Apple Cider Donut Muffins

by Jillian
Soft and pillowy donut muffins infused with delicious apple cider and fall spices, coated in butter and cinnamon-sugar!

Soft and pillowy donut muffins infused with delicious apple cider and fall spices, coated in butter and cinnamon-sugar!

Fall is finally here, and I couldn’t be more ready for it! One of my fondest memories during this time of year is attending the annual harvest festival in Hood River, Oregon with my mom and grandma. While my grandma is no longer with us, it’s still a fun little event I get to enjoy with my mom, and I love that it never changes. The festival still offers the same local products and entertainment, and has kept that comforting small-town atmosphere, despite how much the town has grown over the years.

Along with big home-baked cookies, delicious berry jams, the freshest kettle corn on earth, and an endless array of freshly-picked orchard apples, you can always find a vendor selling apple cider donut holes. They’re like the perfect comfort food during fall because not only are they served warm from the fryer, but they’re flavored with spiced apple cider and tossed in sweet cinnamon sugar.

However, with the harvest festival still a couple of weeks away, I decided I could NOT wait any longer to wrap my tastebuds around those deliciously doughy gems of apple cider sweetness…it was time to make my own!

These Apple Cider Donut Muffins are so fluffy, lusciously moist, and PACKED with so much apple cider flavor. While they aren’t the traditional fried version you find at most festivals, they’re just as good, if not better…

The recipe is ridiculously simple, and you don’t have to worry about the mess of hot oil. Not to mention, they’re baked with whole oats, which means they’re healthier, which also means you can eat twice as many! That makes sense, right?

To infuse these little donut muffins with as much apple sweetness as possible, I made up a strong cup of apple cider, using the instant apple cider packets from the store.

One packet makes one cup of apple cider, but since I wanted mine strong, I added 4 packets to one cup of water. The apple cider is added to the oats and allowed to soak for a bit. As the oats soak, they soften and almost melt into the batter as the muffins bake up, giving them such a moist crumb!

The rest of the batter comes together in seconds. First, the flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, and spices are combined. Then the wet ingredients are added–eggs, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and cider-oat mixture. I added a little applesauce for extra apple flavor!

To get those sky-high muffin tops, I baked the donut muffins for 5 minutes at a much higher temperature–425ºF, then dropped the temperature to 375ºF for another 5 minutes. This not only gives the donut muffins more height, but it makes for a rounder, donut hole-like appearance.

Once the donut muffins have cooled enough to handle, they’re dipped into a bath of melted butter, and tossed in cinnamon-sugar.

I tested this recipe with both standard-sized muffins and mini muffins, so feel free to do what your heart desires. Personally, I prefer the mini variety since you can pop a whole one into your mouth at a time. Plus, they’re WAY cuter!

With the standard-sized ones, I like to coat just the tops in butter and cinnamon-sugar, then crack ’em open and spread a little butter in the center.

Mmmmm…..

These Apple Cider Donut Muffins would make the perfect addition to any breakfast or brunch gathering. They’re unbelievably moist, thanks to the soaked oats, and they’re bursting with so much apple cider flavor. And that sparkling coat of cinnamon-sugar…absolutely heavenly.

Soft and pillowy donut muffins infused with delicious apple cider and fall spices, coated in butter and cinnamon-sugar!

Apple Cider Donut Muffins

Soft and pillowy donut muffins infused with delicious apple cider and fall spices, coated in butter and cinnamon-sugar!
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 19 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 4 minutes
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 14 Regular Muffins

Ingredients
  

Donut Muffins:

  • 4 (.74 oz) packets spiced instant apple cider mix*
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • cup granulated sugar
  • cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • ½ cup oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

For Dipping:

  • 6-8 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 425ºF, and spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a bowl, combine the cider mix and hot water, stirring until dissolved. Stir in the oats and allow to soak for 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, and spices together. Add the applesauce, oil, eggs, vanilla, and oat mixture, stirring until just combined.

For Regular-Sized Donut Muffins:

  • Scoop batter into the muffin tin, filling 3/4 full. Bake for 5 minutes at 425ºF, then decrease the temperature to 375ºF, and continue baking for 12-14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For Mini Donut Muffins:

  • Scoop batter into the muffin tin, filling 3/4 full. Bake for 5 minutes at 425ºF, then decrease the temperature to 375ºF, and continue baking for another 5 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

For Both Regular and Mini Donut Muffins:

  • Place the melted butter in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, stir the sugar and cinnamon together until combined.
  • Working one at a time, dip donut muffins into the melted butter, shaking off excess butter, then into the cinnamon-sugar.
  • Donuts taste best on the same day, but they may be covered tightly or stored in a plastic container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Notes

*I used Alpine Original Apple Cider instant drink mix.
**If making mini donut muffins, the recipe yields about 50 mini donut muffins.
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