Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Homemade apple cider donuts are cakey, dense, and intensely flavored. Baked, not fried, these fall treats come together quickly and easily – a convenient recipe with no mixer required. The trick for big flavor is to use concentrated apple cider. Make the morning less hectic by reducing the apple cider the night before. Read on for all the tips you need to make this Fall favorite!

Baked apple cider donuts

I love those delicious donuts that you get at the bakery…they’re rich, dense, and smell absolutely amazing. If you’ve ever tried my chai spice donuts, pumpkin donuts, or cinnamon sugar donuts, you know that those bakery beauties definitely inspired my donut recipes. They are somewhat dense and very muffin-like. These baked apple cider donuts are no exception, though they are a little heavier with a more substantial and moister crumb. (More bakery-style favorites: these chocolate chip muffins and these peanut butter chunk cookies!)

Tell Me About these Apple Cider Donuts

  • Texture: If you like cakey, moist, and dense donuts with a crumbly cinnamon-sugar coating, then look no further than this recipe. 
  • Flavor: Flavor-wise, they’re APPLE and CINNAMON and SPICE all over. They taste like they’re straight from the bakery! 
  • Ease: A simple mix of wet and dry ingredients plus the apple cider concentrate makes these a snap to prepare for crisp fall mornings. No mixer, rolling pin, or donut cutter required! Simply add the batter to a donut pan– I use and love this one. If you only have 1 pan, just bake a batch at a time. 
  • Time: In less than an hour, you’ll have an entire plate stacked high with homemade apple cider donuts.

Apple Cider Donuts Video Tutorial

Baked apple cider donuts on a white plate

This Trick Changes Everything

The trick to apple cider donuts is to flavor them with concentrated apple cider. Apple cider that has been reduced down on the stove is thick and potent, adding big flavor without excess liquid. Apple cider, either store-bought or this homemade apple cider, is certainly delicious to drink but it won’t add enough flavor to baked goods. Taking 20 minutes to reduce the cider down transforms regular donuts into amazing apple cider donuts. If you like to keep things simple in the morning, reduce the cider the night before. That will save you cooling time, too, because the cider must cool for a few minutes before you add it to the batter. 

To reduce your apple cider, simply follow these simple steps:

  • Pour 1½ cups apple cider into a small saucepan. We will reduce this to ½ cup. 
  • Place on low heat and set a timer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Begin checking at 10 minutes, and then every 3-5 minutes after that until you have ½ cup of cider reduction (approximately 20 minutes).
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before using in the batter.

It’s that easy! If you have leftover apple cider, use it in my honeycrisp apple sangria or apple cider sangria— or drink it plain.

Here’s my reduced down apple cider:

Ingredients for apple cider donuts

Choosing the Right Ingredients: Melted Butter & Apple Pie Spice

  • Melted butter. The crown jewel of these donuts is the dip in melted butter, then a dunk in granulated sugar, cinnamon, and apple pie spice. Not only is it delicious, but the melted butter helps the sweet coating stick to the donut.
  • Apple pie spice. If you don’t have access to store-bought apple pie spice, you can make your own with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg.

Overview: How to Make Baked Apple Cider Donuts

These couldn’t be easier to make– no mixer required. Leave yourself enough time (at least a half hour) to reduce down the apple cider before beginning. I like to do this step the night before so it’s ready to go in the morning.

  1. Reduce the apple cider. In a small saucepan over low heat, simmer the apple cider until you’re left with about 1/2 cup. Begin checking at 10 minutes, then every 3-5 minutes after that until you have 1/2 cup of cider reduction. Mine takes about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes (or complete this step ahead of time).
  2. Combine the dry ingredients together.
  3. Combine the wet ingredients together, except for the apple cider.
  4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Add the apple cider. Whisk everything together until smooth and combined. You’ll notice the batter will be slightly thick. We want thick batter for cakey and dense donuts.
  5. Fill the donut pan. Fill each donut cup about halfway. My trick for this? Use a zipped-top bag. Add the batter to the bag, cut off a corner, and pipe it into the donut pan filling only about halfway. This trick makes transferring the batter neat, quick, and easy.
  6. Bake. Only about 10 minutes of bake time – told you they were quick. To test doneness, poke your finger into the top of the donut. If the donut bounces back, they’re done. Once they are out of the oven, let them cool for 2 minutes, then invert the pan to release the donuts. You can then re-grease the donut pan and bake the remaining donut batter. (If you have 2 donut pans, go ahead and bake both trays at once.) 
  7. Coat the donuts. Combine the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and apple pie spice together in a medium bowl. Once cool enough to handle, dunk both sides of each donut in the melted butter, then coat generously in the apple spice topping.

Look at this beautiful caramel-colored batter! So much apple flavor hiding in here:

apple cider donut batter in a glass bowl

apple cider donut batter in a donut pan before baking

a donut in a glass bowl of apple cider donut topping

stack of apple cider donuts

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Baked apple cider donuts

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 donuts
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Baked, cakey, and delicious apple cider donuts are made with apple cider reduction to intensify its flavor. Warm and dipped in cinnamon sugar and apple pie spices, this fall treat will become your new favorite too.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) apple cider
  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) milk, at room temperature*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Topping

  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon apple pie spice*
  • 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Reduce the apple cider: Stirring occasionally, simmer the apple cider in a small saucepan over low heat until you’re left with about 1/2 cup. Start checking at 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, etc until you have 1/2 cup (120ml). Mine takes about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  3. Make the donuts: Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, apple pie spice, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. Whisk the melted butter, egg, brown sugar, granulated sugar, milk, and vanilla extract together. Pour into the dry ingredients, add the reduced apple cider, and whisk everything together until smooth and combined. Batter will be slightly thick.
  5. Spoon the batter into the donut cavities—for ease, I highly recommend using a large zipped-top bag. Cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cup, filling about halfway.
  6. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until the edges and tops are lightly browned. To test, poke your finger into the top of the donut. If the donut bounces back, they’re done. Cool donuts for 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Re-grease the pan and bake the remaining donut batter.
  7. Coat the donuts: Combine the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and apple pie spice together in a medium bowl. Once cool enough to handle, dunk both sides of each donut in the melted butter, then generously in the apple spice topping.
  8. Donuts are best served immediately. Leftovers keep well covered tightly at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: You can freeze the donuts, coated or not coated in the toppings, for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up to your liking in the microwave. I usually just zap ’em for a couple seconds.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): Glass Mixing Bowls | Measuring Cups | Whisk | Heart SpatulaDonut Pan
  3. Apple Pie Spice: Do you have apple pie spice where you live? It’s pretty standard here in the US. If you don’t have access to store-bought apple pie spice, you can make your own with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg.
  4. Milk: I usually use buttermilk, but I’ve found that any milk (dairy or nondairy) works pretty well. For a denser crumb, you can use 1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream instead.
  5. No Donut Pan? Make donut muffins in your standard 12-cup muffin pan. Grease your pan or use muffin liners, fill each 3/4 full, then bake at 350°F (177°C) for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes about 10-12 apple cider donut muffins.
  6. Minis: Want to make mini donuts or mini donut holes in a mini muffin pan? Grease your pan, add the batter to the pan only about 3/4 of the way full. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for about 8-9 minutes.

361 Comments

  1. Just made these this morning and they turned out great! I cooked down the cider last evening and while that was happening i pre-mixed the dry ingredients in a zip top bag and mixed up the topping in a lidded container. With those steps ready to go in the morning the donuts came together quickly. Everyone was in love with the finished produt. A keeper for sure!

  2. Made these today! Oh my so delicious. Followed recipe exactly. Came out perfect. Thanks Sally

  3. Hi, Sally! Have you ever tried adding chopped or shredded apples to these? I’m considering it, but want to see if I need to do anything in particular to make it work.

    1. Hi Allie! I haven’t, but it’s worth a try! Let me know how they taste.

  4. Just made these babies this morning..rolling out of the pan like a gem..delish!
    Family woke up the to warning scent of apple spicy donuts! Perfect.

  5. Can this recipe be made as a bundt cake?

    1. Hi Kay! There isn’t enough batter, but you could try making the batter twice (as opposed to doubling it) and see if that works? My recommendation, though, is to make me apple bundt cake recipe: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/09/29/glazed-apple-bundt-cake/

  6. I made these yesterday and we had them last night and are eating them for breakfast now! I am trying to find some really good recipes to make for fall and I think this is on my list! They are so yummy and so easy to make! Thank you!

  7. I really enjoyed the way these came out. Soft and dense, with a nice sugary coating. I doubled the batch (got 42 donuts out of it using Wilton standard donut pans) and it took around an hour to reduce the cider from 3C to 1C (I think I had the heat too low to start). Get it to a heavy steam, just shy of boiling. I would pour the cider from the pan into a glass measuring bowl every so often to check how much I had until I got to 1C. I was worried while whisking the batter at its final stage that I would mix it too much and cause the crumb to be too dense, but they came out really well balanced. Just a little lighter than a muffin. I had to use around 3 sticks of melted butter and 4 batches of the coating to adequately coat the donuts, which was mildly frustrating. I could do with a stronger apple flavor, but all the spices are about right I think. Maybe using a more flavored cider would help. Glazes would be good, like the brown sugar glaze from Sally’s “Glazed Apple Bundt Cake”, or a straight caramel glaze.
    Overall a great recipe. Thanks again Sally!
    PS I think in step 4 you mean “Pour into the *dry* ingredients”, right? The dry is in the larger bowl, and historically I’ve added wet to dry in muffins, donuts etc.

  8. Would this work in a loaf pan?

    1. I can’t see why not! I haven’t tried it, but I’m curious now. Let me know how it goes!

  9. My husband requested I make something special to share since he was training for his job. I decided to make this recipe. I would recommend reducing the Apple Cider the day before needed. This process took over 45 minutes. The first 1 1/2 c. Only produced 1/4c. So I repeated the process and should have gone longer for a thicker concentrate. The donuts smell like fall when pulling out of the oven. What a bonus! Thank you for this delicious recipe. I may cost them in maple icing the next time.

  10. I made these today. They turned out awesome! Once I boiled down the apple cider I had a lot left over, and on accident I put just a little more than a cup of cider in my batter. They still worked out good though!

  11. Made these today and they were absolutely delicious!! My family loved them, but preferred the ones that I dipped and coated on one side only since they were a little less sweet. I used apple juice instead of cider because that’s what my grocery store had, but still turned out great. I will definitely be making these again this Fall! Another wonderful recipe, thanks Sally!! xo

  12. These turned out great, my family loved them for breakfast! Ours actually made 18 donuts, but no one complained about the extras. Thanks for the great recipe!

  13. Just wanted to compliment you on your blog writing and photo incorporation. I am in the first baby steps of getting my own blog up and running, and yours is one I keep referencing for style and flow. Anyway, I randomly clicked on this post to see a full post, and… I don’t even like “cake” donuts generally, but all your photos and your peppy writing about them have me telling myself maybe I would like These! Haha! I think your website is so lovely. And happy birthday to your baby girl! peace

  14. Delicious! I used 1/2 cup of the King Arthur apple cider concentrate to save time and it worked perfectly. It only took a few minutes to whip these together and another 10 to bake them. These taste just as good or better than the ones I buy from the bakeries at the apple orchards!

  15. My daughter and I made these this morning. She is eating her second one now (4 years old). Delicious. I did notice the 150 g weight for the 1 cup of sugar in the topping mixture. I actually halved the topping sugar and butter and only dipped the top of each donut and worked perfectly for us. I boiled down cider from local orchards. I don’t think the taste was as intense as I expected so maybe next time I’ll reduce starting with 2 cups of cider.

  16. Could I reduce the cider the day before to expediate the process??

    1. Yes, definitely!

  17. I baked these tonight and they are delicious. They turned out wonderfully.

    My only concern is that the weight of the ingredients in grams does not match the measurements in cups. I measured my ingredients using cups, then weighed them and found a tremendous difference between the two. I suggest weighing everything (always in baking) but especially this recipe because I am not sure how it would have turned out otherwise.

    Other than that, 10/10. The Apple flavor really is so much better this way, worth the extra effort for sure. I will definitely bake these again.

  18. These rated five stars. Better than the ones I remember getting after apple picking in Michigan. Will be making them again when I visit the grandkids in a couple of weeks.

  19. I made them and they taste really good!!
    I only switched for non-dairy butter and almond milk to make them dairy free.
    I wasn’t sure if the apple cider I used was the one you recommend here (concentrated). I used one that says Old Fashioned apple cider 100% juice. Would you mind sharing the brand(s) you used and where you buy it, please. I think the donuts taste delicious, but I wouldn’t mind extra apple cider flavor.
    Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Hi Eunice! I used a bottle that said something similar, 100% apple cider. Unfiltered is best.

  20. Chris Carson says:

    Good morning!
    When you reduce the Apple cider the night before, do you leave it in the fridge?
    Thanks!

    1. Both at room temperature or in the refrigerator work!

  21. Ok another great recipe from Sally! I think if the butter needs to drip off well before the sugar dip to avoid the sludge – but delicious either way ! I used almond milk:)

  22. Made these last night for a teacher luncheon today. So so good! Used the KA boiled cider which worked well, and doubled the recipe for about 40 donuts.

    Also, used salted butter for the dunking before the sugar/spice coating. Loved that slight salty flavor in the end result.

    Absolutely do not try to be healthy and skip the butter/sugar dunk! They actually taste a bit dry without it. Guessing very little butter is used in the actual donut due to the added butter later. Awesome recipe!

  23. Sheryl Mullen says:

    I made these this week for work. We decided on apple cider donut holes for a charity kick off event and taste tested 4 different recipes. This one won so we will be making 300 mini donuts later this month. The reduction did take a bit of time but the flavor is so worth it. Next time I will reduce it the night before to speed up the baking the next day.

    1. I’m so happy you decided on this recipe! Yes, you can absolutely make the reduction the day before to save time. Good luck! 🙂

  24. These look delicious! I’m making them for an upcoming family cider/donut party… would it be possible to make the batter ahead of time, and just keep in the fridge? Or will that be bad at all?

    1. Hi Heather! Baking powder is initially activated once wet, so I don’t recommend making the batter ahead of time. You can freeze the baked donuts though! OR you can make the wet ingredients and dry ingredients, then combine and bake the donuts when you need them.

  25. Can you use whole wheat flour or coconut flour as well?

    1. Hi Shompa! I’m unsure about coconut flour, but whole wheat flour works. The donuts taste a little heavier + heartier with it.

  26. Joanne Lightfritz says:

    Of course if You don’t have the time to reduce your cider you can buy boiled cider (I get mine from King Arthur Flour) super thick and flavorful and really brought out the flavor of these wonderful donuts

  27. Laura Johnson says:

    Any idea on calorie count?

  28. Hi,
    I made these today with a few modifications, I used splenda for the white sugar and brown sugar. I also didn’t have a donut pan, so I used a mini bundt cake pan instead. I left a few unsugared for my husband (he’ s borderline diabetic), but sugared mine…They are delicious! Thanks for the recipe, I will be making these again

  29. So good. Super easy. Extra addicting.

  30. These are delicious! I reduced the Apple cider last night. I would not say it really thickened, though maybe slightly thicker this morning. I used the mini muffin pan and got 34. Another fall recipe to hold onto. Thanks Sally!

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