Happy National Donut Day! In honor of this holy day, let us introduce you to hands down the MOST famous donuts in all of Philadelphia- Beiler’s. Located in Reading Terminal Market, this bakery is serving up fresh, warm, gooey, delicious donuts everyday except Sunday. Beiler’s dominates an entire corner of the market, and sells six or seven thousand doughnuts on an average day. The line is always long, but trust us, it goes fast, and it’s totally worth the wait.
Beiler’s Bakery started with Alvin Beiler, an Amish-raised farmer from Lancaster County who married the Mennonite daughter of the first Pennsylvania Dutch merchant in the Reading Terminal Market. Alvin took over the business when his in-laws retired after five years in the market, in 1985. In 2005, the business expanded to include a salad/pickle stall then in 2013 the donuts got their own section. The donuts were originally only made for festivals. The Dutch Festival is held in Reading Terminal Market the 2nd Saturday of August each year (this year August 13, 2016). They were so popular that Beiler’s decided they had to offer them everyday.
Believe us when we say that the line for donuts is always long, no matter what day or time. Before we had actually tasted one of these delicious morsels, we both thought the line was insane and there was no way we’d be willing to wait in it. However, once we tried the donuts we knew that we could not go back to Reading Terminal Market without stopping by Beiler’s. Two other Beiler’s locations are also opening soon (read on to find out where).
The make the donuts right in front of you while you wait. Everything here is fresh and made without any preservatives. The dough for the donuts is rolled right there in front of you, fried and frosted. Watching the whole process definitely helps pass the time while you wait in line. Lea was pretty distracted in by the sweet aroma of the donuts. While Arielle likes to watch the filling station the best, she says its pretty relaxing to watch donuts be filled with their various creams. (She can’t be the only one who thinks that, can she?)
When you get to the front of the line, it’s a little overwhelming. There are SO many options, it’s hard to choose. Glazed, Sprinkles, Salted Caramel, Bizmark (like a cinnamon twist with glaze), Nutella, Lemon Filled, Cinnamon Sugar, Coconut, Oreo, Fruity Pebbles, Chocolate Frosting, Vanilla Frosting, Jelly Filled, M&M, Boston Creme, Chocolate Mousse, Maple Bacon, and the list goes on!
We couldn’t agree more than the NOT TO MISS donut at Beiler’s is the Apple Fritter and Blueberry Fritter. You must eat this donut immediately after purchase, while it’s still warm and extremely soft and gooey. While we can’t pick between the two, the Apple Fritter is most popular with the crowds.
Arielle’s other favorite is the Fruity Pebbles donut- this is the perfect breakfast donut with its colorful cereal topping. Be sure to eat this one soon after getting it or else the cereal gets a tad bit soggy. After the fritter, Lea couldn’t pick between the rest. All these donuts are unique and delicious, you really cannot go wrong at Beiler’s.
What’s great is you don’t have to pick just one! These donuts are sold for 99 cents each so you can grab a dozen for under $10. In fact, grab 2 dozen because these donuts sell out by the end of most days. It is absolutely worth it to get more than one (and it’s really hard to not eat them all at once).
And they don’t just have donuts, Beiler’s offers traditional Amish Shoo Fly pie, Whoopie Pie, Cheesecake and of course some amazing Pecan Sticky Buns. They even have some wonderful options that are gluten-free! Alvin’s son, Keith, actually started in the bakery at 12 years old making the sticky buns since they’re some of the easiest to bake.
Beiler’s sticky buns start off the exact same way as the doughnuts, as a small boulder of cream-colored sweet dough in an industrial-sized mixing bowl, a tacky blend of spring wheat flour, sugar, yeast, butter, milk, and eggs. After the rise, the baker rolls it out on the counter, drizzles on the syrup—think butter, Karo syrup, and lots and lots of brown sugar—and generously sprinkles on a layer of whatever add-ons are called for—chopped walnuts or raisins, usually. Then it’s simply a matter of rolling it up, cutting it into slices, and sliding the tray of raw sticky buns into the oven at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. The result: a chewy, gooey, crunchy explosion of sweetness.” -Bon Appetit Magazine
If you haven’t been to Beiler’s yet then you really should stop make the trip. Lucky for you, they are expanding to open two more stores! Their locations will offer donuts and Basset’s Ice Cream. Look for the Lancaster location to open June 2016 and their University City store to open January/February 2017!
-Arielle and Lea
We would like to thank Keith Beiler for talking to us about the history of the bakery and letting us sample some delicious baked goods.