Readers Say

Where to get the best cider doughnuts in New England, according to readers

More than 2,000 readers identified 103 places to get the classic fall treat.

Loading a bag of imperfect apple cider doughnuts from Red Apple Farm, to be sold on the app Too Good To Go at a discounted price. Globe Staff/Matthew J. Lee

A cider doughnut is one of those things that perfectly signifies fall is here: one bite of the baked good can remind you of turning leaves, cooler weather, and the sight of pumpkins lined up by houses. The treat is excellent with coffee, and they are often freshly baked by local orchards, enjoyed after a day of apple picking in New England.

Al Rose, farmer and owner of Red Apple Farm, said that because there was not much rainfall this year, it was a difficult time to grow the apples that go into the cider doughnuts. Still, the farm was able to produce a good crop.

Advertisement:

“We have a great crop of apples. It was a tough year to grow apples,” Rose said. “We were lucky to have irrigation on most areas. … The drought, the lack of water [made things difficult]. Farmers want everything perfect. You need the weather to grow the crop and sell the crop. That was a challenge. We were lucky here in North Central Massachusetts. There were some timely rains that came in.” Rose added that the farm has four irrigation ponds on the property and two that they actively use, which helped with the growing process.

We asked readers for their favorite places to get a cider doughnut, and over 2,000 people responded. Coming in first was Red Apple Farm, which also happens to have a stand in the Boston Public Market. Honeypot Hill Orchards, which claimed the first place title in 2020, took third place this year. We’ve assembled a guide of the top five picks, along with some honorable mentions. Scroll down and discover where you can get your very own doughnut.

Readers share the best cider doughnuts in New England:

🏆 means that this spot was among the top 5 in 2020 and 2022. Locations are marked with an 🍎 if they were also a popular recommendation in our apple picking guide.

5. Brooksby Farm

This historic Peabody farm has a bakery stocked with treats, and one of them is their famous cider doughnuts. Readers said that the taste of the apple cider comes through in each bite, calling the pastries “flavorful and tender.” Taking 7% of the vote, Brooksby Farm makes a fluffy doughnut, which can be enjoyed in between hay rides and visits to see barnyard animals. Reader Ellen from Lynn said, “They don’t put sugar or cinnamon all over the outside of the doughnut, so all you taste is the apple cider!! So good! Especially when they are warm!”

Advertisement:

54 Felton St., Peabody

4. Cider Hill Farm 🏆 🍎

Head over to Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury and be prepared to make some memories. The doughnuts, which earned 7% of the vote, are sure to make an impression, soft and airy, with a slight crunchiness from the cinnamon sugar topping. Pat from Woburn said, “Watching the conveyor belt drop piping hot doughnuts into cinnamon sugar, placed on a tray, then immediately into the case in about 10 seconds is about as fresh as you can get. It is truly a Mike Tyson uppercut to the senses in all the right ways. Pair them with their award winning cider, and you’ll understand the cult following.”

45 Fern Ave., Amesbury

3. Honey Pot Hill Orchards 🏆 🍎

Something of a legend in the Massachusetts farming world, Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow is known for some of its classic fall activities, from apple picking to the hedge mazes that visitors lose themselves in. Their doughnuts, which took 8% of the vote, are made fresh every day from their own pressed cider, which uses mostly McIntosh and Honeycrisp apples, according to general manager Chelcie Martin. They are not too dense, a bit crispy on the outside, and fluffy, not cakey, on the inside. Catherine M. from Westwood said, “I like that they offer it plain or with cinnamon sugar. I also like that the plain doughnut is not too dry as I’ve found with other plain cider doughnuts at other farms.” She added that she has nostalgia for trips to the orchard with her children when “they were babies in overalls picking their very first apples!”

Advertisement:

16 Boon Rd., Stow

2. Smolak Farms 🏆

Doughnuts being prepared for sale at Smolak Farms. – Photo courtesy of Nancy Dion Photography

A working farm in North Andover, Smolak Farms has often been the site of many weddings, but this picturesque spot is also known for its cider doughnuts, which they make fresh every day. Customers have the option of choosing from three different kinds: plain, sprinkled with cane sugar, or rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Smolak took 9% of the vote this year.

“Everybody wants them right off the belt,” owner Michael Smolak said. “… We mix up the batter, and it goes into a vat on top of this machine. There’s a plunger that plops out enough batter for the doughnut, and it goes back and forth. They go down this conveyor belt, and in the middle, they’re flipped over and turned … At the far end we have some vats of sugar, sugar and cinnamon, or we don’t put them in at all. We coat it with that, put them on trays, and sell them.”

Joseph S. from North Andover said he enjoys “buying warm ones from the counter, the sugar just slightly caramelizing from the oil. The delicate crust on the outside, and fall-apart tenderness inside. Just a must-have every time we visit.”

315 S Bradford St., North Andover

1. Red Apple Farm

Founded in 1912, Red Apple Farm is a fourth generation family farm located in Phillipston and exuding authentic charm. Visitors enjoy picking their own fruit, trying the homemade fudge, and stopping off at The Country Store for a traditional cider doughnut. When asked what the secret to a perfect cider doughnut is, owner Al Rose said, “If you have to boil it down to one key ingredient, it’s definitely our cider.”

Advertisement:

Rose describes how the cider is made as a mix. “It’s definitely a McIntosh base. There’s usually about eight varieties of apples on average per cider press. We have a lot of heirloom varieties here, so we’re always mixing in different varieties—they’re kind of neat and old fashioned. There’s an apple called Red Gravenstein: It’s a wonderful apple for baking but also has a nice flavor profile. We have a lot of apples that are known to be good for cider, such as the Yellow Newtown Pippin and Arkansas Black. The cider profile changes as we make cider during the year.”

Readers raved about Red Apple Farm’s doughnuts, which earned 9% of the vote. Heidi A. from Phillipston said, “Just the right amount of cider freshly pressed the old-fashioned way definitely sets Red Apple Farm apple cider doughnuts apart, when mixed in to create a melt-in-your-mouth doughnut that is perfectly light and sweetened just to perfection. Walking into the farm store, these extraordinary masterpieces simply captivate your senses. Served warm? Nothing comes close.”

455 Highland Ave., Phillipston

Honorable Mentions 🏅

Calareso’s Farm Stand & Garden Center: You can pick up a bouquet of flowers to go with your doughnut at Calareso’s, which readers say will melt in your mouth. The smell of cinnamon and apples wafts through the store while you shop. 100 Main St., Reading

Readers say: “Always fresh, warm and delicious. Filled with that apple cinnamon taste.” -Linda, Reading

C.N. Smith Farm: In East Bridgewater, you’ll find a farm selling light and moist doughnuts, soft and with a bit of crispy sugar on the outside. Readers said that one of these baked goods just out of the fryer and paired with a hot cider is a treat. 325 South St., East Bridgewater

Advertisement:

Readers say: “Get ’em warm at the farm or nuke them for a few seconds at home. They.Are.Fabulous! Perfect spice, perfect crunch from the sugar/cinnamon coating, and perfect taste.” -Patty M., Plymouth

All of the best cider doughnut spots in 2022, according to Boston.com readers:

Connecticut:

Massachusetts:

New Hampshire:

Rhode Island:

Vermont: