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

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 14 donuts or 32 donut holes
  • 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: 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.

Keywords: apple cider donut holes, apple cider donuts


  1. 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!

    1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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 🙂

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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! 🙂

  7. 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!!

  8. 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.

    1. 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!

  9. 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!

    1. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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! 🙂

  12. 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!

  13. 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! 😉

  14. 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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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally