Los Angeles serves up some of the best donuts in the world. From the classic mom-and-pop donut shops in the ubiquitous strip malls to the character theme park donuts, you can find plain 50 cent donuts, fancy $5 donuts, build-your-own donuts, donuts with outlandish flavors and ingredients, and donuts even bigger than your face! Keep reading below to find the best donuts in Los Angeles.
I truly believe that Los Angeles is the donut capital of the world where donut shops seem to be open 24 hours on nearly every corner intersection of the city and Fridays are for taking pink boxes of delicious dough to bribe your coworkers to like you.
Also, I have to mention this, as a Los Angeles native who grew up with the pink donut boxes, this history lesson on why donut boxes in Los Angeles are pink was super interesting. The short story is that a Cambodian refugee started a local chain of donut shops in the 1970s/80s and asked his supplier for a box that was cheaper than the standard white box, and he was given pink! I am very much looking forward to the documentary about him, The Donut King, which will hopefully get a theatrical release later this year!
The Best Donuts in Los Angeles
Here’s where to find some of the best fried dough in Los Angeles:
Blue Star Donuts // At three different locations in Los Angeles (Venice, Manhattan Beach, and Silver Lake), Blue Star Donuts whips up fresh donuts throughout the day including this beautiful, pink Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk doughnut. Made from a classic brioche recipe that originated in the south of France, Blue Star’s doughnuts are made with fresh ingredients and then fried in rice oil. I had to try the Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk doughnut in the shop, but I took home a Cointreau Crème Brûlée doughnut and a Matcha Latte doughnut and both were delicious! You can also find Blue Star Donuts in several locations throughout Portland.
Must try donut: The Blueberry Bourbon Basil is probably the most popular flavor!
California Donuts // I think the gimmicky decorated panda bear and unicorn donuts are some of the most Insta-famous donuts in Los Angeles. They are truly Instagram-ready donuts and while they’re a fad, they seem to be a fad that’s going to stay. Plus, they taste good! California Donuts is one of the classic mom-and-pop donut shops located in a corner strip mall of central Los Angeles and is open 24 hours a day. They take online orders for their specialty donuts and can make letter donuts to spell out a phrase such as Happy Birthday!
Must try donut: The Panda Donut! Yes, it’s an Insta-famous donut, but it’s delicious, too!
The Donut Man // Ok, these glazed donuts stuffed with fresh strawberries are amazing, and you used to have to drive all the way out to Glendora along Route 66 to pick one up, but they’ve recently opened a second location within the historical Grand Central Market in Downtown LA and are serving up their fresh strawberry-stuffed donuts when in season! They also do seasonal peach-stuffed donuts, seasonal pumpkin donuts, and have the longest chocolate bars and tiger tails that I’ve ever seen!
Must try donut: The Fresh Stuffed Strawberry if in season!
Sidecar Doughnuts // When I walked through the door of Sidecar Doughnuts in Santa Monica I got an instant contact sugar high! The smell of fresh-baked sugar was intense! I grabbed a Maple Bacon donut to eat there and took home a Fig & Goat Cheese donut and a Lemon Meringue Pie donut. Boasting the “World’s Freshest Doughnuts” that are “made fresh every hour,” I can verify that freshly made doughnuts were popping out and getting their glaze on right before my eyes at 11 a.m. on a random Thursday morning. They have 4 locations throughout Los Angeles and Southern California including Santa Monica, Costa Mesa, Torrance, and Del Mar.
Must try donut: The Huckleberry Glazed donut.
Bob’s Coffee and Donuts // Bob’s Coffee and Donuts is located in The Original Farmer’s Market, a permanent collection of food stalls and eateries adjacent to The Grove in Los Angeles. I’ve been to the Farmer’s Market dozens of times, but somehow I had never seen the donut stand before! And boy was I missing out all these years! Bob’s is famous for their signature buttermilk cake donuts, but I absolutely love their frosted chocolate donuts and I think they are some of the best cake donuts in LA.
Must try donut: Either the Buttermilk Cake Donut or the Chocolate Cake Donut
DK Donuts // One of the few stops on my donut tour of LA which did NOT require me to pay for parking was DK Donuts in Santa Monica. This fact alone makes for good donuts! The strip mall mom-and-pop shop is home to the Wow-Nut, a waffle-doughnut hybrid, which I took to-go, and the Double Decker O-Nut, a croissant/donut hybrid with a twist, but I had to try the Fruity Pebble Raised Doughnut right then and there – I just couldn’t help myself with its rainbow colors! As I took a photo of it, I overheard another customer whisper, “Wow! That is the most beautiful doughnut I’ve ever seen!”
Must try donut: The Double Decker O-Nut, a croissant/donut hybrid with a twist.
Randy’s Donuts // I don’t think there’s a donut shop that is more famous than Randy’s Donuts. With its giant rooftop donut, it’s been featured in numerous movies and music videos. Originally, it was part of the Big Donut Drive-Thru chain in the 1950s, and only 4 of those big donuts still exist. My very first blog post ever was back in May of 2013 where I did a Donut Crawl of all the giant rooftop donut shops in LA, including Randy’s Donuts, and we did a little blind taste test at the end. Randy’s didn’t win, but it was still good!
Today, Randy’s Donuts is a 24-hour drive-thru shop churning out regular old delicious donuts. The owners have recently expanded and have opened three new shops in Century City, El Segundo, and Downey which has a NEW giant donut on the roof! Three more locations are expected to open in 2020 in Pasadena, Torrance, and Costa Mesa. But I definitely recommend a visit to the original to see the original giant rooftop donut!
Must try donut: Just a regular ol’ glazed donut!
Lard Lad // Mmm, donuts! Ever eaten a donut the size of your head? The Big Pink is the huge 8” diameter donut served up at the Simpsons-themed Lard Lad Donuts inside the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. I was lucky enough to get an exclusive tour of the Lard Lad Donuts shop by Eric Kopelow, the Executive Chef of Universal Studios Hollywood where I learned that bakers start at 1 am to make the dough for each day’s donuts. Popular flavors include both the large 8” versions and smaller versions of The Big Pink, Maple Bacon, S’mores, and Chocolate Glazed. I loved getting to go behind the scenes and Chef Eric even frosted The Big Pink for me to take home!
Must try donut: The Big Pink!
Donut Friend // Did you play those “choose your own adventure” gamebooks as a kid? If so, you’ll love the donuts at Donut Friend in Highland Park where you can choose a donut base and then top it with glazes, fruit fillings, cream cheese, and toppings until you create your own little donut masterpiece. I had the Jets to Basil which is vegan cream cheese, strawberry jam, and fresh basil inside their traditional donut which is then topped with vanilla glaze and a balsamic reduction. I also took this perfectly sprinkled rainbow donut to go and it was delicious!
Must try donut: Fudgegazi or Polar Berry Club
Voodoo Doughnut // I first visited Voodoo Doughnut on a trip to Portland and I was pleasantly surprised that they serve up the gimmicky trendy donuts, but also, delicious regular ol’ glazed and cake donuts. Usually, it’s only one or the other. So when they expanded their locations and opened a store at the Universal City Walk (the shops and restaurants outside of the Universal Studios theme park), I had to visit … you know, you try the donuts and make sure they were still good! Verdict: still good!
Must try donut: The Voodoo Doll is a must!
Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts // I think Danny Trejo is a marketing genius. The pink-painted building, the coffee cups, his face on everything, genius. The Mexican-American actor opened Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts in 2017 and serves up some inventive flavors including a Nacho Donut, Horchata Donut, and Margarita Donut. While I don’t think they’re the absolute best donuts in LA, I did enjoy the inventive flavors and marketing.
Must try donut: The Nacho Donut or the Horchata Donut
The Donut Hole // Out in La Puente, you can drive through two giant donuts to get a donut. This is seriously one of my favorite places! Built in the 1960s, this shop is similar to Randy’s Donuts, serving up regular ol’ delicious donuts 24 hours a day!
Must try donut: I mean, you kinda have to get some donut holes while at the Donut Hole!
Donut Farm //
POSSIBLY CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS. PERMANENTLY CLOSED DUE TO LEASE AND PANDEMIC. Ok, I’m not vegan and I didn’t know this donut shop only served vegan donuts until we walked in. But I decided to try the Coconut Whiteout and I was pleasantly surprised!
Must try donut: I don’t know. I’m not a fan of vegan food, but my coconut donut was actually good.
Spudnuts // CHATSWORTH LOCATION CLOSED. Spudnuts used to be a popular donut chain in the 1960s that used potato flour instead of regular flour to make lighter and fluffier donuts, hence the name. However, the owner lost everything and the chain crumbled, but individual stores remained open.
I visited the Chatsworth location in the San Fernando Valley, but there is allegedly one LA location still open near USC and there’s this one just outside of Los Angeles in Newbury Park.
Stan’s Donuts // UPDATE: PERMANENTLY CLOSED DUE TO PANDEMIC.
I almost didn’t get to try Stan’s. The parking in the area is hell! Stan’s is located in Westwood near UCLA and there was very limited parking, but I persisted, eventually snagged a spot, and got to try The Huell Donut. Named after Huell Howser, it’s a raised donut filled with peanut butter and topped with chocolate frosting and chocolate chips. Service at the donut shop was terrible, but the donut was good.
Must try donut: The Huell Donut.
Colorado Donuts // Colorado Donuts in Eagle Rock is another mom-and-pop style corner strip mall donut shop which serves up some fancy donuts! I usually get the Sesame Street character donuts of Elmo and Cookie Monster for my kids, but I’m also looking forward to trying some of their fancier creations such as the Banana Nilla Wafer or their Ube Cake Donuts.
Must try donut: Ube Cake Donut (pictured below) or one of their Specialty Cronuts
Here are a few more notable donut shops I still need to visit:
- Monarch Donuts // Must try donut: Apple Fritter
- Dot N Dough // Must try donut: Malasadas
- Kettle Glazed // Must try donut: S’mores Donut
- Birdies // Must try donut: Lemon Thyme Pistachio Donut
- Blinkie’s Donuts // Must try donut: Black and White Donut
- Primo’s Donuts // Must try donut: Buttermilk Donut
- SK Donuts // Must try donut: Specialty Cronut
- Fonuts // Vegan only donuts
- Donut Snob // Temporarily CLOSED
- Astro Donuts & Fried Chicken // CLOSED
- Winchell’s and YumYum // I mean, Winchell’s and YumYum are two of the original old school strip mall LA donut chains. They serve up regular ol’ donuts (and cronuts) and can be hit or miss. But I would be remiss to not include them on my list.