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We tried doughnuts from 4 popular chains and the winner was clear

INSIDER logoINSIDER 6/9/2017 sschmalbruch@businessinsider.com (Sarah Schmalbruch)

The four contenders. © Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER The four contenders.

The INSIDER Summary:

  • We tried glazed doughnuts from four popular chains: Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, and Tim Hortons.
  • We were underwhelmed by the doughnuts from Dunkin' Donuts and Tim Hortons, but Tim Hortons tasted better and stayed fresher for longer.
  • We were pleasantly surprised by how good Starbucks' Old-Fashioned Glazed Doughnut was, especially for a chain that's not known for its doughnuts.
  • Krispy Kreme ended up winning because it's the most traditional glazed doughnut, and addictively good.

A hybrid between cake and pastry, a doughnut can make for a tasty breakfast, snack, or dessert.

And while there are many different kinds of doughnuts out there — frosted, sprinkled, filled with jam — there is perhaps none as loved as the traditional glazed doughnut.

In hopes of finding the best glazed treat available, we tried doughnuts from four popular chains. The chains we sampled from included:

  • Dunkin' Donuts
  • Krispy Kreme
  • Starbucks
  • Tim Hortons

Click through each page to see our verdict.

Tim Hortons Glazed Donut

Tim Horton's Glazed Donut. © Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER Tim Horton's Glazed Donut.
The first glazed doughnut we ordered was from Tim Hortons, a Canadian chain that's mostly known for their coffee and doughnuts. It was a small cake doughnut with a healthy — but not overwhelming — coating of glaze that cost $1.19.

After our first bite we weren't all that impressed. The taste seemed a little bland. However, the texture was just what you would want from a cake doughnut: cake-y but not too dense. We tried the doughnut a day later, and there was no staleness; it still tasted the same.

Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnut

Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnut. © Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnut.
Next up was Krispy Kreme's Original Glazed Doughnut. We had high hopes for this one, since it's pretty much what the chain is known for. Unlike Tim Horton's version, this glazed doughnut was made from yeast and covered in a thicker, stickier glaze. It cost $1.39.

There's something irresistible about the chewiness and sweetness of a Krispy Kreme doughnut. It's a doughnut that's delicious because of its simplicity and its ability to strike a balance between light and sugary.

Dunkin' Donuts Glazed Donut

Dunkin Donuts Glazed Donut. © Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER Dunkin Donuts Glazed Donut.
Dunkin' Donuts Glazed Donut is a large, airy, yeast doughnut. Instead of a smooth layer of glaze, Dunkin's version featured a harder, shell-like layer of glaze. It was noticeably bigger than the Krispy Kreme doughnut, but cost $1.29 (10 cents less).

The doughnut was good, but nothing remarkable. Besides its size, there really wasn't anything about the doughnut that made it stand out against the others we had tried. Plus, it was the first of the doughnuts to go stale. It's not something you'll want to eat past the first day you buy it.

Starbucks Old-Fashioned Glazed Doughnut

Starbucks Old-Fashioned Glazed Doughnut. © Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER Starbucks Old-Fashioned Glazed Doughnut.
Our last contender was Starbucks, the only chain we sampled that's not known for its doughnuts. Not surprisingly, Starbucks' doughnut was the most expensive, costing $1.91. However, it was also the biggest.

With just one look at the old-fashioned glazed doughnut, we knew it would be good. It was doused in glaze, and it had a denseness to it that the other three doughnuts lacked. Before getting to the treat's cake-like center, we had to bite through a golden-brown outside that was as delicious as it was satisfying.

The verdict

© Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER
Both Starbucks' and Krispy Kreme's doughnuts presented convincing cases for first place, but in the end, Krispy Kreme won out. It's the more traditional and simple glazed doughnut out of the two, and there's something about its chewiness and sweetness that makes it addictive. Plus, Krispy Kreme makes their doughnuts throughout the day, meaning there's a high chance you'll end up with a fresh one.

That's not to say that we didn't love Starbucks' though. For a chain that doesn't specialize in doughnuts, we were pleasantly surprised its doughnut's cake-y goodness.

We weren't particularly impressed by either Tim Hortons or Dunkin' Donuts, but Tim Hortons was definitely the tastier option between the two, and it stayed fresher for longer. While we're a big fan of Dunkin's cake doughnut options, we wouldn't recommend their glazed yeast doughnut.

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