Eat the Best Glazed and Specialty Doughnuts in Houston

Like searching for the best chocolate chip cookie in Houston, finding the best doughnut in Houston proved a tricky, highly subjective task. Personal preferences between airiness and the squish factor, chewiness vs. cakiness and the glaze-to-dough ratio all played a huge role in determining the ultimate doughnut. Though the majority of the tasters never expected to meet a doughnut they didn’t like, this side-by-side tasting brought a multitude of surprising new preferences to light. After aggregating scores across 10 doughnut lovers, we were able to confidently crown the top doughnuts in terms of their crowd-pleasing factor and overall execution quality. 

Check out the video above to see all the luscious doughnuts tested! 

We taste-tested doughnuts from 13 shops around Houston to find the ultimate glazed and specialty doughnuts.EXPAND
We taste-tested doughnuts from 13 shops around Houston to find the ultimate glazed and specialty doughnuts.
Photo by Erika Kwee

Methodology

Doughnut shops were selected to maximize saturation of all options in the Houston area. However, we acknowledge that there are some glaring omissions in the final 13 locations selected, including, but not limited to, Krispy Kreme, Southern Maids, and Doughmaker Doughnuts (the latter of which was unavailable due to mechanical problems the day of the tasting). All doughnuts were picked up the morning of the tasting to maximize freshness.

Each doughnut shop was rated along two categories: their glazed doughnut, and then their best specialty doughnut, which was selected at the suggestion of the shop employee. Each doughnut was randomly assigned a number and subsequently rated during a blind taste test for flavor and texture—on a scale of 1-10—and appearance, on a scale of 1-5, for a total of 25 points. All points were added up for an overall score out of 275 points in each category.

Results are broken down into least popular, middle of the road, and top three winners in each category.

Results: Glazed Doughnuts

From left to right: Dunkin' Donuts, B&B Donuts, Glazed.EXPAND
From left to right: Dunkin' Donuts, B&B Donuts, Glazed.
Photo by Erika Kwee

Least popular: Dunkin' Donuts (142 points), B&B Donuts (141 points) and Glazed (131 points) received the lowest overall rankings for their renditions of the classic glazed.

Dunkin' was my personal least favorite; compared side-by-side alongside all other doughnuts, there was a funky flavor to their oil and the exterior was a little tough. B&B was also infused with a particularly greasy flavor that was slightly off-putting, and though Glazed had a delightfully crisp exterior, it was generally marked down for a subtly bitter taste.

From left to right: Lee's, Le Donut, Fresh & Best.EXPAND
From left to right: Lee's, Le Donut, Fresh & Best.
Photo by Erika Kwee

Middle of the road: Lee’s Fried Chicken and Donuts (173 points), Le Donut (173 points), Fresh & Best Donuts (172 points), Hugs & Donuts (165 points), River Oaks Donuts (156 points), Bakery Donuts (150 points).

Hugs & Donuts, Lee’s, and Le Donut were my personal favorites of the middle of the road doughnuts. Hugs & Donuts' glazed doughnut is a notably airy specimen with a pleasantly toothsome bite similar to Christy’s. Lee’s doughnut was remarkable for its slightly crunchy glaze, a nice chew and overall pleasing clean, yeasty flavor. Le Donut also had a particularly crackly glaze and fell into the very pale, squishy category of doughnut which proved divisive—I loved it, but others did not.

From left to right: Hugs & Donuts, River Oaks Donuts, Bakery Donuts.EXPAND
From left to right: Hugs & Donuts, River Oaks Donuts, Bakery Donuts.
Photo by Erika Kwee

Fresh and Best had a tight crumb relative to other doughnuts and was slightly drier and breadier. River Oaks was very squishy and airy: a solid, standard glazed doughnut. Bakery Donuts was dubbed too sweet by several tasters, and though the doughnuts come draped in a pleasingly crackly glaze, they were a little tough to bite into and small in size, for those who care about such things.

Queen Donut tied for third with its very pale, squishy, and slightly cakey glazed doughnuts.EXPAND
Queen Donut tied for third with its very pale, squishy, and slightly cakey glazed doughnuts.
Photo by Erika Kwee
Shipley's Do-nuts tied for third place for its winning flavor of nostalgia.EXPAND
Shipley's Do-nuts tied for third place for its winning flavor of nostalgia.
Photo by Erika Kwee

Third place: Tie between Shipley’s Do-Nuts and Queen Donut (183 points)

Who are we to deny the nostalgic lure of Shipley’s? No one, apparently. The iconic golden, airy Shipley’s ring, pronounced too sweet by some, still proved its mettle against many other doughnut shops to tie with Queen Donut’s pale, almost cakey-soft doughnut iced in a crackly, drippy glaze for third place.

The Grove Do-Nutz & Deli took second place with highly photogenic, thick and fluffy specimens.EXPAND
The Grove Do-Nutz & Deli took second place with highly photogenic, thick and fluffy specimens.
Photo by Erika Kwee

Second place: The Grove Do-Nutz & Deli (196 points)

With one of the most photogenic doughnuts, The Grove snagged second place thanks to a golden, well-crisped exterior and uber fresh-tasting, fluffy interior. While I wished for a slightly thicker glaze to stand up to the voluptuous, bready interior, this was an undeniably well-executed doughnut.

Christy's took first place for a glazed doughnut with exemplary flavor and texture.EXPAND
Christy's took first place for a glazed doughnut with exemplary flavor and texture.
Photo by Erika Kwee

First place: Christy’s Donuts (203 points) 

The magic moment for me with these humbly simple-looking doughnuts is the sinking of your teeth into the sea of a slightly doughy bready barrier, just breaking through the slightest resistance of the gently crisped crust. The pillowy, snow-white interior is perfectly yeasty with a tighter, cakier crumb than Shipleys that contrasts brilliantly against the slightly crackly glaze. At 55 cents per glazed doughnut, it doesn't get much cheaper for a first-class winner like Christy's.



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