Crazy for Crust

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls

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Oh my word, you guys. Hold onto your coffee cups.

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls, with apple cider in the dough and the frosting. They’re like walking in an apple orchard!

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls - apple cider in the dough and the glaze!

Are you smarter than a 4th grader? I’m not.

Last week Jordan had her first 4th grade social studies test. We had flashcards and a study guide to practice with. Thank goodness they were already filled out or we would have failed.

Regions of California, natural resources, a compass rose (no, that’s not something from Beauty and the Beast, it’s a real thing) and the exact location of our city, using degrees.

Dude, degrees mean baking, not latitude and longitude. Geography was never my strong point.

Now baking? That’s something I can do. Although science was never my strong suit either and these apple cider cinnamon rolls are full of science.

Maybe I should make her teacher sit through Are you smarter than a food blogger? 😉

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls

I told you last week about our trip to Apple Hill. I go for the doughnuts but I also love their apple cider. They make it fresh on site.  I came home with a bottle because I knew I wanted to try making a yeasted dough with it.

I thought I was being all smart and stuff, switching out the milk for apple cider in my cinnamon roll recipe. Then I googled and realized I’m not smart at all. Can we just pretend??

I mean, not only does the dough have cider in it, but so does the icing…

Apple Cider Frosting on top of cinnamon rolls!

The icing is a cream cheese base with apple cider instead of extract. So that means I can drink it, right?

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 apple cider has natural sugar in it, which means that yeast loves it. I warmed up the cider the same I do with milk and added the yeast and within a minute it was frothy and yeasty. That also made my dough rise faster than usual, which was good because I started these late in the day.

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls

The filling is the regular filling I use in my Overnight Cinnamon Rolls. That post also has a photo tutorial on rolling out your dough, if you need one.

Because I was using apple cider in these rolls, I decided to chop up some apples in the filling. I know I’m going to get questions about what kind and my advice is use what you love. I really have no idea what kind these were – they came from an orchard with lots of trees that all had apple names I’ve never seen before.

Note: the apple doesn’t cook to “soft” in the cinnamon rolls. If you want a softer apple, like a pie apple, you need to pre-cook them. I added a note in the recipe.

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls

Pour the frosting on top of the warm rolls and see what happens next.

{Hint: your family will attack the pan like a pack of wild dogs. Just a guess?}

Each bite of these cinnamon rolls is not overly apple tasting, but the flavor of the apple cider comes through immediately. As you’re chewing you almost feel like you’re drinking apple cider.

So, I guess that means I did my job.

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls - apple cider in the dough and the glaze!

Now I just have to learn 4th grade social studies. I think that will be harder!

5 from 2 votes
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Servings: 8 -12 rolls, depending on size

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls

Total Time:
3 hrs 30 mins
These rolls have apple cider in the dough and the glaze, and apples inside. They're soft and gooey and full of apple flavor!


For the Dough:

  • 1 package active dry yeast — about 2 1/4 teaspoons
  • 3/4 cup apple cider — heated to about 110-120°F, about 30-45 seconds in the microwave
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter — softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 - 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour — plus more for dusting
  • Paddle attachment & dough hook for your mixer

For the Filling:

  • 5 tablespoons butter — softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping cup — about 1 medium peeled, cored, and diced apple (your favorite kind)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts — optional

For the Frosting

  • 2 tablespoons butter — melted
  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese — softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons apple cider


Make the Dough:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Prepare your Rolls:

  1. Stir together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour until it forms a paste.
  2. 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). (See note)
  3. Roll the dough up tightly from the long end. Decide how many rolls you want. You can make 8 big rolls, 9 medium, or 12 small. (8 rolls: 8x12” pan, 9 rolls: 9” pan or 9 1/2” round pie plate, 12 rolls: 9x13” pan.) Place the rolls into a pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  4. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let them warm up to room temperature while the oven is preheating. Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 23-28 minutes, or until they are golden brown. (Baking time depends on size of rolls as well. My 8 rolls took 27 minutes in my oven.)

Make the frosting:

  1. 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.

Click here for more Brunch Recipes!

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Sweets from friends:
Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls by Chocolate Moosey
Cider Glazed Apple Pie Rolls by Dine & Dish
Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread by Something Swanky

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  1. Apple cider cinnamon rolls?! Amazing, Dorothy! I love that you added cider to the frosting. These sounds so amazing! Pinned!

  2. Apple cider in the rolls AND the icing? Sign me up for a few! And your last picture with the bit on the fork? Absolutely gorgeous! Makes me want to eat these right now!!

  3. You’re the first person to think of putting cider in cinnamon roll dough. Really. Well, as far as I’m concerned, anyway! Love this recipe! And you’re SO MUCH smarter than a 4th grader. These rolls prove it!

  4. OMG THEY’RE AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Truly your best to date roll, and possibly the best rolls I’ve seen around in ages! When I made pumpkin cinn rolls last week, I thought briefly about apple but I didn’t have cider, didn’t want to mess with whole apple chunks, so many reasons I avoided, so I give you major props! The images, the frosting, the collage, all just perfect! 

  5. I should not have looked at these today! I am trying to be very smart with my diet this week with Chicago this sunday, now these made me crave cinnamon rolls!!!! What a wonderful combination, these will be a giant treat for me next week after all I have put into this training cycle, definitely well deserved! So jealous you already enjoyed them!

  6. OMG! The close-ups on these rolls are killing me! I NEED these! My morning coffee needs these! Pinned!

  7. These. Look. So. Good. I have been meaning to make cinnamon rolls for weeks now and I think I have my recipe!

  8. Oh MY goodness!  These are gorgeous Dorothy!  Love that you used the apple cider in the icing!!! Pinning to try soon!

  9. I love apple cinnamon rolls. Yours sound fantastic, especially with cider in the dough and the icing! Absolutely drool worthy. Pinned!

  10. Oh my gosh, Dorothy… I’m in tears over how gorgeous your photos are! Just stunning… and I pretty much want to eat my weight in these apple cinnamon rolls. Gah!

  11. I am definitely NOT smarter than a 4th grader, not even close, but I am smart enough to know that I have to make these

  12. Oh my! These look AMAZING! Those picture make the rolls look even better (how is that even possible if they are already so good?!?). I love the addition of the apple cider to the dough: it already has natural yeast in it so it adds rise and flavour. But come on, apple cider in a cream cheese frosting!? You nailed this Dorothy, pinned! 😀 x 

  13. These are making my mouth water! They look perfect!

  14. You know, this is exactly the type of apple orchard I would like to live in. These look like a perfect brunch (and who are we kidding, everyday) type of fall treat!

  15. I’ll have to make these one night then put them in for breakfast to wake up the boyfriend and the kitties. He’d love it. I love anything apple! Thanks for sharing because I’m pinning. Happy Monday!

  16. I can so relate to school and not knowing everything; the only difference is that I homeschool. A constant(humbling) reminder of all the supposedly learned as a kid, but also a chance to experience them again as an adult:) Love how you infused cider into these cinnamon rolls! I’m so ready for fall and the lovely food that accompanies its arrival:)

  17. Um, yeah, about these…I’m going to need the entire tray. 

  18. It’s been way too long since I’ve made cinnamon rolls!  These sound amazing!  Pinning!

  19. You’re killin me!! I couldn’t imagine a better version of cinnamon rolls. I love that the apples are still a little firm. You don’t spit these out do you?? Haha!

  20. These sound so good….but I think cinnamon rolls go good with anything!  and I bet she’s not smarter than a food blogger! 😉 

  21. Ohmigawd! I want to stuff my face with these cinnamon rolls! I love your addition of apple cider to the dough and icing! I know that I would be scraping all the icing off the pan (and probably neighboring rolls…but don’t tell anyone I do that…because they probably won’t share with me anymore) Pinned 🙂  

  22. Holy amazingness! These cinnamon rolls are pure genius, Dorothy! I have a feeling these would not last more than 10 minutes in my house.. and for good reason.

  23. Apple cider and cinnamon rolls – the perfect marriage!  These look heavenly.  And you’re not stingy with the frosting, like a certain mall cinnamon roll shop I know. You are a genius!

  24. OMG…I’m drooling looking at that pic. I want one or six!!! 🙂

  25. These look adorable, Dorothy. I’m sure they taste just as wonderful as they look.

  26. Ooooh amazing! 

  27. Seriously makes me want to lick my screen!

  28. Holy freakin cow! Love these Dorothy! I have a thang for cinnamon rolls you know and have recently found a new addiction in apple cider.  Love all this fabulousness together 🙂 Pinned!

  29. These are so freakin gorgeous Dorothy!!!  Apple cider in the rolls and the icing sounds like the best thing ever!  I am always drooling over your rolls but these ones are now my favorite.  The photos are stunning!! Totally makes me want to dive right into apple cider heaven – pinning!

  30. “degrees means baking!!  Not latitude and longitude”!!  Ha, ha!!  That gave me a nice afternoon laugh!!  I am dying over these yummy cinnamon rolls.  I have actually never made cinnamon rolls from scratch, but these are enticing me to try!  🙂

  31. These might be my favorite ones yet. So gorgeous!!!!

  32. I think these cinnamon rolls would be mouthwateringly irresistible even if your photos weren’t amazing! Gorgeous photos, gorgeous cinnamon rolls! I especially like how the rolls and the icing are infused with apple flavor from the cider.

  33. Oh my YUM Dorothy!! These look incredible! I think I missed your memo about serving brunch on Sunday… Because I came much too late to enjoy these… 😉 I actually remember the compass rose part of 4th grade, but that’s about it! We definitely didn’t do any “find your city in degrees” business. Back then, degrees = whether I could wear shorts (minimum 60°, according to my mom, but now I get cold so easily that it’s about 85°, and anything less is leggings!). Anywho… These look gorgeous, as always!

  34. First of all….These look absolutely amazing! I am a huge cinnamon roll. apple cider, fall, autumn, butter, cinnamon-sugar, etc., kind of gal. So, yeah, this is perfect!

    Second, I loved the post you did on improving your website. You are awesome!!!!!

  35. I love this idea. I went to the orchard near our house last weekend. The cider there is so good. I would have a hard time parting with it but for frosting and cinnamon rolls I am sure I will find a way.

  36. Apple cider cinnamon rolls are a must this time of year! Yours look incredible!

  37. Dorothy just wait until Jordan is in the 6th grade. Oh my. I have to google the answers to my sons questions. I don’t ever remembering what 2+X-1/3 = is? Yea I have no clue. I always tell my son, “sorry honey go ask dad”. Hehe. These rolls though. That is something I am all over. They look amazing. And what a great way to use up your apples from Apple Hill. 🙂 Pinned! 

  38. You are just brilliant! Apple cider in the dough and the icing? So smart. Your photos are completely gorgeous and totally make me wish I had a batch of these in the oven right now!

  39. So I made these this morning! Except we left the apples out since my bf wasn’t a fan. They’re still delicious! I can taste the subtle hint of apple cider in the dough and it’s great! 

  40. These look gooey and not to brown and loaded with gorgeous icing aka perfect!

  41. I’m curiou about the apple cider that you used; was it spiced at all or just purely-apple flavor?  It’s fall. I have both. 

  42. Dude, I’m not smarter than my First-grader so I feel your pain! Haha. These look divine.

  43. Hi, you should shred the apple so you don’t have hard chunks and it will be even gooier filling! Can’t wait to try!

  44. Simply delicious. Just started baking six months ago and have made three sweet roll recipes so far. These were definitely the best.

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