Doughnut Stop Believin’
Doughnuts are a beautiful thing: We’ve basically invented a way to eat dessert for breakfast. We’re not exactly sure how it is we’ve gotten away with this, but regardless, it’s delicious. It seems like every U.S. city has its own favorite local doughnut chain, but when it comes down to it, the only two that are fully spread throughout our country are Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme. Which is better, though? To answer this question, we tried around a dozen doughnuts at each place over the course of multiple visits. The results were … a landslide.
Playing With a Handicap
The unfortunate truth is that Dunkin’ was fully outmatched from the start here. Krispy Kreme operates on more of a small-batch system in that it’ll make a certain amount, and then make fresh hot ones when those run out. Dunkin’ essentially fills its shelves for the day with a huge haul, and it’s quite rare to get your hands on a doughnut fresh out of the fryer. Krispy Kreme’s fresh, hot doughnuts are a next-level nirvana type of experience, so we let the Kremes get cold in order to “play fair.”
Best Old-Fashioned: Krispy Kreme
Old-fashioneds get a bad rap. They are often referred to as boring, but can be some of the most delicious doughnuts in the game. Krispy Kreme’s is everything a perfect old-fashioned should be: fluffy, cakey, moist, and rich. Grab yourself an old-fashioned soon. It’s a confident, poised move.
Best Powdered: Dunkin’ Donuts
A whole lot of nostalgia is at play here, which is why Dunkin’ was able to walk away with this trophy. Its powdered doughnuts are not far off from those little packaged ones you might have eaten as a kid — the ones that stained your fingers, clothes, homework, pets, and pretty much anything else you interacted with. Those were the days. Dunkin’s are cakey and moist, and the powder doesn’t dominate your clothes as badly as you’d expect.
Best Glazed: Krispy Kreme
Not only is Krispy Kreme serving a better glazed doughnut than Dunkin’, but chances are it’s serving a better glazed doughnut than, well, anybody. These guys are the stuff of legend; so thinly glazed you can barely tell where the doughnut ends and the glaze begins, and so light we could probably put away a dozen of them with no issues. The true GOAT — the absolute greatest of all time. We’re talking the Serena Williams of doughnuts here.
Best Chocolate Glazed: Krispy Kreme
The genius of this one lies in the fact that they’ve chosen to keep the chocolate relegated to the top, like your standard chocolate iced doughnut. The power of Krispy Kreme’s signature glaze and the chocolate icing coalesce in a special way here, creating a not-too-rich chocolate experience that leaves you with the taste of that perfect glaze.
Best Cream-Filled: Krispy Kreme
What a true delight. While most doughnut shops go for the standard custard filling, Krispy Kreme has done what they do best: breathe new life into a classic. This particular chocolate cream-filled doughnut does not contain any custard substance. No, this bad boy is filled with a light, almost-whipped filling not dissimilar to the cream filling inside a Hostess cupcake. It’s not nearly as overwhelming or heavy as anything you’re used to, and it works really well.
Best Glazed Blueberry: Dunkin’ Donuts
The reason Dunkin’ wins this round may not in fact be because of its own strengths. Krispy Kreme’s is boring and a bit artificial-tasting. Dunkin’s taste like a blueberry pancake mix, which is actually kind of nice. If this is what they were going for, nice work. If not … well, still, nice work.
Best Sugar Doughnut: Krispy Kreme
The sugar doughnut is the psychopath’s doughnut. Whoever would incur the wrath of something that spills sugar all over your face and hands and clothes is a guaranteed psychopath. That said, Krispy Kreme’s doughnut was a pleasant surprise; barely any sugar escaped its version. We didn’t feel like a disgusting sugary mess afterward. This is a big deal.
Best Cinnamon Roll: Dunkin’ Donuts
Krispy Kreme didn’t have any cinnamon rolls in stock all three times we went in, so Dunkin’ wins this one by virtue of forfeit. That said, their cinnamon roll actually isn’t bad — it’s not Cinnabon-quality, of course, but it’s well glazed, easy to pull apart, and chock-full of cinnamon. And the most important part, that sticky cinnamon center? Dunkin’ delivers.
Best Apple Fritter: Krispy Kreme
Do people actually even get apple fritters? It seems pretty far away from the normal doughnut canon. Regardless, both Dunkin’ and Krispy are doing them. While Dunkin’s wasn’t horrible (it was essentially a cinnamon roll with apple flavor), Krispy’s was absolutely killer. Their signature thin icing crept its way across the whole thing, and the pastry had real apples in it. Plenty of cinnamon. Fully delicious.
Best Doughnut Holes: Dunkin’ Donuts
Not sure what happened to the folks at Krispy Kreme here, but it seems as though the person who designed these was very different from the genius responsible for all of their other ones. Krispy Kreme’s doughnut holes are bad. They’re incredibly thick and rich, much more like an actual piece of cake — the whole point of doughnut holes is to eat more than one, so if they’re too rich, it doesn’t work. The light, airy feeling that you want is what Dunkin’ is bringing to the table in this case, and it works a lot better than Krispy Kreme.
Best Iced Strawberry With Sprinkles: Krispy Kreme
This was a tough one, but not for positive reasons. Both locations’ strawberry with sprinkles doughnuts are out-of-this-world sweet and very tough to actually finish. Neither taste anything like strawberry, and both create a horrible little sprinkle storm for you to clean up. In the end, Krispy Kreme’s actual doughnut quality is much higher, so if you can’t avoid either of them, go with Krispy Kreme.
Best Cruller: Nobody
Crullers are weird, gross, and aspartame-y, and kind of taste like they were made from rotten dough. If you’re grabbing a dozen doughnuts, do yourself a favor and just skip it. You have no business ordering a cruller.
Best Maple Bar: Krispy Kreme
The maple bar is the real Sixth Man of the Year when it comes to doughnuts. Though it’s not what immediately comes to mind when you’re packing your dozen, it always finds a way into the box and usually doesn’t disappoint. Unless, of course, the one you’re eating is from Dunkin’ Donuts, in which case it disappoints in a monumental way because the maple icing tastes like a 100,000 butterscotch candies ground up into a sticky hot syrup which melts if you don’t eat it right away. Shame on you, Dunkin’.
Best Overall Doughnut: Krispy Kreme’s Glazed Doughnut
The surprising part of this whole ordeal, of course, is not that Krispy Kreme picked up this honor. What’s surprising is the fact that it single-handedly did it with what is arguably the world’s most boring doughnut. Any other doughnut shop besides Krispy Kreme essentially treats its glazed doughnuts like the ugly stepchild in the corner. In a day and age where craft and artisanal doughnut shops are so prevalent, it’s extremely impressive that Krispy Kreme is slinging the single best doughnut in the game — and it’s just a simple, plain, glazed doughnut.
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