A classic fall favorite, these homemade vegan apple cider donuts are moist, fluffy, flavorful, and coated in cinnamon sugar. Baked instead of fried, they make the perfect cozy fall breakfast or dessert that's ready to be devoured in less than an hour!
There's truly nothing better than going apple picking at a local orchard and then ending the trip with hot apple cider and a freshly baked apple cider donut (or 3). It's a fall tradition that everyone should indulge in, honestly. BUT, sometimes orchards run out of these staple items and THAT'S where me and the best recipe for apple cider donuts ever come to the rescue.
Aside from being delicious, moist treats, these cider donuts are vegan, dairy free, made without eggs, healthier than the traditional donut because they are baked, made in one bowl, and can be made gluten-free and oil-free.
One more thing...is it donuts or doughnuts? 🍩
- Apple Cider: it would be apple cider donuts without it! We'll be using cold pressed apple cider. The dark, cloudy unprocessed/unfiltered beverage in a plastic jug that hits shelves every fall season. This is NOT apple juice, hard (alcoholic) cider, or apple cider vinegar!!
- Flour: we're keeping it classic and using standard all-purpose flour for this recipe. Whole wheat flour would work well, too!
- Leavening Agents: this recipe calls for both baking powder and baking soda to ensure these donuts are tender and fluffy.
- Spices: apart from the apple cider, this blend of warming fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, all spice, cardamom, and a pinch of salt really give these apple cider donuts their traditional flavor.
- Vegan Butter: I recommend use vegan butter sticks for this recipe. We'll be using the vegan butter in both the batter and to help the cinnamon sugar stick to the baked donuts.
- Egg Replacer Powder: for binding, moisture, and rising. I find that egg replacer powder works better than flax eggs for this recipe because the starches help to tenderize the dough.
- Sugars: we'll be using both dark brown sugar and white sugar. Feel free to use light brown sugar, I just think dark brown sugar enhances the flavor a bit more.
- Vegan Buttermilk: for it's moisture, flavor, and rising properties! Vegan buttermilk is easily made by combining apple cider vinegar with unsweetened & unflavored non-dairy milk. I personally like soy or almond milk for this recipe.
- Vanilla Extract: wouldn't be a baked good without it! Use store bought or homemade vanilla extract.
These donuts are incredibly easy to make and do not require any resting or rising time!
- Start by reducing your apple cider. In a medium sauce pan, simmer apple cider over medium-low heat until there's ½ cup remaining. Start checking the amount of apple cider you have left after 10 minutes of simmering, then check every 5 minutes until you have ½ cup remaining. It should take 20-30 minutes to reduce down. Pour into a bowl or measuring cup and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease your donut pan well. If you don't have a donut pan, check out either the variations & substitutions section or the FAQ section. Prepare the egg replacers by whisking together 1 tablespoon of the powder and 3 tablespoon of water; and vegan buttermilk by whisking together ½ cup non-dairy milk and ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Let both sit for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together reduced apple cider, melted vegan butter, replacement egg, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, vegan buttermilk, and vanilla extract.
- Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. The batter will be relatively thick.
- Using a piping bag, a ziploc bag with one of the corners cut off by ½ inch, or just using a spoon, fill each of the donut cavities half way with batter. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. While the donuts are still hot, toss them in the cinnamon sugar then place on a cooling rack. Repeat until all of the donuts are coated, then toss in the cinnamon sugar one more time to ensure they're fully coated. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Variations & Substitutions
I love these donuts as they are but there are definitely a few changes you could make, if needed, and they'd still be perfect!
Make these gluten free vegan apple cider donuts by using 1-to-1 gluten free flour.
Use a mini donut pan to make mini apple cider donuts! Bake time should be reduced by 2-3 minutes, or as soon as a toothpick comes out clean.
Make vegan apple cider munchkins (donut holes) by dividing the batter across a mini muffin pan. Fill the greased mini muffin cavities ⅔ full and bake at 375°F for 8 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
You can use regular non-dairy milk instead of vegan buttermilk.
Feel free to dip the donuts in a maple glaze instead of cinnamon sugar. To make the maple glaze, whisk together 1 cup of powdered sugar, 2 ½ tablespoons non-dairy milk, 1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Make these donuts oil free by replacing the vegan butter with apple sauce. The donuts will be a bit denser!
If you don't have or can't find apple cider, you could use sparkling apple cider instead.
If your store sells boiled apple cider, you can just use ½ cup of that and totally skip over the reduction step.
Melted coconut oil can be used in place of vegan butter. If you do this, be sure all ingredients are room temperature, otherwise the coconut oil will re-harden.
- Do not skip reducing down the apple cider. Doing so will concentrate the apple cider, making it thicker and more potent. This will give the donuts optimal flavor without excess liquid! If you'd like, you can reduce it the night before, which would save you cooling time when you're ready to bake.
- Be sure to measure the apple cider while it's reducing. You don't want to accidentally cook off too much off and then not be left with enough.
- Make sure all wet ingredients are at room temperature.
- Do not let the batter sit for too long. Once it's mixed, starting dividing the batter into your donut pan. The apple cider vinegar in the buttermilk starts interacting with baking soda/baking powder immediately and if you let the batter sit, the donuts will not rise as much as they should.
- Do not overmix! Mix the batter until just combined, aka there are no streaks of flour left. Overmixing will result in a very dense, tough donut.
- Generously grease your donut pan before adding the batter to ensure your donuts don't stick to the pan.
- Only fill each donut cavity ⅔ full. If you fill it to the top, the donuts will overflow.
- If you have two donut pans, bake them separately. Putting them in the oven at the same time could cause them to bake unevenly so bake one then the other.
You could use sparkling apple cider! I would not recommend using apple juice.
I LOVE this question. If you don't have a donut pan you can use a muffin pan and aluminum foil. Grease the muffin pan then take a piece of aluminum foil, wrap it around your finger to form a cylinder shape, then press into the center of a muffin tin cavity so it's standing up straight, and pour the batter in. The aluminum foil should stick because you greased it but you could press it down a little bit so it has a flat bottom.
Because the batter is wet rather than not a moldable dough, I would not recommend trying to fry or air fry this recipe.
Yes! Just divide the batter across a greased muffin tin, filling each cavity ¾ full. Bake for 18-22 minutes at 350°F, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Homemade donuts are best enjoyed immediately but leftovers can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days, in the fridge for up to 1 week, and in the freezer for up to 2 months. Do not store until fully cooled.