Crisp on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, and studded with spiced, brown butter apples, these apple fritter donuts are even better than the ones at the bakery!
This recipe is sponsored by ALDI, INC.
Question: Is it even fall until there are apples involved?
No, never. It’s still summer until the first apple recipe comes out. We can’t base our autumn off the Pumpkin Spice Latte releases anymore, it’s when the apple recipes bombard your timeline.
Which is why I am busting out these delicious donut-shop style apple fritters. They are so, so, so good. These apple fritters are different from the ones I brought last year, these are actually yeast donuts, studded with apples, (that have been sautéed in brown butter and all those amazing fall spices) and the most amazing maple glaze.
I really love how easily these apple fritters come together. Seriously, if you follow the recipe you’ll have perfect little maple glazed apple fritters every time.
So what are apple fritters?
A fritter is usually food that is then coated in batter and then deep fried, which is what makes is different from a donut, which is classically a yeast dough that is deep fried. So these apple fritters are technically both fritter and donut.
Making perfect Apple Fritter donuts
First thing first: make the donut dough. In this apple fritter recipe I flavored the dough using maple syrup and vanilla extract. You know, the good stuff.
And yes, y’all, make sure to use real maple syrup. The maple-flavored syrup stuff will change your dough chemistry and your apple fritters may not come out right. I used the Specially Selected 100% Pure Maple Syrup from ALDI, which I usually have in stock in the house for waffles and pancakes. Once you discover real maple syrup, you never go back.
This dough needs a stand mixer, because when it’s finished kneading it will be a very soft and very sticky dough. It basically stays in the mixer bowl the entire time other than when adding the spiced brown butter apples and cutting the fritters out to fry.
You need to make sure the apples are cooked through so you’re not biting into hard, crunchy bits of apples in the fritter. I used Gala apples, which are sweet and hold their shape well when cooked, peeled and chopped into small pieces.
Use unsalted butter for your browned butter, salted can throw off the flavor since you can’t control the salt level.
The browned butter really adds a warm complex flavor. We don’t want it to be totally browned, but we want to let the butter solids to get a little color and once the butter smells kinda nutty and toasty, we add in all the ground spices and stir them in. Spices have more flavor when they are added to a fat, so we add them into the butter before the apples.
When folding the apples into the dough, you’ll be folding it in thirds: the right side folds over the middle, then the left side folds over both of.
Kinda like a pocketbook.
We then just gather it in a giant, soft dough ball and throw it back into the mixing bowl. Be careful when trying the scoop up all the dough, it is really soft and could fall open and pour out some apples all over your work space.
A lot of recipes tell you not to keep the juices from the apple mixture. Not here; instead, I added cornstarch to thicken it so that the juices end up like a cinnamon-sugar-brown-butter swirl throughout the apple fritter. You can see it in the photos, all that spiced brown butter swirled in the dough.
Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter or a cup to cut out the fritters. The uniformity helps all the fritters finish frying at the same time so you don’t have to worry about biting into an under-cooked fritter.
Dunk those bad boys in glaze, and rest on a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet to catch any dripping glaze.
Tips on Deep Frying
The right tools are very important! An Asian spider spatula or large slotted spoon to scoop the fritters from the oil is needed. Using tongs puts you at risk for dropping the fritter back into the oil and splashing the hot oil all over you. Not fun. Use a spider spatula.
You need a candy thermometer. A deep frying/candy thermometer will help you keep the temperature consistent, which of course keeps your frying time consistent, which keeps your apple fritter consistent. Keep the temperature around 350F-360F (177C-187C); too hot and you’ll end up with raw insides. Too low and you’ll end up with the fritter absorbing way too much grease.
Use a cast iron pan for frying. One, because using a large pot wastes a lot of oil. And two, cast iron holds heat very well, which is really important when dealing with deep frying things.
When you add your fritters into the oil, the temperature drops, so it’s important that you have a pan that holds the heat and is able to keep the temperature more consistent. ALDI sent me the Crofton 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet for this recipe, and it worked wonderfully at keeping the heat going. (And even when you aren’t frying, a cast iron skillet is something you’ll always need in the kitchen.)
Now, y’all know that I only make sponsored posts that I can stay true to myself on, which is why I’m so grateful that y’all support Sweet Tea and Thyme’s collaborations. And everyone and their mama who’s been following me on social media or reading my blog, knows that I am a long time ALDI shopper (so much so that I know my local ALDI employees very well and they know my family and about my blog) so working with them is a huge delight for me. I’ve been going to ALDI since we left the military, it’s the only grocery store that has prices that could compete with the commissary and never breaks the budget, which is needed when you’re a young millennial family!
So when you make this recipe, know that all ingredients can be found at ALDI (find your local ALDI here!) and get to shopping!
Want more fall apple baking? Check out:
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- 1 3/4 cup (414 mL)whole milk, warmed to 110-115F (41C-46C)
- 2 ¼ tsp (1 pkg) active dry yeast
- ¼ cup (5 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) Specially Selected Pure Maple Syrup
- 3 large eggs
- 5 cups + 1 tbsp (633 g) all purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
- 2 sticks (1 cup; 16 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into cubes
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 5 medium Gala apples
- ½ cup (110 g) light brown sugar
- 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp (8 g) cornstarch
- 1 ½ quarts vegetable oil
Maple Syrup Glaze
- 4 ½ cups (540 g) powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup (59 mL) Specially Selected Pure Maple Syrup
- 1/2 cup (118 mL) milk
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment, whisk together milk, active dry yeast, sugar, and maple syrup. Let proof for 10 minutes.
- Lightly beat eggs and add to the stand mixer bowl along with all the flour. Turn stand mixer on to the lowest setting to begin stirring ingredients.
- Add 12 tbsp butter (1 1/2 sticks of butter) to the bowl, still stirring. Slowly beat the dough for a minute or two to incorporate the butter, then increase the speed to medium high and mix for 6 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a silicone spatula at 3 minutes in.
- Once the kneading is done, the dough will be sticky. Scrape down the dough hook and sides and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm area for one hour, or until doubled in size.
- While the dough is rising, make your apple fillings. Peel all the apples and then dice into bite sized cubes.
In a large skillet, melt ½ stick of unsalted butter over medium heat to lightly brown it. Once you see the milk fats start to change colors and smell toasty and nutty, add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir, it will foam up. Add in the apples and stir to coat in the spices, then add the brown sugar and stir again.
- Let cook until the apples are softened, about 5 minutes. Add cornstarch into the apples to thicken up the juices. Stir and cook for an additional minute and then set on a plate in a thin layer to cool completely before adding to the dough.
Making the apple fritters
- Generously flour your work surface. Scrape the risen dough out of the bowl and onto your floured counter.
Roll the dough into a rectangle using a well-floured rolling pin. Stretch and pat where necessary. Spoon the cooled apples onto the rectangle and spread it over the entirety of the dough.
- Fold the dough on top of itself into thirds. Once side onto the middle.
- Then the other side onto the folded part.
- Scoop the dough back into a ball, put it back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise again in a warm spot for at least an hour or until doubled in size.
- Re-flour your work surface and dump the dough back out. Liberally flour the top of the dough and your rolling pin, and then roll it out to a 1-inch thickness.
- Using a biscuit cutter, cut rounds out of the dough. Place the cutout fritters onto a well floured baking sheet. Pull out the scraps and re-roll to make more donuts. Press the donuts a little to stretch them out if they get puffy.
- Heat vegetable oil to 360°F (187 degrees C).
- Fry apple fritters for 1.5-2 minutes, then flip each fritter with chopsticks. Cook for 90 seconds more, until golden brown. Remove and let dry on a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet.
- Do this in batches until all of your fritters are fried.
- Combine powdered sugar, maple syrup, milk and whisk until smooth. Pour through a mesh sieve to ensure smoothness.
- Dunk each fritter into the glaze (I dunk both sides, but it's not necessary!) and let rest on the wire rack.
Serve immediately or freeze. Is best the day of, but stays fresh for 3 days.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 30 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 458Total Fat: 45gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 39gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 19mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 2g
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.