RECIPES:
Sep 29, 2021

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Prep Time: 3 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
This twist on classic cinnamon rolls includes an autumnal favorite: baked apples which naturally complement the cinnamon sugar filling in this recipe.

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The warm combination of sautéd apples, yeasty dough and cinnamon sugar wafting through the house will have everyone rushing to the table for breakfast. The rolls expand into the fluffy sweet rolls of your dreams! I’ve included instructions for making these rolls ahead of time so they can quickly be popped into the oven just before breakfast. 

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Key Ingredients in This Recipe 

  • Apples – Mix of Granny Smith apples and Gala apples in this recipe for a tart-sweet mix. Gala apples are red-pink, aromatic apples with a mild and sweet flavor. On the other hand, Granny Smith apples are tart with a crisp texture. They are great for baking because they offset the added sugar. The recipe calls for 1 pound chopped apples, which equals about 3 medium apples. 
  • Brown sugar – I use dark brown sugar in this recipe which contains 6.5% molasses (in comparison to 3.5% in light brown sugar). To get an accurate measurement, be sure to tightly pack the brown sugar in a measuring cup. 
  • Spices – They wouldn’t be cinnamon rolls without the addition of lots of ground cinnamon! I also use a bit of nutmeg in this recipe to round out the cinnamon and add a woodsy flavor.

How to Make Apple Cinnamon Rolls

For the dough:

  1. Bloom the yeast. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the milk and heat so it’s warm but not simmering (110ºF). Add the yeast and 2 tablespoons of the sugar, whisking to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Make the dough. Add the flour, remaining sugar, baking powder and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Next, add the milk mixture and the egg and mix on low until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Then, add the melted butter and continue to mix on low speed until a dough ball forms.
  3. Knead the dough. Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. If the dough is still sticky, sprinkle it lightly with additional flour.
  4. Let the dough bulk rise. Lightly grease a large bowl with the vegetable spray and add the dough to the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm place. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 1½ to 2 hours. Punch down the dough, then use or refrigerate overnight (this works best if you want the rolls for breakfast).
  5. Roll out the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it out into a 16-inch x10-inch rectangle that is about ¼-inch thick, squaring off the edges as you work.

For the apple filling:

  1. Cook the apples. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter and allow to melt. Then, add 2 tablespoons of the dark brown sugar and stir until the sugar has melted. Add the apples and stir to combine. Cook until the apples become soft and any liquid they release evaporates, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Make cinnamon sugar. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Next, melt the remaining butter in another bowl.
  3. Fill the cinnamon rolls. Brush the surface of the dough with half of the butter then spread the cinnamon sugar mixture in an even layer, leaving a 1” line down one of the long sides furthest from you. Add the apples over the top, patting them down to ensure they stick. Drizzle with the remaining butter.
  4. Roll the dough and cut. Starting with the end closest to you of the long side of the dough, roll the dough up into a tight coil. Cut the log into 9 even slices, about 1¾” thick. This can be done with a knife or using cooking twine.
  5. Prepare baking dish. Butter a 3½-quart baking dish and arrange the dough coils in the dish. At this point the rolls can be covered and refrigerated overnight.
  6. Let rise again. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and place in a warm place until the dough has risen again, about 1 hour (it may take longer if the dough was refrigerated overnight).
  7. Bake the rolls. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Bake until the rolls are golden brown and fluffy, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

For the glaze:

  1. Make the glaze. In a small bowl stir together the sugar, vanilla and milk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is smooth.

For serving:

  1. Assemble and serve. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled buns and serve warm or at room temperature.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

If you want your rolls first thing in the morning, it’s best to prep them the night before. There are two points at which you can chill the dough overnight. 

  1. Bulk rise overnight. Either make the dough ahead of time and let it rise in the fridge overnight. This will require a bit more prep in the morning. The rolls will still need to be stuffed with the filling and rolled out with time to rise in the pan. 
  2. Rise assembled buns overnight. Or prepare the entire rolls and let them rise in the pan overnight in the refrigerator. Then the only thing you have to do in the morning is take them out and bake them.
apple cinnamon rolls drizzled with icing in a oval baking dish

Troubleshooting Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Problem: The dough isn’t rising! 

Check your yeast! Yeast can expire, and if you buy a jar it’s best stored in the refrigerator at a cooler temperature. 

Another issue may stem from the temperature of your milk being too hot. If the yeast is added to a liquid that is over 120ºF then yeast will start to die. If it dies then it will not activate which will cause the dough not to rise. 

Problem: The dough is really sticky!

Sticky dough that is hard to work with is too hydrated. This means the ratio of liquid to solid is off. The good thing about this issue is it can typically be fixed by kneading in a bit more flour. 

Glaze recipe for baking

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this apple cinnamon roll recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

individual apple cinnamon roll on plate with coffee mug

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

apple cinnamon rolls with icing in a oval baking dish
Print Pin
Prep Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Serves 9

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • teaspoons rapid-rise yeast
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the apple filling:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus additional for buttering the pan
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar, divided
  • 1 pound chopped peeled and diced apples (I use a combination of Granny Smith and Gala)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

For the icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk

Instructions:

For the dough:

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the milk and heat so it’s warm but not simmering (110ºF). Add the yeast and 2 tablespoons of the sugar, whisking to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the flour, remaining sugar, baking powder and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add the milk mixture and the egg and mix on low until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the melted butter and continue to mix on low speed until a dough ball forms.
  • Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. If the dough is still sticky, sprinkle it lightly with additional flour.
  • Lightly grease a large bowl with the vegetable spray and add the dough to the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm place. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 1½ to 2 hours. Punch down the dough, then use or refrigerate overnight (this works best if you want the rolls for breakfast).
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it out into a 16-inch x10-inch rectangle that is about ¼-inch thick, squaring off the edges as you work.

For the apple filling:

  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter and allow to melt. Add 2 tablespoons of the dark brown sugar and stir until the sugar has melted. Add the apples and stir to combine. Cook until the apples become soft and any liquid they release evaporates, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the remaining brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Melt the remaining butter in another bowl.
  • Brush the surface of the dough with half of the butter then spread the cinnamon sugar mixture in an even layer, leaving a 1” line down one of the long sides furthest from you. Add the apples over the top, patting them down to ensure they stick. Drizzle with the remaining butter.
  • Starting with the end closest to you of the long side of the dough, roll the dough up into a tight coil. Cut the log into 9 even slices, about 1¾” thick. This can be done with a knife or using cooking twine.
  • Butter a 3½-quart baking dish and arrange the dough coils in the dish. At this point the rolls can be covered and refrigerated overnight.
  • Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and place in a warm place until the dough has risen again, about 1 hour (it may take longer if the dough was refrigerated overnight).
  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Bake until the rolls are golden brown and fluffy, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

For the glaze:

  • In a small bowl stir together the sugar, vanilla and milk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is smooth.

For serving:

  • Drizzle the glaze over the cooled buns and serve warm or at room temperature.

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