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Homemade Apple Cider Donuts

Homemade Apple Cider Donuts
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For when you can’t make it to the orchard, here’s a recipe for homemade apple cider donuts covered in cinnamon and sugar.

As I said last year in my “C is for Cider Donuts” contribution to the Autumn A-Z package:

Visit an apple orchard this fall and you’re just as likely to see folks munching on golden-brown apple-cider doughnuts as you are actual apples. Beyond the standard cake doughnut, cider doughnuts have apple cider added right into the batter, lending a touch of sweetness and a subtle cider tang that most people find dangerously addictive.

apple cider donuts
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Fresh and sweet apple cider donuts.

This year I upped the ante and made a batch of homemade apple cider donuts myself using a recipe from Yankee senior lifestyle editor Amy Traverso’s The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, turning my autumn donut dreams (plus a rough dozen of my family and co-worker’s) into a reality.

Homemade cider donuts start with (what else?) apple cider. Boiled cider lends a stronger flavor, and to make it at home you’ll need to boil 1 1/2 cups of cider down to 1/3 cup before proceeding with the batter, which also gets an extra dose of tang from the addition of buttermilk. The batter (turned dough) will be very soft, so once you start handling it you’ll want to make sure your hands and every surface it comes into contact with are floured.

apple cider donuts
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Boiled cider adds concentrated apple cider flavor.

Even with the flour, you’ll want to send the dough to the freezer or fridge as necessary to keep it chilled and firm for cutting and handling. Also, if you don’t have a traditional donut cutter (who does?), feel free to use two floured concentric biscuit cutters to cut out your donut shapes. Twisting the cutter as you release it will help get a cleaner cut. I kept a small, shallow bowl of flour nearby so I could dip the cutter in it as needed.

apple cider donuts
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Cutting out the donut shapes.

Next up is the tricky stage — the frying. I used my large, heavy Dutch oven and it took a gallon of oil to get the correct 3-inches of oil needed for frying. Just try not to think about it…

You’ll want a thermometer here to make sure the oil is hot enough before you start adding the donuts. The kind that clips right onto the pot is best. Once that oil gets hot it’s dangerous and you’ll want to minimize splatter.

apple cider donuts
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Cider donuts frying.

Then it’s time to fry up some donuts! Make sure you’ve got plenty of double-layer paper towels nearby to drain off the oil as you remove the donuts from the pot. I used a large slotted spatula to transfer them out and over.

Once the donuts have cooled enough that you can handle them, add a good amount of sugar to a bowl along with a generous few shakes of cinnamon, mix them together, and gave each donut a cinnamon-sugar bath. The donut holes you can roll in the sugar, but for the large donuts just settle them into the bowl, twist them, then flip and repeat.

apple cider donuts
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Sweet, sugary cider donut perfection.

Of course, you could skip making the donut holes by repeatedly re-rolling the dough and only frying the circles, but sometimes a 2-bite donut hole is exactly the right amount of sugar and grease, so they’re good to have on hand.

apple cider donut holes
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Donut centers make perfect 2-bite donut holes.

Finally, homemade cider donuts taste best when eaten on the day they’re made, or within 24 hours, so make sure you’ve got family and friends to share them with! I know my Yankee co-workers were glad to help me out…I bet yours would, too.

Happy apple cider donut season!

Homemade Apple Cider Donuts Recipe Links

Aimee Seavey


Aimee Seavey


As Yankee's Digital Editor, Aimee manages, produces, and promotes content for Yankee's digital and social media initiatives. A lifelong New Englander, she loves history and a good Massachusetts South Shore bar pizza.
Updated Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

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13 Responses to Homemade Apple Cider Donuts

  1. Amy Catherine Adams September 22, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    hi aimee…i want to make these. i am ready. i am trying not to think about the gallon of oil. but after showing my husband the recipe because he is my number one fan, he asked me, what do you do with the oil after the frying?

    any information about the discarding of the oil is so appreciated.

    thank you for all you do and the inspiration!

    • Aimee Seavey September 22, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

      Hi Amy! Excellent question! After you’ve fried the donuts let the oil cool to room temperature, then pour into a container and discard in the trash. The original bottle is a handy thing to hang onto for this. We hope you make the donuts and enjoy them!

  2. Angela March 10, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    Hi, ladies. I saw this and had to comment. I make thing like this all the time and I never throw out my oil. I filter it with a coffee filter and store it in its container. Not to worry about bacteria, the next time you use it the heat will take care of any of that. It to expensive to throw it out!!!!!

  3. LISA October 1, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

    Has anyone tried this recipe? If so please let me know how it came out.

  4. Beth October 4, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

    We made these today and they were great! On par with the apple orchard donuts. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Aimee Seavey October 8, 2014 at 11:42 am #

      So glad you enjoyed them, Beth!

  5. Lauren October 8, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    Can you bake these in a donut pan? I don’t want to fry them.

    • Aimee Seavey October 8, 2014 at 11:41 am #

      Hi Lauren. We have not tested this recipe by baking the donuts rather than frying them, so I can’t advise you on how long to bake them for and at what temperature, but the texture and taste will definitely be different — I expect they will taste more like a dense scone/bread rather than a donut. Not necessarily bad, but different. You may want to look for a cider donut recipe that is intended to be baked, or try our recipe for Cider Doughnut Muffins, which are baked, and delicious! Here’s the recipe:

  6. Jeff October 19, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    My daughter and I made these last weekend and they turned out pretty good. I was hoping for even more of that cider flavor to come through. My memories of the cider donuts from this orchard outside of Albany, NY were of these richly flavored golden brown, bursting with flavor beauties. I’ve had a few different variations since but none really measure up. Your recipe sounded promising but I didn’t want to take any chances.

    We did a few things to really enhance the flavor. I was worried about being short on apple flavor so I started with a gallon of really tasty cider and cooked it down to around 3 cups. It was close to the consistency of Vermont maple syrup.

    After we made the first couple donuts I wanted more apple flavor so I added a little apple pie spice to the sugar we were rolling the donuts in. That helped a little but I still wanted more.

    Since we had cider syrup left I had the idea of drizzling thx donuts with a little before sugaring them. OOOH Boy! Did that make a difference! The flavor was amazing! We weren’t very good with the drizzling so we quickly dipped a few in the syrup and that seemed to get just the right amount of syrup without being soggy.

    Quickly dipping the donuts into the cider syrup added so much flavor. They were exactly what I was looking for.

  7. stella November 12, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

    Why do you have to us wax paper

    • Aimee Seavey November 13, 2014 at 10:40 am #

      Hi Stella. When making the cider donuts, the waxed paper or parchment paper keeps the dough from sticking. Happy baking!

  8. Mona Longley September 24, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    Please try to limit recipes to 2 pages & 1 photo.

    • Aimee Seavey September 24, 2015 at 10:59 am #

      Hi Mona. This is the homemade apple cider donuts blog post, detailing how to make the donuts for folks that like to see step-by-step instructions. If you click on the link at the bottom of the page that says “View and print the recipe for Homemade Apple Cider Donuts” and it will take you to a traditional recipe page with just the recipe and one photo. Thanks!

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