Oct 06

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls

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.

{BTW, if you’re wondering what kind of yeast to use, I always use Red Star Active Dry Yeast. It’s dependable and you can find it at the regular grocery store. I buy it in the jar because I use so much of it!}

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!

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 8-12 rolls, depending on size

Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

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: 8×12” pan, 9 rolls: 9” pan or 9 1/2” round pie plate, 12 rolls: 9×13” 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.

The apples do not cook fully and are crunchier than in an apple pie. If you wish to have a softer apple inside your cinnamon roll, you can par-cook them. Place diced apple in a small amount of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil and cook for just a few minutes, until the just start to turn translucent. Drain well, cool slightly, and add to topping as directed.

Recipe adapted from these cinnamon rolls.

Easy Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

easy-caramel-apple-cinnamon-rolls (3 of 5)w

Gingerbread Spice Cinnamon Rolls

Gingerbread Spice Cinnamon Rolls (3 of 4)w

Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake Pie

Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake Pie by Crazy for Crust

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