Making a doughnut (or donut) seems easy after years of culinary training. In fact, many Michelin chefs refuse to do it! But for the plebes, crafting the perfect ‘fried cake’ is an art and a challenge. It’s easier to grab a dozen at a diner! So where can you buy the best donuts in Columbus? We’ll list a few of our favorites, and give you some doughnut-raising tips too!
Best Donuts in Columbus
1. Buckeye Donuts
Some people spell it doughnut while others spell it donut. Both are grammatically correct, but Americans prefer the shorter version. Doughnuts come in two main styles according to their leavening agent. Cake doughnuts typically use baking powder to make them rise, while regular or standard doughnuts use yeast instead. This can be active dry yeast or wet yeast.
- Name: Buckeye Donuts
- Address: 1998 N. High St. Columbus, OH 43201
- Website: https://buckeyedonuts.net
- Phone: (614) 291-3923
- Hours: Open all day and all night, even on holidays
In baking, the first step is to bloom your yeast with a warm liquid like milk or water. It takes a few minutes for the yeast to ‘wake up’ so you may need to stir it. Also, hot liquid will kill your yeast, so keep the liquid lukewarm. We’ll get into that a bit further down this article. For now, check out the delicacies at Buckeye Donuts. They don’t have vegetarian options though.
2. Daylight Donuts
Blooming yeast sounds complex. And at the chemical level, it is. The science is a little off-putting, so if you’re squeamish, skip this paragraph. For those who want to know though, yeast is technically a type of edible fungus. It feeds on sugar and carbs, releasing alcohol and carbon dioxide. This fermentation process is necessary when you’re baking or brewing booze.
- Name: Daylight Donuts
- Address: 5228 Cemetery Road, Hilliard, Ohio 43026, United States
- Website: https://daylighthilliard.com
- Phone: 614-742-7888
- Hours: Mon – Closed; Tue to Sun – 6 am to 2 pm; Wed to Sun Evenings – 5 pm to 9 pm
While booze, baked goods, and yeast flakes all contain the same species of yeast, baking yeast is activated while the other two are not. Dry yeast loses some cells while drying, and about a quarter of these dead cells coat the outer section, making the yeast dormant. When this layer touches moisture, it dissolves, releasing the active cells inside. That’s what blooming does.
3. Amy’s Donuts
Thinking of yeast as a fungus might turn you off, but mushrooms are fungi too, and we love those! It’s yeast that produces that comforting bready taste in both beer and baked goods. Yeast is single-celled, so if it doesn’t eat, it dies. And if it’s dead, it can’t ferment the carbs in your recipe to release carbon dioxide. It’s the gas that gives doughnuts that satisfying swell.
- Name: Amy’s Donuts
- Address: 650 Georgesville Rd, Columbus, Ohio
- Website: https://www.amysdonuts.com/location-and-hours/#Locations
- Phone: 614-641-7721
- Hours: 4 am to 10 pm daily, plus 24/7 drive-through
As a side note, deactivated brewer’s yeast is sometimes called wine yeast or champagne yeast. Nutritional yeast aka nooch is deactivated too, and it comes in powder or flakes, but more on that later. You can interchange these two, but neither is a suitable substitute for baking yeast. You can use instant yeast to bake, but you need more of it than dry active yeast.
4. Auddino’s Italian Bakery
When you buy a pack of yeast, you don’t know how long it’s been sitting on the shelves. And even in your pantry, you only use a few teaspoons at a time, so it can stay unused for months, sometimes years! This means it could go bad up there, which technically means the yeast died of starvation. Blooming is a test to ensure the yeast is still alive and fully functional.
- Name: Auddino’s Italian Bakery
- Address: 1490 Clara St Columbus, OH, US 43211
- Website: https://www.facebook.com/auddinositalianbakery/
- Phone: +1 614-294-2577
- Hours: Mon to Fri – 7 am to 3 pm; Sat – 7 am to 2 pm; Sun – Closed
Dry or activated yeast is grainy, like sand, with a soluble protective coating that dissolves when it gets wet. Cake yeast aka wet yeast, compressed yeast, or fresh yeast is crumbly, like feta. It has a shorter shelf life but works the same way. And it’s less concentrated, so if you’re using it in place of dry yeast, add twice the amount of yeast that’s mentioned in your recipe.
5. HoneyDip Donuts & Diner
A note on blooming fresh yeast. It has moisture built in, meaning it’s already active. So you can test it by mashing sugar into the wet yeast then check for bubbles, though it’s easier with added water. Also, if you’re using heated milk, the milk shouldn’t have steam, cream, or ‘surface skin’ because that means it’s too hot and can kill yeast. Then your dough won’t rise.
- Name: HoneyDip Donuts & Diner
- Address: 4480 Kenny Rd, 43220 Columbus, OH, US
- Website: http://honeydipdonutsdiner.com
- Phone: +1 614-459-0812
- Hours: Wed to Sat – 6am to 2.30pm; Sun – 7am to 2.30pm; Mon & Tue – Closed
Unintentionally using a few grams of dead yeast may not seem like a big deal. It’s not toxic – or expensive. But if you bake (or fry) with dead yeast, you might not notice the yeast is bad until hours later. You’ll be waiting for your dough to rise and wondering what’s wrong! By then you’ll have wasted batter, butter, eggs, sugar, milk, and a whole lot of valuable time.
6. The Stack
To avoid the mess of using bad yeast, just do a quick test. Dissolve sugar in lukewarm milk or water – synthetic sweeteners won’t work. Then add a few grams of yeast to the dish, stir, and wait 10 minutes or so. If the yeast is alive, it will nibble on the sugar and release carbon dioxide, which you’ll see as bubbles on the liquid surface. You may also detect a boozy scent.
- Name: The Stack
- Address: 262 W. Lane Avenue Columbus OH 43210
- Website: https://yourlocalstack.com
- Phone: (614) 824-1977
- Hours: Mon, Tue, Thur – 6.30am to 12pm + 3pm 7pm; Wed – 6.30am to 7pm
- Weekend Hours: Fri – 6.30 am to 2 pm; Sat to Sun – 8 am to 2 pm
It’s important to measure the right amount of yeast and water while blooming because you’ll add the whole mix to your batter. You won’t sieve or strain it before use, so if the recipe calls for – say – a cup of milk or water, you can use the whole cup to bloom, or half a cup then add the second half as you mix in the other ingredients. Check the recipe to get the timing right.
7. Peace, Love & Little Donuts
There are two main reasons why a doughnut might fry flat or refuse to rise as it bakes. One is using dead yeast, which – as we’ve recommended – you can avoid by blooming. The second cause is timing. Yeast needs room to work. It has to eat and digest the carbs before it releases enough gas to raise your pastries. So after mixing the yeast into the dough, it needs to proof.
- Name: Peace, Love & Little Donuts
- Address: 656 High St. Worthington, OH 43085
- Website: https://www.peaceloveandlittledonuts.com
- Phone: (614) 396-6503
- Hours: Mon to Thurs – 7am to 6pm; Fri & Sat – 8am to 5pm; Sun – 8am to 2pm
Typically, the yeast you have bloomed is what you’ll mix into your dough. But that only works if the recipe lists the yeast as a wet ingredient. If you need the yeast in its dry form, you can take an unbloomed portion from the same yeast packet. After all, you’ve bloomed some of it, so you know it’s alive and well for baking purposes. Add as much as you need.
8. Dragon Donuts
Lots of people assume it’s the sizzling oil or scorching oven that gives donuts their delicious inflammation. And yes, the temperature has something to do with it. But the rising action comes from the carbon dioxide emitted by the yeast as it feeds. Once your dough is made, let it rest for at least an hour at room temperature. You’ll know it’s ready when its size doubles.
- Name: Dragon Donuts
- Address: 1288 W. Fifth Ave. Columbus, OH 43212
- Website: https://dragondonutshop.com
- Phone: 614-670-7716
- Hours: Mon to Fri – 7 am to 2 pm; Sat – 8 am to 8 pm; Sun – 8 am to 6 pm
Stepping away from the process of frying or baking doughnuts, let’s talk add-ons. Regular doughnuts are dipped in honey or glazed with milk and sugar. Doughnuts might also have deliciously colorful toppings like nuts or sprinkles aka jimmies. Others are injected with a filling of jam, cream, or custard. Dragon Donuts is known for its selection – check them out!
9. Donut Destination
The best way to proof your dough is to use a dish and saran wrap. The dish should be big enough to let the dough rise without exploding and overflowing. Remember, the longer the dough sits, the fatter it gets, and you’re aiming for at least twice its original size. Grease the bowl lightly to stop the dough from sticking, and use plastic wrap to avoid contamination.
- Name: Donut Destination
- Address: 3519 N. High Street Cols. OH 43214
- Website: http://www.destinationdonuts.com/
- Email – [email protected]
- Hours: Mon & Tue: Closed; Wed to Sun: 7 am to 3 pm
You may have specific doughnut needs though, based on your lifestyle or dietary restrictions. If you require doughnuts that are vegan or gluten-free, the aptly named Donut Destination is the place to go. Head baker Heather Morris is known as the Donut Queen and she started with a pop-up at the North Market before opening a storefront. She serves coffee shops too.
10. Schneider’s Bakery
When you’re proofing dough, the plastic wrap serves several functions. It prevents the dough from losing moisture so it stays smooth and pliable. It keeps bugs and nosy fingers out of your dough. And it allows heat to accumulate inside the bowl for effective proofing. If you’re going to be out for a while, you can proof the dough in the fridge, but this takes at least a day.
- Name: Schneider’s Bakery
- Address: 6 South State Street Westerville, Ohio
- Website: http://schneiders-bakery.com/store/Donuts-c60732013/
- Phone: 614-882-6611
- Hours: Mon to Sat; 6 am to 3 pm
As for top doughnut locations, Columbus has some lovely spots in the suburbs. Schneider’s gets a special mention. Couched in the northeastern suburb of Westerville, it brings its downtown area to life with baked sweets and fried goods. It’s a family bakery with a heritage of six decades and counting. And if your tummy needs a binge, try their 10” glazed giants!
11. Duck Donuts
It’s easier to work with cold dough, so even if you proofed it on the countertop for an hour, it can be useful to chill your dough overnight. Before you put the doubled dough in the fridge, take off the plastic wrap to release the accumulated gas. Reshape the dough and re-grease the bowl. Put a fresh plastic wrap cover and leave the dough in the fridge when you go to bed.
- Name: Duck Donuts
- Address: 825 Polaris Parkway Westerville, OH 43082
- Website: https://www.duckdonuts.com/westerville/
- Phone: (614) 896-6450
- Hours: 6 am to 9 pm
Comfort food comes in many forms, and sometimes, you want something that tastes like the stuff you get back home. Franchises are great for this, so if you like the Duck Donuts style, swing by their Westerville venue at Polaris Fashion Palace. They assemble your doughnut while you wait, so you can combine your favorite fillings and toppings or experiment a bit!
12. Resch’s Bakery
If you’re proofing fresh dough in the fridge, it needs at least 24 hours. But if it had already doubled before you chilled it, overnight works fine. Think of this latter step as marinating. It’s not essential, but it lets the flavors in your dough blend better so your doughnuts will taste richer. They develop a more satisfying texture than if you fry or bake them immediately.
- Name: Resch’s Bakery
- Address: 4061 E Livingston Ave, Columbus, OH 43227
- Website: http://reschbakery.com/donuts/
- Phone: (614)237-7421
- Hours: Mon to Fri – 8 am to 5 pm; Sat – 8 am to 2.30 pm
Instant yeast aka rapid-rise yeast is an option you may explore. It’s quicker, but you need 1.25 times as much to mimic the effect of active yeast. The 1st round of fermentation at room temperature takes 5 to 10 minutes, and instead of chilling the dough overnight for your 2nd fermentation, you can reshape your instant yeast dough then toss it in the fridge for an hour.
13. Golden Donuts & Diner
As a parting shot, remember that not all mushrooms are edible, and not all yeast is equal. You may know of the common types – baking yeast, nutritional yeast, and brewing yeast. The latter two are deactivated so you can interchange them. They don’t need to be cooked and you can even sprinkle nutritional yeast on your food as garnish. But never bake with it!
- Name: Golden Donuts & Diner
- Address: 1928 Lockbourne Rd Columbus, OH, US 43207
- Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Golden-Donuts-Diner/119049851442418
- Phone: +1 614-443-1766
- Hours: Mon to Sat – 7 am to 5 pm; Sun – Closed
If the pack just says yeast, it’s probably baking yeast. It may also be labeled as dry yeast or activated yeast. The other type – nutritional yeast – is sometimes called yeast seasoning, and you can swap it with brewer’s yeast. These are not for doughnuts! But you can use instant yeast as a dry ingredient. It’s convenient, doesn’t need blooming, and rises rather quickly.
What’s your top doughnut spot in Columbus? Tell us why you love it and how to get there!