The South's Best Doughnut Shops
Indulge in a few sweet treats around the region.
New York may have a Dunkin’ Donuts on every street corner and Portland, Oregon may be a donut destination with its now legendary Voodoo Doughnut, but if you consider yourself a connoisseur of these circular wonders, you need to head down South. It’s here, specifically in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, that we invented the Krispy Kreme in 1937 and in turn the beacon of hope for all those devoted to dough, the glowing red “Hot Now” sign. We also lay claim to some news you may have heard: Daylight Donuts, Sugar Shack, and Shipley’s Do-Nuts. But the South has had a recent rise of donuts devised in gourmet flavors and professional techniques. So whether you’re looking for an old-fashioned favorite or something new like lavender-lemon, these Southern donut shops won’t disappoint.
We Have Doughnuts
Birmingham’s newest donut shop isn’t really a shop (yet), but you can find WHD’s new-school takes on old-fashioned-style cake donuts in coffee shops and markets throughout downtown. Since they’re not far from our headquarters, they’ve become our staff’s new go-to for any office celebration. We’re partial to the Brown Butter Old Fashioned and the Rosemary-Goat Cheese (seriously, though). Another one of our Birmingham favorites: Hero Donuts, Wil Drake’s new pop-up venture serving brioche-style donuts in flavors as classic as Vanilla Glazed and unusual as Yuzu. Find them at Pepper Place market.
New Orleans, LA
While there will always be a special place in our heart for the beignets of Cafe du Monde, District Donuts has what we need to regroup in the morning after a late night in New Orleans. Head to their smaller location in the Garden District at the corner of Magazine and Arabella for Big-Easy-style buttermilk drops and their beignet-inspired donut filled with chicory cafe au lait cream. Then, head next door to t-shirt and print shop Dirty Coast for a screen-printed souvenir.
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Tato-Nut Donut Shop
Ocean Springs, MS
If you want to skip the herb sprigs and the bacon-topped maple long johns, Tato-Nut Donut Shop in Ocean Springs, Mississippi has all the nostalgic-filled doughnuts you’re craving, but made with potato flour (hence the name). Plan accordingly; there’s often a line out the door most every morning and a “sold-out” sign hanging in the window at this shop owned and operated by the Mohler family since 1960. If you’re lucky enough to step up to the case, try the cinnamon glazed or the chocolate bavarian cream.
What started as a tricycle-powered donut stand has become owners Lindsay Moriarty and Rob Gillespie’s Durham destination bakery. Along with sandwiches, salads, and coffee, you can find flavors like the slice-adorned peach bourbon, a fuschia-glazed plum crumb, and the drizzled lemon caramel at Monuts Donuts.
This Texas food truck icon is upfront about what it offers: big fat donuts. Don’t go to Gourdough’s expecting a little something sweet after a meal. These doughnuts can be satisfyingly split for 4 people at one of their fire engine-red picnic tables beside their refurbished airstream permanently parked on 1st Street in Austin. Grab some friends and order up the Granny’s Pie with caramel, pecans, bananas, and graham cracker crumbs. Make sure to wash it down with a Topo Chico, Texas’ favorite magic mineral water.
Five Daughters Bakery
One of the Nashville-area’s newest bakeries has a super adorable namesake: owners Stephanie and Isaac Meek’s five daughters: Constance (7 months), Evangeline (2), Maggie (5), Lucy (7), and Dylan (8). To further the family connection, Isaac is a third generation business owner and baker, the grandson of a pizzeria proprietor and the great grandson of a cake shop owner. While Nashvillians like that Five Daughters Bakery sources many of their ingredients locally, they come for the 100-layer donuts, the Southern answer to the cronut craze up North.
While Kentucky may be known for horses and bourbon, its unofficial Doughnut Trail lets visitors see another important tradition brought by Scandinavian and German immigrant groups that settled there: baking. One of our favorite stops is Spalding’s Bakery, which sells the same glazed yeast donuts they’ve made for over 75 years out of a brick storefront near downtown Lexington.
We are so not above the O.G. of glazed perfection. Yes, it dissolves in your mouth after 5 seconds, and yes, you can find them just about everywhere from Piggly Wiggly to just off about any Interstate, but there’s something about a warm Krispy Kreme that feels like hugging a towel fresh from the dryer. It’s universally comforting.