Home · Recipes Apple Cinnamon Rolls Author: Maryanne CabreraPublished: Oct 24, 2017Updated: Oct 16, 2023 View Recipe4 ReviewsThis post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy. Apple cinnamon rolls are an autumn variation of the classic cinnamon roll. The dough is made with apple cider for extra flavor while the filling is packed with cinnamon spiced apples! Homemade cinnamon rolls are a family favorite. Nothing beats made from scratch, soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven! These apple cinnamon rolls have the perfect balance of sweet, tart, and spice. The mixture of cinnamon apples, brown sugar filling, and smooth luscious cream cheese frosting makes these rolls are hit during the autumn and winter months. ContentsReasons These Rolls Are SuperiorYeast DoughAssembling RollsSweet Cinnamon Apple FillingWhen to Add Cream Cheese FrostingServing and Storage InstructionsMake Ahead Holiday Breakfast OptionsMore Apple Dessert Recipes Reasons These Rolls Are Superior What makes these rolls better than those other apple cinnamon rolls recipes? The dough is made with apple cider! Most dough recipes use water, milk, or a mixture of the two. Instead of water, this recipe uses apple cider. This simple change adds a hint of sweetness and more depth of flavor. The enriched yeast dough is also seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg. This further enhances the warm flavors the cinnamon rolls. These autumn cinnamon rolls are perfect all holiday season long from the first day of school through New Year’s Eve. Best of all, these rolls may be prepared ahead of time. There are two make ahead options detailed toward the end of the post. Choose to make the rolls ahead of time and baking fresh the following morning, or freeze them for later enjoyment! Ingredient IntelWhat is apple cider? The labeling of “apple cider” versus “apple juice” varies from state to state. The apple cider used in this recipe refers to unfiltered apple juice.This apple cider (unfiltered apple juice) is a bit cloudier and thicker than your standard boxed apple juice. Do not use sparkling apple cider (such as Martinelli’s sparkling cider). That is a completely different product! NOTE: Apple cider should only have one ingredient: apples! In a pinch, any kind of 100% apple juice works. Yeast Dough The recipe for this enriched yeast dough is simple and straightforward to make. For ease, I highly recommend using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. However, you may certainly mix and knead the dough together by hand with a little extra effort. Enriched doughs contain dairy, eggs, or additional fats. This makes the dough softer, richer, and more tender than lean doughs (such as baguettes). Do not fear yeast doughs! This baking with yeast tutorial will help you understand and tackle any problems you may encounter with active dry yeast. Key things to keep in mind: Yeast: This recipe can be made with either active dry yeast or instant yeast. For the best rise, check the expiration date on your yeast packets. If in doubt, buy new yeast. Temperature: Yeast is happiest in warm environments. Mix the yeast in warm liquids, around 100-110 degrees F. Use a digital kitchen thermometer to ensure proper temps. If the liquids are too hot, the yeast will die. If the liquids are too cold, the yeast will take much longer to activate. Patience: Making breads and doughs requires time. Do not try to speed things up. Dough flavor is developed during proofing and resting. Assembling Rolls Roll dough into a 20×14-inch rectangle. Spread softened butter all over dough. Sprinkle brown sugar cinnamon mixture all over buttered dough. Distribute strained chopped apples all over dough. Beginning at the longer edge, roll dough into a tight log. Slice in 12 equal parts and place in a greased 9×12-inch baking pan. Sweet Cinnamon Apple Filling Chopped bite-sized apple chunks are mixed with apple cider, salt, cinnamon, and sugar. Let this mixture sit as you roll out the dough. After about 5 minutes, the apple will expel some extra moisture. Strain out the chopped apples and reserve the sweet liquids leftover. It’s up to you whether you want to peel the Granny Smith apples or keep the skin on. I prefer to keep the peel on. I like the flavor and texture it adds. In a separate bowl, combine the usual cinnamon roll filling of brown sugar, white sugar, and cinnamon. Recommended Apple Varieties I used chopped Granny Smith apples for the filling. I’ve tried this recipe with other apples. However, other apple varieties just don’t hold up as well. The durability and tartness of the Granny Smith works well with the brown sugar and cinnamon filling. When to Add Cream Cheese Frosting Directly from the oven, allow the rolls to cool for about 10 minutes. Then, spread the luscious spiced cream cheese frosting all over the warm apple cinnamon rolls. The warmth of the rolls will slightly melt the frosting allowing the frosting to seep into the nook and crevices. The frosting is a simple mixture of cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and spices. It is flavored with ground cinnamon and reserved apple filling liquid (from assembly). Alternatively, you may flavor the frosting with vanilla extract or vanilla bean. More Unique Cinnamon Roll Variations Coconut Jam Cinnamon Rolls Funfetti Cinnamon Rolls Spiced Cranberry Rolls Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls Serving and Storage Instructions Apple cinnamon rolls are best enjoyed fresh from the oven. However, they’re equally delicious cooled to room temperature. Fresh baked rolls may be left at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Once frosted, rolls may be left at room temperature for 10-12 hours. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat in the microwave for 15 to 20 second intervals along with a cup of water. The water will prevent the bread from overheating and turning gummy in texture. Alternatively, reheat rolls in a toaster oven. For longer storage, cut and separate the unfrosted rolls into individual portions. Individually wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Then, place in a resealable freezer bag. Store in the freezer for up to two months. Defrost at room temperature for about 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge. Make Ahead Holiday Breakfast Options Overnight Apple Cinnamon Rolls Make the dough the night before serving. Complete up to Step 6. In Step 5, instead of letting the dough rise, cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to slow proof overnight. The following morning, remove rolls from the fridge. Keep covered. Let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to 90 minutes (time dependent on ambient temperature) until the dough is no longer cold. At this point, the dough has continued to puff up and rise. Bake as directed. Top with cream cheese frosting before serving. Bake Ahead and Reheat Follow the instructions all the way through. Bake the rolls as directed. Then, cool to room temperature. You can unmold the rolls from the baking pan or place in a tin foil pan. Tightly wrap the room temp cinnamon rolls in plastic wrap. For extra protection, wrap in aluminum foil and place or place inside a zip-top plastic bag. Freeze for up two months. Defrost at room temperature for about 45 minutes, or slowly defrost in the fridge overnight. Gently reheat in a 325 degrees F oven until warm, about 10-15 minutes. Top with freshly whipped frosting before serving. More Apple Dessert Recipes Apple Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread Caramel Apple Sheet Cake Brown Butter Apple Cider Donuts Apple Coffee Cake Apple Cinnamon Rolls Apple cinnamon rolls are an autumn variation of the classic cinnamon roll. The dough is made with apple cider for extra flavor while the filling is packed with cinnamon spiced apples. Prep Time: 30 minutes minutesCook Time: 30 minutes minutesDough Rest Time: 1 hour hour 30 minutes minutesTotal Time: 2 hours hours 30 minutes minutes Servings: 12 Print Recipe Pin Recipe Rate Recipe IngredientsDough:½ cup apple cider*, warmed up to 110°F2 ¼ teaspoon dry active yeast (7 g)1 teaspoon granulated sugar (4 g)½ cup milk, (113 g)room temperature1 large egg, room temperature1 large egg yolk, room temperature¼ cup brown sugar (50 g) light or dark, packed4 cups all-purpose flour (480 g)1 teaspoon fine sea salt¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon6 Tablespoon unsalted butter (85 g) softenedApple Filling:2 cups chopped Granny Smith apples (230 g)3 Tablespoons apple ciderpinch fine sea salt½ teaspoon ground cinnamon⅓ cup brown sugar (67 g) light or dark, packed2 Tablespoons granulated sugar (25 g)1 teaspoon ground cinnamon⅓ cup unsalted butter (75 g) softened to mayonnaise-like consistencyCream Cheese Frosting:½ cup cream cheese, (4 oz or 113 g) room temperature¼ cup unsalted butter (57 g) room temperature1 ½ cup confectioners' sugar (175 g) unsifted¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon1 Tablespoon reserved apple filling liquid Instructions Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine warm apple cider, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for 5-7 minutes to allow mixture to bubble and activate. Whisk in milk, egg, egg yolk, and brown sugar. Attach dough hook to stand mixer.In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add 1/3 of flour mixture to mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until flour is incorporated. Add another 1/3 of flour mixture. Continue to knead on low speed adding softened butter one tablespoons at a time. Add remaining flour mixture and knead until dough is smooth and cleans the sides of the bowls.Transfer dough to a lightly greased large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rest at room temperature for about an hour, until dough has doubled in volume. Apple Filling: Meanwhile, combine chopped apples with apple cider, salt, and ground cinnamon. Set aside while you roll out dough. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon. Punch down risen dough. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Roll dough into a 20 x 14-inch rectangle. Spread softened butter over dough. Sprinkle brown sugar cinnamon mixture over dough. Strain chopped apples from liquid mixture. Set aside and save liquid mixture. Distribute chopped apples over dough. Roll dough into a tight log, starting at the longer side Slice the log into 12 equal parts and place into a lightly greased 9 x 12-inch baking pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and let rolls rest for 30-45 minutes at room temperature. Rolls should rise to the top of the baking pan.Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove plastic wrap and bake rolls for 30-35 minutes until golden brown on top and the internal temperature of the rolls registers at least 185 degrees F. Allow rolls to cool for 5-10 minute before covering with frosting.Cream Cheese Frosting: Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar, cinnamon, and reserved apple filling liquid. Add additional apple liquid, to taste or to achieve desired frosting consistency. Mix until smooth. Spread over warm apple cinnamon rolls. NotesIngredients: Apple cider refers to unfiltered apple juice. It is cloudier and thicker than standard boxed apple juice. Do not use sparkling apple cider (such as Martinelli’s). That is a completely different product. Use either active dry yeast or instant yeast. If using instant yeast, skip the yeast hydration and activation in step 1. Simply add yeast with other ingredients and mix. Apples may be peeled or unpeeled. Use Granny Smith for best results. Other apple varieties don’t hold up well. Plus, the tart flavor of Granny Smith pair well with the cinnamon sugar filling. Serving and Storage: Apple cinnamon rolls are best enjoyed fresh from the oven. However, they’re equally delicious cooled to room temperature. Fresh baked rolls may be left at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Once frosted, rolls may be left at room temperature for 10-12 hours. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat in the microwave for 15 to 20 second intervals along with a cup of water. The water will prevent the bread from overheating and turning gummy in texture. Make Ahead Options: Overnight: Complete up to Step 6. In Step 5, instead of letting the dough rise, cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to slow proof overnight. The following morning, remove rolls from the fridge. Keep covered. Let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to 90 minutes (time dependent on ambient temperature) until the dough is no longer cold. At this point, the dough has continued to puff up and rise. Bake as directed. Top with cream cheese frosting before serving. Bake Ahead and Freeze: Follow the instructions all the way through. Bake the rolls as directed. Then, cool to room temperature.You can unmold the rolls from the baking pan or place in a tin foil pan. Tightly wrap the room temp cinnamon rolls in plastic wrap. For extra protection, wrap in aluminum foil and place or place inside a zip-top plastic bag. Freeze for up two months. Defrost at room temperature for about 45 minutes, or slowly defrost in the fridge overnight. Gently reheat in a 325 degrees F oven until warm, about 10-15 minutes Author: Maryanne Cabrera Course: Bread, DessertCuisine: AmericanKeyword: apple cinnamon rolls, apple rolls, cinnamon roll variation Did you make this recipe?Show us on Instagram! Tag @littleepicurean and hashtag #littleepicurean.