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Batter up: Here are 18 KC-area places to get perfect, golden-fried onion rings

Here's how Jack Stack Barbecue makes its colossal onion rings

June 22 is National Onion Rings day. Tyler Banker, general manager of Jack Stack Barbecue - Freight House, shows you how his restaurant's onion rings are made and why they're so popular.
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June 22 is National Onion Rings day. Tyler Banker, general manager of Jack Stack Barbecue - Freight House, shows you how his restaurant's onion rings are made and why they're so popular.

If you've dined at Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue, you've seen 'em: colossal onion rings piled high to make towers of golden, deep-fried goodness.

Jack Stack's onion rings are some of the biggest and most famous in Kansas City — which makes them one of many delicious ways to celebrate National Onion Rings Day on June 22.

Jack Stack's best-selling appetizer, the colossal onion rings, are served in towers. Sarah Gish

To make Jack Stack's best-selling appetizer, cooks cut softball-sized onions into thick slices, then remove the membrane to ensure the spiced buttermilk batter sticks. After the slices are hand-dunked in the mixture, they are coated with dry cracker meal.

The rings are carefully submerged in hot oil so the batter stays intact, says Tyler Banker, general manager of the Jack Stack at 101 W. 22nd St. in the Freight House. When they're golden — but not too brown — the rings are stacked three, six or nine high on custom plates.

Prices range from $7.49 for three to $12.49 for nine. These rings aren't cheap but they are delicious: huge, crunchy and sweet with a fine, crispy halo of batter. Customers dunk them in a variety of sauces, from barbecue to ketchup to horseradish, honey mustard and ranch.

Jack Stack also has locations on the Country Club Plaza and in Overland Park, Martin City and Lee's Summit.

Looking for more ways to ring in #NationalOnionRingDay? Here are 17.

HiBoy Drive-In

Since 1957, this family-owned Independence institution has been famous for delicious hamburgers and a memorable mascot — a smiling boy in red striped overalls.

Longtime regulars are addicted to HiBoy's ridiculously tasty onion rings, thin-cut hoops that are crunchy on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside.

HiBoy onion rings
HiBoy Drive-In is famous for its onion rings. The thick, golden rings cost $3.79 for a bag big enough to share, if you’re willing. Sarah Gish

The batter is lightly sweet and clings tight, so you aren't left with many naked onions. The side is definitely worth $3.79. HiBoy scores extra points for serving ketchup from a pump, because who wants to mess with packets?

HiBoy has locations at 16721 E. Gudgell Road, 924 W. 24 Highway, and 3424 Blue Ridge Cutoff in Independence.

Winstead's Steakburgers

You can't talk about Kansas City onion rings without mentioning Winstead's, an iconic diner founded in 1940.

Winstead's is famous for steakburgers, but the onion rings have developed a cult following over the decades. They cost $3.19 as a side and are as classic as the diner's retro decor: Picture an oval plate piled with small and medium-sized rings that are not at all greasy.

Winstead's Steakburgers is known for burgers and shakes, but longtime regulars are addicted to the light and crispy onion rings, which aren't at all greasy. Sarah Gish

The batter is light and crisp — not overcooked — and the salty rings beg for a sweet squiggle of ketchup from the red squirt bottle on the table.

Winstead's has locations in Kansas City, Overland Park, Leawood, Lenexa and Blue Springs.

Gates Bar-B-Q

At Gates Bar-B-Q, the enormous onion rings are cooked as soon as you order, in a fryer behind the cashier, so you can hear them sizzling as you swipe your credit card. Talk about torture.

At Gates Bar-B-Q, the extra crunchy onion rings are coated in coarse batter and fried behind the counter as soon as you order them. With a burnt end sandwich and a cup of Sweet & Mild sauce, they're barbecue bliss. Sarah Gish

The rings emerge from the fryer with a coarse coat of dark brown batter. Those brave enough to sneak one on the way to the table will be rewarded with a super-hot and extra crunchy bite of onion bliss. Seriously — these sturdy rings do not get soggy, even after hours in the fridge.

Sweet & Mild sauce brings out their sweetness, and the $4.85 plate is big enough to share.

Joe's Kansas City

What's the key ingredient in Kansas City's most famous sandwich? Some say it's Joe's Kansas City's smoky brisket — but onion lovers know it's the pair of deep-fried rings on top.

Joe's Z-Man
Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que is famous for its Z-Man sandwich, which features slow-smoked beef brisket, smoked provolone cheese and onion rings on a toasted Kaiser roll. Joe’s was recently named America’s best BBQ restaurant by the New York Post. Tammy Ljungblad File photo

The crispy onions give the Z-Man ($7.79) its distinctive crunch. If the sandwich leaves you hungry for more, you can also order them on the side for $5.69. If you're dining with a group, you'll also want to split a bag of seasoned fries, which won our French fry tournament last year.

Paul's Drive-In

If you're craving rings that taste like State Fair food, cruise to Paul's Drive-In at 1008 Osage Ave. in Kansas City, Kan. It's a blast from the past where you order inside at a counter, then dine outside or in your car.

Paul's Drive-In serves pork tenderloin sandwiches in baskets with fries and onion rings. File photo

Paul's pork tenderloin, a customer favorite that costs $6.98, comes in a basket of golden fries and onion rings. The loin and the rings are coated in a batter with a smooth funnel cake-like taste and texture, minus the powdered sugar.

Want to eat the rings on their own? They cost $2.80.


This old-school drive-in at 700 E. 23rd St. in Independence is best known for house-made root beer and loose-meat "zip burgers." But don't leave without trying the onion rings, which the carhops will tell you is Mugs-Up's best side.

Mugs Up onion rings
Mugs-Up serves sides such as fries, tots and onion rings coated with a lightly sweet, crunchy batter. Sarah Gish

The rings, which cost $2.75, are extra crunchy around the dark edges and served steaming hot in a white paper bag. They can be messy to eat, so don't be surprised when you find bits of batter on the floor mats the next time you vacuum your car.

Add a root beer float and you're golden.

Hayes Hamburger & Chili

This cozy 20-seat diner in the Northland packs 'em in with chili, lacy-edged burgers and onion rings that will make you feel like you've time-traveled to 1955.

Hayes onion rings
Hayes’ sides include fries, waffle fries, tots, chips, cheese sticks, mushrooms, fried cauliflower and onion rings. Sarah Gish

Hayes' rings ($2.75) come in a variety of sizes and shapes, from tight, thick circles to loose, floppy loops. They deliver just enough crunch to balance out those soft, squishy burgers.

Don't forget cash (Hayes does not accept credit cards) and a slice of pie. Hayes Hamburger & Chili is located at 2502 N.E. Vivion Road.

Hungry for more? Here are 10 more reader-recommended rings to sample this summer.

Smokin' Guns BBQ, 1218 Swift St. in North Kansas City

PT's Family Restaurant, 501 S. Broadway in Oak Grove

Boudreaux's Louisiana Seafood and Steaks, 224 N. 4th St. in St. Joseph

Konrad's Kitchen and Tap House, 302 SW Main St. in Lee's Summit

Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, with locations in Kansas City, Overland Park and Independence

Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen onion rings.jpg
Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, which has locations in Kansas City, Independence and Overland Park, goes through around 100 pounds of colossal onions a day making its popular hand-battered onion rings. The appetizer comes with house-made ranch and Cajun dipping sauces. Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen

Spiced onion straws at Q39, with locations at 1000 W. 39th St. in Kansas City and 11051 Antioch Road in Overland Park

Big Boy Burgers, 12401 E. U.S. Highway 40 in Independence

Blazers Restaurant, 131 N. Center in Gardner

Conrad's Restaurant & Alehouse, 210 North State Route 291 in Liberty

Heroes Restaurant & Pub, 107 W. Pine St. in Warrensburg