Apple Cider Donuts




About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author ...

When I was a kid, there was about half a dozen farms with apple orchards near my house. Over time most of those farms were purchased and turned into strip malls that were paradoxically named after the farms they were built on top of. My favorite was TIce's Farm which became Tice's Corner, "an upscale, outdoor shopping center." I used to go there to buy apple cider. Now, I can go there to buy an apple computer at the Apple Store. I think there is something sadly comical about the fact that apples sold at Tice's Corner have been marked up some 2000% from the apples sold at Tice's Farm.

Anyway, across the street from Tice's Corner is an A&P which used to be Van Riper's Farm. All that remains of that farm is an almost unnoticeable gaudy mural near the ceiling of the store's entrance. I mainly bring this up because every Halloween, people from near and far would go to Van Riper's Farm and visit their awesome haunted house, climb on bales of hay and pick out the perfect pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern. Lastly, before leaving Van Riper's, you would end your visit by buying a bunch of freshly baked apple cider donuts.

Once you had the donuts, the obvious thing to do was to walk across the street to Tice's farm and get freshly made apple cider (on tap). Obviously, because both of these places are now strip malls, you can no longer do this. The farms are gone, the haunted house is gone, the fields of pumpkins are gone, the apple cider is gone and needless to say, the apple cider donuts are gone. In short, Halloween as I knew it, is pretty much gone. It's all rather upsetting. So, when someone emailed me this apple cider donut recipe at The Smitten Kitchen, I knew, for the sake of Halloween, I had to make it. And so I did make it. It was fantastic. Follows is what I did.

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Step 1: Go Get Stuff

You will need:

Apple Cider
1/2 stick butter
1 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons baking power
1 teaspoon baking soda
3-1/2 cups of flour (+ some)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 cup of buttermilk
A lot of vegetable oil
A donut cutter
2 Baking sheets
2 large bowls
An electric mixer
A deep frying pan
A candy thermometer
Wax paper
Misc kitchen equipment

Step 2: Heat the Apple Cider

Pour a cup of apple cider into a small pan or bowl. Heat it over a low flame for about 30 minutes and/or until there is about 1/4 cup of apple cider left.

Step 3: Flour Mixture

Sift together in a large bowl your 3-1/2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg. 

Step 4: Cookie Trays

Cover two cookie trays with wax paper and set them aside for later.

Step 5: Sugar Butter

With a mixing spoon, thoroughly combine the softened half stick of butter with the cup of sugar.

Step 6: Add Eggs

Mix in two eggs, one at a time. Start by mixing them in with your spoon and as the mixture gets softer, you can use a pastry blender to better combine them.

Step 7: Cider and Buttermilk

With your pastry blender set to low, slowly add in your cider and buttermilk.

Step 8: Add the Flour Mixture

In steps, add your flour mixture in with your wet ingredients. By the time you mix in all of your flour, the dough should be well and formed.

Step 9: Press It Out

Take one of the cookie trays and cover it with a generous amount of flour.

Scoop your dough out of the bowl and onto the tray.

Place more flour atop the dough and then press it flat onto the tray, stopping when it is about half an inch thick.

Put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

Step 10: Preheat the Oil

Attach your candy thermometer to a deep baking dish (or large pot).

Fill your baking dish with 2" of oil and heat over a burner on a medium flame. Your goal is to heat the oil to between 350 and 375 degrees.

While the oil heats, you can cut out your doughnuts (see step 11).

Step 11: Cut Up the Dough

Line the second baking sheet with flour.

Using a donut cutter (or 1" and 3" cookie cutters), but out donuts and donut holes from the dough. Try to cut out the donuts as close together as possible. When you are done cutting out the first set of donuts, you can re-roll and pat out the dough and cut out some more. Continue doing this until all the dough is used.

When done, refrigerate the dough for about 15 minutes until it is no longer sticky.

Step 12: Fry

When the oil has reached 350 degrees, very carefully place the donuts into the frying pan. They should first sink and then after a few moments float to the surface. Let them float on each side for about a minute (until golden brown) Be careful not to cook too many at once or the oil will bubble over and create a mess.

I found a good pair of long metal tongs were indispensable in this process.

When they are done frying, place them on a plate lined with paper towels and then put a paper towel over top of the as well to soak up oil on both sides.

Step 13: Donut Time!

Donuts! Yay!

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    73 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I can't wait to try this recipe! However, I would like to warn about frying in a shallow pan like you have illustrated. One accidental bump and hot oil will go all over the stove and cause a fire. Also, the displacement that happens when you put the donuts in causes the level of the oil to rise, and could overflow if you have it too full. Please use a deep dutch oven or pot and don't fill it more than about 1/3 to 1/2 with oil. Using a deep pot also keeps splatters from sloshing out and making a big mess and risking fire. Safety first!


    3 years ago

    Nice recipe, thanks for sharing.


    3 years ago

    I need to make these this fall. I had never heard of cider donuts until a friend from the east coast was talking about 'em. My boyfriend Cullen grew up in Michigan and says these are synonymous with fall. There is a community of farms 4 hours north-east from SF that have them which I sought out just so we could eat them one year. This community also sells bunches of seasonal fruit and handmade pies. The drive was totally worth it. Along with the $70 I spent on said pies. Lol.


    3 years ago

    Hello Randofo,

    I was reminiscing this same story to friends here in France; thought I would look it up and here it is. Well, done, but I don't remember the doughnuts being apple cider doughnuts. I just remember that they were certainly the best in the world, but only right there and then. The ones that made it home lost that crusty exterior. Are you absolutely sure they were apple flavor? Thanx, Edwoodt originally from Teaneck

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Yup. Pretty sure. They're not exactly apple cider flavor though. They are just a little sweeter than normal plain donuts.


    5 years ago on Step 13

    These look amazing, but I was wondering if you knew if I could maybe bake the donuts instead of frying them?

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Step 13

    Not sure. I have never tried. I am not sure it is the right kind of dough for that.


    Reply 4 years ago on Step 13

    I shall look up a baked doughnut recipe and see if I can mix them up, I shall let you know if it goes terribly wrong or hopefully terribly right.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    "long metal tongues"

    I am pretty sure you mean tongs, although flipping donuts with metal castings of Gene Simmons's tongue creates an interesting mental image.

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Please tell me you have some skill in metalworking - "Gene Simmons' Tongue Tongs" simply beg to be immortalized in Instructables format :D


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am a transplant from Hillsdale. I was just telling my husband about these very memories! I made a huge mistake and purchased apple cider donuts from a commercial chain store. It was such a disappointment, so off I went to google and this came up! I can't wait to try this. I still remember watching the donuts through the window at Van Ripers!

    Binny the firstlimpport

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 13

    I'm gonna try a sugar glaze with applesauce size bits of real apple or pineapple bits with this recipe. Also a fry Daddy has always worked best for me. I love their magnetic break away cord arrangement. No danger of knocking over that pot of boiling oil.Also someone suggested using lard? Isn't lard animal fat? I have always used vegetable shortening like Crisco and had good luck. Would anyone care to comment on that?? Also as I think of it I may put some fresh apple into my Squeezo with a fairly coarse screen and incorporate that into the raw dough. Humm so many possibilities with this recipe it makes me want some, but I am a sucker for a sugar glaze....


    lard is animal fat rendered and filtered, (usually pig). So is Tallow,(usually beef), for the Jews it would be Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat).

    Crisco is hydrogenated vegetable oil or in old days a blend of rendered fats. When they are all vegetable fat it is cotton seed and other oils. Cotton seed is nasty as well as the worst stinker canola. For those of you who can't taste it it is fine, for those of us who can it smells and tastes horrid.

    Old fashioned lard may indeed make the things taste better. It is what gave McDonald's fries all their taste years back, until Health freaks align with Vegans and Jews ganged up on them and forced them to stop using beef tallow. Of Course a Kosher Jew should never be seen in a McDonald's since none of it is kosher except (after modification) the French Fries. Heck my friends, (all cat-licks and X-ians), would say no one does. I know my cardiologist says no no no.

    but these and another donut recipe I found are just too evil to ignore. I make fried dough anyway (occasionally), so this needs to come online soon, maybe in fall.

    thanks fer the great instructable

    jbcexpressBinny the first

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 13

    My Mom used to make these and she always used lard they have a wonderful flavor and not heavy or greasy. She also did a glazed and with tiny apple chunks in it.

    limpportBinny the first

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 13

    Yeah, the lard bit was me. My family does farmers markets, and we make buttermilk and apple cider donuts in the fall. We make hundreds of dozens of donuts every fall, and have always used lard. It's really a matter of taste, but it does change the consistency of the finished product. Yes, lard is animal fat. But you know the general rule, the unhealthy things taste the best!


    9 years ago on Step 1

     Question: Is it American style apple cider (non-alcoholic)? Because Cider in the UK is alcoholic :OP But I had a vague recollection from my youth that American Apple cider is like a spiced apple juice? Cheers!