Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

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.

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.

Recipe 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.

Did you make a recipe?

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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.

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!




  1. They look great, Sally! Never thought of apple cider and donuts together, but it looks perfect for fall 🙂

  2. This looks so yummy Sally! I had no idea donuts could be so easy! I have to make these, soon!

  3. Oh my gosh, Sally, these look too good to be true! Seriously, they are just perfect…perfectly shaped, perfectly cinnamon-sugared ;)…I can almost smell them, I think! 😀 You really caught the granules of sugar; the donuts don’t just look fuzzy or something. I’m sorry you got rained out for your engagement pictures, but it sounds like you had a super-productive day anyway!

    • It turned out to be a sunny day in the evening last night, but it was VERY windy (not good for my hair lol). So it’s a blessing in disguise that we rescheduled the photos. Thanks Caley, I was pleased with these pictures!

  4. I never thought of concentrated apple cider to bring out the flavor! As always, i love your addition of buttermilk. It totally make s baked goods taste better!

  5. These look amazing! I’ve been craving apple cider and it would be great to use some for donuts.

  6. Yes! Apple Cider Reduction RULES! I use it all the time in baking…even in my pies and tarts as well as quick breads. Your Apple Cider Donuts look delicious, Sally. Thanks for sharing. Pinning!

  7. I love a good itty bitty donut! These are such a fun flavour!

  8. Oh yummy! I have just started making baked donuts (my boyfriend is definitely a fan!) and these would be perfect for a Sunday family morning tea! Thank for the recipe 🙂

  9. I love that these are baked and not fried! And putting apple cider in the dough is a great idea!

  10. Ohhh my goodness… I just went to Carter’s Mountain (a local apple orchard) and got some fresh apple cider donuts. All I could think was that there has got to be a way for me to make these without having to fry them (because I don’t have a fryer)… and I think you answered my wishes! I’ll definitely be making these this weekend!

  11. I just bought some more apple cider today! Maybe it’s a sign that I need to make these! They look amazing 🙂

  12. I was all set to make the Carmel apple cinnamon rolls this weekend but seeing these I think I’m going to have to put them off a few weeks. Who doesn’t love Apple cider donuts? My hubby made fresh cider and I think I’m going to put it to good use.

  13. In my day planner I have the word “DONUT HOLES” circled with hearts coming from it, so this post pretty much just made my night. Pinning!

  14. These could not look any better, Sally! I love a good apple cider doughnut, but I think I would choose these baked ones over any other!

    Not sure if you have your meeting yet or not, but have fun!! They are going to love you cookies! 🙂

  15. I JUST bought a donut pan finally! Now I can say that I am going to make these ASAP!

  16. Hey Sally! These look ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. Whenever my family and I go to pick pumpkins, it’s a part of tradition to get an apple cider donut too. I ate two this year but I could definitely go for more! I’ve been looking for a recipe for these donuts that I can trust will taste phenomenal, and I know I have now found it 😀 I’ll be telling my mom to pick up some trader joe’s apple cider tomorrow, I NEED TO MAKE THESE. ASAP. thanks so much!!

  17. BTW, just calculated the calories on MyFittnessPal and they are only 130 calories per donut!!! yay!

  18. I love and hate you all at the same time Sally! Haha 🙂 Mostly just love though!

  19. They look incredible and ever since I saw Deb/Smittenkitchens apple cider donuts from like 4 or 5 years ago…I have wanted to make them. Whoops…never got around to it! Yours seriously look incredible and may get me off the dime to just do it 🙂

    Not overflowing the donut pan to keep that center hole, yeah been there. Story of my life, actually. And tis the season for donut pans. Usually BB&Beyond and similar have holiday gift sets where you can get 3 pans for 14.99 or 19.99. I believe I have 9 donut pans in various sizes. I wish I was kidding. LOL Pinned.

    • One donut pan is enough for me, but those mini donut pans are just so cute! I might have to splurge the $6 to buy one. Thanks for pinning Averie!

  20. These look like THE most cozy…Fall/Winter transition…weekend pleasure possible to go with a warm cup of joe!…Question…Here in France they sell a really cool-looking contraption to fabricate donut “holes”…It’s like an electric waffle-maker (same size approximately), but with little circular cavities for the “cake-poppish”/spherical shape (half circles on bottom and top…closed to make the round!)…Do you think this recipe would work made in something such as this?…I really like the idea of getting a truly round donut hole…not resembling a mini-muffin at all! Thank you for your brilliant idea about the apple cider reduction and explaining your perfection texture produced by “the buttermilk factor”…All these explanations/tutorials/tips are awesome and truly appreciated…Your photography here simply BECKONS one into attempting this recipe…the close-ups..the clarity!….really highlight the texture we can all HOPE to replicate!

    • Donna, I’m happy you found these photos irresistible! Thank you for the kind words. It sounds like this recipe can be used in your donut hole maker, though I’m not sure how long they would take.

  21. My only trouble with this recipe is deciding to go big or to go small??? Which pan to use!

  22. I think I want to make these just to make my house smell spectacular!!

  23. Oh my delicious! These look absolutely incredible. Like gourmet donut status. 🙂 Love the idea of reducing the cider… TJ’s is the best! Sounds like this recipe is calling my name! And good luck with scheduling of your engagement photos! I’ll be crossing my fingers for no more rain!

  24. oooh i could really go for a couple of these right now, they look lovely! 🙂
    the hobbit kitchen x

  25. I’ve been meaning to make Apple Cider Donuts since I went apple picking at the beginning of October. Sadly, I have yet to get around to it. Your recipe sounds awesome. I might just have to finally get around to it! 🙂

  26. I love making doughnut holes. Apple, pumpkin chocolate, you name it I’m in!

  27. These look delicious, and I am literally drinking apple cider at my desk at work right now! I hope I have enough left at home to make these for Saturday morning : )

  28. Yum! I bought a mini donut pan recently, and have LOVED it. But I have yet to try making apple cider donuts. I’ll have to get on this, asap, before my husband drinks all the apple cider. And I appreciate the tip to reduce the apple cider — I love a strong apple-y flavor in all my apple baked goods.

    I hope you’re able to redo your engagement session soon!

  29. I have a whole jug of apple cider in my fridge that now has a purpose! I couldn’t decide what to make with it first, but that decision just got easier. 🙂 These are so cute and I love that they’re mini. More per serving! 😉

  30. I’m sorry your pictures got rained out! Such a bummer. But hopefully the cookies impressed everyone 🙂 These doughnut holes look so good!! I am obsessed with doughnuts this fall -will be trying a cider version soon!!

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