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Did someone say fall?! These soft and fluffy apple cinnamon rolls have all your favorite flavors of fall wrapped up in a buttery homemade cinnamon roll.
Apple Cinnamon Rolls
The only thing better than an ooey, gooey, hot, homemade cinnamon roll is an ooey, gooey, hot, homemade APPLE cinnamon roll. These perfectly spiced cinnamon rolls are loaded up with fresh, juicy apples and topped with a luscious cream cheese icing. We’ll be making these fall cinnamon rolls all apple season long!
What ingredients do you need to these fall cinnamon rolls?
These fall cinnamon rolls call for some extra spices (and of course apples), but most of the other ingredients are pantry staples! Here’s your shopping list:
All Purpose Flour: All purpose flour is perfect for creating a pillowy soft, tender, slightly bready dough. I’ve also had success making these with bread flour, but I find bread flour makes them a bit chewier!
Granulated Sugar: You’ll need a little granulated sugar to active the yeast and also to sweeten your dough slightly!
Instant Yeast: We usually use Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise for these homemade cinnamon rolls, but any rapid instant yeast will work here! You can also use regular active yeast and double the rise times!
Butter: You’ll need butter for both the cinnamon roll dough and the cream cheese frosting. We prefer using unsalted butter so you can control how much salty is going into your baked goods! That being said, if all you have on hand is salted butter that will work totally fine too!
Milk: Any kind of milk will work in this recipe, but for a super soft, buttery dough we recommend using whole milk!
Eggs: These homemade cinnamon rolls are an enriched dough, meaning the recipe calls for eggs. The eggs will give your dough a soft structure!
Spices: Of course all cinnamon rolls need…well, cinnamon. To give these apple cinnamon rolls the signature spiced apple flavors of fall you’ll need ground ginger, nutmeg and cloves too! You can also swap it out for apple pie spice if you prefer!
Brown Sugar: Brown sugar is the perfect, caramel-y, soft sugar to use for your cinnamon sugar filling. You can feel free to use light brown sugar or dark brown sugar, but you we do not recommend subbing it out for granulated sugar–it won’t melt in the same way!
Cream Cheese: In my opinion it’s not a cinnamon roll if its not absolutely smothered in cream cheese frosting. It’s imperative that you use room temperature cream cheese to get that nice creamy, smooth consistency.
Powdered Sugar: You’ll need powdered sugar to sweeten and thicken your cream cheese frosting.
How to turn your favorite cinnamon rolls into apple cinnamon rolls?
Add a little extra fall spice and in-season apples to your classic cinnamon roll filling and you’ll have yourself the perfect apple cinnamon roll. Simply load the cinnamon sugar filling up with classic apple pie spices like ground ginger, nutmeg and cloves. and juicy fresh apples. The result is a perfectly spiced way to start the day 🙂
What kind of apples should you use to make these apple cinnamon rolls?
You can make these apple cinnamon rolls with pretty much any kind of apple, but of course we have our favorites. For a tarter flavor, Granny Smith apples are great because they hold their shape and maintain a little crunch even when baked. If you prefer a sweeter apple, Pink Lady, Gala, and Honey Crisp are some of our favorites! We don’t recommend McIntosh apples (even though they are delicious for eating), because they tend to break down quickly when cooked!
Tips for making homemade cinnamon rolls
If you’re new to yeasted dough, follow the recipe closely, trust the process, and keep at it!
Use high quality ingredients: You saw the shopping list–cinnamon rolls use just a few, basic ingredients, so their quality will really shine through in the finished product. Use good butter, real cream cheese and high quality cinnamon!
Don’t over bake them: I think we can all agree that the best part of a cinnamon roll is the gooey, slightly under baked center. It’s a fine line between over baked and too doughy, so keep an eye on them in the last 10 minutes of baking and remember that they will continue to bake as they cool!
Eat them warm: Cinnamon rolls are best hot from the oven (duh.), but don’t worry if you have leftovers that you want to enjoy later. Simply pop your cinnamon roll in the microwave for 20 seconds to get it gooey and warm again!
In a large bowl combine 2 cups of the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a bowl. Mix to combine.
In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the milk and butter for 30 seconds until warm and the butter is mostly melted. The mixture should be warm, but not hot. If it is too hot, make sure to let it cool before adding to the yeast to prevent killing the yeast. Add the warm milk and butter to the flour mixture.
Add the egg. Beat on low speed, gradually increasing to high until completely combined, about 2 minutes.
Scrape down the bowl and add 1 more cup of flour, beating until combined. Add the remaining cup of flour in a little at a time until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a ball.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and you can stretch a piece of dough out between your fingers without it breaking. This means the gluten has developed and your dough will be pillowy soft.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
While the dough rises, make the filling. Peel, core and dice your apples into small pieces. Combine the sugar, spices, and salt together in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.
Once the dough has risen, roll it out into a long rectangle about 18 x 12 inches on a well floured surface.
Spread the butter for the filling all the way to the edge of the dough. Sprinkle the sugar mixture and the apple pieces over the butter, pressing it down to stick to the butter.
From the long end, roll the dough away from you into a tight roll, sealing the bottom edge down by pinching the dough together.
Use floss or a very sharp knife to cut the dough into 12 even rolls. Place the rolls in a 9 x 13 inch pan lined with parchment paper. Cover loosely with a dish cloth and allow to rise for another hour until doubled in size and puffed up.
Bake the cinnamon rolls at 350°F for 30 minutes or until they are golden brown and no longer doughy. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
While the rolls cool, make the cream cheese frosting. In a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment combine the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, milk, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed, gradually increasing to high until light and fluffy. Spread the icing evenly over the 12 rolls. Enjoy warm!