Hi, it’s us! Your local Chicago foodie friends with another guide in the Ambitious Kitchen Chicago Series! We’re back with some more sweets that the windy city is famous for: donuts.
Abra and I ran around town and landed in 4 donut shops with the best donuts in Chicago. Within each menu it was so hard to choose just one type of donut, so we’ve included our go-to flavors from each shop!
These donuts are a MUST when you’re visiting the city or have people in from out of town. Enjoy a mix of classic donuts and fun, super unique flavors for the best weekend brunch treat or weekday pick-me-up!
Have any recommendations or types of food we should explore? Leave a comment at the end of this post or on our Chicago Series Instagram posts.
- Firecakes Donuts: 2453 N Clark St. & 68 W Hubbard St.
- Beacon Donuts: In the Alley at 810 W Armitage Ave.
- Doughnut Vault: 401 N Franklin St.
- Stan’s Donuts: 3300 N Broadway Ave., 2800 N Clark St. & 1560 N Damen Ave.
Karen and Jonathan Fox started Firecakes back in 2013 as an ode to Karen’s grandfather, Billy, who was an incredible baker back in the 1930’s. His specialty was a take on modern day donuts that he called “firecakes,” which is what you’ll find at this amazing donut shop! Firecakes has locations in River North, Lincoln Park, Oak Park & Naperville, so you can get these fresh, delicious donuts in the city and suburbs. They have a selection of classic donuts like wildflower honey glazed, Tahitian vanilla iced, and a buttermilk old fashioned, plus tons of fun, seasonal flavors like coconut cream, margarita, caramel apple cider, and more. Firecakes is also known for their extra tall birthday cake donuts and their homemade ice cream donut sandwiches.
- Pistachio Old Fashioned: nothing beats an old fashioned donut with crisp edges and a super soft center, and this pistachio flavored old fashioned has the perfect texture. The pistachio flavor is absolutely delicious, sweet, and a bright green color that you can’t miss. Share it with a Tahitian vanilla yeasted donut (my personal fav) for the perfect combo.
Welcome to the cutest little hole-in-the-wall donut shop: Beacon Donuts! It’s located down an alley in Lincoln Park, and you’ll find beautiful, bright murals on the outside when you get there. Beacon Donuts opens early in the morning and sells out super fast, so I recommend ordering ahead of time to pick them up. All of the donuts are made in small batches and they offer tons of amazing flavors like choco caramel shortbread, lavender vanilla, and more. I highly recommend grabbing a few different flavors when you visit! You can also find them at local farmer’s markets.
- Birthday Cake Donut: when I visited Beacon Donuts I went with their birthday cake donut topped with vanilla icing and lots of sprinkles. I mean, who can resist birthday cake flavored anything?! It’s deliciously moist and soft, unlike some cake donuts that can tend to be dry and crumbly. It also has really good birthday cake flavor (i.e. not just “cake donut” flavored) and the perfect amount of icing and sprinkles! Also, the sprinkles matched my nails, which is a win all around. My other favorites from Beacon are the Boston Cream, Blueberry Pancake, French Toast and cookie dough! They’re seriously all SO good, you cannot go wrong.
Doughnut Vault is another true hole-in-the-wall, old fashioned donut shop that is an absolute Chicago staple. It has been one of my favorite places to get donuts since I moved to the city and it’s a MUST for donut lovers and out-of-towners. The small shop is tucked away at the corner of Franklin & Kinzie in River North, and they offer a mix of classic flavors like chocolate old fashioned, buttermilk old fashioned, and vanilla birthday cake, plus daily rotating flavors like wedding cake, pink lemonade old fashioned, and jelly filled donuts. I recommend ordering ahead of time, picking up a few delicious flavors and enjoying them on their little patio downtown!
- Vanilla Yeast Doughnut: this giant yeast donut is a heavenly pillow draped with vanilla bean icing. Despite its size, it’s super fluffy and light and truly melts in your mouth. Vanilla might not sound like the most “fun” flavor but trust me when I say this donut is a MUST try when you’re in Chicago. Split it with one of their old fashioned donuts like lemon poppyseed for the ultimate treat.
Of the donut shops in our list, Stan’s is probably the most popular shop in Chicago. You can find over 15 locations in the city and surrounding suburbs, and can even get your Stan’s fix with small boxes at local grocery stores! Stan’s was founded in 2014 and has since expanded from donuts to breakfast sandwiches, coffee drinks, milkshakes, and more. They have a wide variety of donut flavors and even some unique types of donuts like their biscoff pocket — a donut “pocket” filled with biscoff cookie butter, and their croissant donut.
- Maple Long John: yes, we have a non-round donut on our list and it might be one of my all-time favorite Chicago donuts. The long john is fluffy with crisp edges and the maple icing has the BEST flavor in the world. Perfect sweet with just enough molasses. I also love the blueberry old fashioned and the pistachio lemon old fashioned, so be sure to pick up a box when you visit!