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Each week, KCUR's Adventure! newsletter brings you a new way to explore the Kansas City region.

Craving a donut in Kansas City? You need to try these locally-owned bakeries

A variety of donuts, including chocolate sprinkles and plain glazed, on a metal baking tray in a display case.
Kansas City-area donut shops have perfected this classic American treat.

The donut — or doughnut — is a Dutch import that became an American tradition. Sprinkled across the Kansas City metro are shops that have perfected the fried treat, from classic yeast donuts and creative twists like the mochi donut to fanciful seasonal options.

Myth surrounds the creation of the modern donut. Fried dough was originally introduced to the Americas by Dutch settlers in the 17th century in what is modern-day New York. This dough sometimes contained a filling of fruit and nuts — thus, the term “doughnuts.”

However, it wasn’t until the 1800s that the truly American version of the donut was invented.

The story goes that an American sailor named Hanson Gregory used a tin on his ship to cut a hole in the doughnut to give it the now-familiar circular shape. As for why, that’s where the story moves into myth. The most logical explanation, and the one that is generally accepted, is that the center wouldn’t cook all the way through, so he just took out the middle.

But America loves our hero myths, even in our pastries, and so there’s another version of the story that during a storm at sea, Gregory used the spoke of the ship’s wheel to hold his pastry while he battled the currents. Even the name “donut” has been Americanized. Spelled “doughnut” in most of the world, the extra letters were dropped for good somewhere in the early 20th century (and later made ubiquitous by the chain Dunkin’ Donuts).

Since then, the donut has rolled across the country to become one of our definitive American delicacies. Here in Kansas City, donut makers have taken that classic and added their own twists and turns.

When you’re ready to sail through the seas of glaze, fillings, and chocolate, these Kansas City-area shops are essential destinations.

Blackhole Bakery

Blackhole Bakery on Troost Avenue specializes in classic French pastries and offers the "only Mochi donuts in the midwest."
Blackhole Bakery
Blackhole Bakery on Troost Avenue specializes in classic French pastries and mochi donuts

Blackhole Bakery began in 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, so the fact that they have thrived is a testament to the quality of their baked goods and donuts. The Troost Avenue shop open at 7 a.m. and go until 2 p.m., or until they sell out. The best advice is to go early, which is going to be a running theme with all the shops in this list.

As your eyes take in all the cakes, fresh croissants, and other baked goods, you can’t help but see the bright rows of Blackhole’s signature mochi donuts. Here is something special.

Mochi donuts are originally from Japan and have made their way into America via Hawaii. Like a baseball-sized donut hole, mochi donuts are made from rice flour instead of the expected wheat flour but have an almost crisp crust. Expect them to be a bit thicker and chewier than a normal donut.

Blackhole flavors that crust with sugar, glaze, or other seasonal combinations such as bacon maple — a combination of sweet and savory that hits just right. At other times of the year, you might find mochi donut flavors like sour plum, London fog or pistachio orange.

Johnny's Donuts and Hamburgers

The sign for Johnny's Donuts and Hamburgers with red and black lettering.
Shannon Carpenter
KCUR 89.3
At Johnny's Donuts and Hamburgers, all are crafted with decades-old skill and experience.

Johnny’s Donuts and Hamburgers is your diamond in the rough. A true donut artisan works inside a small, nondescript, one-story building. Owner Johnny Pryor, also known as Grandpa, has been making donuts for 43 years and it’s safe to say that he has mastered the recipe. It was a delight to talk to him in person.

Grandpa told me he arrives at work every morning at 2 a.m. His donuts are ready by 4:30, and the sooner you get there, the better. The glazed donut may get as close to perfection as possible — unbelievably light, each bite is like a taste of flavored air.

Johnny’s carries a full assortment of styles. From the glazed donuts and donut holes that are divine to the apple and cherry donuts, and cinnamon long johns. All are crafted with decades-old skill and experience. But bring cash, as Johnny’s doesn’t take credit or debit cards. They close at 4 p.m. and if their hamburgers are as good as their donuts, you may spend all day with Grandpa.

Speaking of hamburgers, you have to try Johnny’s donut hamburger – with two glazed donuts that act as a bun, with all the usual cheeseburger fixings. I asked Grandpa if it’s as good as it sounds, and he just told me, “Come on in and find out.” Fair enough!


A variety of pastel-colored decorated mini-donuts in a cardboard box on a pink background.
Donutology's signature mini-donuts, which are cake donuts about the size of a large marshmallow, are really out of this world.

Donutology is the home to the world-famous Space Donut. No, this is not a flavor; they actually sent a donut to space.

In 2017, Donutology attached a chocolate sprinkle donut and a camera to a very large balloon and up it went. The donut traveled 253 miles, stayed in the air for over three hours, and reached a top height of 97,000 feet.

Donutology is where science meets flavor. They have an assortment of what you would expect: twists, glazed, and cake donuts. But their signature mini-donuts, which are cake donuts about the size of a large marshmallow, are really out of this world.

Fried right in front of you, mini-donuts come in packages of three, six, 15, and even 35 for those times when more is better. (When it comes to donuts, that’s pretty much all the time.)

Where it gets interesting is what you can do with the mini-donut after it’s been cooked. Donutology allows you to pick your glaze, topping, and then drizzle. And they have so many options to choose from: Start with a strawberry glaze with a Fruity Pebble topping, and top it off with a caramel drizzle.

For the next donut, go with a chocolate glaze, bacon topping, and a vanilla drizzle. You can customize each individual donut, or get one of the house recommendations such as strawberry shortcake or s’mores. There are so many options to choose from that you will never have to eat the same donut twice.

Donutology's new River Market trolley car location opened Friday, Oct. 20.

Donut King

The sign for Donut King with the logo of a pink iced donut with a crown on top.
Shannon Carpenter
KCUR 89.3
Donut King has a variety of cronuts and is one of the few donut shops open in the evening.

Donut King has been around since 1969 and are the royalty of the Kansas City donut scene, with over 48 different varieties of donuts such as bismarks, French crullers, and cronuts.

Cronuts, invented in 2013 by French pastry chef Dominique Ansel, are a cross between a croissant and a donut. Introduced in his bakery in New York City, this unique offering is light and flakey and usually comes with a filling or topping. Donut King runs the gambit of flavors for their cronuts, including blueberry streusel and peanut butter and jelly.

Also be on the lookout for Donut Kings seasonal offering of donuts such as their pumpkin or apple cinnamon. They are the perfect fall flavors to complement your coffee.

Unlike some of the morning-centric places on this list, Donut King is open until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, so you can fill your donut cravings even after dinner.

Holt's Donuts

A stack of yeast donuts with an orange background.
Kyle Brinker
Holt's Donuts in Grandview, MO, has been a tradition for generations.

Holt’s Donuts is an iconic neighborhood donut shop that has anchored its community for more than a generation. The Grandview joint has been open since the 1970s and makes everything by hand, and it shows in the taste.

It will take you a while to decide to order, so let’s start with their Long John, which should not be confused with an éclair, even though many people refer to them interchangeably. While éclairs are traditionally made with French choux pastry and utilize steam while they bake, Long Johns use a traditional yeasted dough. What makes Holt’s different is that the filling for the Long Johns are not piped in but rather sliced lengthwise, with the filling spread inside.

Holt’s prices have been stable throughout the years. Small donuts like a normal glazed still only cost $1.05, which means you can get a dozen for less than $15. The Long Johns go for $1.85. You’re going to have to be quick though, they close at 10 a.m. or when they sell out.

This is the kind of place you can take your kids to and then come back 20 years later and take your grandkids. In fact, the staff tell a story about a customer who grew up coming to Holt’s, and even though he now lives in Australia, he makes sure to always stop by when he comes back to visit.

If you’re getting hungry, it could be time to start a new tradition of your own.

Fluffy Fresh Donuts

A yellow tray displays the different types of donuts from Fluffy Fresh.
Fluffy Fresh Donuts
Fluffy Fresh Donuts have delicious cinnamon twists and extra-long Long Johns.

Fluffy Fresh Donuts has been run by the same family since 1959, and are still going strong more than a half-century later. In fact, in 2019 they were named by Kansas City Magazine as one of the best donuts in KC.

Walking into the shop is like walking into a movie scene. Display cabinets come up almost to your chin — like you’re about to get a big donut hug. Donut holes that looked like glazed marbles, chocolate-covered cake donuts, red and yellow Chiefs-themed sprinkles.

These days, the real showstopper is the apple spice cake donut, which is one of their bestsellers.

And not for nothing, they sell the longest Long Johns I’ve ever seen — almost a foot long!

Mr. D's Donuts

Four donuts are decorated in various Chiefs themes. On the bottom left is a yellow glazed donut with a #15 jersey. On the bottom right is a donut decorated to resemble Patrick Mahomes. On the top left is a red-glazed donut with red and yellow sprinkles and a yellow heart that says KC in the middle. On the top right is a plain glazed donut with red and yellow drizzle and a diamond that says Chiefs.
Johnnie Chen
Mr. D's Donut Shop
Mr. D's Donut Shop has classic and specialty donuts, and is not afraid to experiment.

Like a 1970s diner where you’d meet up with friends, Mr. D’s Donuts is filled with padded stools and avocado-green countertops. It’s the perfect place for conversation and community.

Mr. D’s Donuts bolsters that feeling by being the founder of DonutCon. Held in August at their Shawnee shop, DonutCon celebrates artists and other businesses in the area.

Mr. D’s stands out by its from-scratch approach, down to using honey in their glaze. Their apple fritters are made fresh every morning by cooking apples in apple cider, chopping them, and then putting them into the pastry. They make their own chocolate with European cocoa powder, and also make a mean mochi donut.

Mr. D’s is not afraid to experiment with flavor combinations, like their salted caramel chai donut, fluffernutter, or their new cannoli donuts, made in collaboration with Jasper’s Italian Restaurant. With a traditional cannoli filling, these donuts are limited to one per person and all proceeds go to the BMA Foundation.

If you can’t make it to Shawnee, you can often find Mr. D’s donuts at local coffee shops like Oddly Correct and Cafe Cà Phê, or their very own Mr. D’s Coffee at Lenexa Public Market.

Hana's Donuts

A trio of donuts on a white plate on a white table with a coffee and a dried flower.
Hana's Donuts
Hana's Donuts in Kansas City, KS, is known for their old fashioneds.

An artist lives at Hana’s Donuts. Each creation looks like something worthy of the Louvre or a botanical garden, displayed like a colorful bouquet of flowers.

Especially remarkable are their old-fashioneds — a type of fried cake donut with a signature cracked top, resembling their Dutch ancestors. Hana’s Donuts gives old fashions their signature spin with different toppings and glazes like maple, wild blueberry, and raspberry.

Inside the case, lattice pastries look so delicate that they remind you of doilies dusted with powdered sugar. Heart-shaped cherry donuts sit next to bear claws, which are longer pastries usually topped with almonds.

Nothing goes to waste at Hana’s Donuts. At the end of the day, all these wonderful pastries are donated. Closed on Monday and Tuesday, Hana’s Donuts is a must-stop.

YOS Donuts

Exterior view of YOS Donuts, with a blue sign and white lettering.
Shannon Carpenter
KCUR 89.3
YOS Donuts offers breakfast burritos along with their variety of donuts.

Another Shawnee favorite, YOS Donuts is all about unassuming excellence.

Dozens and dozens of glazed, eclairs, and cake donuts are made beginning at 11 p.m. the previous night so they are ready to bake. When the shop opens at 5 a.m., you’ll have your pick of cinnamon twists and rolls, filled donuts, and even breakfast burritos — at least, until they close at 1 p.m.

The breakfast burritos bring something different to the normal donut shop. Filled with eggs and your choice of sausage or bacon, grab a single for yourself or upgrade to a dozen and get enough to share.

YOS Donuts prides itself on being the meeting place for friends and family, and with a quiet and peaceful atmosphere, it’s a lovely space to start your day and create memories.

Shannon Carpenter is the author of The Ultimate Stay-at-Home, and is a nationally known contributor on fatherhood, parenting and at-home parenting.
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