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The Ultimate (Los Angeles) Guide to Donuts


Los Angeles Guide to Donuts

Welcome to the 2015 DONUT WEEK! We’ll be counting down the days until National Donut Day with donut DIYs, recipes and of course the annual donut giveaway (!) later this week, but I thought it appropriate to start with the basics. You know, a little lesson, if you will, about these beloved pastries and all the glorious varieties they come in. Since you all loved the LA cookie guide so much… you know we had to do a donut one too! We sampled donuts from 12 of LA’s famous donut shops and are sharing the best ones to try at each, along with another awesome map from Kate to take on your own donut adventures! So consider this one part Donut 101 and one part LA’s Best Donuts. Are you READY!?

Los Angeles Guide to DonutsA Donut Glossary!

Donuts have a long and often disputed history and origin, but there’s a few pretty interesting accounts of it right here and right here, if you’d like to read it! I’m going to fast-forward to today, where there are dozens and DOZENS of types of donuts. We put together a glossary of donuts, showing all the different types we found.. different shapes, different dough, different glazes, different frostings, different toppings. But let’s start with the greatest debate…

A Guide To Donuts: Raised vs Cake

…Cake (left) vs. Raised (right). Raised donuts are made with a dough, using yeast as their leavener. They are lighter, fluffier and larger. They take longer to make (more steps involved!) and are the basis for classics like jelly-filled, glazed, long johns, apple fritters and more. Cake donuts are made with a batter, using baking powder or soda as their leavener. They’re denser and crumbly and are the basis for classics like old-fashioned, buttermilk and blueberry cake. Both types of donuts are fried.

So, are you Team Cake or Team Raised?

I am 100%… team cake! My personal favorite donut is a glazed devil’s food cake donut. As a cake lover through and through, I like the dense crumbly texture of the cake variety. Though, I’m an equal opportunity donut employer and I’ll certainly eat ’em all if you put them in front of me. 😉

A Guide to Donuts: The Classics
With the recent donut phenomenon, there’s been an onslaught of new “fancy” donuts (below) invading the classics (above). Everything from cereal topped to red velvet to peanut butter filled to baked donuts to hybrids like the wonut (waffle-donut) and the croissant donut.

A Guide to Donuts: The Fancies

Los Angeles is infamous for its dense concentration of independent, mom-and-pop style donut shops. It seems like every couple blocks there’s a donut shop tucked away and I LOVE that about this city. So, we used Los Angeles as the backdrop of our research and hit 12 different shops to round up and try out what they had to offer. We asked the stores what their most popular donuts were, and we threw in some of our personal favorites, too. So if you’re visiting LA, or if you live here, here’s our guide to where to get your donut on!

Los Angeles Guide to Donuts

Primo’s Donuts
Best Sellers:
Buttermilk and Glazed Twist
Our Fave: The buttermilk floored all of us. It was quite possibly the most gasp-inducing donut of the day.

DK’s Donuts
Best Sellers:
Ube Donuts and Wow-nut (Waffle Donut)
Our Fave: The Ube donut is made from a purple yam widely used in the Philippines for desserts and was the one we were most anxious to try. It. Was. So. Good. A friend recommended the blueberry cake and it was yum too!

Stan’s Donuts
Best Sellers:
Peanut Butter Donuts and Jelly Donuts
Our Fave: Samantha and I share a love for peanut butter, so we were VERY into this donut. There’s a reason why this is the most popular, folks! I’m also, always, partial to some donut holes.

Randy’s Donuts
Best Sellers:
Apple Fritter and Crumb Cake
Our Fave: Jeff + I hit Randy’s (Yes, the one with the giant donut sign!) whenever we make an airport run and we’re pretty huge fans of the apple fritter.

Bob’s Donuts
Best Sellers:
Glazed and Beignets
Our Fave: Bob’s is one of the few places in LA that sells my favorite donut, glazed devils food cake. Not to play favorites, but that one is probably my favorite donut in the city.

Best Sellers:
Strawberry Buttermilk and Blueberry Earl Grey (Not Pictured)
Our Fave: First, a note! Fonuts donuts are baked, not fried. They have vegan and gluten free options, too! I love the strawberry buttermilk and I am also partial to the gluten free chocolate with sprinkles. It’s super rich, but light at the same time? Yum.

Los Angeles Guide to Donuts

SK’s Donuts
Best Sellers:
Croissant Donut and Red Velvet
Our Fave: Can you go wrong with a red velvet donut? NO. They have a bunch of croissant donut varieties, but I like the plain best. Not a donut, but my brother swears by their croissants.

Best Sellers:
Croissant Donut (Not Pictured) and Boston Creme
Our Fave: They make a s’mores donut which is fantastic. Also, if you’re into looks, this is one of the cutest places on the list!

California Donuts
Best Sellers:
Simpson’s DOH-nut (Strawberry Frosted) and Maple Bacon
Our Fave: Samantha thinks they have the best croissant donut in the city. I’m head over heels for their peanut butter cup donut. They also have a signature panda donut called the “Steppie” which is too cute to resist! Their seasonal specialties, like the Girl Scout cookie one above, aren’t to be missed.

Spudnuts look like regular donuts but they are made with potato flour, so they are a kind all of their own! They have a slightly different texture so go with a raised donut here to see if you can taste the difference!

Café Dulcé
Best Sellers: Green Tea Donut and Donut Holes
Our Fave: The fruity pebbles donut holes were some of the lightest donuts I’ve ever had! Great little pick-me-up. Be warned: They don’t start putting out donuts until 10am and don’t typically have their full selection until 12pm. We went early so we weren’t able to try as many as we’d have liked!

Donut Friend
Best Sellers:
DIY Donuts (Not Pictured)
Our Fave: As you may remember from this post, you can build your own donut at Donut Friend! You can pick your donut, filling, glaze and topping. It’s a really fun experience and totally worth trying out! Of course, they do have pre-made varieties too, and awesome punny names to go with ’em.

Best Donuts in Los Angeles Map (Free Printable!)

Kate made us this awesome map so you can map out your donut tasting excursions! You can click HERE to download it and print it to take along the way.

Photos by Jeff Mindell

And there you have it! A big ol’ guide to the best dessert (Breakfast?) on the planet. Now, tell me… what is YOUR favorite donut?

Be sure to follow along on Instagram and share YOUR donut adventures this week with #donutsdeserveaweek!


  • brittni

    This is amazing Kel. Quite the undertaking. I have to say, I’m more on the raised donut side of things. Never been a big cake donut fan…One of my fave donuts on the planet is a maple bar. Probably not the most common favorite, but oh well. Love ’em. Regular glazed twists and croissant donuts would make the list for me too.

  • Shanoya

    Glazed devil’s food is my favorite donut too! It’s so disappointing that so few shops offer them. Thank you so much for your research. I’ve only been to two of these shops. I’m going to try and visit the rest over the summer

    • Kelly

      Ah! So glad to find another person who understands the STRUGGLE! Why don’t more places offer it!? It’s obviously the best donut. 😉

      • Andrea

        That’s why you love the chocolate Fonut with sprinkles! It’s like a dense chocolate cake but if you’re not careful you can toss back a few too many.

  • Katie

    Ummmm this is AMAZING!!! Thank you for this!! Can’t wait to start hitting all these 🙂 Aaaaaaand that map might just be my new phone background…

  • Toni Marie

    Yum! All of these look so delicious. Definitely going to visit these places the next time I go to LA 🙂

  • Kim Henrichs

    This post brings me such joy. I’m definitely having donuts for breakfast.

  • Monique | WritingMonique

    Ah! I love this post! I really want a donut now! I love the typical Simpsons donut the most, I think hihi! I wish I lived in LA now.

  • LARY @InspirationNook

    Loved this post Kelly! We used to live pretty close to Sk’s. Is the one thing I miss from L.A the most HA! Specially their ham and cheese croissants. OMG now I’m craving one really bad HA!!

  • Rachel

    Hi Kelly! Absolutely love your work and have so much fun following you on snapchat! Wish I still lived in LA because these all look AMAZING! Luckily NYC also had awesome donuts :)!!! Happy national donut day!

  • Christine

    The donut map of LA is perfect!! I’ve been to majority of them and they are all so good it’s hard to choose a favorite but if I had to choose, my favorite donut or donuts are from fonuts the vegan and gluten free varieties are amazing. The chocolate hazelnut and the blueberry earl grey are to die for!!

  • Esther

    Im obsessed with SK Donuts! Need to check out the others!

  • Rachel @the dessert chronicles

    This is the best post ever!! Now I absolutely have to make it to every one of these places!

  • Elle Jae

    This is awesome! My donut-loving husband with be floored when he sees this, especially because he’s a Primo’s regular.

  • Pam

    So glad you included Fonuts! They are amazing!!

  • Jay

    I love the donut map! I’ve to try some of them soon!

  • Gabs

    you gotta try donut man, its in a suburb outside of LA but they put fresh fruit in their donuts and its amazing. their strawberry ones are my favorite but it all depends on what fruit is in season.

  • Chris Roessel

    I would not mind please the recipe for the glossy donuts thank you.

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