The best doughnuts are the ones that taste so good you don’t even mind the inevitable sticky slick left on your chops after devouring them or the layer of sugar that laces your fingers and prevents you from doing anything else that requires the use of your hands. Aside from the sugary high caused by these sweet snacks, is it the surge in more complex flavours and artisan techniques that has created such a buzz around the humble doughnut?
No longer just the stuff of service stations and supermarkets, doughnuts have become Instagram fodder like nothing else. We’re now seeing them pop up at meetings, events, weddings and even on high-end restaurant menus. And we’re not just talking about the classic sugar-coated, jam filled variety that you got as a as a child on special occasions – nowadays doughnuts come in a whole host of shapes, sizes and colours. What’s more, you’ll find practically any filling you desire if you know where to look – not to mention the next level toppings that range from the brilliant to the outright bizarre!
People are so obsessed with these decadent doughy delicacies that many bakeries are now offering doughnut masterclasses so you can learn how to make and decorate them at home.
Here at SquareMeal, we’re about giving the people what they want and we don't mind scrolling through doughnut pictures ourselves, either. Whether you’re on a personal quest to find the best doughnut, are looking to add a fun twist to a special day or are searching out a simple way to keep your team at work happy, you’ve found what you’re looking for in this hole-y grail of goodies. Below, we’ve rounded up the very best doughnuts money can buy in London so you can ensure that you’re never too far from a purveyor of the sugar-coated goods.
Where to find the best doughnuts in London
If after all of that talk you can’t help but find yourself dreaming of devouring a doughnut, then the good news is that lots of places serve, or are entirely dedicated to, doughnuts. Here’s our round up of London’s best doughnuts. We’d advise making it your mission to try every one, strictly for research purposes.
What: St John’s doughnuts are a sell-out sensation. Every. Day. So you need to be quick if you’re going to get your chops round one of these sweet surprises. Flavours are ever-changing and often unexpected, such as prune and walnut. For purists there are nearly always custard and jam options, and they’re never-not piped greedily full of filling and tossed generously in sugar.
Find them at: Smithfield, Borough and Commercial Street
What: Sourdough doughnuts are a thing, and a thing of beauty as Crosstown have proven time and time again. These pillowy piles of perfection have gained cult status among doughnut lovers (the majority of us, we think) and are available on same day delivery. Try and find a fault in any of that. Current favourite flavours include roasted peach, banana cream and rhubarb and ginger.
Find them at: Crosstown have various locations across London and are also stocked in Whole Foods and Planet Organic.
What: If you’re in it for the ‘gram then Bread Ahead are your guys. Fully filled with indulgent creams or jams and topped with incredible ingredients, the offering from these purveyors of fine doughnuts is easy on the eye. The dough is soft, the fillings smooth and the sugar rush very much real. Our favourite has to be honeycomb, sea salted caramel and vanilla. Keep an eye out for Bread Ahead's dedicated doughnut stall outside the bakery at Borough Market everyday from 8am.
Find them at: Borough Market, Chelsea, Soho and Wembley
What: Doughnut Time take everyone’s favourite snacks and combine them with doughnuts for a truly winning combination. Fillings and toppings include things like Kinder Bueno, Nutella, Lotus Biscoff biscuits and Milk Way bars. If you’re thinking about getting hitched or throwing a swish soiree, Doughnut Time take bespoke orders, tailoring fillings and toppings to your favourite flavours or chosen theme.
Find them at: Doughnut Tme have various locations across London
What: In an enviable spot on London’s famous Portabello Road, happy Donuts serves up buns of joy made by hand with organic flour, butter, milk and Swiss chocolate with added ingredients sourced locally at the market down the road. Better still the company proudly donates any leftover donuts at the end of the day to charity. Look out for flavours like Ferrero Rocher, crème brulee, and peanut butter custard!
Find them at: 254 Portobello Road, Notting Hill
Duck & Waffle
What: A savoury doughnut – yes it is a thing, and yes it is delicious. The spicy ox cheek doughnut at Duck & Waffle has been a firm fixture on its menu for quite some time and frankly we’re not surprised. This decadent starter is filled with slow-cooked spicy ox cheek, the crispy outer coating is dusted with paprika sugar and it comes served with a generous dollop of apricot jam for good measure.
Find them at: 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY
What: Dum Dum deal in a real array of doughnut products – from filled classics and ring doughnuts to the now infamous cronut hybrids. As a point of difference Dum Dum bake, instead of fry, all their doughnuts for what we like to think of as a healthier twist. Although that claim is entirely unsubstantiated.
Find them at: Dum Dum have various locations across the UK and are also stocked in Harrod’s
What: We debated long and hard as to whether a hybrid deserved a place on this sacred list, but given the fact the cronut now has an international trademark it seems only right and proper to acknowledge it in all its flaky glory. For those who haven’t encountered this creation on their Instagram feeds (firstly where have you been hiding?) the cronut is Dominique Ansel’s unique creation which sees a ring of croissant pastry deep-fried, sugar-coated and filled in much the same way as a doughnut. To ensure we never tire of this ingenious invention, the bakery cunningly release a new flavour combination every month to lure us in.
Find them at: 17-21 Elizabeth Street, SW1W 9RP
The Blues Kitchen
What: Even if you’re not a fan of Texan BBQ we’d go so far to say that a trip to Blues Kitchen is probably worth it if for no other reason than to try these devilish deep-fried doughballs. The dessert menu is concise and it’s no wonder – what else would you possibly choose when Oreo cookie donuts with a salted caramel dip are on offer?
Find them at: Brixton, Camden, Shoreditch
What: Under no circumstances should dietary requirements get in the way of a good doughnut, and hasn't Borough 22 just gone and taken that into consideration? Its doughnuts are always gluten-free, always vegan, and always delicious. These guys have even earned a coveted Great Taste Award. Our favourite flavour combos are peanut butter and jam, as well as lime and coconut.
Find them at: Borough 22 are stocked at various locations over London, including Selfridge’s. They’re also stocked in the Manchester and Birmingham Selfridge’s for our Midlands and Northern friends
What: Not to be mistaken with the trademarked ‘Cronut’ the Crodough is an entirely different creation *cough cough* which combines a croissant and a doughnut. Flaky and light, these delicious rounds of sweet fried pastry come in all manner of decadent flavours that infiltrate the layers; toffee apple crumble, oreo cheesecake, salted caramel and peanut butter jelly to name but a few.
Find them at: 224 Jubilee street, E1 3BS or 79 Vallance Road, E1 5BS
Photo credit: Jamie Orlando-Smith
What: Another savoury entry because these crab donuts are potentially the most famous dish on the menu at Chiltern Firehouse and pictured frequently in the hands of a celeb. A feather-light batter gives the savoury mouthfuls an almost profiterole-like texture. Inside creamy crabmeat is lifted with a subtle hint of chilli making for a moreish pre-meal appetiser or a luxurious bar snack to enjoy with a cocktail.
Find them at: 1 Chiltern St, Marylebone, W1U 7PA
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