I always appreciate it when I walk into a Zen monastery and I see a monk has taken their calligraphy brush and crafted a perfect circle in jet black ink on rice paper, now hanging on the wall. It reminds me of donuts. Donuts are the way. So during the many lockdowns of the past year, your Guide did diligent research to identify and rank the best donuts in Toronto. There is some subjectivity in the rankings. Your list of the best donuts in Toronto might differ from my list of the best donuts. I’m willing to debate it over donuts and arm wrestling.
Glory Hole Doughnuts
This shop gets bonus points for the daring name. With two shops, one on Queen West and the other on Gerard, out by The Beaches, Glory Hole makes big, show-stopper donuts in creative flavours. Grab a box and take them to Trinity Bellwoods Park to share or just sit in Graffiti Alley and eat the box alone while appreciating the street art.
Isabella’s Mochi Donut Boutique
Mochi (rice dough) donuts are crisp on the outside and have a fluffy, chewy inside. It’s like savouring a cloud. These donuts will probably appeal most to people that enjoy mochi. Although, if you’ve never had mochi before, a maple glazed mochi donut from Isabella’s might be the perfect introduction. They’re not as overpoweringly sweet as some donuts can be (for some people that are not me).
More than just excellent donuts. Bloomer’s has two locations that make a range of delicious vegan baked goods and meals, in addition to their wonderful vegan donut pillows of joy. The specialize in flavour combinations I can best describe as beautiful: rose pistachio, cranberry orange, London fog, peanut butter cup… The Bloor location is only a few blocks from our grand prize winner, Machino Donuts (also vegan), and they’re right by Christie Pits Park. Your Guide strongly encourages you to get donuts from both and do a taste test showdown in the park with your friends.
Harry & Heels California Donuts
I sometimes share my donuts and when I gave one of Harry & Heels’ to a friend, they described it as the “Platonic ideal of a donut”. You won’t see a lot of unusual flavours here. They’re about perfecting the classic donuts and they pull it off. These remind me of donuts my grandparents would pick up from a bakery when they came to visit. That bakery was eventually replaced by a Tim Horton’s. If there’s one donut at Harry & Heels you absolutely must try, it’s the blueberry jelly-filled. Like shoving your face in the most incredible blueberry pie you’ve ever tasted. Even the powdered sugar tastes special. There’s a light crispness to the outside of the dough. And the blueberry filling should be in a dictionary.
832 Dundas St W unit b
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 12 to 5. It’s located a block away from the tacos de birria of Fonda Balam, so if you want the most delicious picnic dinner ever, hit up both. You need to time it right, though, as Fonda Balam opens at 4pm, just an hour before Harry and Heels closes.
COPS Coffee and Doughnuts
As we conducted our donut research, several people mentioned COPS as their favourite. But nobody told me they were MINI donuts. So when I ordered 18 donuts, six of each of their flavours, I believed I was getting a massive box of big donuts. When a small box arrived, I was momentarily skeptical, until I smelled what was inside. And then when I reached into grab one, and it was still warm and oh, so soft, I was sold. They’re fun and delicious. Each morsel is a flavour and texture journey of joy. Don’t be afraid to order 18. You can eat a box with a spoon. COPS has two consistent flavours: a cinnamon sugar and a sour cream glaze, and then there’ll be a weekly feature flavour.
Grand Prize Best Donuts in Toronto
I remember the first time I had a donut from Machino that transported me to another world. I’d ordered a pack of six, baker’s choice, so I had no idea what was coming. One of the donuts was a mango lassi filled donut bigger than my fist. I didn’t expect much. Maybe a lot of cake with some mango-flavoured cream inside. But no. It was so much more. I bit into that and it was like biting into a croissant wrapped around the ripest, juiciest mango. It was like being on a mango planet washed in a shower of perfect sunshine. And every Machino donut I’ve had since then has been an equally otherworldly experience unique and perfect to the flavours of that particular donut.
It is definitely one of the most creative donut shops in Toronto. I’m so impressed by how the variety of new flavours Machino creates and how they nail the flavours every time, even with such range in styles. Impeccable fritters with sugary crunchy crevices, jellyfilled balloons of amazement, light and flaky cronuts, and toppings that layer together flavours and textures to make you believe you really are eating a S’more, or a Snickers bar, or a torched crème brulée. On top of all of this, they are VEGAN. They’ve made me believe other donut shops are actually holding themselves back by not going vegan.
The only other thing to add is that: because Machino Donuts is the best donut shop in Toronto, they do sell out most days. So buy early, and buy lots.
An important note:
Science is never finished. There are donut shops in Toronto I have not tried. And thankfully, there are more donut shops opening all of the time. If you do not see your donuts in this list and you believe they should be, please do get in-touch and I will be thrilled to try your donuts the next time I’m in Toronto.
In donuts we trust.