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I can describe my favorite thing about fall in two simple words… Apple. Season. If you find yourself with an abundance of delicious fall apples, you need to make these Apple Cinnamon Rolls! Not only are they super easy to whip up, but they’re delicious!
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Table of contents
Ingredients in Apple Cinnamon Rolls
This apple cinnamon roll recipe doesn’t require a ton of ingredients, just a little bit of patience! Here’s what you’ll need to make the best apple cinnamon rolls:
- Milk: I recommend whole milk, but know that almond milk will also work (I’ve tried it numerous times!)
- Apples: The apples get sautéed (more on that below) until they're soft and coated in a caramel-like sugar. I like to use Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, or Granny Smith.
- Granulated sugar: This is used to help activate the yeast and sweeten the cinnamon roll dough.
- Instant dry yeast: Use quick rise/instant yeast to help the cinnamon rolls rise faster. You can use active dry yeast, but the cinnamon rolls will take a little longer to rise.
- Butter: A baker's best friend. You’ll need it for the dough, the filling, and the icing. Calories don’t count here.
- Eggs: This recipe calls for two eggs for the perfect texture in the dough.
- All-purpose flour: I’ve experimented with different flours and find that all-purpose consistently leads to the best results.
- Vanilla bean: Vanilla bean seeds are added straight to the dough for a sweet and fragrant vanilla note. Use one teaspoon of vanilla bean paste if you don’t have any beans on hand.
- Brown sugar: Personally, I use dark brown sugar 99% of the time for a more intense flavor, but light brown sugar will work too!
- Cinnamon: Obviously.
- Salt: Don't forget it or the rolls will taste a little plain.
- Heavy cream: You’ll pour heavy cream on the apple cinnamon rolls before baking. This is the secret trick that makes the rolls so rich and gooey, but it can totally be left out!
The chai cream cheese glaze is truly unforgettable too! Just cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, milk, and spices (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and allspice to be exact!). YES PLEASE.
How to Sauté Apples
Let’s walk through how to make the sautéed apples portion of the filling! They’re super easy but I like to make sure you know exactly how it’s done to ensure your culinary success!
Start by placing the peeled and diced apples into a nonstick fry pan along with the sugar and spices. Stir to make sure the apples are evenly coated and then cook on medium-high until the apples start to release their juices. Once that happens, add the cornstarch and cook until all the ingredients caramelize onto the apples and they brown slightly. It'll take maybe 5-6 minutes! Then you can let the apples cool down in the pan until you're ready to add them on top of the cinnamon roll filling.
If you’re looking to invest in a great nonstick pan, I highly recommend GreenPan. It won’t break the bank, it's high quality, and it's oven safe up to 600°F (315°C) which means you can bake in it. I mean... what’s not to love? I’ve used the 12-inch nonstick ceramic skillet pictured below for this recipe every single time; both to sauté the apples and bake the cinnamon rolls in and I'm always amazed at how easy cleanup is due to the nonstick surface!
I hope you enjoy every single, apple-filled bite of these cinnamon rolls! Enjoy!!
Looking for other Cinnamon Rolls Recipes? Check these out!
Cardamom Cinnamon Rolls
Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls
Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls
Apple Cinnamon Rolls
For the Vanilla Bean Brioche Dough:
- 245 g milk lukewarm
- 8 g instant dry yeast
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 90 g unsalted butter melted
- 500 g all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 100 g granulated sugar
- seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the Sautéed Apple Filling:
- 4 medium apples peeled and diced
- 50 g granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
For the Cinnamon Sugar Filling:
- 115 g unsalted butter softened
- 220 g dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 80 g heavy cream warm
For the Chai Cream Cheese Glaze:
- 85 g cream cheese softened
- 30 g unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- 240 g powdered sugar
- 45-60 g milk
- Make the vanilla bean brioche dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl, mix together the yeast with the milk. Add the eggs, butter, flour, salt, sugar, and vanilla bean paste and mix until the ingredients are just barely combined. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes so the flour has time to hydrate.
- Using the hook attachment, beat on medium speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is soft and supple, about 6 minutes longer. *If you do not have a stand-mixer with a hook attachment, knead the dough by hand in this step.*
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands for 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, a paper towel, or aluminum foil and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Make the sautéed apple filling: In a large nonstick skillet, add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and stir until evenly coated. Cook over medium-high heat until the apples begin releasing their juices.
- Add the cornstarch to the pan and stir to evenly incorporate. Cook until the apples are tender and coated in a caramel-like sugar and spice mixture. Set aside to cool.
- Make the cardamom cinnamon sugar filling: Add the softened butter, dark brown sugar, and cinnamon to a medium bowl and combine using a fork until a thick paste forms. Set aside.
- Grease the bottom and sides of a large skillet or a 9×13 inch baking dish; Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down and, using a rolling pin, roll into a 12×20 inch rectangle. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick.
- Spread the cinnamon sugar filling all over the dough, then spread the sautéed apples on top of the filling. Tightly roll up the dough to form a 20-inch-long log and cut into 12 even rolls. Arrange them in the prepared pan. Cover the pan and allow the rolls to rise for 20 minutes or until nearly double in size.
- Preheat oven to 375°F (191°C).
- Once the rolls have risen, pour the heavy cream over the top of the rolls, allowing it to soak down in and around the rolls. (The cream shouldn't be hot to the touch, just slightly warm.)
- Bake the rolls for 18-20 minutes, until the rolls are lightly golden brown and the center rolls are cooked through. Remove pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes as you make the icing.
- Make the chai cream cheese glaze: Add the cream cheese and butter to a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until melted. The mixture will look curdled, don't worry! Add the cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and allspice and whisk until combined.
- Add the powdered sugar and milk to the saucepan and whisk over low heat until smooth and combined. If the icing is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar; if it's too thick, add more milk. Drizzle icing over warm rolls. Cover leftover frosted or unfrosted rolls tightly and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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How/what can I prep the night before to make this easy to put together for an easy breakfast for guests?
I would punch down the dough after the first rise and place it in a large bowl, tightly cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Remove the dough the following day and proceed with the recipe. Keep in mind that assembled rolls will take longer on the second rise if the dough is cold.
These sound amazing. Can they be turned into a small batch by altering the serving size? Will they still work out?
This recipe can be cut in half to make 6 rolls instead of 12, however, if you're looking for less than that.. your best bet is to make my small batch cinnamon rolls and adapt the filling to fit!
Thank you! I love your small batch recipes. I love to bake, but it is just my husband and me. We appreciate the smaller recipes, as does our waist line.