Donuts are some of the greatest culinary creations the world has ever seen. Okay, that might be a lie - but it doesn't mean that these sweet little rings are not highly regarded as one of the best sweets the world has ever seen. With a generous number of options when it comes to toppings, icing vs. no icing, fillings, and even flavors, donuts are loved by one and all and are easily accepted as anything from a breakfast option to a late-night snack. Everyone has a favorite but this is not a ranking; rather, it's a definitive guide to all of the best donuts out there and how they're made.


These donut types come from far and wide and can be found in most bakeries and coffee chains, and it's likely that not many people can even name all of the most popular donut types out there. The creation of the donut makes a difference and even something as simple as frying vs. baking a donut can cause it to take on a different culinary sub-type.

Cake Donuts

Cake donuts are far denser than fried or yeast donuts (which we'll also get to) and since they're baked, they make use of baking soda and/or baking powder in order to give them their fluffy, cake-like interior.

These donuts are also fried much of the time although if they are, they're better fried as a dough rather than a batter, which can be doled into a donut pan to bake. Popular cake flavors include cinnamon-sugar, blueberry cake, and regular old-fashioned - although and old-fashioned is, in itself, another type of donut entirely.

Yeast Donuts

These donuts get their rising power and airy texture due to the yeast that's used in creating them. These are also the most commonly found donuts in chains and account for flavors such as glazed and iced.

The interior of these donuts is the most sought-after as it can range from semi-cake-like to light and fluffy, with a nice consistency throughout. These donuts often taste lighter than cake donuts and hold up well to toppings and icing decorations.

Cream Donuts

Both cake and yeast-based donuts can take on the form of a cream donut which simply means it's been filled with a custard or cream-like filling.

This can include any flavor from the classic Bavarian cream, Boston Cream, or even donuts that feature lemon curd or coconut cream as a filling flavor. Most artisan-made cream-filled donuts contain a heavy filling that has been lightened with whipped cream for a smooth and sweet texture.

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Jelly Donuts

Jelly donuts are pretty self-explanatory but many people don't know that these can include donuts such as sufganiyot, paczki, bismark, and other donuts around the world that are fried and then filled with a fruit-based jelly.

Traditionally, donuts such as these are used for special celebrations or dinners, but regular jelly donuts are one of the most popular donuts at coffee chains, as well. The most common jelly flavors are strawberry and raspberry but any fruit, even apple or blueberry, can be used and is still considered a jelly donut.

Cruller Donuts

Crullers, also known as Krullers, are Dutch donuts that made their way across the ocean to become one of the most popular coffee donuts in the U.S.

While the kruller was born of Eastern European origins, the cruller most commonly known in the U.S. is heavily inspired by the French cruller, as well, which is easily recognized by its unique twisted dough pattern. The trick to a French cruller lies in the heavy use of eggs which gives the donut its iconic air bubbles and dense texture, while the donut itself is airy and light.

Old-Fashioned Donuts

Traditionally, an old-fashioned donut is baked at a much lower temperature than the others which allows the dough to spread out a bit more, forming crevices and cracks in which glaze or chocolate icing can settle into.

These donuts have a heavy cake-like texture that's slightly sweet, and they're never baked into a perfect circle. These, along with the cruller, are one of the most popular donuts for dunking.

Long John Donuts

Those long, rectangular-shaped donuts that you see in the coffee shop or bakery actually go by the name of Long Johns. These donuts originated in the U.S. and always bear the same appearance with the topping and the filling being the only two variables.

Long Johns can be feature a chocolate glaze over the top and share a similar appearance to an eclair without the filling, or they can be glazed with a classic maple-flavored icing which is also called a maple bar.

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