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 apple 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 comes to the rescue.
Aside from being delicious, moist treats, this donut recipe is 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.
Last thing...is it donuts or doughnuts? 🍩
Why you'll love this recipe
- These vegan donuts are baked rather than fried! They're a bit healthier while still being totally delicious.
- This recipe is naturally vegan, can be made in one bowl, and can easily be made gluten-free & oil-free with super simple swaps.
- It's the perfect fall dessert. They're light, fluffy and I mean really, is there a baked good that screams fall louder than apple cider donuts? I don't think so.
- If you don't have a donut pan, you can still make this recipe in a muffin pan! Take the batter and turn into apple cider muffins.
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 regular apple juice, hard cider (alcoholic), or apple cider vinegar!!
Flour: we're keeping it classic and using standard all-purpose flour for this recipe. Whole wheat pastry flour or 1:1 gluten-free 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 spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, all spice, cardamom, and a pinch of salt really give these apple cider donuts their traditional fall flavors.
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: for binding, moisture, and rising! I find that Bob Red Mills egg replacer powder works great for this recipe because the starches help to tenderize the dough. Flax eggs, apple sauce, mashed banana or pumpkin puree all work perfectly as well.
Sugars: we'll be using both dark brown sugar and raw cane sugar. Feel free to use light brown sugar or coconut 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 (or lemon juice or white 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.
Most importantly (and really the only one needed), you will need at least one donut pan. I prefer these non-stick ones for super easy clean up! If you're not interested in purchasing a donut pan, no worries - jump to the variations section for other ways to use this donut batter!
It’s also nice (but not at all a necessity) to have a good piping bag. Because the donuts are being baked, using a piping bag makes it much easier (and neater) to distribute the batter into the donut pans. Again this is not a necessity because you could just use a ziploc bag and cut one the corners off or just spoon the batter into the pan.
Like with any baking, you’ll also need basic kitchen equipment such as a mixing bowl, utensils, and a wire cooling rack. I also highly recommend getting a kitchen scale for most accurate results.
These donuts are incredibly easy to make, with the batter being made in just one bowl and do not require any resting or rising time!
Start by reducing your apple cider. In a medium sauce pan, lightly boil apple cider over medium 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 degrees 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.
Prep the egg replacer of your choice and vegan buttermilk. Let both sit for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: reduced apple cider, melted vegan butter, replacement egg, dark brown sugar, cane sugar, vegan buttermilk, and vanilla extract.
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl OR add the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices to the bowl with 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 ¾ of the way full with batter. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl to make the cinnamon sugar coating. 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.
Variations & Substitutions
I love these cinnamon sugar 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. I do not recommend using oat flour or almond flour, as they absorb liquid quite differently and it would not be an easy swap.
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.
Turn these into vegan apple cider muffins!!! Divide the batter across a greased or lined muffin tin, filling each cavity ¾ full. Bake for 18-22 minutes at 350°F, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
You can use regular non-dairy milk instead of vegan buttermilk.
Make this recipe oil-free swapping out the vegan butter with unsweetened applesauce at 1:1 ratio. They will be slightly more dense!
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.
If you don't have or can't find apple cider, you could use sparkling apple cider instead.
If your store sells already 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 at room temperature, otherwise the coconut oil will seize up.
- 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 reacting 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.
- If the cinnamon sugar isn't sticking to the donuts lightly glaze the donuts with melted vegan butter then dip them into the cinnamon sugar. If you can get them in the cinnamon sugar while they're still hot, you shouldn't have to do this but I know we don't all want to burn our fingers.
- 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, remove it from the oven then bake the second pan.
Room temperature: Store any leftover donuts in an airtight container or plastic bag at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Refrigerator: This isn't my favorite method, as it'll cause them to dry out but you can store baked donut in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Freezer: These apple cider donuts are freezer-friendly! Allow the donuts to cool completely first then freeze them in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Allow to thaw at room temperature before enjoying.
You don't have to BUT the flavor is so much better when you do! It gives a much more concentrated apple flavor.
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.
Other fall desserts you might like
Baked Apple Cider Donuts
- 1 ½ cups (365 g) apple cider reduced to ½ cup (120g)
- 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) vegan butter melted
- 1 flax egg 1 tablespoon (8g flaxseed meal + 3 tablespoons (45g) water)
- ½ cup (100 g) dark brown sugar
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (100 g) vegan buttermilk (½ cup (95g) unsweetened, unflavored non-dairy milk + 1 ½ teaspoons (6g) apple cider vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
- ½ cup (100g) sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Start by reducing your apple cider. In a medium saucepan, lightly boil apple cider over medium 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. Pour reduced apple cider into a bowl or measuring cup and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.1 ½ cups apple cider
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease your donut pan well. Prepare the flax egg and vegan buttermilk, let both sit for 5 minutes.1 flax egg, ½ cup vegan buttermilk
- In a large bowl, whisk together reduced apple cider, melted vegan butter, flax egg, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, vegan buttermilk, and vanilla extract.1 ½ cups apple cider, 2 tablespoons vegan butter, 1 flax egg, ½ cup dark brown sugar, ½ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup vegan buttermilk, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices to the wet ingredients and fold in the ingredients using a rubber spatula until just combined. The batter will be relatively thick.2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ¾ teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon cardamom, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ginger, ⅛ teaspoon allspice, ¼ teaspoon salt
- 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 ¾ of the way full with batter.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- While the donuts are baking, mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl.½ cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 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!