Even in the worst of times, there’s something about a warm donut that makes everything feel OK. Here’s where to find the best donuts in the Charlotte area, how to order during the coronavirus crisis, and what to order at each spot.
Note: This is not a ranking. Donuts are in no particular order.
(1) MJ Donuts
MJ Donuts is an old-school shop with a small-town feel. But don’t let that fool you into thinking business is slow. It’s a popular stop in Pineville and will run out of its top flavors if you wait until too late in the day.
Most popular donut: Double chocolate cake. It’s a dense donut, but not too sweet.
Outside the box donut: The cinnamon crumb takes a basic glazed donut and elevates it with bread-like texture and sweet cinnamon sugar.
Specials: This shop is known for throwing in free donut holes with each order.
Price: Cake donuts are either $1.35 or $1.45, glazed range from $0.95 to $1.25. Specialty donuts like the apple fritter are $2.05.
Location/hours: Located near the Food Lion at 325 South Polk Street. It opens at 6 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. on weekends and stays open until the donuts are sold out.
Coronavirus details: MJ’s counter is shielded with big plastic covers hanging from the ceiling. The front door stays open to avoid any contact with the handle. The shop is also selling masks for $7.
(2) Duck Donuts
The crazy-popular donut shop got its start in the Outer Banks and specializes in made-to-order donuts, donut sundaes, and donut sandwiches.
Most popular: Maple bacon is a crowd pleaser. If you like sweet and savory, this is for you.
Outside the box donut: The blueberry pancake donut combines two of the best breakfast foods into one.
Price: All individual donuts are $1.52. Half a dozen cost $8.12 and a full dozen is $14.61.
Location/hours: 1710 Kenilworth Avenue. Open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
Coronavirus details: Customers should place orders over the phone or online and pick them up out front.
A tiny, no-frills donut shop tucked in the back of Growlers Pourhouse in a former storage closet.
Price: $16 per assorted dozen
Location/hours: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at 3116 N. Davidson St.
Coronavirus details: Currently, Reigning Doughnuts has assorted dozens for $16 on Saturdays only. Each box comes with two chocolate icing (one with sprinkles), two vanilla icing (one with sprinkles), two cinnamon sugar, two honey glazed, two powdered sugar, and two lemon poppy donuts. You can place your order online here and pickups are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
(4) Krispy Kreme
Known for its “Hot Now” sign, the Winston Salem-based company is a North Carolina staple. We went on a Monday evening, and there was a blocks-long line of cars using its drive-thru.
Most popular donut: Classic glazed.
Outside the box donut: Right now, it’s doing a summery lemon glazed and lemon kreme filled donut, or you could order the plain lemon glaze if you’re feeling slightly less adventurous.
Price: $1.19-$1.79 per donut
Location/hours: There are several locations in the Charlotte area; you can search for the one closest to you, see a map here. (It also tells you if the hot light is on.) Hours vary (most drive-thrus open at 6 a.m. daily).
Coronavirus details: Most Charlotte-area locations are drive-thru, delivery, and online order only right now. You can order online and check specifics about each location here. The location in SouthPark mall is temporarily closed.
This donut shop is known for its square-shaped donuts. Your Mom’s was founded in 2013, and it now has two locations, Park Road Shopping Center and Matthews.
Must try donut: Your Mom’s is constantly adding new donut flavors to the menu, but the salted caramel is a must try.
Outside the box donut: Honeysuckle donut.
Price: $3.75 each, $16.50 for a half-dozen, and $27 for a dozen.
Location/hours: Your Mom’s has two locations, plus you can find them at various pop-ups around Charlotte. The Park Road Shopping Center location (4205 Park Road) is open 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. The Matthews location (11025 Monroe Road) is open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. These locations may close early if the donuts are sold out.
Coronavirus details: Available for walk-in orders or place an order online for pickup.
The newest shop on this list, South End’s Pepperbox has quickly become a favorite. When we asked our Instagram followers for their favorite donut shop, Pepperbox came up over and over again.
Most popular donut: Salted caramel brownie or cinnamon maple bourbon.
Outside the box donut: Flavors change with the seasons, but right now, order mango habanero if you’re feeling a little wild.
Price: Classic flavors (like glazed or lemon poppyseed) are $2 each. Specialty flavors are $3.25 each and filled donuts are $4. Or order a dozen classic donuts for $18 or a speciality dozen for $27.
Location/hours: Located in the Design Center near Barcelona Wine Bar at 101 West Worthington Avenue, Suite 150. Open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day, and open late (usually until 9 p.m., depending on how soon Pepperbox sells out) on Friday and Saturday.
Coronavirus details: In addition to walk-in orders, Pepperbox is accepting preorders via its website and offers delivery.
(7) The Donut House
The popular Indian Trail donut shop has a sweet charm that draws in lots of families with small kids.
Most popular donut: Classics reign supreme. The ginormous apple fritter and the old fashioned are the top picks here.
Outside the box donut: Combine two sweet things and what do you get? A super sweet thing. The Donut House has donuts covered in your favorite childhood cereal and others topped with candies like M&Ms and Reese’s.
Price: Specialty donuts range from $1.65 to $1.75. Donuts with cereal, candy, or cookie toppings are either $1.35 or $1.50. Most others are under $1.25.
Location/hours: 13803 East Independence Boulevard, in Indian Trail. Open from 6 a.m. until they sell out, which on a busy day could be as early as noon.
Coronavirus details: Customers have the option to order ahead and pay over the phone to avoid standing inside and waiting in line.
This weekend-only vegan donut pop-up is located inside Eastside Local Eatery, a vegan cafe on Eastway Drive. Owner Kacie Smagacz has sold her pastries in various spots around town so keep an eye on her Instagram for the latest information.
Donut box: Every week, Smagacz takes about 40 preorders via Instagram for her weekend chef’s choice donut boxes. If you want you build your own box, it’s first come, first serve at the shop on Saturday and Sunday morning. Gluten-free options available.
Price: $20 for 3-4 donuts, plus 2-3 speciality items like cinnamon rolls, cookies, and more. Everything varies week to week.
Location/hours: Located at Eastside Local Eatery at 3102 Eastway Drive. Open Saturday and Sunday starting at 9 a.m.
Coronavirus details: Delivery is now available with an eight-mile radius for $5+.
This Concord donut shop and bakery has a variety of flavors, from Girl Scout cookie-inspired Samoa donuts to donuts topped with different sugary cereals. Plus, OMG Donuts sells other pastries like donut holes, apple fritters, and more.
Most popular donut: Maple bacon — salty and sweet, no wonder it’s a crowd favorite.
Outside the box donut: Cinnamon toast crunch.
Price: Starts at $0.99 for a single glazed donut, up to $1.85 for more intricate donuts like maple bacon.
Location/hours: 10005 Weddington Road, Concord. Open 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Monday, when OMG is closed.
Coronavirus details: Walk-in orders welcome or call 980.819.5804 to place your pickup order. No delivery.
(10) Suárez Bakery
Made-from-scratch bakery in Park Road Shopping Center known for its Instagram-worthy creations.
Most popular donut: Long John
Outside the box donut: Strawberry Basil (May’s donut of the month)
Price: $1.50-$3.25 each
Location/hours: 4245 Park Road. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Coronavirus details: Only four people are allowed in the store at a time. You can order at the counter or online for pickup, curbside, or delivery.
This Ballantyne shop had some of the softest donuts out of the bunch. Plus, SUGAR has both vegan and gluten-free options (just be sure to call ahead to make sure they’re ready!).
Most popular donut: Vanilla glaze.
Outside the box donut: Caramel glaze with espresso.
Price: $3.25-$4.25 per donut. $18 for a half-dozen and $29 for an assorted dozen. Gluten-free donuts are $3.75-$4.25 per donut, $20 for a half-dozen, and $36 for a dozen.
Location/hours: SUGAR is located in Ballantyne at 11914 Elm Lane, Suite 120. Open 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day but Monday, when it’s closed.
Coronavirus details: Order online or walk-in to place your order. Curbside pickup available. SUGAR also has a DIY donut kit for $15.99.
Want to read more about food and drink options during COVID-19?