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.

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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 finally made these last night, for two reasons 1) it was an excuse to use up some of the apple cider my 6 year-old had to have, but wasn’t drinking and 2)Ii finally, after a year, tried out my cake pop pan.

    The donut holes were a hit with everyone and the cake pop pan worked great at making a perfectly round donut hole – although if the pan was slightly too full they looked a bit like the planet Saturn 🙂

  2. I love that photo of all your recipes . And this spiced apple cider recipe is lovely too!

  3. I made these and have to try again. I saw the “do not over mix” note after and think maybe that contributed to the chewy texture. Also, I used sparkling cider because that’s all I had. They are good but not great, so I will take it easy on the whisking the second time around. Excited to try again!

  4. Wow!!! These were the best doughnuts ever!! They looked just like Timmy’s but much better!! Thank you for such a great recipe!!

  5. These were super easy and so tasty. I made 3 different sizes-mini, donut hole and regular size and all came out perfect! We are trying to cut back on sugar and these were sweet enough without the topping for us, but I am sure they would be even more fabulous with it. Sally, your cake mix fudge recipe is my stand by fudge recipe and everyone was blown away by it last year when I made several flavors for Christmas gifts.

    • Thanks for reporting back about these donuts, Erika! Happy you tried this recipe in three different pans. I just love them! That cake mix fudge will always be a favorite of mine too. 🙂

  6. I’d never made baked donuts before and was pleasantly surprised at how well they came out. I’ve been making fried donuts for nearly 40 years now, and these are definitely different than fried in that these were ‘cake-ier’ and hubby went nuts for them. I want to encourage you to please please try frying some donuts (I can give you a basic recipe that’s great for adding your imagination to fill it with), and while DD’s jelly donuts are delicious, I PROMISE, once you make your own, you will not feel they are the best…homemade is always better and you get to have it exactly the way you want them.
    My Dad was never had a sweet tooth, but he went bat-crap crazy over my homemade donuts, in fact if I made them after school before he got home from work (I always had to make loads), I would hide a large bowl of them, to try and make them last a little longer and would have one of those catering sized bowls filled with donuts for all to eat. My Dad would walk in the house, smell the donuts, go grab the giant bowl of donuts and begin eating and while eating them would wander around the house looking for the other large bowl of them hidden away as he knew there were more and he was going to claim them too. Honestly, how he never made himself sick on them I’ll never know! lol But with 4 males in the house, homemade food never did last long, but the donuts are the ones that they always craved, and the one thing I have the best memories about that never fails to bring out a big grin on my face, especially as my Dad’s been gone for nearly 20 years now…but I can still see him hunting intently while gorging himself on the ones in the bowl 😀 So, please don’t fear frying donuts, they really are no more difficult than making cookies, frying chicken, french fries or onion rings. Just remember if you aren’t using a deep fat frier but a pan, not to fill the pan more than 1/3 full, and never leave it unattended (common sense really) when it’s on. You’ll wonder why you put it off so long once you give it a go and then there are even more possibilities opened to you for your donut making…my favourite are cinnamon crullers with little cinnamon chips and marzipan chunks in them…yum 🙂
    Thanks so much for another yummy recipe and once again, please go fry up a batch of donuts, shoot me an email if you need an easy starter recipe for them 😉

    • Hey Shelley! So happy these cake donuts were a hit – yes, they’re supposed to be cakey of course! I’m certainly not afraid of frying donuts and my mom and I usually make a batch of them around Easter time. Tradition! I’ve never done it without her, but I’ll have to share a recipe for those at some point! Thanks so much.

  7. These were really good and light – just be aware you can’t just sub out brown sugar for dark brown sugar without differing results. I used dark brown, and they are much chewier and didn’t stay as cakey. Kids still love them! Thanks for the recipe.

    • Happy New Year Elizabeth! Glad you tried these donuts. I actually make them all the time with dark brown sugar and prefer them that way. Love them too!

  8. Hi Sally! I’ve been a longtime reader, but this is the first time I’ve posted/tried out a recipe. I’d never made donuts and thought this would be the perfect treat for a cold night. I did kick myself a bit when I realized I’d absentmindedly picked up a “petite” donut pan, but the cute mini donuts were adorable and a big hit with the fiance! Thanks for a great recipe – I followed it pretty closely and it worked out great.

    Thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to try my hand at some other recipes 🙂

    Happy New Year!

    • Happy New Year Avani! I’m so glad you tried these donuts. Aren’t they wonderful? And so easy to make! Thanks for reporting back. 🙂

  9. Hi Sally,

    I made these this past fall and they were AMAZING! Everyone who ate them got directed to your blog—people were stunned by the lightness. This was due to the buttermilk, I know! They were awesome.

    I am sure you are too busy to start creating “custom” recipes for everyone who comments, but is there a secret to converting a muffin recipe into a doughnut recipe? I was looking at your Pumkpin Spice donut mini muffins—if I made them in a donut pan, would they come out well? Would I need to include buttermilk somewhere to achieve the lightness of the apple cider ones?


    • Hi Sarah! I’m so happy you enjoyed these donuts. I know what you’re asking, but there really isn’t a secret method to switching donuts to muffins and vice versa. If you have a cakey (not too fluffy and light-crumbed) muffin, then it would certianly make a wonderful donut. The pumpkin spice mini muffins may certainly be made into donuts. You can use buttermilk for the 1/2 cup milk the recipe calls for, but that’s not completely necessary. Unfortunately, I am unsure of the exact baking time.

  10. Hi, can you use apple cider vinegar for this recipe? Im not from the us and its pretty hard to find here.

  11. So excited to find this recipe! Fried donuts can be coated by shaking them in a bag of cinnamon sugar. Would that be too rough for these? Or maybe OK for the tiny donuts or mini muffin ones? Thanks!! SharC

  12. Are you using the whole 1 1/4cup of cider in the recipe or is that the amount to cook down & then only use 1/2 cup? Was confused between your ingredient list & instructions.
    Also, does putting an orange in the cider when cooking give it a citrus taste or does it just enhance the apple taste?
    Thanks! Going to try to make these in the morning! 🙂

    • As the recipe includes, you will only need 1/2 cup of the reduced apple cider for the donut batter. There isn’t much citrus taste. It simply adds to the sweet apple flavor.

  13. I couldn’t find any apple cider, so I bought apple juice, will that work ok?

  14. Hey Sally!

    I tried these doughnuts last night and they turned out perfectly! I had to do some subbing in for cloves and buttermilk but they still tasted delicious. 🙂 I brought them into my work earlier today and everyone loved them, I think they were gone in all of 30 minutes. You can check them out on my blog, recipe credited to you!

    Thanks for the great recipe!!


  15. Looks awesome. Can’t wait to make these!!!

  16. So easy and turned out great! The family gobbled them up while was rolling them in sugar haha!

  17. I am so excited to try these tonight! I will be sure to post the results!

  18. So delicious, Sally! The perfect October Saturday morning breakfast treat! I was able to get 12 full-size donuts and 12 donut holes out of the batch, which was ideal for us…the 1 & 3 year old had their donut holes, and Mommy and Daddy got the donuts…with leftovers for naptime snack! 😉

    Hope you had a great time in Hawaii; so happy for you!

  19. Absolutely wonderful. Loved the “airy” feel. Never have had a cake doughnut with such wonderful flavor. Excellent recipe! It was eaten up in minutes.

  20. Wow! Just tried these last night. The whole family loves them, and my daughter says they are just like the ones she had at Apple Hill in northern California last year. Amazing! Can’t wait to make another batch next week. I love that I don’t have to fry them. THANK YOU for posting! 🙂

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. 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! 😀

  24. 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!

  25. 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!!

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


  28. 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.

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

  30. 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?

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