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Apple Cinnamon Rolls with cream cheese frosting are amped up with apples times three! Fresh apples and apple cider in the soft cinnamon rolls and in the frosting. If you’re an apple fan, you have to give this from scratch cinnamon roll recipe a try.
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Homemade Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Soft cinnamon rolls with apples and an apple cider cream cheese glaze – there’s a lot going on in these delicious cinnamon rolls and all of it is amazing.
What makes these so good is the apple cider in the cinnamon roll dough. It’s an easy hack – just swap out the milk (used in traditional cinnamon rolls) for apple cider. The natural sugar in the cider works to feed the yeast so the rolls puff up beautifully.
Why you’ll love these
Not only does the dough have apple cider AND fresh apples but so does the icing. We’re giving a cream cheese frosting an apple cider twist and it’s the perfect finishing touch.
The cinnamon roll base I used for this recipe is the same one I used for the Peanut Butter Cinnamon Rolls, Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls, and the Cinnamon Roll Pull-Apart Bread, except that I took out the milk and used apple cider instead. The dough works and is soft and fluffy and perfect!
Cinnamon Roll Dough Ingredients
- Active dry yeast: This recipe has been written for active dry yeast NOT instant! Be sure to buy the right kind.
- Warm apple cider: Use apple juice if you can’t find cider
- Sugar: Granulated sugar works best
- Softened unsalted butter: Soften it quickly if needed!
- Salt: Needed since we’re using unsalted butter
- Large egg: Be sure to use the right size
- All-purpose flour: Measure your flour correctly
How to make Cinnamon Roll Dough with Apple Cider
- Add the yeast to the warm apple cider and let it sit until it’s foamy.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment combine the sugar and butter, cream until it’s chunky and add the salt.
- Add the egg, some of the flour and cider/yeast mixture to the mixer.
- Mix until the mixture sticks to the paddle. Switch the paddle attachment for the dough hook and mix at low speed.
- Once the dough forms a ball around the hook, transfer it to a large bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Leave it to rise for one to two hours or until doubled in size.
Apple Cinnamon Roll Filling
- Softened butter: This is a must because we’re going to mix it to a paste so it must be really soft. Unsalted butter is best.
- Brown sugar: Brown is the best sugar for filling!
- Diced apples: Use your favorite kind – I like Gala or Fuji or similar. I also cook them for a few minutes in the microwave to soften.
How to make Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- To make the filling, combine the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour until it forms a paste.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 10” by 14”.
- Spread the filling evenly over the top of the dough.
- Sprinkle the diced apples and chopped nuts over the top.
- Starting at one long end, roll the dough and filling up like a jelly roll. Slice into 12 cinnamon rolls.
- Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate the cinnamon rolls overnight OR you can let them rise for one hour (or until puffy) and then bake.
- Let them come to room temperature while the oven preheats (overnight rolls) or just preheat the oven while they’re rising. Bake the rolls for 23 to 28 minutes or until golden brown.
Best Frosting for Cinnamon Rolls
For the frosting, beat melted butter and softened cream cheese until it’s almost smooth. Mix in powdered sugar and apple cider. If your frosting is too thick, add a little more cider to thin it. Spread the icing over the warm apple cinnamon rolls and devour.
Storing and Make Ahead Instructions
How to make overnight cinnamon rolls: These are the best make-ahead cinnamon rolls because you can do most of the work a day ahead. Prepare the dough, assemble the rolls, and keep them in the refrigerator overnight.
The next morning let them sit out at room temperature while you preheat the oven. While they bake, make the frosting and then enjoy fresh-baked from-scratch apple cinnamon rolls.
How to store cinnamon rolls: Leftover cinnamon rolls can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. You can warm them in the oven or in the microwave.
Any apples you like will work in this apple cinnamon roll recipe. For a tart apple filling, try Granny Smith apples. Or Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, or Pink Lady apples are great, too.
I haven’t tested this recipe with apple pie filling.
Is your yeast expired? If it is, it won’t work right, and your dough won’t rise. Also, the dough may take longer to puff up if it is cold in your kitchen.
Instant yeast won’t work in this recipe.
The scent of these apple cider cinnamon rolls baking is so amazing! They are the best Saturday or Sunday morning breakfast. I love them any time, especially during the fall when I’m craving cinnamon-apple everything. Give them a try soon!
Freeze them after placing in pan (wrap tightly) for up to 1 month. Thaw and allow to rise before baking. Or freeze once baked.
Apple Cinnamon Rolls
For the Dough:
- 1 package active dry yeast (about 2 ¼ teaspoons or 7g)
- ¾ cup apple cider (177ml) heated to about 110-120°F, about 30-45 seconds in the microwave
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar (67g)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (42g) softened
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 3 – 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (372-403g) plus more for dusting
For the Filling:
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (70g) softened
- ⅔ cup brown sugar (134g)
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 heaping cup diced apple about 1 medium peeled (your favorite kind)
- ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts optional
For the Frosting
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (28g) melted
- 3 ounces cream cheese (85g) softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar (226g)
- 3-4 tablespoons apple cider (15-60ml)
Make the Dough:
- Place apple cider in a microwave safe measuring cup. Heat for about seconds in the microwave, until it’s about 110-120°F. (The time you heat it will need to be adjusted depending on your microwave. You can use a candy or a meat thermometer to test the temperature. Also, think very hot bathwater.) Add yeast and stir. Let it sit for a few minutes until it's foamy.
- Place sugar, butter, salt, and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until the butter is distributed throughout the liquids, although it may be chunky. Pour in the cider/yeast mixture and stir for a few seconds.
- Add 3 cups of flour and stir with the paddle attachment just until the mixture starts to stick to the paddle. Then replace the paddle with the dough hook. Continue mixing on low speed until the dough forms a ball in the center of the bowl. If dough is still very sticky, you can add an additional 1/4 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough ball in it. Spray the top of the dough ball with cooking spray (lightly) and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let sit for 1-3 hours until it doubles in size. Note on rising: if your house is warm, it should rise no problem. If it’s cold in your house, it may take longer for the dough to rise.
- Stir together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour until it forms a paste.
- Place apple in a small microwave safe bowl and add a few tablespoons of water. Cover with plastic wrap and heat for 2-3 minutes, or just until the apples start to soften. Drain really well and pat them dry. Let cool at least 10 minutes before filling.
- Once the dough is risen, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle, about 10” by 14”. Spread the filling as evenly as possible over the rectangle, making sure to reach to the sides so the outer rolls have enough filling. Sprinkle with the chopped apple and nuts (if using).
- Roll the dough up tightly from the long end. Decide how many rolls you want. Divide the dough into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a 9×13-inch pan that's been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
- Cover the rolls with plastic wrap.
Rising and Baking: Overnight or Right Away
- If you want to make these the night before: once they're covered with plastic wrap, place in the refrigerator overnight. Before baking, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let them warm up to room temperature while the oven is preheating.
- If making the same day (right away), allow the rolls to puff and almost double in size, about one hour, before baking.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 23-28 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
Make the frosting:
- Whisk the melted butter and softened cream cheese until mostly smooth. If your cream cheese is too stiff, you can use a hand mixer. Whisk/beat in powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons apple cider. Add more cider as you want for consistency. Pour over warm rolls and serve.
BEST EVER Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls from scratch have a soft homemade cinnamon roll dough with a brown sugar apple cinnamon filling and cream cheese frosting! These are the best fall breakfast or brunch.
Last Updated on February 17, 2023