Cider Donut Holes

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about

    6 dozen

    donut holes

Appears in

Welcome to Claire's: 35 Years of Recipes and Reflections from the Landmark Vegetarian Restaurant

Welcome to Claire's

By Claire Criscuolo

Published 2014

  • About

I feel compelled to warn you that these are highly addictive and to confess that we've eaten too many of these spiced little donut balls in the kitchen before they ever made it to our customers—oops!


  • 1 cup cider
  • cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup organic trans fat-free shortening, plus 2 cups for frying
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Cinnamon-Sugar Coating

  • cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Measure the cider into a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for about 12-15 minutes until it reduces to ¼ cup. Meanwhile, measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, the cinnamon, salt, cardamom, and nutmeg into a bowl, then sift it into another bowl. Set aside.
  2. Measure the shortening into a medium-sized bowl. Add the sugar. Using a hand mixer set on medium speed, cream the shortening and sugar for about a minute until the sugar is incorporated into the shortening. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until creamy, stopping once or twice to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the buttermilk, the reduced cider, and the grated lemon zest, and beat on medium speed for about a minute until smooth and creamy. Add the sifted flour mixture all at once. Using a spoon, stir until the flour mixture is completely blended in. The batter will be quite thick, so after you’ve stirred the mixture for a minute of so, you can just use your hand, turning and “kneading” to incorporate all the flour into the creamed mixture until no unmixed flour remains.
  3. To prepare the cinnamon-sugar coating, measure the sugar and cinnamon into a medium-size bowl and, using a whisk, blend to combine. Set aside.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and line another with a brown paper bag or a double layer of paper towels to drain the donut holes after frying. Scoop a heaping teaspoon of the batter into your hand and roll into a ball. Continue with the remaining batter. Set the lined cookie sheet by the stove and get a slotted spoon handy, too. Measure the remaining 2 cups of shortening into an 8-cup heavy pot. Attach a thermometer to the pot. Heat the shortening to 325°F over medium heat. After the shortening is heated, carefully drop 4-5 balls into the hot shortening. Fry the donut holes for about a minute, turning them to cook evenly until golden brown.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked donut holes to the lined cookie sheet. Continue frying the remaining donut holes, adjusting the heat to keep the temperature around 325°F. Place 1-2 donut holes into the cinnamon-sugar mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a platter and continue coating the remaining donut holes. Eat warm or at room temperature. Store, covered tightly with foil, on the counter for up to 3 days. There are plenty to share!