Apple Cider Doughnuts

Apple Cider Doughnuts This is a post of firsts. Ready?

Smitten Kitchen was the first blog that I ever read and began following.

And these apple cider doughnuts, from Smitten Kitchen, are the very first doughnuts I have ever attempted to make.  (They’ve been rolling around in my head for three years, waiting for me to muster up the confidence to fry them in three inches of oil.)

And in making these delicious bites of autumnal happiness, I had my very first kitchen fire.

Here’s how it went down…

Apple Cider Doughnuts See, this recipe makes a ton of doughnuts, and from what I read, they really should be eaten pretty much immediately. So, Eric and I got up early one Friday morning, and we devised to eat a few ourselves and then send the rest to his coworkers.

So, we melted tubs of Crisco. We fried our doughnuts, eagerly dipped them in cinnamon sugar, and then repeatedly burned our mouths as we ate them as fast as we could, chasing them with even hotter coffee. We just couldn’t stop ourselves. We’d sort of secretly fist pump each time one fell apart in the frying process…“Well, we can’t send THAT one into work…better just eat it.” 

Apple-Cider-Doughnuts With all the doughnuts and their holes fried, dipped, and lovingly packed into a container to safeguard them on the train, Eric took off for work. Owen and I hung out that morning, and I happily ate several more of the rejects. When he went down for his morning nap, I looked into the mess we’d made of the kitchen and started to clean up. By this point in the morning, the crisco we’d used to fry the doughnuts had resolidified…wanting to throw it out in its original containers, I turned on my stove burner to re-melt it, and then turned to the sink to start doing dishes.

Moments later, I smelled it. I turned and literally gasped as I saw a 4-inch flame on the top of my oven…as I had wisely left a crisco-soaked paper towel right next to the burner. And, as crisco-soaked paper towels are wont to do, it burst into flames when I turned on the burner.

Apple Cider Doughnuts Holes Here’s where it gets funny…immediately, elementary-school maxims and solutions start zipping through my head…

“Stop! Drop! Roll!….where is my cell phone? What if I need to call the fire department? I don’t even KNOW the number the fire department. Water. I need water. Wait, is this a grease fire? Flour? No…water.” 

I dumped about 2 gallons of water on my 4-inch flame and completely extinguished it, sending oily water all over my stovetop and the surrounding kitchen flour. I picked up the burnt and now soggy remains of the paper towel, threw it away, and began to soak up the mess, noting that my heart was still racing.

Apple Cider Doughnuts My response to this minor catastrophe once again confirmed that I am not meant to be a paramedic…or in any line of work that requires any semblance of composure in crisis.

Don’t be like me. Don’t leave oil-soaked towels near open flame.
Remember…only you can prevent Crisco fires.

And only you can make doughnuts this fresh, and you really, really should. These apple cider doughnuts get an extra boost of flavor from reduced apple cider. You can make the dough and cut out the doughnuts ahead of time, keeping them in the fridge until you’re ready to fry them. They only take about 20 minutes from chilled dough to hot, fresh doughnut, and really, as I found out, frying doughnuts is not nearly as intimidating as it might seem, unless of course you start your kitchen on fire.

These doughnuts would be a perfect post-Thanksgiving breakfast for you and your clan. They are sugary sweet and just beg for a strong cup of coffee to help you break out of your turkey hangover.

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Apple Cider Doughnuts

(recipe from Smitten Kitchen )

(yields around 16 doughnuts and 16 doughnut holes)

These apple cider doughnuts are, fresh, and tasting like fall. The dough is really simple to put together and can be made ahead and kept in the fridge until ready to fry.


1 c. apple cider

3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus additional for the work surface

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

4 tbsp. (or 1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature

1 c. granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 c. buttermilk

Vegetable shortening (I used one large 3 lb. tub of crisco + and one small 1 lb. tub)


For the cinnamon-sugar topping:

1 c. granulated sugar

1 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon


wax paper

candy thermometer


For the doughnuts:

In a saucepan over medium or medium-low heat, gently reduce the apple cider to about 1/4 cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.


Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.


Using an electric mixer on medium speed beat the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until the eggs are completely incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the reduced apple cider and the buttermilk, mixing just until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together.


Line two baking sheets with wax paper and sprinkle them generously with flour. (LOTS OF FLOUR, TRUST ME). Turn the dough onto one of the sheets and sprinkle the top with flour. Flatten the dough with your hands until it is about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. (I did a 1/2 inch like original recipe recommended, and found my doughnuts go a little thinner for more regular doughnut size).

Use more flour if the dough is still wet. Transfer the dough to the freezer until it is slightly hardened, about 20 minutes. Pull the dough out of the freezer.

Using a 3-inch or 3 1/2-inch circle for the outside doughnuts shape (I used a mason jar)— 1-inch circle (I used the top of a spice jar)— cut out doughnut shapes. Place the cut doughnuts and doughnut holes onto the second sheet pan. Gather dough scraps, reflatten, and cut out more doughnuts and holes. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes OR overnight if frying the next morning (Refrigerate covered).

When ready to fry, add enough shortening to a deep-sided but not super-wide pan (I used one like this to measure a depth of about 3 inches. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350°F*. Have ready a plate thickly lined with paper towels.


Make your cinnamon sugar topping by stirring the two together.


Fry and top the doughnuts:

Carefully add a few doughnuts to the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan, and fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds. Turn the doughnuts over and fry until the other side is golden, 30 to 60 seconds. (I used a skewer to flip them and silicone tongs to pul them out of the oil). Drain on paper towels for a minute after the doughnuts are fried. Dip the top of the warm doughnuts into the glaze or cinnamon sugar mixture (if using) and serve immediately.

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9 thoughts on “Apple Cider Doughnuts

  1. I love Smitten Kitchen too, but haven’t tried this one yet. They look heavenly, so I may have to try.

    My first (and so far only, *knock on wood*) kitchen fire was when I was in college and I stupidly covered a wok full of oil to stop it from splattering, then removed the lid. Woosh, just like that, the whole thing went up in flames and instead of being smart and putting the lid back on I panicked. Funny how that happens… I was dumb enough to try to carry the flaming wok to the kitchen sink, having completely lost all sense about grease fires and water not being a good idea, which lasted about two steps before I dropped the whole disaster on our tile floor, which lucky for me, put the fire out. It made a giant mess and was terrifying at the time, although now it is relatively comical and a great story to tell…if only because I now have a fire extinguisher in my kitchen and the great sense to never heat a covered container of oil.

    • I LOVE this story (and hope other commenters follow suit and tell their kitchen fire stories)…
      Crazy how you lose all sense of reason in moments like that….here’s to tile floors :)
      (When my husband got home that night, I immediately told him that we HAD to get a fire extinguisher asap :) )

  2. I have my own recipe for doughnuts that my youngest and I love (she’s 17) and oldest is home for Thanksgiving, so may just have to mix some up. Thank goodness I found your site so I can offer two flavors. :) I will halve each recipe and will probably still have enough to carry over to a friend’s house for a surprise.

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