Pillowy apple cider doughnuts baked, not fried. With a crisp cinnamon sugar crust and a soft fluffy inside they’re PERFECTION!
Apple cider doughnuts are the iconic treat that makes fall fall. If you had to pick just one thing to bake for the season (that would be a horrible dilemma, but let’s pretend) it might have to be apple cider doughnuts. They’re crispy and cinnamon-sugary on the outside (it sticks to your lips!) and all soft and cakey inside. Please try them (and then try the other apple cider doughnut recipes I’ve developed)
I spotted this recipe in The New York Times and had to try it, it has over 4,000 5 star ratings! I’m sharing the step by step details with you, along with my tweaks to make this recipe the best. If you’ve got the urge for classic apple cider doughnuts but want to sidestep the deep fat frying, read on…
gather your ingredients for baked apple cider doughnuts
- I always bake with unsalted butter. Part will go in the batter and part will be used to brush the doughnuts after baking.
- brown and white sugar
- it’s my go to combination for fall baking. Brown sugar adds the warmth of molasses that’s SO good.
- baking powder and salt
- cinnamon and nutmeg
- don’t skip the nutmeg, even if you have to make a special trip to the store, it gives doughnuts their ‘doughnut’ flavor.
- most baking recipes, including mine, are formulated for large eggs.
- vanilla extract
- just a touch ~ too much will overpower in this case.
- apple cider
- be sure to get apple cider, preferably fresh apple cider from the refrigerated section.
you’re gonna need a doughnut pan
Luckily these are inexpensive and don’t take up much room in the cupboard. Every time fall rolls around you’ll be glad you’ve got them. You definitely want nonstick, and having 2 pans is convenient. You can buy the ones I use, here.
tips for baking with doughnut pans
- A good nonstick surface is essential, so if your pans have seen better days, replace them.
- Spray or butter your pan and then flour it, even if it is nonstick.
- Let your doughnuts rest in the pan for 5 minutes after they come out of the oven.
- Loosen the doughnuts around the edges, just like you would with a bundt cake, and then flip the pan over. Sometimes I’ll give the edge of the pan a rap against the counter to help the doughnuts fall out.
- If the doughnuts don’t come out right away let them rest a few minutes more and try again.
- Don’t put your pans in the dishwasher (they’ll wipe clean easily) and don’t use metal utensils or anything abrasive on them to mar the surface.
why I love these baked apple cider doughnuts
These doughnuts really do taste like the real thing, and honestly I don’t think the deep frying brings anything to the party. I’ve had them both ways and I don’t see any reason to ever fry again.
They are fabulous the next day ~ how great is that? The cinnamon sugar coating keeps them fresh and also prevents them from getting soggy.
The only drawback? It’s very easy to overindulge in these pillowy doughnuts, so plan to share.
fall baking is the best!
- Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
- Almond Pear Tart
- Moist Apple Brownies
- Apple Crisp Muffins
- Maple Pecan Pound Cake
- Chewy Toffee Pecan Bars
Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts
- nonstick doughnut pans buy mine here
- 10 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, it helps to have them at room temperature, read my tips for doing this super quick!
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground if possible
- 3/4 tsp coarse salt
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup apple cider
for cinnamon sugar coating
- 1 cup granulated sugar (you won't use all of it but having extra to work with helps, trust me.)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (you may need more depending on how liberally you want to brush your doughnuts.)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Prep your pans by greasing with butter or cooking spray, then flouring.
- Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. I do this in my stand mixer, you can also use electric beaters.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, letting the first get incorporated before adding the second. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
- Beat in the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking powder.
- With the mixer on low, add in the flour. Then slowly add the cider. Scrape down the sides and finish with a silicone spoon or spatula to get everything incorporated (especially the bottom of the bowl.) Don't over beat at this point.
- Fill the twelve cavities of your doughnut pans. I like to spoon the batter into a large piping bag to do this neatly. Just snip off about an inch at the bottom and pipe into your pan. You should have just enough batter to make 12 doughnuts, so fill them about 3/4 full. Note: if you only have one pan just do this in batches, no worries.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or just until the surfaces are firm and a toothpick comes out without wet batter. You do not want to over bake these, so make sure your oven is at the correct temperature and watch carefully. They won't be very browned on top.
- Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then gently loosen the edges and flip out of the pan. Give the edge of the pan a rap if necessary. If the doughnuts don't fall out, let them cool a minute or two more and try again. Note: don't worry if your 'holes' have filled in, you can just poke through with a small knife, or your pinky finger, to open them up.
- Whisk the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Brush the doughnuts all over with melted butter, then toss in the cinnamon sugar, being sure to get all the surfaces nicely coated. Work with one doughnut at a time.
- The doughnuts can be devoured asap, or saved for later. Mine were perfect the next morning. I saved mine under my glass cake dome. You can also cover loosely with foil.
Questions and Reviews
I have some oat flour leftover from your delicious apple cider bundt cake. Can I use it in the doughnuts?
Sure, you can substitute some of the all purpose flour with your oat flour. I wouldn’t go too crazy, I’d try maybe 1/2 to 3/4 cup.
OMG! I just made these today! Wow! Really delicious! They helped me feel a little closer to my native state of Michigan. ?
I was wondering if you have any suggestions for the leftover sugar and cinnamon combination that we use for the coating. I have quite a bit left. But you are right it made it so much easier to coat the donuts with the extra.
Well you could make another batch…just saying! Or you might use it on buttered toast.
I guess I should have thought this through more! Lol! That’s what my husband said!
Can you use gluten free flour?
I haven’t tried ~ let us know if you do!
Sue, do you know some technique for keeping brown sugar soft? This is very frustrating. Thanks!
Yes, the best solution I’ve found is to buy one of those terracotta pieces that you soak in water and put at the bottom of your canister. It’s the only thing that has ever worked for me. (Amazon has them.)
Place a slice of sandwich bread in the container with the brown sugar and it will keep it from getting rock hard. I don’t know why it works but it does!
The bread doesn’t mold over time?
What if you don’t have a donut pan. Can you still make these, and how?
You can do them in either a mini muffin or regular muffin pan. Grease and flour well. Baking time will vary depending on your pan and how full you fill them, so do a test muffin or two first.
I do have an apple cider doughnut muffin recipe on the site, here.