Ah, the doughnut. Not only is it the breakfast food of choice in corporate environments and of Homer Simpson, but it’s made a comeback over the last few years for a pretty legit reason: Its canvas is versatile as heck. Plus, it’s pretty much impossible to have a bad doughnut unless it’s been sitting around for days (and let’s be real, a day-old doughnut is still better than cold eggs). Glazed, filled, cake, jelly… the possibilities for doughnut enjoyment are endless, and make buying a whole dozen a dangerous endeavor, even if you intend to share.
If you’re anything like me, you appreciate a good old-fashioned plain Krispy Kreme doughnut right out of the oven, but you also know that trying new and interesting flavors of things is where it’s at—and doughnuts are no exception. The following are 12 of the most unique doughnut flavors we found across the country. Sugar-overload-themed road trip, anyone?
Gin & Tonic (Dough; Brooklyn, NY)
Ever have one of those days where you want either a drink or a dessert, but not both, and you can’t choose between them? With the Gin & Tonic at Brooklyn’s famous Dough Doughnuts, you don’t have to. The glaze is the star, made from fresh lemon, juniper berries, tonic, and yes, actual gin. Happy hour just moved up to 8:30 a.m. with this sucker, so take that, Monday.
Mother Clucker (Gourdough’s; Austin, TX)
This isn’t so much a flavor as a Frankenstein’s monster of culinary beauty, but it’s hard to leave out Gourdough’s, which is famous for its out-there doughnut creations. The Mother Clucker (a fried chicken with honey butter doughnut) is for everyone who used to like to dip their McDonald’s/Burger King chicken nuggets in honey as a kid (me) and maybe still do as an adult (I plead the fifth). But regardless of the doughnut(s) you pick from their menu, there’s honestly a slim-to-nil chance you could go wrong.
The Tangfastic (Voodoo Doughnut; various locations)
No doughnut list is complete without a shout-out to Voodoo Doughnut. The Tangfastic is mostly a regular doughnut (plain cake, vanilla frosting), but with Tang dusted across the top. Yes, that Tang, the powdered drink whose most famous flavor is orange, and that only astronauts and those of us born before 1990 really remember ever having around before Kool-Aid got really adventurous with their flavors. We’re intrigued by the marshmallows, though.
King Cake (Blue Dot Donuts; New Orleans, LA)
I might be a LITTLE biased here since I grew up in Mid-City, the New Orleans neighborhood where Blue Dot Donuts is located. But you can’t go wrong with ANYTHING modeled after King Cake: a seasonal Mardi Gras treat that’s up there next to beignets and bananas Foster on the NOLA Quintessential Desserts list. For those unfamiliar, King Cake is kind of like a huge cinnamon roll, minus a lot of the cinnamon and plus somehow even more icing and gold, purple, and green sugar crystals (because laissez les bons temps rouler, a.k.a., YOLO). This doughnut is only available during Carnival season, so when January rolls around, you might want to trek down to the Big Easy.
Carwash (Underwest Donuts; New York, NY)
Fun fact about this artisanal cake-doughnut shop in NYC: It’s actually inside the main building of the Westside Highway Car Wash, which makes it even more amazing, because everyone knows the best hole-in-the-wall food comes from places like car washes and gas stations (seriously, some of the best tapas I’ve ever had were at a restaurant inside a gas station in Miami). The Carwash is obviously Underwest’s signature sweet: a vanilla-lavender doughnut, which we imagine makes you feel kind of fancy while watching a line of taxis get cleaned.
S’moracha (ICDC; Los Angeles, CA)
According to ICDC co-owner and pastry chef Mariah Swan, the S’moracha is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: “a combination of s’mores and Sriracha sauce.” For those who like a kick to their chocolate, this looks like as good a path as any toward leveling-up your dessert palate. And hey, they can double as a late-night fire-pit snack and breakfast on your next camping trip.
The “Everything Doughnut” (The Doughnut Project; New York, NY)
It’s almost impossible not to just populate this list with places in NYC because of how on-the-doughnut-game that city is. I mean, they invented the Cronut, for crying out loud. And while the Everything Donut might be a slight mind-explosion level below said Cronut, it does take another baked good NYC is known for—the bagel—and spins it in a sugar-laced circle. Adventurous foodies can experience the Everything Doughnut in all its glory, from the cream-cheese glaze to the savory toppings: sesame, pumpkin, and poppy seeds, plus sea salt… and yes, even garlic.
Salted Tehina (Federal Donuts; Philadelphia, PA)
Doughnuts are almost sugary enough on their own, so when a shop takes a semi-sweet ingredient like tahini—or “tehina” in Israel and the Middle East, as clarified Amy Zitelman, co-owner of Soom Foods (where Federal Donuts sources their tehina to make this doughnut)—and uses it to create something slightly savory past your everyday maple-bacon concoction, we’re impressed. This doughnut sounds like it’s definitely for the gourmet foodie who maybe wouldn’t usually order dessert, and also might have a penchant for late-night snacking.
Rosemary Pineapple + Rum (The Salty Donut; Miami, FL)
It’s hard to ignore a shop that blasts “Bringing Craft Donuts to Miami” on the homepage of its website, so let’s not. The Salty Donut is right at home in Miami’s hip Wynwood art district, which is kind of the home to craft anything in Miami (I can personally vouch for the greatness of the java at Panther Coffee). According to the shop’s Instagram, this beautiful breakfast anomaly is made from rosemary-infused caramelized pineapples, a crystallized rosemary topper, and all my wildest dreams. Oh, and rum, obviously, but isn’t that the same thing as the latter?
Grilled Cheese Donut (Tom + Chee; various locations)
So this is almost kind of cheating because again, not so much a flavor as a work of art, but a grilled-cheese doughnut is too unique to leave off a list like this. If the sound of that isn’t enough on its own, Tom + Chee actually offers eight variations of this gem aside from the traditional, so you can have a different one every day of the week and then an extra one on each weekend day. From the Bananarama (caramelized banana and gouda) to The King (named for Elvis, natch, and sporting banana, peanut butter, mascarpone, and mozzarella), I wouldn’t even know where to start.
Bone Marrow (The Doughnut Project; New York, NY)
Why yes, it's our old friends The Doughnut Project with another stunner. For "meat week" this year, the shop celebrated by creating several charcuterie-inspired numbers, like prosciutto with pear and olive oil and, yes, bone marrow with a clementine glaze. The bone marrow version was so popular that the shop kept making in, in conjunction with nearby butchers Hudson & Charles. It's stuffed with marrow that's been infused into a chocolate pastry cream, which gives it a sweet-and-salty bite. Convinced yet?
Vietnamese Iced Coffee (District Donuts; New Orleans, LA)
There’s no shortage of wacky delicacies in New Orleans, and the Garden District is where to go if you want them fancy. The Vietnamese Iced Coffee doughnut from Magazine Street’s District Donuts looks pretty fancy, and according to reviews, it’s sweet with “just the right amount of bitter with some grounds on top.” Apparently there are also tapioca pearls in the crème. Not your typical filling ingredient, but I’m too busy applauding and booking a flight to NOLA.