Apple Cider Donuts are the ultimate fall treat! Reducing the cider into a concentrated syrup (hands-off time!), and combining this with apple butter produces a deep apple cider flavor in these easy baked donuts. Warm donuts are brushed in a mixture of apple butter & reduced cider, and coated in apple pie spice sugar. Dare I say, they’re even better than ones from the apple orchard!
This recipe was originally published in Sept of 2018 as a fried donut recipe, but I just updated it in Sept 2023 with new photos and a baked donut recipe. The apple cider flavor is also much stronger in these! Please feel free to reach out via the contact form (found in the header of the website) if you would like the old recipe.
It never feels like fall until you’ve made the annual pilgrimage to the apple orchard for a paper bag filled with warm apple cider donuts, a steaming cup of cider, oh – and some apple picking. If you feel like every apple donut you’ve ever had is lacking in true apple flavor, prepare to have your faith in this fall treat restored with these homemade donuts!
Why you’ll love these Apple Cider Donuts:
- Apple Cider Flavor – Unlike most cider donuts, these actually do taste like apple cider! Starting with more cider than most recipes, reducing it down to a syrupy consistency, and using a little bit of apple butter has proven to be the perfect formula for apple cider donuts that actually taste like their namesake!
- Easy Baked Donuts – This easy donut batter comes together in just one bowl, with no mixer! These baked donuts are full of incredible flavor, and there’s no hot oil, messy paper towels, or frying to deal with.
- Fluffy, Moist Donuts – This simple batter produces light, fluffy, and moist donuts that hold up for a few days in an airtight container!
As always, the full recipe with measurements & directions can be found at the bottom of this post.
- All-purpose flour – Spoon your flour into the measuring cup, then level it with a flat utensil for best results, or use a scale. Scooping the measuring cup directly into your flour will lead to too much flour, and a potentially dry bake.
- Apple Cider – Do NOT use apple cider vinegar. Apple Cider and Apple Cider Vinegar are VERY different – one is apple cider like you get at the apple orchard, and the other one is just what the name says – vinegar.
- Apple Butter – Apple butter is essential for amping up the apple flavor in these donuts, so I highly recommend making or buying some.
- Butter – I always use salted buter for the best flavor, but feel free to use unsalted butter if you prefer.
- Eggs – Use large eggs, at room temp.
- Sour Cream – Use full fat sour cream, at room temp.
- Milk – I used 2% milk, at room temperature.
- Vanilla extract – Use real vanilla extract.
- Dairy-free – Use your favorite, trusted dairy-free sour cream and butter to make this recipe dairy-free.
- Gluten-free – I have not tested a gluten-free version of this recipe. Let me know if you do!
- Boiled Cider – If you don’t want to boil your own cider, you can purchase boiled cider online.
How to Make this Apple Cider Donut Recipe Step-by-Step:
Step 1: Reduce the Cider. Reducing apple cider is a simple process that’s literally just heating apple cider on the stove, stirring it occasionally, until it cooks down into boiled cider. Boiled apple cider has an almost syrupy consistency and a much more concentrated flavor. This step is essential to tasting any apple cider flavor in your baked goods!
Step 2: Make the Donut Batter. This is a simple, one-bowl donut batter! Start with the wet ingredients. Whisk together melted butter, sugars, eggs, apple butter, reduced apple cider, sour cream, and vegetable oil in a large bowl.
Stir in the dry ingredients last, until just combined. Don’t over mix once the flour mixture has been added!
Step 3: Bake the Donuts. Pipe the batter into pans that have been generously sprayed with cooking spray. Bake as directed in the recipe card below for best results.
Let doughnuts cool in the pans for about 2 minutes, then use a butter knife to gently loosen them, and invert onto a greased cooling rack so they don’t stick.
Step 4: Brush Donuts with Cider & Dunk in Apple Pie Spice. We’re brushing a mixture of boiled cider and apple butter over our donuts for one last punch of apple cider flavor, and dunking them not just in plain ‘ol cinnamon sugar, but in apple pie spice sugar! Hellooo, flavor town!
Step 5: Optional – Salted Caramel Drizzle. If you, like me, can’t resist drizzling salted caramel sauce over anything and everything each fall, it pairs beautifully with these apple cider donuts! My 10-minute Salted Caramel Sauce recipe is easy and no-fail.
Serving + Storing this Recipe:
Enjoy these donuts while they’re still a little warm from the oven! These are best on the first day, but will hold up well in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Expert Success Tips:
- Oven Thermometer – An oven thermometer will tell you if your oven is actually running at the temperature you set it to. Your oven may not be accurate. Accurate oven temperature is crucial for most bakes, so I leave an oven thermometer in at all times to keep an eye on my oven’s calibration.
- Kitchen Scale – A food scale is the best way to make sure your flour is at the proper weight, since amounts will vary SO widely based on how you measure it, as well as the measuring cup you use, as they are not standardized.
- Boiled Cider – You can do this 1-2 days ahead to break up the steps in this recipe a bit. Store it in a jar in the fridge until ready to use. It does need to come back to room temperature along with the other cold ingredients when making the batter.
Yes you certainly can! I think you could double it as well, but you’d need quite a large mixing bowl and a very large pot for the cider. It might be easier to just make two separate batches of batter.
Baked donuts (not to be confused with cake donuts, which are a type of fried donut) have the texture of a moist, tender cake or muffin. They taste incredible and are made without the fuss of deep frying!
Yes, they do! Reducing the cider to 1/8 of it’s original volume, or concentrating it by 8x ensures an apple cider flavor in the donuts! If you have tried recipes in the past that only have you reduce your cider by half, for example, that’s not going to be concentrated enough for the flavor to come through. Using apple butter in the donuts also brings out the apple flavor beautifully!
- Salted Caramel – My salted caramel sauce recipe pairs beautifully with these baked donuts!
- Cinnamon Sugar – If you don’t want to use the apple pie spices in your spiced sugar, you can just use regular cinnamon sugar.
- Doughnut Pans – To make the donuts in the size pictured, use this slightly larger baked donut pan. To get slightly more yield from this recipe, use this standard size donut pan.
- Liquid Measuring Cups – Did you know that liquid and dry measuring cups are not interchangeable? I highly recommend getting a set of glass measuring cups for all liquid measuring.
- Donut Holes – If you want to make donut holes, try these adorable donut hole pans!
More Apple Recipes to Love:
- Caramel Apple Cider Cookies
- Salted Caramel Apple Galette
- Cranberry Apple Crisp
- Homemade Apple Fritters
- Honeycrisp Apple & Kale Fall Salad
- Caramel Apple Crumb Cake
- Apple Cider Old Fashioned Cocktails
- The Best Recipes to Make During Apple Season
Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo and leave a comment!
Baked Apple Cider Donuts
For the Reduced Apple Cider
- 7 and 1/3 cups apple cider This is NOT the same as apple cider vinegar – see note.
For the Donut Batter:
- 1/2 cup salted butter, melted 113 grams, or 8 tablespoons
- 1 cup granulated sugar 220 grams
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed 108 grams
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup reduced apple cider 226 mL
- 1/4 cup apple butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup full fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled 325 grams
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup reduced apple cider
- 3 tbsp apple butter
For the Apple Pie Spice Sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 5 and 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
Optional, for Topping:
- 1 batch salted caramel sauce recipe linked below
- Reduce the Apple Cider: Add the apple cider to a pot over medium high heat, and let it cook, stirring occasionally, for 35-45 minutes, until reduced to just under 1 cup – you'll need 2/3 cup in the donuts, and 1/4 cup for brushing on the baked donuts.
- Prep: Preheat your oven to 350℉. Spray your donut pans well with nonstick spray. Set out a couple of cooling racks, placed inside of baking sheets to catch any cinnamon sugar. NOTE: Give your cooling racks a spray with nonstick spray before inverting the baked donuts onto them. This prevents the donuts from sticking to the racks – trust me on this.
- Make the Batter: Melt butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugars and whisk until well combined. Whisk in the the eggs, apple cider, apple butter, vanilla, sour cream, and oil and mix until just combined. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices and fold in with a spatula, just until the last streaks of flour disappear. Add batter to a piping bag or ziploc bag with the tip snipped off.
- Bake: Pipe batter into the pans, filling only about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 8-9 minutes. (See next step for while the donuts are baking.) A toothpick inserted will pull out some moist crumbs. Set pans on wire racks, and run a butter knife around the edges of the donuts, then let rest in the pans for 2 minutes before inverting onto the greased wire rack.
- Coat the Donuts: While the donuts bake, stir together the apple cider and apple butter for brushing. Stir together the sugar and spices. Let the donuts cool just until you can handle them, but are still warm, then brush with the cider mixture and dunk in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
- Serve + Store: Enjoy warm! Drizzle with homemade caramel sauce for extra deliciousness! Store cooled donuts in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. Caramel sauced donuts need to be kept in the fridge.
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