It’s Cider Donut Season

Atkins Farms cider donuts, Amherst, Massachusetts. (Bar Lois Weeks)

CIDER DONUTS have become nearly as synonymous with a New England fall as apples and foliage.

Every orchard’s cider donuts are different, and every orchard’s are the best, according to its devotees, who are often passionate on the subject.

Like apples and the orchards that make them, no two cider donuts are alike. Depending on the orchard’s unique formula and systems, the donuts can be lightly crisp on the outside and soft in the middle or cake-like; small or large; slightly irregular or perfectly shaped; with or without sugar.

All include apple cider in the batter, of course; many feature spices like cinnamon and nutmeg among their ingredients.

The genesis of the modern cider donut was a doughnut-making machine developed by Russian immigrant Adolph Levitt in the 1920s. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that cider donuts made their commercial debut.

They have come a long way! Wherever they are sold today, it seems, cider donuts are wildly popular, and in many cases attract long lines.

Here’s a small sampling of cider donuts from orchards around New England.

Breathe deep.

Cider donuts, Red Apple Farm, Phillipston, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell)
Cider donuts, Norton Brothers Fruit Farm, Cheshire, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)
Allen Brother Farm cider donuts, Westminster, Vermont. (Bar Lois Weeks)
Cider donuts for display, Rogers Orchards, Southington, Connecticut. (Adrienne Anifant)
Cider donuts, Averill Farm, Washington Depot, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)
Cider donut holes, Bishop’s Orchards, Guilford, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)
Cider donuts baking, Rogers Orchards, Southington, Connecticut. (Adrienne Anifant)
Park Hill Orchard cider donuts fresh from the fryer, Easthampton, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell)
Park Hill Orchard cider donuts, finished, Easthampton, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell)
Cider donuts, Breezelands Orchards, Warren, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell)


  • Larry Dean

    My mouth waters just looking at these photographs. I rarely eat doughnuts of any kind these days, but these photographs could easily get me off the wagon.

    • Russell Powell

      The allure is mysterious and sensual: the rich aroma, tactile sugar, and soft, round shape is as pleasing to the eyes as to the stomach.