The Best Doughnuts in London
Did you know that when Beyoncé sang the line “if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it,” in her seminal 2008 hit song ‘Single Ladies’ that she was talking about doughnuts? No? Well, that’s because she wasn’t. I just made that up. But I’m the sort of person that’d much prefer to receive a sugared ring of freshly fried dough than some bit of chintzy jewellery from Claire’s Accessories. And if you’re reading this guide on where to find the best doughnuts in London, then I’m pretty sure that you’re that sort of person too.
I’ve always had an affinity for doughnuts. My brother and I used to get Dunkin’ Donuts and munchkins after gymnastics practice and the promise of biting into those soft, sugary doughnuts was probably the only reason that I kept somersaulting and cartwheeling for as long as I did. Nowadays, I can’t even do a forward roll, but I can eat doughnuts whenever the hell I want. Which is brilliant. The only problem is that, living in London, I’m pretty spoiled for choice.
From the kitsch Doughnut Time hatches you’ll find strewn across the city to old school family-run operations like Ayres Bakery, there’s plenty of spots in the capital where you can get your chops around some glorious stuffed doughnuts as well as some rather refined rings of happiness. From crème brûlée creations to seasonally stuffed sausages of dough, we’ve got you sorted.
Not sure what a crodough is? You’ll be very sure after reading this, MOB. These are the best doughnuts in London. Grab a box and share them with your mates. Or just eat the entire box all to yourself. I won’t judge.
Open every weekend at Netil Market, Treats Club is home to some of the best (and freshest) doughnuts in London. A constantly changing rotation of flavours like white chocolate hazelnut, Eton mess cheesecake and banoffee pie keeps these interesting but, regardless of what they’re filled with, you can be sure that the doughnuts from Treats Club will always be light and airy. Lungile Mhlanga has found a formula that works and you’d be mad not to sample one of her fluffy doughnuts at the next available opportunity.
Netil Market, 12-23 Westgate Street, Hackney, E8 3RL
Doughnut Time specialises in hand-crafted doughnuts that are all about fun toppings and creative fillings. Made daily in small batches, most of DT’s doughnuts have punny, celebrity-inspired names like the ‘Jameron Diaz’ (a strawberry jam-filled doughnut, dipped in a strawb glaze and topped with confetti sprinkles) or the ‘Snicky Gervais’ (a milk chocolate glazed doughnut that’s filled with Snickers mousse and drizzled with caramel and chocolate curls). But don’t let that take away from the fact that they’re seriously tasty. Yes, a lot of the doughnuts have obviously been designed with Instagram in mind but they’re nearly always fresh and really hit the spot when you’re craving something sweet.
St John Bakery
I’m not saying that the doughnuts at St John Bakery are the only reason it made our list of the best bakeries in London, but it was definitely a major contributing factor. The pillowy vanilla custard doughnuts you can pick up from fresh the St John Bakery counter are one of the best doughnuts in London: a round and chubby, softball-sized delight that dimples between your forefinger and thumb at the tough and oozes its sweet innards all over your tongue at the first bite. It’s simple bliss.
72 Druid Street, SE1 2HQ
Nabbing a Bread Ahead doughnut in Borough Market and spilling half of it down your t-shirt is pretty much a London rite of passage, MOB. You’ll likely have seen these eye-catching doughnuts at some point on your Instagram feed over the last few years, and it’s not hard to see why there’s so much hype around them. The dough Bread Ahead uses for their doughnuts is fluffy and light, and their sweet fillings – honeycomb is a personal fave – successfully take their foot off the gas becoming “too much”. By which I mean that these sweet treats are “just right” and won’t leave you feeling heavy afterwards. If anything, you’ll just want another one straight away.
Borough Market, Cathedral Street, SE1 9DE
Lockdown Bakehouse was formed by two south London locals and hospitality professionals whose businesses and livelihoods came to a complete standstill when lockdown was announced. What started as an initiative to supply goods to the NHS has transformed into a full-time bakery. Head on down to try a doughnut with a difference. The chocolate and sea salt doughnuts are made with Pump Street Chocolate’s Bachelor's Hall Estate 75% chocolate while the cheeky Tim Tam doughnuts are made with a complete disregard for the rulebook. Both are incredibly delicious.
6 Ferrier Street, Wandsworth, SW18 1SW
Handmade sourdough doughnuts are what you can expect to find at any Crosstown in London with staple flavours like peanut butter and blackcurrant compote and Sri Lankan cinnamon sugar rounding off a strong selection. While it’s hard to go wrong with the classics, it’s Crosstown’s seasonal offerings that usually catch my attention. The mango with chipotle chilli, for instance, is ridiculously good – a vegan sourdough doughnut filled with smooth homemade mango curd and finished with a sweet and spicy mango and chipotle glaze. It’s one of the best doughnuts in London.
From The Ashes BBQ
What’s better than a handmade sugar-dusted doughnut? Why, a handmade sugar-dusted doughnut that’s been rammed with smoked pork shoulder, chilli jam, barbecue sauce and a scattering of crisp crackling, of course. From The Ashes is ostensibly a barbecue joint but we couldn’t not include this piggy, savoury-meets-sweet monster on our list of the best doughnuts in London. Because, well, it bloody is. And that’s the truth.
Unit 19, 10 Stour Road, Bow, E3 2NT
This family-run bakery has been going since 1911 and I am 90% sure that if you fed someone in 1911 one of Rinkoff Bakery’s oreo cheesecake crodoughs that their head would explode from sheer pleasure. Although it’s not technically a doughnut (Rinkoff’s bakers fry sweet croissant pastry as if it was a doughnut to give it its extra height and its signature layered effect), the crodoughs give any of London’s best sweet pastries a run for their money. Flavours range from salted caramel and pistachio to toffee apple crumble, with each flaky, occasionally filled creation being just as good as the last. Order an assorted box and share them with anyone you even mildly care about.
79 Vallance Road, E1 5BS
If freshly fried doughnuts are your thing then you should really consider heading to Portobello Road and patronising Happy Donuts. This Notting Hill doughnut shop was opened in 2016 and has kept tourists and locals riding on a pleasant sugar high since its inception. The raspberry jam doughnut (filled with raspberry jam and tossed in golden caster sugar) is a real two-hander that you’re probably going to need a forest of napkins on hand for but, boy, is it worth it.
254 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, W11 1LL
I’m not going to lie to you, MOB: this entry is certainly testing the limits of what you can count as the best doughnut in London. Mainly because the doughnut at fried chicken and waffle restaurant, Bird, isn’t exactly the star of the show. The sugar ring doughnuts at Bird are griddled like waffles (I know) and used to encase a crispy coated fried chicken thigh (I know) as makeshift burger buns (I KNOW). Dubbed ‘The Doffle Burger’ – because doughnut + waffle = doffle – this isn’t exactly what you’d call a light bite but it is something that’s excessively delish. If that burger doesn’t take your fancy, Bird also serves a salted caramel doffle where that warm sugary doughnut is topped with salted caramel ice cream, drizzled with salted caramel sauce and sprinkled with popcorn. Please don’t order both unless you want you really, really want your GP to warn you about your cholesterol.
81 Holloway Road, N7 8LT
Borough 22 Doughnuts
I know that the phrase “gluten-free vegan doughnuts” might seem like a bit of an oxymoron but trust me that the gluten-free vegan doughnuts which Ryan Panchoo churns out of his kitchen in south-east London will change your mind about plant-based desserts. These oven-baked doughnuts come in a host of appealing flavours (did someone say s’mores?) and are currently being sold over the counter at the Selfridges Food Hall Bakery. They’re also available for nationwide delivery if you don’t fancy putting on any trousers. Borough 22's cereal doughnut is my pick of the bunch, MOB. You’ll see why.
400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB
Handmade with love (and what I can only assume is an arsenal of flour, sugar and a load of other secret ingredients), these finger doughnuts from Longboys have a lighter brioche base than most other doughnuts and come filled with some pretty fresh flavours. Fruit-forward options like the raspberry rose lychee and lemon meringue pie are unique and deceptively easy to eat. That being said, I’ve yet to try one of their doughnut hot dogs that isn’t banging.
19 Lower Stable Street Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DR
This family-run bakery in Nunhead is a prime spot to hit up for some of the best doughnuts in London. You’ll find all the classics in attendance here alongside an impressive crop of vegan doughnuts, too. It’s worth getting a couple of each so that you can compare and contrast their sweet and subtle differences. For purely scientific reasons, of course. Not because you want an excuse to eat half a dozen of Ayres Bakery's beautiful golden doughnuts.
133 Evelina Road, Nunhead, SE15 3HB