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. Can I make the batter the night before and bake warm the next day?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Judi, We don’t recommend it. The baking powder and baking soda are activated as soon as the batter is mixed together so for the donuts to rise properly the batter should be baked right away.

  2. 10/31/20 It took about 45 minutes to reduce the cider. I tried the recommended 20 min on low heat with sparse result, so cranked up the heat to a low rolling bowl, then another 20 min for it to reduce to 1/2 c. Used a silicone donut pan to bake them in – took about 30 minutes at 350 degrees, and a few of the donuts were still doughy. I’m a batter person, and I loved the batter. I agree with others, couldn’t detect any apple flavor, mostly cinnamon. Husband loves them, may try making them as muffins if I repeat the recipe, and not use silicone baking pan.

  3. I doubled this recipe for our large family’s Harvest Party. One of my daughters declared them the best donut she’d ever had in her life! One son-in-law said he hadn’t had apple cider donuts since growing up in Wisconsin, where his family went to the apple orchard and made their own cider. He couldn’t believe they were baked, not fried! The whole family loved them, thanks so much for this incredible recipe!

  4. Sorry, forget to give it 5 Stars!!

  5. Can I substitute fresh apple juice for the apple cider

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

  6. Can I use applesauce for part of the sugar to make them healthier?

  7. used 1/2 cup bottled boiled cider and the flavor was terrific….also sprinkled chopped toasted pecans on top of batter before baking! Big Hit.

  8. Have made them twice. Big hit with my neighbors and family. Will be making again this morning. Thanks for a great recipe.

  9. Any adjustments required if using salted butter? I am leaving town and am planning to bring these with me for the journey. Not buying any more groceries before the trip!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Richa, You can use salted or unsalted butter, it won’t make a huge difference here. If there’s 1+ cups of butter in a recipe, then you would need to make a change to the added salt.

  10. I lived near an orchard that makes the most amazing Apple Cider Donuts, so I looked forward to the autumn flavors with these donuts. I really enjoyed them, and they were very easy to make. I would offer two slight modifications. At the end, rather than dunking the donuts in butter, brush each side with butter before coating with the sugar spice mixture. The first ones dunked had too much butter and were a little soggy. Also, if you have it, use fine granulated sugar for the coating to make the donut less gritty. They are yummy and reminded me of my mid-western roots!

  11. Delicious! We made them into muffins and they were gone in two days.

  12. Can you suggest another topping for these donuts? I thought the donuts were sweet enough without the added sugar on top. The donuts came out delicious. Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kathy, We are happy you enjoyed these donuts! You can take a look at all of our Donut Recipes to see if you would like to try a glaze. But honestly you can either use a lighter hand when coating with the sugar or leave it off completely and they are still great!

  13. Fantastic. Light and tender. Made it in mini muffin pan and needed an extra 10 minutes bake but turned out great.

  14. These are amazing! I’ve made probably six batches at this point. I live in New England and I am an Apple cider donut connoisseur (IMHO 🙂 and these stand up to the best I’ve ever had. Easy to make and so so tasty. I skip the butter at the end and just coat in the sugar mixture when warm.

  15. Can you use coconut sugar in place of granulated sugar?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We haven’t tested these with coconut sugar but let us know if you do!

  16. We made these donuts this morning, and they were awesome! The cider took us 45 mins or so, we had to crank up the heat to nearly medium. Then we cooled in an ice bath so we could get cookin’! They were fantastic!!! Will absolutely make them again soon!

  17. Sheila Calnan says:

    I’ve looked over the comments and asked on the FB group, but can’t get the guidance I need….I’m getting ready to do a double batch of these wonderful things. Is there anything special I need to do? Can I use a hand mixer (on low) to mix, without messing them up?
    Thanks as always.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sheila, For best taste and texture, We recommend making 2 separate batches. Working with extra batter risks over or under-mixing, which could ruin the texture of the baked donuts.

  18. Made these today with the hubby. Absolutely scrumptious! Took about 30 min to cook down the cider. I would also agree with one of the above comments that brushing them with melted butter as opposed to dunking them before putting them in the topping is a better option. Will make again!

  19. I know my stove is wonky and cantankerous, but I’ve been trying to reduce the cider down for 40 minutes now and it has only gone down to just under a cup. It’s only supposed to simmer, which it is; if I turn it on any higher I suspect it will boil away and burn. Any suggestions from the peanut gallery?

    1. Just keep going, Sabrina. I promise, it will reduce! I had the same problem with my stove and I just stirred and waited. I had a little bit more than a half cup but I just left that out and it was fine! It just takes patience and stirring. Good luck!

  20. These look soooo amazing! Is it possible to make this recipe inside a loaf pan and get the same delicious results?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Poppy, I can’t see why not! We haven’t tested it so we are unsure of the bake time needed. Let us know how it goes!

  21. Hi Sally’s team,

    I was wondering, could I bake these on an air fryer? If so, for how long and at what temperature?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Andi, These need to be baked in a pan and we have never tried using an air fryer for them so I’m unsure of the results. A dough that holds its shape without a donut pan, like these Glazed Doughnuts, may be better to try but again, we haven’t tested it!

  22. I’m guessing the answer will be the same as the loaf pan question, but has anyone tried this in a Bundt pan like one big donut? Wondering if it worked out and what the recommended cooking instructions would be? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lauren, There isn’t enough batter for a bundt cake, but you could try making the batter twice (as opposed to doubling it) and see if that works. My recommendation, though, is to make this apple bundt cake. Instead of the glaze, you can generously sprinkle the batter with cinnamon/apple pie spice/sugar before baking.

  23. How do I substitute coconut flour for the all purpose flour?

    Made these last weekend with all purpose flour and they were a hit! Such a hit, I had a request to make them again this weekend!

  24. Can you substitute frozen apple juice concentrate for the apple cider reduction?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Susan, You would miss out on a lot of the spiced flavor from the cider.

  25. Very delicious. I added one pealed, chopped apple. No topping. The reduction of apple cider took longer than 20 minutes. Turned heat up a little bit. Took closer to 35 minutes in reduction. Will definitely make again.

  26. These are really delicious! Best donuts I’ve made. I would say they rival the apple cider donuts at our local cider mill, which have a cult following here! Thanks for the recipe!

  27. The donuts were tasty! However, for the topping, I really didn’t like how it turned out. It was saturated with butter and got waaaay too much sugar and made them soggy. After the first two I just rolled the warm donuts in the sugar mixture and that worked much better. Did I misunderstand something?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ryan, Thank you for trying this recipe! A quick dip in the butter is all they need, but you can absolutely skip the butter and just dip the warm donuts right into the sugar coating so that less of it sticks as you did!

  28. These are yummy, but don’t taste like cider donuts to me. All I taste is butter and granulated sugar. Do you think they’d taste more like cider if I started with 2.5 cups of cider down to .5? Will that work?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Carol, Thank you for trying this recipe. Make sure you are using a spiced cider for the best flavor (I’m not sure 2.5 cups would reduce to .5 but you can try). Also you can skip the butter and just dip the warm donuts into the sugar and spice mix for a lighter coating.

  29. I used a donut pan that makes 12 donuts. I filled each one full before I saw you note about filling half way, but your recipe said it made 12 donuts so I thought I was okay. The donuts rose to cover the center. Next time I’ll fill each just half way. I am sure my donut pan is standard, so not sure why the recipe came out this way.

  30. William Stefens says:

    Absolutely delicious. We had fantastic warm cider donuts a few years ago while vacationing in Vermont, and these were just as great. Used Zeilgler’s Old Fashioned variety of Cider which worked well. Believe it took a little over 20 minutes with a gas stove at 2 or 3, but worked well. Only thing I would change is using a spicier cider, and only coating the tops of the donuts with the topping. Still, a definite winner!!

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