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

apple cider donut holes on a white plate

apple cider donuts on a white plate

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apple cider donut holes on a white plate

Apple Cider Donut Holes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 14 donuts or 32 donut holes 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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 (spoon & leveled)
  • 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 temperature*
  • 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 temperature*
  • 1 teaspoon pure 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 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.


  1. Freezing Instructions: Prepared donuts freeze well up to 2-3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat up in the microwave if desired.
  2. Egg: 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.
  3. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup. (In a pinch, lower fat or nondairy milks work for this soured milk, but the donut holes won’t taste as moist or rich.) Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in the recipe.

Keywords: apple cider donut holes, apple cider donuts

Reader Questions and Reviews

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

  2. 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)

  3. 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!

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

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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 🙂

    1. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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?


  9. 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.

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

    1. Definitely not apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar isn’t at all like pure apple cider. I couldn’t drink a cup of vinegar! I don’t suggest making these if you do not have apple cider, unfortunately. Perhaps try my plain, powdered sugar version instead:

  11. 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! 🙂

  12. 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!

  13. 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! 😀

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

  14. 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!

  15. 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!

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

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

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

  18. 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?

    1. 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.

  19. I want to make these . I just want to make sure. Adding cinnamon sticks AND the spices to the cider? Or do i add the spices to the dry ingredients? Thank you!

    1. Hi Peggy, I like to simmered my store-bought cider with a couple cinnamon sticks and orange slice to give it a stronger flavor, but this is optional! The spices listed in the recipe will be added to the flour in step 3.

  20. Hi Sally, these are delicious. With all the quarantine issues going on, I am planning on making several batches and delivering them to friends in the morning. Can the dough be made the night before and refrigerated so I can just cook in the morning so they be delivered warm? Can I even already have them in the pans covered? Thanks

    1. What a nice thing to do! Unfortunately you need to bake the batter right away. As soon as it’s mixed together the leaveners are activated which means they won’t rise properly if you wait too long to bake them.

  21. Delicious! I added 1 finely shredded apple to the batter. After they cooled, I dipped in apple cider instead of butter and then dipped in cinnamon sugar mixture with 1 T. Brown sugar added.

  22. The batter is great, but the sugar topping is WAY too much (and we like sweet things)! We scrapped off almost all the topping and it was much better. If I did use topping again I would only dip the tops of the donuts with the sugar otherwise you only taste crunchy sugar when you take a bite. I did reduce the apple cider with a whole cardamom, wholes cloves and a cinnamon stick which I think really helped with the flavor.

  23. Hi Sally,
    If swapping whole wheat flour for all purpose, do you recommend any other changes to the recipe? I know your mini cinnamon sugar pumpkin muffin recipe allows for either whole wheat flour or all purpose without other changes. Thanks!

    1. Hi Jennifer! You can use whole wheat flour, but the donut holes will be more dense. We’d recommend trying a batch with half all-purpose flour / half whole wheat flour first to see how those turn out for you. Let us know how it goes!

    1. Hi Laura, the tops of the mini muffins will rise into a round shape, but the bottoms will be muffin shaped – all mini muffin pans are different (some are smoother and some are more angled). Either way they taste delicious!

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