Air-Fried Apple Cider Doughnuts

There are two kinds of  doughnuts in this world. The first is the light-as-air kind that disappears in your mouth and makes you wonder if it ever existed. Then there's the more solid, dense doughnut that goes so nicely with a cup of coffee, that lingers for a minute or two and lets you know that you've just enjoyed a little happiness.

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Both types have a place in this world. If you want to fill your doughnut with jam or cream, it’s best to go with the first airy kind which is much easier to fill. The dense doughnut, however, is my preference when I do choose to indulge, and these apple cider doughnuts fit the bill perfectly for me.

Bowl of air-fried apple cider doughnuts with one broken open on a cutting board and a cup of coffee on the side.

What stops me from indulging in doughnuts too often is that they are usually deep-fried. That, along with the sugar content makes me think twice about jumping into the doughnut box head first. Enter the air-fryer… These doughnuts do not get deep-fried, but instead bake in the convection heat of the air fryer and come out perfectly. There’s still significant sugar involved, making them a special treat sort of indulgence, but by not deep-frying them I’ve reduced the guilt significantly. Then, by adding apples, I can almost convince myself that they are good for me! They are perfect for the fall when the air is getting a little crisp and you find yourself wrapping  your hands around a big cup of coffee.

Apple cider doughnuts broken open on a board with a cup of coffee in background.

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Air-Fried Apple Cider Doughnuts

  • Prep Time: 45 m
  • Cook Time: 10 m
  • Total Time: 55 m
  • Servings:


  • 2 cups apple cider
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 honey crisp or pink lady apple peeled

    Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter


  1. Bring the apple cider to a boil in a medium saucepan and then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the cider reduces to ½ cup. Transfer the reduced cider to a bowl or measuring cup and allow it to cool in the refrigerator.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.
  3. Cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy using a stand mixer or a large bowl and an electric hand mixer. Add the eggs one at a time and pour in the reduced apple cider. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well until combined. Grate the apple with a box grater right into the dough and continue to mix. Then, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for a few minutes until the soft dough comes together. The dough should not be sticky (add a little flour if it is). Divide the dough into two disks and wrap each one with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
  4. Roll the dough out until it is 1 inch thick. Use a 3-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter to cut circles out of the dough. Then use a 1-inch round cookie cutter to cut a hole in the center of each circle. Gather the scraps into a ball and repeat with the remaining dough.
  5. Pre-heat the air fryer to 360°F for 2 minutes.
  6. Spray or brush the bottom of the air fryer basket with a little vegetable oil. Place 3 to 4 of the dough circles into the air fryer basket and let the dough rest in the (turned off) air fryer for 5 minutes to proof the dough. Then air-fry at 360°F for 5 minutes, turning over halfway through the cooking process. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts, letting each batch sit in the warm but turned off air fryer for 5 minutes before air-frying. (Don't forget to cook the holes too!)
  7. Combine the sugar and cinnamon together and place it in a shallow dish. Brush all sides of the cooked doughnuts with some melted butter and then toss in the cinnamon sugar. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.
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Comments (22)Post a Reply

  1. My dough seemed quite dry and the donuts were dense. I did use salted butter because that is all I had – unsure if this made the difference. It also took me much longer than the time stated for both prep and air-frying since I had to do many batches. The flavor was good but the consistency could be improved for our version. Have you tried with self-rising flour?

    1. I have not done this with self-rising flour. The doughnuts are intended to be dense – dippable doughnuts – so you might have done it as it was intended to be after all. 🙂

  2. I don’t have an air fryer but I have a convection oven. Will that work for this recipe?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Jane. I haven’t tried it in the oven, but you could give it a whirl. Place the doughnuts on a rack on a baking sheet so that air can circulate all around. Good luck!

  3. 1 star
    I was so looking forward to these donuts. They are more like a biscuit and not a lot of flavor. Will get a different donut air dryer recipe

    1. Sorry you didn’t like the doughnuts, Barbara. These are dense, cake-like doughnuts rather than the airy sort. Hope you do find what you’re looking for.

  4. 5 stars
    Meredith, THANK YOU for creating this recipe! The flavor and texture were spot-on for authentic “apple orchard” cake donuts… with no canned biscuits like all the other recipes call for. I crave Apple Cider Donuts all year, and now I can have them!

  5. Hi. I found them to be a nice consistency even with whole wheat flour. I couldn’t find regular AP bc my store was out of stock. I was able to roll out 11. And I needed to cook them for about 8-10 minutes in my air fryer and not for the five minutes as stated. Having said that…my son and husband loved them. They appreciated the work I did to prepare them. Thank you.

  6. 2 stars
    I would consider these a scone more than doughnut. I didn’t have much apple flavor; if I make again, I will probably add another apple or really mess with texture and add applesauce. Thank you for the recipe and some possibility of another time with a few tweaks.

    1. Hi Phyllis. These are more dense, cake-like old fashioned doughnuts than airy yeast doughnuts. I would add more grated apple over applesauce for this recipe for more apple flavor. In either case you will probably have to add additional flour to form the correct consistency for the dough.

  7. 1 star
    I made one disc this afternoon, kept one in the refrigerator for later. The doughnut texture was drier that expected, and the apple taste was missing. We loved the apple cider doughnuts in Michigan, which we were told are made with the apple mash that is left over from pressing apples for cider. I am not sure I want to make that second disc. Will look for another recipe.

    1. Hi Kerri, these doughnuts are more cake-like rather than lighter yeast doughnuts and do come out a bit dense. More of a doughnut to dip in your coffee!

  8. Well it is 10 pm in WV, after a day out on the farm we had tacos for supper but no time for dessert soooo my husband says how bout those apple cider donuts… really ???
    He doesn’t ask for much so why not… so we are trying our first taste… DELICIOUS
    No tweaks to recipe did it just as you wrote it! Thank you …..special treat after a long day… thank goodness my husband came up with this idea hey how about those apple cider donuts💜

  9. I want to make the apple cider donut recipe. Could I bake them in a convection oven. I miss seeing you on the Q. 🎃

    1. You can bake them in a convection oven, but you will have to let them proof at room temperature for 30 minutes first. Then bake at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes.

  10. Meredith, at the moment I’m boiling my apple cider and wondering if there’s a formula to use when you have a recipe calling for boiled cider, how much to start with to boil down to what you need for recipe. Thanks so much for making it so clear in your recipe!

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