Apple Cider Donuts with Brown Butter Glaze {+VIDEO}

These Homemade Apple Cider Donuts are easy to make and packed with scrumptious fall flavors. The apple flavor is subtle and sweet, while the browned butter glaze adds just a hint of caramel flavor making this one of my favorite donuts yet!

If you’re looking for more homemade donut recipes check out our favorite Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins, Baked Maple and Cinnamon Donuts, or these easy Cinnamon Donuts with Vanilla Glaze. Each recipe is super easy to make and pairs beautifully with a steaming cup of coffee!

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stack of three glazed apple cider donuts

Why We Love Apple Cider Donuts

I enjoyed my first applc cider donut in Vermont a few years back, and again while visiting Green Harbor in Massachusetts. Both were from a small roadside farmers’ market and they were the best donuts I’d ever had!!

If you’ve never had one, the first time you sink your teeth into an apple cider donut, you might wonder what flavor you are eating. Vanilla? Maple? Caramel?  A good apple cider donut has no overwhelming flavor of apples or cider, but instead a familiar subtle sweetness.

I have yet to find apple cider donuts here in St. Louis.  After spying the apple cider in our fridge my daughter Allison and I decided we needed to make these cake donuts she’s heard so much about.

The apple cider donut is really good, all by its self, but let me tell you………the browned butter glaze is the kicker.  It pushed it from really good, to amazing! They are perfect for fall and make a great treat for breakfast or any time of day! I personally love dunking one in my morning coffee.

glazed apple cider donuts and donut holes

What Are Apple Cider Donuts?

Apple cider donuts gained popularity in the 1950s. They originated right here in the U.S of A. These donuts are a cake-like donut that is flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and apple cider. The apple cider gives these donuts a sweet, crisp taste, and is of course how these sweet treats got their name. 

glazed apple cider donuts on a cooling rack

Apple Cider Donut Ingredients

These deliciously sweet apple cider donuts are made from scratch, baked to perfection, and topped with a sweet delicious glaze. But, the best part is they are all made with simple ingredients, most of which you probably already have!

  • Apple cider– You want real apple cider if you can find it.  Better yet, orchard-fresh apple cider during the apple-harvest season is even better!!
  • Flour– When measuring your flour, always scoop it into the measuring cup with a spoon. You don’t want to pack the flour. 
  • Baking powder and baking soda– These are leavening agents that help your donuts to rise. You need both! Always double-check to make sure they are fresh before you start baking. 
  • Cinnamon sticks– You’ll want real cinnamon sticks to add to your cider. It gives it a sweeter taste for your donuts. You can find these in the baking aisle of the grocery store.
  • Butter– Let the butter come to room temperature for the donut batter. It is much easier to blend at room temperature. 
  • Eggs – Room temperature eggs will blend into other ingredients better than cold eggs.
  • Granulated Sugar – also known as white sugar
  • Spices– You’ll need both ground cinnamon and ground cloves to make these cider donuts. 
  • Vanilla– You will need vanilla extract for the donuts as well as for the glaze. 
  • Buttermilk– If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make it with 1 cup regular milk and 2 teaspoons of white vinegar. 
  • Brown sugar– When measuring brown sugar, be sure to pack it into the measuring cup. 
  • Milk or Cream – needed for the glaze

cider donuts on a white counter

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How to Make Apple Cider Donuts With Brown Butter Glaze

(full printable recipe at the end of this post)

Donuts always make breakfast better, but once you start making them from scratch, you won’t want them any other way!

Simmer cider: First, pour apple cider into a small saucepan adding your cinnamon sticks. Cook it over medium heat for about 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool. 

Preheat and prep: Preheat your oven to 325℉. Then, grease a donut pan, donut hole pan, or mini muffin pan

Combine dry ingredients: In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and set aside. 

Whisk wet ingredients and sugar: In another bowl, whisk your wet ingredients and sugars together until smooth.

Blend dry and wet ingredients: Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients and whisk them together. Do not overmix.

Pour and bake: Pour your batter into a prepared pan, filling it ¾ of the way full. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes. 

Cool: Allow donuts to cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack. 

Make the glaze: While the donuts are cooling, begin making your glaze. Melt your butter in a saucepan until browned. Then, pour the butter into a small bowl. Whisk in the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth. 

Dip the donuts: Finally, dip the tops of your donuts into the glaze to coat them. 

Enjoy warm or cool!

glazed apple cider donuts with colorful fall leaves

Recipe FAQs

What’s the difference between apple cider and apple juice? 

Apple juice is lighter, clearer, and sweeter than apple cider. Apple cider is basically unfiltered apple juice with an earthier more robust flavor. If you are in a bind, however, both pair perfectly with cool air and autumn leaves and you can substitute apple juice for apple cider. 

Can I use ground cinnamon instead of cinnamon sticks? 

When the cinnamon sticks are immersed in the cider, they add a subtle flavor that is both sweet and spicy. I wouldn’t recommend changing it up unless you have to. If you can’t find cinnamon sticks, you can use ½ to 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon for each stick used in the cider. 

What’s the best way to fill a donut pan?

You don’t want to just pour your batter onto your donut pan. You’ll have a big mess. Instead, pour the batter into a pastry bag or zip-top bag. Cut the tip and pipe the donut batter into your donut pan holes. 

How long do apple cider donuts last?

If you are like me and want to make these ahead of time, you can easily store them for the next morning. Simply place your cooled apple cider donuts in an airtight container and store them at room temperature. They are best the day of but can last up to 3 days.

Can I freeze these donuts?

Yes! You can! After the apple cider donuts have completely cooled, place them on a cookie sheet and flash freeze them. Once they are frozen, add them to a zip-top bag with a piece of parchment paper between each layer. Zip the bag, making sure to remove all the air. I suggest freezing the donuts before you frost them. 

apple cider donuts with a basket of apples and fall leaves

Pro Tips for Delicious Apple Cider Donuts

Get a donut pan: I use both a donut hole pan and a donut pan. You’ll need them to make the donut shape while baking. 

You can make apple cider muffins with this recipe! Use a mini muffin tin and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Don’t overmix: If you overmix your wet and dry ingredients, you will have a tough, textured donut. To avoid this, only whisk until the ingredients are combined. There will be some lumps. 

Check for doneness: Check your donuts before you pull them out of the oven by inserting a toothpick or thin knife. If the toothpick or knife comes out clean, remove them from the oven. 

Storing donuts:  Unglazed donuts can be stored in an airtight container on the counter for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.

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a stack of glazed apple cider donuts

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Originally posted in November 2014. UPDATED September 2021. We spiffed up this post with more info and better pictures! No changes to the original recipe.

Apple Cider Donuts

Apple Cider Donuts

Yield: 12 donuts or 32 donut holes
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

These Homemade APPLE CIDER DONUTS are easy to make and packed with scrumptious fall flavors. The apple flavor is subtle and sweet, while the browned butter glaze adds just a hint of caramel flavor making this one of my favorite donuts yet!

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups apple cider
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or regular milk with 2 teaspoons of white vinegar added)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Brown Butter Glaze:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1½ cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Add cider and cinnamon sticks to a small saucepan.  Over medium or medium-low heat, gently reduce the cider to about 1/2 cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease donut hole pan, mini muffin pan or donut pan. Set aside.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and 1/2 cup of concentrated apple cider.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently mix to combine, using a wire whisk. Do not over-mix, or you will have a tough textured donut. Whisk until just until combined, some lumps will remain.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan, filling 3/4 of the way full. Bake donuts or donut holes for 9-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

For the Glaze:

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat until it browned, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Pour the butter into a small bowl, leaving behind most of the sediment on the bottom of the pan.  Whisk in the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Dip the donuts (tops only or whole donut hole) in the glaze to coat.  (donuts can be dipped while slightly warm or cool)
  4. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 294Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 228mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 1gSugar: 32gProtein: 3g

Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used.

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apple cider donuts with a bite out of one.