These old-fashioned vegan apple cider doughnuts taste just like the ones at apple orchard farm stands!
These doughnuts remind me of the cider doughnuts we would get at apple orchards after a day of apple picking with my family in the fall growing up. My vegan version has an old-fashioned cake doughnut texture and sweet crisp apple flavor. Make sure to coat them in lots of cinnamon sugar for that classic cider donut look and taste!
Apple cider doughnuts are cake donuts that have a tender cakey crumb and are not overly sweet, which I love. They have a strong apple cider flavour and best eaten while still warm, they are completely dunkable and delicious with a mug of warm mulled apple cider or coffee. If you’re looking for a light and airy doughnut recipe try my 5-star rated recipe for vegan old-fashioned sourdough raised doughnuts.
You’ll Need These Main Ingredients:
- apple cider
- cinnamon sticks
- all-purpose flour
- baking powder
- baking soda
- kosher salt
- ground cinnamon
- grated nutmeg
- full-fat canned coconut milk
- apple cider vinegar
- maple syrup
- pure vanilla extract
- granulated sugar
- vegan shortening
- neutral oil for frying, such as light olive oil or avocado oil
See the recipe card for quantities
How to Make Homemade Vegan Apple Cider Donuts
First, core and chop apples with their peels on. Cook the apple cider, chopped apples, and cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan with the lid on over medium heat until the apples are softened for about 5 minutes. Uncover the pan and reduce the sauce for about 5 minutes.
Remove the cinnamon sticks from the apples and apple cider reduction then puree them in a blender, food processor, or immersion blender. The resulting sauce should measure out to 1 cup. If necessary, return the sauce to the saucepan and further reduce until you have 1 cup. Let the sauce cool slightly.
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the sugar and shortening until combined for about 2 minutes. Gradually add in cooled apple sauce, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
With the mixer running at low speed, add in half of the flour mixture and let it mix for 30 seconds then pour in all of the wet mixture and let it mix for another 30 seconds. Add the remaining dry ingredients and continue mixing at low speed until everything is combined into a sticky dough for about 2 minutes.
Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper and generously dust it with flour. Scrape dough onto parchment and with floured hands form the dough into a rectangle about 1/2″ thick. Wrap the sheet pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Once the dough has chilled, fill a heavy-bottomed deep-sided pot with about 2 inches of frying oil and bring it to 350˚F over medium-high heat. Use a candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer to measure and maintain a constant temperature.
Cut the doughnuts out with a well-floured 2-1/2 or 3-inch round cutter and cut the centers out with a 1-inch round cutter. Rework the dough scraps and continue to cut out doughnuts until all of the dough is used up.
Fry the doughnuts in small batches in the hot oil until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Adjust heat as needed to maintain a temperature of 350˚F. Use a slotted spoon or kitchen spider to transfer them to the wire rack to drain the excess oil for 30 seconds.
Roll the doughnuts in the cinnamon sugar mixture while they are still hot and serve them warm.
Hint: Make the dough the night before and refrigerate overnight to fry up the best fall-inspired breakfast treat the following morning.
Looking for substitutions for this vegan apple cider donut recipe? Try these easy swaps.
- Refined Sugar-Free – instead of white sugar, use maple sugar or coconut sugar in both the donut batter and cinnamon sugar coating
- Whole Grain – use spelt flour in place of all-purpose flour
- Apple Sauce – use store-bought unsweetened applesauce instead of making your own sauce with apple cider and fresh apple.
- Apple Butter – if you use apple butter reduce the amount of sugar or maple syrup in the dough.
- Non-Dairy Milk – coconut milk can be swapped out with other non-dairy milk like almond milk for example.
If you’re intimidated by deep-frying, don’t worry, it is not as hard (or scary) as it seems. You will need a thermometer to be able to maintain the correct frying temperature of 350˚F. I suggest using an instant-read thermometer to check the oil temperature before, during, and between frying batches. I use this affordable plain cast iron dutch oven to fry in, the same dutch oven I bake my sourdough boules in. The final piece of equipment I suggest you use for deep-frying is a simple kitchen spider strainer to help slide in and lift out foods from the hot frying oil. I use my kitchen spider so much; it’s also great for scooping cooked pasta out of boiling water.
These cinnamon sugar donuts are best served warm, but leftovers will keep through the following day if kept in an airtight container or bag at room temperature.
Oil temperature is important. If the oil goes above 350˚F the crust may get too hard and the cinnamon sugar won’t easily stick to it. I recommend using an instant-read thermometer and adjusting the heat level before, during and after each batch of doughnuts is frying.
Vegan Apple Donuts Questions
Is there a gluten-free version of this recipe?
You are welcome to try swapping the flour with a 1-1 gluten-free flour alternative such as Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, but I have not tested gf flour in this recipe.
Is apple cider the same as regular apple juice?
Yes and no. Essentially both apple cider and apple juice are made by expressing juice from fresh apples. Apple cider is made by pressing apples in an apple cider press and is usually made on a smaller scale. It is not filtered and has a dark cloudy appearance. Apple juice is filtered and heat-treated to be shelf-stable and appears much clearer with a lighter color.
Can I use hard cider?
You can but I wouldn’t suggest it here. Hard cider is more expensive and would be wasted in apple doughnuts. It is also less sweet so wouldn’t be the best choice.
Can bake these vegan donuts in a donut pan?
I haven’t tested vegan baked apple cider donuts so don’t know how they would turn out. You are welcome to try it. Instead of chilling and cutting out the dough, I would skip chilling it altogether and fill a piping bag or large Ziploc bag with the dough then pipe it into the donut cavities of a greased doughnut pan. Bake at 350˚F until the donuts are puffed, golden brown, and cooked through.
Can I freeze cake doughnuts?
You can but I would not recommend it. Doughnuts don’t freeze well and really are best eaten the day they are made.
- 2 medium apples
- 1-1/2 cups apple cider
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-2/3 cup sugar divided
- 3 tablespoons vegan shortening
- 1/3 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon divided
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Neutral oil for frying such as light olive oil, avocado oil, peanut oil
- Core and chop apples with peel on. Add apple cider, chopped apples and cinnamon sticks to a medium saucepan and cook covered over medium heat until apples are softened for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking to reduce the sauce for about 5 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks then puree sauce in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender. The resulting sauce should measure out to 1 cup. If need be, return the sauce to the saucepan and further reduce until you have 1 cup. Let the sauce cool slightly.
- With the mixer running at low speed, add in half of the flour mixture and let it mix for 30 seconds then pour in all of the wet mixture and let it mix for another 30 seconds. Add the remaining dry ingredients and continue mixing at low speed until everything is combined into a sticky dough for about 2 minutes.
- Once the dough has chilled, fill a heavy-bottomed pot with about 2 inches of oil and heat over medium-high to 350˚F using a candy or deep-fry thermometer to measure temperature. Place a cooling rack over a sheet pan.
- Fry the doughnuts in small batches in the hot oil until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Adjust heat as needed to maintain a temperature of 350˚F. Use a slotted spoon or kitchen spider to transfer them to the wire rack to drain the excess oil for 30 seconds.
- Roll the doughnuts in the cinnamon sugar mixture while they are still hot and serve them warm.
For more vegan donut recipes check out these:
For more apple recipes check out these:
- Apple Cake
- Vegan Hidden Rose Apple Galette
- Rustic Vegan Apple Crumble
- Vegan Apple Cinnamon Crumb Cake
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