Yeasted Apple Cider Donuts

These Apple Cider Donuts are made with yeast for a light crumb and deep-fried for crisp texture. Learn a special trick for getting the most apple-y flavor in these cider donuts.

a stack of apple cider donuts on a plate

Why these are THE BEST Apple Cider Donuts

If you think all Apple Cider Donuts are the same, this recipe just might change your mind.

Most Cider Donut recipes make “cake style” donuts. That is, the donuts use baking powder and/or baking soda for leavening. So the texture is more cakey/muffiny than bready.

Personally, I prefer the chewy, bready texture of a yeast-risen donut.

Also, if I’m gonna have a donut I’m going all the way and having a fried donut. Ya know, “in for a penny, in for a pound”. Well, maybe this isn’t the best time to talk about pounds…

Ingredients

ingredients for cider donuts in glass bowls on a white surface.

Ingredient Notes

  • Apple Cider – By boiling down the cider to 1/4 of its original volume we loose a lot of the water and none of the flavor. So we’re able to add a lot more cider flavor to the donut dough.
  • All Purpose Flour – AP Flour has a medium protein content which gives these donuts a nice chewy texture but they’re not at all tough.
  • Yeast – Any dry yeast will work for this recipe.

How to make Apple Cider Donuts

See the recipe card for detailed measurements and instructions.

a bowl of reduced apple cider with chunks of butter melting in the warm cider
  • Reduce the apple cider to 1 cup, melt the butter in the warm cider.
cider donut sponge starer
  • Combine the water, yeast and some of the flour to make a sponge.
  • The sponge will give the yeast and gluten a head-start before the other ingredients are added to the dough.
a ruler measuring donut dough at 1/4" thick
  • Roll the dough to 1/4″-1/2″ thick.
dough cut into circles.
  • Cut the donuts with a 4″ biscuit cutter. Cut the center hole with a smaller cutter.
  • You can re-roll the center cuts or fry them as “donut holes”.
a finger poking a raw donut.
  • Allow the donuts to rise at room temperature to make them in one day, or refrigerate overnight to make them for breakfast.
donuts frying in oil.
  • Fry the donuts a couple at a time, immediately coat them with the cinnamon/cardamom sugar.

Storage

Cider donuts are best eaten slightly warm from fryer or within a few hours of frying. They will keep at room temperature for a day. Leftovers can be frozen. Rewarm previously frozen donuts in a low oven to revive the texture.

How sugar can affect yeast activity in bread dough

The first batch of dough that I made was like a dead weight. I tried warming it up over a bowl of hot water, setting the bowl into a warmed oven and finally took the drastic measure of microwaving the dough for 20 seconds to see if there was any yeast activity at all.

Nothing. It was like a lump of play dough.

I thought my yeast was bad. I’d just taken some yeast out of the freezer to make the dough, but it had been in there for quite a while. So I bought brand new yeast and made the dough again.

Same lump of dead weight as the first time.

Time to do a little research. It seems that excess sugar in the dough was halting the yeast activity. In short, yeast likes sugar, but (just like us) moderation is important.

A quick google search told me that 6 cups of cider has about 6 oz of sugar. That’s 3/4 cup of sugar, which made this a high-sugar dough.

Sugar is hygroscopic (absorbs water). Yeast needs water to activate. A high proportion of sugar in the dough will take up too much of the water, leaving the yeast too thirsty to do it’s job.

So I lowered the amount of reduced cider to 1 cup and added a 1/2 cup of warm water to the dough. I mixed the yeast with the water and some flour to create a sponge. The sponge gives the yeast and the gluten a head start before the other ingredients are added.

That did the trick! This recipe makes a dough is beautiful, light and elastic.

a hand holding an apple cider donut

More Donut Recipes

Now that you know about the flavoring power of reduced apple cider, you should try these amazing Apple Cider Caramels!

a stack of apple cider donuts with one broken to show the interior

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

a hand holding an apple cider donut
Print Recipe
4.56 from 86 reviews

Yeasted Apple Cider Donuts

Apple cider donuts made with yeast for a light crumb and fried for a crisp texture. Roll them in a coating of cinnamon/cardamom sugar as soon as they come out of the fryer for a super crunchy finish.
Prep Time1 hour
Bake Time20 minutes
Additional Time12 hours
Total Time13 hours 20 minutes
12 donuts
Save Recipe

Ingredients

Dough

  • 32 oz apple cider (4 cups)
  • 2 oz unsalted butter (cold)
  • 4 oz warm water (½ cup)
  • 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast
  • 18 ¾ oz unbleached all-purpose flour (3 ¾ cups, see note)
  • 1 large egg (room temp)
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 quart cooking oil

Coating Sugar

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Instructions

Make the dough (day 1)

  • In a large saucepan, bring 32 oz apple cider to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the 4 cups of cider are reduced to 1 cup. Transfer the reduced cider to a bowl and add 2 oz unsalted butter to the cider so that it melts. Set the bowl aside until the reduced cider is cooled to about 110°F (a little warmer than body temp).
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl combine 4 oz warm water, 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast and 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) of the flour. Mix until it forms a thick batter. Cover the bowl and set it aside for 30 minutes (while the cider is cooling).
  • With the mixer running on low, add 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon cardamom, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon table salt and reduced cider to the batter. Add another 2 cups (10 oz) of flour and mix until it forms a thick batter.
  • Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining 1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 oz) of flour. The dough will start out quite sticky. Knead on medium low speed for 5 minutes (speed 2 on my stand mixer) until the dough clings to the hook and clears the sides of the bowl. If working by hand mix in as much of the flour by hand as you can then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and continue kneading in the remaining flour. Knead for 5 minutes. If you have a hard time working with the sticky dough you can sprinkle a few more tablespoons of flour as you knead.
  • Knead into a smooth ball. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover and set the dough aside at room temperature for 1-1 ½ hours until it's doubled in volume.
  • Without kneading the dough (kneading will cause it to spring back as you cut) roll to ½" thick on a lightly floured surface.
  • Use a 4" round cutter to cut donuts. Use a smaller cutter to cut a center hole in each donut. Line the donuts on a well-oiled baking sheet, leaving space between the donuts for the dough to rise (I used 2 baking sheets). Reroll the scraps of dough and continue cutting donuts until all the dough is used up.
  • Brush the tops of the donuts lightly with oil. Cover the sheet pans with plastic wrap. If you’d like to make the donuts in the morning refrigerate the donuts overnight. If making the donuts the same day, continue with the next step now.

Make the Donuts (day 1 or 2)

  • Allow the donuts to rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour. The time will vary based on the temperature of the room and the temperature of your dough (if you refrigerated the dough overnight they may take longer to rise).
  • In small bowl combine 1 cup granulated sugar with 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon cardamom. Set the sugar aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 quart cooking oil to 350 °F in a large heavy pot. Fry the donuts a couple at a time, about 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown and puffy.
  • As you take each donut out of the oil, immediately roll in the cinnamon sugar to coat. Set on a cooling rack while you fry the rest of the donuts.
  • Best eaten slightly warm or within a couple of hours of frying.

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Notes

If measuring the flour by volume use the “dip & sweep” method. That is, dip the measuring cup into the flour bin, overfill it, then sweep away the excess.

Nutrition

Serving: 1donut | Calories: 394kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 84g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 23g | Monounsaturated Fat: 51g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 205mg | Potassium: 161mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 144IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 2mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!

21 Comments

  1. I would have liked these to be a little sweeter, would have added sugar to the batter! They also didn’t taste very cidery. But, overall think they turned out well!

    1. You have to be careful adding sugar to the dough. Too much sugar will interfere with the yeast. Read through the section in the post about sugar in yeasted dough for more information.

  2. Ive made this recipe before how its written and they tasted so good! I am obsessed with the recipe! Especially because it is still a yeast donut recipe (idk why, they taste better with yeast). I wanted to remake them for a party, but have some guests that are allergic to eggs. Other apple cider donut recipes I’ve tried always come out too dense. Is there a substitute that still might work or maybe removing the egg?

    1. I’ve had good results using Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer in a lot of different recipes. I think it could work here.

  3. Hi,

    I got a little confused reading the recipe. You call for using 3 3/4 cups of flour. When it says to add remaining flour in step 4. Would that be another 1 1/2 cups? It didn’t give a measurement and wanted to clarify.

    Thanks!

    1. You use 1/2 cup of flour to make the sponge. Then you add another 2 cups in step 3. So you’ve used 2 1/2 cups so far. That leaves 1 1/4 cups of flour which is added in step 4. I’ll add the last measurement to clarify.

    1. I don’t have an air fryer so I haven’t tried it. But the same question was asked about my Sourdough Donuts and a reader said they did make them in an air fryer. They left this tip “If you make them in the air fryer, spray with oil and cook for 3-6min per side. After they were cooked I sprayed them again with oil to make the cinnamon and sugar stick.”

  4. Have you ever tried freezing these donuts? We are looking to make some apple cider donuts for a local cider maker fest and need a good way to deliver them that still tastes great. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hmmm, I guess if you froze them after frying (before putting on the sugar) and then warmed them in the oven and rolled them in sugar they might be ok. Honestly, they won’t be as good as freshly made donuts. You could potentially make the dough, cut the donuts and then freeze. The day before defrost and let them rise, fry and serve. But that would involve frying the day you will deliver.

  5. Minor grammar error: “By boiling down the cider to 1/4 of it’s original volume … ” The word you want to use here is “its”. The word “it’s” is a contraction of either “it is” or “it has”. The possessive pronouns to do not use apostrophes: his, hers, ours, its.

    1. LOl, I was an English major and know the difference between it’s and its. Typos happen, but thanks for the nitpicking.

    2. @Cindy, Really Cindy? This was necessary? Lift people up instead of only seeing the negative. It will change your life.
      As will these donuts!!!
      Delicious and the recipe is a keeper.

    3. @Cindy, hi linguist here, “it’s” connotes the subject with the verb to-be (am, is, are, being, been, has) and by the transitive properties of etymological unification, “it’s” can easily stand for “it has”. No one likes a pedantic grammarian. Also, the donuts were absolutely incredible. This is my go to fall recipe from now on.

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