Apple Cider Doughnut Mini Muffins Recipe

Not your traditional cider doughnut holes.

A basket of apple cider doughnut mini muffins next to a cup of coffee.

Serious Eats / Anna Markow

Why It Works

  • These apple cider doughnut mini muffins are easy to prepare and quick to bake.
  • They get a quick bath in melted butter and then tossed in cinnamon sugar while still warm from the oven.

I think I've only ever briefly touched upon the topic of brunch before, but I'll tell you how I feel about it right now: I hate it. The kind of "with the fire of a thousand suns" hate that can only come from working in restaurants. I don't get the brunch obsession.

Brunch, to me, is a great idea in theory. I like brunch at home. Then again, on my schedule, every breakfast is technically brunch.

I discovered my intense hatred for this odd meal after I'd been in the city for a year. The restaurant I was working for had not yet begun to serve brunch, so I didn't know what to expect when a friend invited me along to her birthday brunch one Sunday. I was not prepared to stand in line for half an hour just for the privilege of a late breakfast, nor was I prepared for the dead eyes of our overworked, hungover waitress.

After cringing at bad-quality mimosas and outlandishly expensive eggs (who in their right mind pays $15 for two eggs?) I took the official position of "never again" when it came to brunch.

And then I had to work brunch.

The chef at the restaurant had decided long ago that we would offer a "simple" pastry basket to accompany brunch. In a restaurant where the only oven was on the line (meaning that I had to get my baking done well before opening time), and my work station was downstairs, this meant I had to get in early, throw together pre-measured muffin and biscuit mixes, and run feverishly up and down stairs every two to three minutes. And once all of the muffins and whatnot were tumbled onto cooling racks, I'd have to try and cram my actual regular baking prep in before the oven was filled with racks of bacon and potatoes.

The icing on the pastry basket cake is that very few were actually sold, a handful were given away to tables for whatever reason struck the fancy of the owners, and the rest became staff snack during the brief lull between brunch and dinner. For all the effort I'd put in, it felt pointless.

The restaurant where I work now has not yet officially started brunch, but I already put my foot down on the subject of pastry baskets for normal service. We did a prix fixe brunch party recently, though, and I agreed to include "bottomless" baskets containing chunks of banana bread, baby biscuits, and mini muffins, served alongside jam and flavored cream cheese.

The baskets were a huge hit, particularly the mini muffins. I used to make a full-size version of apple cider doughnut muffins in my exhausting pastry basket days, but the miniature version is so much better for several reasons, among them a speedy bake time and the ease of adding the coating to several at a time.

People will think these are traditional cider doughnut holes, but they never actually see a fryer, instead getting a quick bath in melted butter and a toss in cinnamon sugar while still warm from the oven. They're super cute, super delicious, and even better, super easy and super fast.

October 2013

Recipe Facts



Active: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Serves: 36 mini muffins

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  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger

  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar

  • 1 cup apple cider

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 7 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled, divided

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar


  1. Set rack in center of oven, preheat to 400°F (200°C). Liberally spray mini muffin pans with nonstick spray, set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Add brown sugar and work into mixture by hand to break up clumps. Set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together cider, egg, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons melted butter. Add wet to dry ingredients and quickly but gently fold together until all streaks of flour are just incorporated and you have a light, fluffy batter. Divide evenly between cups of muffin pans (about 2/3 full) and bake for 8-10 minutes, turning once.

  2. While muffins are baking, whisk together remaining cinnamon and granulated sugar. As soon as muffins are done, immediately turn out onto a rack and roll them a few at a time in remaining melted butter, then roll in cinnamon sugar until well-coated. Let muffins continue to cool on rack.

Special Equipment

Mini muffin pans


You can reheat the doughnuts in the oven at 400°F (200°C) for one or two minutes.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
68 Calories
2g Fat
11g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 36
Amount per serving
Calories 68
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 11mg 4%
Sodium 81mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 3mg 13%
Calcium 13mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 20mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)