Homemade, bakery-style apple fritter donuts are the perfect sweet treat that you typically find at a donut shop, but can be made just as great in your own home. Small pieces of soft yet crisp apple are mixed with cinnamon and folded into a soft yeast dough, fried to golden brown perfection, and doused in a simple glaze.
This apple fritter recipe uses a similar dough to these brioche cinnamon rolls, which are a fan favorite, and bring all of the fall flavor and delicious smells to your kitchen! If you love apple crisp or apple cider donuts, you'll want to try this.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Any time I'm passing by a glass case in a bakery and I see an apple fritter donut, there's a 100% chance I'm buying one, especially in the fall! While the apple fritter donuts do take a bit of time and preparation, they are by no means difficult and are totally worth the effort.
Flavor - these homemade apple fritters are packed with a warm apple spice blend within the apple filling, all mixed into a buttery dough and glazed with vanilla, cinnamon, and apple cider glaze.
Texture - crispy on the outside, soft dough on the outside, and tart, fresh apples that keep a bit of texture. Plus, you can't forget the finger-licking glaze! They really just stay so soft and chewy and are truly the perfect donut.
Seasonal - while this recipe can be enjoyed all year round, there's something so comforting about enjoying these homemade donuts during peak apple season! The homemade apple pie filling and vanilla cinnamon glaze both include apple cider (or apple juice), which is the most flavorful during the fall season.
What is a Fritter?
A fritter is traditionally chopped pieces of fruit, meat, or vegetables encompassed in dough or batter, then fried. The American apple fritter and funnel cake are the most well-known, but dishes such as latkas can also be considered fritters.
Are Apple Fritters Made from Batter or Dough?
There are two types of ways to make apple fritters: fritters made with a thin cake-like batter, and fritters made with a yeasted donut dough. You'll often see the batter version known as an Amish apple fritter, and find the yeast-based version in donut shops like Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Kreme, and Tim Hortons, as well as most grocery store bakery sections.
The recipe for these fried apple fritters is made as the dough version.
- All-purpose flour.
- Instant yeast. Also known as fast-rising yeast - be sure to check the expiration date if it's not newly purchased.
- Dairy. Whole milk, unsalted butter, and eggs are all used in the dough.
- Apples. Granny Smith apples or other firm baking apples such as Braeburn, Pink Lady, or Honey Crisp.
- Cornstarch. To thicken the apple pie filling.
- Powdered sugar. For the cinnamon vanilla icing.
- Apple cider. For the apple filling and icing. Apple juice can also be used.
- Sugars. Brown sugar and granulated sugar.
- Spices. Ground cinnamon and cloves.
- Deep frying oil. Canola oil or vegetable oil can be used to fry the donut batter.
See recipe card for full ingredients list and quantities.
- Use water instead of apple cider or apple juice in the recipe. I would only recommend doing this if you can't get your hands on the apple cider or juice. Though it's a small amount, it does make a difference in intensifying the apple flavor.
- Active dry yeast can be used in place of instant yeast. Increase the amount to 2 ¼ teaspoons if using active dry.
- Toss the warm apple fritters in cinnamon sugar rather than using the icing as soon as they come out of the fryer.
- Use maple syrup in the glaze instead of apple cider.
- Make very small dough balls for apple fritter bites or donut holes. Really, you can make them any size you'd like, and adjust frying time accordingly.
How to Make This Recipe
One: Add all of the dough ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with a dough hook on low until moistened.
Two: Increase the speed and knead until the dough cleans the side of the bowl and a smooth dough forms, then cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
Three: Cook the apple chunks with spices, sugar, then add the apple cider and cornstarch slurry and cook until the juices thicken, then cool.
Four: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about ¼" thick.
Five: Spread the cooled apples evenly across the dough.
Six: Sprinkle the apple filling with flour to mostly cover it.
Seven: Fold the short sides inwards to meet in the center and gently push down all over.
Eight: Use a bench scraper to cut the dough into 1-inch squares.
Nine: Toss the dough with your fingers then form them into six pieces, patting the pieces down and together.
Ten: Transfer the apple donuts to a large sheet pan lined with parchment paper or parchment squares and cover with plastic wrap to rest while you prep for frying.
Frying Station Setup
- Add the oil to a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
- Place a wire cooling rack on top of a sheet pan and add paper a few sheets of paper towels on top of the rack.
- Grab a spider or slotted spoon or slotted spatula (metal only).
- Check the oil temperature with a candy or frying thermometer to be sure it reads 375℉.
Eleven: Transfer the dough into the hot oil one at a time (only adding two to three to a pot at a time). Fry for 2-3 minutes, carefully flipping halfway through, until a deep golden brown. Transfer to a rack with paper towels to cool until only lightly warm.
Twelve: Whisk together the icing ingredients, then coat the apple fritter donuts on both sides and allow it to set on a wire rack. Once the glaze hardens a bit, it's time to break in and enjoy!
Pro tip! Place a baking sheet under the wire rack to catch any drips.
How to Dispose of Oil
There are a few good ways to dispose of used cooking oil. In all instances, allow the oil to cool completely.
- Transfer the oil (using a funnel) into a vessel with a sealable lid, such as the container it came from, then discard the entire bottle.
- Mix the oil with baking soda until a thick paste forms, then transfer it to the garbage.
- Pour the oil into the trash that has many layers of absorbent material such as newspaper or paper towels.
The best option is to call your local municipality to see if they recycle used cooking oil. Many county facilities offer this service and is the best and safest way to dispose of the liquid.
- Add the assembled fritters onto pre-cut squares of parchment paper. That way, you can just add the entire thing to the oil, then remove the piece of parchment right away with a pair of tongs.
- Apple pieces will inevitably fall out during the frying process. That's ok, just pull them out and discard them.
- Check the oil temperature in between each batch, being sure to regulate the temperature before continuing.
- Don't overcrowd the pot when frying, only two or three donuts per batch, depending on how wide your pot is.
- Glazing while the fritters are too warm will make the glaze extra thin. Double dip the donuts for the best coverage if this happens.
Overnight Apple Fritters
Want to enjoy some warm apple fritter donuts for breakfast? Make and assemble the fritters, then cover them with plastic wrap and a dish towel and refrigerate them overnight.
Remove the dough from the fridge and allow them to stand for one hour on the counter, then fry and glaze. Ta-da! Nothing better than a fresh donut in the morning.
Yes. The apple fritter donuts can be baked for 15-18 minutes in a 375℉ oven until lightly brown and cooked through. Note that you won't get a crispy outer texture that is classic to an apple fritter without the frying. The donuts should be fried for best results.
This happens when the oil temperature is too low during the frying process, which allows the dough to absorb the oil (and get soggy) rather than create a crispy outer layer that causes the inside to steam and get fluffy.
This is likely due to the oil temperature being too high and the outsides browned before the insides were cooked (be sure to check the oil temperature between each batch). Add the donuts to a 400℉ oven and bake for 5-7 minutes until the centers are cooked.
Store the apple fritter donut in a paper bag or on a plate lightly covered with foil for two days. Note that the donuts are best enjoyed the day they are made, but the glaze helps to keep them from drying out for another day or two.
The donuts should not be frozen in pre or post-baked form.
More Donut Recipes
Bakery-Style Apple Fritter Donuts
- Stand mixer with dough hook attachment
- Large frying pan
- Rolling Pin
- Bench scraper or knife
- Oil or candy thermometer
- Large, heavy-bottomed pot
- Metal slotted spoon or spatula
- Wire rack
- Paper towels
- ½ cup whole milk warm (115℉), 4 fl oz
- ¼ cup granulated sugar 50g
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted (85g)
- 1 large egg + 1 yolk room temperature
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ teaspoons instant yeast
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour 420g (plus ~ ¾ cup or 90g extra for rolling and dusting)
Apple Pie Filling
- 3 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, diced into 1cm pieces (450g)
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar 67g
- ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¼ cup apple cider or apple juice 60ml
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 2½ cups powdered sugar 300g
- ⅓ cup apple cider or apple juice 80ml
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 64 fl oz vegetable oil or canola oil for frying
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix together the milk, sugar, butter and eggs.½ cup whole milk, ¼ cup granulated sugar, 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 large egg + 1 yolk
- Add the salt, instant yeast, and 3 cups (360g) of the flour and mix on low until moistened. Scrape down the sides to incorporate the rest of the flour, then mix on medium high speed for five minutes. The dough will still be sticking to the sides.½ teaspoon kosher salt, 1½ teaspoons instant yeast, 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- Add the remaining ½ cup flour and mix on low until incorporated, then increase to medium high and mix for one more minute. The dough will have mostly pulled off the sides at this point (but may still be stuck on the bottom). If the dough is still very sticky and fully adhering to the sides the sides, add another ¼ cup of flour and mix on medium speed to combine for one minute.
- Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl (use oil or baking spray), cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Typically about 1 hour.
- Make the apple pie filling while the dough rises.
Apple Pie Filling
- Peel, core, and dice the apples into 1cm pieces, then add to a frying pan with the sugar and cinnamon. Cook over medium heat (stirring every minute) until the sugar melts and the apples begin to soften slightly around the edges, about 5 minutes.3 Granny Smith apples, ⅓ cup light brown sugar, ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Mix together the cornstarch and apple juice and stir it into the apples until it thickens.1 tablespoon cornstarch, ¼ cup apple cider or apple juice
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, then allow it to cool completely.1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Add the oil to a large, heavy bottomed pot and heat over medium low heat while you prepare the donuts.64 fl oz vegetable oil or canola oil
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, form it into a rectangle with your hands, then roll it out into a 12x16 inch rectangle.
- Add the cooled apple pie filling and spread it evenly across the entire piece of dough. I find it easiest to use your hands. Sprinkle extra flour (¼ cup, 30g) on top of the apple pie filling.
- Fold each side of the dough (the short sides) to meet in the middle and enclose the apple pie filling and gently push the seam and edges together to seal.
- Use a bench scraper or knife to cut the dough into one inch pieces then give them a light toss.
- Form the pieces into six large, round fritters (or make them into smaller fritters) and compact them together a bit with your hands.
- Add flour to the tops of each fritter, then flip them and add flour to the other side. Pat the flour into the donuts to help absorb the moisture.
- Transfer the apple fritters to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cover with a piece of plastic wrap.
Frying the Donuts
- Set up a sheet pan lined with paper towels next to your frying station and have a metal spoon, spatula, or spider ready. Check the oil temperature with a candy thermometer until it reads a steady 375℉.
- Add one to two apple fritters into the oil and fry for roughly three minutes until deeply golden brown. Use the slotted metal utensil to remove the fritters to the paper towels. Repeat with the remaining donuts.
- Once the donuts are mostly cool (but still a bit warm), whisk together the powdered sugar with the cinnamon, vanilla, and apple juice until smooth.2½ cups powdered sugar, ⅓ cup apple cider or apple juice, 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Dunk the fried donuts into the glaze and turn it to coat completely, then place it onto a wire rack (with a pan underneath) to allow excess to drip off.
- Give the apple fritters a few minutes to allow the glaze to set, then enjoy!