Baked Apple Cider Donut Holes

Today is the last day to enter our first ever Feastie Friday giveaway - make sure you enter to win that Calphalon panini grill! All entries must be in by 5pm EST today. A winner will be chosen at random and contacted, and we'll post the results here at Feastie. In the meantime, I've got some yummy Thanksgiving-inspired recipes to share.  

Being a CA transplant in the DC area, I try to appreciate every second of the fall season. First of all because we don't really have seasons where I grew up, and secondly because it's one of the most beautiful times of year in the Midatlantic. So I'm enjoying all of the traditional fall activities around here, as well as the seasonal food. Especially the food. I had my first apple cider donut recently at Butler's Orchard, and wow. I had no idea - I mean, I like donuts as much as the next person, but I don't eat them very often, so I had no idea what I was missing. It was SO. GOOD. The cup of hot spiced apple cider didn't hurt, either. I wasn't planning on attempting to replicate that donut at home, but when I came across this recipe for baked apple cider doughnuts at The Kitchn, I figured I'd give them a try - I know donuts are fried, not baked, but really, how can these possibly be anything but delicious? Since I don't have a donut pan I made "donut holes" instead - mini muffins. They're so good - and a bit healthier than the fried variety - you've got to make these.  

If you guys like this recipe, try my baked pumpkin spice donut holes - very similar but with a bit of a pumpkin pie feel! 

Baked Apple Cider Doughnut Holes

adapted from The Kitchn

makes 24-48 mini muffins or "donut holes" **


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt (I used plain nonfat Greek yogurt)
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • canola cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. 
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, apple butter, vanilla extract, honey, apple cider, yogurt, and canola oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient mixture and whisk until just incorporated. Don't over-mix - a few lumps are okay. 
  4. Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, fill a 24-hole mini muffin pan with the batter; fill each hole only 3/4 of the way, or you'll end up with huge mini muffins (maxi muffins?). Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes and cool on a wire rack. 
  5. While donut holes are still warm, melt butter in a microwave safe dish. Combine cinnamon and sugar in another dish. Using a pastry brush, very lightly brush a tiny bit of melted butter onto the top of each donut hole, then dip the top of the muffin in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the donut hole in the cinnamon sugar to coat the sides and top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Alternatively, you can dust the cooled donut holes with powdered sugar; I prefer the texture of the cinnamon sugar, so I went in that direction. You can also omit the butter - the cinnamon sugar sticks nicely to the donut holes. 

**Depending on the size of the holes in your mini muffin pan, you may get many more donut holes than I did - the mini muffins from my pan appear to be a bit larger than the average mini muffin pan. Take a look at the comments below to see how many other readers were able to make from this recipe - most get about 36-48 minis. 

Now go light a fire in your fireplace, make some hot mulled apple cider, and enjoy some baked donut holes! Or just eat them on their own - they're delicious either way. 

Find similar recipes at Feastie:

{whole grain apple cider snack cake} from Cait's Plate
Apple Cider Mini Donuts from Baking Adventures in a Messy Kitchen
Baked Mini Apple Cider Doughnuts from Healthy Food for Living
Cooking Fall & Apple Cider Doughnut Cake from Katie at the Kitchen Door
Baked Cider Donuts from Taste Love & Nourish


This looks so yummy! Thanks for sharing! I am thinking that these might make a yummy afterschool snack:)

Awesome to see your site. Keep up the great work. Thanks for all you could do. Lets stay in touch. hqjfhvydk

Can I substitute for apple butter? I have all the other ingredients on hand. Thanks!


Could u substitute apple sauce for the apple butter?

Hi Heather,

I think you could substitute applesauce, but the end results won't have the same texture. Applesauce can make baked goods a little bit gummy, so your donuts may be a bit more dense and gummy. But I can't imagine they won't be good! If you did use applesauce please let me know how it went!

I made these with applesauce and they turned out fine, my family loved them! My only complaint would be they turned 'moist' while being kept in the airtight container. Did anyone else experience this?

Hi Amy, I've experienced the same thing re: the donut holes getting too moist when stored in a Tupperware. I've started freezing them once they've cooled - I just wrap them individually in little pieces of plastic wrap and toss them in a freezer bag. Then when you want one, you can just leave it at room temp for a while or warm it in the microwave for a few seconds.

These look superb! I wonder how they'll work in a Babycakes Cake Ball maker? I'm going to give it a try! Yumm-o!!
Thank you for sharing the recipe and mouth-watering photos!

Can I freeze these to serve at a later time?

Hi Barbara,

I think they'd be okay to freeze - I freeze muffins all the time, then just let them either come to room temp on the kitchen counter or heat them up in the microwave. They may not have the same exact fluffy texture, but they should still be good.

I have two trays of 24 right now and still at least half a tray of batter left.. this deff does NOT make only 24 mini muffins.. Hope they are delicious lol

Fantastic recipe. I also got more than 24 but judging from the photos, your mini muffin pan makes bigger muffins, so I just made 6 big ones in addition to the 24 minis. I skipped the butter and you're right, the cinnamon sugar sticks just fine. All of us love these, even my very fussy daughter. They taste so decadent but they're really not, and I plan to make them a lot this Fall. Thank you! Also, your photos are spectacular. I blogged them here.

Your blog post is fantastic! I'm so glad your family loved them. My mini muffin pan isn't so mini, I guess - I compared it to my mom's and you guys are right, you get many more when your muffin tin has smaller holes. I'm going to change the recipe to reflect that, thank you for letting me know!

I made another batch of these and they disappeared FAST. Everyone at my office loves them too. Trader Joe's has Honey Apple Butter so that's what I've been using, and I can't believe how delicious these are!!

I love the honey apple butter from TJ's - that's usually what I use in these, too. All of their fruit butters are amazing - have you tried their fig butter? So good. I still need to try their mango butter! I'm so glad you and your coworkers love these! Makes my day. :)

My kitchen smells so good right now!

Like Analise said above, there's way, way more than 24 in this recipe, unless it was supposed to be for 24 full-sized muffins or donuts? When I did it I had more like 6 dozen mini muffins, and I even over-filled the cups a little. So just be aware if you make this that it's a lot more than 24!

These are definitely good and something I'll keep in my collection. However, I think next time I'll start with 1 - 1.5 cups of cider and simmer it down until there's 1/3 cup. Where I grew up in New England there was an orchard that made cider donuts to die for, so I'm used to a much stronger cider flavor. These were nice and subtle with the apple flavor. I like to be hit in the mouth with it. I think that's probably a matter of personal preference, though.

Thanks for sharing this recipe!

That's a great idea, to simmer down the cider for a more concentrated flavor! I may try that next time. I'm so glad you guys like these little donut holes - they're a favorite at our house.

I agree, I could barely taste the apple flavor, all I got was cinnamon. I think next time I'll leave the cinnamon out of the batter and just use it in the outside coating. I'm used to a much stronger apple flavor and it was lacking.

Yummy!! Thanks for sharing!! I posted a link to this on my blog...via my pinterest yummy board! :-)

love this recipe!!! thank you so much for sharing (:

I made these this morning and I must have still been sleeping because I accidentally used cider vinegar instead of apple cider. Well, I went ahead and baked them anyway and they were still awesome. This may turn out to be a good mistake because apple cider in Michigan is $7-$8 a gallon right now.

Apple cider in Traverse City is 5.49/gal at Walmart..bought some last night...but at the farmers market it is going for 12.00/gal!!

$12/gallon?! Wow. At that price the donuts should make themselves.

Michigan was hit very hard this year and apples are hard to come by much less cider. We miss going to our local cider house for this type of donut so this recipe was a definite on the list to try. My daughter is the reigning Michigan Apple Queen and we now make these as "thank you" treats for her travels..they are fantastic, thanks for the recipe.

The fact that the reigning Michigan Apple Queen likes these donut holes just made my day! How cool! I'm so glad you guys like them.

I substituted pumpkin for the apple butter and it worked! I like Ness' idea to cook down some cider to increase the flavor. Will try it next time.

King Arthur Flour company carries an apple cider syrup. It is basically boiled down cider. It is super thick and tart and tangy at the same time. I think that would make a great sub for the cider. I also have a caramel apple butter that I think will use for the apple butter. Trying these today!

Where can I find caramel apple butter?! I need to eat it - immediately! That sounds insanely good - please let me know how yours turn out, I think your plan to use the syrup and caramel apple butter sounds brilliant.

Why the yogurt? My son has a dairy allergy and I can adapt the recipe for his needs but can't do yogurt.....any suggestions?

The yogurt is there to keep the donut holes moist without adding a lot of fat - but I think plain soy yogurt would be okay. I've never used it, but I think in this context it would be an appropriate substitution. Other ideas: add more applesauce, but the donut holes may be a bit denser. Coconut yogurt like So Delicious is another idea. I haven't tried any of these substitutions, so I can't vouch for them, but I think the soy yogurt would be my first choice. If you do try making these, please let me know how it goes!

does anyone know how many calories roughly?

Hi Angela,

I calculated the recipe based on the ingredients I used and a yield of 24 donut holes - I got 115 calories each and about 2.5 grams of fat. Hope that helps some.

Thanks for this recipe; I can't wait to try it today. If they turn out as good as they look and sound, do you mind if I blog them with a link back to your page? Thanks!

I love when people blog about recipes from our blog - that would be great! Come add the link to your blog post in the comments here once it's up, I'd love to see it. :) -Jessica

Thanks! This was a great recipe and I got a ton of compliments on it. I just added it to my blog:
Can't wait to try more of your recipes!

I wonder how great these would be with an apple cider glaze.

The very first apple cider donut (traditional fried kind) I ever tried had an apple cider glaze and it was out of this world, I'm pretty sure these guys would be even better with a glaze. Let me know if you try it - I may try it this week!

I substituted coconut yogurt for the plain yogurt and these turned out fantastic! Thank you!

I'm so glad that worked out for you - and thank you so much for letting me know, it's so helpful for anyone else wanting to make it dairy-free.

I just made these in my Babycakes mini donut maker, and they turned out great! They are moist and delicious with flavors of apple and cinnamon. I used the apple butter and fresh apple cider I just purchased at an orchard in WI. Yum!

...with extra cider and non-dairy creamer! Because I lacked apple butter AND apple sauce, I just simmered down a 1/2 cup of apple cider (I ended up having about 1/3 cup by the time I removed the pot from the heat) and once it cooled, added it to the batter in addition to the 1/3 you already have listed. I didn't want the cakes to be too dense, and for fear of far-too-flaky batter if I added more flour, I added 1/3 cup of non-dairy coffee creamer. Weird, right? They have an absolutely perfect texture, and look just like yours in the picture. They're nicely apple-flavored still, too. A perfect autumn treat!

Made 10/16/12. Here's another one that will make your house smell wonderful! I baked mine for 9 minutes. Came out perfect. Super easy and so yummy. Would be wonderful served with apple cider! Recipe makes 48 minis not 24, but hey, I say the more the merrier!

Could you sub apple juice for cider? I don't have any cider and want to make these first thing tomorrow morning!

I'm sorry I just now saw your comment - I hope you were able to make the muffins. You shouldn't have a problem subbing apple juice for apple cider in this recipe. Generally apple cider is just unpasteurized and unfiltered apple juice, so it should have a tangier taste with a bit more sediment. But in the final product, I don't think it will make that much difference. Hope that helps!

These are fantastic. I used a Pampered Chef mini muffin pan and the first batch was over done. I decreased the oven temperature to 350 and only had to cook 8 minutes. They came out perfect. Yum.

What about using frozen apple juice concentrate instead of boiling the apple juice? That is what I plan to use today when I make these awesome donut holes.

I made a vegan version of these yesterday and oh my!, they are so good! I didn't have mini muffin trays so I used the full size. :) I got a dozen of big, fluffy, super yummy, baked donuts!! :)

What did you use as a substitute for the egg - my son has an egg allergy?

I'm planning on making these to bring to a get together this weekend. Do you think they'd come out okay if made using the Baby Cakes mini-donut maker? I might just try some of each.


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Will blog for food.