I bet every single one of you is thinking right now, “Hey, I wish those Our Best Bites gals would post some more treats! We haven’t had enough of those lately!” What’s that? You need doughnuts? I hear you loud and clear!

During the summer between high school and college, my well-meaning parents thought I should have something better to do than sit around and be super-annoying for three months, so I was forced to get a job. After the magic of high school graduation had faded and I was left penniless (or at least as penniless as a teenager with a roof over her head, food in the fridge, and gas in the car can be) and bored, I started working at the bakery of a local grocery store. Sounds fun, right? It so wasn’t–second only to apartment managing as the worst job I’ve ever had. However, one perk was that I could eat and take home as many of the baked goods that hadn’t sold that day as I wanted. It started with a bagel here, a piece of bread there. By the end, it was like, “Oh, I’ve only had 2 doughnuts today, another one isn’t a big deal!” It’s really good I was only there for three months or I would’ve gained the Freshman 15 30 before I even started.
Anyway, during this window of generous doughnut sampling, I discovered one thing: I like yeast doughnuts, but I love cake doughnuts. I love everything about them–the delicately dense, crumbly texture, the variety of flavors–blueberry! Devil’s food! Buttermilk! Spice!–I mean, really, what’s not to like? I also discovered that they’re called cake doughnuts, not because they’re baked like cake but rather that they use baking powder as the leavening agent rather than yeast. Next time someone accuses you of wasting time and not learning anything on the internet, you shoot THAT little factoid their way!
These cake doughnuts taste just like fall. Whip a batch up for a post-trick or treating snack, send some with your honey to work, or bring them to your kids’ Halloween parties. One AWESOME thing about these is that they keep well for even a few days after you make them (as long as you keep them sealed in an air-tight container or bag), so they don’t have to be eaten immediately. In fact, dare I say it, these are somehow better the next day (any Alton Browns out there want to take a stab at that one?), so you don’t have to be a hero and try and make these with a million other things going on.
Apple Cider Spice Doughnuts
1 c. apple cider, preferably fresh apple cider or something high-quality like Simply Apple
1 c. sugar
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 c. butter-flavored shortening
2 eggs
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 quart canola or peanut oil (for frying)
Spiced Sugar
Shake or whisk to combine:
3/4 c. white sugar
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the apple cider to a boil. Continue to cook over high heat for about 7-10 minutes or until it’s reduced to 1/4 c. Remove from heat and allow to cool (you can transfer it to a heat-safe cup and place in the refrigerator or freezer to make things move a little more quickly. Also, if you’re in a pinch, you can use 1/4 c. of undiluted apple juice concentrate).
While the cider is reducing, combine shortening and sugar in a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer on high for 2-3 minutes or until it’s light and fluffy (if you’re using a KitchenAid mixer, use the paddle beater). Add eggs one at a time, beating completely after each addition. Add reduced cider and buttermilk and beat until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Add flour mixture to the liquid mixture and beat until just blended. The dough will be very soft–it will be about the consistency of chocolate chip cookie dough (minus the chocolate chips, of course! 🙂 )
Apple Cider Spice Dough
Carefully lay a sheet of plastic wrap on top of a baking sheet. Transfer dough to the plastic wrap. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll dough out to about 1/2″ thick. Top with another layer of plastic wrap and transfer the pan to the freezer for about 20 minutes or the refrigerator for 1 hour. While dough is chilling, you can prepare the spiced sugar topping.
When the dough has chilled, remove from the freezer/refrigerator. Using a round cookie cutter, cut circles out of the dough. Using a smaller cookie cutter (I only had a tiny heart or a tiny shamrock, but c’mon, aren’t these the cutest things you’ve ever seen??), cut the centers out of the circles and reserve the “holes” for little bite-sized pieces of apple-spiced goodness! Place cut dough pieces on a lightly floured baking sheet. When all the dough has been cut out, place the pan back in the refrigerator while you prepare the oil for frying.
In a large, deep saucepan or Dutch oven, heat 1 quart of oil over medium heat. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, go buy one–they’re not just handy for this recipe, but they are also a) fabulously cheap and b) ALWAYS useful. Anyway, using a candy thermometer, heat oil to 325 degrees. While oil is heating, line a plate or baking sheet with paper towels.
When the oil is hot, carefully place a few pieces of dough into the hot oil (don’t crowd the pan, but you can probably get away with cooking 3-4 at a time, at least). The dough will sink down and then rise to the surface. Check the bottom side; if it’s golden brown, flip the doughnut. If it’s still a little pale, give it another 30 seconds or so and then check it again. After you’ve flipped the doughnut, the other side will cook significantly faster, so keep an eye on them. All in all, they should take about 90 seconds-2 minutes to cook completely.
Remove doughnuts from hot oil with a heat-proof slotted spoon and transfer to paper towels, followed by a baking rack (if you need the paper towel space for more doughnuts).
What can I say, I couldn’t resist!
Repeat frying process with remaining dough and then with the holes–the doughnut holes will cook EXTREMELY quickly, so be careful not to burn them.
Place spiced sugar mix in a large Ziploc bag and then shake a few doughnuts at a time in the mixture.

Apple Cider Spice Doughnuts
Apple Cider Spice Doughnuts

Makes about 24-36 doughnuts (plus as many doughnut holes), depending on how big you cut the doughnuts and how many times you roll out the scraps.


And go ahead and buy the big ‘ol jug of apple cider, because on Monday Sara is going to show you how use the rest of it! And pop in this weekend for a little bonus post too!


  1. These look great. Thanks, I'm excited to try these. I know a lady who uses a shallow cooking skillet for making donuts, she says she can cook more at one time and uses less oil.

  2. You have no idea how far and wide I have searched for a recipe for apple cider donuts!!! I'm an avid baker/cook and have tried to recreate these many a time with no success. I write for Segullah and actually posted about this a month or two ago, so THANK YOU!!! You know what our family will be having for breakfast tomorrow!

    Sorry if linking to my post is tacky, but I thought you might want to read it.

  3. These sound soo good! I've been trying to do a fun baking project every weekend and these are top of the list for next week. Thanks!!

  4. These look fantastic! How many would this recipe make, It may have said but I must have missed it.

    Love your blog!

  5. Jennie–not tacky at all! I loved reading your post! 🙂 I just hope the doughnuts live up to your expectations (and I'm a little nervous, I'll be honest!)

    Sarah–I added it to the post, but they make roughly 24-36 doughnuts (plus as many holes), depending on how big of a cutter you use and how many times you re-roll the scraps (I usually do the first roll-out and then roll once more. Like for everything. Unless I'm in desperate cookie-baking situations where I'm trying to eke out as many cookies as possible without making another batch of dough).

  6. Ohhh those look so yummy! I love the little heart cut-outs. I would have guessed they would have been unrecognizable after frying, but they're perfect little hearts! How cute. I told my hubby that I wanted to make cider and doughnuts an annual fall tradition but my adventures with yeast doughnuts seriously took ALL day long. These look so much easier, can't wait to try them!

  7. I'm fairly new to your blog but I love it. These look great! We're making some this weekend for sure! The little heart cut outs are so cute! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Holy crap, I have no hope for eating well this fall if I keep reading your blog! As if it's not bad enough that we're making your caramel popcorn weekly, now you post this?! Cake donuts are my favorite!

    *sign* I guess I'll learn to be fat and happy. 🙂

  9. Our local grocery store has glazed pumpkin spice cake donuts and apple spice cake donuts this time of year and I have the hardest time resisting them! I allow myself to buy one package of each or I'd be eating them all season long! They are so tasty!

  10. Kate, these look AMAZING, and those little hearts are just sweet 🙂 Max says apple cider donuts are huge on the East Coast…why have I never seen them here? I'm thinking that's got to change 🙂

  11. oh best bite girlies….these look wonderful. i am excited to compare these to my own, which i hope will be much better. and the heart holes…omigosh!….how cute is that? what i am looking all over for is a decadently delectable recipe for devil's food or chocolate cake donuts. there is a donut house near us that makes these and i could just faint away, they are so good. and i am NOT a big chocolate lover, but these babies…oh, man….they cross all boundaries. they even put chocolate frosting on them, which is gilding the lily in my book. but there you have it. can you PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE (urgent begging) find and test a chocolate donut that is beside its own self with deliciousness?

  12. I want these doughnuts. Sadly have to wait until tomorrow to get real apple cider from the local fruit market. I can't wait!

  13. I cannot believe that you posted this today. I was just digging through my cookbooks to find exactly this! Saturday morning doughnuts!!!

  14. Holy Yum!!! Your doughnuts not only look irresistibly delicious, but they're beyond cute with those little heart cutouts!! What an ingenious idea! I just happen to have some apple cider sitting in my pantry and a full day ahead of me to play in my kitchen….you've made my day!! Thanks

  15. The hearts are such a fun addition to these great looking donuts! I am just not a fan of deep-fried food, so maybe you can come up with a way to bake these instead?! 🙂

  16. These look awesome! I am going to make these this weekend.
    I just have to say how excited I am that I discovered your blog! I have been facebooking it and sharing it on my message boards. Awesome job ladies! Keep it up!

  17. I'm just now working on a blog post where I suggest serving Apple Cider Donuts, These ones are too cute with the heart centers.

  18. I made these last night and they were delicious! My first try at donuts… thanks for giving me the confidence I needed to try them!!!

  19. so excited for these; darling & mighty tasty! I know you said chill dough for 1 hour, but could I chill longer (as in maybe overnight) and fry them in the morning? Or is that too long?


  20. I was planning to make these tomorrow for an after trick-or-treating treat (as if we needed any more!), but didn't notice that I'd need butter shortening before I went to the store. Would regular butter (or shortening) work? And what are you thoughts on deep frying in melted shortening?

  21. April–I'm so sorry I didn't get back to you until now! Yesterday was crazy. Anyway, regular shortening should be just fine. As far as frying goes, I've never friend in shortening, but I'm sure that will be just fine, too! 🙂

    Happy doughnutting! 🙂

  22. Thanks! These were surprisingly easy for me, a deep-frying novice, to make. And I agree, they are better the day after!

  23. I will be linking this on myskinnypurse.blogspot.com because it is so awesome!

    I love the hearts cut out of the middle.


  24. Hello, I made these last week for my hubby to take to work, so I doubled the recipe…I needed to eat some too! ha, anyways, they were too sticky so I just had to add more flour. Also, they were not as apple flavored as I hoped, but still I ate about 10 hot out of the fryer! YUM! My hubby said his co-workers were reminded of their moms doughnuts and were licking the suger out of the container!!!haha thanks for that.

  25. Is there any chance you can work on a pumpkin or apple cider doughtnut that is BAKED? I don't fry things anymore, gotta stay away from oil. If you come up with that, I'd sure appreciate it 🙂 !!

  26. Can I make these the night before and take them to a work luncheon? Just wondering how well they will keep for one overnight…would they need to be refrigerated?

  27. Hey, Jenny! You know, this dougnut recipe is kind of funny because everyone seems to agree that they taste better the next day. So yes, you can definitely make them the night before! 🙂 Don't worry about refrigerating them.

  28. We had a Pumkin Carving Party last night and served these with Hotchocolate and cinnamon rolls. They were a huge hit! Thanks again for another awesome recipe!

  29. I just came across this site today while looking for a completely different recipe, and when i saw this I knew I had to try them. They were so easy to make, I was a little nervous about the frying (my first fry) but it was a breeze. They taste delicious and I already have requests to make them again!

  30. Definitely want to try these!! Though I am pretty experienced in the kitchen, I have not deep fried before. What do you do with all the left-over oil? Is it tossed out?

  31. Joan–It really depends on what you're frying. When I deep fry potatoes (like for fries), the oil is almost totally clean and clear when I'm done, so I usually just let it cool and then pour it back into the bottle and then use it again for frying. Most things, however, get kind of yucky and brown. I do believe the oil from the doughnuts gets gross, but if you know you're going to be frying doughnuts again in the near future, it can be used 1-2 more times (as long as it doesn't have too much solid stuff in the bottom because you run the risk of burning and fire).

    Anyway, I hope that helps!

  32. Making these right now and they are so yummy. The first few came out just like your pictures but the latter ones are puffing up too much and I've lost the heart shape in the middle, but regardless, they are so moreish. I'm frying them up for a bake sale and can't stop eating the middles as I'm frying them.

    Thank you for this recipe.

  33. Oh.my.word. I was a donut-making virgin before I saw this recipe, and it was SO easy, and SO SO SO delicious! I'd make them every day if my husband would let me. (He loved them too, but he has more will-power than me). Fabulous recipe!

  34. I gave these a try last night. I would say I'm an intermediate baker and cook. Everything I make usually comes out well and I even sell my homemade cookies for a good cause. So, I'd say I know my way around a baker's cart…

    But I must emphasize a major tip that was mentioned in the instructions – a candy thermometer. USE ONE!!! I did everything right, even measuring the thickness of the dough to make sure the doughnuts would come out plump enough (I'm a doughnut virgin) and the insides were left gooey and uncooked. They also fell apart when I shook them in the sugar/pumpkin spice coating mix.

    This morning, they were better, but still too chewy and not servable to others.

    I'm also wondering why I didn't get even close to a dozen doughnuts when the recipe said I should expect about 3 dozen.

    I'm sending my husband out right now to grab a candy thermometer as I prepare another batch of dough, and then I will attempt to make only a whole lot of "holes" to serve to my group today.

    But thank you so much for the recipe, I will continue to try making it work. Hopefully the temperature of the oil was the only problem.

    1. We had the exact same problem and we had a candy thermometer and it was always on 325. I don’t know what we did wrong but the insides were way too gooey.

  35. I plan to make these, but looking at the oil temperature for frying and comparing it to other doughnut recipes, 325 degrees for the oil seems low. Other recipes call either for 350 or 375 degrees for frying. Has anyone had problems with doughnuts being greasy when fried at 325 degrees?


  36. We want to do these for my wedding….it’s apple themed, if we froze the dough until and then let them thaw before we made them…would it work??

    1. Oh…I really don’t know, haha! I do know this dough is very, very soft, so either freezing them is going to make the dough easier to work with or even softer. I would DEFINITELY do some experimenting before your wedding to see if it works or not! 🙂

  37. Ok these are amazing. I have to tell you what I did because your recipe paired with my fun little gadget turned out little bites of perfection. I just bought a donut hole baker from amazon ($20!). I think it will make delish cake pops. Anyways, I made your donuts put them in the baker then tossed them in some pumpkin spice syrup (I made it for my coffee) then tossed it in the sugar mixture. They turned out gorgeous (and an added bonus? Little less fat than frying)! I have always wanted to try apple cider donuts and these are definitely a keeper! Yum!

  38. Here in Michigan apple cider doughnuts are EVERYWHERE for two months we live on doughnuts and cider (no not the kind of cider you buy off the grocercy store shelf,the real stuff). It will be fun to try a homemade version. Having grown-up in UT I don’t remember cider doughnuts even existing. Am I wrong that they are an East/MidWest thing? Maybe the Western states are catching up and they are becoming more popular out there.

  39. I made these donuts today with my daughter and I’m not sure what we did wrong. We’re pretty good bakers but the dough turned out so soft and sticky I couldn’t get them to look like a donut at all! We ended up just frying dough balls. Regardless, they were yummy with and without the sugar! Love your blog!

  40. I don’t know what I did wrong either, I followed all instructions meticulously but the dough was so super sticky it was laughable trying to roll it out even after being in the freezer for 20 minutes. I guess I will make dough balls and try again later adding way more flour next time. 🙁

    1. Ok. So the dough balls didn’t work great either, so instead of scrapping the rest of the dough I divided it into a muffin tin sprayed with Pam. I baked them for 12 minutes and then dipped the tops in melted butter and rolled it in the sugar mixture. The kids loved them and they aren’t fried!

  41. UMMM! Such warm, wonderful memories in these donuts! A few years ago I was visiting family in upstate NY and just before I went to the airport to come home to So. Cal. I stopped at Indian Ladder Farms in Altamont, NY and bought a BIG bag of fresh made cider donuts. This was pre-9/11 and the Security wasn’t what it is today. I got on board that plane in Albany, NY and within 15 minutes of take off, half of the passengers were sniffing the air because of the wonderful scent of these delicious treats. Originally, I bought 4 dozen and I think MAYBE 4 or 5 of those drops of Heaven made it to San Diego. There were alot of very happy passengers on that plane that day!

  42. Well, I think I bombed this one. Not sure what I did wrong, I rolled them out thin, and when I cooked them I had to over cook the outside to get the insides done. They were okay, but not sure if I would do them again. Like I said, I think it was something I did, but oh well!

  43. Mine came out well; I was kind of surprised, considering so many people had trouble with them. I only had big and tiny cookie cutters, so I used a large star and a small star (they’re so cute!). It made 11 big stars, but lots of little stars–probably 30, including the centers from the big ones, plus a few balls with the left-overs. They are really good! This was my first experience with frying and it was way easier than I was expecting. Thanks.

  44. Unfortunately these didn’t turn out well at all for us either 🙁 I’m really disappointed, I was really looking forward to them.

  45. THANK YOU! My husband and I recently stopped at Barber’s Orchard in North Carolina and they had apple cider doughnuts and that is the first time either of us had tried them. They smelled so delicious that we could smell them when we first stepped out of the car and had to try them. If we had still been at the orchard when we took the first bite we would have brought a couple dozen home with us. Thank you for the recipe and if they turn out well, my husband is going to be surprised!

  46. I’m glad I’m not the only one who had a problem with sticky dough. I ended up having to add a lot more flour to the dough, and then used additional flour to cut out the doughnuts. But, they are tasty, so thanks!

  47. Oh dear, these were an epic fail for me. I have made yeast doughnuts many times, but never cake. They ended up super greasy and just fell apart. I quit frying half way through–even after adjusting the temperature higher or lower, I could not get an edible product. 🙁 Any tips? the batter was delish, but the doughnuts were all soaked through with grease. Ick.

    1. Exact same experience I had on making them. Totally fell apart and were doughy in the center. After awhile and many attempts to fix possible mistakes, I tossed the remaining dough in the trash. But …. I am DERTEMINED to make it work and will try again.

  48. We were just at a farm where they sold these. Woah mama. Restraint please! We’ll be making these for Halloween to continue my husband’s family tradition.=) bellesbazaar-heather.blogspot.com

  49. I just finished making these, but unfortunately they didn’t work out for me. This is the first time a recipe from you girls hasn’t worked out for me. I can’t figure out what went wrong. I was able to save them by just frying up small balls of dough, but the doughnuts wouldn’t work out for me. Any suggestions?

  50. I am such a fan of the blog, and I love the cookbook, too. Every recipe I’ve ever tried from ya’ll has turned out just great, so I jumped in on these. But I was so disappointed! 🙁 I should have listened to my gut and realized that if so many other gals were having issues, I would too…but temptation got the better of me and I insisted on trying them! Even after 2 hours in the fridge, my dough was too soft to even cut into doughnut shapes, even though I followed the recipe exactly. It was a sticky mess. There was no way I was going to proceed with the whole thing at that point and waste a quart of oil frying “dough balls” and make a bigger mess of my kitchen so I just dumped the dough in the trash. Yikes! Sorry to say this one’s not a keeper for me.

  51. I am still waiting for the old fashioned doughnut recipe discussed between you two after the maple bars….that will do me in and let out my waist line, but I want it!

  52. These are DELICIOUS!!! I made them for a ladies gathering and they were a HUGE hit!! They have now become a regular request in my house with my kids and husband~thanks for sharing!!

  53. Do you think you could use this dough in a doughnut pan and bake them? I am not a big fan of cooking things in oil. I know, I know … they would likely taste better but I can’t get past the grease and the mess. Thoughts?

  54. we made these and they came out like they should, but were just not as good as the ones we get at the apple orchards. I wouldn’t reccommend them if you’re super in love with an apple cider donut you are used to. Plus there was minimal apple flavor. Still love you guys!

  55. I am a baker in training 🙂 and i have tried to make donuts before and have failed terribly haha but after making these omg it was wonderful and they came out great and everyone loves them. Thanks Kate!!!

  56. For my first time atempting doughnuts I used this recipe. The dough came out too sticky to roll out or cut. I ended up hand rolling the dough into Russian tea cake size cookies to fry. They were WONDERFUL!!!

  57. I just finishing making these and they look wonderful! I did a taste test (of course) and noticed that the apple flavor wasn’t very strong. Any help? When you reduce the Simply Apple on the stove does it make a simple syrup or stay liquid? After boiling for 7 minutes mine was down to a stick syrup and Im wondering if that could have something to do with it. None the less, they still taste good!

  58. I’ve made tons of your recipes and have loved everything….but this. I was SOOOO looking forward to these. Here in Chicago we love having these at the orchard once a year when we pick apples. I planned a whole apple themed night for my family, and spent hours prepping these, only to have them taste like fried styrofoam. The taste of the donut themselves was completely bland and flavorless, and the outside just tasted like oil. They looked beautiful, and the texture was ok, but the flavor was epicly disappointing.

  59. Ok… These look super delicious! But I’m a bit spoiled. My dad happens to own a full line bakery specializing in Hungarian and Polish breads and other traditions. I’m talking the oven halfway in the ground that rotates a deep fryer bigger than you’ve ever seen and mixers that are taller than me. I agree… When I’m there on a Friday night (all the donuts are made fresh EVERY night) and those what we call “fry cakes” come out of the deep fryer it’s heavenly. I don’t think I could compete with him lol… But I’m a lucky and spoiled one! Ido compete with my christmas cookies 😉

  60. I am sorry. I am not sure what went wrong but I had to throw the whole batch away.
    The doughnuts were well cooked on the outside but completely raw on the inside. I did use a candy thermometer for the oil temperature and followed instructions…..
    The smell was delicious though…

  61. Could I use actual butter in place of the butter flavored shortening? Thanks so much, this is my first time frying donuts and I’m a bit nervous!

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