Doughnuts are classically made with milk and eggs, and sometimes butter, which makes the search for vegan versions a little trickier. But across the Philly region, you’ll find plenty of plant-based options — from cake doughnuts to yeast-dough varieties to baked versions to pockets stuffed with dairy-free cream.
Bakers play with all sorts of ingredients to replace the dairy and eggs, like aquafaba, made from the liquid of chickpeas, fruit purees, flax seeds, and plant-based milk. It often takes some trial and error to get the right texture, but most dough-makers say the vegan component is rarely the greatest challenge.
“I think what’s underappreciated is how many variables go into making a doughnut,” says Dottie’s Donuts co-owner Jeff Poleon. “Vegan or not, the process is what’s so important and what makes the biggest difference. You can give your recipe to anyone, but if they have a different mixer or proofer or they’re frying at a different temperature, you’re going to get a different doughnut.”
Part of the art is also the flavor-making, which doesn’t diminish in quality nor creativity among plant-based options. At Dottie’s, you’ll find everything from cookie butter s’mores doughnuts to buttermilk-glazed doughnuts with a seitan buffalo wing center. And they’re not the only shop churning out innovative flavors. More than a few places offer vegan, gluten-free options, too.
Here’s where to find them.
Price: $2 (classic), $2.50 (deluxe), $3.25 (filled), 8% off half-dozen, 10% off dozen
Known for its wide and creative selection, Dottie’s has been selling its all-vegan doughnuts since 2014, now operating two storefronts that offer 10 flavors daily. “We were in bands and were touring heavily, and so we had tried vegan doughnuts in L.A. and New York, but Philly just didn’t have it yet,” says co-owner Jeff Poleon of him and his business partner, who together formed their doughnut business idea while working at Blackbird Pizzeria. “We kind of realized it was a right place, right time situation.”
Today, each Dottie’s menu offers four deluxe options, like tahini caramel, four classic options, like vanilla, and two filled options, like chocolate buttercream-filled doughnuts with cold brew glaze. There are also elaborate weekend specials, like carrot cake doughnuts topped with an actual square of carrot cake. And then there’s the “eagles fan on a greased pole,” an éclair-shaped doughnut with vanilla and matcha glaze that debuted in 2018 when the Eagles went to the Super Bowl. It went viral, landing Dottie’s on the Today show, and now shows up occasionally on Eagles’ game days.
Light and soft, with a slight chew, all of the doughnuts start with a yeast dough that incorporates Ener-G Egg Replacer, an old-school vegan alternative made with potato and tapioca starches. As for Poleon’s favorite, it’s a classic, fresh-out-of-the-fryer cinnamon sugar.
📍 Queen Village: 509 South Sixth St. 📞 267-761-9447 🕙 Daily 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 🚗 Pickup only
📍 Also available at all Ultimo locations (excluding Manayunk), all Elixr locations, Benna’s Cafe (weekends only), and United by Blue
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Price: $2.25 for cinnamon sugar, plain glazed, and chocolate glazed, $3.25 for specials
This vegan diner’s cake doughnuts strike that balance of crispy-on-the-outside meets fluffy interior. The secret, says co-owner and dough-maker Kate Hiltz, is Earth Balance, a plant-based butter that’s melted and mixed into the dough, along with a splash of almond milk. “The truth is, I tried to make my ‘perfect’ doughnut — full disclosure: the Dunkin’ Donuts of the ’80s jelly doughnut, sugared not powdered, particularly from Highland Park, N.J. — for years, but failed,” says Hiltz. “In the process, I learned that I could make a delicious old-fashioned cake doughnut.”
Always on the Tasty’s menu are cinnamon sugar, plain glazed, and sprinkle-topped, chocolate-glazed doughnuts, alongside a rotating mix of doughnut holes. Weekends bring specials like Lavender, Maple Walnut, and the Philly Creme, a chocolate-glazed doughnut filled with vegan cream cheese. If you’re looking to secure more than one, call ahead. They’re made in limited quantities, so securing a half-dozen or dozen generally requires a special order.
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Hello Donuts (vegan options)
Price: $6 for two, $16 per half-dozen, $26 per dozen
You’ll find both yeastand cake doughnuts at this Kensington spot, along with creative options, like blueberry pancake and maple bourbon with coconut “bacon.” Six different flavors are rolled out each week, and half are vegan, relying on coconut milk to mimic the textures of butter and eggs. “Honestly we haven’t found it that hard to create vegan versions,” says owner Zack Zarrillo. “Probably our most popular doughnut right now is the chocolate old-fashioned, which is completely vegan.”
If you’re not feeling something sweet, Hello Donuts offers “savories,” warm, baked pockets made with extra vegan dough filled with mushrooms, miso, and spices.
📍 Also available at all ReAnimator Coffee locations (Fri.-Sun.)
Curiosity Doughnuts (vegan options)
Price: $3 each, $36 for 13
Curiosity co-owner Alexander Talbot is a self-proclaimed dough obsessor. He currently makes 17 doughs, one of which is plant-based, producing a light and moist doughnut with a tender chew.
The secret to his vegan dough, says Talbot, is a technique called tangzhong, designed to add structure and moisture. It involves whisking flour into boiling water to form a thick paste, which is then incorporated into the other ingredients which include sunflower seed oil, sugar, and vanilla. “It’s a pretty magical doughnut, made from a really spectacular dough that just happens to be vegan,” says Talbot.
But there’s one catch. As their name implies, Curiosity’s “Not Quite Vegan” doughnuts are not 100% vegan. They’re fried in the same sunflower seed oil as the regular doughnuts, creating possible cross-contamination. That being said, everything else, including the crumb toppings and fruit glazes (think yuzu and passionfruit), is fully plant-based.
If you’re OK with the single fryer, Curiosity has “Not Quite Vegan” beignets, too, dusted with plenty of powdered sugar, available at the Spring House location.
📍 Also available at Whole Foods Market in Princeton, 3495 US-1 S, Princeton, N.J. 🕙 Sat.-Sun. 9 a.m. to sellout 🚗 Pickup only
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What better excuse to hop in the car than in the name of doughnuts? Bethlehem’s Vegan Treats fills its display cases daily with a dozen or so varieties of cake and yeast doughnuts, all 100% vegan. Some are stuffed with lemon custard and topped with eggless meringue, others are sliced and turned into sandwiches to hold strawberries and cream or toasty marshmallows and chocolate.
The top seller is the strawberry crunch, a doughnut inspired by Good Humor’s strawberry shortcake ice cream bars. It features a strawberry-based cake doughnut, strawberry glaze, and crunchy strawberry and vanilla crumbles on top. You can take a look at the menu online, which also features vegan cannolis, pies, soft serve, and more. Everything is available for pickup on a first come, first served basis, but larger orders can be placed in advance with two-day’s notice.
Don’t have a car? You can find Vegan Treat’s doughnuts on select days at bakeries across the city. Delivery days to Philly vary. Call to confirm availability.
📍 Also available on select days at Four Worlds Bakery, Grindcore House, V Marks the Shop, and Gryphon Cafe (Wayne)
VEGAN & GLUTEN-FREE
Okie Dokie Donuts (vegan options)
One afternoon nearly a decade ago, Carol Ha found herself in the kitchen experimenting with gluten-free doughnuts. Her goal was to create a treat for a friend’s family, all allergic to gluten. “I became obsessed with making a doughnut that tasted like the real thing, and now here we are,” says Ha. Today, using dough made from rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch, Ha churns out six new flavors a month at her South Philly spot, two of which are vegan. “With the chocolate ones, instead of dairy or eggs, I depend on aquafaba, and for our other doughnuts, I usually use apple or sometimes banana puree and oat milk,” says Ha.
Decadent, but not too sweet, the doughnuts are slightly denser than a classic cake style, with rich flavors like banana with caramel glaze and chocolate rose, featuring a chocolate cardamom orange doughnut topped with rose and chocolate glaze. Find them at Okie Dokie Thursdays through Sundays, along with more than a dozen cafes citywide.
📍 Also available on select days at: Hermans Coffee, Rally Coffee, Mina’s World, Zsa’s Ice Cream, Benna’s Cafe, Batter and Crumb, Crust Vegan Bakery (Manayunk location), Greenstreet Coffee Roasters, Greenstreet Cafe, Thundermug Cafe, Knockbox Cafe, Riverwards Produce, Weaver’s Way Mercantile, Art in the Age
Price: $3.50 for regular size, $1.75 for minis
Born out of owner Alice Leung’s desire to create a vegan, gluten-free, less oily doughnut, Soy Cafe’s baked, cake-style doughnuts have been a popular staple for more than a decade. “It’s probably the healthiest doughnut you can find out there. But I’ve had plenty of people who weren’t searching for something healthy tell me how much they like them,” says Leung.
Into the dough goes a housemade whole grain gluten-free flour mix, flax seeds, flax milk, and a tiny bit of grapeseed oil. Once baked, they’re dipped in dark chocolate, sometimes filled with berry compotes or jams, and then finished with toppings. Regularly available flavors include toasted almond, chocolate coconut “bacon,” and the everything doughnut, featuring a sprinkle of coconut flakes, mini chocolate chips, and toasted almonds. There are two sizes, too, in case you want a smaller treat in the shape of a doughnut, not a ball.
📍 630 N. Second St. 📞 215-922-1003 🌐 mysoycafe.com 📷 @mysoycafe 🕙 Daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 🚗 DoorDash, UberEats (for delivery, must select “cupcake” on the menu, and then special request “doughnuts” in the instructions section)
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Price: $15 per half-dozen
New to Philly’s doughnut scene, Brady Hatin started baking gluten-free, plant-based doughnuts last spring as a way to make treats his whole family could eat.
“Many of the flavors begin with family brainstorms around the dinner table,” says Hatin, a longtime vegan whose 9-year-old daughter, Scarlett, has celiac disease. “Scarlett wants marshmallows. Zelda, my partner’s daughter, wants orange and mango. It really is a homegrown family think tank — and we joke Zelda and Scarlett are the chief taste testers.”
The doughnuts are on the dense side and extra moist. From chocolate raspberry to red velvet with a vegan cream cheese glaze, they all start with a dough made from Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, almond flour, aquafaba from chickpeas, and almond milk. The dough is then tailored to each doughnut, such as adding cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg for an apple cider doughnut. Come summer, you’ll also see doughs with fruit, often family-picked berries from New Jersey.
New menus are posted every Saturday to Instagram. Order by the following Wednesday at 5 p.m. for a Friday pickup at the bakery’s East Passyunk location. Or drop by Benna’s or Grindcore House, where doughnut deliveries are made Tuesdays and Fridays.
📍 Address sent by email after ordering (also available at Benna’s and Grindcore House) 📞 215-510-6822 🌐 highfidelitybakery.com 📷 @highfidelitybakery 🕙 Order by Wed. at 5 p.m. for Fri. pickup, 2-6 p.m. 🚗 Pickup only
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