Life is better with apple cider donuts…especially when they’re made with healthy ingredients! This post shares how to make a clean and heavenly version of this classic fall dessert.
If you’re looking for a sweet treat that perfectly sums up everything awesome about fall desserts, look no further.
Imagine a cinnamon sugar crust, a moist and cakey center accompanied by the sweetness of apple in every bite.
It’s like having the best of an apple crumble, a moist muffin, and a crisp churro all in one bite. YUM.
This recipe is so easy and much faster to make than you might think. I’ve also swapped all the processed and unhealthy stuff for cleaner and equally flavorful alternatives.
Read on further for the easy recipe (no rolling pin required here, folks!). You’ll soon be perfecting a heavenly treat you’ll absolutely fall for.
Why Are They Called Apple Cider Donuts?
They’re called apple cider donuts simply because they’re made with *drumroll* apple cider. In our recipe, we’ll be making an apple cider reduction and slowly stirring it into the donut batter. It’s super easy!
You can expect to taste the lovely apple flavor in these donuts that beautifully blends in with the fall spices.
What Are Apple Cider Donuts Made Of?
Although homemade apple cider donuts are normally made with refined sugar, unhealthy oils (for deep-frying recipes), and nutritionless all-purpose flour…here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need to #makeithealthy.
For the donuts, you’ll need:
- Apple cider: This is basically juiced apples with some pulp so it contains the antioxidant benefits of apples too! You’ll reduce it at a simmer in a small saucepan and add the reduction to the other ingredients.
- Whole wheat pastry flour: I love using this for my flour mixture. It’s a healthy alternative to white all-purpose flour! It’s rich in fiber and high in protein.
- Baking powder: For a light and fluffy center.
- Baking soda: Also amps up the cake effect.
- Kosher salt: One of my fave salts to use. Since it has a coarse texture, you can better control how much you’re putting in your food. It also has a less intense saltiness to it.
- Cinnamon: The quintessential fall spice. Apart from the warmth and coziness, it has antioxidant, antibacterial, and antifungal properties!
- Nutmeg: Another classic fall spice.
- Cardamom: This blends in perfectly with the cinnamon and nutmeg. It also has insane levels of Vitamin B1! (Nine times more than cinnamon!)
- Grass-fed butter (unsalted): I always use room temperature butter as opposed to melted butter. Do the same for the best results! Definitely healthier than regular butter and less sodium too. And provides Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and Vitamin K out the wazoo.
- Coconut oil (melted): A staple in my kitchen and it should be one in yours, too! I wrote a whole post on why it’s awesome and super healthy.
- Coconut sugar: Instead of brown sugar, I used coconut sugar. One of my fave healthy sugar substitutes to *gasp* refined sugar. See why over here.
- Eggs (large): This will hold it all together and of course, add more protein.
- Vanilla extract: Always happy to use the real thing! No to highly processed syrups.
When putting the ingredients together as described in the recipe below, don’t over mix the dough. Just scrape down the sides of the bowl as you mix. Honestly, this is one of the easiest apple cider donut recipes out there!
For the topping: We’ll be using melted coconut oil, coconut sugar, and cinnamon.
Why Are Apple Cider Donuts So Good?
Apple cider donuts are so good because they are the epitome of all things wonderfully fall. They have that beautiful cinnamon sugar crust and a moist cakey center that pairs SO WELL with a hot cup of coffee (or healthy chai).
…I must say that you might really only understand once you try them. Words cannot do these donuts justice, y’all!
Are Apple Cider Donuts Seasonal?
Yes, they’re known to be a classic fall dessert. Many chains and bakeries have carried this seasonal treat through the years. It actually entered the mainstream food industry in the 1950s!
Do Apple Cider Donuts Taste Like Apple?
Yes, you’ll be able to taste the apple flavor in these donuts. It has something to do with smell, too (these senses are related). While baking this treat, your kitchen is going to smell like a bakery filled with apple, nutmeg and cinnamon. Ahh.
To give you a better idea, here’s what you can look forward to experiencing with these apple cider donuts:
Flavor: You’ll taste a mix of warm fall spices, apples, and cinnamon.
Texture: It’s cakey and moist on the inside with a nice, sugary crunch on the outside. I use a donut pan instead of a muffin tin and pipe the ingredients in. Easy and yes, full of ah-mazing texture.
Are Apple Cider Donuts Healthy?
The typical recipe for apple cider donuts isn’t really healthy. Some of them may contain these ingredients:
- Granulated or white sugar: This is refined sugar that’s stripped of its nutritional value and linked to diabetes and other chronic diseases.
- All-purpose flour: This is very low in nutritional value.
- Vegetable oil: This oil is usually a combo of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats, for example, have been linked to cardiovascular disease.
- Regular butter: Usually contains saturated and trans fats which may increase bad cholesterol.
So I’ve revamped our version to #makeithealthy and with CLEAN ingredients. Aside from swapping the unhealthy ingredients with cleaner versions, we’re also baking the donuts instead of frying them. It’s like bringing the apple orchard into the kitchen and baking up goodness. Seriously, folks!
How To Store?
I LOVE eating donuts fresh, right after the topping has been sprinkled on. I simply take a rubber spatula to ease them out of the pan. Then I put them on a wire rack and tell the fam to let let them cool just a few minutes. These delicious donuts don’t last long in my kitchen! We pour a glass of almond milk (lots of calcium there) and enjoy the donuts when warm and oh so tasty.
But if you have to store some leftovers, simply place them in a good air-tight container inside the fridge. They should last up for 2-3 days.
When reheating, I like putting them in the toaster oven to revive that nice outer crunch!
More Healthy Fall Desserts
Are you ready to bake more fall dessert recipes? Grab your teaspoons, tablespoons, baking sheets and love of baking to get started! Check out some of my favorite fall treats:
- Healthy Pecan Pie (Without Corn Syrup!)
- Fresh Pumpkin Ice Cream
- The BEST Pumpkin Pie From Scratch
- Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt with Candied Pecans
- Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (Low sugar)
This post contains affiliate links for products I use regularly and highly recommend.
Imagine a cinnamon sugar crust, a moist and cakey center accompanied by the sweetness of apples in every bite.
- 1 ½ cups apple cider
- 1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¾ tsp kosher salt (½ tsp fine salt)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp cardamom
- ¼ cup unsalted grass-fed butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing pans
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 4 tsp coconut sugar
- pinch of cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 6-cavity donut pans.
Pour apple cider into a small pot. Heat over medium-high and bring to a boil. Boil until reduced to ½ cup. This may take a total of 15-25 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar. Mix over medium speed until homogenous, about 3 minutes. Stream in melted coconut oil while mixing. Incorporate eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of bowl between additions. Stir in vanilla.
Alternate adding dry ingredients and cider to bowl of wet ingredients. Stir over low speed until combined. Do not overmix.
Using a piping bag or two spoons, distribute batter evenly between pans. Smooth out tops. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 8-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan. Loosen sides with a small, offset spatula and turn out onto a wire rack.
While donuts are warm, combine coconut sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Brush tops of the doughnuts with melted coconut oil. Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.