© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Central Standard

Food Critics: The Best Doughnuts In Kansas City

Amy/Flickr - -CC

They can’t be greasy, they should be fresh and fluffy, and they taste best when they’re fresh out of the oven or fryer.

You can get them topped with frosting, icing, sprinkles, nuts and more. Then, there’s glaze.

“Glaze is practically natural, like herbs!” Food Critic Charles Ferruzza told Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Whether you’re a doughnut purist (a fan of the basics, like the aforementioned glazed, Long Johns, or cake), a doughnut experimentalist (favoring doughnuts topped with bacon, Oreos, breakfast cereal, etc.), or a doughnut expansionist (craving donut cousins like beignets, sopapillas, zeppole and more), there’s likely some sort of fried-dough treat for you in KC.

On Friday's Central Standard, Ferruzza — along with Food Critics Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara — uncovered the best doughnuts in Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Charles Ferruzza, The Pitch:

  • Johnny's Donuts. If you drive by this unassuming, squat buff brick building at around, say 10ish, don't be surprised if there's a closed sign on the front door. But that's because owner Johnny Pryor — who opens every morning at 7 a.m. — takes a break around 10 a.m. to pick up his wife. He comes right back. Johnny's is one of KC's undiscovered treasures. It may be the only spot in KC where you can buy, at one time: Burgers, cheeseburgers, doughnuts, filled pastries and fried mushrooms. The fresh doughnuts — both yeast and cake — at Johnny’s are feather-light and delicious. There’s no place to eat there; take it to-go.
  • M&M Bakery & Deliis a legendary place, started in the 1950s by Mendel Kibel and his wife Bronia, at the corner of 31st and Woodland. Polish-born Bronia was imprisoned in several Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, before being liberated by the U.S. Army. She chose Missouri as her destination when she emigrated to the United States in 1948, at age 27, because it was where President Harry Truman had been raised. My favorite story: In the 1960s, the shop was robbed by a gunman, who stuck a pistol in Bronia's face. The story goes that fearless Bronia put a doughnut in the robber's mouth and said, "Hitler couldn't kill Bronia. You can't, either." The young man ran out of the store. The shop was purchased by Pat and Dorothy Williams in 1984. And the doughnuts here are still superb. Beautifully light yeast rings, cinnamon twists and the BEST apple fritters in town, hands down.
  • Donut King. Without a doubt, the finest cake doughnuts in KC. The current seasonal specials are the pumpkin spice doughnut and the caramel apple doughnut — available through Thanksgiving! (They sell out early each day).

Jenny Vergara, Feast Magazine:

  • Louisburg Cider Mill has apple cider doughnuts that are just simple — it’s a cake doughnut with, I’m assuming, apple cider, a little bit of apple in there. You have to get them hot and have a hot apple cider to drink with it. It’s a beautiful way to spend a fall day. Love them.
  • John's Space Age Donuts is an old-fashioned doughnut shop where the owner still wears a little paper hat. It serves a lot of variations of glazed and Long Johns, and, I believe, some cake donuts too.
  • Poppy's Famous Donuts is an old-fashioned diner-turned-doughnut shop. There’s a vast selection of doughnuts; might be the biggest I've seen.
  • Donut King has the best flavored-cake doughnuts. The seasonal ones (pumpkin spice in October, maple in November and peppermint in December) are worth banging down the door for; they’re delicious. I still have dreams about the maple doughnut. One year in December, they had a nice chocolate mint (and not the fake mint flavor). It was a wonderful, lovely, holiday-inspired doughnut.
  • Fluffy Fresh Doughnuts. I like the location near 103rd and State Line Road. They have some of the donuts I remember getting as a kid: Extra-long, Long John's with maple frosting. They have all the fruit fillings, along with marshmallow filling and cream-filled.
  • Oz's Maq Donuts House. This is an old Winchell's Donut shop, and although he has other donuts, the pineapple fritter is the thing to get here.
  • Johnny’s Donuts. This place sells super-fresh glazed donuts and excellent cheeseburgers. No place to dine-in. Order yours to go! I got this tip from chefs, who get up early to open their restaurants and hit Johnny’s on their way to work. The simple glazed was incredible — really, really good.

Coming Soon:

  • Doughnut Lounge. Their Kickstarter funded a week ago, and now they are just trying to get their coffee/cocktail and doughnut shop open before the holidays to capture the early morning and late night crowds in Westport. It's supposed to open before the end of the year.

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

  • Ricotta doughnuts with cinnamon-sugar, Mezcal tres leches, and fresh berries from Port Fonda. The caramel sauce is sinful — the Mezcal adds a great dimension to the sauce — and it’s the perfect pairing for the light and fluffy doughnuts.
  • Beignets at Beignet in the City Market. As close to New Orleans’ Café Du Monde as you’ll find in KC. Hearth Bread Co. in Weston makes a traditional beignet as well (only available on Saturdays).
  • Poppy’s Famous Donutshas good old-fashioned doughnuts in an old-fashioned setting.
  • I, too, am looking forward to the Doughnut Lounge. First time I’ve ever heard of cocktails and doughnuts under the same roof!

Listener Recommendations:

  • Munchers Bakery in Lawrence is amazing. It’s open 24 hours and serves fresh donuts all the time! Yum!
  • Ridgewood Donuts and Bakery is great, and it has great cake doughnuts.
  • Cinnamon cake donuts at Casey’s General Store are fresh and crispy!
  • KC Donut Co. has really great filled donuts. The cinnamon rolls are delicious, and the glazed are spectacular.
  • Fluffy Fresh in Mission has the best glazed donuts in North America, and their cinnamon twists aren’t that bad, either. There’s just a really thin coating of glaze on a yeast doughnut. It’s really amazing.
  • My favorite glazed is Fluffy Fresh in Mission. The dough is fantastic; it would probably be great without the glaze. There’s a perfect ratio of glaze to doughnut, and it’s not greasy at all.
  • Mr. D’s Donut Shop has a honey-glazed donut that I’d pit against Fluffy Fresh’s. It’s very light and, dare I say, fluffy. It has a very slight honey flavor; it’s a wonderful glazed donut. I highly recommend it.
  • Holt’s Do-Nuts in Grandview makes everything in-house – donuts, frosting, filling. It’s a really small place, maybe two tables, and it has an old-timey feel. The chocolate-filled doughnut with chocolate icing is delectable.
  • The chocolate Long John at M&M Bakery and Deli.
  • Bassa Prua in Leavenworth sells doughnuts on Saturday and Sunday mornings. They are wonderful: Tall and substantial and not too sweet. I’m not a fan of chocolate, and these are best one I’ve ever had because they’re not too sweet.
  • LaMar’s. I grew up on it, and my grandmother lived around the corner of original location at 31st and Linwood.
  • The French cruller from Dunkin' Donuts are the best!
  • I love Ridgewood, LaMar’s, Hana’s Donuts and Donut King.
  • It’s not a doughnut place, but Johnson Farms in south KC has the best pumpkin doughnut ever.
  • My #1 donut in the KC area is the peanut butter doughnut at Donut King. Tasty awesomeness!
Central Standard Food & DrinkBest Food KC