Gluten Free Apple Cider Donuts

Gluten Free Apple Cider Donuts

This easy gluten free apple cider donuts recipe is the cure for what ails you when you go to the apple orchard—but can’t buy their sweet-smelling baked goods!

This easy gluten free apple cider donuts recipe is the cure for what ails you when you go to the apple orchard—but can't buy their sweet-smelling baked goods!

The heartbreak ?of the apple orchard

Every fall, we go apple picking. And every fall, the smell of apple cider donuts hangs in the air and has the power to make my gluten free son and me downright miserable.

So we do the only thing that makes any sense at all: bring our own gluten free apple cider donuts. And pick up some more apple cider while we’re at the orchard, so we can make more donuts when we get home!

For a whole batch of these baked apple cider donuts, you only need 6 fluid ounces of cider. Of course, you can use apple juice if you don’t have cider.

This easy gluten free apple cider donuts recipe is the cure for what ails you when you go to the apple orchard—but can't buy their sweet-smelling baked goods!

How to get the cinnamon sugar mixture to stick

When I first posted this recipe in 2012, you can see from the comments that some readers had trouble getting the cinnamon sugar topping to stick to the donuts. I find that the easiest way to get the topping to stick is to toss the donuts in the cinnamon sugar when they’re still hot enough from the oven that you can barely touch them.

If that’s just not comfortable for you, remember to press the donut in the cinnamon sugar mixture on all sides rather firmly when the donuts are as warm as possible. I tend to flip them over multiple times in the topping mixture until they’re well-covered, and then not handle them again until they’re completely cooled.

If you forget to work quickly after baking, or you’re just not able to work with the donuts while they’re hot, you can brush the donuts very lightly with melted butter before pressing them into the cinnamon sugar. Some sugar syrup would also work.

This easy gluten free apple cider donuts recipe is the cure for what ails you when you go to the apple orchard—but can't buy their sweet-smelling baked goods!

A few words about donut pans

All baking pans and tins are generally not created equal. They vary in size, shape, color, and material.

Those differences affect baking in plenty of ways. But most of the differences aren’t that significant, and you as the cook are usually able to sense for what sort of adjustments you need to make for your particular pans.

Donut pans vary in all of the same ways, but their shape is even more significant. If you’re making a fried donut, you’re not using a pan to shape them. But if you’re making baked donuts like these apple cider donuts, they take on the shape of the pan itself.

This easy gluten free apple cider donuts recipe is the cure for what ails you when you go to the apple orchard—but can't buy their sweet-smelling baked goods!

For properly shaped donuts, you want your pan to have a prominent raised center that reaches nearly as high as the sides of the donut. Otherwise, as the donuts rise in the oven, the hole will close on top, leaving only a divot underneath.

To combat a donut pan that has a short raised center, you can still preserve a donut-with-a-hole shape. Just fill each well about 2/3 of the way, or about as high as the center is raised.

My favorite donut pans for baked donuts are these 6-cavity nonstick donut pans by Wilton (affiliate link—feel free to shop around!). It’s the pan you see in the photos.

It has the perfect shape and size, and even though it’s somewhat dark in color, it doesn’t bake the donuts too quickly (which dark pans have a tedency to do). I use this pan in most of the best gluten free donuts recipes here on the blog.

This easy gluten free apple cider donuts recipe is the cure for what ails you when you go to the apple orchard—but can't buy their sweet-smelling baked goods!

Ingredients and substitutions


The only dairy in these gluten free apple cider donuts is from the unsalted butter. It can most likely be easily replaced with Earth Balance buttery sticks, although I haven’t tried that. Earth Balance tends to be rather salty, though, so I’d eliminate the salt as an ingredient in the donuts, though.


There are two eggs in this recipe, and they are responsible for a lot of the structure and texture of these soft, tender donuts. You can try replacing them each with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). I’m afraid I just don’t know how they’ll turn out, though.


If you’d like to try to make these donuts with a sugar alternative, you can try replacing the granulated sugar with Swerve brand granulated sugar replacement or Lankato monkfruit granulated sweetener.

Pay attention to the texture and viscosity of the batter, though, as those alternative sweeteners tend to absorb a lot of moisture. You may need to add some more cider.

Apple cider

If you can’t find apple cider, you can make these donuts with apple juice. There is, however, a difference between the two. Technically, apple cider is raw apple juice that hasn’t been filtered to remove pulp (source).

For the donuts in the photos and video in this post, I used cold pressed spiced apple cider from the refrigerated section at Trader Joe’s. In the past, I’ve made them with raw apple cider from the orchard, and also with plain apple juice. The more flavorful and aromatic the cider, the more so the donuts.

And remember, if you can’t bring a batch of these donuts with you to the orchard, you can make them fresh as soon as you get home.


This easy gluten free apple cider donuts recipe is the cure for what ails you when you go to the apple orchard—but can't buy their sweet-smelling baked goods! #glutenfree #gf #apples #fall #orchardThis easy gluten free baked apple cider donuts recipe is the cure for what ails you when you go to the apple orchard—but can't buy their sweet-smelling baked goods!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 dozen donuts


For the donuts
1 1/2 cups (210 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) apple cider

For the topping
1/3 cup (67 g) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease a standard donut pan and set it aside. See the post for a discussion of donut pans.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture, and add the butter, eggs, and cider, and mix to combine. The batter will be very soft.

  • Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain tip or to a squeeze bottle. Squeeze the batter into the prepared doughnut wells until they are each about 3/4 of the way full. Shake the pan back and forth horizontally until the batter is in an even layer in each well. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the tops of the donuts spring back when pressed gently (about 12 minutes). The underside will be browned, but the tops will still be relatively pale. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the donuts to cool for about 3 minutes, or until they are no longer too hot to touch.

  • While the donuts cool slightly, place the cinnamon sugar topping ingredients into a small bowl. Gently remove the slightly cooled (but still warm) donuts from the doughnut pan with your fingertips and turn them around in the cinnamon sugar until they are well-coated on all sides. Place the finished donuts on a clean sheet of parchment paper. Serve immediately, or at least within a day or two stored uncovered at room temperature. Freeze any remaining leftovers in a sealed, freezer-safe container.

  • Originally published on the blog in 2012. Images mostly new, video new, recipe tweaked only slightly.


Comments are closed.

  • maria ortega
    September 30, 2018 at 4:02 PM

    I made these with Cup4Cup. I’m still trying to figure out baking and cooking gluten free. I felt like they were too dense which a frequent issue I have been running into. Do you sift the flour?

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 1, 2018 at 8:24 AM

      Hi, Maria,
      Unless I specifically specify sifting the flour (which is rare), you don’t need to sift. My guess is that you are overmeasuring your flour if you’re measuring by volume, not weight. I highly recommend measuring by weight with a very simple and inexpensive digital kitchen scale.

  • Sara Leibowitz
    September 27, 2018 at 1:34 PM

    Hi Nicole,

    So excited to try these. How important is the cream of tartar? Is there any way to sub it for something else?

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 27, 2018 at 2:03 PM

      Hi, Sara, the cream of tartar helps to activate the baking soda in the recipe to provide more lift. You can try replacing it with lemon juice. Hope that helps!

  • Nancy Gillespie
    September 25, 2018 at 2:49 PM

    I made these for the first time tonight. Apple cider doughnuts are not well known in the UK but I’ve seen them while on vacation in the US. They turned out perfectly and my husband thinks he’s died and gone to heaven. Thank you so much for all the great GF recipes

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 25, 2018 at 3:31 PM

      Aw, that’s so awesome, Nancy! I smell a UK trend coming… ?

  • Brittany
    September 23, 2018 at 10:28 PM

    I made this tonight with flax eggs, coconut oil and coconut sugar and it came out so beautifully and so delicious. Thank you for the recipe, even though I had to make some substitutions to make it vegan. It was delicious.

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 24, 2018 at 9:20 AM

      Thanks for letting us know that your substitutions worked, Brittany! So glad you enjoyed them.

  • Nicole
    September 23, 2018 at 9:59 PM

    So excited to try the recipe. I moved from Massachusetts many years ago and lament the loss of apple cider donuts every fall. Now that I’m GF I’m baking up a storm so thanks for having this! Ordering the pans now.

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 24, 2018 at 9:19 AM

      Aw, Nicole, I feel your pain! So glad you can bring that back.

  • Valentina RealItalianKitchen
    September 22, 2018 at 6:21 PM

    You have some amazing recipes in here and i would love to read more articles, but your website is crowded with ads, it’s jittery and it’s difficult to navigate.
    Thanks for the recipes though, I hope you can figure out your configuration.

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 22, 2018 at 6:34 PM

      There are actually only a few ad slots on my blog, Valentina, and the ads all load after the content (it’s called “lazy loading”) so they don’t interfere with the content-viewing at all. My configuration is fine. The ads are essential to my continuing to provide nearly 1000 recipes for free.

  • Lorraine
    November 7, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    Oh Nicole I made these last night and they were delicious!  Even my husband who is not GF and VERY fussy, said “MMMMMmmmmmm!!!!!”.
    One thing I found was that the sugar/cinnamon wouldn’t stick very well.  I even took them right of the pan with some and rolled them thru it and it wouldn’t stick.  Then I tried brushing with a bit of veg. oil and then rolling them and still no luck.  Am I doing something wrong?

  • November 7, 2012 at 3:11 AM

    I made these tonight to keep me distracted from the election news. I did some minor substitutions (I know!) using King Arthur GF Flour (I know, you don’t like it) & dairy-free butter replacement. Perhaps because I used KA flour, the batter was less runny and more thick, so I spooned them in instead of piping them. I made them in a full-sized doughnut pan & miniature muffin tins, and baked them about 10 minutes. Instead of cinnamon sugar I mixed up sugar & pumpkin pie spice. They came out COMPLETELY AMAZING. I might have a new favorite doughnut, which is hard for me, I was completely in love with the cinnamon doughnuts you posted on Living Without, but these come out so light and cakey, it’s like a whole new game. Thanks for this recipe so much. 

  • Sandra Elsner
    November 6, 2012 at 1:36 AM

    I just made these with the help of my kids. We used a mini muffin pan and  I substituted tapioca starch for the corn starch. I cooked them a bit longer because I still haven’t gotten that silly oven thermometer and i know that it runs low. I put the cinnamon sugar in a baggie and tossed to coat the donuts a few at a time. My son called them cinnamon muffins but i could tell the “donuttyness” of them.  It only came out to 2 WeightWatchers points per donut/muffin which is right up my alley. Thanks for the recipe!

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