Portland is famous for donuts, but for all the wrong reasons. The line outside Voodoo Doughnut extends out the door through the wee hours of the night. In return for their patience, donut seekers are rewarded with sub-par, stunt donuts.
Meanwhile, about a half mile away, Blue Star Donuts is quietly serving out much better donuts. No, they aren’t topped with children’s cereal, nor are they shaped like male genitalia, but all of the creative energy is instead channeled into making the best donuts possible.
High-quality, local ingredients form the brioche dough—similar to a traditional yeast donut, but with a little more oomph, in both flavor and texture. Glazes and fillings use real organic fruits, and the difference manifests itself in incredible, bright flavors.
The question, should you make the trek to Portland, is not where to get donuts, but which Blue Star Donut to order. So we’ve ranked them for you, from best to worst.
Note: Flavors vary by day, so some of these may not always be available. This is based on the entire selection available on the day we tried them.
- Blueberry Bourbon Basil: The first shock of this donut was that the blueberry actually tasted like the fruit, not like a Fruit by the Foot. The second shock was how impressively the three flavors went together—and on a donut, too.
- Passion Fruit Cocoa Nib: Blue Star seems to be at its best with innovative, fruit-based flavors. Here, the light dusting of cocoa nib perked up the sweetness of the passion fruit.
- Old Fashioned: A classic done better than anyone who grew up on Entenmann’s and Dunkin’ could imagine. The glaze stayed just to the proper side of sweet, and the exterior had heft and crunch, while the inside was light and fluffy.
- Blackberry Compote Peanut Butter Powder: Basically a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, transformed into dessert. The fruit filling is inside the donut, while the outside carries the peanut butter flavor in the powdered-sugar-like dusting.
- Cinnamon and Vanilla Sugar: Forget any other cinnamon and sugar donut you’ve ever had. Aside from being a terrific donut, this one has true cinnamon spiciness, while the vanilla gives warm flavor to the sugar without overwhelming with sweetness.
- Meyer Lemon and Key Lime Curd: The cure for a gloomy day, this donut is pure sunshine. The quality of the curd filling should embarrass all other donut shops.
- Raspberry Old Fashioned: Like the old fashioned, this is an amazing donut. The raspberry glaze, like the other fruit glazes, tastes like biting into fresh fruit.
- Dulce de Leche Hazelnut: This donut tastes exactly like the ingredients on it. It is delicious, but the weight of the sweet, caramel-esque topping weighs down the donut a bit and the hazelnuts get lost in it.
- Valrhona Chocolate Crunch: This one’s for the chocolate fiends—a layer of chocolate is topped with crunchy spheres of more chocolate. For non-fiends, the total amount of chocolate can be overwhelming.
- Original Glazed: This is only an extremely good original glazed donut, which puts it toward the bottom of this list—but still better than most donuts in the world.
- Chocolate Almond Crunch: The creamy chocolate topping and crunchy nuts are wonderful, but the flavors and textures just don’t come together in as much harmony as some of the other donuts.
- Maple Bacon: Coming in twelfth among Blue Star Donuts still makes this one of the best maple bacon donuts out there. It’s just that this overdone flavor has been, well, overdone. Still better than the world-famous version from across town.
- Hard Apple Cider Fritter: The flavor on this donut seemed like it would have been great—though it’sdifficult to discern apple cider from traditional apple—but the donut had spent just a hair too much time in the fryer, which gave it slight burnt notes and compromised the texture.
- Brioche Bread Pudding: Unfortunately, the conclusion here is that perhaps Blue Star should stick to donuts. The bread pudding was a little undercooked, leading to a soggy texture, while the topping was too thick and heavy.