Getting out of bed is easy when Apple Cinnamon Rolls are waiting for you! These sweet rolls are filled with cinnamon spiced apples and topped with an apple cider glaze. The perfect fall breakfast treat!
Table of Contents
Why this Recipe Works
- Gooey apple filling makes a homemade cinnamon roll even better.
- Yeast dough bakes up soft and extra fluffy.
- Brings together all the best flavors of fall!
I don’t need to tell you how amazing these smell as they’re baking!
Active dry yeast – Yeast makes the dough rise, creating fluffy soft cinnamon rolls. You will need one packet for this recipe. Make sure it is not expired!
Apples – Peel, core and dice the apples into very small pieces first.
Egg – A beaten egg helps bind the dough together and gives the dough some color as it bakes. Use a room temperature egg for best results.
Unsalted butter – You’ll use butter in the dough and glaze and melted butter for the filling. No cinnamon roll is complete without it!
Prepare the dough:
Start by warming the milk and butter on the stove. Once the butter is melted, let the mixture cool slightly.
While it’s cooling, dissolve the yeast in water with teaspoon of sugar.
Combine the dry ingredients (except 1 cup of flour) in a mixing bowl.. Add the liquid ingredients and a beaten egg and mix well.
Gradually incorporate the remaining flour until a workable dough forms.
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. It should be soft, smooth and stretchy! Now, let it rest for 30 to 45 minutes.
While the dough is resting, you can get your apple cinnamon roll filling ingredients ready.
Assemble and bake the rolls:
Roll the dough into a large rectangle. Spread melted butter all over the dough, then cover with cinnamon sugar and diced apples.
Roll the dough into a log and pinch together the ends. Cut the roll into 12 pieces and let them rise until doubled in size.
Bake the rolls until golden brown.
For the frosting:
Beat together cream cheese and butter. Add the powdered sugar followed by cider, vanilla extract, and nutmeg and mix until smooth.
Spread frosting over warm cinnamon rolls before serving.
Tips and Tricks
- Don’t skip the kneading! This step activates the gluten to give the rolls shape and make them fluffy.
- Resist the urge to add extra flour. More flour means tougher rolls. The dough may be sticky at first, but as you work the dough with lightly floured hands, it’ll become smoother and a bit tacky.
- Dice apples into 1/4 inch pieces or smaller. If the apple pieces are too big they won’t fully cook during baking and your filling will be crunchy instead of buttery soft!
- For an extra gooey cinnamon roll, brush the rolls with heavy cream before baking.
- Store baked rolls at room temperature covered with plastic wrap. Enjoy within 3 days.
- Love gooey breakfasts? Be sure to try our delicious Monkey Bread recipe!
I used a mixture of 3 gala apples and 1 granny smith. The ratio of sweet to tart was perfect.
While I love the dental floss method for my regular cinnamon rolls, that technique won’t work as well here. Due to the apple filling, a sharp serrated knife is best for these rolls.
Unlike my other cinnamon rolls, I don’t recommend prepping apple cinnamon rolls way ahead of time. The apples start to release juices as they sit which would make the dough soggy after a few hours.
If you don’t have any cider handy, you can make the frosting with the same amount of milk instead. It won’t taste quite the same but will still be delicious!
The most common reason cinnamon rolls end up tough and hard is adding too much flour. The rolls will also be harder if you don’t knead the dough long enough (or at all). Finally, make sure to let the dough rise twice. It needs to rise once before rolling out the dough and then again once the rolls are assembled and sliced.
More Fall Recipes
- Overnight French Toast Casserole– perfect holiday breakfast!
- Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
- Fried Apples
- Apple Slab Pie
- Apple Crumble
Apple Cinnamon Rolls
For the dough:
- ¾ cup milk
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 ¼ teaspoons 1 packet active dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 3 ¼ cup all-purpose flour divided
- 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 egg room temperature, beaten
For the filling:
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar packed
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 3 cups of diced apples about 3-4 peeled, cored and diced into ¼” pieces
For the frosting:
- 4 Tablespoons cream cheese softened
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- In a small saucepan, heat milk until just starting to bubble. Remove from heat and add in butter. Stir occasionally until butter is completely melted. Let cool until lukewarm.
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water with one teaspoon sugar.
- In a large bowl, mix together 2 ¼ cups flour, sugar, and salt.
- When milk mixture has cooled enough, add yeast mixture to saucepan with milk mixture and stir to combine. Pour liquid into large bowl with dry ingredients along with the egg and mix well.
- Stir in remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, until dough pulls together, and away from sides of bowl. Knead on a well-floured surface for about 5 minutes.
- Place in lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Let rest for 30 – 45 minutes.
- Turn dough onto well-floured surface and sprinkle with more flour on top. Roll into a 12×18” rectangle. It should be about ½-inch thick.
- Mix the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and brown sugar together in a small bowl. Spread the melted butter over the surface of the dough, almost to the edges. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the butter. Then top it with the apples over the sugar mixture.
- From the long edge of rectangle, roll up the dough into a log. Pinch to seal the seam.
- Use a sharp serrated knife, cut the roll into 12 equal-sized pieces.
- Grease a 9×13” baking dish. Place each roll in the dish spiral side up.
- Cover with a towel and let rise 45 to 60 minutes, until doubled in size.*
- Bake rolls at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown on top.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting: mix cream cheese and butter with electric mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined. Mix in the apple cider, vanilla, and nutmeg and beat on medium speed for one minute.
- Spread frosting on warm rolls. Serve warm!
- DON’T SKIP THE KNEADING FOR 5 MINUTES! This helps the gluten form and give the rolls shape.
- Tough Rolls? Adding too much flour will result in a dough that is tough. When kneading, lightly flour the surface and then flour your hands. Work the dough and dust your hands periodically with flour but resist the urge to add too much flour to the dough. The dough may be sticky at first, but continue to work it and it will start to feel smooth and be slightly tacky.
- Apples: Apples need to be diced fairly small so that they will get soft during the baking time. If you make them too big, they will remain crunchy and undercooked. Dice them into ¼-inch pieces or less. I used 3 gala apple and 1 granny smith. It was the perfect amount of tartness.
- Unlike my original cinnamon roll recipe, I would not make these way ahead of time. The apples will combine with the sugars and start to release liquid and make the dough soggy.
- When the rolls are rising for 45 minutes, the apples begin to release the juice into the bottom of the pan. This is completely fine and actually makes a caramel syrupy liquid that coats the bottom of the rolls during baking.
- Because of the apple filling, a serrated knife if needed to cut the dough into rolls. The dental floss technique will not work as well with these.
- Before baking, if you want a really gooey cinnamon roll, brush the tops with a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream. Bake as directed.
- Rolls will keep covered with plastic wrap for up to 3 days at room temperature.
- Don’t have any apple cider on hand for the frosting? That’s ok – it won’t be exactly the same, but you can substitute 2 Tablespoons of milk for the cider instead.
Nothing beats the aroma–or taste– of a homemade cinnamon roll fresh from the oven. These Apple Cinnamon Rolls are a perfect start to any fall day!