Light and fluffy, bursting with tart cider flavor, and boasting an undeniable cinnamon-sugar aroma: Cider doughnuts are a fall staple at apple orchards and farm stands everywhere. But these sweet beauties are not just the stuff of day-trip dreams. They’re achievable at home with this flexible baked, not fried recipe that’s perfect as breakfast the day after Thanksgiving, or as a special treat to mark the changing of the seasons — even if both are significantly different this year.

The batter is spiced with a hefty amount of cinnamon to amplify the cider — there’s more cinnamon in the sugary topping, applied after baking — and nutmeg. But other warm fall spices could be added: Ginger, clove and cardamom would all be welcome.

As would boiled cider in place of the apple cider. While any kind of cider (spiced or classic, from a blend of apples or a single variety) makes for a tasty doughnut, boiled cider — cider reduced by about a third until it’s a maple syruplike consistency — gives this recipe a concentrated apple flavor. You can buy it, or make it yourself by reducing 1 1/2 cups of apple cider down to 1/2 cup. (Cool completely before using.)

The batter comes together quickly with the help of an electric mixer. (A bowl, spoon and a little elbow grease would work, too.) Then it’s transferred to a greased doughnut pan, which gives it its shape. No doughnut pan? Don’t write off this recipe: It can also be baked in a standard muffin pan, without muffin liners.

The key to making them taste as equivalently rich as traditional cider doughnuts comes in the finishing technique. Cooling the doughnuts (or muffins) in the pan briefly — about five minutes — allows their tender structure to set a bit, so there’s no breakage in this final step. And brushing the doughnuts (or muffins) all over with melted butter not only helps for the cinnamon-sugar topping stick more effectively, it also allows the cake to more closely resemble a fried dough in flavor.

Just like the apple cider doughnuts you’d get at the orchard, they are truly at their best served warm, another thing that makes them particularly perfect for a lazy post-holiday treat.


Recipe: Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Yield: 12 doughnuts or muffins


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 3/4 cup (225 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (165 grams) light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) apple cider


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2 (6-cavity) doughnut pans (or a 12-cup muffin tin) with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk to combine. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream 10 tablespoons (140 grams) butter, brown sugar and 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated after each addition, scraping the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla extract.

3. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated. With the mixer running, add the apple cider in a slow, steady stream and mix to combine. Scrape the bowl well to make sure the batter is homogeneous.

4. Spoon the batter into prepared doughnut pans, filling them about 2/3 of the way. (You can also do this using a disposable piping bag or a resealable plastic bag with a 1/2-inch opening cut from one corner.) Bake until evenly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the thickest portion comes out clean, 12 to 15 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through baking. (If you are making muffins, divide batter evenly between the prepared cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through.)

5. While the doughnuts bake, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon together in a small bowl to combine. In a separate small bowl, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in the microwave. Let the doughnuts cool for 5 minutes after baking, then unmold them from the pans, brush with the melted butter and dredge them in the cinnamon sugar while they are still warm. Serve immediately, or let cool to room temperature.