This apple fritter donut recipe took years of tweaking and has the key features I think are special about apple fritters. Crisp apples that are more on the tart side balance the sweetness of the dough and glaze. The fritters are perfectly crispy and craggy on the outside, and smell like they descended from apple heaven.
Many donut shops use canned apple filling that is made of pure molten garbage, and very small pieces of overcooked poor quality apples. I like to use fairly big apple chunks, so you can really taste the apple, and they aren't cooked to total mush. The bigger pieces also create a greater diversity of flavor, with the outsides having lightly spiced caramelized flavor, and the insides having more of the raw apple bite. My preference for making apple fritters is either Honeycrisp, or Granny Smith apples. If you use Granny Smith, do not use the apple cider vinegar that is in the filling recipe, because they are tart enough on their own. For best results, don't ever use red or green delicious apples- as they are terrible for everything and should be banned for human consumption.
See how these round out a nice assortment of donuts? This picture shows the noble apple fritter sitting alongside some of my apple cider cake donuts to perfect an autumnal-themed donut box I served around Thanksgiving time.
If you are totally averse to deep frying, you can brush the fritters with a little oil before proofing them, and bake these at 355 degrees instead. You can also make them in an air fryer with fantastic results!
You can totally coat these in cinnamon sugar, or a plain simple glaze, but I like to double down on the apple flavor by using apple cider for the liquid in the glaze in this recipe.
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There should be cologne that smells like this for real.
My pro tip for waking your family up: do it with the fragrance of fresh homemade apple fritters or homemade donuts if you want to be the parent of the year. This particular apple fritter donut recipe makes the ultimate sweet treat to bring to potlucks, and they go crazy fast.
- There should be cologne that smells like this for real.
- Ingredients needed (See recipe card for quantities)
- Filling Instructions
- Dough Instructions
- Glaze Instructions
- 🍎 Forming, frying, and glazing the fritters.
- Different fun fritter variations based on this recipe.
- Other recipes you might love:
- Apple cider glazed apple fritters
Ingredients needed (See recipe card for quantities)
- vegan butter
- diced peeled fresh apples (honeycrisp are ideal)
- evaporated cane juice
- Vanilla extract
- apple cider vinegar
- unsweetened plant-based milk
- active dry yeast
- evaporated cane juice or brown sugar
- vegan butter
- bread flour
- grated nutmeg
- apple cider
- natural corn syrup
- powdered sugar
- ground cardamom
Peel, core and cut the apples into ½ inch cubes.
Briefly cook the apples in hot vegan butter.
Add the spices and remaining ingredients.
Sauté just until well combined and lightly caramelized
Pour onto a tray to cool.
Very gently warm the milk, yeast, sugar, and vegan butter. Do not exceed 110 degrees.
After 5 minutes, when the yeast is active add it to a mixer with the whisked dry ingredients.
Mix for 5 minutes with a dough hook. Allow to rest, and mix for an additional 4 minutes.
Form the dough into a smooth ball, and cover the bowl with a moistened dish towel to rise for an hour.
Once the dough has bulk fermented, it should be about doubled in size and ready to work with.
This is the easiest part of this whole damn project! All you have to do is add all the glaze ingredients to a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and mix for about one minute until smooth.
If you want your glaze to go on thinner and set up crispier, you can place it in a double boiler on a low flame to warm it slightly before you dip the fried apple fritters in it.
I give instructions below on the glazing process that will yield the crispiest-on-the-outside fritters, with perfectly cooked dough.
🍎 Forming, frying, and glazing the fritters.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface arpoximatly into a 20-inch by 12-inch rectangle. As evenly as possible, distribute the apple filling on top, and then dust with a generous sprinkle of flour to help soak up extra liquid.
Roll the dough and filling up into a log, similarly to how you would roll cinnamon rolls.
Chop up the rolled-up dough into inch-sized cubes (2.5 cm.)
Divide the chopped-up dough and filling into 12 equal portions. With well floured hands, press them into flat, irregular fritters. Place them onto lightly oiled squares of parchment paper, and onto two baking trays.
Place the trays of fritters into an oven. On the bottom rack of the oven, place a pan full of just-boiled water, and close the door to the oven. This will provide a warm humid environment for the fritters to proof in. Allow the fritters to rise for 20 minutes.
Heat 2-3 inches of canola oil in a large pot or dutch oven to 350-360 degrees over a medium-high flame.
Fry 2-3 fritters at a time in the hot oil. Removing the square of parchment once the fritters are in the oil using a pair of tongs.
Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until reddish-golden-brown and fragrant.
Allow the fritters to cool for at least 10 minutes on a wire rack before dipping each fritter on both sides in the glaze. Allowing them to cool a bit before glazing will allow the outside of the fritters to be crispier. Return the dripping fritters to the wire rack for the glaze to set up for 5 minutes before serving.
Different fun fritter variations based on this recipe.
There are magical ways to tweak this apple fritter donut recipe.
Lavender pear fritter - I used to offer these regularly on our food truck and they were downright heavenly. I would make a similar style filling, but with chopped pears and a small amount of dried lavender flowers in it in place of the apples. I would "pear" it (see what I did there?) with a glaze made with a hint of lemon and chamomile and put a little fresh lemon zest on the outside. It was gorgeous.
Cinnamon Bun - Rather than chopping the dough up, once the filling is spread onto the dough, roll it up and then slice it and bake the spiral shaped rolls at 350 for 17-19 minutes on a lightly oiled parchment lined baking tray. Once no longer hot, glaze the buns with the apple cider glaze. This is a great option if you don't want to fry them.
I have made this recipe using all-purpose gluten-free flour and while it WORKS, it adds some complexities to the process. The main thing to be careful about, especially if gluten is an allergy issue, is frying gluten-free fritters in clean oil which hasn't come in contact with regular fritters. Cross-contamination through oil is REAL!
Yes! You can totally bake these instead of frying them. Brush them with oil BEFORE proofing them and bake them on a lightly oiled parchment paper lined baking pan at 350 until browned around the outside.
Absolutely yes! The only thing is that air fryers have a bit of a small capacity. Make sure to spray your air fryer's tray generously with oil, as well as the fritters when you put them in. Do not overcrowd your air fryer, so that they cook thoroughly. They should take about 7 minutes depending on your air fryer. I recommend flipping them half way through.
You don't need a donut fryer, table top fryer or any other such nonsense to pull this recipe off with finesse. These are the things I do recommend you have to make this nicely and easily:
- Stand mixer. I mean, sure you can knead this by hand, but its gonna take about 10 minutes and I like to get the dishes washed, measure out the ingredients for other steps of the recipe, or have a conversation with my dog who speaks to me in an English accent instead, while a robot does all the work for me…
- Slotted spoon or tongs for flipping and removing the fritters.
- Parchment paper. If I could marry a kitchen thing, it would probably be parchment paper. If you don’t have any, stop wasting your life and get some!
Raised donuts and fritters made with yeast do not keep well. Just don't do it. They should be eaten within hours of being made. 12 hours is the absolute limit in my opinion.
Other recipes you might love:
Apple cider glazed apple fritters
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Yield: 12 big apple fritters 1x
- Diet: Vegan
Don't be intimidated by the steps. This recipe will yield consistently perfect vegan apple fritters if you follow it carefully. You will find some of the small details, like the type of apples used, using apple cider in the glaze, and the proofing time and method make a huge difference in creating an absolutely heavenly fritter!
1 tablespoon vegan butter
4 cups ½ inch diced peeled fresh apples (Honeycrisp are ideal)
¼ cup evaporated cane juice
½ teaspoon molasses
1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons evaporated cane juice or brown sugar
¼ cup vegan butter
350 grams (a little more than 2 ½ cups) bread flour
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
¾ teaspoon salt
Apple cider glaze
⅔ cup apple cider
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 teaspoon molasses
1kg powdered sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
For forming and frying the fritters
Canola oil to fry in
First make the filling
In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, melt the vegan butter over a high flame. After 60 seconds when the butter is liquid and hot and foamy, add the apples and sauté them for 3 minutes, stirring regularly. You are just trying to take the raw edge off the apples here, not cook them to death.
Reduce the flame to medium and add the evaporated cane juice, molasses, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla extract. Continue to sauté the apples for one minute until all sugar has dissolved, and all ingredients are evenly distributed.
Remove the apple filling from the pan, and allow it to cool fully before using it to make the fritters.
Then set up the dough
Warm the plant-based milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it reaches slightly over 105-110 degrees. The milk should have the feel of warm (not hot) bath water. You can check it with a candy thermometer to make sure it has not exceeded 110 degrees.
Turn the flame off under the pot, and whisk in the yeast and sugar Allow the yeast to proof in the warm sweetened milk for 5 minutes until the surface looks foamy and active. Add the vegan butter to the pot, and allow it to melt slightly for 2 minutes.
Add the contents of the pot to a stand mixer along with the flour, nutmeg and salt. Mix on low speed with a dough hook attachment for 4 minutes until elastic. Allow the dough to rest and hydrate for 5 minutes and then mix for an additional 4 minutes on medium speed.
Place moistened warm dishcloth over the mixing bowl and allow the dough to bulk ferment for 60-minutes at a comfortable room temperature. Some people use plastic wrap to cover the bowl, but I really hope you don't send non-biodegradable junk to the landfill in order to make this project. If your kitchen is a little chilly, allow for slightly more rise time until the dough has roughly doubled in size.
While the dough rises, throw together the easy glaze
Place all ingredients into a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and mix together until the powdered sugar has fully dissolved and the glaze is smooth and thick.
Place the glaze into a double boiler over a low flame while you form and fry the fritters so that the glaze is warm and loose when it’s time to be used. You can save any leftover glaze in an airtight container to use in future donut making bonanza
Now make the fritters finally!
Once the dough has bulk fermented and risen for an hour, punch the dough down and flip it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, ½ inch thick. The exact size and shape of the rectangle don’t matter for these fritters.
Spread the apple filling around the full surface of the dough. Sprinkle the apple filling with 3 tablespoons of flour. Roll the dough into a log as you would a cinnamon roll.
Using a sharp knife cut the log of dough into strips on a bias, making cuts every ½ inch or so. Then make another set of ½ inch cuts, crossing the first set, essentially chopping the dough up into ½ inch cubes. Sprinkle the top of the dough with a little additional flour to absorb some of the extra juice and encapsulate the moist filling. If the filling is extra juice and messy, use slightly more flour.
Press the messy chopped-up log together by hand forming a fractured loaf. Pressing the loaf with a little pressure from your hands helps the moisture of the apples and the extra flour bond together a bit. Allow the loaf to sit for 5 minutes to relax.
Using a knife or bench scraper, divide the loaf into 12 roughly even portions, and with floured hands, lightly press each portion together into somewhat flat, irregular fritter shapes. Don’t worry if the fritters seem messy, or like they aren’t holding together 100% completely. Cut out 12 squares of parchment paper, and lightly spray or brush them with oil. Place each loose fritter onto each piece of parchment, and set them onto a baking pan in your oven. Place a glass baking dish at the bottom of the oven and fill it with the boiling water. Close the oven door and allow the fritters to rise in the warm steam for 20 minutes. Do not turn the oven on, just use it as a proofing box to let the dough rise without developing skin from drafty air.
While the fritters proof in the oven, start heating your frying oil.
If using a deep fryer, just keep in mind not to overcrowd the fryer with the fritters. Most normal countertop fryers will only be able to accommodate one or two fritters at a time.
If cooking on the stove top, use a dutch oven that has high sides and place 4 inches of oil into the dutch oven. Use a candy thermometer to ensure that the oil temperature reaches and does not exceed 355 degrees. I find that medium or medium-high heat on my stove achieves this nicely.
Handle the fritters carefully as you place them into your fryer. Drop them into the hot oil with a metal spatula and then remove the parchment paper from the oil with tongs. Do not over crowd your pot. Most dutch ovens should be able to fry 3 medium size fritters at one time.
After cooking for 2 minutes on the first side, flip the fritters with a slotted spoon and fry them for an additional 2 minutes on the second side. Transfer the fritters to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes until they are just warm and can be handled comfortably. If you don't have a wire cooling rack, you can lay the fritters out on paper towels If you like a fritter that is more crispy on the outside, I recommend allowing the fritter to cool completely to room temperature. Otherwise, the internal warmth of the fritter interacting with the glaze causes that outer most layer of the fritter to soften a little (which some people like, but you do you).
Dip each apple fritter donut into the warm apple cider glaze and allow them to drip off on a cooling rack with a baking sheet under it. Glaze can be messy, so I often line the pan under the cooling rack with some parchment to make for easier cleanup.
- Prep Time: 60 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Donuts
- Method: frying
- Cuisine: Breakfast Pastries
Keywords: apple fritter, apple fritter donut, vegan donut, vegan apple fritter recipe
Absolutely delicious! The addition of the Cardamon in the glaze adds a wonderful warm flavor. I will definitely make again.
This was my first time making apple fritters and they were perfect! The glaze is soooo good - I made half a batch of glaze and just generously dipped the tops. I'll definitely be making these again , my whole family loved them as did some friends we shared with.