Air Fryer Apple Cider Donuts

updated Jun 24, 2021
Instant Pot Air Fryer: Apple Cider Donuts

These apple cider donuts are so good they'll convince you to buy an air fryer.

Makes18

Prep25 minutes

Cook45 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Credit: Shelly Westerhausen/Kitchn

Apple cider donuts are one of fall’s greatest pleasures — especially when eaten still-warm, on a crisp fall day. I can practically taste the tender morsels of cake-y crumbs just thinking about them, and the the warmly spiced coating that cracks with every bite.

If you’re missing your favorite apple orchard (as I am after moving away from it) and need an apple cider donut fix, this recipe is for you. This recipe is also for you if you’ve ever wanted to try donuts in your Instant Pot Air Fryer, or if you just want your kitchen to smell heavenly for an entire Saturday morning. Here’s how to make apple cider donuts in your air fryer.

Credit: Shelly Westerhausen/Kitchn

Instant Pot Air Fryer Apple Cider Donuts

This recipe is specifically designed for the Instant Pot Air Fryer (check out our full review!), but you can use whatever air fryer you have if you don’t mind being limited to cooking just a few donuts at a time.

The mixing method for making the dough is similar to making biscuits (and inspired by our shortcut biscuit dough air fryer donuts). You’ll mix together the dry ingredients, work in some grated butter with your fingertips, then stir in the liquid. Then, you’ll fold and pat the dough a few times before cutting out the donuts. This method makes donuts that hold up better for air frying — the dough is sturdy enough to set on the perforated racks without slipping through and getting stuck. The cold grated butter gives them that characteristic puff of classic fried donuts.

The liquid in this donut dough is a combination of boiled-down apple cider and milk. Boiling the apple cider helps give these donuts their sweet apple taste, and can be done up to several days in advance. You can also make the doughnut dough the night before — just tightly wrap it in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container, then cut out and fry the donuts in the morning.

My final piece of advice? Don’t skimp on the cinnamon-sugar coating. It gives them that fresh-from-the-apple-orchard bite without having to take a long country drive.

Credit: Shelly Westerhausen/Kitchn

Instant Pot Air Fryer: Apple Cider Donuts

These apple cider donuts are so good they'll convince you to buy an air fryer.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes

Makes 18

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the donuts:

  • 2 cups

    apple cider

  • 3 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) cold unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup

    cold milk

For shaping and finishing:

  • 1/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 8 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Make the dough: Pour 2 cups apple cider into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until reduced by half (to 1 cup), 10 to 12 minutes. Err on the side of over-reducing (you can always add a little bit extra apple cider to the reduced amount). Transfer the cider reduction to a heatproof measuring cup and cool completely, about 30 minutes.

  2. Place 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

  3. Grate 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter on the large holes of a box grater. Add the grated butter to the flour mixture and use your fingers to incorporate the butter until it is about the texture of small pebbles. Make a well in the center of mixture. Add the 1 cup reduced cider and 1/2 cup cold milk to the well and use a wide spatula to mix the dough together.

  4. Shape the dough: Sprinkle a work surface with a few tablespoons of flour. Place the dough on the flour. Pat the dough into an even layer about 1-inch thick, and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the dough onto itself and pat it down until 1-inch thick. Fold and pat again, repeating about 6 times, until the dough is slightly springy. Pat the dough into a rough 9x13-inch rectangle about 1/2-inch thick.

  5. Cut donuts out of the dough with a floured donut cutter (or a 3-inch and 1-inch round cutter). You should get about 8 donuts out of the first round of cutting. Transfer the donuts to a baking sheet. Gather the scraps, pat the dough down again, and repeat cutting until you have about 18 donuts. Refrigerate the donuts while you preheat the air fryer to 375ºF for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the coating.

  6. Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and place in a medium bowl. Place 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork.

  7. Depending on the size of your air fryer, air fry in batches of 3 to 4 at a time, flipping them halfway through, 12 minutes per batch. Transfer the donuts to a wire rack and load the air fryer with the next batch. Meanwhile, dip the fried donuts first in the butter, and then the cinnamon sugar. Place back on the wire rack. Serve the donuts warm or at room temperature with warm cider for dipping.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The dough can be mixed and folded the night before. Store tightly wrapped in the fridge and bring to room temperature for 30 minutes before punching out the donut shape and air frying.

Storage: These donuts are best made the day they are made, but leftovers keep well for up to 2 days in a tightly sealed container at room temperature.