Most Popular Types Of Donuts, Ranked Worst To Best

When it comes to finding a delicious donut, the first half of the battle is to locate a quality donut shop. Thankfully, that shouldn't be too difficult to do since there are a handful of very good donut chains, and seemingly every city has at least two or three yummy locally owned donut places.

However, once you find a suitable donut shop, the second part of the battle is deciding which types of donuts you should select. With donuts of all shapes, sizes, and colors staring at you, the choice can quickly become nerve-racking.

To lend you a helping hand, we've done the heavy lifting of trying all the different types of donuts that are widely available in the United States. While many donut types are really good, there are definitely some that you shouldn't pick. In this list, we've ranked popular types of donuts, ending with the best and starting with the worst.

16. Donut holes

If you're a child, donut holes might make sense. These small sweet treats are easy to handle and easy to nibble. But if you're a fully grown adult, don't be caught eating donut holes. No adult who makes a habit of eating donut holes deserves to be taken seriously.

Why do donuts have a hole in the middle? Most likely, a crafty chef long ago figured out a fried cake can't have an annoyingly greasy and doughy middle if the middle is missing and, voila, the modern ring-shaped donut was born. But while these donuts have a real history that created their shape, donut holes on the other hand are just a gimmick.

If the thought of a donut hole makes your mouth water, a full-size donut should cause a tsunami in your mouth. There's nothing a donut hole can do that a regular donut can't do, so do yourself a favor and don't be a child.

15. Cronuts

There are two types of people in this world. You have hoity-toity croissant eaters who believe that they are better than the common man and woman. On the other end of the spectrum, you have benevolent donut eaters who will never say no to a scrumptious snack. All the way back in 2013, these two worlds collided with the invention of the cronut. This half croissant, half donut came to life in New York City and soon it took the planet by storm. 

At one point in time, even Dunkin' Donuts was selling their version of a cronut. Sadly, this marriage was just not built to last. The croissant and the donut are meant for two completely different types of individuals. It's not a surprise that Dunkin' Donuts ended up discontinuing their Croissant Donut. Truth be told, you can go ahead and eat a cronut once to see what it tastes like, but after that, it's best to pick a side. Either you're a croissant eater or a donut eater. Trying to be both just doesn't work.

14. Potato donuts

Many people don't even know that potato donuts are a thing, even though they've been around in the United States since the 18th century. They were created with simple recipes that called for sugar, fat, and mashed potatoes. Since then, they've remained a staple in many parts of the country. In fact, Spudnuts was a donut chain that sold potato donuts, and it actually predates both Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme.

While potato donuts undoubtedly had their day, they no longer should be craved. Even the best donut made out of potatoes can't hold a candle to the other donuts that are higher on this list. A potato donut still makes for a tasty snack, but unless no better alternatives are available, it's best to join the modern world and move on to something more flavorful.

If you really want to try potato donuts, the bad news is that the Spudnuts chain has gone out of business. The good news is that you can still find individually owned Spudnuts shops across the country.

13. Maple bacon donuts

While it'd be too harsh to classify maple bacon donuts as a gimmick, these things are definitely a fad. It seems like an unwritten rule that every independent donut joint you visit has to offer maple bacon donuts. While the origin of this donut is argued about, it's believed to have been created in an Omaha, Nebraska, bakery where it was given the name "The Elvis." That's an appropriate name because Elvis Presley was known to put bacon on everything, even peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

Eating a maple bacon donut can be a fun way to start your day. If the forecast is bleak, this donut is sure to make life a little bit more tolerable. The reason why it's not higher on our list is because the maple bacon donut isn't something you'll want to eat more than two or three times. Sure, it's pretty good, but the allure quickly fades.

12. Pershing donuts

Pershing donuts are basically cinnamon rolls in donut form. The major difference is that it's made with donut batter. Additionally, although some cinnamon rolls have raisins, Pershing donuts almost never do. 

While Pershing donuts get bonus points for being more portable than cinnamon rolls, that's about the extent of their positive attributes. The truth of the matter is you should just opt for a soft, gooey cinnamon roll instead. Pershing donuts are typically firmer than cinnamon rolls — and that takes away from what makes cinnamon rolls so yummy. If you love raisins, then your decision is even more of a no-brainer. 

Go get a giant cinnamon roll from Lulu's Bakery & Cafe or a delicious cinnamon roll from Cinnabon. You can also find cinnamon rolls at drive-thru burger joints like Whataburger. It's not even that difficult to make your own cinnamon rolls. All four of those options are superior to settling for a Pershing donut. 

11. Sugar donuts

Sugar donuts are donuts that come with a coating of either powdered sugar or granulated sugar. With sugar being the first thing that enters your lips, this type of donut is sure to capture the attention of your sweet tooth. Things can't get much sweeter than pure sugar.

However, there are a couple of issues with sugar donuts. First of all, they can be messy. No matter if it's coated with powdered sugar or granulated sugar, a notable amount of the sugar will either fall onto your clothing or get stuck on your fingers. Sucking on your fingers between each donut becomes a chore after a while. It also makes these things difficult to eat if you're on the move.

Secondly, these donuts can become overbearingly sweet quite quickly. Even if you have a needy sweet tooth, there's a limit of how many of these donuts you'll want to eat in one sitting.

The most popular brand of sugar donuts are Hostess Donettes, from the same company that makes Twinkies.

10. Cream-filled donuts

Selecting a cream-filled donut can be a risky decision. Types of cream you can find in donuts can range from rich, thick chocolate custard to light, airy vanilla whipped cream — or anything in between. If you end up not liking the cream that fills the donut, the entire donut will be ruined for you.

Another issue is cream-filled donuts tend to get soggy a lot faster than other kinds of donuts. Even if the cream itself ends up being tasty, a soggy donut is virtually inedible. No one wants to chew on a waterlogged donut that has the texture of a wet sponge.

If you want to increase the chances of your cream-filled donuts being scrumptious, the first thing you should do is eat it right away to avoid it getting soggy. The second tip is to locate a Boston cream donut. You'll know exactly what you're getting if you order one of these donuts, as it's basically the donut version of a Boston cream pie. Typically, a Boston cream donut features chocolate frosting on top and white or yellow custard in the middle.

9. Cake donuts

If you want your donut to be soft and fluffy, stay away from cake donuts. Compared to other types of donuts, cake donuts are much more dense. While this may be a good trait if you're really hungry and you're looking to fill your tummy as quickly as possible, you will miss the traditional fluffiness that can make the best donuts so memorable.

It's not difficult to find cake donuts, as you can even find them at Krispy Kreme. That said, some people find that the cake donuts at Krispy Kreme should be avoided because they're too dry, too firm, and too boring.

If you do purchase cake donuts, learn about what you can do to keep these donuts fresh. By storing them at room temperature and in containers that are air-tight, you can stop cake donuts from quickly going stale. If you want these donuts to last multiple days, keep them cold in the fridge or even the freezer.

8. Frosted donuts

While frosted donuts aren't the best of the best, they're certainly an above-average choice when you're at your local donut shop. A frosted donut is a donut that has frosting on top. Sometimes the entire donut is covered with frosting, but usually the frosting resides on only the top half of the donut.

The positive aspects of frosted donuts are flavor and variety. Everyone loves the taste of frosting, and the number of possible frosting flavors is only limited by your imagination. Although chocolate frosting is the most popular, it's really easy to find donuts topped with vanilla frosting and strawberry frosting. Additionally, frosting can be used to hold sprinkles — and who doesn't believe that sprinkles make everything taste better?

Conversely, frosted donuts can be messy, and they aren't exactly easy to eat if you're on the go. One wrong move and you'll be dealing with frosting covered fingers. But the worst trait of frosted donuts is the fact that these things are usually half plain. Even if you love the frosted half, the bottom half won't be nearly as exciting.

7. Crullers

If you ever see donuts that appear to use twisted or braided dough, you're most likely looking at crullers. The twists and braids in these donuts are not only cool to look at, but a top-notch cruller (that name comes to us from the Dutch word for "twisted cake") can taste really good. If the dough is fried just right, these donuts have a pleasing crunch on the outside and softer inside that can seemingly melt in your mouth.

Unfortunately, you can't always count on crullers being made correctly. It's easy to ruin a cruller. If it's fried for too long, the entire thing will be too hard and eating it will quickly turn into a crumby situation. If it's not fried for long enough, the cruller will be too soft and the braids will come apart too easily.

Order a cruller if you have confidence that the person making the cruller knows exactly what he or she is doing. Otherwise, pick one of the other types of donuts higher on this list.

6. Long Johns

Don't worry, Long Johns have nothing to do with Long John Silver's and aren't made out of oily fish fillets. A Long John is a long, rectangle-shaped donut that looks similar to an eclair. These donuts are covered with icing, with the two most popular flavors of icing being chocolate and maple. Depending on where you live in the nation, you may also hear these donuts being called chocolate bars and maple bars, based on what flavor of icing is used.

While you can find Long Johns that are filled with cream or custard, these donuts are usually not filled. Due to the aforementioned issues with cream-filled donuts, pick Long Johns with no cream or custard if you get to choose. When it comes to the frosting, you really can't go wrong with either chocolate or maple.

The main selling point for Long Johns is their size and heartiness. One Long John will fill you up and leave a smile on your face.

5. Jelly donuts

It's impossible to be sad when you're basking in the glory of a jelly donut and preparing your taste buds for a fruitastic onslaught. Whether the jelly is raspberry, strawberry, lemon, mango, or anything else, it's very difficult to make a bad decision. When in doubt, just sample all the jelly donuts because you're unlikely to be upset with any of the flavors.

The only downside of jelly donuts is you don't know how much jelly you can expect to be in the middle just by looking at the donut. You have to take a blind leap of faith and hope that you don't get short-changed by getting only a tiny dollop of jelly — or worse. While it's not as common, it's also possible that your jelly donut has too much jelly in it. No matter how much you like jelly, it's doubtful that you spend your free time eating the fruity goodness by the spoonful.

4. Cider donuts

When you try an expertly made cider donut, prepare for your mind to be completely blown. For example, Cold Hollow Cider Mill is a donut destination in Vermont that serves cider donuts that are so good that they've been named as one of the nation's best donuts.

As their name suggests, cider donuts are made with apple cider. Additionally, the batter also usually contains nutmeg and cinnamon. These donuts are also sometimes coated with a layer of cinnamon and sugar. Eat cider donuts while drinking apple cider and you will experience apple nirvana.

Disappointingly, it's difficult to find top-of-the line cider donuts. Versions that you can find at supermarkets are almost universally subpar. To find a great cider donut, the best plan is to head to the closest cider mill. That said, you can sometimes find amazing cider donuts at mom and pop donut shops and even at a few chains.

3. Old-fashioned donuts

Don't let the name of old-fashioned donuts scare you away. There's nothing old about these things, as these amazing donuts are still as relevant as ever before.

Old-fashioned donuts are basically an upgraded version of traditional cake donuts. You can spot old-fashioned donuts from a mile away due to their unique ring shape with edges that are tapered. Compared to traditional cake donuts, these donuts have a crispier exterior, a softer interior, and are made with either sour cream or buttermilk. The result is a donut with an amazing texture and a more intense flavor.

If you find that donuts are typically too sweet, try an old-fashioned donut that is made with sour cream and your life may be changed forever. While still sweet, an old-fashioned sour cream donut has enough sourness in it to balance out the flavors and stop you from being overwhelmed by sweetness.

2. Fritter donuts

There is so much to love about fritter donuts. First, they're usually really large — big enough to qualify as an entire meal. Starting your day with a gargantuan fritter donut will keep you full until lunchtime. Second, fritter donuts contain explosions of flavor due to the inclusion of fruit. Types of fritter donuts that are easy to find include apple fritters, cherry fritters, and berry fritters. Third, fritter donuts are typically glazed, so every bite is guaranteed to have a sufficient amount of sugary goodness.

The only thing to keep in mind is that temperature matters when it comes to fritter donuts. If it's warm when you receive it, know that is probably served warm for a reason. A fritter donut that is allowed to get cold can quickly lose a lot of its luster. If you must, pop the donut in the microwave to warm it back up. Another tip: Adding butter to a fritter donut can oftentimes further enhance it.

1. Glazed donuts

Compared to other donuts, glazed donuts can look simplistic or even yawn-inducing. However, there's nothing simple or boring about how these legendary donuts taste. If you are in doubt, give a glazed donut a try and you too will join the many people who believe that these donuts are the absolute best.

If you want the ultimate glazed donut, head to Krispy Kreme when you see that their Hot Light is turned on. That Hot Light indicates that their glazed donuts are fresh, which means your lips will soon be graced by a warm donut that is so delicious that you may very well cry tears of happiness.

Even if you can't make it to a Krispy Kreme, part of the reason why glazed donuts are so great (beyond the fact that these handheld delights are so portable) is that they're difficult to mess up. Pick up a box at your local grocery store — or even the nearest corner store — and you are likely to be thrilled with your sweet purchase.