Looking for the perfect donut to start your day? With the help of some great suggestions from friends and followers, I’m happy to share my list of some of my favorite spots in Denver to get morning pastries.
I do have a personal bias towards raised donuts — there’s something so satisfying about getting a little resistance as your teeth cut through the outside layer and then bite down into the delicate springiness of the rest of the donut. My husband is a fan of a good cake, a solid semi-spongy vehicle for gingerly dipping into a cup of coffee.
Please note that this list of donut joints only includes places I’ve personally dined at. I will update this list as I get to try more places. If you have a hot tip on a place I should consider as part of this public service project, please drop your recommendations in the comments.
Also for all y’all who are up in arms that I’m not spelling it “doughut” I’m using the “donut” spelling because most of the places listed below use the shortened form rather than the original spelling. 😉
The place to get raised donuts with grown-up flavors
Berkeley Donuts is the side hustle of Drew and Leah Watson. They run their donut endeavor out of their beloved pizza shop, Hops ‘n’ Pies every Wednesday to Sunday morning starting at 7:30am until they run out (which they often do). They launched their donut project in February 2020, just before the whole world shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, they quickly found a strong and loyal following that holds until this day.
Their raised (potato) donuts are my favorite in all of Denver thus far — not only due to the texture, but the absolutely incredible flavors which are strong but sophisticated, and never cloyingly sweet.
On a recent stop among my haul was a newly released flavor — Lemongrass Ginger — which according to Berkeley Donuts’ Insta, is made with Colorado Cider Company’s Grasshop-Ah “glazed with ginger sugar and lime zest.” Holy moly, the tangy citrus taste hits you right away but has a soft finish. I think I heard violins playing after taking a bite. Inside you can see beautiful layers.
The Grapefruit had a strong citrus taste with a salty finish and is also delicious.
They also do a number of cake donuts (a little too dry for my taste) and a few gluten free and vegan donuts every day. For those who want to guarantee they get their donuts of choice, pre-order before pickup on their website.
The place to get refined cake donuts (and some local coffee)
During the 2020 Covid shutdown, pastry chef Gabrielle Gabe Henning and coffee expert Michael Milton both lost their jobs in the service industry. When life gave them lemons, they made lemonade and used to time to incubate and create their own business, the aptly named Pandemic Donuts, out of their kitchen. Since then they’ve upgraded to the commercial kitchen in Queen City Coffee in RiNo, where they sell their donuts a la cart seven days a week.
They also have partnered with other local high quality coffee shops (like Sapor Coffee – Fridays and Saturdays only) to expand their reach to customers and they run a stand at City Park Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. (Check the Pandemic Donuts Instagram for the latest details on where they are selling.)
A favorite in my household is their Key Lime Cake donut. The texture is slightly fluffy, but still crumbles. When my husband bit into his first of the Key Lime said, “Feels like quality.” Expect subtle flavoring that is (thankfully) not too cloyingly sweet.
Baked N’ Denver (FKA – Wake ‘n’ Bake)
The place for tons of flavors and a beautiful cake donut
South Broadway/Platt Park
Baked N’ Denver (formerly known as Wake ‘n’ Bake) took over a former Winchell’s location. This place offers an excellent variety of flavors, and has cake donuts that are nearly perfect consistency.
Given the quality and variety, Baked N’ Denver is priced pretty reasonably as well.
Their raised donuts are a bit on the sweet side and can sometimes be a bit too airy (not enough bite/chew/flavor to the actual donut). However, I really loved the classic jelly donut. The filling had a bright, tart cherry flavor and I didn’t mind the airiness since it had some filling so it had a nice balance.
Their cake donuts are denser, with a moist and perfect cake consistency. A bonus is there is lots of variety of flavors to choose from and great for early birds as the store is open starting at 4am. The Blueberry flavor was the favorite, also I tried orange and coffee.
Brands from elsewhere making it big in Denver
Satisfy your mochi donut cravings
Locations in RiNo and Aurora
Third Culture Bakery, a California-based mini-chain specializing in butter mochi donuts and muffins that currently has two locations in the Denver metro area. Their butter mochi donuts are a hit with locals, as ton of people mentioned to me that this was their favorite donut spot in the Mile High City.
The flavors draw from those popular in Asia with yuzu, ube, and matcha-forward items featured on the menu.
Their Mango Passion Fruit is my personal favorite – tangy and not too sweet. Expect to pay $3-4 per donut.
IN-DEPTH REVIEW: Third Culture in Aurora
When you’re looking for a donut after a night on the town
Locations on Colfax (between Cheeseman and City Parks) and Speer/Baker
Voodoo Doughnut does their hometown of Portland proud by keeping it weird with their colorful and wacky donut concoctions. With two location in Denver, they answers the call of all your late-night donut emergencies (they are open 5am-3am).
If you’re looking for subtly, go someplace else. Voodoo is famously known for their off-the-wall combinations, and visit to either of their Denver locations is kinda like being a kid from detention hall raiding the candy store.
Let’s take a moment to mourn the loss of some worth donut spots.
- Donut Burst (For no-frills excellent classic raised or cake donut in Lakewood, CO)
Have a donut shop to suggest?
Is one of your favorite spots missing from this list? Please leave your recommendations for donut shops to try in the Denver area in the comment section below!