A classic fall favorite, these baked apple cider donuts are coated in cinnamon sugar – and not fried! In less than an hour they’ll be ready to eat and your kitchen will smell heavenly. Perfect to serve with apple cider mimosas or apple cider hot toddies.
Today we’re diving right into fall with apple cider donuts: the king of New England treats! You don’t need any crazy ingredients, there’s no frying involved, and if you have a donut pan you’re ready to go. This has been my go-to apple cider donuts recipe for many, many years.
And even if you don’t, you can turn them into muffins or donut holes with the muffin and mini muffin pans you already have (you can find the instructions for making each of those down the page).
The very first thing you want to do is reduce your delicious, freshly pressed, hopefully local apple cider.
Why do I have to reduce the apple cider?
You want it to be heavily concentrated for the best flavor. If you add cider straight from the jug, the flavor in the resulting donuts is going to be too weak and they’ll taste pretty bland.
All you need to do is heat 1 ½ cups apple cider at a low simmer with a stick of cinnamon (for extra flavor) until you’ve got ½ cup concentrated cider.
How are apple cider donuts different from regular donuts?
Most donuts are made with a yeast mixture and fried, which gives them a very different consistency. Personally, I prefer cider donuts ten fold to anything else!
Apple cider donuts are more cake-like, or muffin-like in texture. They’re also baked instead of fried – so, no oil needed.
They’re sturdy on the outside, but soft on the inside with a fantastic aroma that makes you want to cozy up with a good book. It’s intoxicating, really.
Tips for making the best apple cider donuts
- Let the melted butter cool a bit. If it’s still piping hot when you had it to the egg, you’ll risk scrambling them!
- Don’t overmix the batter. You’ll end up with dough, dense donuts. Once the batter is whisked smooth and you don’t see anymore lumps, stop stirring.
- Only fill the pan cavities ⅔ full. If you do less, they won’t be as fluffy and a little more flat. If you do more, you’ll end up with donuts that have no holes :)
What kind of pan do I need?
I have a Wilton donut pan , and would highly recommend getting two so that you don’t have to bake your donuts in batches of six. The more you can bake at once, the sooner you’re done baking and the sooner you can dig in!
You can also just use a standard 12 cup muffin pan or mini muffin pan – check out the directions for making them that way below.
Do I have to coat them in cinnamon sugar?
If you have self-control — unlike me — you can devour them plain, without any cinnamon and sugar (I keep a jar of this mixture around the house at all times). I’d recommend adding just a bit more cinnamon to the tops of the donuts after you’ve poured the batter into the pans just before you bake them if you’re going to leave them plain. It just to gives them a little bit more flavor!
But if you’re more my speed and want to slather everything in sugar, these are just perfect.
Not to toot my own horn or anything, but… well, yes – I do want to toot my own horn. I’ve seen many recipes that included nutmeg and cloves and I didn’t include either. I wanted the cidery goodness to be the showstopper here, and not cover it up with spices.
How to make apple cider donut muffins
Grease or spray a 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick spray , add batter to fill each cavity about ⅔-3/4 full and bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes or until the tops bounce back when pressed. You’ll get 10-12 muffins this way.
How to make apple cider donut holes
Grease or spray a mini muffin pan with nonstick spray , add batter to fill each cavity about ⅔ full and bake at 350°F for about 9 minutes or until the tops bounce back when pressed.
How long do they stay fresh?
They are by far best when eaten the same day, especially when they’re still warm out of the oven!
But they can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature overnight, or up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Can I freeze cider donuts?
Yes! After you’ve baked the donuts, let them cool completely and then store in a single layer in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to eat them, let them thaw at room temperature, then coat in the melted butter and cinnamon sugar mixture.
What to serve with cider donuts
- Hot Toddies or Apple Cider Hot Toddies
- Apple Cider Mimosas (Apple Cider Champagne Cocktail)
- Copycat Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha
- Instant Pot Glühwein (Mulled Wine)
- Easy Homemade Eggnog
- How to Make Cold Brew Coffee
Here’s the million dollar question: Are you a cinnamon sugar-coated donut person, or a plain donut person? I promise I won’t judge… probably.
After you’ve made this recipe, please consider coming back to share your experience with others by leaving a comment below with a star rating!
Apple Cider Donuts
Apple Cider Donuts
- 1 ½ cups apple cider
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cardamon powder
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup milk, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Cinnamon Sugar Topping
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray donut pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, combine cider and cinnamon stick and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes. Let simmer until you have ½ cup of reduced cider. Set aside and allow to cool.
- Melt butter and set aside to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and cardamom. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg with whisk. Add melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, milk, vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add reduced apple cider and whisk until well-combined.
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk together until combined and smooth, but don't overmix! The batter will be a light caramel color.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, filling each about ⅔ full. The easiest way to fill them is to use a pastry bag (or a plastic bag with a hole cut into the corner). Make sure to wipe the pan of any excess batter! Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on wire racks.
- Place melted butter in a shallow bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk to combine sugar and cinnamon.
- Dip the tops of donuts in melted butter, then coat them in the sugar mixture. Set each coated donut on a wire rack, lined baking sheet, or directly to a serving bowl or plate. They're best served the same day, but you can store them in a closed container for up to 3 days in the fridge. Enjoy!
This post was originally published in February 2014 but has since been updated with revisions for clarity and to include shiny new photos.