My favorite Fall treat is fresh cider donuts from the cider mill, and it’s even close.
Luckily for me, I live in Michigan, and we have plenty of apple orchards and cider mills around here. So, come Fall, there is no shortage of apple cider donuts.
If you’ve never had a cider donut, first of all, what are you waiting for?! Second of all, you’re missing out big time.
Apple cider donuts are incredibly moist donuts, freshly fried and coated with cinnamon & sugar. When they’re fresh, there is truly nothing better.
There’s no substitute for the real thing. I’m not going to lie to you and say these are as good as fresh apple cider donuts, because the real-deal is just too good.
But I can proudly say that these are damn good.
And they fact that they are nearly half the calories of typical apple cider donuts makes these even better…
The secret ingredient for Protein Apple Cider Donuts
Authentic apple cider donuts use, you guessed it, apple cider!
Fresh apple cider is already very sweet as it is just concentrated apples. But for cider donuts, that is taken one step further, and the cider is reduced down into a syrup for an intense apple flavor, and it’s how you get that deep brown color of the donuts.
We’re doing things a little bit differently here…
We’re not using any apple cider.
Apple cider donuts without apple cider? What is this blasphemy?!
To reduce the calories and sugar here, I opted to leave the apple cider out, so we have the sacrifice that deep brown color. But that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
Instead of cider, we’re using a different secret ingredient: apple butter.
If you’re unfamiliar with apple butter, it’s quite similar to applesauce. In fact, I’d consider them siblings.
Apple butter is to applesauce as apple cider is to apple juice.
The difference is that apple butter is a more concentrated version of applesauce. Essentially, it’s just cooked down longer, leading to less liquid and more of a caramelized color and deeper flavor.
I used an apple butter from our local orchard, but most stores should sell it! Look for it with the jelly/jam in your store.
And don’t worry about having to buy a jar of apple butter just for this recipe- make a peanut butter + apple butter sandwich, fall in love with it, and thank me later. It’s significantly better than peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, believe it or not.
Can you substitute apple butter?
You certainly can.
If you follow the recipe exactly as written, you can directly swap out the apple butter for more unsweetened applesauce.
I tried this with success, so you shouldn’t have any problem there.
That being said, I HIGHLY recommend using apple butter if you can. My version with just applesauce was good, but really lacking that punch of apple flavor.
Since we’re not using any cider, the apple butter acts as the perfect flavor replacement for it, and I highly recommend utilizing it.
I’ve made this recipe numerous times, and I’ve experimented with different sizes each time. I prefer making these as standard donuts, of which this recipe will make 6.
If you want to go slightly smaller with them, you’ll get 8-10 donuts, depending on how much you fill the donut pan.
To make these donuts, all we need to do is mix together all of our ingredients until we have a thick batter.
I filled each donut cavity with batter, then used my finger to swirl it around to make sure the batter was evenly distributed.
You’ll see that in this case, I made 8 donuts, but you’ll want to stick with 6 donuts if you’re using a standard pan. If you make 8 smaller donuts, each will be about 130 calories instead of 175.
Bake the donuts for 10-12 minutes. The exact time will vary based on the size of the donuts and the type of protein powder you use, so I recommend checking at 10 minutes to see if they need any additional time.
When they’re fresh out of the oven, we’re going to give them a quick butter spray before tossing in a cinnamon-sugar coating.
I like to use the double-coating technique for extra flavor. What I like to do is coat the donuts, spray them once more with butter spray, then coat them again.
There’s not going to be a ton of extra cinnamon sugar, but the butter wets the tops a bit and the end result is a much more authentic apple cider donut look.
Here’s what the difference between a single and double coating looks like:
Serve ’em up fresh, or save them and give them a quick 10-second reheat in the microwave before serving.
And if you need even more incentive to make these donuts, I’d like to point you to my new favorite breakfast…
That’s right, it’s an apple cider donut breakfast sandwich!
Just slice the donut in half, add an egg and some bacon, and enjoy.
Which protein powder should you use for Protein Apple Cider Donuts?
In this recipe, I used PEScience Snickerdoodle protein, which is a whey/casein blend.
If you’ve made any of my other high-protein recipes, you’ve seen me using PEScience before. That’s because the combination of whey & casein protein powder works SO much better than whey protein alone in most cases.
I originally developed this recipe using vanilla flavored protein, and it works just as well, so don’t worry if you don’t have Snickerdoodle flavor specifically. It just adds a nice extra cinnamon flavor!
Note that I’ve since signed up as an affiliate for PEScience because I love their protein so much. You can save 15% on any order with the code “Matt“, and I appreciate it so much when you do. It doesn’t seem like much, but it helps me continue to be able to develop free recipes for you guys!
If you opt for whey protein powder in this recipe (I don’t recommend it, but it should work in a pinch), my advice is to follow the recipe as written, but leave the applesauce out initially.
Mix everything together, and then add the applesauce last to thin out the batter and get it to the right consistency. Whey protein absorbs liquids differently, so you’ll want to be able to adjust the amounts
But as always, feel free to experiment.
And if you want more donuts in your life, be sure to check out my collection of the best protein donut recipes!
- 120g (1 Cup) All-Purpose Flour
- 62g (2 Scoops) Snickerdoodle Protein Powder - Code "Matt" saves 15% (Vanilla also works great)
- 20g Granular Sugar Substitute (I used Anthony's)
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 2 Large Eggs
- 72g (1/4 Cup) Apple Butter (if you do not have apple butter, you can use 140-150g total of unsweetened applesauce instead)
- 60g Unsweetened Applesauce
- 28g Light Butter
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 Tbsp Sugar-Free Syrup (optional but recommended)
- 50g Granular Sugar Substitute
- 1/4 tsp Cinnamon (Can use more if desired)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, mix up all the dry ingredients to avoid clumping.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together all of your liquid ingredients. It's okay if it's not a completely smooth mixture at this point. The butter will not completely mix into the rest of the liquids, and that is to be expected.
- Add the liquid mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients, and use a silicone spatula (or mixing spoon) to mix it all up until you have a smooth batter.
- Spray a donut pan with nonstick butter spray and fill your molds. This recipe will make 6 standard donuts, but if you use a smaller donut pan, you'll get about 8-10 instead. If you don’t have a donut pan, these can would also make great muffins!
- Add to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. 10 minutes typically works great, but if you make smaller donuts and they end up very tall, they may require an extra minute or two to cook through.
- While those are in the oven, make the coating by mixing together your sugar substitute and cinnamon in a bowl.
- When your donuts come out and are still warm, give them a light butter spray on each side and roll them (or toss) in your cinnamon-sugar mixture until coated. I like to "double coat" them and spray them with butter once more. See the photos above for a visual representation for why I prefer this method.
- Enjoy these while fresh & warm for the best result. If you're saving these for during the week, reheating them in the microwave for 10 seconds brings them back to that fresh out of the oven taste (high-protein baked goods tend to get dense as they sit, so the microwave will fix that).
- The protein powder I use is a mixture of whey & casein protein, and I highly recommend you use the same. Regular whey protein tends to dry out too much. To see how different types of protein powder affect donut recipes, check out my Ultimate Protein Powder Substitution Guide.
- I used a Snickerdoodle protein powder, but I've used vanilla in the past and it works just as well.
- I do not count sugar substitutes in my carb totals, so if you are very strict about carbs, be sure to include those.
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Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1 Donut
Amount Per Serving Calories 175Total Fat 4gCarbohydrates 22gSugar 5gProtein 12g