Apple Fritter Doughnuts are crisp on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside and enrobed in a thick, vanilla bean glaze. They’re made with apple juice and are packed with chopped apples giving them a delicious, fresh apple flavor.
With apple picking season comes apple doughnuts. While I love regular apple cider doughnuts, I’m a huge sucker for Apple Fritter Doughnuts. Not many apple and pumpkin orchards in my little corner of the world sell Apple Fritter Doughnuts, so it was up to me to find my version of the perfectly fried apple treat.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
For the ultimate apple fritter recipe:
- tons of fresh apples made into a homemade apple pie filling
- soft, homemade buttery dough
- thick, flavorful glaze
- instructions on how to cut, form and fry apple fritters
Is an apple fritter a donut?
Some apple fritters are made with a biscuit, cake-style dough. No yeast needed. The batter can be whipped up quickly and fried. This recipe is more like a yeast-based donut dough that has apples folded and cut inside, then deep fried. So yes, in this case, the apple fritter is just like a donut.
Tips to Make Homemade Apple Fritters
You’ll notice that my homemade apple fritters aren’t exactly elegant looking. They’re bumpy and lumpy, which is exactly how an apple fritter should be. Why is that? So they hold all that beautiful glaze. If the donuts were smooth, the glaze would drip right off. Here are some tips so you can have success making this recipe:
- This dough is the same dough we use to make pecan rolls and cinnamon rolls. It’s soft and buttery and delicious. It fries up great (makes yummy homemade donuts too). We use our stand mixer to make the dough, but you can knead it by hand or use a bread machine on the dough setting. Any of those three methods work.
- I use instant yeast, which means you do not have to proof the yeast before making the recipe. Check the back of the yeast packet to see which type you have. If you have to proof the yeast, then you can sprinkle it over the milk. Check the temperature! Read our post about different types of yeast for more info.
- Once the dough is mixed and rising, make the cinnamon sugar apples. If you’ve ever made fried apples, this recipe is very similar. I use Granny Smith apples so that they hold their shape, but Honeycrisp is good as well. You’ll want this mixture to cool completely before mixing it into the dough.
- Shape the fritters. There are several steps to shaping the apple fritters. It will work best if you have a pastry mat and a dough cutter. Press the risen dough into a 1 1/2- 2″ thick rectangle. Place half of the apples on top, then fold the dough over on each side. Turn the dough, then press out the dough again. Place the rest of the apples on top and again fold the dough over. Press the dough again then use your dough cutter to cut 1″ slices in each direction.
- Then take the little squares of dough and use the dough cutter to cut them a little more. Don’t go crazy with this step, just a few additional cuts will be fine. Use a little extra flour to form a log with the dough/apple pieces. Then cut about 14 slices. This will be the apple fritters you’ll fry in hot oil.
How to Fry Apple Fritters
The key to making excellent fried donuts that aren’t too browned before they cook through is to get the oil temperature correct. If the temperature is too low, the donuts will absorb too much oil. If it is too high, they’ll get too browned. We love our Thermoworks ThermaPen that instantly reads oil. Get one here. It’s amazing and perfect for grilling too!
The oil temperature should be exactly 375º Fahrenheit and maintain that temperature as you fry the apple fritter donuts. Fry in a deep fryer or a large skillet. If you have a deep fryer at home, use it! The benefits of using a small, at-home deep fryer are that it will be easier to control the temperature of the oil and deep fryers usually come with a basket that is handy for safely lowering the the dough into the oil and lifting them back out. If you do not have a deep fryer, you can use a large, heavy skillet or Dutch oven on your stove top.
The apple fritters will only take about 2- 2 1/2 minutes on each side to fry if you make them the size we made them. If they are larger or smaller, adjust the time accordingly.
Pro Tip: As you lift the fritters out of the oil, be sure to allow all excess oil to drip off of the donut, then place them on a wire cooling rack (with a paper towel underneath to catch drips). The wire rack ensures they don’t hold onto extra oil and end up greasy.
Make the Glaze
After frying these doughnuts, everyone who walked into our house commented on how good it smelled. I credit that with the smell of the warm vanilla bean glaze made with vanilla bean paste hitting the freshly fried Apple Fritter Doughnuts. It’s vanilla bean and cinnamon apples mixed into one amazingly delicious smell.
Simply whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl then dip the doughnuts in the glaze.
Once the fritters are cooled and the glaze is set, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Then refrigerate any remaining for up to 5 days.
Apple Fritter Doughnuts
For the Dough:
- 1 cup 2% milk warmed (about 120º-125º Fahrenheit)
- 1/2 cup salted butter melted
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4- 4 1/2 cups bread flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons Red Star Platinum Superior Baking Yeast** (instant yeast)
For the Apples:
- 6 cups Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, and chopped (about 6 medium apples)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup apple juice
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon ground Cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
For the Glaze:
- 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup apple juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 quart vegetable oil
To Make the Dough:
- Pour the warm milk, eggs, melted butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.**
- Add in two cups of flour and yeast. Use the beater blade to mix just until combined. Then add in another 2 cups of flour (save the other 1/2 cup and add only if you need it later).
- Mix again using the beater blade just until the ingredients are barely combined. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes so the flour has time to soak up the liquids.
- Scrape the dough off the beater blade and remove it.
- Attach the dough hook. Beat the dough on medium speed, adding in up to 1/2 cup more flour if needed to form a dough. Knead for 5-7 minutes or until the dough is elastic and smooth. **The dough should be tacky and will still be sticking to the sides of the bowl. That's ok! Don't be tempted to add more flour at this point. We generally add about 4 1/2 cups, but start with 4 cups.
- Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Use a rubber spatula to remove the dough from the mixer bowl and place it in the greased large bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a towel or wax paper.
- Set the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to rise until nearly double.
For the Apple Filling:
- Place the sliced apples into a medium saucepan. Add the sugar.
- Cook the apples over medium heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes until they start to soften.
- In a small measuring cup, whisk together the apple juice and cornstarch to make a slurry.
- Pour the cornstarch slurry into the apples. Mix well. Add the cinnamon and butter. Stir until the mixture starts to thicken, then remove from heat.
- Allow the mixture to cool completely. I transfer mine to another bowl and then place them in the fridge to speed this up.
To Assemble the Doughnuts:
- Turn the risen dough out onto a well-floured surface.
- Pat it into a rectangle that’s about 2 inches thick.
- Spread half of the now cool apple mixture in the center of the dough. Fold the top and bottom of the dough over the mixture. Turn the dough, so the top and bottom are now on the sides of the dough.
- Pat the dough out into another rectangle that’s 2 inches thick.
- Spread the remaining apple filling over the center of the dough. Again, fold the top and bottom of the dough over the filling.
- While the dough rests, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven on medium until it reaches 375 degrees F.
- Pat the dough out to 1/2-inch thickness.
- Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into a grid pattern, making 1-inch strips.
- Then make cuts 1" wide the other direction so that you end up with a bunch of squares.
- Gather the dough bits and cut a little bit more from different directions.
- Flour your hands and put a little bit more flour down on the pastry mat if needed. Then form the cut dough and apples into a log about 14" long.
- Use the cutter to slice about 14 slices. Use your hands to form each fritter into a ball that looks like it would hold together, adding a little more flour if needed.
- Allow the fritters to rest while the oil heats.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet (or use a deep fryer) to 375º Fahrenheit. Use a thermometer to test the oil temp because it is important that it stays at 375ª.
To Fry the Fritters:
- Carefully drop each fritter into the warm oil. Do not overcrowd the pan, or the oil temperature will drop too quickly. Add 4 or 5 fritters at a time.
- Fry for about 3 minutes or until golden brown.
- Using a slotted spoon carefully turn the fritters over and cook until the other side is also golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Remove the fritters to a baking sheet covered in paper towels and fitted with a drying rack.
- Repeat the process of frying the fritters allowing the oil to return to 375 degrees F between batches.
Glazing the Fritters:
- Whisk together the confectioners' sugar, cream, apple juice, vanilla bean paste, and salt. The glaze should be runny enough to coat the fritters so add more juice a little at a time until it is able to be drizzled.
- After removing each batch from the oil, allow to sit for about 5 min. Dip into the glaze.
Apple Recipes You’ll Love
During apple season, you might find you want a new apple recipe to enjoy. Here’s a few we love!