Apple Cider Donuts

Let me save you a lot of trouble, skip the apple orchard this year and make these donuts at home instead. I grew up in Western Massachusetts, home to many idillic apple orchards that were super easy to navigate, and quite literally, right down the road. I now live in Fairfield county where everything feels way more difficult and expensive, and I’m not sure I’ll ever go apple picking again. It’s a trap.

We’ve been to several local orchards and have yet to have a good time. Most you have to buy a ticket to (what?) and park a million miles away from. The prepared moms have some sort of wagon for the schlep from the car. I am not one of those moms. By the end of the endeavor, someone has been stung by bee, peed on an apple tree and gotten a rash from the hay ride. My husband usually throws his back out trying to lift the kids up for apples so I can get the perfect photo to remember this moment of pure torture. That we paid for. This year I decided I was boycotting the experience completely. The only thing anyone actually likes about going to the orchard is the donuts anyway, so I suggest skipping the overpriced pesticide laden bag of mediocre apples and making these perfect donuts instead. Even if the recipe seems like a lot, I can promise it’s nothing compared to the physical and emotional labor you will endure at an apple orchard with two feral boys.

This recipe is an adaptation from this classic recipe from Yankee Magazine.

Apple Cider Donuts

  • Servings: Makes 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, plus 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 4 cups (480 grams) all purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • High heat oil of choice (I used sunflower)
  • For Topping:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon


Place apple cider in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until it has been reduced by 2/3, about 10 to 12 minutes. Keep a pyrex measuring cup close by the stove to check how much it has reduced. Stop cooking when you have 1/3 cup of reduced cider. Let cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine sugar, brown sugar and butter. Mix at medium speed for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs one at a time. Mix at medium speed for about 1 minute after each addition. Add buttermilk, cooled cider and vanillas. Mix for about 30 seconds. The mixture may look slightly curdled, but will smooth out once the flour has been added. 

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and nutmeg. Add about half of the flour to the mixer, and mix for about 30 seconds. Add remaining  flour and mix for 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold the dough with a rubber spatula until no streaks of flour remain. 

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and dust lightly with flour. Dump the dough on top, then add a little more flour to the surface. Place another sheet of parchment on top and pat into an even rectangle that is about 1-inch thick. Set in the freezer for 20 minutes to firm up. 

While the dough chills, make the topping. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon together until combined. Set aside. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Add about 3 inches of high heat oil to a large dutch oven and heat to 370˚F over medium low heat. 

Once the dough has chilled, cut it out using a 3-inch donut cutter, or something similar. Press the scraps together to form about 12 donuts total. Fry the donuts 2 or 3 at a time for about 1 minute on each side, or until deeply golden brown. Place on a prepared sheet pan to drain excess oil. 

Let the donuts cool slightly, then coat in cinnamon sugar before enjoying. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

  1. I’ve had the bourbon shortbread cookies and they taste like a true “Old Fashion”.

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