Ask yourself: What, exactly, is a donut? At The Daily Meal, we define a donut as an item that you would expect to see in a donut shop: the familiar ones we know and love (of both the raised and cake varieties), like crullers, apple fritters, and other donut-shop classics — you know them when you see them.
So, in order to assemble our most-recent ranking of the 25 best in the country, we more than doubled the number on the previous list from the year before. We stuck to strict criteria in looking for the best individual donuts in America: Freshness is key; are these legendary donuts — ones that inspire cultish devotion to the shop that sells them? We considered both plain glazed and extravagantly topped creations, but there must be a balance between all the components, be it bacon or blueberry jelly. Most importantly, these donuts need to be almost too good: fresh, soft, gooey, perfectly proportioned, and intended to leave you wanting just one more bite. There were over two dozen we believed deserved to be included on our list, and as it turns out, four can be found in Chicago — including the country’s very best.
While not an easy place to score your donuts (they're only open until they sell out, which can take less than an hour), once you’ve made your precious purchase it’s nearly impossible not to leave The Doughnut Vault a very happy camper, in proud possession of the best doughnuts in America. The menu is gigantic, but narrow down your options to the cake donuts, which are surprisingly light and fresh. From there your best bet is to keep it simple; a simple, sugary glaze should be all you need to change your opinion of cake donuts forever.
They’re so good, ithey made it all the way to #4 on our national list, beating out the chocolate glazed donut at Do-Rite Donuts and Coffee (#13), the plain glazed donut at Dat Donuts (#16), and the chocolate cake donut at Dinkel’s Bakery (#24) This means that Doughnut Vault’s plain glazed donut is both the best donut in Chicago, and also the title winner of the best donut in America.