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. WOW WOW WOW! Thank you so much for this recipe! I’ve been craving these for weeks now and I just made them and they turned out AMAZING! I’ve cut back significantly on sugar and I felt they were super sweet (good thing since I can only eat 1 at a time instead of the whole tin lol), would the structure change if I were to only use half the sugar in the recipe?

    1. Hi Pam! So glad you enjoyed these. The structure wouldn’t change much if you reduced the sugar, but they may taste a little dry.

  2. Delicious cake doughnut recipe! It’s moist, Autumnal and has just a hint of the apple cider spices we all know and love. The only reason why I didn’t rate it “5 stars” is because both my husband and I found that the buttery-sugar-spice blend made these doughnuts WAY too sweet. We literally were wiping the excess off. I will absolutely make these again but either omit that step altogether or perhaps very lightly sprinkle one side of the doughnut with the sugar-spice blend, omitting the butter entirely. When dipped in the butter, the sugary-spice blend obviously adheres well…way too well, and the resulting doughnuts were far too sweet to enjoy. Thank you for this recipe, Sally! I’m a fan and actively enjoy your site and recipes. All the best, Kim Clarke aka “Ya Mom’s in the Kitchen”

    1. Maybe just brush them with butter and sprinkle it?

      1. Yes, that is an option to not have it so heavily caked on, (pardon the pun), but honestly in our opinion the cake portion of the doughnut was so light, moist and lovely that I think adding extra butter is overkill. My husband and I tried the doughnuts made as the recipe suggested and then adjusted it on the last few doughnuts, first by just dipping the warm doughnut in the sugar-spice blend sans butter and then by not adding any of the butter/sugar-spice blend at all and liked them much better either of these ways than the dip-in-butter and coat suggestion. It’s nice these doughnuts can be adjusted depending on one’s preference for sweetness.

  3. I used 1/2 cup of apple butter in place of the reduced cider for a very concentrated apple spice flavor. I also sprinkled cinnamon sugar on the donut tips before baking and they were plenty sweet. I will make these again! Thank you for the recipe.

    1. I was so happy to come across this suggestion for the apple butter. So much easier and deliciously perfect!

  4. I’m going to have to disagree with Sally on little one item; she say’s they are best served immediately but, while I thought they were very good on the day I made them, they were significantly better the day after! I could not get over how the apple flavor really developed, and I will definitely be making these again!

    1. Totally agree. Made them last night. Both flavor and texture are better today!

  5. Hi Sally,

    So excited to make these! Question- my mom just bought me six 4″ mini bundt pans that I’m dying to use. Do you think I could put the doughnut batter in these instead of buying a doughnut pan?

    Thanks!!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jenna, That should work! I’m unsure of the bake time needed though. Let us know if you try it!

  6. These are great! Made them for Rosh Hashanah and put a honey glaze on them (confectioners sugar, honey and milk). Making them with the butter and sugar/spice topping today for friends.

  7. These are SO, SO DELICIOUS! I tried doing the double-sided dip and coating with the first couple of donuts and found it to be a bit more than I wanted, so I only dipped the top for the rest. (I had a decent amount of melted butter leftover so next time I’ll begin with melting just half the amount.) If you don’t feel like using a bag to fill the pan, a small spoon worked perfectly well for me! I used whole milk and the texture was just perfect. These are by far the best baked donuts I’ve ever had! Thank you Sally for yet another amazing recipe!

  8. The flavor on these was really nice, but the consistency was that of cake or a light, slightly oily muffin. They really didn’t have any strength or bite to them at all, even though I used all of the listed proportions and reduced the cider to 1/2 cup. If you want a stronger doughnut, I might add in more flour. Still, you’ll enjoy these doughnuts.

    1. Yes these are delicious but muffiny. I wanted a little more density too I may try more flour and less baking soda/powder next time.

  9. I can’t wait to try this recipe! Is there a substitute for butter that you can recommend. I have family that can’t intake excess fats.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Irene, Melted coconut oil is fine in the donut batter instead of the butter. You can try dipping the warm donuts right into the sugar coating without dunking in oil if you wish.

  10. Jess Littman says:

    Hi Sally! I don’t have a donut pan but would still love to make these as donuts rather than muffins. Would they hold up if I fry them like old-fashioned donuts? Also, I can’t get apple cider where I live. Would apple juice work? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jess, Unfortunately this batter shouldn’t be friend– it’s not thick enough to be shaped. You can try these berry fritters with apples instead if you’d like!

  11. A little time consuming, but the family loves them! I found that it took me over an hour to reduce the apple cider (I have an electric stovetop, and putting it on the low setting and checking every 5-10 minutes was taking forever, so I increased the temp to medium-low), and then the cider began to reduce MUCH better! I followed all the guidelines as to the spices and measurements, and even did the suggestion of cutting the corner of a large plastic bag- note- make the cut “small” otherwise if you cut at a large angle, you can over-fill the donut pan sections. I followed another poster here who suggested to brush the donuts with butter- I did it both ways, and she was correct- if you dunk them into the butter they absorb WAYYYY too much sugar and it is overpowering. I did find that if I filled up the sections a little more than half way, they’re thicker (size-wise) and have more flavor to boot, and not so much over powering of the coating. I’ll make them again, but quite possibly for once or twice a season. Thank you Sally for this recipe!

  12. Nelangi Pinto says:

    Hi,
    I was wondering if you had any adjustments for high altitude. I live at about 5000 feet in Salt Lake City? I’ve been so missing New England apple cider donuts!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nelangi, I wish we could help, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. I know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

      1. Nelangi Pinto says:

        Thanks for the reference. Made the following adjustments and they came out great at 4500 ft. 1 extra tbsp flour, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder. I also reduced the sugar some so likely was about 3/4 cup total. And tiny extra bit of cider. Yum! Can’t wait to make these again.

  13. Yum!!! Flavor was excellent, was wondering if you have a similar recipe for a cupcake to get that same flavor.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kristi, You can try these Apple Spice Cupcakes. Let us know what you think!

  14. Hi Sally! How did you get the donuts to be brown on both sides? My donuts came out looking like one side had been in the sun too long and one side not enough sun at all 🙂

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Sarah! The bottoms are always a little darker than the tops. Are you using a particularly dark metal pan?

  15. I just made these and fabulous! The apple pie spice and concentrated cider made these donuts delish!! Will definitely be making these again.

  16. Donuts sunk and had a grainy texture. I am usually a great baker. This was my first epic fail. ..since my 12 year old self tried to bake a loaf of bread without yeast. Will try again

  17. Is there any way I can incorporate apple butter into the batter? Would it be better to use apple butter in place of dairy butter when applying the sugar coating?

    What are your thoughts on baking these in metal cookie shapes instead of a doughnut pan? I’d really like to attempt this recipe with a change or two

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Daniel, We haven’t tested this recipe using apple butter. I’m unsure if it would work as a coating as apple butter is the consistency of applesauce and not like actual dairy butter. Let us know if you try anything!

  18. Amazing! Instead of coating with butter at the end I “basted” with some coconut oil and did a light sprinkle of sugar & pumpkin spice…. yumm yumm yumm!!!!

  19. Hi there! If I am going to use plain yogurt instead of milk- is Greek yogurt okay? Or should it be just regular plain yogurt? Thanks!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Laura, Both Greek yogurt and regular yogurt work great. Your choice!

  20. great doughnuts so good

  21. Can you use apple juice in place of the apple cider? Love all your recipes, my grandchildren really enjoy my “experimenting “ with new recipes. give your babies a cuddle and enjoy your day with them.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Margaret. The flavor won’t be very strong unless it’s spiced juice. You can make Homemade Apple Cider if you wish!

  22. Delicious! I used 1/2 all purpose flour and 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour, evaporated milk, a little ginger in the apple pie spice, and I coated just one side in the sugar topping. These needed a couple extra minutes in my oven and didn’t rise as much as I had hoped, but were still great.

  23. We have a nutmeg allergy. What would you suggest we swap the apple pie seasoning with?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Izabela, You can use all cinnamon or see recipe notes for making your own apple pie spice and simply leave out the nutmeg. Enjoy!

  24. Omg. This recipe is amazing. Typing this up right now as my toddler eats it up. Didn’t make the frosting as we prefer it the plain way. Thank you.

  25. These did not taste like apple at all, just overly sweet. The rigmarole with reducing the cider and putting apple pie spices in it does not work. I think the answer is reducing the insane amount of sugar, which only serves to mask the apple taste. Texture was good.

    1. I totally agree. It did not taste like apple. I even reduced 2 1/2 cups of the cider, but it still did not work. I can only taste cinnamon flavor. The texture is good. It tastes good as well, but should be called cinnamon sugar doughnut. I was a little disappointed because I really want it to taste like the cider doughnuts they sell in apple picking places.

  26. These were SO GOOD. Honestly one of the best things I’ve baked, ever. I didn’t have a donut tray so I made the muffins/cupcakes as directed. I used pumpkin pie spice as I didn’t have apple pie spice or all the separate spices for it, and it tasted great, still a classic apple cider donut taste. Based on the comments here, I brushed on melted butter instead of dipping them in it, and then added the sugar topping (which is SO GOOD). I tried not using the butter and just dipping the hot muffins in the cinnamon-sugar but it didn’t stick. Honestly, these are 8 million times better than fried apple cider donuts (which I also love) – I can’t go back. Obsessed with this recipe!

  27. My kids liked these because of the sugar, but one bite was enough for me. I won’t make them again. The apple cider taste didn’t come through, even after reducing the cider. My husband and I thought they tasted more like ginger cookies. I also prefer a fluffier cake donut.

  28. Did anyone ever try them using any of the cup for cup gluten free flour? I would love to try this recipe. Even though they say cup for cup it isn’t.

  29. Love it!! I recently made a similar version of these from Smitten Kitchen, except that they were deep fried. This recipe has just as much deliciousness without as much guilt (aka it made it acceptable for me to make donuts twice in one month!).
    I just made them in a muffin pan, filled 3/4 full, but it actually was enough dough for exactly 15 muffins, not 10-12 (perhaps I didn’t reduce the cider as much as others, but just thought I’d share that). Also, my first batch of 12 were quite done at 18 minutes. For the second batch, I pulled them out at 17 and they seemed even better – so I might suggest checking them a little early if you go this route. Enjoy!

  30. Roger Robbins says:

    Wow! These are great! I found them very light and not very dense at all!I did substitute in 1/2 c of whole wheat flour. They rise so much I often end up with muffin-topped donuts- the best of both worlds!

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