Best Cheap Doughnuts
$0.30 - $1Cheapism
$1 - $1.50Mid-Range
$1.50 and upHigh End
Published on By Raechel Conover
National Doughnut Day falls on the first Friday in June -- or Nov. 5, depending whom you ask. To honor the sweet treats, we rounded up 10 doughnut lovers for a hands-on blind tasting to identify the best cheap doughnuts. We sampled a variety of classics (glazed, chocolate, iced/sprinkled, and jelly-filled) from the top doughnut chains -- Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Kreme, and Tim Hortons -- and from Entenmann's, a regional brand found in many grocery stores.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Review
The overall favorite on the strength of two standouts -- glazed and jelly-filled -- Krispy Kreme doughnuts wowed tasters with, respectively, a soft and fluffy texture and an authentic taste. Reviewers thoroughly enjoyed the chocolate and iced/sprinkled samples, as well.
Entenmann's Doughnuts Review
Entenmann's fell short on variety, but the samples tasted were a hit: second place in the glazed category and tops for chocolate doughnuts. The price is also more than right.
Dunkin' Donuts Review
Despite all the advertising hype, Dunkin' Donuts placed first with our tasters only in the iced/sprinkled category. Panelists found the flavor of the icing to be the best and the sprinkles to be the crunchiest -- an appealing and winning combination.
Tim Hortons Doughnuts Review
Tim Hortons doughnuts didn't impress our reviewers' taste buds much -- the brand didn't score a single win in our blind taste test. The bottom line consensus was dry and bland.
Doughnut Taste Test
At the outset, our panel members were asked to name their favorite doughnut shop, and many responded with Krispy Kreme. The end results confirmed this predisposition: Krispy Kreme came out tops in two categories (glazed and jelly). But many tasters were surprised to learn that they preferred the Entenmann's chocolate doughnut to the others. Dunkin' Donuts held the lead in the iced/sprinkled doughnuts grouping, and Tim Hortons fell short in all departments.
We quickly learned during our testing session that several factors affect tasters' opinions of a cheap doughnut. Flavor was an underlying criterion for all the winning entries, regardless whether the confection was jelly-filled, glazed, or sprinkled. Our doughnut tasters were united in the opinion that dryness is not a preferred quality in doughnuts. They gravitated toward those that were comparatively moist rather than those that seemed crumbly or stiff (stale, perhaps?). And while cake-like doughnuts are favored by many consumers, our doughnut panelists fancied the lighter, airier varieties (glazed, jelly-filled, and iced/sprinkled) that they considered more pastry-like over the cakey doughnut (chocolate, in this case) which seemed dense and thick in comparison.
Pricewise, doughnuts are cheap -- at least at the chain stores and in the supermarket. You can get a good cheap doughnut for $1 or less. Specialty doughnuts and those produced by smaller bakeries and cafes easily run to $2 or more.
Among the doughnuts sampled, Krispy Kreme was the most expensive. At 99 cents each, its version of the classic glazed doughnut just barely settled in the Cheapism price niche. Other varieties such as jelly-filled, chocolate, and iced/sprinkled cost $1.09. All the doughnut chains give a discount for buying in bulk. We bought an even dozen (three of each variety) and paid $7.79 at Tim Hortons and $8.49 at Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme. Entenmann's falls into a price category of its own: A prepackaged box of eight doughnuts goes for about $5.29, which translates to 66 cents each. This really counts as cheap, but you don't get much variety. The display at our local market in Columbus, Ohio, showcased an assorted box including cake, glazed, chocolate-covered, and crumb doughnuts.