24 Types of Donuts to Take Your Taste Buds on an Adventure
Author: Anne Cowart | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
Whoever said you can’t buy happiness definitely hasn’t bought a box of any types of donuts. The go-to food after many a heartbreak, bad day, cry session, and long workday, donuts are probably one of the most common comfort foods around the world.
Though they are identified as a distinctly American treat today, donuts go as far back as ancient Greece and Rome and were brought to the country by the Dutch and pilgrim settlers.
Additionally, donuts exist in many forms and shapes across the world—that add much more deliciousness in the world. Don't forget that the first Friday of each June is National Donut Day! That's how much we love these little pastries.
24 Types of Donuts
Michael Krondl, a food historian and author, says the ancient Romans and Greeks kickstarted the consumption of donuts by frying small cakes and dipping them into bowls of honey. The practice evolved until around 1750 in England we find the first usage of the word "doughnut".
If you’re wondering just how many types of donuts exist in the world, we don’t have an exhaustive list for you, but we do have a list that comes pretty close. Read on to know, and check out the types of bagels next.
Let’s start with the very opposite of what a donut is, with its signature hole in the center, is—the hole itself. Donut holes, as the name suggests, are made from the missing central part of the donut.
This doesn’t mean that they’re actually cut out of the donut itself; they’re balls generally made from leftover dough.
Donut holes can be glazed, filled with cream, topped with types of garnish and sprinkles or coated in powdered sugar, to name a few. Bite sized, these deep-fried balls of dough make excellent snacks and though their origin is disputed, are unarguably popular around the world.
A classic, jelly donuts are filled with preserves, many types of jam, or as the name suggests, jelly. These donuts, unlike other standard donuts, don’t have a hole in the middle to facilitate stuffing them, with yeast gently used for leavening.
Sometimes, jelly kinds of donuts can also be stuffed with chocolate—whatever the stuffing, you can rest assured that there’s going to be a pop of flavor in your mouth with each bite.
A popular Polish dessert, paczkis are like jelly donuts, with a stuffed center. They’re also slightly flattened so that they’re easier to bite into. Again, like jelly donuts, paczkis don’t have a hole in the center, with a wide, circular body.
Generally, paczkis feature a coating of powdered or icing sugar, though you may also chance on deep-chocolate-glazed paczkis.
Another type of jelly donut—this time, from central Europe—Berliner donuts are also known as Krapfens and Bismark types of donuts in certain countries.
Like their jelly and paczki cousins, Berliner donuts also don’t have a central hole and come topped with whipped cream or icing sugar.
As the name suggests, these have yeast playing a very important role in their construction. Similar to brioche, yeast donuts are made of yeasted dough and therefore, are just the right amount of chewy, light and puffy.
Since they’re generally not sweet, these donut types have a sugar coating or glaze to make up for the lack of sweetness in their constitution.
The thought a donut can be made of anything other than flour can cause disbelief in some folks, but potato donuts are an actual food—and a very delicious one at that. Made of potato starch or mashed potatoes, these donuts are all kinds of light and fluffy.
Beignets are a French delicacy, made of deep-fried choux pastry that puffs up on frying. This makes these donut types similar to fritters and a hot favorite in the New Orleans area, with a dash of powdered sugar and a filling of chocolate or fruit.
Uniquely twisted (in the best possible way) into a circle or rectangle, these types of donuts are the beloved snack of New England, though they have their origins in France.
More commonly rectangular in New England and ring-shaped in France, crullers are a cross between cake and yeast donuts, typically featuring a vanilla or honey glaze.
Cake donuts are dense donuts made from cake dough, with toppings ranging from bacon to sprinkles. They’re not as moist as cakes though and therefore, more crumbly.
Baking powder is used to leaven them, after which they’re deep fried in oil. You can also bake these in an oven, like traditional cakes.
If beignets can count as donuts, with a choux pastry base, churros definitely should be, too. These long sticks of choux doux are deep fried and sugar sprinkled, with a chocolate sauce serving as a dip.
Sometimes, you’ll also find these kinds of donuts filled with fruit or dulce de leche—they come in a mind-boggling donut varieties in Spain, their motherland.
Boston Cream Donuts
An improved version of Boston Cream Pies, Boston Cream Doughnuts are topped with chocolate frosting and filled with custard. These donuts have no holes, with a generous vanilla custard or pudding filling that’s ready to ooze out on the first bite.
Gotta hand it over to Massachusetts for the best invention of the century. Fun fact—these donuts are also the official donut of the state.
Quite similar to eclairs, Long Johns are unique rectangular-shaped donuts and can be combined with all types of frosting or filled with custard or jelly.
Risen with yeast, these are then fried and not baked. In their maple-flavored-glaze versions, these donuts are also known as maple bars.
Infused with apple cider and paired with a generous sprinkling of sugar or cinnamon, these donuts make the perfect combination when coffee is added to the equation. You can use any of the types of coffee makers to get a hot cup of joe for your donut, inculding one of the Keurig alternatives.
Dense and small, these types of donuts have a hole in the middle and are a kind of a cake donut. Cider donuts are a common sight at hayrides, apple orchards and fall festivals.
A Krispy-Kreme classic, glazed donuts are what come to mind for many folks when you say the word ‘donut’. For national donut day, Offers.com polled 1,000 people on what their favorite donuts were and glazed donuts come in first, followed by the Boston cream donut.
Cooked in the classic circle shape with a hole, these have a sweet, sticky glaze and join the rest of their yeasted cousins. You can also find chocolate glazes apart from the classic, signature sugar glaze.
Cinnamon twists do not conform to the regular donut shapes—instead, they’re twisted and long, like beautiful braids.
These donut varieties generally have a sugar-and-cinnamon glaze but are also available with chocolate, maple and sugar glazes. I particularly enjoy dipping these in any types of milk I can get my hands on.
Italian born, zeppoles are fried donuts that can either be dense or fluffy—this depends on the doubt used. Zeppoles are generally topped with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and sometimes, even stuffed with chocolate or custard.
Deep fried, malasadas are originally Portuguese but extremely popular in Hawaii. These donuts have traveled everywhere the Portuguese have and been adapted to the local cultures, tastes and traditions too.
Malasadas are generally rolled in sugar after being deep fried. Malasadas are also available with a filling of fruit or custard, though they are typically served plain. Malasadas are fluffy and light, thanks to being leavened with yeast.
Persian rolls or Pershings or Persian donuts, these different types of donuts are extremely similar to cinnamon rolls, with the only exception being the base of donut doubt. These can be topped with cinnamon powder or a sugar glaze.
As the name suggests, these donuts are old fashioned, going all the way back to the 19th century. These are more cakey than classic glazed donuts and though slightly rough and crunchy on the outside, are huge softies on the inside.
These donuts have a larger hole than most other donuts, with many ridges and cracks that serve to efficiently soak up all the goodness of that sweet sugary or chocolatey glaze.
Fritters exist in many forms and are known by names around the world, with many different base materials. The fritters we’re referring to are made by frying donut dough.
These balls of dough are then covered in glaze or served with fruit. The best thing about these kinds of donuts is that they do just as well in a savory setting as they do in a sweet one.
They make an excellent pair with cheese or crab. Irregularly shaped, these come plain, topped or glazed with sugar or stuffed with apple chunks.
Donuts come in many particular flavors, such as apple, chocolate and coconut. Coconut donuts, especially, are extremely popular and available in a range of sizes and shapes.
Finely grated coconut is incorporated into the batter of these types of donuts and for those who love their coconuts, a topping of coconut adds extra flavor, especially when toasted.
Blueberry donuts are another favorite, featuring a soft exterior and a hard exterior. These may feature a light glaze—and tons of blueberry, of course.
Cronuts get their name from being a mix of the traditional donut and the French classic—croissants.
The newest kid on the block, these donuts have been making waves since their inception and can be credited to Dominique Ansel Bakery’s founder, pastry chef Dominique Ansel.
Cronuts are deep fried in grapeseed oil to give them a unique flavor and texture and are filled with flavored cream. These donuts are ring shaped but are lighter, taller and more hollow on the inside.
The internal texture, which takes after the croissant side of the family, perfectly balances the heaviness that comes from the donut side and the cream.
Cronut donut types can come with a range of glazes and sides, such as caramel, blackberry frosting and apple slices.
Extremely handsome, frosted donuts are defined by their frosting. Frosted donuts can be made of yeast or cake, though the latter provides a more stable base for the frosting.
Light and stretchy inside, with a base of yeast, these are filled with cream or custard filling, piped into the donut after it’s fried and sprinkled with sugar.
Types of Donuts for Every Dessert
With so many donuts, there’s that much more deliciousness in the world and so many more different types of donuts out there to enjoy. If you love donuts, these donuts are worth ticking off your donut bucket list—a task we’re sure will evoke no complaints.