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Yeasted Apple Cider Donuts

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

a stack of apple cider donuts on a plate

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

Cake Style Donuts Vs. Yeasted Donuts:

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 always prefer a yeasted donut. I like the chewy, bready texture of a yeast-risen donut better than the cakey texture of a baking powder donut.

If I’m going to the trouble of making my own donuts, I will take a little extra time to make them with yeast. But don’t worry, I’ve developed this recipe so that it can be made overnight for maximum ease.

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…

I’ll tell you guys – this recipe almost kicked my butt. It took 5 tries to finally sort this one out.

How to get the most apple flavor in Apple Cider Donuts:

From the git-go I knew I wanted an apple cider donut that actually tastes like….wait for it….apple cider! I used a simple trick to maximize the flavor of the apple cider; reduction.

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.

But that reduced cider is what caused me so much trouble.

How sugar can affect yeast activity in your 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. My first thought was that maybe the acidity of the reduced cider was too much for the yeast.

At this point I was using 1 1/2 cups of cider (reduced down from 6 cups) in the recipe. I added the yeast directly to the cider to start the recipe.

I found some great information on the Red Star Yeast website. 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.

It took a couple more tries to perfect the rolling, cutting and frying steps before the recipe was blog worthy!

Scroll through the step by step photos to see how to make the best Yeasted Apple Cider Donuts:

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
Cut the donuts with a 4″ biscuit cutter. Cut the center hole with a smaller cutter.
a finger poking a raw donut to check if it has risen enough
Allow the donuts to rise at room temperture 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.
a hand holding an apple cider donut
a stack of apple cider donuts with one broken to show the interior

Want to make a good thing even better? Try making these Apple Filled Cider Donuts for a real treat. If you maintain a sourdough starter you’ll love these Sourdough Donuts.

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

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

Yeasted Apple Cider Donuts

Yield: 12- 18 donuts
Prep Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours 20 minutes

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.


  • 4 cups (32 oz, 1 liter) apple cider
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz, 56g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz, 120ml) warm water
  • 1 packet instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp, 7g)
  • 3 3/4 cups (18.75 oz, 525g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg (room temp)
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons cinnamon plus 1/2 teaspoon cardamom for coating


Make the dough (day 1)

  1. In a large saucepan, bring the 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 the 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).
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl combine the warm water, yeast, and 1/2 cup 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).
  3. With the mixer running on low, add the egg, cardamom, cinnamon, salt and cider to the batter. Add another 2 cups of flour and mix until it forms a thick batter.
  4. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining 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.
  5. 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 1-1.5 hours until it's doubled in volume.
  6. Without kneading the dough (kneading will cause it to spring back as you cut) roll to 1/4"-1/2" thick on a lightly floured surface.
  7. 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.
  8. 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)

  1. 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).
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 quarts of oil to 350F° in a large heavy pot. Fry the donuts a couple at a time, about 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown and puffy.
  3. As you take each donut out of the oil, immediately roll in the cinnamon/cardamom sugar to coat. Set on a cooling rack while you fry the rest of the donuts.
  4. Best eaten slightly warm or within a couple of hours of frying.

Did you make this recipe?

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Friday 10th of September 2021

What kind of yeast did you use? Instant rapid rise or active?

Eileen Gray

Saturday 11th of September 2021

You can use either. I tend to keep dry active yeast in the house.

Willow Moreland

Thursday 2nd of September 2021

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!

Eileen Gray

Thursday 2nd of September 2021

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.


Wednesday 7th of July 2021

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.

Positive Pauleen

Friday 10th of September 2021

@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.

Eileen Gray

Thursday 8th of July 2021

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

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