In addition to being the birthplace of the largest donut chain on Earth, New England has myriad mom-and-pop donut shops—ones that have been around forever and more recent hipster startups.
As we began compiling a list of well-regarded independent donut retailers around the region, we brought in a ringer: Dave Rothstein. A photographer and ice sculptor, Rothstein has visited more than 600 donut shops on his extensive travels. He doesn’t just eat donuts; he photographs them with tiny model cars and people. We narrowed our list down to Rothstein’s top picks, which he rates, as any donut enthusiast would, according to “the flavor/texture/freshness of the following varieties of donuts: plain cake, glazed raised, glazed chocolate cake, raised chocolate frosted, boston creme, standard jelly-filled, and coconut frosted cake.”
Beach Donut Shop – Old Lyme – 1993
Famous, according to CTbites.com, for “a simple yet miraculous sour cream doughnut, with its penetrating layers of glaze.”
Heav’nly Donuts – Derby – 1986
“There’s a Starbucks and a Dunkin’ Donuts and a McDonalds within 500 feet from here. Skip them all forever.” — Christian E. on Foursquare. The owners are named Effie and Ernie Badas.
Neil’s Donuts and Bakeshop – Wallingford – 2001
One of the 50 finest donut shops in America, according to Saveur.
Congdon’s Doughnuts – Wells – 1955
Named among America’s best donuts by Food & Wine.
The Holy Donut – Portland – 2012
“I’ll give you $100 if you can find me two more doughnuts.” — Customer upon seeing the “sold-out” sign, as quoted in The Boston Globe. Cake donuts made with Maine potatoes.
Tony’s Donut Shop – Portland – 1965
What’s more New England than a molasses-glazed donut?
Willow Bake Shoppe – Rockport – 2011
“I’ve only had a better sugar donut in my grandmother’s kitchen,” says a Maine magazine writer.
Back Door Donuts (Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Cafe & Bakery) – MV – 2001
“A fresh batch of donuts from Backdoor donuts is one of the most delicious street food treats on earth.” — TripAdvisor.com reviewer
Donut Dip – West Springfield – 1957
“Donut Dip makes incredible donuts indicative of New England’s finest donut shops … superior cake, raised, jelly-filled, and iced varieties.” — Roadfood.com
Kane’s Donuts – Saugus – 1955
Named among the top 10 donuts in America by Bon Appetit.
Mrs. Murphy’s – Southwick – 1976
“Why is no one talking about this incredible New England doughnut shop?” a recent Saveur.com headline demands.
Brothers Donuts & Deli – Franklin – 1985
“If I’m gonna eat something as not so great for me as a donut, I might as well eat the best.” — Brian Goulet on Facebook
Muriel’s Donuts – Lebanon – 1967
“The Parthenon of donuts.” — Whatdoesit M. on Yelp.com
(Muriel is too busy making donuts to have a website.)
Stonehouse Baking Co. – Barrington – 2002
“The donuts are ridiculously good and very fresh … Try the marble cake doughnut with buttercrunch on top. Blissful.” — Adagio F. on Yelp.com
Allie’s Donuts – North Kingstown – 1968
20,000 Facebook likes. Inspired Narragansett beer’s Allie’s Double Chocolate Porter.
Donut Bazar – Cranston – 1986
“This place is the real deal! There is a full view of the donut kitchen behind a wall of windows right next to the counter.” — MauraC on Chowhound.
Too old-school to be online.
Ma’s Donuts – Middletown – 1993
Famous for sugar-dusted malasadas—a Portuguese donut—and 42 other kinds.
Big Picture Theater and Cafe – Waitsfield – 2006
“The all-local, all-organic Very Small Donuts from dine-in theater Big Picture Café in Waitsfield are a solid example of the maple-glazed donut.” — Zagat
Blue Benn Diner – Bennington – 1973
“Homemade sugar donuts and jelly in mason jars.” — Kurt S. on Yelp.com
Too old-school to be online.
The Doughnut Dilemma – Burlington – 2014
Famous for: Maple Glazed. You’re having: Rice Crispy Treat.