Holey Donuts NYC: Low-Fat, Low-Calorie, Highly Delicious
June 2nd, 2014 by donuts4dinner

Holey Donuts NYC

Here’s a secret about me: though my blog is called donuts4dinner, I find most donuts disappointing. The idea of them is always perfect in my head. They always look perfect when I see them. Even the sight of the simplest glazed donut makes me drool like a bulldog. But most of the time when I actually taste one, I realize that the idea of a donut is usually better than a donut itself. And then there’s Holey Donuts.

When they found me on Twitter and invited me to their grand opening here in NYC, I was super mega skeptical. Low-calorie, low-fat food is exactly the opposite of what I’m all about. But I’m all about donuts in any form and am always trying to find this perfect donut unicorn, so of course I planned to line up after work with stars in my eyes.

I went to the grand opening event with my friends Kim and Ash, where we were promised a box of free donuts to sample, a Holey Donuts tote bag covered in pictures of the most ridiculously good-looking donuts, and other gifts that were completely unnecessary, because they had me at “box of donuts”. The line was long, but the people surrounding us were nice, as people are wont to be where donuts–free or otherwise–are involved. When a woman wheeled out a waist-high container of juices for us to sample while we waited and accidentally spilled the entire thing, ice and all, all over the sidewalk, people came from all directions to help. And no one took advantage and stole extra purple carrot juice, as far as I could tell.

Holey Donuts NYC

Halfway through our wait, a man from the store brought around a tray of these cinnamon bun middles, which were outrageously large for supposedly only being the middle of the bun, but we weren’t complaining. I think we all bit into them apprehensively, expecting the worst from something meant to be gluttonous but with all of the delicious fat and calories removed. And they were . . . The Best! So chewy and moist and with just the right amount of glaze to leave some to lick off our fingers when the bun itself was gone. We couldn’t believe they were just giving these things away. They ended up being Kim’s favorite thing we ate that day.

Holey Donuts NYC

Once inside, we saw why the line was so long and slow-moving. The donuts were cooked plain and kept warm in heated racks behind the counter. When you ordered one, your pink-clad donut artist grabbed a plain donut and then topped it for you while you watched. Of course there was one large old white guy who left his place in line to yell at the girls and their manager for how long things were taking and then stomp out of the store in an old white guy huff once he was already inside and mere moments away from getting his free donuts, but for the most part, people were excited and happy to wait for fresh donuts. Sure, it took a little longer than your Dunkin Donuts, where they just grab a pre-frosted donut from a display case, but the experience of watching my donut being built was incredibly satisfying.

Holey Donuts NYC

Holey Donuts NYC

The counter was lined with vats of different kinds of filling,

Holey Donuts NYC

which naturally I wanted to dunk my whole hand into a la Veruca Salt in the “Pure Imagination” scene of Willy Wonka.

Holey Donuts NYC

They had little nozzles in front that the donut artist would shove into the center of the donut for filling. (I plan to buy one of these contraptions for my home and fill it with Trader Joe’s cookie butter.)

Holey Donuts NYC

Next, she would bring the tray of donuts to vats of frosting and lightly press the top of the donut down into it. Then, she would scrape the donut against the side of the container to wipe most of the frosting off. This part, of course, physically hurt me to watch, but I guess that’s how they keep these things low-fat and low-calorie.

Holey Donuts NYC

Then, she would press the frosted donut down into the topping of your choice. Finally, she would drizzle more frosting over the whole thing.

Holey Donuts NYC

The results were BEAUTIFUL.

Holey Donuts NYC


Seriously, this was my unicorn donut. Where yeast donuts are so fluffy they collapse and cake donuts can be crumbly and dense, this was the perfect marriage of fluffy and substantial. What I loved most was that the donut base was more savory than sweet, adding some complexity to what could have been otherwise overtaken by the sugary frosting. I described it as a frosted dinner roll, but Ash and Kim said that didn’t do justice to what we all agreed were some of the best donuts we’d ever had.

I tried the Strawberry Frosted with pink sprinkles, a Raspberry Vanilla Truffle, and a Lemon Chunk Vanilla Frosted.

1) The strawberry was sheer fruity perfection, and I would’ve never guessed that I’d just seen half of the frosting scraped off the donut before my eyes; the proportions were exactly what I would have wanted.

2) The Raspberry Vanilla Truffle was delicious but my least-favourite of the three because of the filling. Usually the filling is the point of a donut, but this fruit filling was too chemical-y and fake-tasting for me. I couldn’t wait to finish the middle so I could go back to eating the edges made of just the regular batter, which is something I’ve never said in my life. That’s a testament to how much I liked the batter.

3) The Lemon Chunk Vanilla Frosted was my favorite, because the chunks of lemon topping started out crunchy but then immediately melted into this tangy tart liquid.

Holey Donuts NYC

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne-Half Star

Although my friends and I agreed that these were some of the best donuts we’d ever tasted, we were all put off by the price, and that’s really the only complaint any of us had. At $21.95 for a box of 6, they come out to about $3.66 each (and don’t even look at the shipping charges if you’re ordering them online), which is way more expensive than even your most beloved NYC donut shops like Doughnut Plant. I guess sticking to your diet has its cost.

Holey Donuts
101 7th Avenue South
New York, NY 10014 (map)

6 Responses  
  • Katie Qué writes:
    June 2nd, 20143:01 pmat


    Mail me one, pleaz.

  • Kelly writes:
    June 2nd, 20149:00 pmat

    The price point definitely wouldn’t stop me from buying them, but it would make me think twice about it, which, in addition to the low-fat and low-calorie aspects, would go quite a long way toward helping me stick to my diet.

    Well played, Holey Donuts.

    (I’ll take the pink one, please.)

  • Tracey writes:
    June 2nd, 201410:45 pmat

    So curious to try these, since I’m either always disappointed in donuts, or they make me feel ill.

    Did I ever tell you Ken’s Dad’s story about his short-lived stint working at a donut shop? Apparently, he disobeyed the strict instruction to only fill the jelly donuts with the specified tiny amount of jelly and overfilled them, thinking he was doing a good thing by making them more delicious. And then after they sat there for a couple of minutes, they apparently exploded and oozed jelly filling all over everything.

  • Holey Donuts NYC | Ettible Photography writes:
    June 3rd, 201411:33 amat

    […] Low-fat, low-calorie donuts in NYC that are also really, really, ridiculously delicious? I’m not sure if my favorite part of Holey Donuts was the lemon topping that turned from solid to liquid in my mouth or watching the look of disapproval on my friends’ faces when I described these donuts as frosted dinner rolls. Read my review on my food blog, donuts4dinner. […]

  • Ash writes:
    June 3rd, 20147:39 pmat

    Ugh these were AMAZING. My personal favorite was the one with Oreo crumbs on it but I thought the lemon coconut was also fantastic. They all were, really.

  • Jessica R. writes:
    June 5th, 201410:09 amat

    So they are low fat and low cal, but what the heck are they made of?

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