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Where to find the best doughnut shops in Northern New England

Reilly’s Bakery in Biddeford, Maine. Reilly’s Bakery in Biddeford, Maine | Photo by Erin Little

While the craziest a doughnut got even a dozen years ago was probably Boston cream, modern makers are not above sticking just about anything on a fried round.

Trendy places proffering outlandish toppings have their fans, but so do shops that have been around for decades, sticking to the basics: honey-dipped or powdered sugar.

After hundreds of miles and many, many calories, we’ve discovered a place in our hearts (and bellies) for both. Here are our highly subjective picks from tried-and-true and edgy artisans. Take note: Many of these places make doughnuts before dawn and close when they run out, so arrive early to snag your sweetest dreams.

 

1. Reilly’s Bakery

232 Main Street, Biddeford, Maine.

207-283-3731; reillysbakery.com

Reilly’s Bakery in Biddeford, Maine | Photo by Erin Little

Reilly’s Bakery in Biddeford, Maine | Photo by Erin Little

Seeking the definitive jelly doughnut? Reilly’s has held steady on a blue-collar strip of downtown Biddeford for more than a century. Each bite sends a sweet puff of powdered sugar into the air, followed by a generous ooze of filling. Not much has changed since 1910, right down to the candy cane–striped string used to tie up the boxes. These days, fourth-generation owners Kevin and Elizabeth Hussey (Elizabeth’s father, Michael Reilly, retired in 2019) oversee the family recipes and the mirrored wall of awards, photos, and mementos. You can also grab a loaf of freshly baked bread or a whoopie pie as big as your head.

 

2. Wicked Mini Donuts

999 Islington Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. There’s also a food truck located at the Outlets of Kittery on Route 1 in Kittery, Maine.

603-294-0697; wickedminidonutsnh.com

Wicked Mini Donuts in Portsmouth, New Hampshire | Photo by Jennifer Bakos

Wicked Mini Donuts in Portsmouth, New Hampshire | Photo by Jennifer Bakos

Sure, a doughnut topped with crushed Oreos sounds good, but a whole baseball-size one can be a bit much. Or maybe you’re a doughnut dilettante who wants a bite of blueberry and a nibble of Nutella. Either way, Wicked Mini, opened three years ago, has you covered. Each morsel is just a few inches across, and customers can choose from a smorgasbord of custom toppings, from Fruity Pebbles to tiny peanut butter cups, or opt for a gourmet flavor. Try the Wicked Whoopie Pie, a chocolate doughnut filled with marshmallow cream, or the delectable Wicked Bacon, topped with bacon and a savory-sweet smoked maple syrup drizzle.

 

3. Donut Love

112 Lafayette Road, North Hampton, New Hampshire.

donutlove603.com

Donut Love in North Hampton, New Hampshire | Photo by Jennifer Bakos

Donut Love in North Hampton, New Hampshire | Photo by Jennifer Bakos

After much experimentation, retired police officer Mike Oliveira and his wife, Steph, settled on a classic Yankee recipe, incorporating mashed potatoes into their dough. A great use of Maine’s bountiful tuber harvest, they add a nice texture but no potato flavor. Honest. Donut Love’s hand-cut pastries are made almost exclusively with natural and local ingredients—only the sugar comes from outside New England. The vibrant purple glaze on their Maine blueberry doughnut comes from the fruit, not from food coloring. Classics such as chocolate glazed and cinnamon and sugar are always good, but look for specials like matcha-mint. This dark chocolate circle glazed with an earthy green-tea mint mix is an ideal adult confection. Takeout only. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

 

4. Muriel’s Donuts

20 West Street (entrance around corner on Granite Street), Lebanon, New Hampshire.

603-448-1508

Muriel Maville insists there is no great secret to her ethereal concoctions—perfectly crisp on the outside and moistly tender on the inside. “And if there is, I’m not telling,” the 82-year-old says with a grin. Using a family recipe, Maville has been behind the counter in her tiny kitchen since 1967, frying her hand-cut doughnuts in lard, and shaking them in sugar to order. You won’t find any special flavors—just crullers, jelly sticks, plain or sugared rounds—but you don’t need them. These perfect pastries stand on their own. Hours are limited (10 a.m.–1 p.m. Monday through Saturday), because Maville still handles the business mostly on her own.

 

5. Miss Weinerz

missweinerz.com

Miss Weinerz in Burlington, Vermont | Photo by Ren Weiner

Miss Weinerz in Burlington, Vermont | Photo by Ren Weiner

In some ways, Ren Weiner’s doughnuts are very old-school—as pioneers might have done, the baker relies on hyperlocal ingredients. Most of her wheat comes from Vermont and Quebec, leavened with a slow-fermented sourdough culture, and she forages or grows many of the herbs and flavorings in her own backyard. The resulting whole-grain pastries, fried in sunflower oil, are chewy and flavorful, barely sweetened with Vermont maple syrup or honey. Flavors change based on what is growing in Vermont—past offerings included Many Mint Sugared, Elderberry Glazed, and Marigold Cream, with a filling made from local organic milk and pasture-raised eggs, steeped with flowers from Weiner’s garden. Miss Weinerz is a wholesale bakery and has no storefront, but the doughnuts are available by delivery through bb2deliveryservice.com and at farmers markets.

 

6. Mrs. Murphy’s Donuts

374 Depot Street, Manchester Center, Vermont.

802-362-1874

Grab a stool at this classic coffee shop (virtually unchanged for more than 40 years), wrap your fingers around a ceramic mug of joe, and survey the wide array of popular options. Bakers start work nightly at 10 to ensure the full selection of more than a dozen house-made varieties. Maple cream and cider cake are classics, and the crusty exterior of the perfectly balanced chocolate glazed will please any aficionado. Open 4 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday–Friday and 4 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

 

Portland, Maine: A Doughnut Mecca

Portland’s plethora of hand-crafted doughnut shops is almost unfair. Our doughnut discovery tour below hits the highlights of all the delectable bites the city has to offer. Try everything from timeless masterpiece to contemporary artisanal. We dare you.

Tony’s Donut Shop is outside the downtown core, but worth the trek. Owner Rick Fournier often holds court at a table in the business his dad started more than 50 years ago. The glazed jelly is addictive, but the warm spices and old-timey flavor of the molasses doughnut make it a showstopper. 9 Bolton Street. 207-772-2727; tonysdonutshop.com.

 

The Holy Donut in Portland, Maine | Photo by Erin Little

The Holy Donut in Portland, Maine | Photo by Erin Little

To the east of Tony's Donut Shop, you’ll find the original location of The Holy Donut (there are two others). Reviewed breathlessly in national publications, it revived the old idea of mashed-potato dough, creating light, moist pastries. Always get the dark chocolate sea salt and maybe balance it with the tart/sweet Tripleberry. 194 Park Avenue. 207-874-7774; theholydonut.com.

 

Hifi Donuts in Portland, Maine | Photo by Erin Little

Hifi Donuts in Portland, Maine | Photo by Erin Little

At the Old Port, HiFi Donuts trades in crusty misshapen gems with plenty of crispy nooks and crannies, thanks to a rich dough made with sour cream, buttermilk, and baking powder. Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible. The Old Port variety is topped with streusel, cinnamon sugar, and salt. 30 City Center. 207-747-5314; hifidonuts.com.

 

Duckfat Frite Shack in Portland, Maine | Photo by Erin Little

Duckfat Frite Shack in Portland, Maine | Photo by Erin Little

Save room for one more? They’re small. Vegetarians can skip Duckfat Frite Shack, where this takeout window’s sole doughnut option is citrus-scented holes, fried to order in duck fat, and drizzled with caramel. Better make that two orders. 43 Washington Avenue. 207-200-2505; duckfatfriteshack.com.

 

It’s doubtful that Massachusetts-based writer Jeanne O’Brien Coffey ever enjoyed researching a story more than this one.

AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.

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