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Easy Fried Apple Cider Donuts

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Fried Apple Cider Donuts are filled with the flavors of Fall! A scrumptious deep-fried treat made with sweet tangy boiled apple cider with hints of warm spices! Tender and moist inside, golden and crispy outside. The perfect Family Fall tradition!

A few weeks ago my husband and I took our granddaughter up North to Salt Lake to go to the Zoo! On our way we passed a small town that had a sign that boasted about Rowley’s Red Barn Apple Cider Donuts!

Group of Apple Cider Donuts with cinnamon sticks and apples

The huge, eye catching, drool worthy photo was enough to hook me into a detour off the main highway and onto country roads! So, on the way back home, we stopped!

This was one detour we would gladly take again and again!

Apple Cider Donuts – A Love Story!

The Red Barn is delightful! Filled with the harvest of Autumn, from big juicy apples to succulent peaches, on down to delicious ice cream, homemade pies, cheese, fresh Apple Cider, and of course…those Apple Cider Donuts! The entire barn smelled like those amazing Donuts! (Bath and Body works…y’all need to bottle this scent!)

Overhead shot of Apple Cider Donuts

My husband and I, our arms laden down with bags of apples and peaches, made our way to the line for a few of those golden rings of Yumminess!

My husband said “How many are ya getting?” I looked at him, like he’d lost his last marble, and said “A dozen of course!”  “A DOZEN! What if they’re not any good?” (He’s precious…truly he is!) 

I smiled sweetly and said “Honey, do you see all those people in line buying boxes of donuts? Can you smell this place? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and buy a dozen…just trust me!”

Well, let me tell y’all something…it’s a good thing one of us was thinking straight in that barn….cause that man of mine ate FOUR of those donuts!

After the first bite he mumbled “These are the best donuts ever!”  Then he said “How come ya didn’t buy more!” (Yes! He’s still alive…barely though…y’all might want to say a few extra prayers for him!)

I had to come home and try to find a recipe that came close to that YUM! I found a few and opted for one from Taste of Home. I did make a few adjustments. I’ll openly admit these are not exactly like the famous “Red Barn Apple Cider Donuts”, but they’re pretty darn close…and that’s good enough for the birds at this Nest!

How To Make Fried Apple Cider Donuts

It all starts with the Apple Cider! There’s actual Apple Cider in Apple Cider Donuts! To intensify the flavor it is boiled, and reduced in half. This will give your donuts the sweet tang of Fall Apples.

In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat place two cups of Apple Cider.

two cups of apple cider in a sauce pan

Bring Apple Cider to a rapid boil for about 12 minutes or until reduced in half. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Note: Because I used fresh apple cider the sediments from the apples boil to the top. It doesn’t look pretty, but it adds so much flavor in the reduction of this Cider.

Apple cider boiling in the pan

TIP: To make sure cider has reduced in half, carefully, so as not to burn yourself, pour reduced cider into glass measuring cup. You should now have 1 cup of apple cider. You do not have to do this step, but it does give you an exact measurement. You can also allow it to cool then measure.

Place cup in refrigerator until the reduced cider is completely cool.

Reduced Apple Cider in measuring cup

How To Make Apple Cider Donut Dough

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and spices.

The spices in Apple Cider Donuts are nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and cardamom. I didn’t have any cardamom at the time and was going to skip it. However, I noticed most recipes call for it. One thing we noticed about the Apple Cider Donuts we had from the Red Barn, was their unique taste. DO NOT SKIP THE CARDAMON! Its unusual flavor makes the donuts!

TIP: You may need to use your fingers or a pastry blender to break up the moist brown sugar. I did both to get as fine a crumble as possible. 

Whisking flour and spices in a large bowl

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and cooled, melted butter, along with the cooled cider.

Mixing Wet ingredients together

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour liquids into the well.

Adding wet liquids to dry ingredients

Stirring from the center outwards, begin mixing the ingredients together, until just combined, to form a sticky dough.

dough for Apple cider donuts

Cover and chill until firm enough to shape, about 1 hour.

How To Cut Out Donuts

Place dough on a well floured surface. I used my “dough disc”…one of my very favorite kitchen tools for pastries! There’s a link below in the recipe card if you’re interested.  

Pat dough down slightly.

Dough on mat to roll out into donuts

Gently roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness.  We want nice big plump donuts so don’t roll them out too thin. Half an  inch is perfect!

Apple Cider Donut dough rolled to 1/2 inch thickness

Cut donuts out with a floured 3 inch donut cutter. Truthfully… I use a biscuit cutter and a small hole cutter I have. Whatever works…we don’t all have doughnut cutters! Get creative and make do! That’s my motto.

donuts cut out with holes on a board


How To Deep Fry Cake Donuts

TIPS for frying donuts at home

  • If using a pot on the stove, rather than a deep fryer, keep your pot or pan on the back burner with the handle turned inward, so you can’t knock it off when cooking.
  • Ease donut into and out of the oil with a long handled slotted spoon, avoiding any splatters!
  • Never cook more than three donuts at a time.
  • Oil temperature should be 325°. Carefully check it with an automatic temperature gauge.
  • Cook donuts 2–3 minutes per side, until golden brown. 1 minute on each side for donut holes.
  • Use a good neutral oil like Vegetable Oil or Canola Oil for frying. They have a neutral flavor, good value, and high smoke point (the temperature at which the fat begins to break down).

Now that we’ve covered safety and the “How Tos” for frying donuts let’s get cooking!

In an electric skillet, deep fryer, or in a large pot on your stove top, Fry doughnuts, a few at a time, 2-3 at the most, until golden brown. Each side should take about 2–3 minutes and about 1 minute per side for donut holes.

Doughnuts frying in oil.

Carefully remove fried donuts from hot oil with long handled slotted spoon…

Removing cooked donut from hot oil

Place on paper towels to cool slightly. 

Don’t those look good? I love old-fashioned donuts and these are everything an old-fashioned donut should be! Glorious crispy nooks and crannies!

Donuts on paper towels draining

Finishing Touches for Apple Cider Donuts

In a separate bowl, mix together 1/2 cup sugar and 2–3 teaspoons cinnamon…depending on how much cinnamon you like! 

Roll slightly cooled donuts (Don’t play “hot potato” with them…make sure you can handle them first!) in cinnamon sugar mixture.

Apple Cider Donuts being rolled in cinnamon sugar

There’s nothing better than sinking your teeth into a warm Apple Cider Cake Donut covered in luscious cinnamon sugar!

These Old fashioned cider donuts are moist inside and crispy outside. The hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and the cardamon tickle the taste buds and the subtle sweetness from the Apple Cider remind you it’s Fall!

Apple Cider Donuts broken open

Like I said in the beginning…they are not the same as the Red Barn Donuts we had on our way  home from Salt Lake, but they are the next best thing!

They heat up in the microwave beautifully! You can store them in an airtight container for a day or two.

They are the best fresh, and this recipe makes between 12–18 donuts with donut holes. Watch out for those donut holes though…you’ll find yourself popping them into your mouth at an amazing rate of speed!

If you enjoyed this Apple Cider Donut Recipe, you might also enjoy these other delicious Breakfast Pastry Recipes

As always, thanks so much for stopping by my Nest! You can sign up to receive my bi-weekly newsletter where I share all my most current recipes and happenings! 

Have a Great Day and Happy Nesting!

Photo of Norine and her signature.
Yield: 18 donuts

Easy Fried Apple Cider Donuts

Group of Apple Cider Donuts with cinnamon sticks and apples

Fried Apple Cider Donuts are filled with the flavors of Fall! A scrumptious deep fried treat made with sweet tangy boiled apple cider with hints of warm spices! Tender and moist inside, golden and crispy outside.  The perfect Family Fall tradition!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes


  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon each ground cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 6 Tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
  • Oil for deep-fat frying

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  1. In a medium sauce pan, over high heat, bring cider to a rapid boil; cook until reduced by half, about 12 minutes. Cool completely.
  2. Whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and spices. You may need to use a pastry blender to "cut" brown sugar into flour mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, melted cooled butter, and cooled cider together until well blended.
  4. Create a "well" in the center of the flour mixture. Pour wet ingredients into center of well. Begin mixing from inside the well to the outer edges until a sticky dough forms.
  5. Cover dough and chill for one hour, or until firm enough to shape.
  6. Place dough on floured surface. Gently roll, or pat dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with floured doughnut cutter.
  7. In an electric skillet or deep fryer, or in a deep pot on the back of your stove, heat about 3 inches of oil to 325°. Fry doughnuts, a few at a time, until golden brown, 2-3 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Cook doughnut holes 1 minute per side or until golden brown.
  8. Drain on paper towels; cool slightly. If desired roll donuts in cinnamon sugar coating and serve warm.


Additional time is for chilling the dough.

Nutrition Information:


18 servings

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 200Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 219mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 3g

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Monday 26th of December 2022

Definitely confirm the positive reviews on these. Dough was sticky but workable with flour after chilling. Added 1/4 t vanilla to wet ingredients, because it just seemed to fit. Much better than my previous recipe.

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Thursday 29th of December 2022

Hi Steve! Thanks for stopping by and sharing. I love your addition of vanilla! I will try it next time I whip up a batch. Hope you'll come back soon. Have a Great New Year! Norine


Tuesday 29th of November 2022

I finally got around to making these fantastic donuts this morning! I’m so excited. After many years and many recipes I have found the perfect recipe! My 94 year old mother who has been making donuts her whole life wants the recipe because they are the best she has ever had! Thank you so much!

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Wednesday 30th of November 2022

Hi Pamela! I'm so glad you love this recipe and that it met your expectations! I'm always so relieved when a recipe meets the hopes of my readers! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and share with us. Come back soon! Enjoy donuts for years to come. Norine


Sunday 9th of October 2022

I very rarely write reviews, but this recipe is an absolute keeper. I've made apple cider donuts before, but this recipe is the absolute best. The flavors are just wonderful! Honestly better than anything we could purchase and so super easy to make. Thank you Norine!

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Monday 10th of October 2022

Hi Allison! Thank you so much for taking the time to write a review. I know how busy we all are, especially this time of year! I'm always happy to hear that one of my recipes meets or exceeds expectations! I hope you have a great week and stop by again some time soon! Norine


Thursday 29th of September 2022

So I’m trying this recipe for the first time. When I combined the wet ingredients into the well of dry ingredients, it came out more like cake batter not dough?? Help!?

Joe Kimbar

Monday 3rd of October 2022

@[email protected],

Another point might be that using a scale would definitely provide a more accurate measurement. I wouldn’t be surprised that the cup vs weight measurement was off significantly to provide such a soupy result. Hope this point helps.

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Friday 30th of September 2022

Hi Julie! Sorry I'm a day late responding. My daughter has been having some issues with her pregnancy and "Grandma" was needed. It is a very sticky loose dough, but it shouldn't be as thin as cake batter! That is troublesome. I hope you added a little extra flour? Without being there to see how everything was measured and mixed it's hard to say why this happened to you? I'm sorry. My only suggestion would have been to add flour a couple Tablespoons at a time until it was a loose dough, then chill. Knead slightly on a highly floured surface before rolling and cutting out the dough. These are always tough questions for me to answer not being able to see the actual dough. I'm sorry. I hope it worked out for you. Norine


Sunday 23rd of January 2022

I turned your donut recipe into poop!

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Wednesday 26th of January 2022

Hi Ben! Well that is just beyond sad because these are really yummy donuts that don't resemble "poop" in any way...maybe in shape if you didn't have a donut hole cutter? Sorry you had a bad experience. Norine

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