Get your fix of fall with these tender gluten-free apple cider donuts! They are baked, not fried, which means they're easy to make! You can choose to eat them plain, with the traditional cinnamon-sugar topping, or a sweet maple glaze!
I live in the midwest and visiting the apple orchard in the fall is peak midwesterner. If you're gluten-free though, it's also agonizing! The smell of those freshly cooked apple cider donuts is quite intoxicating and if you can't eat them, also quite depressing!
After visiting the orchard this year and watching my family happily scarf down a dozen apple cider donuts, I made it my mission to finally bake the perfect gluten-free apple cider donut!
In thinking about those delightful orchard donuts, I remember them to be light and soft. They were always full of warm cinnamon spice and apple flavor. Oh, and that crunchy cinnamon-sugar coating? So delightful.
This recipe went through many trials to get it just right. At first, the donuts were a little dense, which sucked up all the flavor, then they were not dense enough! They rose and then fell completely flat in the donut pan. #bakingfail. Then, just like Goldilocks, I landed on a ratio of ingredients that was just right resulting in a tender cake-like donut that didn't skimp on apple cider flavor!
Ingredients & equipment
- Gluten-free flour: I tested this with Cup4Cup and Namaste Perfect Flour Blend. Both worked equally well. I'm confident others like Bob's or Pamela's would also work in this recipe.
- Apple Cider: You definitely want apple cider, not apple juice for this recipe, since it has a stronger apple flavor. We will also boil the cider to concentrate that flavor even more!
- The remaining ingredients are standard baking staples you probably have in your pantry:
- Sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.
- Egg and butter or oil.
- Maple syrup: only needed if making the maple glaze.
- Dairy-free: This recipe calls for a little butter and milk for the donuts and toppings but you can easily sub out dairy-free milk and butter without a problem.
- Donut pan: If you really want to make these into actual donuts, you kind of need a donut pan (affiliate link).
I use a non-stick metal pan. I haven't tested this recipe in a silicone donut pan but I have read mixed reviews about donuts not baking or browning as well in them. Keep that in mind if you're purchasing one.
If you don't have a donut pan you could also turn these donuts into muffins!
Is Apple Cider Gluten-free?
Yes, regular apple cider is naturally gluten-free but it is always a good idea to double-check labels before purchasing!
To get maximum apple cider flavor in your apple cider donuts, it all starts with boiled cider! You boil the cider to reduce the water content which concentrates the apple flavor. The cider gets a little thicker and slightly syrupy.
To make boiled cider, simply boil apple cider in a pan until it reduces by half.
I start with about 8 cups of cider and boil it down until I have 4 cups left. If you have a pan with cup markings on the side, go by those, or you can eyeball it.
There is no specific amount of time this takes. It's best to boil the cider until it has reduced the proper amount rather than worry about how long it should take.
Once boiled, cool the cider before making these donuts.
Refrigerate leftover boiled cider for up to 1 week or freeze it and keep on hand for apple cider donuts all throughout the year! (This is why I start with 8 cups. Or you can just start with the 1 cup the recipe calls for.)
How to Make Gluten-free Apple Cider Donuts
If you're craving a donut for breakfast, you definitely don't want a complicated recipe. Who has the time for that? Lucky for you, this recipe is about as easy as it gets!
- Whisk the dry ingredients.
- Whisk the wet ingredients.
- Blend them together.
- Pipe the batter into a donut pan.
Really these donuts are good all on their own, but to make them just like the orchard, you must coat them in cinnamon sugar!
To do this, dip the donuts in melted butter first, then into the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
If you want to give these donuts a twist, then try out the maple glaze! It's easy to whip up and tastes great too!
Whisk together the glaze ingredients. Then, dip the warm donuts in the glaze. The glaze will set up once it cools.
Side note: While I thought the donuts with glaze were delicious, the maple flavor did detract from the apple just a bit. So if you want to savor all that apple flavor, stick with cinnamon-sugar!
These donuts are best when eaten fresh. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days. Donuts can be frozen if desired.
If you need another excuse to buy that donut pan (wink, wink), check out these two-ingredient bagels! It's another very easy and very popular recipe here on the blog!
I would love to hear from you! If you make these donuts or have questions, drop a comment and star-rating down below! Happy Baking! ♡
Gluten-free Apple Cider Donuts
- 1 cup apple cider, boiled and reduced by half to ½ cup and cooled. (If doubling the recipe reduce to 1 cup)
- 1 ¼ cup gluten-free flour blend,, such as Cup4Cup or Namaste Perfect Flour Blend
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg,, freshly grated if you have it
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon melted butter or oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 tablespoons melted butter or dairy-free butter
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon melted butter or dairy-free butter
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons milk or dairy-free milk
Boil the Cider
- Boil 1 cup of cider in a saucepan until it reduces to ½ cup. (If doubling the recipe start with 2 cups and reduce to 1 cup cider.)
- Cool to at least room temperature.
Make the Donuts
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 8 wells in a donut pan.
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.
- Whisk together the boiled cider, egg, butter, and vanilla.
- Stir together the wet and dry ingredients until well blended, no need to over mix.
- Spoon the batter into the donut pan.OrPlace the batter into a large plastic bag. Cut the corner off and pipe the batter into each well of the donut pan.
- Bake at 350°F for 18-21 minutes or until donuts are golden brown.
- Flip donuts out of the pan onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool slightly before topping.
Cinnamon Sugar Topping
- Dip warm donuts in melted butter, then in cinnamon-sugar.
- Whisk together ingredients for the glaze.
- Dip the warm donuts in maple glaze. Place the donuts back on the cooling rack and allow the glaze to set. The glaze will harden as the donuts cool.
They were very crumbly and had a strong sharp taste. I followed the recipe exactly. I’m new to gluten free baking and wonder if this is as good as it gets. The donuts broke apart sitting on the cooling rack. Is it the xantham gum in the flour that causes this strong bitter aftertaste?
Katie | Wheat by the Wayside
That is curious Patty! I’m very sorry you had trouble. I have made these many times and never had a bitter aftertaste, so that is odd to me. I would love to help sort this out, if you could share a little more info.
Could you tell me what gluten-free flour you used? Or if any substitutions were made?
Generally speaking, gluten-free baked goods are a bit more crumbly because of the lack of gluten, not necessarily a fault of the recipe. Using a good quality flour really makes a big difference. The donuts with cup4cup are never crumbly at all while another flour may end up being more crumbly.
If you share any more details I will try my best to help! I’m always happy to answer questions. Reader success is very important to me.
Just made these for the first time. The butter dip straight into the sugar led to donuts that were almost crunchy they had so much sugar coated. Next time I think I’ll brush one side only with butter and sprinkle with sugar? I don’t know. Any tips for getting the perfect amount of sugar coating? I also see others have mentioned the bitter aftertaste. I’m experiencing that as well.
I see in the double recipe you start with 2 cups cider but then reduce it to 1/2 cup. That is the same amount as the1 cup reduction. Is that correct?
Katie | Wheat by the Wayside
It should be reduced by half, to one cup! The conversion calculator does not convert anything in the notes. I will have to edit the recipe to fix this as to avoid confusion! Thanks for pointing this out.
Hi. You mentioned making muffins of you don’t have a donut pan. What temp would you bake them and for how long? Also, how high do you fill each muffin cup? Thank you.