Apple Cinnamon Rolls

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 12/09/2022 Updated: 01/12/2023
Prep 45 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Total 2 hours 45 minutes
Wake up on the right side of the morning with these easy, gooey, and pillow soft apple cinnamon rolls drizzled with brown butter cream cheese icing. These homemade milk bread apple pie cinnamon rolls are really easy to make and can be prepared in advance!
Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Wake up on the right side of the morning with these easy, gooey, and pillow soft apple cinnamon rolls drizzled with brown butter cream cheese icing. These homemade milk bread apple pie cinnamon rolls are really easy to make and can be prepared in advance!

An apple cinnamon roll on a plate with utensils and apples nearby.

Nothing is better than a thicc, fluffy, gooey cinnamon apple filling, smothered in brown butter cream cheese frosting apple cinnamon roll. These homemade cinnamon apple rolls will give you instant bliss with just one bite. They are beyond good. Trust me.

These cinnamon rolls with apple pie filling are easy to make, perfectly spiced, and the best sweet to serve for a special breakfast or as a dessert. If you are looking for other breakfast recipes, check out my miso banana bread, milk bread cinnamon rolls, black sesame milk bread, and Hong Kong French toast.

Up close of an apple cinnamon roll with a bite out of it.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • These cinnamon apple rolls have THE MOST delicious gooey cinnamon brown sugar apple filling.
  • This apple pie cinnamon roll features pillowy soft homemade milk bread dough.
  • The cinnamon rolls with apple pie filling are topped with a brown butter cream cheese frosting that is finger-licking good.
Looking down at a baking pan with apple cinnamon rolls inside.

Kitchen Equipment

  • Kitchen Scale: with every bake, I always recommend using a kitchen scale instead of measuring cups for the most accurate measurements.
  • Stand Mixer with dough hook attachment: using a stand mixer will make kneading the dough a breeze. If you don’t have a stand mixer you can always knead the dough by hand!
  • Rolling Pin: a rolling pin is needed to roll out your soft fluffy milk bread dough.
  • Floss: this hack is GENIUS. Floss allows you to slice the dough easily without compromising the swirl structure of the dough.
  • 9×13 baking pan: I recommend using a large 9×13 pan so that the apple pie cinnamon roll will have room to expand during proofing and baking.

Ingredients

These cinnamon rolls with apple pie filling use a lot of pantry staples. It does require a bit of patience and dedication to yield such perfectly soft and delicious results.

Milk Bread Dough

  • Bread Flour: has a higher protein level to lighten the apple pie cinnamon roll texture it is also used in the Tangzhong method. The higher protein produces more gluten which provides a slightly chewy, soft texture.
  • Milk: I always recommend using whole milk for that rich moist crumb. You can also use 2% or even almond milk as an alternative.
  • Granulated Sugar: sugar is used to sweeten the apple cinnamon roll and helps activate the yeast.
  • Instant Yeast: I generally always use instant yeast because it allows the dough to rise quicker than active dry yeast. I always bloom the instant dry yeast ahead of time which acts as a foolproof way of checking if the yeast is still alive.
  • Salt: the salt adds a subtle amount of flavor to the cinnamon apple roll dough and controls the yeast.
  • Egg: the egg binds the dough together, aids in the rise and the soft texture
  • Unsalted Butter: makes the dough soft and moist.

Apple Pie Filling

  • Apples: I recommend using Honeycrisp or pink lady apples for the best flavor and texture.
  • Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves: used to spice and flavor the apples
  • Unsalted Butter: softens and coats the apples which allows the spices to adhere to the apples.
  • Corn Starch: a thickening agent that gels up the apple juices and makes the apple filling extra gooey.

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

  • Dark brown sugar: dark brown sugar has a bit more molasses than regular brown sugar which creates a deeper richer sugar flavor.
  • Ground cinnamon: what are cinnamon apple rolls without cinnamon?
  • Unsalted butter: the unsalted butter is used as glue to bind the sugar and cinnamon onto the dough.

Cream Cheese Frosting Icing

  • Cream cheese: use full-fat block cream cheese. Cream cheese + cinnamon apple rolls are a match made in heaven.
  • Unsalted butter: the brown butter adds a warm nuttiness flavor and is used to soften the cream cheese which allows it to spread easily.
  • Powdered sugar: the powdered sugar sweetens the cream cheese and creates that smooth creamy texture that slowly hardens over time.
  • Whole Milk: will loosen the icing. Add more milk if the icing is too thick.

Substitutions and Additions

These cinnamon rolls with apple pie filling can be customized based on your idiosyncratic preferences.

Substitutions

  • Brown sugar: you can easily swap out the dark brown sugar for regular brown sugar for a less intense molasses flavor.
  • Salted butter: instead of unsalted butter, you can use salted butter for the filling for an additional taste of salt.

Additions

  • Nuts: you can add toasted walnuts or pecans to the filling of your cinnamon apple rolls for an additional crunch.
  • Chocolate chips: you can upgrade these cinnamon rolls with apple pie filling by adding milk or dark chocolate chips.
  • Caramel: you can add an additional drizzle of miso caramel sauce on top

How to Make Apple Cinnamon Roll

This cinnamon rolls with apple pie filling recipe may seem daunting at first glance but it is really quite simple to make. All you need is to make the dough, add the filling, bake and drizzle with some cream cheese icing!

Tangzhong

  1. In a small saucepan, add water and bread flour on medium heat and using a rubber spatula mix until there are no more lumps and the mixture has thickened, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue mixing for an additional 1 minute. Remove from heat, and transfer to a small bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until it has cooled to about room temperature.
Making tangzhong in a skillet for milk bread dough.

Dough

  1. Bloom the yeast. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, mix together warm milk (100-105°F or 38°C), 2 teaspoon sugar, and yeast. Let it bloom for 5-10 minutes or until it is frothy.
  2. Make the dough. In the bowl of your stand mixer with a dough attachment, mix together the bread flour, the remaining sugar, and salt. While the mixer is on low, add in the yeast mixture and tangzhong, and egg. Continue mixing until the mixture forms into a dough, about 2 minutes.
  1. Add butter and knead. When the dough has just formed, add the softened room temperature butter and knead on low until combined about 1 minute. Then increase the speed to medium-high and knead until smooth, 7-8 minutes. The dough should form into a smooth ball and be slightly sticky.
  2. 1st Proof. Shape the dough as a ball and place it in a greased mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proof in a warm place for about 1-1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

Filling

  1. Apple Pie Filling: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves until evenly coated.
A large mixing bowl with apple pie filling prepared from diced apples and seasoning.
  1. Cook the Apple filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the apple mixture. Toss to coat and stir until apples are tender and released some of their juices about 3 minutes. Then add the cornstarch and mix to incorporate. Cook until the mixture has thickened. Set aside to cool.
Apple pie filling cooked down in a pan.
  1. Cinnamon Sugar Filling: In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
A large of cinnamon sugar filling prepared.

Assembly

  1. Roll out the proofed dough. Transfer the dough onto a well-floured surface and roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 1/4-inch thick.
Rolling out the proofed milk bread dough.
  1. Add the filling. Spread softened butter over the dough, leaving a ¼-inch margin along one width side of the dough to seal the dough. Next, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar and diced apples over the buttered dough leaving the 1/4 margin at the end clean.
Layering milk bread down with butter, cinnamon sugar, and apple pie filling to make apple cinnamon rolls.
  1. Roll the dough. Starting from the brown sugar coated width side, tightly roll the dough and ending with the un-buttered side and gently pinch the end to seal the edges of the dough as best you can.
  2. Cut the dough. Cut into 1-inch sections with a serrated knife or floss.

2nd Proof and Bake

  1. 2nd proof. Place the cut cinnamon rolls in a lined and greased baking pan (9-inch round or 9×13 pan) Cover with a kitchen towel and place the pan in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.
Apple cinnamon rolls that have been rested and risen.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F or 176˚C. Remove kitchen towel and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until slightly golden brown along the edges. Allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes before frosting.
Freshly baked apple cinnamon rolls in a pan.

Cream Cheese Icing

  1. Brown the butter: add the butter to a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow the butter to brown lightly until it is golden brown and smells toasted about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat to cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Combine. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the room temperature cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and salt. Then add the browned butter and whisk until 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 using a piping bag or a spoon. Enjoy!

Tips for the Best Apple Cinnamon Roll

  • Do not overheat the milk and kill the yeast! The ideal temperature for activating yeast is 100-110 degrees F. (My sweet spot is usually 105 degrees F) Anything hotter will instantly kill the yeast and the yeast will not rise. Measure the temperature with a thermometer to make sure it is at the right temperature.
  • Make sure to use room-temperature ingredients. Using softened room temperature butter will allow even mixing into the dough without making the dough overly wet. Moreover, if you use melted butter for the filling it will cause the filling to leak out before baking. Room temperature eggs will keep the dough at perfect room temperature for optimal yeast activity.
  • If the dough is too wet, add 1-2 more tablespoons of flour. The dough should be fairly tacky and may stick to your hands but it should come off cleanly. However, if you feel like the dough is too wet to be manageable knead in 1-2 more tablespoons of flour.
  • Rub the brown sugar into the butter. When you spread the cinnamon sugar across the buttered dough, remember to gently rub the sugar into the dough so that it is well combined and sticks to the dough.
  • Cool the cinnamon rolls before icing. Make sure the cinnamon rolls are cooled at least 7-10 minutes before icing to prevent the icing from melting.

Storage Instructions

This apple pie cinnamon roll is best served immediately. For any leftovers, cover the apple cinnamon rolls in an airtight container or with plastic wrap tightly and store them at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

Can I make an overnight apple cinnamon roll?

Yes, you can make these apple cinnamon rolls the night before! Simply place the apple pie cinnamon roll dough in the refrigerator after placing the cut apple cinnamon rolls into the greased pan and then bake them in the morning as directed. I like to bring my apple cinnamon rolls to room temperature first by leaving them on the counter for 30-45 minutes before baking (this is known as the second rise).

Why are my cinnamon apple rolls hard and dry?

Using the Tangzhong milk bread method should yield a pillowy soft and airy apple pie cinnamon roll. If your bread is dry, that means you may have packed too much bread flour into your dough. I recommend using a kitchen scale to ensure the correct measurements.

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Recipe

An apple cinnamon roll on a plate with utensils and apples nearby.

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Proofing Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Wake up on the right side of the morning with these easy, gooey, and pillow soft apple cinnamon rolls drizzled with brown butter cream cheese icing. These homemade milk bread apple pie cinnamon rolls are really easy to make and can be prepared in advance!
Servings: 12 servings
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Tangzhong

  • ¾ cup (180 g) water
  • ¼ cup (34 g) bread flour

Yeast Mixture

  • 1 cup (250 g) warm milk 100-105°F or 38°C
  • 2 teaspoon (8 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (12 g) active dry yeast, or instant yeast

Dough

  • 4 cup (543 g) bread flour
  • cup (67 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 4 tablespoon (57 g) unsalted butter room temperature

Apple Pie Filling

  • 5 (650 g) apples peeled, cored and diced (honey crisp or pink lady)
  • ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • 2 tablespoon (30 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Brown Sugar Filling

  • cup (135 g) dark brown sugar packed
  • 1 tablespoon (6 g) ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoon (85 g) unsalted butter room temperature

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 tablespoon (60 g) unsalted butter
  • 4 ½ tablespoon (85 g) cream cheese room temperature
  • 2 cups (240 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoon (30 g) milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

Tangzhong

  • In a small saucepan, add the water and bread flour on medium heat and using a rubber spatula mix until there are no more lumps and the mixture has thickened, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue mixing for an additional 1 minute. Remove from heat, and transfer to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure plastic wrap is touching tangzhong to prevent it from developing a film. Refrigerate until it has cooled to about room temperature.

Dough

  • Bloom the yeast. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, mix together warm milk (100-105°F or 38°C), 2 teaspoon sugar, and yeast. Mix and let it bloom for 5-10 minutes or until it is frothy. (Do this with either instant or active dry yeast to check if the yeast is still alive)
  • Make the dough. In the bowl of your KitchenAid with a dough attachment, mix together the bread flour, the remaining sugar, and salt. While the mixer is on low, add in the yeast mixture and tangzhong, and egg. Continue mixing until the mixture transforms into a dough, about 2 minutes.
  • Add butter and knead. When the dough has just formed, add the softened room temperature butter and knead on low until combined, about 1 minute. Then increase the speed to medium-high and knead until smooth, 7-8 minutes. The dough should form into a smooth elastic ball and be slightly sticky. If it's TOO sticky (meaning it's sticking to the bottom of the mixer, add in 1-2 tablespoons of bread flour.)
  • 1st Proof. Shape the dough as a ball and place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proof in a warm place for about 1-1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. This may more or less time depending the humidity and temperature in your home.

Filling

  • Apple pie filling. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves until evenly coated.
  • Cook the apple filling. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the apple mixture. Toss to coat and stir until apples are tender and released some of its juices about 3 minutes. Then add the cornstarch and mix to incorporate. Cook until the mixture has thickened. Set aside to cool.
  • Cinnamon sugar filling. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

Assembly

  • Roll out the proofed dough. After the dough has doubled, transfer the dough onto a well-floured surface and roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 1/4-inch thick.
  • Add the filling. Spread softened butter over the dough, leaving a ¼-inch margin along one width side of the dough to seal the dough. Next, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar and diced apples over the buttered dough leaving the 1/4 margin at the end clean.
  • Roll the dough. Starting from the brown sugar coated width side, tightly roll the dough and ending with the unbuttered side and gently pinch the end to seal the edges of the dough as best you can.
  • Cut the dough. Cut into 1-inch sections with a serrated knife or floss.

2nd Proof and Bake

  • 2nd proof. Place the cut cinnamon rolls in a lined and greased baking pan (9-inch round or 9×13 pan) Cover with a kitchen towel and place the pan in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F or 176˚C. Remove kitchen towel and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until slightly golden brown along the edges. Allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes before frosting.

Cream Cheese Icing

  • Brown the butter. Add the butter to a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow the butter to brown lightly until it is golden brown and smells toasted with some brown bits at the bottom of the pan, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Combine. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the room temperature cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and salt. Then add the browned butter and whisk until 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 using a piping bag or a spoon. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Do not overheat the milk and kill the yeast! The ideal temperature for activating yeast is 100-110 degrees F. (My sweet spot is usually 105 degrees F) Anything hotter will instantly kill the yeast and the yeast will not rise. Measure the temperature with a thermometer to make sure it is at the right temperature.
  • Make sure to use room temperature ingredients. Using softened room temperature butter will allow even mixing into the dough without making the dough overly wet. Moreover, if you use melted butter for the filling it will cause the filling to leak out before baking. Room temperature eggs will keep the dough at perfect room temperature for optimal yeast activity.
  • If the dough is too wet, add 1-2 more tablespoons of flour. The dough should be fairly tacky and may stick to your hands but it should come off cleanly. However, if you feel like the dough is too wet to be manageable knead in 1-2 more tablespoons of flour.
  • Rub the brown sugar into the butter. When you spread the cinnamon sugar across the buttered dough, remember to gently rub the sugar into the dough so that it is well combined and sticks to the dough.
  • Cool the cinnamon rolls before icing. Make sure the cinnamon rolls are cooled for at least 7-10 minutes before icing to prevent the icing from melting too quickly. 

Nutrition:

Calories: 468kcal | Carbohydrates: 93g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 317mg | Potassium: 217mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 580IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 1mg

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