No need to make a special trip to the apple orchard – these homemade baked apple cider donuts are the real deal. The recipe uses reduced apple cider in the batter and the glaze for maximum flavor, and the entire donut is coated in cinnamon sugar for the perfect crunch. Makes 8 donuts!
If you want more apple cider recipes or if you don’t have a donut pan, try my apple cider donut muffins and apple cider donut bars!
No Apple Orchard, No Problem
Raise your hand if you go to the apple orchard ENTIRELY for the apple cider donuts at the farm store (ok, and maybe for Instagram)…
Yeah, me too. There’s no point in denying it.
I created this recipe for a homemade, baked version of the apple cider donuts we all love so you don’t have to brave wasps and crying children just to get your fix. You know, I’m always looking out for you.
Apple cider donuts are unquestionably one of the best parts of fall at the apple orchard. Turns out, they’re fairly easily adapted into the baked variety, so if you happen to find yourself with some extra apple cider lying around and a craving for donuts on a crisp weekend morning, you are in luck.
In less than an hour, you’ll be in baked apple cider donut bliss – no deep fryer needed.
The thing I DON’T like is tasteless, too-sweet, not-apple-cidery donuts. I had one from a donut shop here in Chicago last year which shall remain nameless, and to say it was tasteless really would be generous. There’s more to this donut than spices and sugar! It has to have distinct apple cider flavor WITH the spices to compliment.
So, I did the research and the hard work of testing, testing, testing, and discovered that reduced (i.e. boiled) apple cider is the trick. You can’t just use regular apple cider because it just doesn’t have enough flavor.
For a further discussion on this point, see my entry from last fall, Apple Cider Donut Bars. Much testing was done to come to that result – poor us. If you don’t feel like shaping individual donuts but want the taste of a homemade apple cider donut, that bar recipe is for you.
Here’s what you need:
- Apple cider. Not apple cider vinegar, not carbonated alcoholic cider. There really is no substitute for this; it’s essentially unfiltered apple juice. I know it’s seasonal and isn’t generally available outside the United States, so if you can’t find it, apple juice is your best bet. We’re going to boil it down by half to concentrate the flavor and we’ll use it in both the batter and the glaze.
- Unsalted butter. It will be melted in with the reduced apple cider and used in the batter and glaze.
- Granulated sugar. Not much, only 1/4 cup in the batter and a light coating on the outside of the donuts.
- Egg. For binding.
- Greek yogurt. For moisture. You can sub sour cream or plant-based Greek-style yogurt if you’d like.
- Vanilla extract. Flavor!
- All-purpose flour. You can substitute a gluten-free 1:1 mix if needed.
- Baking powder and baking soda. For tall muffins!
- Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Cozy, warm fall spices.
- Salt. Because baked goods don’t taste right without it.
- Boil the apple cider. You’re going to be annoyed with me for requiring the extra step of boiling the cider before it goes in the donuts. I was annoyed myself, frankly, but enough recipes I looked at in my research indicated it was necessary so I gave in. Trust me when I say, bear with me – it’s worth it. The flavor concentrates and it smells wonderful.
- Mix the hot reduced cider with butter so it melts, then set aside 2 tbsp of that mixture for the glaze later.
- Use 1/2 cup of the cider/butter mixture (cooled slightly so it doesn’t cook the egg) in your donut batter. Mix the wet ingredients in one bowl, the flour and spices in another, and combine.
- Add batter to a donut pan with a spoon or pipe it in using a pastry bag. You want the wells to be about 2/3 full. This recipe makes 8 donuts so you’ll either need 2 pans or just use one twice.
- Bake for 10 minutes! While they bake, melt 3 tbsp butter and mix it with the 2 tbsp cider/butter mixture you set aside earlier. Make sure you use a bowl large enough to dip the donuts in (or you can just brush it on them with a pastry brush). Mix sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl for dipping.
- Remove the donuts to a wire rack or parchment paper. When cool enough to handle, dip each donut in the melted butter mixture or brush on with a pastry brush, then dip the buttered side in the cinnamon sugar and swirl to coat.
- You can do this on both sides of the donut but I find it easiest to handle them when only one side is coated!
- ENJOY WARM APPLE CIDER DONUTS YOU MADE YOURSELF. No crowds, no wasps, no problems.
If you can’t find American-style apple cider, the most similar thing to use is apple juice. I do NOT recommend using fizzy alcoholic cider in this recipe. American apple cider is just a less-filtered version of apple juice so the best substitute for these donuts is apple juice!
Yes, and they were so good that I gave them their own post: apple cider donut muffins!
This one! It’s nonstick, washes very easily in the dishwasher, and is inexpensive. I have two!
Ideal Fall Brunch
The first grey Saturday when I made these a few years ago, Brian and I each ate two, still warm from the oven.
The next day, my friend Kathryn came over for brunch, and all that were remaining were polished off in quite short order.
I made them again this past weekend so I could have a video for you, and my friend Colleen proclaimed them “melt in your mouth AMAZING” so…I think you get the picture…these are worth every moment you spend making them.
More Fall Donut and Muffin Recipes
- Apple Cider Donut Muffins
- Apple Cider Donut Bars
- Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Glaze
- Easy Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Baked Apple Cider Donuts
For the Baked Apple Cider Donuts:
- 1 cup (236 ml) apple cider (see instructions below)*
- 3 Tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tablespoons (40g) plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- Pinch ground cloves
- Pinch salt
For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
- 3 Tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter
- Remaining reduced cider (see instructions below), about 2 tbsp
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
For the Baked Apple Cider Donuts:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 6-cup donut pans (or one, you'll just have to re-use it for the last couple donuts).
- Reduce the apple cider: In the microwave in a 2-cup glass measuring cup or bowl covered in plastic wrap or wax paper, heat cider on high for 8-10 minutes until reduced to 1/2 cup (118 ml). Alternatively, on the stove, heat the apple cider over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a gentle boil. Continue to simmer, stirring every minute or two, until it is reduced by about half, around 10 minutes.
- Once cider is reduced, whisk in the butter until it is melted and combined, and set mixture aside for a few minutes to cool. It will be a little syrupy in texture. You need 1/2 cup (118 ml) of this reduced cider/butter mixture for the donuts, and 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) for the glaze.
- In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup (118 ml) of the reduced cider/butter mixture, sugar, egg, yogurt, and vanilla until well-combined.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients – flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet, and stir to combine with a large spoon or spatula. Stir until the ingredients are just combined, with no big patches of flour. Do not over mix – if you do, the donuts will be tough, and no one wants that.
- Spoon the batter into the donut cavities, or pipe them in by filling a gallon-sized bag with the batter, then snipping off a corner for a makeshift pastry bag. Fill each cavity about 2/3 of the way full, or else your donuts won’t have holes in the middle! The recipe yields 8 donuts, so if you only have one donut pan, you’ll have to bake the first 6 and then the other 2 afterwards.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes, until risen and browned on the edges (mine were done at 10). Set aside to cool for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a wire rack set over parchment paper or a baking sheet. Bake the remaining two donuts now if you only have one pan.
For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
- While the donuts are baking, melt 3 Tablespoons (42g) of butter in a small bowl (big enough to dip the donuts in). Whisk in the remaining 2 Tbsp of reduced cider/butter mixture from the beginning of the recipe. In another similar-sized bowl, whisk together sugar and cinnamon.
- One by one, dip one side of the warm donuts (you should be able to handle them easily) into the butter/cider mixture, then into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Make sure to coat the donuts with as much cinnamon sugar as desired!
Like this recipe? Sign up for my email list to receive my recipes straight to your inbox every time I post!
I bought a donut pan just so I could make these! They are so fluffy and delicious and full of fall flavour. Katie you’ve made make something I was intimidated to bake so approachable. Thank you!!
YAY! Thanks so much for sharing that feedback Kira – so glad you love these!
Thank you for clarifying! I’m gonna make them using the proper cider this weekend, I’m really looking forward to it!
I’ve made these multiple times and they’ve always turned out great! The apple cider flavour isn’t particularly pronounced though – I wonder if maybe I used the wrong thing? Cider here (Europe) is a fizzy alcoholic drink with rather light flavour, should I have used apple juice instead? (they still turned out good though!)
I also tried freezing the baked donuts and that worked out nicely, they still taste good warmed up in the microwave.
OHHH no haha you are definitely using the wrong thing! American apple cider is basically just pressed apples, sometimes with spices added. The most similar thing is apple juice!
I made these this morning, and I had a question. When I reduced the cider from 1 cup to half, then there is not the extra 2 Tblsp. for the dip. So I reduced a little more, to get the 1/2 cup called for in the batter. This made the batter fairly runny – and at least in my pan it made 13 donuts instead of 6, not a bad deal according to my husband. I am wondering if there should be slightly more than the cup reduced? Or it should have been the 1/4 after I took out the 2 Tblsp. or I just reduced too far. Thanks for your thoughts :0)
Hi Beth – sorry if the instructions are confusing! You want to reduce the cider to 1/2 cup, then add the 3 tbsp of butter until its melted. THEN you use 1/2 cup of this mixture in the batter and there should be 2 tbsp left to use for the glaze (which you’ll add more butter to). Does that make sense? I hope you still enjoyed!
I made them in a muffin tin since I don’t have a donut pan, but they worked out perfectly. They were lovely soft and fluffy with a crunchy outer shell. Delicious!
Love the idea of making them into muffins!
Do you dip the entire donut in the butter/apple cider mixture after baking?
I usually just do one side of it because it gets very messy to handle if you do both sides – but it’s up to you and how much cinnamon sugar you want on the donut 😉
These are delicious and fairly quick to make. They are super sweet though so I might cut the sugar a bit (in the dough) next time, and maybe in the topping as well. Mine baked up light and fluffy and were done in 10 minutes. (I subbed white whole wheat flour for AP and low fat Greek yogurt since that’s what I had and it worked perfectly.)
Awesome! So glad you enjoyed them and that the subs worked!
It’s been raining and raining in Chicago, as you know. It also feels more and more like fall has arrived. These donuts were a great afternoon baking project and they are delicious. Fluffy, light, and wonderful. My son has a peanut allergy so I’m so happy to be able to make cider donuts at home. Thank you!
These are the perfect donuts to bake on a rainy day! So glad you and your son were able to enjoy them!
Thanks for sharing! Can I freeze them?
This looks so good! What a great brunch idea or something to make for a weekend sporting event!
I just made these after trying at least 5 other recipes I found online. These were exactly what I was looking for….light, fluffy, flavorful, easy to make(15 mins-including baking time), and totally delicious. I’ve eaten 3, I tried to stop at 2, but I needed one more to be sure I loved them. I do love this recipe!!!
Thank you so much! Nothing wrong with double checking to make sure they’re good 🙂
Have you used gluten free flour for these donuts? Have you used the glazed?
Hi Lena – I haven’t tried it but I think a GF all-purpose blend like Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur Measure for Measure would work! Let me know if you try it!
Do you have a donut pan recommendation? There are so many.
Hi Monica – I use this one!
These don’t work out too well in silicone doughnut pans, I tried with and without greasing the pans. They stuck I yielded 7 intact doughnuts out of 2 batches. (I’ve used the same silicone pans for two years never had a baked doughnut recipe stick in them before. ) They’re delicious, but next time I’ll buy metal pans before trying.
Sorry the silicone pans didn’t yield the best result with these! I’ve only ever used metal so can’t speak to that, unfortunately.
What about using a mini muffin pan? Maybe they’d be almost like munchkins?!
That’s an awesome idea!
Could this be used in a mini muffin pan for muffins
Hi Jolene – I haven’t tried it but I bet it would work! Try baking at the same temperature for 10 minutes.
These donuts are amazing, and the ultimate Fall brunch treat! The recipe is so simple and easy to follow, I can confidently say anyone can make these. Highly, highly recommend this recipe!
Thanks so much, Jenna! I’m so glad you love these as much as we do 🙂
These were so good. I have been craving apple cider donuts since having them in Boston on a trip last May. We live overseas and good- even basic- donuts are scarce I searched high and low for recipes and yours was the one i went with. So glad I did! These were perfect. My husband and I devoured all 8 in a few hours. Thank you so much!
Yay! Thank you so much Gihan – so happy you enjoyed them.
Can these be adapted for frying? I have a cast iron dutch oven that I can use. Thanks!
Hi Emma, unfortunately I’m not sure about frying as I designed the recipe to be baked. Sorry!
Finally got to make these!!! They are so yummy! ?
Awesome!! Thanks so much Barb! So glad they worked for you.
I wanted to make this recipe dairy free. Do you have any recommendations on what I can substitute the yogurt for besides sour cream?
Hi Lacey – I think you could use coconut yogurt or another non-dairy yogurt just fine!
Hoping to make these today. Do you have a suggestion for a substitution for the yogurt? I don’t have any in the fridge and would rather not have to run out for one ingredient. Thanks!
Hi Kendra – you could use sour cream in place of the yogurt!
I’m so excited to make these. I was wondering your thoughts on making the batter the night before and refrigerating in order to make fresh hot donuts in the morning. Do you think it’ll work the same?
Hi Jillian – I’m not sure it will turn out the same because of the baking powder in the recipe. Baking powder has two reactions chemically to create a rise: one when it is added to the batter, and one when it’s in the oven. My worry is that if you let the batter sit overnight, the first reaction will be long over by the time you put them in the oven the next day. They may not rise as well or have the same texture. All that said, it’s worth an experiment if you have the time! Let me know if you do try that.
I’ve been having such a hankering for these lately, so I may need to bite the bullet, buy a donut pan and indulge! Also, instead of apple cider, I wonder if reduced apple brandy would work. Hmm…
Reduced apple brandy just might work perfectly!! I like the way you think 😉