Sweet and spicy, these apple cider donuts are a scrumptious staple during apple season, filled with sugar and spice and everything nice. Brimming with fresh, unfiltered apple cider, then lightly fried and dipped in your choice of a crispy cinnamon sugar topping or a tangy apple cider glaze, this apple cider donut recipe tastes like a fun day at the apple orchards!
A Donut Fit For Apple Season
Virtually every fall, my husband and I make our way about an hour and half from our home in Los Angeles to the enchanting apple orchards of Oak Glen, where we can pick fresh apples, and anything else you can imagine that's apple related!
We have our favorite family farm we love to visit and always make sure to stop there first, nice and early, for their famous mini apple cider donuts, before the line gets too long. These donuts come a dozen to a small bag, and are piping hot and sparkly from the thick layer of perfectly crispy cinnamon sugar coating.
Those side donuts are so deliciously naughty, and all too easy to pop into our mouths and polish off in mere minutes!
This year, I finally decided to try my hand at making my own homemade apple cider donuts, though not the mini ones at the orchard, but traditional sized donuts to enjoy with coffee or tea on a fall morning or afternoon.
With this recipe, not only do I give the option of using the traditional cinnamon sugar topping, I also offer a mouthwatering option for a tangy apple cider glaze for a more fritter-like look and flavor.
I personally like to use both of these toppings, making eight donuts with the cinnamon sugar topping and eight with the apple cider glaze—I love the two distinct options!
Cakey, moist, light and fluffy, this apple cider donut recipe is such a sweet treat during apple season, filled with the spicy-sweet flavors of fall on a cool, crisp day.
And the best part? No driving an hour and half to the local apple orchard, early on a Saturday or Sunday morning, to enjoy 'em!
My Recipe for Apple Cider Donuts
This recipe for apple cider donuts is a basic cake donut recipe, so no yeast is needed here.
It makes use of all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda to provide the “rise”, lots of spices, both brown and granulated sugars, eggs, vanilla and melted butter.
For the liquid components, I use unfiltered, not-from-concentrate apple cider (or juice), which I reduce from 2 cups to ¾ cup to create a sweeter, more concentrated result. I also add a small amount of buttermilk to the dough for richness and tenderness.
Cake donut dough is typically always quite sticky, which is completely normal. This can make working with the dough (cutting, rolling, etc.) a bit more challenging because it is more delicate, though there is a solution that helps a bit with this: chill the dough!
The apple cider donut dough must be chilled for a minimum of 2 to 3 hours (I go to 3), even up to overnight if making ahead. This gives the dough time to firm a bit, which makes it easier to roll out to that ½ inch thickness before cutting into shape.
And for the toppings, apple cider donuts are traditionally tossed in cinnamon sugar, which I do here as well for half of my batch of donuts.
But I also like to make an apple cider glaze made with powdered sugar and apple cider, which is a thinner glaze that creates an almost fritter, or old-fashioned donut-like look, and with a slightly tangy flavor.
In my recipe, each topping option is enough for 8 donuts (or half the batch), so if you'd prefer to use only one type of topping on all sixteen donuts (the full batch), then simply double the ingredients for that particular topping.
Here's a glance at my apple cider donut recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I reduce my apple cider for roughly 25 to 30 minutes, until it becomes slightly syrupy and concentrated, and I then allow that to cool.
- Next, I whisk together my dry ingredients and set those aside.
- Using a hand mixer, I mix together my eggs and sugars, then add my other wet ingredients in and mix to further combine.
- I then add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix/fold together just until well combined.
- Next, I place plastic wrap directly over the apple cider donut dough, and place it into the fridge to chill for at least 2 to 3 hours, or even up to overnight.
- In the meantime, I prepare both my cinnamon sugar and apple cider glaze toppings (or just one of these, if not using both types), and set them aside.
- Once the dough is chilled and firmer, I roll it out and use a 3” cutter for the donuts and a 1” inch cutter for the holes. I place the donuts onto a sheet tray to hold while I heat my oil.
- I then fry the apple cider donuts for roughly 1 ½ minutes per side, and while still warm, toss half the donuts in the cinnamon sugar.
- I then dip the remaining, slightly more cooled donuts in the apple cider glaze, and place onto a platter to enjoy room temp.
Apple Cider Donuts
by Ingrid Beer
These homemade apple cider donuts have the option of either a crunchy cinnamon sugar topping or a tangy apple cider glaze...or both!
Yield: 16 donuts
Nutrition Info: 269 calories per donut
Prep Time: 35 minutes (does not include chill time for dough)
Cook time: 45 minutes (includes time to reduce apple cider)
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Apple Cider Donuts Ingredients:
- 2 cups unfiltered apple cider (not from concentrate)
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs, room temp
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- ¼ cup buttermilk, room temp
- Vegetable oil (about 6 cups), for frying
Cinnamon Sugar Topping Ingredients (enough for 8 donuts):
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Apple Cider Glaze Ingredients (enough for 8 donuts):
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted of lumps
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your apple cider donut ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Add the apple cider to a small pot or sauce pan, and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Allow the cider to reduce for roughly 25 to 30 minutes, by a little more than half, ending up with ¾ cup of reduce cider. Set aside and allow to cool.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ground ginger, and set these dry ingredients aside for a moment.
- To another larger bowl, add the granulated and brown sugars and the eggs, and using an electric hand mixer, mix together until thick, pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in the vanilla, melted butter, reduced apple cider and buttermilk, and mix for a moment or two to blend those in.
- Next, add these wet ingredients into the flour mixture, and using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, mix together just well until combined, taking care to not over mix. (The dough will be quite sticky, which is just as it should be.) Cover the dough with a piece of plastic wrap, placing it directly onto the dough, and place into the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 to 3 hours, even overnight.
- Meanwhile, gather and prep your cinnamon sugar topping ingredients (if using) according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- In a large bowl or glass dish, mix together the granulated sugar with the ground cinnamon to have ready to toss the fried donuts in. Set aside.
- Then, gather and prep the apple cider glaze ingredients (if using) according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar with the apple cider, and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
- Once the dough has chilled, add your oil to a heavy bottom pot or large Dutch oven, and slowly bring to 365°.
- Prepare your work surface by sprinkling some flour over. Place your chilled donut dough onto the flour, and sprinkle a touch more flour over top of the dough.
- Carefully roll out the dough to ½” thickness, and using a 3” cutter for the donuts and a 1” cutter for the donut holes, cut out your donuts placing them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet to hold until you fry. (You should end up with 16 donuts if you gather up all the scraps and the donut holes, and use those as well.)
- Once all donuts are cut out and the oil is ready, begin frying about 4 donuts at a time, about 1 minute and 15 seconds to 1 minute 30 seconds per side, or until a deep, golden-brown. Then, remove the donuts and lay them onto a paper towel-lined wire rack placed over a baking sheet to absorb some of the oil.
- Toss half of the still-warm donuts in the cinnamon sugar, and place onto a serving tray to hold. Allow the remaining donuts to cool slightly more to room temp, then dip both bottom and top of each into the apple cider glaze, allowing the excess to drip off. Allow the glaze to set.
- Enjoy the apple cider donuts warm or room temp.
Tips & Tidbits for my Apple Cider Donuts recipe:
- Unfiltered, not-from-concentrate apple cider or juice: If you happen to have access to fresh-pressed, unfiltered apple cider from a local apple orchard, then opt for that, as it has so much flavor. You can also purchase at the market, choosing unfiltered, not-from-concentrate apple cider or juice to use (not the kind that's clear, but one that has apple sediment on the bottom).
- Cinnamon sugar and/or apple cider glaze toppings: I like to make these donuts using both a cinnamon sugar topping and an apple cider glaze topping for slightly different tastes and textures. Each topping option is enough for 8 donuts (half a batch), so if you'd like to only use one of these toppings, then simply double the ingredients to be able to top all sixteen donuts.
- Reduce the apple cider for sweeter, concentrated flavor: You won't be adding straight cider or juice to the recipe, as it must first be reduced to make it more concentrated and sweeter. This is what will give your donuts that wonderful apple flavor. So make sure to take the time to reduce your cider by a little more than half.
- Brown and granulated sugars for depth: I like to use both granulated and brown sugar to create that deeper sweetness for these donuts. You could use all granulated or all brown sugar if desired, but the two offer nice balance if you have both available.
- Make sure your spices are fresh: This apple cider donut recipe calls for a number of spices, each of which lend lots of aroma and fall-like flavor to these donuts. Make sure your spices are nice and fresh for the best flavor, replacing any older spices with new ones.
- Toss the donuts in cinnamon sugar while still warm: To help that delicious cinnamon sugar coating stick to the apple cider donuts, toss them well in the cinnamon sugar coating shortly after the donuts come out of the hot oil. This will help the sugar to adhere better to the donuts, creating a crispy sweet exterior.
Craving more comfy-cozy apple-infused sweet treats? Check out my recipe for Apple Cranberry Pie, or my recipes for Caramel Apple Pie Bars, Caramel Apple French Toast, or my tender Baked Apples recipe!