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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bake. Remove the plastic wrap and bake until golden brown.
- 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.
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.