Doughnuts have come a long way since they first hit the American seaboard in the 1700s. After being carried over by Dutch settlers, they survived the test of time and eventually transformed into a global mega-cuisine. Now, there are few places on the globe that haven’t been touched by doughnut fever.
From artisan bakeries to home cooking blogs, the number of recipes and flavours out there to experiment with is mind boggling. Today, we’re going to survey 25 of the best and brightest combinations, from time-worn classics to new, experimental twists.
It’s about to get doughy and sweet in here, so buckle up.
1. Boston Cream
Based on the classic Boston Cream Pie, this traditional favourite involves silky pastry cream pumped into the centre of a delicious dough ball. It can be seen as the New England answer to the venerable white cream doughnut that takes many forms throughout the West. In true Boston fashion though, this gets dunked in chocolate or topped with a chocolate glaze.
2. Creme Brulee
Sticking with cream for the time being, what if you could combine the artistry of French cuisine with the portable wonder of a doughnut? Creme Brulee Doughnuts are just that. A delicious creme filling with a blow-torched, glazed top that cracks satisfyingly when you tuck in. They aren’t the most straightforward doughnut to bake, but few are going to be as impressive or as sophisticated as this!
3. Mango Glaze
Now for something a touch more tropical. For the fruitiest possible experience, make sure your doughnut dough is flavoured with mango as well as the glaze on top. That way you get the wonder of the tropics suffused with every bite! This started out as a niche favourite and is fast becoming a crowd pleaser.
4. Matcha Green Tea
With matcha tea being such a hit in coffee shops globally, it was only a matter of time before the powder started being added to desserts. The doughnut was all too ready to oblige. Matcha powder, a ground form of the high-quality green tea, is what gives the distinctive green colour. Matcha has a strong, earthy flavour to it, so it doesn’t take much to flavour these doughnuts properly!
5. Classic Jam
Sometimes just called a jelly doughnut in the US, a classic ‘jam’ doughnut is how you’ll hear them referred to in the UK. They also happen to be one of, if not the, favourite flavour in British stores and supermarkets. A perfectly cooked, no nonsense, sugared doughnut filled with sweet raspberry jam. It’s oozy, it’s simple, it’s how doughnuts were meant to be.
Soft, fluffy and biscoff-y, if that’s even a word (it should be!) These doughnuts have biscoff cookies spread through the batter and all through the glaze. They’re soft and easy to make. Sometimes you don’t even need to add yeast!
Another one for biscuit lovers, these have the distinctive crumble and singing taste of Oreo cookies baked into a soft doughnut. Krispy Kreme offer a classic and widely loved version, with their own signature Oreo Cookies and Kreme filling. The doughnut is then dipped in dark chocolate icing and topped with further cookie pieces.
8. Peanut Butter and Blackcurrant Compote
I often think of this particular flavour as a jazzed up, more sophisticated version of the classic PB and J. In this version, strawberry or raspberry jam is replaced with a delicious, slow-simmered blackcurrant compote. The acidic sweetness cuts across the creamy peanut butter in an indescribable way.
9. Lemon Glaze
Another simple but timeless classic. I love the citrus lift on this doughnut, lending a refreshing edge to the wholesome, feel-good dough. This is a great one for summer parties, friendly gatherings, and outdoor events.
10. Sri Lankan Cinnamon Sugar
Inspired by the tropical sands of the isle of Sri Lanka, this is a lightly spiced, lightly sugared dream. Demerara sugar is often used along with authentic Ceylon cinnamon to give it a distinctively warm, aromatic, and wholesome taste. Crosstown do a great sourdough version.
11. Jammie Dodger
I love it when doughnut makers utilise well-loved biscuit brands to stunning effect. Jammie dodger doughnuts do exactly what they say on the tin – they use Jammie Dodger biscuits to sprinkle and infuse the batter, but also mimic the biscuit itself, by packing a juicy, sweet jam centre into the whole affair.
12. Carrot Cake
Carrot cake is a delicate, subtle, unobtrusive dessert, and here it brings a certain light sophistication to the doughnut. As with the cake itself, orange carrot shavings and delicious carrot cream can be used to flavour the top. Ginger can also be used to add an edge to this treat.
13. Maple Bacon
You can hear the Canadians queueing up for this one. There are few flavour combinations quite like the heady mix of salty, crispy bacon and smooth, silky, darkly sweet maple. That’s why it’s a flavour combo that’s travelled around the world and back. Somewhere on its journey, it landed on a doughnut, and it hasn’t let go since.
14. Banoffee Pie
Salted caramel and creamy banana – it was only a matter of time before this now venerable dessert flavour made its way onto sweet dough. You can also blend the flavours in different ways, either by infusing the dough itself with banana or by using a banana, caramel mix to top the doughnut.
15. Mint Choc Chip
This refreshing combo, more commonly associated with coolness of ice cream, works just as well on the warm, fleshy goodness of a baked or fried doughnut. I think it works best when the dough is suitably chocolaty and sweet, coupled with a light sprinkling of zesty mint flavour on top. Go with mint choc chips for the garnish or, if you want to go for something a bit fancier, why not a thick chocolate glaze infused and scattered with fresh mint leaves?
16. Pina Colada
If you like pina coladas and getting caught… with a doughnut? This is a festive, summery treat just begging to be washed down with a few sunny cocktails. The pineapple zest, cherry garnish, and coconut and vanilla cream will make you feel like you’re on holiday, even if you’re at the office.
17. Red Velvet
The success of a good red velvet cake is in the smooth, silky texture of its dough. The same goes for the doughnut, where the sumptuous batter really has the space to shine. You can get as creamy as you like with the topping, or go adventurous and have the cream pumped into the centre.
18. Key Lime
Another one for lovers of citrus and zest, key lime doughnuts also go fantastically with coconut shavings. The lighter the dough, the better it will taste! Like the simple pleasure of the lemon glaze, these doughnuts go great at a summer barbecue, enjoyed with a few chilled glasses of wine!
19. Apple Pie
A collision of two all-time American classics – the apple pie and the doughnut. This sweet, autumnal wonder can be laced with cinnamon or just enjoyed for the stewed fruit filling. You can also go for an apple crusted glaze on top, but I think the filled versions are better.
20. Classic Glazed
This regularly tops US polls as the nation’s favourite all time recipe. It’s an original and has stood the test of generations. A simple, slightly crispy sugar glaze covering a light-as-air pastry in a ring. This is what’s kept traffic cops going for decades. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
21. Double (or Triple Choc) Chip
Layer on as many ‘chocs’ as you possibly can! If you like chocolate, why not get some into every aspect of the doughnut? Cocoa butter, milk chocolate glazing, dark chocolate chunks on top? They don’t get sweeter or more sumptuous than this. A real devilish treat for those days where you just need a little, or big, chocolate lift.
22. Sticky Orange Olive Oil
This is a remarkably fluffy, light and fruity offering. The olive oil balances out the orange zest perfectly and really brings the whole thing together. There’s a great recipe for it here if you’re interested in trying them for yourself! A relatively new kid on the block, but maybe one set for super-stardom?
23. Rose Cream
The wonder of Turkish delight is its rose petal finish and the same goes for this doughnut. Rose petal, or rose water as is most commonly used, can infuse cream with a certain, decadent lift. This is a great doughnut for bringing the aromatic flavours of the Levant to the hefty, sweet goodness of American desserts.
24. Strawberry Cheese Cake
I have to confess, I’ve left my favourite until almost the very end. Strawberry cheese cake has to be my all time favourite dessert, so when I found out you can combine it with a donut, I was thrilled. There are several ways to make this, but I think the best way has to be a cream cheese filling, a light biscuity edge to the batter, and a sweet strawberry conserve on top. Top it off with fresh berries if you really want to make it sing!
25. Baked Blueberry Doughnuts
Let’s round things off with a home baking classic, something nostalgic, wholesome, and nourishing. Nothing makes you miss home like a baked blueberry pie, so why not pick up a slice of home wherever you happen to be? Blueberry donuts are an autumnal, fruity treat. You can have them with blueberries baked through, or you can add extra sweetness by drizzling blueberry cordial or jam over the top.
Here ends our whistle stop tour of the taste-buds. We hope you’ve found some inspiration (and maybe some salivation) amongst these delicious recipes. The doughnut really has evolved to be a vessel for all things sweet, and sometimes savoury too.
These flavour combinations show just how versatile a dessert it really is. No wonder it’s managed to be so popular across the globe!
Get to your local doughnut store, and tuck in!