Spiced Apple Cider Donut Holes.

Use this recipe to make donut holes or donuts. Super-moist, soft, and perfectly apple cider flavored for cozy fall mornings!

Super-moist, soft, and perfectly apple cider flavored for cozy fall mornings!

Let’s talk about my day for a second. We were supposed to have our engagement photos today, but were rained out. It’s all good, I had cookies to bake.

I woke up at 6am, walked Jude, ate breakfast, and spent the next 6 hours baking cookies for an upcoming meeting with the executives at Amazon and my publisher. The purpose of the meeting is to promote my cookbook. Naturally, I made cookies for it. Shameless advertising, really.

Then I ran errands for what seemed like hours, checked in with my blog, vacuumed, took a deep breath, and now I’m finally sitting down with a belly full of leftover Hawaiian pizza and apple cider donuts for dessert. Mmm, carbs.

Super-moist, soft, and perfectly apple cider flavored for cozy fall mornings!

I could definitely use a pumpkin beer now too. But first? Donuts!

Donuts made with apple cider to be exact. ♥

This past Saturday morning, I spent some time making apple cider donuts and homemade dog treats. They’re better than I expected! The donuts, not the dog treats. Cozy, comforting, and perfectly spiced. Autumn at its finest. They’re the best cakey donut to go along with our 35 degree mornings. Seriously, where did fall go?

Today’s donuts are baked, not fried. They begin with some strong apple cider. I didn’t have the chance to make apple cider from scratch, so I bought some from Trader Joes. Any apple cider you like can be used, but I urge you to reduce the cider down for the best flavor. I simmered my storebought cider with a couple cinnamon sticks and orange slices (seriously, try it) on low-medium heat for 15 minutes. The cider was slightly reduced and concentrated, thus resulting in a more pungent taste. Try not to drink it all- you’re going to need it for the recipe. I totally drank it. And had to make more. Ooops?

Reduced cider will give your donuts a stronger apple flavor. More apple-y, the better.

Super-moist, soft, and perfectly apple cider flavored for cozy fall mornings!

What else will you need for your cider donuts? Brown sugar, granulated sugar, melted butter, spices, plus a few more standard ingredients. Aside from the apple cider, the most important ingredient you’ll need is buttermilk. Buttermilk will make your donuts fabulously moist and tender, just as donuts should be. There is no substitution for the buttermilk that will match its qualities. However, you can make your own buttermilk at home! See my notes in the recipe.

You also need the right baking pan. As you can see, I made both larger donuts and smaller donut “holes.” Feel free to make just the larger donuts (14 donuts total) or the donut holes (32 total) or make a combination of both like I did.

Let’s discuss the teeny tiny donut holes first because that is what we’re focusing on today. Plus, they’re cuter. You will make these donut holes in a standard mini muffin pan. Surely you have one of those pans already from making my Glazed Chocolate Donut Holes… right? Just fill the pan up with batter and bake. Easy, peasy.

Now, the larger donuts. I strongly urge you to buy a donut pan; mine was less than $10 at Target. You can buy the same one on Amazon. And then you can make baked donuts like strawberry or cinnamon bun. (<- yum.)

Baked Apple Cider Donuts-6

To fill the donut pan up with batter, simple spoon the batter into a large zipped-top bag, cut off one bottom corner and pipe the batter into the pan. Fill each crevice 2/3 or 3/4 of the way full.  (Any more than that and the donuts will puff up and you will lose the hole in the center.)

After the cider donuts are finished baking, they get a generous dunk into cinnamon sugar. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know I use any excuse to coat things in cinnamon sugar. Hopefully you’re the same. If not, you can leave the cinnamon sugar off. But… they are so much better with it! Bonus: if you have little bakers in the house, they LOVE doing the dunking. Perfect little weekend activity for ya.

I brought a few donuts over to Kevin’s parents later that night. I got a text message from Kevin’s mom saying “they’re delicious!” after we left. Her little exclamation point is a testament to how tasty these donuts are.

Super-moist, soft, and perfectly apple cider flavored for cozy fall mornings!

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

Apple Cider Donut Holes.

Yield: 14 donuts or 32 donut holes

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Print Recipe

Easy baked donuts made at home! Use this recipe to make donut holes or donuts. Super-moist, soft, and perfectly apple cider flavored for cozy fall mornings!



  • 1 and 1/4 cups (300ml) apple cider
  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature1
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, room temperature2
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 60g) unsalted butter, melted


  1. Simmer apple cider over low-medium heat in a small saucepan on the stove for 15-20 minutes. Add cinnamon sticks, spices, and/or orange slices for flavor if desired. In this step you are reducing the apple cider for a stronger flavor. You will need 1/2 cup from this reduced cider. Allow it to cool in the refrigerator as you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a mini muffin pan or donut pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  3. Toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and 1/2 cup of concentrated apple cider.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and very gently mix together with a whisk. Be very gentle as overmixing will develop the gluten and result in a tough textured donut. Whisk until all ingredients are *just combined.* Some small lumps may remain, but not many.
  5. Pour the batter into the mini muffin pan, filling 3/4 of the way full. You'll only need a couple teaspoons of batter for each. Or, if making donuts, follow my instructions in the post above about filling the donut pan. Bake the donut holes for 9-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The donuts will take the same amount of time.
  6. Make the topping by mixing the granulated sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Dip the top of the donut holes or donuts lightly into the melted butter. Then dunk them all the way into the cinnamon sugar, using your hands to mix it around so the entire donut hole (or donut) is coated generously. Repeat with all the donuts. You may need more cinnamon-sugar. Donuts taste best on the same day, though they may be covered tightly and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
  7. Make ahead tip: Prepared donuts freeze well up to 2-3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat up in the microwave if desired.

Additional Notes:

  1. Room temperature egg is preferred for even disbursement with the warm melted butter. Bring an egg to room temperature quickly by letting it sit in warm water for 5 minutes.
  2. Don’t have buttermilk? You can make your own DIY version. Measure 2 teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup. Then, add enough milk (skim, 1%, 2%, or whole) to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use.

© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

After you make these donuts, try these similar recipes next…

Glazed Chocolate Donut Holes

Glazed Chocolate Donut Holes

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins

Pumpkin muffins filled with cream cheese filling and topped with sweet cinnamon brown sugar streusel!

Mini Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffins

My Favorite Mini Pumpkin Muffins!

Super-moist, soft, and perfectly apple cider flavored for cozy fall mornings!
Super-moist, soft, and perfectly apple cider flavored for cozy fall mornings!




140 Responses to “Spiced Apple Cider Donut Holes.”

  1. #
    Kimberlyposted November 16, 2014 at 11:51 am

    I made these today for the first time, and they are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! My picky hubby even really enjoyed them too. He said that I probably went overboard on the cinnamon-sugar coating (like that’s really even possible!) Great recipe as always Sally! Thanks!


  2. #
    Luv-to-bakeposted November 20, 2014 at 11:58 am

    These are quick and easy to make, and they come perfectly. I’m from the northeast where apples and delicious cider are plentiful this time of year; however, I now live in Texas and the store bought cider is just not the same and the donuts just didn’t have the apple flavor I was looking for. King Arthur Flour sells boiled apple cider which I intend to order for my next batch. I agree with another poster about the sugar coating being a bit much so I will sprinkle the sugar on instead. Also, I didn’t have clove so I used the equal amount of nutmeg instead. I think next time I will leave it out altogether and just use the cinnamon. Thanks for sharing this recipe. My family will love them.


  3. #
    Elleposted December 14, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Hi Sally, sorry to bother you, but would it be okay to bake these in a normal muffin pan? If so, do you know what the baking time might be?
    Thank you so much! I love your blog so much, and I have so many recipes on my “to bake” list! 😀


    • Sallyreplied on December 14th, 2014 at 10:02 am

      Definitely! But for the bake time, I’m not 100% sure. I would say around 18 minutes. Same oven temperature.


  4. #
    Alissaposted September 16, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Made these this morning, WOW! I used some really good apple cider that I picked up from the farmers market, and these turned out amazing! Another superior recipe, Sally!


  5. #
    Saraposted September 22, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Hi Sally!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE these donuts!!  They are sooo good.  I need to make them dairy free for tomorrow.  Could I use Almond milk instead of buttermilk???  Should I still add the lemon juice to it??  Thank you thank you for your awesome website and  cook books!!


    • Sallyreplied on September 22nd, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      Almond milk works if you’d like to make them dairy free– yep, add the lemon juice.


  6. #
    Staceyposted September 30, 2015 at 11:15 am

    These look so amazing!  I’ll be featuring them tomorrow on my blog!


  7. #
    Melissaposted October 3, 2015 at 4:50 pm



  8. #
    Tinaposted October 4, 2015 at 12:16 am

    We always shook our cider donuts in a paper lunch bag with the cinnamon sugar to coat them fast and easy with minimal mess. Best to do when they’re super hot (plastic bag will melt) and since you dip these baked ones in melted butter the paper bag also helps absorb any excess grease.


  9. #
    melissaposted October 14, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    hi. Can i use hard apple cider?? Would that work? I am not sure what the difference is between the two. Thanks!


  10. #
    Laurenposted October 19, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Hi, I’d like to make these and freeze them as your note suggests.  Would I put the topping on after they’ve thawed or freeze them with it on already?  Do you have any other tips for heating them – oven vs microwave?


  11. #
    Beckgposted November 7, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Will reduced fat buttermilk work? It’s all trader joes had…and I got their spiced apple cider. Sound ok?


    • Sallyreplied on November 7th, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      Yes both are just fine.


  12. #
    Francis Selfposted November 21, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    I bought the donut pan, made the recipe, adding abit of fresh ginger to cider. Made some holes too.
    All turned out great! Wife gobbled up several.
    Dip in the butter not really needed. Cinnamon and sugar was enough.
    Cant wait to make more!
    FT S.


  13. #
    Saraposted November 23, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    These look fabulous! Can’t wait to try them! 
    Any way the buttermilk can be substituted with soy or almond milk- or any non dairy option due to allergies?
    Thanks so much! Btw loveee your blog! 


    • Sallyreplied on November 24th, 2015 at 6:56 am

      Buttermilk is best for producing moist donut holes– though almond milk could work too if needed.


  14. #
    Alexposted January 8, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    I am trying these this weekend. I am picking up a doughnut baking tray for sure but would the option of frying them work as well?


    • Sallyreplied on January 9th, 2016 at 7:01 am

      I’ve never tried it.


  15. #
    Lisa Keysposted February 16, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    made these today and yield was twice as much…in mini muffin tins..can’t figure why that would happen


  16. #
    Suzy Turnerposted February 26, 2016 at 4:22 am

    Hi Sally
    I’m from the UK. Just want to ask what kind of ‘apple cider’ do you use? I read some of your readers comments & she mentioned her 6 year old’s apple cider, so I’m presuming it’s not alcoholic. What is ‘apple cider’ to you guys? Cider to me is the alcoholic version. Do you mean apple juice?
    BTW, a big THANK YOU for posting weighed ingredients. I cannot use the american version of using ‘cup’ measurements as there is too much of a difference in weight.
    Love your blog!!
    Suzy xx


    • Sallyreplied on February 26th, 2016 at 7:09 am

      Yep, this kind of apple cider is non-alcoholic. It’s an unfiltered, unsweetened, non-alcoholic drink made from apples and spices.


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