A classic fall favorite, these apple cider donuts are coated in cinnamon sugar and baked – 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(aff link) you’re ready to go.
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 1/2 cups apple cider at a low simmer with a stick of cinnamon (for extra flavor) until you’ve got 1/2 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 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 2/3 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(aff link), 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’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 cider donut muffins
Grease or spray a 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick spray(aff link), add batter to fill each cavity about 2/3-3/4 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 cider donut holes
Grease or spray a mini muffin pan with nonstick spray(aff link), add batter to fill each cavity about 2/3 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.
In a small saucepan, combine cider and cinnamon stick and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes. Let simmer until you have 1/2 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 2/3 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(aff link).
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(aff link), 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!
Making muffins: Grease or spray a 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick spray(aff link), add batter to fill each cavity about 2/3-3/4 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.
Making donut holes: Grease or spray a mini muffin pan with nonstick spray(aff link), add batter to fill each cavity about 2/3 full and bake at 350°F for about 9 minutes or until the tops bounce back when pressed.
Storage: Best eaten same day, but can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature overnight, or up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Freezing: 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.
Keywords: apple cider donuts, cider donuts, cider doughnuts, baked apple cider donuts
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This post was originally published in February 2014 but has since been updated with revisions for clarity and to include shiny new photos.
My family used to live in Ohio where we always went and picked apples every autumn. We now live in the South and really miss the experience. When we went we always got a dozen apple cider donuts to go afterwards. This Autumn I will make these and hopefully we won't miss the apple picking as much as usual. Thank you for the recipe!
Monday 21st of June 2021
I hope it helps, too! I miss apple picking at the orchard down the road from a place I used to live, and this recipe really does help me :)
Saturday 26th of September 2020
This was super easy to make and tasty. I did add in a little nutmeg because I didn’t have Cardamone powder.
Saturday 26th of September 2020
So glad you liked it!
Hi there! I’m Leslie and I use baking as an outlet for relieving stress and anxiety to provide you with easy to follow homemade recipes and a little humor. About Leslie ⟶