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!

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 store-bought 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?

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

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. You can make your own buttermilk at home if you don’t have any on hand. 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. You’ll 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.

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 halfway 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!

Apple Cider Donut Holes.

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!

Ingredients:

Donuts

  • 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

Topping

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

Directions:

  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 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.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Room temperature egg is best so it mixes evenly 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.

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© 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.

156 Comments

Comments

  1. Beckg on 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?

    • Sally on November 7, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      Yes both are just fine.

      • delo on July 21, 2017 at 7:24 pm

        hello Sally. I found ur site when I was looking for recipes using Nutella & now u are my ‘go 2’ site 1st. I do hav a ? how do u bake all these super tasting recipes & not weigh a couple thousand lbs?! wish u continued success in all u do!



  2. Francis Self on 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.

  3. Sara on November 23, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Hey!
    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! 

    • Sally on November 24, 2015 at 6:56 am

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

  4. Alex on 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?

    • Sally on January 9, 2016 at 7:01 am

      I’ve never tried it.

  5. Lisa Keys on 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

  6. Suzy Turner on 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

    • Sally on February 26, 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.

  7. Meri on September 23, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Okay, I totally went off the rails with this recipe. I always start off thinking I’m going to follow the recipe as it stands, except for the sugar which I generally cut down by 3/4s and finish up with powdered stevia. (It is what it is.)
    This time hubby brought home hard dry cider instead of apple cider. It works really well and the bubbles are fun. I then added two black peppercorns to the cinnamon sticks and cloves as I reduced it.
    Then I decided to used blackstrap molasses instead of the any sugar and again followed up with the stevia. I think the rest was pretty much the same. I baked them as full donuts. They were *amazing*! The reduced apple cider does come through even with the heavy molasses. Someday, I will learn to follow directions, but if things come out as good as these donuts, it probably won’t be soon. Thanks for getting me started! 🙂

    • Sally on September 25, 2016 at 9:28 am

      Oh my gosh your version sounds SO GOOD!

  8. Becky on October 7, 2016 at 11:03 am

    I made these for breakfast this morning and sent the extras to school with my daughters for their teachers!

    Funny story, though! I thought I would be smart and put the egg in the waistband of my yoga pants to bring it to room temperature via body heat. Bad idea! I accidentally bumped into the counter and broke the egg! Messy egg all down my leg…but unexpectedly funny 🙂

  9. erika on April 7, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    I just baked this donuts and they turned out awesome very moist and light. i just made some changes . I omitted the clove, I used two eggs whites cuz i don’t bake with the yolks . and at the end I didn’t dip them on butter instead brush some apple cider and then dipped them in the sugar mixture.

  10. Mari on July 16, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Today was my 5th or 6th time making them, people seem to really enjoy them and they always taste so good.

  11. Alyssa on September 21, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    Can’t wait to make these! Just curious if you know of anything that could substitute for the mini muffin tin for the donut holes.

    • Sally on September 22, 2017 at 7:55 am

      I don’t– but you can make into regular size muffins instead.

  12. Kim on October 23, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Made these and everyone loved them. I wasn’t so sure they were the right feel/consistency of donuts but I and everyone loved them so it worked out well! I made them in a mini muffin pan and they looked like mini muffins, not circles like donut holes. Also had double the amount of batter needed to make 32 donut holes. Didn’t use the butter to add the cinnamon sugar, it stuck just fine without it. I made homemade apple cider using Sally’s recipe and used it for the donuts! They turned out delicious and I will make them again!

    • Sally on October 24, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      Glad they are good enough to repeat 🙂

  13. Katie on October 28, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Hi I was planning on making these today, would it be possible to use Apple Juice instead of Apple Cider?

    • Sally on October 29, 2017 at 4:32 pm

      You’ll lose some flavor– I strongly suggest cider!

  14. Amy on June 3, 2018 at 10:53 am

    Do you think it would be possible to make the batter ahead of time and freeze it?

    • Sally on June 4, 2018 at 10:09 am

      Hi Amy! No, I don’t recommend freezing this batter but you can freeze the apple cider donut holes after baking.

  15. Stephanie on September 11, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    Hi Sally. I have the same donut pan but only one. Is it better to have two or can I bake them one pan at a time?

    • Sally on September 12, 2018 at 5:46 am

      Hi Stephanie! I only have 1 as well and I just bake them in batches. I let them cool for a couple minutes, then invert the pan to get the donuts out, spray the pan again with nonstick spray, then add more batter to make another batch.

Reviews

Questions

  1. Amy on June 3, 2018 at 10:53 am

    Do you think it would be possible to make the batter ahead of time and freeze it?

    • Sally on June 4, 2018 at 10:09 am

      Hi Amy! No, I don’t recommend freezing this batter but you can freeze the apple cider donut holes after baking.

  2. Stephanie on September 11, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    Hi Sally. I have the same donut pan but only one. Is it better to have two or can I bake them one pan at a time?

    • Sally on September 12, 2018 at 5:46 am

      Hi Stephanie! I only have 1 as well and I just bake them in batches. I let them cool for a couple minutes, then invert the pan to get the donuts out, spray the pan again with nonstick spray, then add more batter to make another batch.

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