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Glazed Apple Cinnamon Rolls

With a rich homemade dough, sweet cinnamon apple filling, and vanilla cream cheese glaze, these Glazed Apple Cinnamon Rolls are a perfectly sticky, gooey fall treat.

Freshly baked glazed apple cinnamon rolls on a plate with a fork

An Easy Fall Dessert

These are truly the best homemade cinnamon rolls I've tried - and I've tried many! This recipe itself has actually gone through several variations and, in this one, I have total confidence in calling these the best homemade cinnamon rolls!

With the fast-approaching cooler nights and changing leaves, I figured it was time to start baking fall treats. And what says fall more than soft, sweet cinnamon rolls?!

The rich homemade dough is enriched with eggs and butter, which does mean that a lot of mixing is required to get the gluten to develop. For this reason, I highly recommend a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Trying to do this by hand is exhausting!

The center of these rolls is full of diced apples, butter, and cinnamon-brown sugar. As the rolls bake, the brown sugar melts and creates that irresistible gooey, sticky texture that makes the best cinnamon buns.

For the ultimate treat, top these beauties with a homemade cream cheese glaze while they're still warm. The glaze will melt and run down into the coiled cracks, making the ultimate sticky sweet treat!

Why this recipe works

  • Eggs and butter enrich the dough making it soft and supple.
  • Apple cider ensures there is plenty of apple flavor in the rolls.
  • Adding nutmeg to the cinnamon sugar filling brings out the cozy aroma making the rolls perfect for cooler weather.

Once you try these fall flavor sweet rolls, I highly recommend adding my pineapple sweet rolls and slow cooker orange sweet rolls to your list to try next.

Apple cinnamon buns with cream cheese glaze in a baking dish

What You'll Need

Making these apple cinnamon rolls requires no fancy ingredients - just some apples, apple cider, and pantry staples!

  • Apple cider - If you don't have cider on hand, you can also use apple juice, whole milk or buttermilk. Using milk or buttermilk will obviously reduce the apple flavor.
  • Instant yeast - I prefer instant yeast because it's the most reliable but you can also use active dry yeast. You'll need to add a few minutes to the rise time.
  • Granulated sugar - Sweetens the dough slightly.
  • Unsalted butter - Butter should cool slightly after being melted.
  • Eggs - Use room temperature eggs and beat them lightly before adding to the dough.
  • Vanilla extract - Just a splash.
  • Salt
  • All-purpose flour - The exact amount of flour used will vary, as you want to use just enough to create a soft dough. Humid environments may need more flour.
  • Light brown sugar - Adds the sweetness to this warm cinnamon filling.
  • Cinnamon & nutmeg - For the warm, cinnamon flavor.
  • Baking apples - I used Granny Smith but any tart baking apple will work.
  • Cream cheese - Use regular cream cheese, not the low-fat cream cheese.
  • Whole milk - Helps the glaze become thinner and spreadable.
  • Confectioners' sugar - Sweetens the glaze without leaving a gritty mouthfeel.

How to Make Apple Cinnamon Rolls

While making these apple cinnamon rolls is easy, they are a time-intensive treat. The dough needs to rise twice - once before assembling and once after the rolls are cut. Be sure to allow at least 3 hours to make these - with almost 2 hours being rising time.

  1. Make the dough. Warm the cider and add the yeast. Whisk until foamy, then whisk in the other ingredients (except flour). Slowly add in flour, until a soft dough forms. Then beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It should be soft, smooth and tacky.
  2. Let the dough rise. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a minute. Then place in a oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45-60 minutes.
  1. Make the filling. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface. Spread the melted butter over it, then add the mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the chopped apples over the brown sugar.
  2. Roll and let rise. TIghtly roll the dough into a log and pinch the seam to seal. Cut into 12 pieces and arrange them in a greased pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45-60 minutes.
Freshly baked apple cinnamon buns in a baking dish
  1. Bake. Remove the plastic wrap and bake until golden brown.
  2. Make the glaze. Combine cream cheese, vanilla extract and milk. Gradually whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth. Drizzle over warm rolls and serve!

Using A Stand Mixer To Knead The Dough

  • Attach the dough hook and turn the mixer to low speed.
  • Add about 4 cups of flour to the wet ingredients and mix for 5 minutes. Check the consistency and add more flour if necessary (the dough should feel soft and slightly tacky but not wet and sticky).
  • Once the dough is at the right consistency, knead on medium-high speed for a few more minutes or until it pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it by hand for another minute or two.

Tips for Success

If this is your first time making cinnamon rolls, don't worry! It's surprisingly easy. Here are a few things to consider!

  • It's okay to not use all of the flour. You only need to add just enough flour to make a soft dough. This amount will change based on the humidity in your own home. My dough took all of the remaining cups.
  • How to tell when dough is ready to knead. Once the dough is soft and springy, no longer sticky, it has enough flour and is ready to knead. You can check to be sure the dough is ready by poking it with two fingers. If it bounces back, it is ready.
  • Dice the apples into small pieces. Be sure to dice the apple small. This just makes it easier to roll the dough up without fighting large chunks of apple.
  • How to tell if the yeast is still good. Don’t be nervous about working with yeast. I recommend using instant yeast because it’s most reliable. Make sure it’s still “good” by letting it sit in warm liquid before using - in this case warm cider. If the yeast doesn’t foam, toss it and start over with new yeast.
Side view of a glazed apple cinnamon roll on a plate

Serving Suggestions

These cinnamon rolls with apple are best enjoyed warm! While you can easily reheat them, they are at their absolute best when enjoyed warm from the oven. Soft, gooey, and topped with cream cheese frosting. Yum!

Apple cinnamon rolls can be enjoyed for breakfast or dessert. I love mine with a cup of coffee!


How to Store Leftovers

While unbaked rolls should not be stored due to the fresh apples, baked cinnamon rolls are great for making ahead and freezing!

How to store leftovers. You can store apple cinnamon rolls, frosted or unfrosted, at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Pop in the microwave for a few seconds before eating.

Can I freeze these? You can freeze cinnamon rolls for up to 3 months. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or in an airtight container. Thaw in the fridge and then pop in the microwave. I find freezing unfrosted cinnamon rolls best.

Apple cinnamon buns with cream cheese glaze in a baking dish

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 12 rolls
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Rise Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

With a rich homemade dough, sweet cinnamon apple filling, and vanilla cream cheese glaze, these Glazed Apple Cinnamon Rolls are a perfectly sticky, gooey fall treat.

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 1 cup (240 ml) apple cider
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast, 1 packet
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup (75 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ½ - 5 cups (650 g) all-purpose flour

For the Filling

  • ¼ cup (56 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup (105 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tart baking apples, peeled, cored, and diced

For the glaze

  • ¼ cup (56 g) cream cheese, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 cup (120 g) confectioners' sugar

Instructions

Make the rolls

  1. In a small saucepan, the cider over medium heat to 110°F. This can also be done in the microwave using a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Combine warm cider and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Whisk well to dissolve the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes, until foamy. Whisk in the sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and salt until well combined.
  3. Turn the mixer on low speed and gradually add enough flour to form a soft dough. It can take more or less flour depending on the humidity.
  4. Turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be soft, smooth, and tacky.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using well-floured hands, knead the dough for another minute then shape it into a ball.
  6. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes, until doubled in size.

Make the filling

  1. Generously grease a 9x13-inch pan and set it aside.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 12x18-inch rectangle. Spread the melted butter over the surface of the dough.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sprinkle evenly over the buttered dough. Spread the chopped apples evenly over the brown sugar.
  4. Starting on the long side, tightly roll the dough into a log and pinch the seam to seal. Place the roll, seam side down, on a cutting board. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces and arrange them cut side up in the prepared pan.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°F. (Syrupy liquid may form in the bottom of the pan, this is normal.)
  6. Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Tent loosely with aluminum foil if the top begins to brown too much.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes then drizzle with glaze. Serve warm and enjoy!

Make the glaze

  1. Combine cream cheese, vanilla extract, and milk in a small bowl. Whisk to blend together. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until the mixture is smooth. Drizzle over rolls.

Notes

Apple cider: You may use apple juice, whole milk, or buttermilk instead.

Yeast: Active dry yeast may be used. You may need to add a few minutes to the rise times.

Apples: I use Granny Smith apples but any tart baking apple will work.

Stand mixer: If you don't have a stand mixer, you can mix the dough in a large bowl with a wooden spoon then knead by hand.

Make ahead tips

  1. Keep frosted or unfrosted rolls covered tightly and store for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
  2. Baked rolls can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then warm before serving.
  3. Due to the fresh apples in the filling, I don't recommend refrigerating or freezing unbaked rolls.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 roll
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 487Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 233mgCarbohydrates: 81gFiber: 3gSugar: 35gProtein: 8g

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients you used in the recipe.

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