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Updated: Sep 29, 2021

In todays busy, fast-paced world, it's nice to know there are still those places that don't take shortcuts. No skipping: Real butter, eggs and cream. Decorations that Instagram worthy and flavor combinations that have us drooling. We're talking donut shops & bakeries where everything is made from scratch. Here is our lineup of 5 to sink your teeth into.

By Amanda Lisk

At Ahoy Doughnuts in Oak Island, there are over 100 different doughnuts to choose from. They make mermaid donuts with mermaid tails, strawberry shortcake donuts with fresh strawberries, a peach cobbler donut, a key lime donut, an almond joy doughnut, and the list goes on and on. The 4th of July is kind of a big deal at Ahoy.

“We go all out,” says owner Kelly Eckard.

Kelly and wife Angela Eckard of Hickory, NC are the Ahoy Doughnuts owners. They spent their summers vacationing at Oak Island when their two daughters were young. In 2016 they decided to make Oak Island their permanent home and bought Ahoy. Their daughters, son-in-laws and grandbabies followed. Today, making doughnuts is a family affair. Kelly, a former police officer, says it’s the perfect fit. “I’m a retired cop—no one knows donuts better than a cop,” laughs Kelly. The Eckard’s are strong Christians, so they play Christian music in the background, write Bible verses on the chalkboard, and if anyone mentions Jesus, they get a free doughnut.

“We love the Lord. All of our boxes are stamped with scripture; we want to use this to plant seeds, to make donuts and tell everyone that Jesus loves them,” says Kelly. Daughter Emily is a wiz at decorating and caters birthday parties. Ahoy also makes a Sun Drop cake, muffins and their bagels are shipped in from New York. Discounts are given to veterans and first responders.

“They are the backbone of our country and I look out for them,” says Eckard. Hurricane Florence did a number on Ahoy Doughnuts, but they have since bounced back, and the Eckard’s expect to say “Ahoy” to many new customers.

5821 E Oak Island Dr. Oak Island, NC 910.250.1005 Open Every Day 7-11:30 a.m.

Home of the famous Wake N Bacon donut and winner of the Cooking Channel’s Donut Showdown, Wake N Bake Donuts has been racking up the rewards lately. They’ve won best donuts by three different news organizations and are enjoying top ratings from TripAdvisor.

Wake N Bake owner Danny Tangredi and his wife Amanda opened in 2014 after seeing a similar donut shop in Maryland. You can find traditional donuts at Wake N Bake, but most come for the 30 different extreme ones. The “Snickerbomb” donut has an entire Snickers bar stuffed inside, “Dat Ghost Fire” is made with ghost pepper infused chocolate glaze and jalapeños, the “Wake N Bacon” donut is their popular maple frosted donut with crumbled bacon on top, and “Slimm Shady” has potato chips on top.

“I think people have gotten used to us being that boutique that has so many different options you’re bound to find one; we’re like the Baskin Robbins of donuts,” laughs Tangredi.

Wake N Bake just got city approval to sell alcohol, which means Tangredi can now do beer and donut pairings and serve alcoholinfused donuts. Wake N Bake is one of the only donut shops to stay open until 10 p.m., so it works.

“It will be unique to this area,” says Tangredi.

Tangredi’s best friend of 20 years, JoDan Garza, is general manager, and there’s talk of franchising Wake N Bake. Tangredi says the awards have put them on the map. They recently flew to Toronto to film the Cooking Channel’s Donut Showdown and won $10,000.

Downtown Wilmington location: 114 Princess St. Wilmington, NC 910.470.4348 Fri. & Sat. 6:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sun. – Thurs. 6:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. Carolina Beach Location: 1401 N Lake Park Blvd Suite 46 Carolina Beach, NC 910.707.0166 Fri. & Sat. 7:30 a.m. – 2:30am Sun. – Thurs.7:30 a.m. – 9 p.m

What is it about the Burney’s Bakery croissant that makes people want to hop in their car and drive for hours to get one? The small, glazed croissants are light and flaky with a little bit of a crunch on the outside and creamy filling on the inside. They come in 11 different flavors plus a flavor of the month, and those croissants fuel the business at Burney’s Bakery on North Howe Street in Southport.

“Oh, my goodness, I get people who travel from Holden Beach, Sunset Beach, Myrtle Beach and constantly from Wilmington and Leland. There’s a lady in town who has a daughter who lives in South Africa, and when the grandkids visit, Burney’s is the first place they want to go,” says Southport’s Burney’s Bakery owner, Mitch Ennis.

Burney’s Bakery originally opened in 1994 in Elizabethtown.

“My father-in-law would drive from Southport to Elizabethtown a few times a week to get the Burney’s croissants, and he would tell them, ‘you need to come to Southport!,’” says Ennis. Finally, it happened. Burney’s opened in Southport, and Ennis left his longtime laundry business to become the owner in 2016, and has enjoyed a growing business ever since. Burney’s now has eight locations across Southeastern North Carolina.

In addition to Burney’s croissants, people go crazy over the Burney’s 15-layer vanilla cake with chocolate fudge frosting and their fresh handmade apple fritters. This summer check out the Burney’s firecracker cupcakes in honor of Southport’s 4th of July parade.

808 N. Howe St. Southport, NC 910.454.4222 Mon. – Sat. 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.

By 8 a.m. on a typical summer day, The Donut Inn is packed. Kids with sandy toes and surfers in wetsuits along with biking and running groups have made The Donut Inn a popular pit stop on the way to and from the beach.

“In the summer, a lot of our regulars will bring in guests from out of town because they want them to come here and experience this place before they go back home, and that’s a beautiful thing,” says Allen Renquist, who co-owns the store with buddy Matt Anlyan.

The two are former international humanitarians who spent a decade traveling the world before settling in Wilmington with their families and becoming donut shop owners. Bakers arrive at midnight to start the process of making the donuts from scratch— handmade, hand-mixed and hand-cut. “Our goal is simple: make the best traditional donuts possible,” says Renquist. The Donut Inn focuses on the classics, with their glazed and chocolate frosted being their top sellers.

Anlyan likes the sour cream cake donut, and Renquist says they can’t keep their apple fritters on the shelf. “We sell out every day,” says Renquist. In the fall, a second Donut Inn will open in Porter’s Neck and promises to keep the same hometown feel. “That’s all we’ve ever wanted—to become part of the fabric of the community. Now we’re proud to be in that mix of the Wilmington experience,” says Anlyan. Renquist and Anlyan have stayed true to their humanitarian roots by donating all end of day donuts and pastries to local food banks and charities. The Donut Inn also serves bagels, breakfast sandwiches and locally roasted coffee.

1427 Military Cutoff Rd. Wilmington, NC 910.679.8420

NEW Porter’s Neck location:

Oak Landing Shopping Center

8262 Market St.

Wilmington, NC

Open Every Day 6:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Nothing is more scrumptious, nothing more elegant and according to Nothing Bundt Cakes’ owner Cat Marinich, there’s simply nothing better than seeing someone try a Nothing Bundt Cake for the first time. We always say we wish we had a hidden camera. We have free samples every day; new guests will say ‘Oh my gosh! Stop it! Are you kidding me? That ain’t even right!’ It’s so funny,” laughs Marinich.

Nothing brings Cat and husband Greg more joy than making a wedding, birthday party, office party, neighbor gift or school treat special for their customers. Each cake is handmade, hand-frosted with the Nothing Bundt Cakes signature butter cream cheese frosting, hand decorated and wrapped. Only the best ingredients are used to create these “make-you-wanna-slap-your-mama cakes.” There are 40 designs and 10 flavors, including a gluten-free cake, and they come in four sizes: 8” and 10” Bundts, Bundtlets, and Bundtinis.

Cat and Greg are UNCW sweethearts who spent 28 years as a military family with their two boys living all over the world before settling back in Wilmington and opening Nothing Bundt Cakes. Both sons are a big help along with a tight-knit team, each of them always ready to make your occasion a sweet success! Nothing Bundt Cakes donates to multiple nonprofit fundraisers in town. Their most popular flavors are chocolate-chocolate chip, white chocolate raspberry, lemon and red velvet. In June and July, the highly esteemed lemon-raspberry cake returns, and in August a new blueberry bliss flavor will debut.

1437 Military Cutoff Rd. Wilmington, NC 910.679.8797 Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sun. 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.


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