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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.

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.

By the way, if you’re a fall baking fanatic like me and love pumpkin treats, you might try making your own pumpkin pie spice blend, too! Use it in pumpkin-inspired favorites like pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cake, pumpkin bars, and of course, pumpkin pie.


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: 1214 donuts 1x
  • 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

Scale
  • 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. If there are any spices or solids on top of your reduced apple cider, leave them. 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 | Donut 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 apple cider 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.

Keywords: Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Hello
    When reducing the cider should I be skimming the solids that form on top or just leave them and mix into the reduction at the end

  2. Hi, Sally! I was going to try to experiment and add pearl sugar to the batter. Do you foresee any issues with this? I’m also going to try adding powdered Honeycrisp apples to the outer coating— wahoo!

    1. Hi Gigi, we haven’t baked with pearl sugar before, so we’re unsure of the results. Let us know how it works out for you!

  3. Please do not dip them in butter. While they’re still warm toss them in the sugar mixture and that should be enough. The butter makes it a think lobby layer on top, not so great.

    1. I ever so lightly buttered them with a basting brush before rolling in the cinnamon sugar mix. Fantastic!

    2. about skipping the butter. I tried with and without. The cinnamon sugar sticks perfectly without the butter, and I found you taste and appreciate the flavour and texture of the donut much better without the butter. Wonderful recipe either way – I’ve made many off of this site and this was hands down a family favourite.

  4. Followed the recipe exactly and they did not taste of anything. The butter made them a weird texture and most of the sugar clumped and fell off because of this. On half I skipped the butter but still tasted of nothing so I gave them to my chickens.

    1. I made them and they were great – except I skipped the melted butter at the end and just dipped them straight in the cinnamon sugar mixture and it adheres perfectly. Just do it when they’re warm. No need for the extra fat. I added extra cinnamon and nutmeg in the sugar mixture. Delicious!

    2. Either Melanie has old spices or needed a covid test.

      I made these last weekend and thought they were delicious and very flavorful. With my first batch I was worried about the topping not covering very well and put a bit too much on so they were too sweet for us, but a lighter coating was perfect for me, but still a bit much for my husband. Next time I’ll try coating them while they’re warm without the butter and see if that is better for him.

    1. Hi Meghan, We don’t recommend it. The leaveners are activated once mixed into the batter, so the long it sits, the less likely the batter will bake up properly. It’s best to bake them right away.

      1. Thank you so much! Am I able to make the apple cider before hand? If so, how many days is that allowed to sit in the fridge ?

  5. I loved this recipe and it tasted with a strong apple flavor – perhaps the cider want reduced enough

  6. 4 stars only, even though I’ve used this multiple times and LOVE the outcome.

    The star is lost due to the totally inaccurate reducing time given in the recipe. I’ve done it multiple times, and it ALWAYS takes about an hour to reduce down, at medium-low heat (4/10 on an electric range). Otherwise, wonderful and my friends request these all the time.

  7. I have a question on the apple cider ingredient. Most of the apple cider sold in stores near me is just like apple juice, not spiced at all. Is the cider called for in this recipe just straight cider or is it a spiced version. Also would apple juice concentrate work in place of the cider reduction?
    Thank you for your help.

      1. As always a great recipe, i have enjoyed all that I have baked on your site.The first batch I dipped them in butter and then dipped in the sugar mixture. It made for wonderful pictures, but I felt as if the sugar coating was so overwhelming you could not taste the apple at all. The second batch, I brushed the butter on the top and dipped the donuts in the sugar mixture and was able to taste the apple more but would of liked a more apple forward taste. I used spiced apple cider and reduced down to 1/2 cup, is there anything i can do to increase the apple flavor ? The texture of the donuts I thought was spot on !

  8. When boiling the apple cider down the night before- can we use it cold the next day or should I let it get to room temperature?

  9. I was wondering if I should adjust for high elevation. I live in Arizona at about 4600 ft. I look forward to hearing from you. Super excited to make these donuts.

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

  10. Hello
    I am wondering if the baking soda/baking powder measurements are reversed. I made these and they rose so much they looked like muffins. Then, I looked at your other baked donut recipes and noticed that they all called for more powder than soda. Or could it be my elevation, I am at about 2100-2300 ft.

    Thanks Al

    1. Hi Al, the measurements are correct as written here. It’s possible that your elevation is playing a part in the rising, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. We know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

  11. Vermont Country Stores sell bottled Boiled Apple Cider. Would 1/2 cup of this be a good substitution for reducing regular apple cider?

    1. Hi Melisa, we haven’t tested this recipe with those substitutes, but let us know if you do!

    1. Hi Eve, We don’t recommend almond flour as it has very different baking properties and is not always a 1:1 swap. We haven’t tested it, but you might have success experimenting with a gluten-free all-purpose flour like Bob’s Red Mill or Cup4Cup. If you give anything a try, we’d love to know how it goes for you!

  12. Hello
    I am wondering if you have the baking soda and baking powder amounts switched. I made these and they rose quite a bit. I had muffin tops on the donuts LOL. Still great but too much rise. I looked at your other donut recipes and noticed there was more powder than soda.
    Thanks Al

  13. Love these! I used dairy free alternatives worked out great! I do have a question, i want to try fried donut holes was wondering if i could with this recipe? Would it work with this being a baked version?

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

      1. Actually I totally fried this batter, you just drop it in by the spoonful. Doesn’t make a perfect ball but tastes like HEAVEN. Plus I also dipped some apple slices in it and fried them as fritters and that was amazing too

  14. Hi Sally, I had a problem with the donuts, the first time I made them I reduced the cider too much and so just topped it up to get the required amount. It tasted a bit strong but not unpleasant. The second time I made them I watched more closely as I was reducing the cider, got a perfect amount and as I was reading the recipe again I noticed that the Apple Cider was Apple Cider Vinegar!! NOT !! Clearly I am illiterate !!! So for all those out there the ACV has a nice tang in the donuts. lol I have never had apple cider so I did not realize they were not the same thing.

  15. I’ve been wanting to make apple cider donuts for years. I taste no apple in these whatsoever. The donuts are delicious nonetheless, but the apple flavor gets lost. Wondering if it’s in the reduction process. Is it supposed to have a syrupy texture? Mine didn’t. Not sure how to amp up the apple but there’s gotta be a way.

    1. Hi Joanna, the flavor of these donuts will depend heavily on the kind of apple cider you’re using. Make sure you’re using fresh spiced apple cider (the kind you can find seasonally), not the kind that looks like apple juice. You can even make Homemade Apple Cider if you wish!

  16. I made these tonight and they are amazing! My husband and I think this recipe is a keeper. I did use a half cup of plain yogurt instead of the milk. Also, I did find apple pie spice at the grocery store(NJ). Once they came out of the oven, I flipped them over onto a wire rack placed inside a sheet pan. While still very warm, I brushed melted butter on the top and sides of each donut. I didn’t dunk them after reading other reviews. I rolled each donut in the spice/sugar mixture and placed back into the rack, the excess drops down into the sheet pan. I had a lot of spice/sugar mixture left over even though each donut was coated. Next time, I think will only be putting the spice/sugar mixture on the tops though. Yum! Thank you for a great recipe so my donut pans get used again!!!!

  17. The donuts came out very nicely! Great texture and flavor, perfect for fall. The only downside was that my apple cider took over an hour to reduce. I finally had to increase the heat because it was taking so long.

  18. Been craving apple cider donuts like they have up north in NH so found this recipe & decided to give it a go. I didn’t have regular apple cider on hand but did have sparkling apple cider, which was great in this recipe! I also used 1/4 cup of almond milk & 1/4 cup of fat-free half & half in place of the milk. I ever so lightly brushed the cooled donuts with butter using a basting brush & rolled them in the sugar spice mixture. The donuts turned out so delicious! Now, to not eat them all in one day! Thanks Sally!

  19. My donuts totally stuck to the pan but that could be my inexperience — I haven’t used a donut pan before. The one I have has a cream-colored enameled surface and although I greased it well, they did not turn out. I used boiled cider which I had on hand and yogurt, otherwise followed the recipe as written. Thanks!

  20. Delish! I used whole wheat organic flour and they came out great! Light texture, excellent flavor, easy to make and not too terrible for us. Win win win win!

  21. These donuts were spectacular! Just wondering if they can be made, say, a few weeks ahead of an event and then frozen? If so, should I let them thaw to room temperature and then re-bake at 350 for 10-11 minutes? Thanks!

    1. Hi Aimee, you can absolutely freeze these donuts. See recipe notes for details!

  22. I made these donuts this evening following the recipe except for the following changes in order to make them egg free and gluten free.

    Substituted an egg replacer product for the one egg and used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free 1 to 1 baking flour in place of the all purpose flour. Baked them for 11 minutes.

    I let them cool for 10 minutes before dipping them in the melted butter before the sugar mix.

    Rave reviews from the household.

  23. Delicious light fluffy donut that tastes almost healthy as it has so little butter in it! What didn’t work for me was the thick gloppy layer of cinnamon sugar resulting from the dipping process after baking…it was hard to even taste the donut underneath all the sugar and the heavy topping didn’t seem to fit the lightness of the donut. Next time I may just brush a little butter on so that a thin layer of sugar sticks and leave it at that.
    The MAJOR WIN though was using this batter for APPLE FRITTERS!!!! I had some left after filling my donut pans but not enough for a full donut so I tossed some apple slices in and fried them up in crisco on the stove, flipping halfway and sprinkling with cinnamon sugar after removing from oil. Oh my lanta heaven on earth. Honestly I may never make donuts again, it might just be apple fritters from here on out. Total game changer.

  24. these donuts are absolutely delicious. tried them out this weekend to rave reviews. making them for my daughters baby shower in November.
    thanks Sally, another winner

  25. Delicious! I read previous comments re dipping in butter and then the sugar mixture. Just rolled in the sugar mixture while still warm. It took 30 minutes to reduce the cider. Do not fill donut pan more than 1/2 full. The only comment my brother-in law made was the texture was not as “cakey” as the donuts I purchased at the apple farm. I do not use cooking spray in non-stick pans, I used shortening. You could half the sugar mixture, I had a lot left over. All in all, I would make them again.

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