There are a few coffee and doughnut chains which are nationwide or at least have a large region covered. Traveling with family and for business has allowed me to experience several donut shops. Yeah – notice the spelling difference there. I assume it is laziness that caused doughnut to be shortened to donut. I’ll probably flip back and forth between spellings to help with the SEO rankings. I am not a fan of unnecessary shortcutting and laziness. OMG – right?1
I believe the largest of the doughnut chains in the United States is Dunkin Donuts. They are everywhere on the Eastern seaboard. I mean that almost literally – there are fifteen locations within five miles of my house!
Dunkin Donuts’ (DD) coffee is a reasonable quality with good flavor when prepared properly. If you simply tell them “with cream and sugar”, expect an extremely sweet cup of coffee. I prefer to order with their mobile app, that way I can easily tell them how much sugar and cream I want in my coffee.
That touches on another common problem with Dunkin Donuts. There tends to be severe language barriers in communicating with their personnel. Even if they speak English reasonably well, there is often a strong accent which is difficult for some of us, like me, to process. The mobile app is your friend for ordering; just make sure you select the correct store.
They offer several breakfast sandwich options, mostly based on variations of bread – croissant, bagel, flatbread, etc. Often served significantly too hot, it is best to check the temperature before attempting to eat DD breakfast sandwiches.
Bacon here is thin and relatively tasteless. I am not a fan of Dunkin’s bacon; I usually go with sausage here. The problem with Dunkin’s sausage is it has a metallic flavor to it. Add American cheese to that for a weird aftertaste.
Big ‘N Toasted sandwiches are extremely greasy. I do not recommend trying to drive while consuming them. Have lots of napkins handy!
Over the years, Dunkin Donuts has strayed away from traditional donuts and created richer varieties, some based on croissants or cheesecake – for which they charge more money and do not include in the “dozen” pricing.
Dunkins’ filled doughnuts have a tendency to be barely filled. Imagine a pocket of filling about the size of a quarter or half-dollar inside a doughnut the diameter of a baseball. Most of the doughnut is just doughnut with no filling.
The vanilla crème filling at Dunkin Donuts is extremely sweet and lacks vanilla or buttery richness. This is contradictory to their chocolate and boston cream filling, which are much more tasty.
I often go with a simpler doughnut – the sour cream doughnut. Some may refer to these as old-fashioned donuts. These cake donuts have a sour cream base and a sugar glaze. When cooked correctly, these are enjoyable, but they tend to leave a filmy aftertaste. Many DD facilities tend to over cook the sour cream donut. It should have a light golden finish. If it is brown, it is overcooked and will be dry.
My first introduction to Krispy Kreme was a service station in Virginia. I was surprised at how good a gas station doughnut could be; usually they go with the cheapest supplier.
Krispy Kreme tried aggressively spreading across the Eastern seaboard, putting “factory stores” throughout the region. These factory stores had baking systems behind glass so that customer could see the donuts being made. I admit it was fun to watch with the best part of getting a freshly baked donut right off the end of the machine. The still hot, fresh glazed doughnut was delightful!
Unfortunately they over-extended themselves and had to cut back a number of the locations. I have to travel about 25 miles to reach the closest one now. Trust me, when I am in the area I stop in.
A little stronger than Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme’s coffee is enjoyable and they allow the customer to add sugar and cream themselves. That way it can be prepared to personal taste.
Krispy Kreme has perfected the science of the yeast-risen doughnut manufacturing process. From the customer visible kitchen, it is clear that they have defined every step of the process to ensure consistency.
The glaze and the filling at Krispy Kreme have a perfect, rich flavor without over-powering sweetness. Even their chocolate frosting is delightful.
Local Doughnut Chains
It is almost an oxymoron, but local chains often give the best doughnuts. One example is Yum-Yum Bake Shops2 which has a few locations in Bucks County and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Another fine example is Lochel’s Bakery which is based in Hatboro Pennsylvania and has kiosks in several locations in south-eastern Pennsylvania.
Local shops are typically family run and are more interested in making a quality product and provided better customer service. The larger chains are more interested in moving cheap product quickly.
Lochel’s Bakery and King of Tarts have high quality donuts and other bakery items. Both of these shops make a wonderful vanilla cream, chocolate frosted doughnut that has a perfect buttery sweet flavor.
My Favorite Doughnut Chains and Locals
Based on doughnut flavor and quality, and ignoring other services offered, the following donut shops are my favorites, in ranked order.
- Lochel’s Bakery (Pennsylvania)
- King of Tarts (Pennsylvania)
- Krispy Kreme
- Yum-Yum Bake Shops (Pennsylvania)
- Dunkin Donuts
Please remember, the content of this site and review pages like this one are my opinion based on my personal experience. I do not proclaim to be an expert on this product and your experience or preferences may vary.
Be aware that food products reviewed may contain allergens, like nuts, dairy or gluten for example.