At Baton Rouge doughnut shops, bakers transform blank canvases of dough

Glazed, iced, filled, drizzled, sprinkled or sugar-coated. There are so many ways to dress up a doughnut. And while they sometimes seem too pretty to eat, after biting into a fluffy, fried treat it’s hard to resist sneaking back into the box for more.

Baton Rouge has no shortage of doughnut shops. From national chains like Shipley Do-nuts to local, family-owned stores like Sambath Donuts, we have our pick of places to go to get a sugary treat for breakfast—or any time of the day, really.

Each spot remakes the breakfast dessert with their own pizazz. Local shops decorate doughnuts for holidays, football season and more, making display cases shine with bright sprinkles and colored icings.

Baton Rouge’s longest running brand, Mary Lee Donuts has expanded and created quite the early morning empire in Louisiana since 1969. So, it only makes sense that owner Vic Dunlap knows how to fancy up some fried dough.

In his 54th year in the sweet business, Dunlap isn’t tired of the treat and eats doughnuts just about every day. He loves cake doughnuts and thinks chocolate icing makes the best topper. It’s hard not to agree.

Though you may see a bunch of doughnut shops in the area sporting the name Mary Lee, Dunlap says each franchise offers something different.

“Each of our stores is individually owned and operated,” he says. “They have their own tastes. Even though they’re all under the same umbrella, they have their own personal touches they put on it. One will like working with chocolate more, and one may like working with maple.”

Flour, yeast, water and a few secret ingredients combine to create the shop’s thick dough. It’s then hand rolled, which Dunlap says gives more texture and body. When opening a new franchise this technique can take anywhere from six to eight months to master.

“Our doughnut business is built on the glazed doughnut, and that’s where it starts,” he says. “There’s at least 60 different ways to manipulate it. There’s jelly doughnuts—which is the same doughnut but it doesn’t have a hole so we can fill it up—long johns and eclairs. It’s endless with the amount of toppings you can put on. But each owner will do their own little twist.”

Check out our beautiful bounty of delicious doughnuts to see just how creative some local shops can get with this classic, circular treat.

But first, coffee

How early do Baton Rouge coffee shops open? Baristas are some of the earliest risers in the restaurant industry. Here’s who’s brewing—even if it’s still dark outside.

6:00 a.m.

CC’s Coffee House

Multiple locations

Coffee Call

3132 College Drive, F

6:30 a.m.

City Roots Coffee Bar

1509 Government St., A

Garden District Coffee

2008 Perkins Road

Reve Coffee Lab

8211 Village Plaza Court,
Building 4, Suite 1A

Social Coffee

521 N. Third St.

7 a.m.

Brew Ha-Ha!

711 Jefferson Highway, #2A

Coffee Joy

3617 Perkins Road, Suite 1B

Highland Coffees

3350 Highland Road

French Truck Coffee

2978 Government St.

La Divina Italian Cafe

3535 Perkins Road, Suite 360

Light House Coffee

257 Lee Drive, Suite O

Magpie Cafe

3205 Perkins Road

The Vintage

333 Laurel St.

This article was originally published in the April 2023 issue of 225 magazine.