Moist, tender, and super flavorful, these are the best baked apple cider donuts I’ve ever had, and they are easy to make, too. Their sugary spiced coating makes them irresistible!
Fall is my absolute favorite season. I love the amazing sweater weather and all things pumpkin and apple, like pumpkin scones, caramel apple cheesecake, and apple pie bars. It’s the best time of year to cozy up next to a warm fireplace and enjoy everything the season has to offer. I particularly love the chilly nights and seeing all the photos of cozy sweaters, soups and hot chocolate on Instagram and Pinterest and I can’t wait for it to arrive already!
So I couldn’t resist starting to think about fall recipes, like these baked apple cider donuts! They truly are one of my new favorite apple dessert recipes. Ever since I posted this amazing spice cake recipe, I get lots of requests for fall treats. I’ve tried many baked apple cider donut recipes before but I found them to be either dry or lacking in flavor, so my mission became clear: to create the perfect baked apple cider donut that was simple to make.
Flavor and texture of baked apple cider donuts
If you like spice cakes or apple cakes or anything with spices in it, then you’ll love this baked apple cider donut recipe. The donuts have a dense crumb similar to muffins, but they are moist and tender. I love their texture almost as much as I love their flavor. Although they are baked and not fried, they taste just like the donuts you’d buy fresh from a bakery shop, only more flavorful.
How to make apple cider donuts
Use concentrated apple cider
One of the most important parts of producing exceptionally flavorful apple cider donuts is using concentrated apple cider. If you skip this step, your donuts will be lacking in that strong apple cider flavor. If you find store-bought concentrated apple cider, you can use 1/3 cup of it in the recipe, and skip this cooking step.
To make concentrated apple cider, follow these steps:
- Pour 1 and 1/2 cups of apple cider in a pot and place it on the stove.
- On low-medium heat, let the mixture boil for about 20 minutes until it reduces down to 1/3 cup and you’re left with a thick, syrupy liquid that contains less water and much more apple flavor.
- Let the mixture cool slightly before incorporating it into your batter.
Once you’ve made your concentrated apple cider, all you have to do is:
- Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, including the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
- In another bowl, combine the eggs and sugar and whisk together. Pour in the slightly cooled melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla, and reduced apple cider and mix. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and use a spatula to fold the batter together. Mix as little as possible just until the ingredients are combined, otherwise your donuts will be dense and heavy.
I use a donut pan to make baked donuts. Donut pans usually have 6 molds so I recommend buying 2 pans if you love baking donuts. I use a piping bag to pipe out the batter into the donuts. It’s easier and quicker. You can also use a ziplock bag and cut off the corner for a quick fix piping bag.
Once you’ve baked the donuts and they’re still slightly warm, dip them in melted butter, and then in sugar-spice mixture. Be careful at this point because before you know it, you’ll realize you’ve just eaten 4 donuts (I’m talking from experience).
What to do if you don’t have a donut pan
No donut pan? No problem! You can simply create a DIY donut pan. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Muffin pan
- Tin foil
- Cooking spray
Here’s how to do it:
- Spray your muffin tin with cooking spray.
- Take a square of tin foil, about 5x5in works well, and roll it into a thick cylinder the size you want the hole of your donut to be.
- Next, stand the tin cylinder upright in the middle of each muffin tin, pressing it down flat so it stands up straight.
- This will allow you to pipe the donut batter around the tin cylinder in the muffin pan so each donut bakes with a hole in the middle.
More delicious fall recipes you’ll enjoy:
- Baked Cinnamon Sugar Donuts: These fluffy donut holes are perfect for fall! They’re made in a muffin pan and dipped in cinnamon and sugar.
- Easy Pumpkin Muffins: This is one of my all-time favorite fall recipes. Delicious pumpkin flavor encompasses every bite in these moist and tasty muffins.
- Apple Pancakes: Want a taste of fall in the morning? Try these indulgent cinnamon apple pancakes for a warm and tasty treat.
- Nutella Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Muffins: If you love Nutella as much as I do, you’ll love these Nutella stuffed mini muffins coated in cinnamon and sugar!
- 1 and 1/2 cups (360 ml) apple cider
- 1 and 3/4 cups (245g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- pinch of ground cardamom , optional
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup (65g) dark or light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons (40g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk (or milk)
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg , optional
Reduce the apple cider: In a small saucepan, bring apple cider to a gentle boil and let simmer over medium heat until thick and reduced to about 1/3 cup (80 ml), 15-25 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease donut pans with butter or nonstick spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl whisk together the egg, granulated sugar and brown sugar, until well combined. Whisk in the melted butter. Add the reduced apple cider, buttermilk and vanilla extract, and mix until combined. Pour the mixture into the flour mixture and whisk just until combined and smooth. Don't overmix the batter.
Divide the mixture between the donut cavities, filling about halfway full. I recommend using a piping bag to pipe the batter, it will be much easier and less messy. Bake for about 10 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the donuts comes out clean. Let donuts cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack.
Meanwhile, make the topping: In a medium bowl mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Once cool enough to handle, for each donut, dip both sides in melted butter and then generously dip into the sugar mixture.
Donuts are best served immediately. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. Serve them warm or at room temperature.
EmmaOctober 5, 2018 at 10:45 pm
This is the exact recipe I am looking for! Can’t wait to try this weekend with my daughter. 🙂
EmmaOctober 8, 2018 at 12:34 pm
Update: we made these and they were a huge hit! My husband even declared them the best thing I’ve ever made. 🙂
Do you have any tips for boiling liquid down to a specific amount? I over-reduced the first batch of apple cider and had to try again – I poured back and forth to a measuring cup when it got close, but not sure if there’s a better way?
ShiranOctober 9, 2018 at 11:16 am
Thank you Emma, I’m glad you like it! This is how I do it too – pour it into a measuring cup and check. It doesn’t have to be exact though so if it’s a little less or more, it’s ok.
ShannonOctober 2, 2020 at 11:06 am
A tip for reducing liquids to a desired amount. I always put desired amount in pot then mark liquid level on a wooden skewer when dipped in pan then while reducing liquid i reduce until it reaches mark on skewer. Hope that helps. Trying this recipe today along with the tip of frying in oil for a few seconds after baked to add a crispness
MaryOctober 9, 2020 at 9:20 pm
Quick question – is there a certain type if cider? I put the cider in the pot, and it evaporated, but didn’t get thicker yay all.
Kathy WilliamsonOctober 20, 2020 at 11:50 am
Keeping it at a high simmer seems to thicken it but a minute too long and you have black goo and a screaming smoke detector. I under-reduce mine so it isn’t thick, but still pretty strong. The texture doesn’t matter so much as just getting the cider really strong.
Kathy WOctober 20, 2020 at 6:53 pm
As long as you use no more than 1/3 cup, it works. So if you don’t reduce it all the way, just measure out 1/3 cup anyway and use it.
JaneOctober 24, 2018 at 1:53 pm
Do you have a suggestion for what to do if I don’t have a donut pan? Really want to try these!
ShiranOctober 25, 2018 at 5:09 am
Hi Jane, you can bake them in a muffin pan or a mini muffin pan.
TanyaOctober 28, 2018 at 12:26 pm
Thanks for another lovely recipe! These just came out of the oven and look and smell fantastic! Just wondering, if making a day ahead, would you still dip in butter and sugar or do that on the day they are being served? Thanks!
ShiranOctober 31, 2018 at 6:22 am
Hi Tanya, the donuts are best served the day they are made, so I dip them in butter and sugar after baking them.
TanyaOctober 28, 2018 at 4:09 pm
These were lovely, they came together easily and look just like the photos! One thing I’d recommend though – if you don’t have two donut pans, buy a second one! Since the batter for the second batch had more time to activate/rise while the first batch was in the oven, the second pan of donuts were much fluffier than the first – it was clear the two sets didn’t bake in the oven together as they looked quite different. No difference to the taste but would have looked prettier overall had they baked at the same time!
RoseDecember 15, 2018 at 11:33 am
I made this recipe this morning.YUMM!! I wonder how they would freeze.
I must have a small donut pan because I have 18 donuts.Also, I didn’t dip mine in butter before putting them in topping ,came out fine.
Linda GFebruary 18, 2019 at 8:23 pm
These turned out great…and I got rave reviews from many people!
LauralliOctober 5, 2019 at 10:57 am
These are THE ones!! All thumbs up at my house! I will be making these again and again!! Sadly the recipe only made 11 in my pans but not really a problem.
DanielleOctober 12, 2019 at 9:58 pm
I loved the apple cider donuts we had at the cider mills in Michigan, and I’ve been looking to replicate them at home here in California, where most people have never had a cider donut! The batch out of the oven was a little underwhelming to me, so I heated about an inch of oil in a saucepot on the stove, and fried the already-baked donuts for about 10 seconds each to give them the crispy fried layer that you love on a real donut, without the long exposure to the oil. Drained, dabbed off the extra, and skipped the step of buttering them; I just plopped the hot, fresh donut into the sugar coating. They were EXACTLY like I remember from the Midwest!
CaseyOctober 23, 2019 at 12:37 pm
Have you ever made these the night before? I have family coming in town and it would be great to make these a day in advance and keep them in the fridge until morning.
ShiranOctober 28, 2019 at 4:07 am
Hi Casey, donuts are always best eaten as fresh as possible, but yes, it’s possible to make them the night before and keep them in the fridge. Serve them warm or at room temperature.
HannahOctober 26, 2019 at 10:04 am
Can you fry them?
ShiranOctober 28, 2019 at 4:02 am
You can’t, because the batter is soft, like a cake.
ShellyOctober 26, 2019 at 1:17 pm
It made 12 for me. Better than cider mill donuts! Thanks for sharing!!!
Amy AsburyNovember 2, 2019 at 8:26 pm
These are awesome!! My family loved them and they were pretty easy to make!! I do agree with the other person who recommended having two donut pans.
GloriaFebruary 10, 2020 at 4:36 pm
Hi can you please tell me if I can make this beautiful donut gluten free?
ShiranFebruary 11, 2020 at 3:02 am
Hi Gloria, if you use gf flour it might work, but I have no experience working with this kind of flour so I can’t recommend it.
Local Food Coupons - GetfelyxOctober 2, 2020 at 7:21 am
This is the best DONUTS recipe ever having mouth watering flavours and taste.
Kathy WilliamsonOctober 20, 2020 at 11:47 am
Thank you for this recipe. This batter makes 2 dozen mini donuts and 2 dozen cake pops. Sometimes I just dust them with a little powdered sugar instead of the topping. I always have a can of powdered buttermilk in the fridge so that is what I use. Also you could swap the spices for whatever you have handy – apple pie spice, allspice – but I love the combination suggested here, with the cardamom.
Kris MarieOctober 21, 2020 at 1:33 pm
2nd time making these! Absolutely fantastic! I do double dip my donuts in the cinnamon sugar! Than into the fridge to chill!
NicoleOctober 27, 2020 at 7:24 pm
If I don’t have a donut pan, and I use a jumbo muffin pan instead, does the bake time change??
donna giblinNovember 6, 2020 at 4:37 pm
does anyone know if I can cook down the cider tonight and make the donuts tomorrow. Having company and will bake them while dinner is served but I would like to prep as much as possible befforehand. Thank you
ShiranNovember 15, 2020 at 6:49 am
Yes you can 🙂
donna giblinNovember 8, 2020 at 8:31 am
Been dying to try and make apple cider donuts for years and yesterday was the day. I made the reduction the night before and made the batter in the afternoon. While cleaning up from dinner I piped them into my pans and baked. Dipped and served hot to our guests. OMG these were amazing. I used silicon pans and got 15 donuts from a single recipe. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Will be making these again and again this fall!
ShiranNovember 10, 2020 at 10:14 am
Thank you for sharing and I’m glad you’ve finally tried them and loved them!
Sybil GarrisonNovember 27, 2020 at 11:29 am
I made them and they were fantastic!
Notes on the recipe:
– I made half the recipe as it is just for hubby and me and we don’t need to eat a lot of donuts; half the recipe yielded 5 donuts
– I used 99 g (1/2 cup + 6 tablespoons) home-milled whole grain flour for half the recipe (so 200 g for a full recipe)
– I reduced the sugar to 20 g for half the recipe. As the donuts are dredged in sugar, there is really no need for a lot of sugar in the dough itself.
– I used 1 small egg
– I used half milk and half yogurt in place of the buttermilk, BUT I made a mistake because I forgot to halve the quantities, so instead of using 1/4 cup buttermilk for half the recipe, I used a full half a cup and they were fantastic! The extra liquid in the dough kept them moist. So, for a full batch, I would use 1 cup or, at the very least, 3/4 cup buttermilk.
– I boiled 3/4 cup apple cider until it started to thicken and looked like caramel. I turned it off, and once somewhat cooled, added the butter rather than dirty another dish. I think next time, I will go to a full cup apple cider (for half the recipe) to get more flavor.
MadisonJuly 5, 2021 at 8:43 am
Could these be made in a donut maker? If so, how would it need to be modified? Thanks! Excited to try these 🙂
Christine BakerSeptember 12, 2021 at 10:30 am
The donuts are delicious, thanks for the recipe!
BeccaSeptember 13, 2021 at 11:08 am
We made these with an apple & pear cider mix, from our backyard trees. My family inhaled them! 😂 Thanks for the great recipe!
Liz AOctober 10, 2021 at 7:02 pm
These came out PERFECT 😍!! A hit all around for the whole family, super soft and flavorful. I opted for maple syrup glaze/frosting instead of the cinnamon and sugar topping due to preference/request. They were amazing!
MollyOctober 13, 2021 at 1:22 am
I’ve read that several people made them in mini donut pans. That’s the pan I’ve got so I’ll do the same but I’m wondering if the bake time would change? Thanks…cannot wait to try these out!
Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.October 15, 2021 at 10:16 am
Hi Molly, yes if you are making them with a mini donut pan you would want to reduce the baking time. I would say probably start with baking them for 5-7 minutes and see how they are.
Rachel M.October 5, 2022 at 11:17 am
This is a perfect recipe. I typically modify any recipe I use in some way. My only change (which wasn’t really an alteration) was the use of King Arthur brand boiled cider. It is a cider reduction created for these types of recipes. I used 1/3 cup and it was perfect.
Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.October 6, 2022 at 3:45 am
So glad you enjoyed them, Rachel!
ReneOctober 7, 2022 at 12:04 pm
Love this recipe. If I make the cider the night before, should I refrigerate it or can I leave it on the counter at room temp overnight? It is cool in my house this time of year?
Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.October 9, 2022 at 5:22 am
Hi Rene, no need to refrigerate the cider. You can leave it on the counter:)
AmyOctober 8, 2022 at 12:46 pm
Have you (or anyone else) made these with oat milk and vegan butter?? I am DESPERATE for apple cider donuts but cannot have dairy. I really want to try this recipe! Curious what difference it would make.
Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.October 9, 2022 at 5:22 am
Hi Amy, I haven’t tried making these donuts without dairy but let us know how they come out if you try it!:)
RROctober 16, 2022 at 7:02 pm
These were delicious. Used less sugar in the batter because of the sugar coating. Added a pinch of cardamom to the topping.
Big question: They were nice and brown and crisp on the bottom side of the pan, but not at all on the top. Did I do something wrong? Thanks
Texas NanaOctober 28, 2022 at 2:41 pm
These are yummy. Was craving cider donuts on the first rainy cool fall day in Texas . I used 1/3c boiled cider concentrate in a bottle (king arthur). I was happy not to have to cook down cider. I mixed sugars, margarine,egg with the wet ingredients and then added dry using a hand wisk. Batter light and fluffy. I used teaspoon from silverware drawer and used 2 tsp per donut. I had a six donut pan and used my mini bundt pan (12) . All took 2 tsp batter. I rolled in cinnamon sugar . Quick, easy, tasty. Will make again as my daughter agreed recipe is a keeper. Got total of 18. Donuts are a little softer fluffier than bakery cake ones.
AshleyOctober 28, 2022 at 4:55 pm
Delicious recipe! The donuts came out perfect, super fluffy and flavorful. I subbed coconut sugar for brown sugar and they still taste sweet (enough). My only critique is that I don’t think this recipe yields 16 donuts…maybe my donut pan is larger than usual, but I doubled the recipe and it was only enough for 18 donuts.
Malisa HendryJanuary 22, 2023 at 5:00 pm
Delicious. Donuts are light and fluffy. I changed the topping slightly. Reduced butter and added apple cider. Then only dipped tops of donuts in the butter/cider and sugar/cinnamon. Amazing.
Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.January 23, 2023 at 2:37 am
So glad you enjoyed them, Malisa!