavors to stand out. Here it’s quality and freshness that earns the affection of regulars and newcomers alike. Order an egg cream or coffee with a red velvet, jelly or sour cream donut, pull up to the counter and enjoy the neighborhood atmosphere. Bet you can’t resist a fresh-from-the-fryer glazed for the road.
Throw a rock in New York City and you can find a decent donut shop. The truly great ones, like what you’ll find at Cider Belly, are worth the extra effort to get to. This donut shop focuses on cider donuts but in interesting variations. Try the Sap Sucker with maple drizzle, the Venetian with cappuccino glaze or go all-in with a Double Down, a cider donut with cider glaze.
The Holy Donut
Maine potato donuts are a time-honored tradition, but nobody makes them like The Holy Donut, one of the earliest producers in the gourmet donut trend. Now, they make 2 million dense, moist donuts a year across their three locations around Portland, in flavors like original and dark chocolate potato, sweet potato and seasonal favorites like Maine blueberry. The savory bacon and cheddar-filled donut alone justifies the drive.
Neil’s Donuts and Bake Shop
This old-fashioned bakery outside of New Haven serves up fresh bread, coffee cakes, muffins, coffee rolls, pastries, cookies and danish. Although, if you skip getting one of Neil’s 40 varieties of donuts, you’re missing out. Choose from cake donuts, glazed donuts and crullers in flavors like lemon chocolate, blueberry crumb and coconut cream. Or don’t choose and get them all. No judgement here!
Goody Good Donuts
Make sure you go to Goody Good with an empty stomach – if you choose wisely, you’ll end up with a treat that’s bigger than your hand that would get Homer Simpson’s stamp of approval, and Fred Flintstone’s too! This bakery serves nearly 30 flavors of donut, including the Bedrock, which is a honey donut rolled in Fruity Pebbles. Don’t sleep on the Arnold Palmer, either; the lemon and raspberry combo is a match made in a heavenly glazed shell.
Tell us about your favorite local donut shop in the comments.