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Apple cider donuts are a fall tradition – this is the only recipe you need

You'll love this tasty, simple apple cider donut recipe

Apple pile with a black background
Pixabay / Pexels

This time of year, the sweet treats are out to play, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Pair all the deliciously spicy fall flavors with chilly days that make you want to snuggle up with something cozy and sugary, and we’re happy campers. Perhaps slightly chubbier ones, but that’s what the cable-knit sweaters are for. If you’ve never made (or even tried!) piping hot, cinnamon-sugary, crisp and spicy, fresh apple cider donuts, what are you even doing with your life? This chilly weather treat is a must for autumn days, and it’s about time you learn to make these spicy little love cakes.

Apple cider donuts with sugar
Brent Hofacker / Adobe Stock

Why are apple cider donuts so good?

We all love our local corner donut shops for a quick sugar fix and a cheap cup of coffee. Nothing says “it’s going to be a good Saturday morning” more than one of those cheerful pink boxes. Now imagine that instead of your usual maple bar or classic glazed, the donut in your hand is fresh and warm, infused with crisp, autumnal apple cider and fall spices, warm cinnamon and sugar crystals dusting your fingertips. And instead of a fluorescently lit shop in a strip mall with chipped laminate flooring, you’re enjoying that donut at a stunningly fragrant, gorgeously picturesque apple orchard, owned and run by kind and jovial local farmers.

Sorry, rainbow sprinkles. Not today.

This special donut is not a regular Saturday morning thing. It is one of those special foods that only tastes right during a certain time of year. And when that time of year comes, watch out, because every fruit stand and orchard worth their salt is going to have hot and greasy, sinfully sticky little brown bags of these treasures. Get them while they’re hot!

Hot apple cider
Sea Wave / Shutterstock

Why do they call them apple cider donuts?

Apple cider donuts are a cake donut made with … yep, you guessed it, apple cider. Unlike most donuts that are generally sweetened and flavored simply with sugar, these sweet treats are directly infused with apple cider, giving them their distinct flavor. While their classic coating of cinnamon and sugar is the traditional choice, they also can be made with more classic donut store toppings like chocolate or maple glazes.

Apples on an apple tree
Zen Chung / Pexels

Are apple cider donuts a northern thing?

While the popularity of these delicious donuts originally took off on the northeast coast, over the years their sweet reputation spread and they’re now pretty easy to find anywhere you look during fall months. Because apples are grown and cultivated in so many climates, finding an orchard that features these sweets should be relatively easy if you’re in the mood to go apple picking and make a day of it. It’s basically a requirement this time of year.

But if you’re feeling like bringing some apple orchard vibes to your own kitchen, making these donuts at home is actually quite easy. And your efforts will be well worth it. Trust us.

Apple cider donuts
Damn Delicious

Apple cider donut recipe

(From Damn Delicious)

People seem to fear deep-frying more than other cooking methods. It’s understandable, with all the hot bubbling oil popping and sizzling. It can seem a little threatening. If you put the fear aside, however, and remember a few tips, you’ll be golden (see what we did there?).

First, use a thermometer. People get cocky thinking they know when the oil is ready without using one, and this can have really gross results. If your oil is too cool, your donut will absorb more of it than it’s meant to and it’ll be a greasy, soggy, drippy mess. Too hot and you’ll end up with a burnt outside and a raw inside.

Second, use a large enough pot to hold the oil you need to deep fry. If the oil is too close to the top of the pot, the addition of the donuts and the bubbling of the oil may result in fires and burns. Not sexy.

Third, understand your oils. Different oils have different smoke points. This means that some oils can take the heat, while others are very sensitive to it and will start smoking and burning on you. Vegetable oil is great for frying. Other good options include peanut and grapeseed oil.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups vegetable oil

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan over high heat, bring apple cider to a boil. Cook until cider is reduced to 1 cup, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely.
  2. Combine sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon in a small dish, set aside.
  3. In another bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together butter, eggs, and apple cider reduction.
  5. Pour egg mixture over flour mixture, stirring just until moistened.
  6. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into 1/2-inch thick rounds; cut out rounds with a 2 1/2-inch cutter.
  8. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. A few pieces at a time, add rounds to the pot and fry until evenly golden, about 1 minute per side.
  10. Remove from oil, and place onto a stack of paper towels to remove excess oil. Immediately roll warm donuts in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  11. Serve warm with coffee for ultimate happiness.
Apple cider donuts
Damn Delicious

How long do apple cider donuts stay fresh?

Apple cider donuts can stay fresh for one to two days at room temperature when you store them in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. If you need to store them for longer, you can refrigerate them for up to four days. However, keep in mind that refrigerated donuts may become dry and stale more quickly, so it is best to eat them within a few days. And why wouldn’t you? They are too delicious to not eat right away.

But if you don’t and you want to keep your apple cider donuts fresh for even longer, you can freeze them for up to a month. To freeze donuts, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze them until solid. Once frozen, transfer the donuts to a freezer-safe bag or container. To thaw them, place the donuts in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for a few hours.

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Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
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