Apple Cider Donut Mini Muffins


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apple cider donut mini muffins in a muffin tin

Apple cider gives these mini muffins an unmistakable fall flavor. After they bake, roll the muffins in melted butter and cinnamon sugar for baked bite-sized muffins that taste like donuts. 

We’re at that point in the year when the days are still warm and the mornings feel crisp and fresh. Fall is coming, and I am SO here for it! We had a fun summer (COVID notwithstanding), but I love this time of year, and I’m ready for the cooler days, sweater weather, and kids in cozy pjs. I’m also ready to start baking all the Fall Recipes (Slow Cooker Turkey and Quinoa Chili is on my own personal meal plan this week).

When I lived in Virginia, every fall I took a day trip with friends to our favorite orchard to pick apples and, more importantly, eat apple cider donuts. There are few things that feel as quintessentially fall as sitting in an orchard on a cool morning, eating still-warm apple cider donuts. I’m hungry just thinking about them!

apple cider donut mini muffins in a muffin tin

This recipe is my tribute to those golden, rich, rolled in cinnamon-sugar donuts. These are loaded with apple cider flavor thanks to a concentrated apple cider that has been simmered down. It’s the only step in making these that takes any time. The rest is simple. Mix the muffins by hand. Bake until golden. Then dip those soft, bite-sized muffins in cinnamon-sugar. 

The result is a soft, sweet mini muffin that tastes like a fall-scented donut, and only last for a day in our busy kitchen.

mixing ingredients in a clear bowl

stirring batter in a clear bowl

spooning mixture into muffin tin


  • Apple Cider – This gives the mini muffins their key flavor. Fresh, local, apple cider is hard to beat this time of year, but even apple juice will work in a pinch. The key is to start with a large(ish) amount and simmer it way down until the flavor is super concentrated. The simmering step takes about 30 minutes, but can be done up to a week ahead.
  • Cinnamon – Because the apple cider has so much flavor, you just need a bit of ground cinnamon to really highlight those flavors. If you’re using apple juice instead of apple cider, try using pumpkin pie spice and doubling the amount to give the muffins more fall flavor. 
  • Egg – An egg binds the batter together and gives the donut muffins a cake-like texture. You’ll just need one egg here.
  • Unsalted Butter – Use melted butter to make these muffins fast and easy to mix by hand. If using salted butter, be sure to skip the added salt in the recipe. 
  • All-Purpose Flour, White Sugar, Baking Powder, Salt, and Vanilla Extract – Standard baking ingredients.
  • For topping – You’ll need some melted butter and a cinnamon-sugar mixture for rolling the donuts at the end of baking.

mixing cinnamon and sugar in a white bowl

rolling mini muffin in cinnamon sugar

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4.48 from 17 votes

Apple Cider Donut Mini Muffins

Apple cider gives these mini muffins an unmistakable fall flavor. After they bake, roll the muffins in melted butter and cinnamon sugar for bite-sized muffins that taste like donut holes.
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Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 52 minutes
Servings: 24


  • Mini Muffin Tin
  • Mixing Bowls


Apple Cider Mini Muffins:

  • 3 cups Apple Cider (see note)
  • 2 cups (250 g) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) White Sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

  • 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) White Sugar
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon


  • Reduce cider: Place apple cider in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and continue simmering until it reduces down to 1 cup. (This will likely take about 30 minutes at a low simmer. It can be done up to 5 days ahead and refrigerated until you're ready to use it). Let cool completely before cooking.
  • Preheat oven to 325°F / 163°C.
  • Spray a mini muffin tin (24 spaces) with nonstick cooking spray
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, and salt.
  • In a second mixing bowl, whisk together reduced apple cider, egg, 4 Tbsp melted butter, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Pour liquid ingredients over dry and stir just until everything is evenly combined. (The mixture should be fairly thin; be sure that there are no lumps.)
  • Fill prepared muffin tin with batter so that each space is about 3/4 full.
  • Bake until the muffins are just set in the middle, 12 to 14 minutes.
  • Allow muffins to cool in the pan until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.
  • Put 4 Tbsp melted unsalted butter in a small bowl. In a second small bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp ground cinnamon.
  • Working with one mini muffin at a time, roll the top of the muffin in butter and then dip in cinnamon-sugar. Return the mini muffins to the pan to continue cooling completely.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature and serve within 24 hours.


Apple Cider - Any type of apple cider will work here. Apple cider will have the most flavor, but you can use apple juice if apple cider isn’t available. Be sure to follow the instructions to reduce the apple cider down and let it cool completely before using it in the recipe. The step to reduce the cider is important because it gives you the most concentrated flavor in the muffins. It can take about 30 minutes and needs to cool completely, but can be done up to a week ahead of time.


Calories: 80kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 25mg | Potassium: 50mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 128IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $3.50
Calories: 80
Keyword: baked donuts, fall recipe, mini muffins
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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  1. We made these this morning, and they’re excellent. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    I see that they are good stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Have you tried freezing them? Do they unfreeze? OK? Thinking about making a big batch to have on hand for crazy mornings with the kids.

    1. Yes! They freeze so well. I just defrost them at room temperature or I use the defrost setting on the microwave for about 10-20 seconds.

  2. Oh my goodness, yum! I’ve been on a huge apple kick this month, ever since the boys and I went apple picking. We got fresh-pressed cider from the orchard, and I used some of it to make Sally’s Baking Addiction apple cider baked donuts. They were so good that I made them again a week later for a brunch with friends. But now I want to make these! They look even easier and make more, which is nice for sharing. I ordered the USA Pans mini muffin pan with your affiliate link. I already have their regular muffin pans, half sheet pans, square cake pans, and bread pans. They’re such a good, quality brand.

    1. Aren’t those USA Pans the best? I only found them relatively recently, and I’ve been slowly replacing everything with them. They are so sturdy and bake so evenly. I’ve had Sally’s apple cider baked donuts on my to-make list this year! Hopefully this weekend!

    1. I think that should work great Carmen! I haven’t tested it that way, but I’m planning to try it with coconut or vegetable oil too. Since it uses melted butter, a 1:1 sub should have no issues.