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Baked apple cider donuts are an easy, reasonably healthful treat for autumn days. This recipe is extremely popular with both kids and adults, and it’s highly achievable, to boot.
Why we love this recipe
Apple cider donuts are a fall classic. While nothing beats a family trip to the local farm on a crisp fall day for a hayride and a fried treat, this much-loved recipe is an easy way to bring a similar vibe to your home kitchen.
- Just like in the classic, fried version, boiling the cider just shy of syrup concentrates the apple flavor.
- Hailing from the oven instead of the fryer and made from half whole-wheat pastry flour, these babies are about as decent for you as donuts get. (Though as the gentle king of vegan food once reminded me at the farmers’ market, they’re DONUTS, so.)
- They’ll make you feel like you stepped directly out of a Norman Rockwell painting, if you’re into that sort of thing.
What you’ll need
Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.
- I like to make this recipe with a combination of all-purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour. They taste great this way and make a little nod to nutrition, to boot. You can make them with 100% all-purpose flour if you like.
- In this recipe, we reduce the apple cider. This is just a fancy term for simmering it briskly in a pan until a lot of the water content has evaporated. You’ll turn two cups of cider into 1/2 cup of concentrate, which amplifies the apple flavor and also helps the cider to work as a natural sweetener.
- The acidity of the buttermilk contributes to both flavor and tenderness. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can combine a half cup of regular milk with 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
How to make it
Here’s what you’ll do to make this recipe. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post.
- Whisk up the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Mix the wet ingredients and then pour them over the dry ones. At this stage, mix gently, just until there’s no dry flour.
- Pipe the batter into pans. You can do this without any special equipment. Just snip one of the bottom corners off a gallon-size zip-top bag to turn it into a piping bag.
- Top the baked donuts by dipping them into a little bit of melted butter and then into some cinnamon sugar.
Expert tips and FAQs
Buttermilk is fairly acidic, so it contributes to both the taste and the tender texture of the final product. In order to mimic those properties, you can substitute 1/2 cup regular whole milk plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of either apple cider vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice.
I like them best on the day they’re baked, but once they’re completely cool, you can store them covered at room temperature for a day or two.
You can make these guys in the morning and serve them throughout the day. I don’t recommend making them more in advance than that. This holds true for basically all donuts.
More favorite fall treats
- Pumpkin whoopie pies
- Vegan pumpkin muffins
- Apple and goat cheese puff pastry tarts
- Apple crisp
- Olive oil pumpkin bread
- Healthy Halloween muffins
- Caramel apples
For the donuts
- 2 cups (473 ml) apple cider
- 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour (see notes)
- 1 cup (120 grams) whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
- 1/2 cup (106 grams) light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (omit if using salted butter)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons (28 grams) butter, melted
For the topping
- 4 tablespoons (56 grams) butter, melted
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 375° F with a rack in the center. Spray two donut pans lightly with cooking spray.
- Pour the cider into a frying pan and set over high heat. Boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, which takes about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. (If you over-reduce it by accident, just top it up with regular cider. Not that I've ever done that, ahem.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, regular and brown sugars, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, butter and reduced apple cider.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until combined. You don't want any pockets of flour remaining, but you don't want to over-mix.
- You can spoon the batter into your prepared donut pans, but I prefer to pour the batter into a gallon-sized zip top plastic bag, snip off a small piece of one of the lower corners, and use it like a pastry bag to fill each well about 2/3 full.
- Bake until the donuts spring back a bit when touched lightly, about eight minutes. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes, then gently remove donuts from pan. Cool on a rack.
- For the topping, melt butter and pour into a wide, shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Dip the top of each donut into the butter for just a second and then into the cinnamon sugar to coat as much as you like. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- You can use 100% all-purpose flour if you don't have whole wheat pastry flour.
- Use the spoon and level method to measure flour if you're not going to weigh it.
- If you want to coat both the top and bottom of the donuts with cinnamon sugar, double this part of the recipe. I find they're sweet and flavorful enough with just the tops covered.
- You can make the donuts in the morning and eat them any time of day. But, as with virtually all donuts, they're best eaten the day they're made.
- If you do have leftovers, keep them covered at room temperature for up to a couple of days.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 224Total Fat: 6.7gCarbohydrates: 39.1gFiber: 1.6gProtein: 3.4g