The most comforting treat: Apple Cinnamon Rolls! Soft, fluffy, and full of warm apples and cinnamon flavors. There is seriously nothing better than eating one of these amazing apple cinnamon rolls in the morning, especially with my homemade maple icing. These cinnamon rolls are so easy to make and perfect for sharing, especially around the holidays. So good!
Imagine the amazing smell of not just cinnamon rolls, but apple cinnamon rolls on a Saturday morning! Oh my!
Each bite is full of comforting flavors. Super soft cinnamon rolls, sweet cinnamon and melted brown sugar, and warm apples…all in one. I don’t know what could be better than these apple cinnamon rolls!
This is normally something I’d bake around October during apple picking season, but I think it’s actually the perfect recipe for a cozy weekend morning during the holidays…even better if it’s snowing outside so you can just cozy up with an oversized soft blanket, and enjoy these cinnamon rolls. Life is good.
I love how easy making apple cinnamon rolls is. Let me tell you all about it!
Making apple cinnamon rolls requires several ingredients, but you may have most of these in your pantry or fridge already.
Per usual, the specific ingredient quantities can be found in the recipe card below, but I wanted to give you an idea of each ingredient below.
For the dough, you’ll need:
- Whole milk: It needs to be warmed up to 110 to 115 degrees F. You’ll dissolve the yeast in the warm milk to “wake up” the yeast. If it’s too cold, the yeast won’t activate. If it’s too hot, the yeast will die.
- Active dry yeast: Use 2 ¼ teaspoons for about 3.5 to 4 cups of flour. Make sure the yeast is fresh and not expired.
- Granulated sugar: For sweetness.
- Eggs: For structure.
- Vanilla extract: For flavor.
- Unsalted butter: For fat and flavor.
- Salt: To bring out the flavors.
- Bread flour: Bread flour always makes taller, softer, and fluffier bread.
- Oil: Just for greasing the bowl.
For the filling, you’ll need:
- Very softened unsalted butter: To spread over the dough.
- Brown sugar: As it melts, it will add moisture and caramel-like sweetness.
- Ground cinnamon: Yes, 1.5 tablespoons! Seems like a lot, but
- Diced apples: Use fresh, firm apples, such as Honeycrisp or Granny Smith apples.
And for the maple icing, you’ll need:
- Confectioner’s sugar: Confectioner’s sugar dissolved really well, so it’s great for making icing.
- Maple syrup: It’s maple icing after all!
- Vanilla extract: For flavor.
- Water: Add the water little by little to thin out the maple icing, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Let’s Make Them
This is a top-level overview of the steps needed to make these delicious apple cinnamon rolls. Just to give you an idea.
The step-by-step instructions are included in the recipe card down below, as always.
These rolls do take a few hours to make, mainly because they need to rise twice. The first rise takes about 1 to 1.5 hours, and the second rise 45 minutes to 1 hour. So, don’t start making these cinnamon rolls at 11pm (guilty!).
- Make the dough: Mix the warm milk with yeast and the granulated sugar until it is frothy. Then, mix in the eggs, salt, and melted butter. Add the flour and mix until a sticky and manageable dough forms. Then, knead by hand on a floured surface. The dough should be slightly sticky, manageable, and should spring back slowly when poked.
- Let it rise: Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled in size in a warm and draft-free environment.
- Roll the out the and add the filling: Roll it out to a 12×18 rectangle. Spread the softened butter, along with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and diced apples.
- Roll it and cut into 12 pieces: make sure they are about the same size.
- Let them rise for another 45 minutes: Arrange on a greased 9×13 baking pan. Or two 9-inch round pans.
- Bake! For about 25 to 28 minutes, until golden brown.
- Add the icing: Make the icing, drizzle it over, and EAT
I like to eat them while still warm…and I also like to DUNK them in the glaze. Anyone?? Maybe it’s just me.
The Maple Icing
Let’s talk about the amazing maple icing for a minute. IT IS SO GOOD.
It is very simple and made with only a few ingredients: confectioner’s sugar, maple syrup, salt, and water.
To thin out the icing, I use water here instead of milk so that you can store the frosted apple cinnamon rolls at room temperature (always store in an airtight container). I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to refrigerate my cinnamon rolls. They lose their softness and turn stiff.
What Types of Apples to Use
For this apple cinnamon rolls recipe, use firm apples that hold their shape in the oven. Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Granny Smith apples work great in this recipe.
I’d recommend using 1 Honeycrisp apple and 1 Granny Smith apple in this recipe. I love the sweetness of the Honeycrisp apples and the tartness of the Granny Smith apples together.
Do NOT use red delicious apples. They will disintegrate in the oven.
A quick tip: Pat dry the apples before adding it to the dough. It will reduce the amount of juice that are released whole the rolls rise.
If you’re still trying to figure out what to bake this weekend, you need to make these apple cinnamon rolls. They are so soft, fluffy, and full of cozy flavors. Plus, the apples make all the difference here! They add great texture and freshness.
Bake a batch for the holidays! Your house will smell like a cozy bakery. You’ll love it.
These rolls keep well for about 3 days, stored in airtight containers at room temperature.
Here is more holiday baking goodness:
- Pumpkin Cake Roll
- Lemon Ricotta Cookies
- Gingerbread Layer Cake
- Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
- Cranberry Orange Pound Cake
Tips for Success
- Use firm apples so that they hold their shape in the oven. Used one Honeycrisp apples and one Granny Smith apple for sweet and tart flavors.
- The maple icing: Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until desired consistency. I like mine not so thick, so I tend to add more liquid. But I’m also a huge fan of thick icing – just use less water.
Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 cup whole milk (warmed to 110 to 115 degrees F)
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 3 ½ to 4 cups bread flour (plus more for kneading)
- Oil for greasing the bowl
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, very softened
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 2 medium apples, cored and small diced (1 honeycrisp, 1 granny smith)
- 2 cups confectioners sugar (plus more as needed)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 to 3 tablespoons water (or as needed)
- Pour warm milk (110 to 115 degrees F) into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in yeast and the ½ cup of granulated sugar, and combine. Let it stand for 10 minutes until frothy. This means that the yeast is good.
- Set up the dough hook attachment in your mixer. With the mixer on medium speed, mix in the eggs, one at a time until combined. You may need to break up the eggs a little using a whisk. Then, add the melted butter, vanilla extract, and salt, mixing on medium speed. Note: you can also do this by hand.
- With the mixer on medium speed, add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments as needed or until the dough pulls away from the bowl. I ended up using about 4 cups of flour. Increase speed to medium-high and mix for about 3 minutes until a manageable dough forms. Note: you can also do this by hand.
- Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and knead by hand, about 2-3 minutes. If it is too sticky, sprinkle some more flour. The dough should be moist, slightly sticky, and should spring back slowly when poked. Do not over-knead. Form the dough into a ball and place on a lightly oiled bowl, turning it over a few times to ensure the dough is covered with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm and draft-free environment for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until doubled in size. (see note below)
- In a bowl, mix the brown sugar with the cinnamon. Set aside.
- After it has doubled in size, punch the dough and roll out to a 12×18 rectangle on a clean surface. Spread the softened 5 tablespoons of butter over the top and sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly. Top with the diced apples evenly in one layer. Tip: pat dry the diced apples first.
- Roll the dough tightly starting from the longest side so that you have an 18-in roll. Pinch to seal the seams. Cut evenly into 12 pieces. Arrange them on a greased 9×13 pan or two 9-inch round pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rise for 45 minutes in a warm and draft-free environment. Note: juices may form at the bottom of the pan as they rise. If you can, absorb as much as you can with paper towel. It's okay if some is left – it will just caramelize as they bake.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F while the rolls are rising.
- Bake them for 25-28 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly.
- Make the icing: combine the powdered sugar with maple syrup, vanilla extract, and water (add the water 1 tablespoon at a time) until desired consistency.
- Drizzle the apple cinnamon rolls with the icing. Enjoy!
- Special equipment: mixer, rolling pin, baking pans.
- Here is more information on how to work with yeast and create a warm environment for yeast.
- Use firm apples. I used one Honeycrisp apple and one Granny Smith apple.
- Pat dry the apples a little before adding to the dough.
- For the icing, always make sure to add the water little by little, until desired consistency.
- Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days. It can be left on the countertop as long as you don’t use milk or dairy for the icing.