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. I really need to get a donut pan and soon because my life needs these donuts holes in them. Btw, smart move baking cookies for the amazon meeting. I got a job offer after I brought my interviewer chocolate chip cookies.

  2. Apple cider doughnuts make my world go ’round. These look amazing and I could easily eat them all! 😉

  3. Yum! I love apple cider donuts! I always thought they would be too complicated to make at home but these look easy and sooo tasty. I can’t wait to try them!

  4. These look great! I bet they taste just like fall 🙂

  5. Bummer your pictures got cancelled, must mean that a beautiful day is around the corner 🙂 I just love apple cider, and mini donuts- I don’t feel so bad eating 5 donuts if they are mini! LOL

  6. I have been dying to make an Apple cider donut. My parents ship them to me from Vermont every fall, it’s my absolute favorite fall treat, besides pumpkin ice cream!

  7. Sally, these look perfect! And the mini muffins turned donuts look completely irresistible. I honestly don’t think I could stop eating them!

  8. I live in the South-West of England, which is the cider capital of the UK. I don’t think our local ciders (especially scrumpy) would be suitable for these little beauties, far too alcoholic! But these look delicious.

  9. These are so perfect for fall! They look like the doughnuts I get at the cider mill. And our high temperatures are going to be 35 this week 🙁 I want summer back!

  10. Mmmm, I love apple cider doughnuts! And this baked version looks so delicious! I’m pinning and bookmarking this recipe, and totally looking forward to making it as soon as I can get my hands on some apple cider… 🙂

  11. Okay, it’s decided. I need to stop procrastinating and just get a donut pan. These look amazing and I need to be able to make them haha.

  12. I just made these and they taste AMAZING!!! soft and fluffy!! THANK YOU

  13. These look amazing Sally!

  14. Yum these look so good! I’ve never made donuts at home before, would love to try this out 🙂

  15. I could go for about a dozen of these donut holes!

  16. I made these today and they are so good! I love baking donuts and these were amazing. Thanks Sally!

  17. Dear Sally, These donuts are TO DIE FOR! The only thing I did different was dipping the donuts. As I went to melt the butter, it occurred to me… why not dip them in MORE apple cider? So, that’s what I did. And BOY HOWDY, are they terrific! Thank you for another FANTASTIC recipe! You are brilliant. :o)

  18. These sound so great! I love apple cider, and the little bit of crunch from the cinnamon sugar is probably perfection. I can’t wait to try these and have an excuse to buy a new pan.

  19. These are the most beautiful images of a donut (and kindred “holes”) I have ever witnessed!…Question…here in Europe..”apple cider” actually contains alcohol (In France..”cidre” with around 3-4% alcohol)…Could this be used since the reducing might eliminate/reduce the alcohol?..Or would it be preferable to use an organic “trouble” or cloudy apple juice? Any european bakers out there?…Thank you Sally for this perfection recipe for cozy, cold-weather brunching!

    • Hi DOnna – yes, you could use the alcoholic cider because the reduction will likely eliminate the alcohol. Cloudy apple juice would be great too!

  20. Oh Yea! My children LOVE doughnuts and I’ve been needing a good recipe to fix them at home! Soooo looking forward to it!

  21. These were SO GOOD! I made them for company this weekend, and we devoured the recipe in no time. Half the batch was coated cinnamon sugar, and the other half was drenched with a maple glaze. Delicious. Thanks!

  22. Hi Sally, I want to make one and a half to make 48 donut holes. Suggestion for 1/2 egg? Should I lightly beat and weigh?

    Just discovered your blog and I’m lovin’ it!


  23. You’re so cute (and smart!) to bake cookies for your meeting. The Amazon people must have fallen all over their feet trying to steal the last cookie! Probably a good thing you didn’t bring these donut holes too… There would’ve been cinnamon sugar all over the table and official documents! 😉

    P.S. March cannot come soon enough!!!

  24. I made these today and my entire family went crazy over them! They are so moist and delicious. I had mine with some of the leftover reduced hot cider. What a perfect combination!

  25. I made these and we all loved them. My son couldn’t get enough. I have never made baked donuts before but mine were like light muffins and yours in the picture look more like donuts. did I over mix or do something else wrong that you have experienced? or is that the way the texture is supposed to be? They were delicious either way 🙂

    • Hi Jenny! Baked donuts are nothing like fried donuts, which are light and airy. The donuts in these photos are like cakey donuts. You didn’t overmix, because that would make your donuts dense and tough-textured.

  26. Hi Sally!

    I have been following your blog for awhile and baking quite a bit of your recipes. My boyfriend in particular loves the funfetti cupcakes with the sour cream (though I don’t add the sprinkles and just make a vanilla cupcake base).

    I have mini doughnut pans which I have used before to make other mini doughnuts. When I made this recipe I don’t believe I over-mixed as they were extremely fluffy. So fluffy that in my mini doughnut pans the bottoms were not solid and instead crumbled when I took them out. When I put the same batch into mini muffin pans I had no issues.

    Any idea why this might have happened?
    The flavour was great and I still happily ate them, but not the greatest in appearance for sharing with others. 🙂

    • Maybe you overbaked them? I can’t see why there would be an issue in one pan over the other. How long did you bake the mini donuts for? That pan may require a shorter baking time than in a mini muffin pan or regular size donut pan.

  27. Love these, Sally! My five year old daughter and I made these today. We used a regular donut pan and got 12 donuts out of the recipe… between us and my husband, they’re already half gone in just a few hours! 🙂 Thanks for a great taste of fall!

  28. Sally, these donuts are amazing!! I had an epiphany though when I was taking out my mini muffin pan and saw the cake pop pan I had never used sitting there taking up space (I don’t love cake pops- I don’t even know why I own it.). I used it to make the donut holes, and they came out perfectly round. So delicious. I now call it my donut hole pan. My kids devoured them on the trial run, and my huge family inhaled them the next day at my daughter’s birthday party. Thank you so much for all your delicious desserts!!

    • Yeah! This recipe (and most of my other donut recipes) should work just fine in a cake pop pan. I’ve had several readers have luck with it! So happy you can make use of your pan. I’m not the hugest pan of cake pops either. I’m happy I’m not the only one!

  29. Wondering if using K cup of hot apple cider would work the equivalent of cooking down cold cider? What do you think?? My family is loving your recipes!!!

    • You could cook down k-cup apple cider into a concentrate I’m sure. Or you could use k-cup apple cider as it is, though the apple cider taste would be very, very slight.

  30. Hi Sally.

    These do look yummy, however I can’t get over them looking just like muffins. What makes them taste more like a donut vs a mini muffin?


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