John is obsessed with donuts. I don’t use the word “obsessed” lightly. It’s not just that he dreams of donuts (sprinkled donuts, FYI), it’s that whenever he walks into a donut store, he wants to, and I quote, “make love to all of them”. 🙂 Which is why we served glazed donut shots at his housewarming party (see recipes here) and why I made him a giant donut pillow/costume for Halloween. So, it came as no surprise when he told me that he wanted to celebrate his 30th birthday by having a donut day. On donut day alone, we ate donuts from 6 different places across downtown Toronto, including an imitation cronut (the latest NYC croissant and donut hybrid craze). I have since reminded John that he’s not in his 20’s anymore, and so is not allowed to eat so many donuts in one day ever again. 😉
I’ve now tried the most popular gourmet donuts in Toronto, including the city’s first croissant-donut hybrid, and I’ve been to all but one of the local places that have won Food Network’s Donut Showdown to date. Hopefully these reviews will help you find your favourite gourmet donut in Toronto, Ontario.
Donut Tour of Toronto, ON
Summary: I would not go back.
At Glory Hole, the yeast based donuts are handmade and hand cut, as evidenced by the varying sizes of donuts. They have unique toppings, such as bread and butter (photo shown below), that change weekly. They also make donut ice cream sandwiches (photo shown below). I’ve had better tasting doughnut ice cream sandwiches that used smaller, softer doughnuts. Note that their donuts are quite large in size, which I actually think is their downfall, because the dough can be a bit dry or tough. Although this place is quite well-known in Toronto for their gourmet doughnuts, I much prefer the other donut shops.
Summary: Hands down best flavoured glaze ever.
Paulette’s donut storefront was recently turned into a restaurant. Luckily, the restaurant will continue to serve Paulette’s donuts. Paulette’s donuts have an old fashioned, crumbly, cake texture that is paired with interesting, modern flavours and toppings. Although I prefer yeast based donuts, I am in love with their blueberry balsamic glaze donuts. The glaze is beautiful, unique, well-balanced in flavours, and incredibly delicious. I also love that the glaze covers the entire donut. Paulette’s also offers a selection of flavours in gluten free donuts.
Summary: I would not go back. But if I did, I would get the maple bacon donut or the raspberry jam filled donut.
Modern Jelly Doughnuts is a Canadian donut chain. The store in Toronto is their second location. They use organic ingredients and feature different flavours all of the time. I tried their yeast donuts. They won Food Network’s Donut Showdown with their Bollywood themed donut (photo shown below), which I personally didn’t enjoy. Their maple bacon donut is, by far, my favourite Modern Jelly flavour (photo shown below). I would return just for that donut. Their raspberry jam donut was also quite good (photo shown below), but most of the other flavours that I’ve tried were unpleasant. I often find their glazes to be too sweet or still grainy. In fact, their lemon curd donut was the worst lemon curd I’ve ever had. It was incredibly grainy and much too sweet. They offer gluten-free donuts, but I have not tried them yet. So, although I have enjoyed some of their donuts quite a bit, I would be hesitant to try more of their flavours, because most of the ones that I have tried were not worth finishing.
Summary: Hands down best yeast dough and simple glaze, but only when they’re freshly made.
Rachelle no longer has a store front, so she supplies select restaurants in the city. We went to The Beast for her doughnuts. In my opinion, Rachelle’s Doughnuts are the best overall doughnut in the city. Their yeast based dough is beautifully soft and lightly chewy. But above all, they have the best, most refined doughnut glaze I’ve ever tried. The judges on Food Network’s Donut Showdown loved her glaze too. In fact, she won first place. I really like the browned butter glaze (photo shown below), but found the fruit flavoured glaze with sprinkles (photo shown below) to be too artificial in flavour for my taste. I went back a second time to try a few other flavours, including their maple bacon and peanut butter and chocolate. The browned butter was my favourite. I’d also like to add that it is very important to eat Rachelle’s donuts early in the morning. I went in the afternoon, once, and the donuts were not nearly as enjoyable.
Summary: I would not go back.
In Kensington Market, Toronto, ON, if you look up and see this sign, you will find freshly fried small cake donuts. You can buy them plain or dusted in icing sugar and/or cinnamon. Despite the fact that you can get them fresh out of the fryer, these were nothing special, in my opinion. The service was excellent, though.
Summary: The yeast dough is second to Rachelle’s and is a bit chewier, but not all of Emma’s donuts are created equally.
Emma’s County Kitchen won first place on the Food Network’s Donut Showdown. Since it is a popular breakfast place, we started with the yeast donuts and then stayed for brunch. Although the service was great, we did not like our breakfasts, at all. If you’re interested in trying their donuts, follow their twitter account to find out which flavours they’re selling, as it changes each day. Their donuts sell out very quickly on the weekends, so call ahead and reserve some. Their donut dough is nice and chewy and is my second favourite dough in the city (second to Rachelle’s which is softer and airier). We tried their maple bacon, chocolate and peanut, and apple fritter donuts.
I loved the real bacon bits and the subtly sweet glaze, but it was lacking in smoky and maple flavour.
The chocolate peanut butter donut had crushed up peanut butter cups on top and was a bit too sweet for my taste.
Finally, the apple fritter was very disappointing. It was too heavy and far too greasy. Overall, I would go back to try their other flavours, but this place wouldn’t be my first choice for a donut run.
Summary: The frosting and donut toppings are executed with the most sophistication.
J’Adore Cakes Co. is a bakery that is also known for their donuts. They won first place on Food Network’s Donut Showdown. The pastry chef studied at Le Cordon Bleu and it really shows in the execution and sophistication of the simplest, most classic, donut toppings. They sell small yeast donuts that are beautifully put together. Although I found the donuts to be a bit dry, the toppings definitely stood out above the rest. We tried the blueberry cheesecake and elvis donuts (photo shown below). The cream cheese filling and the peanut butter frosting were both light and perfectly balanced. I will definitely be going back to try their cakes. I’d also like to try their lemon curd donut.
Summary: Hands down best cake doughnut ever.
I don’t normally like cake doughnuts, but VON doughnuts has the best cake doughnuts I’ve ever had. Somehow, they managed to make their cake donuts chewy like the yeast donuts that I prefer. We tried their dill pickle cake donut (photo shown below). The deep fried pickle was nothing special and the glaze and dough tasted very dilly. It wasn’t unpleasant, but I wouldn’t call it a must-try flavour. We also tried a chocolate and hazelnut cake donut that had a delicious chocolatey ganache on top, and a crust all around the outside of the donut. The inside of the donut was chocolate flavoured and cakey. It was slightly dry and not sweet enough for my taste. They also have raised (yeast based) donut holes that are nice and soft (photo shown below). We tried their vanilla bean and french toast raised donut holes. Personally, I found that their glazes were way too sweet. Apparently, their best seller is their crème brûlée donut (photo shown below). If you like cake doughnuts, you should definitely give VON doughnuts a chance.
Summary: I would not go back.
It appears that Le Dolci was the first bakery in Toronto, ON to imitate the cronut. We tried their Belgian chocolate and maple caramel flavours (photos shown below). We were both very disappointed with Le Dolci’s cronuts. They were crunchy but tough on the outside, and dry and too chewy on the inside. Neither of the flavours was particularly pleasing or memorable. I haven’t had the opportunity to try the “real” cronut from Dominique Ansel Bakery in NYC yet, so I have no idea how this compares, but I would skip Le Dolci if I were you. It’s not worth the $3 per “cronut”, the gas money, your time, or the calories, in my opinion.
Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens
The entire world has heard about the cronut – the latest food craze in NYC that has crossed the croissant with the donut. However, the Loblaws location at 60 Carlton Street in Toronto, ON may have been the first to offer a croissant-donut hybrid. These are simply croissants that have been flash fried and then glazed. They also come in maple praline. I tried both and enjoyed both. In fact, I liked these much more than Le Dolci’s imitation cronut, but like I said, I can’t compare it to the “real” cronut yet.
Summary: My favourite non-gourmet, chain donuts, but only if they are fresh out of the hot oil.
This is an American donut chain that retreated as quickly as it expanded throughout the Greater Toronto Area several years ago. One location remains in Mississauga that deep fries the donuts fresh every few hours. Krispy Kreme’s original glazed donuts are my all time favourite chain donuts, because the dough is super soft and practically melts in your mouth. But, you should know that I can only eat Krispy Kreme donuts if they are fresh out of the fryer. They are simply no good when cooled. Also, I don’t like any of the other flavours, although John recently introduced me to their plain, unglazed donuts which are good if you like a slightly salty donut. Every now and then I will drive the 40 minutes to Krispy Kreme and hang around for another 1 to 3 hours while I wait for them to deep fry their next fresh batch of donuts. Luckily there are a lot of retail stores nearby.