Vermont Apple Cider Donuts

3.46 avg. rating (69% score) - 252 votes

Vermont Apple Cider Donuts

It’s a cider maker’s tradition to use some of the freshly pressed juice to make lightly tangy, apple-scented doughnuts like these. The cider adds more than flavor, though; its acidity makes the doughnuts tenderer. I have two favorite spots for buying these treats: Atkins Farms in Amherst, Massachusetts (atkinsfarms.com), and Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury Center, Vermont (coldhollow.com). When I can’t be there, I make homemade apple cider donuts.

See how to make this recipe for homemade apple cider donuts with instructions and photos.

Total Time: 1.5
Yield: about 18 3-inch doughnuts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons table salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup boiled apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Canola or safflower oil (for frying)
  • Cinnamon sugar (1-1/2 cups sugar mixed with 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon) or confectioners' sugar

Instructions

In a large bowl using a hand-held or standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together sugar and butter until mixture is pale and fluffy, 4-6 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating a minute after each. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside.

Pour buttermilk, boiled cider, and vanilla into sugar/butter/egg mixture. Mix well, and don't worry if the mixture looks a bit curdled; it'll smooth itself out. Add flour mixture and combine gently just until fully moistened.

Line two baking sheets with waxed paper or parchment paper and dust generously with flour. Turn dough out onto one baking sheet and pat gently into 3/4-inch-thickness. Sprinkle dough with additional flour, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up. Remove dough from the freezer; use a lightly floured 3-inch doughnut cutter (or two concentric biscuit cutters) to cut out about 18 doughnuts with holes. (You may gather the scraps and roll again as needed, but you may need to chill the dough more to firm it up.) Place cut doughnuts on the other baking sheet as you go; then transfer to the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up again.

Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels and set it nearby. In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat 3 inches of oil to 370° (test with an instant-read thermometer). Drop 3 or 4 doughnuts into the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until browned on one side, about 1 minute; then flip and cook until browned on the other side, about 1 minute longer.

Repeat with the remaining dough (if you find that it's getting too soft as you work your way through the batches, pop it into the freezer again for 10 minutes). When doughnuts are cool enough to handle but still warm, sprinkle all over with cinnamon sugar or confectioners' sugar. Serve immediately.

Note: Boiled apple cider gives these apple cider donuts a rich, slightly tangy flavor. You can buy boiled cider at some gourmet and Whole Foods stores; from Wood's Cider Mill in Springfield, Vermont (woodscidermill.com); or from the King Arthur Flour catalogue. Alternatively, you can boil your own cider by simmering 1-1/2 cups of fresh apple cider down to 1/3 cup in about 25 minutes--it just won't be as concentrated as the commercial product.
Comments
  • Barbara

    I first had cider donuts at The Cold Hollow Cider Mill and they’ve been my favorites ever since! Will have to try the ones at Atkins Farm or this recipe. They are my favorite fall treat!

    Reply
  • Yasimine

    The Apple Barn outside of Bennington Vermont has great apple cider doughnuts!

    Reply
  • Entered these donuts in our church’s Apple Festival!

    I kept the dough flat in the freezer between two large sheets of parchment paper and cut just a couple at a time. Less than two minutes at room temperature, the dough became very difficult to work with.

    I also simmered 1 3/4 c. cider for nearly 40 minutes down to 1/3 c. cider syrup. It was plenty thick enough for a rich flavor.

    My wife said, “That’s one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted!”

    Thanks for such a fantastic recipe! It’s nearly impossible to find cider doughnuts in western New York.

    Reply
  • Question: Does the cider need to cool down before adding it to the mixture, or is it added still hot, like when making dutch babies? Thanks, Can’t wait to make these for our pumpkin patch!

    Reply
  • Could the dough for these be made the night before and then chilled overnight? Also I was planning on baking these instead of frying. Would that work with this recipe?

    Reply
  • Hi Kris-

    The cider can be warm, but you don’t want it to be boiling hot. Let it cool for 10 minutes or so…

    Reply
  • Hi Joana-

    You can definitely make the dough and let it sit in the fridge overnight. I have never tried baking the donuts and I worry a bit that they wouldn’t rise as well with a slower bake (as opposed to a quick fry). The good news is that I created these delicious Cider Donut Muffins just for cooks like you who aren’t interested in frying donuts: http://www.yankeemagazine.com/recipe/cider-doughnut-muffins.

    Reply
  • I made the donuts tonight and they were delicious. The only trouble I had was that they browned too quickly (ie. in less than one minute). My thermometer was at 370 degrees when I started putting the dough in the oil but quickly increased to 400 before I got them all in. The finish donuts were a deep, dark brown; nothing like the golden color in our photo. What am I doing wrong?

    Reply
  • Hi Paulette-

    You’re not alone! It can be really hard to regulate oil temperature when frying. It sounds like your burner was on a little too high if it kept bringing the temperature up after you put the donuts in (usually adding food cools the oil a bit). I like to use a really big Dutch oven when making these because the more oil you have, the longer it takes to heat up or cool down. Cast iron is ideal for this because it also heats and cools more slowly so you don’t get those jumps in temp. But if you’re in the midst of frying and the donuts are browning too quickly, you can always take the pot off the heat, then reduce the setting on the burner and return the pot once it cools a bit..

    Reply
  • Hi Amber,
    We haven’t tried those, but maybe one of our readers will be able to answer that question.

    Reply
  • Hi, I was wondering do i have to add the nutmeg? I don’t like the taste of it and i was wondering if i really needed to add it.

    Reply
  • Dorraine

    I made these and I had trouble with the dough , the doughnut were crispy on the outside and raw on the inside what am I doing wrong ?

    Reply
  • I do not recommend this recipe! Dough was too soft to work with, even after freezing. Texture of finished donuts was not at all like cake donuts. Donuts were dark brown and greasy. This may be close to Vermont style cider donuts, but not even close to Michigan style cider donuts. I am going to stick with Betty Crocker Cookbook version.

    Reply
  • Would I be able to use the boiled apple cider to save some steps in this recipe? Also, do you know if I need to make any high altitude adjustments?

    Reply
  • I made them with cinnamon & GINGER because I am particular what I like nutmeg with, and find it overpowering with apples. I also just cut them into sticks, instead of worrying about the doughnut shape. They were delicious, but I also had the problem with them browning too quickly. I don’t know–maybe lowering the temp to 350???

    Reply
  • I saved some steps with this recipe by melting the butter in the microwave in a 2 cup pyrex measure, then added cold buttermilk and cold cider and vanilla and stirred vigorously. This causes the butter to solidify in small droplets. I then added the eggs. I added the sugar and all dry ingredients to a bowl, and poured the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mixed it.

    They were delicious, but like other people commenting on this thread, the outside cooked very quickly, and they became very dark.

    Reply
  • Thank you for the great recipe! I live in Switzerland and was really missing apple cider donuts. These are perfect, just the way I remember them! I did make a few changes: (1) I made the dough the night before and used it chilled from the fridge in the morning. (2) I made donut holes instead of large donuts by scooping 2 tsp dough and rolling it in my well-floured hands to make balls. (3) I experimented and found I liked caster sugar (ultra-fine granulated sugar) for the outside instead of regular granulated sugar. It created a delicate texture, more like what I remember from donuts in New England. Re: the other comments, I had no problem with the donuts cooking too quickly. Thanks again!

    Reply
  • Thought I would try these, husband has fond memories of his Mom making donuts in VT. First off, it was too much work for the results I got. I boiled the cider down the day before, took about 45 minutes to get 1-1/2 cups down to 1/3. The oil heated to 370 with candy thermometer, but as above, quickly went to 400. The donuts started burning, so I took them out when golden brown-raw inside. I had to keep adjusting the heat and then recook the pieces. Awful mess, not worth the effort.

    Reply
  • I lived in Waterbury Center while attending the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, VT. My wife and I devoured the cider donuts from Cold Hollow Cider Mill on a regular basis. I was excited to try this recipe because of that memory. Sadly, I am disappointed with the results. I followed precisely the directions as listed and these were not even from the same hemisphere as those I fondly remember. Browned too quickly AND way to greasy to boot! Lowering the temp to reduce the browning would only increase the grease absorption. Flavors were muddled due to the over browned exterior and the soggy oily inside. I’ll keep searching for that elusive cider donut recipe that brings me back to Waterbury Center.

    Reply
  • These mixed up nice and worked with dough fine.but like others temp of oil went over 370.my next batches were better after figuring the temp out.they make a very nice looking doughnut and taste very good.

    Reply

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