Who doesn't love fried dough? Basically...no one, so it's hard to get a doughnut wrong. That is, unless you're tasting 22 doughnuts side-by-side, in which case some doughnuts tend to rise to the top. In any case, these 10 doughnuts are taking the art of fried dough to the next level with endlessly creative toppings, fillings and presentations. Get on them.
10. Churro doughnut from Glazed, 1333 Old Spanish Trail
Although there are plenty of unique doughnut options at this 24-hour doughnut shop in the Medical center (see: the "dirty zebra" or the trashy cereal-topped doughnuts), the churro doughnut is the one that caught and held our tastebuds at attention. Rolled in a thick layer of cinnamon and sugar and filled with a thick and creamy cinnamon-sugar custard, the churro doughnut is pure insanity when fresh from the fryer.
9. Pandan doughnuts from Tiger Den, 9889 Bellaire
Little square fried doughnuts like beignets are so airy, fluffy and crispy that they're almost as light as air at this Bellaire ramen destination. Paired with a pale green creamy pandan custard for dipping, its a perfect, deceptively light ending to a meal no matter how heavy you go with your ramen choice.
8. Popsicle doughnuts from River Oaks Donuts, 3601 Westheimer
River Oaks Donuts is home to the longest list of doughnut hole options you'll find in Houston (or maybe anywhere). You can get them chocolate-cappuccino cream-filled, Nutella-filled, as cake holes, or even as fritter bites. Need doughnuts for a special occasion? Alphabet letter doughnuts will run you $1.29 each, you can get a giant glazed birthday doughnut for under $20, or you can purchase a doughnut hole tower in varying sizes. However, it's the popsicle-flavored doughnut that caught our eye for perfect summer noshing. "They melt in your mouth, not your hand," advertises the Instagram caption. There's only one way to find out.
7. Strawberry cheesecake cronut from The Grove Do-Nutz & Deli, 815 Plantation in Richmond
You might find a few other strawberry cheesecake doughnuts around town, but The Grove ups the ante with a doughnut base that's made from a cronut (the famous croissant-doughnut mash up). Layers of flaky, crispy, just-greasy-enough dough stack up into a hefty doughnut covered in a layer of fine graham cracker crumbs topped with a drizzle of strawberry frosting, a dollop of whipped cream and a fresh strawberry. It's pure, unparalleled decadence even in the face of other delicious options like the red velvet, cookie butter, or salted caramel doughnuts.
6. Orange pistachio doughnuts from Doughmaker Doughnuts, 13515 S Post Oak
We were going to talk about the s'mores doughnut that comes with a giant bronzed marshmallow on top of chocolate ganache with a dusting of graham cracker crumbs...BUT it was phased out earlier this year to make way for the new seasonal menu. While we wait for its return, the stalwart orange blossom-honey pistachio is always a crowd-pleaser. An artisanal-ish citrus-infused honey glaze is topped with crushed pistachios for an unusual but delightful flavor pairing. In the mood for some protein? The perfectly crusty doughnuts at Doughmaker also work well with a piece of crispy fried chicken on top for the honey butter fried chicken stunner.
5. Vegan maple bacon doughnut from Ripe Cuisine, 1953 Montrose
The maple bacon doughnut at Ripe Cuisine is no ordinary salty-sweet pork-dotted creation. The Ripe team makes its "bacon" from coconut for slightly chewy, salty-sweet bites that pair perfectly with a soft vegan cake doughnut base and a light glaze. Catch the Ripe Cuisine truck on Saturdays at the Eastside Farmer's Market to sample these uniquely delicious (and shall we call them healthy?) doughnuts.
4. Doughcones from The Doughcone, 2543 Amherst
We can't glaze over the most functional doughnut ever as one of the more unique in Houston. These doughcones come baked instead of fried so even though your cinnamon-sugar coated doughnut cone will come piled high with creamy soft serve and unlimited toppings to your heart's delight, you can feel semi-virtuous. Try a "conedae" — chopped pieces of churro cone served in a cup along with soft serve and toppings — for a nontraditional doughnut cone experience.
3. Salted lime and pineapple fritter from Morningstar, 4721 N. Main
Those who like a slightly chewier doughnut should head to Morningstar where the many varieties of yeast-based doughnuts provide a slightly doughier base. The salted lime and pineapple fritter is littered with crags and valleys filled with a deliciously sweet glaze. P.S. A dozen doughnuts costs $12 on Tuesdays. If you can't make it up to the Heights shop before they close at 3 p.m., never fear: you can find Morningstar doughnuts at many coffee shops around Houston, including Inversion and Blacksmith.
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2. Glitter doughnut from Lee's Fried Chicken & Donuts, 601 Heights
The unicorn trend hasn't died out yet — check the glitter doughnut at Lee's, where a swirl of purple frosting is littered with an explosion of colorful sprinkles worthy of a true unicorn. While not available every day, the glitter doughnut will rotate through the line up along with classics including the Mexican chocolate, blueberry cake and birthday cake doughnuts. Keep an eye out for the peanut butter and green apple doughnut, also on rotation, and for the weekly Sunday-only doughnut which is always crafted with local ingredients by pastry chef Alyssa Dole.
1. Baklava doughnut from Hugs & Donuts, 1901 N. Shepherd
On July 1, Hugs & Donuts debuted a brand-new baklava doughnut featuring a cake doughnut base soaked in a sweet syrup and showered in a deluge of crispy noodles and pistachios. If you're not in the mood for baklava, perhaps the Oreo cookie crumble, a peaches and cream kolache, or one of the vegan doughnuts might catch your eye—Hugs & Donuts' vegan doughnuts have been so popoular, they're now offered daily instead of just solely on the weekends.