These Homemade Apple Cider Donuts are a little crisp on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, and are insanely good dipped in homemade caramel sauce. There’s nothing better than biting into a warm, homemade donut!
This recipe was originally published in Sept of 2018, but I just updated it with new photos and clearer directions.
Your first fall baking project has arrived – Homemade Apple Cider Donuts! Making donuts at home is easier than you’d think. If you’ve never made donuts at home before, it is completely doable, but here are a few tips before you start.
- I don’t recommend making these for the first time when you’re having people over. Learning to fry donuts can take a bit of practice and you don’t want to be learning a new technique when you’re trying to serve up a dessert to guests. That’s a good time to fall back on something you’ve made before and are already comfortable with.
- Get a good frying thermometer – one that’s instant read and that can attach to your pot is the way to go.
- Don’t get frustrated if your first couple of donuts don’t come out quite right – it’s a bit of a learning process in the beginning.
Now, let’s learn how to make them!
Making the Donut Dough:
The dough is a simple mix of basic ingredients like butter, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, eggs, and apple cider of course. (This recipe doesn’t require any yeast!)
To get a good dose of apple cider flavor, we’re going to reduce our apple cider in a pot on the stovetop. This concentrates the flavor – don’t skip this step.
Once the dough is mixed up, flatten it to a little less than 1/2 inch thick with your hands on a floured piece of parchment paper. You don’t even need a rolling pin here! The dough is easy to work with – just be gentle with it. Cover the dough, then pop it in the freezer to chill for 20 minutes.
Once the dough has chilled, you can use round cutters to cut out your donuts! I have a set of round cutters like this one – it comes in handy for so many things, from making donuts, to shaping cookies, to making biscuits! Place your cut donuts onto a lightly floured pan, and pop it back in the fridge while you check on your frying oil.
Frying the Donuts:
While the dough is chilling, fill a large dutch oven (or a large heavy pot) with vegetable oil, and begin to heat it. We’re going for 350-360 degrees. A thermometer is super important here – the wrong temperature of oil will ruin the donuts. I like a thermometer like this for frying because it clips onto your pot without touching the bottom (that can affect your reading).
Important Things to Note about Frying Donuts:
- Start with a dough scrap to test the oil. If the dough quickly rises to the surface, the oil is ready. If the oil is too hot, the donut will turn dark brown on the outside pretty quickly, and won’t puff up. It will be almost burnt on the outside, and raw on the inside. Turn down the heat and let it cool a bit before trying again.
- The heat of the oil will fluctuate some as you work, so keep an eye on it – use the clip on your thermometer to attach it to the pan so you can constantly monitor the temp and adjust it as needed.
- Adding the donuts will lower the heat a little, so it’s better to have oil that’s a smidgen too hot, than oil that’s a bit too cold.
- Fry the donuts in batches of 2-33 at a time – don’t crowd the pot.
- Flip your donuts after 1-2 minutes, or when puffy and golden brown on the underside.
- Place the cooked donuts on a cooling rack, using a skimmer ladle, set over a paper-towel lined cookie sheet to collect excess oil.
Frying donuts can be a bit of a learning curve, and this probably seems like a ton of information, but I know you can handle this recipe! Just keep these tips handy while you work and read the entire recipe before you begin. And, know that frying donuts will get easier the more you’ve done it.
Topping Your Donuts:
While the donuts are still warm, brush them with a little melted butter, or my personal favorite, a bit more apple cider, before dunking them in cinnamon sugar.
And, if you want to add extra wow factor to these donuts, I HIGHLY recommend dipping them into this simple homemade caramel sauce just before serving. It’s show-stoppingly good, and it screams fall! (I’m actually just looking for another excuse to make this caramel but you’re not going to complain, right?)
Donuts are absolutely at their best when they’re warm & fresh but I did do the hard work of taste testing these on the 2nd and 3rd day and I’m glad to say they held up pretty well! This recipe makes about 18 donuts and 9 donut holes, so it’s great for feeding a crowd! If you don’t want quite that many donuts, you can cut the recipe in half.
Let the fall baking commence!
Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo and leave a comment!
Homemade Apple Cider Donuts
- 3 cups apple cider
- 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour can sub all-purpose
- 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp brown sugar, packed
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 7 tbsp salted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- vegetable oil Or another neutral oil
- apple cider or melted butter, for brushing on
- 1 and 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 and 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- pinch of cardamom
- 1 batch salted caramel sauce optional, recipe linked below
- Reduce the Apple Cider: Add the apple cider to a pot over medium high heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1 cup, about 22-28 minutes. Let cider cool completely (pop it in the fridge to speed this up).
- Make the Dough: While the cider cools, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large mixing bowl. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, cooled apple cider, and the eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until everything is well incorporated. You will have a sticky, shaggy dough (see photo above).
- Chill the Dough: Divide the dough in half. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and lightly dust with flour. Add one half of the dough, and gently flatten it to a little less than 1/2" thick with floured hands. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, and repeat with the other half of the dough. Chill both pans in the freezer for 20 minutes. (See recipe notes below if you don't have room in the freezer.)
- Fry the Donuts: Pour oil in a large, heavy dutch oven or pot until it's 2-3 inches deep. Use a frying thermometer like this one to measure the temperature - heat the oil to between 350 - 360 degrees F. (See note) Work with one pan of dough at a time so the other pan stays chilled (move the second pan from the freezer to the fridge after the 20 minutes so it doesn't freeze solid). Cut out donuts using a 3" glass/bowl or round cutters. Cut out a 1" hole in the center with a donut cutter or freehand it with a knife. Test the oil with a scrap of dough before frying up the donuts. See tips in blog post above for monitoring the oil heat. If the oil is too hot, the donuts will be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. If it's too cold, they'll won't be done on the inside. Fry the donuts, 2-3 at a time. Don't crowd the pot or they won't cook evenly. Flip after 1 to 1 and 1/2 minutes, or when golden brown and puffy on the underside. Remove donuts and let drain on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Re-flatten out your scraps, chill for a few minutes, and repeat until all the dough is used.
- Coat the donuts in cinnamon sugar: Let the donuts cool until you can handle them, but are still warm, then brush with melted butter or apple cider, and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
- Serve + Store: Enjoy warm! Drizzle with warm, homemade caramel sauce for extra deliciousness! These are best on the first day.
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