These Cinnamon and Apple Rolls with cinnamon cream cheese frosting just scream Fall. They’re fun to make, come out super fluffy and taste like a treat you’d get from a high quality bakery.
I’m not going to lie, there was a point in my life where I absolutely detested cinnamon rolls of any kind. I know, I know. Was I crazy? What’s not to love about something so fluffy that’s not only loaded with cinnamon but also topped with some sort of glazy, delicious frosting?! I’m not exactly sure where along the line I changed my ways but I have to tell you that if they weren’t changed by now, these bakery style Apple Cinnamon Buns would be enough to convert me.
I think cinnamon buns are amongst one of the pastries you just truly expect to be fluffy when biting into. Am I right? You want the perfect dough to filling ratio with a filling and topping that isn’t overly sweet. They need to be cooked through but not overcooked because then you end up with something hard and dense. Which was probably one of the first cinnamon buns I’ve ever tried and a reason why I spent the first half of my life thinking I hate them.
Rest assured, though. There is nothing hard and dense about these Cinnamon and Apple Rolls. They’re soft, fluffy, moist, packed full of flavour and SO GOOD, you may as well just open up your own bakery. I mean, really. I can’t be the only one that feels such a great sense of accomplishment as the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls takes over my kitchen. There’s also a great sense of pride that comes with cutting the cinnamon rolls with a piece of dental floss before baking them. Buuuuut that part might just be me. Lol.
So, yeah. Now that I’m finally on board the cinnamon roll train, who knows what kind of other flavours are going to end up on the blog. Pumpkin cinnamon rolls, anyone?! I just love the fact that they’re so easily customizable and can be filled with pretty much anything. Once you get the dough and technique down pat, the rest is pretty darn easy. Dare I even say the word fun?! Even if this is your very first time baking anything, like ever, pretend you’re on the Wall of Bakers because anyone can make these things. Cinnamon rolls are VERY forgiving and these ones just come out perfect every dang time!
INGREDIENTS FOR CINNAMON AND APPLE ROLLS
This recipe for Cinnamon and Apple Rolls relies mainly on simple and typical baking ingredients you likely already have on hand if you do a lot of baking. Let’s discuss them in a little bit more detail down below:
- Flour: For this apple cinnamon bun recipe, I recommend using either all purpose flour or bread flour. Many professional bakers swear that using bread flour for cinnamon rolls is the best option because it has a higher protein content. However, if you don’t have any on hand, just know that these rolls will come out incredibly fluffy and pillowy soft using plain ol’ all purpose flour. For your reference, the photos in this post are done with cinnamon apple buns made using all purpose flour.
- Butter: Adds flavour to both the cinnamon roll dough and the cream cheese frosting. Salted or unsalted butter will work fine in this recipe.
- Milk: Helps make these cinnamon and apple rolls moist, soft and fluffy. Also helps activate the yeast. I used 2% milk here but any kind of milk (even plant based!) will get the job done just fine.
- Oil: Adds a soft texture to the cinnamon roll dough. I used avocado oil here. But you can use a different kind of oil, such as olive or vegetable, instead if you prefer. You can also use ghee or butter.
- Maple Syrup: Helps to activate the yeast and adds a layer of sweetness to both the dough and the glaze in this apple cinnamon roll recipe. If you don’t have any maple syrup on hand, just use more coconut sugar (or other sweetener) in its place.
- Water: Used to make the apples soft and tender. Also creates an almost syrupy coating for the apples making the filling for these cinnamon buns extra delicious. RECIPE NOTE: The water in the apples is what makes the filling runny and a bit messy. I apologize in advance as you might want to rip out every last one of your hairs during the rolling process as you try your darndest to keep every last drop of it in. The blood, sweat and tears will be totally worth it in the end. I promise.
- Yeast: For the quickest rise time, use quick rise/instant yeast. You can also use active dry yeast if that’s all you have on hand. However, you’ll need to activate the yeast in the warm milk first and the cinnamon rolls will need a longer time to rise.
- Coconut Sugar: The base and bulk of the filling for this cinnamon roll recipe. Provides the perfect level of sweetness and caramel like flavour, especially when mixed with the cinnamon. And hey, it keeps these cinnamon rolls refined sugar free which is always a nice bonus. However, if you don’t have any coconut sugar on hand, use light or dark brown sugar instead.
- Apples: An important part of the filling in these cinnamon and apple rolls. I used gala apples here but your favourite kind of apple (or a mixture of a few!) will do the trick just fine.
- Cinnamon: Well, duh. What’s a cinnamon roll without it?! Not a cinnamon roll (am I the only one that laughs at my own jokes with pride?!) Use fresh, good quality cinnamon for best results.
- Cream Cheese: The base and bulk of the frosting/glaze for these apple pie cinnamon rolls. Mixed with a few other ingredients, cream cheese adds a delicious touch to these cinnamon buns as it pairs perfectly with the flavours from the apples and cinnamon. Keeps things light, airy and delicious.
- Vanilla Extract: A common ingredient in baking. Helps to amplify the flavours of the rest of the ingredients and adds a bit of sweetness to the cream cheese glaze.
- Salt: Balances out the sweetness from the sugar and cinnamon and helps control the yeast.
HOW TO MAKE CINNAMON AND APPLE ROLLS (KEY TIPS)
You can find full instructions for how to make these bakery style Cinnamon Buns with Apples in the recipe card down below, but here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:
- Use a stand mixer with a dough hook if you have one. Sure, kneading dough by hand has been done before and will still give you good results. But a mixer just makes this process WAY easier, more efficient, way less sticky and way less time consuming
- Use room temperature (softened) butter and cream cheese. There’s kinda no ifs, ands or buts about this one. If these ingredients aren’t soft, you’ll have a hell of a time working with them. The butter must be spreadable and the cream cheese smoothly blended for best results.
- Don’t overheat your milk. The warm milk plays a role (or should I say “roll”) in the rising of the yeast. Too hot and it will kill the yeast. Not hot enough and it won’t activate properly meaning the dough will take longer to rise. The perfect temperature for your milk to be before mixing it into the dough is around 110°F. Use a thermometer to check for accuracy or simply do the touch test using your finger. It should be warm to the touch but not burning hot.
- Flour your surface, the dough and the rolling pin to prevent it from sticking.
- Be patient when rolling the filled dough into a log and try to do so as tightly as you can. The apple filling will try to come out from every corner and it will be a messy and sticky process. You might question why you ever started this in the first place and if the rolls will even come out fluffy since the filling is runny and watery. It will. It’s fine. You’re fine. It’ll all be fine. And totally worth it. Trust me. To help with this, make sure you dice the apples into really small pieces. You can also leave a small 1/2-inch border around the edges of the dough to account for the shifting/moving of the filling as you roll.
- Use (unflavoured) dental floss to cut your rolls. If you’ve ever seen a baking show or read a professional cinnamon roll recipe, you may have come across this method of cutting cinnamon rolls. Not only is it fun (just me?!) but it’s a good way to ensure clean cuts through the rolls without flattening or tearing the dough. Sure, use a knife if you don’t have any floss kicking around, but you’ll end up with slightly flatter rolls as you have to press down on the dough as you cut.
- Allow the cinnamon rolls to rise in a warm, dark place for best and quickest results. You can achieve this in a variety of simple ways if you don’t already have a warm house/kitchen. Use a dish towel to cover them (on top of the plastic wrap). Put them in an off oven with the oven light on. Raise the heat in a single room and allow them to rise in there. You know, get creative. EXTRA TIP: Although it may be a bit tempting, don’t skip or rush the rise time. These apple pie cinnamon rolls don’t require all the time in the world but be sure to stay true to the time they do require or you’ll end up with hard and dense rolls instead of soft and fluffy ones.
- Don’t overbake. I’m sure we can all agree that the best part about any cinnamon roll is that ooey, gooey, soft, tender and perfectly fluffy center. Overbaking your cinnamon rolls will take that all away and leave you with sad and dense rolls. Keep a close eye on them in the last 10 or so minutes of baking to avoid this from happening to you. EXTRA TIP: Keep in mind that the cinnamon rolls will continue baking on the hot tray as they cool. Slightly underbaking cinnamon rolls is always a good idea.
- Let the cinnamon rolls cool slightly before glazing them with the cream cheese frosting. You don’t want the heat/steam from the dough and apples to melt the butter or break the cream cheese.
- Like any good cinnamon roll, these cinnamon and apple rolls are best enjoyed warm! Enjoy freshly baked or pop in a microwave for 15-20 seconds to return them back to their oeey, gooey warm state.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Like a match made in Heaven, if you ask me! Cinnamon really brings out the flavour in the apples and they compliment each other extremely well in a variety of tasty dishes and desserts like this one!
Adding milk to cinnamon rolls keeps them moist, fluffy and pillowy soft. It also plays an important role (get it…roll…) in activating the yeast. For this reason, it is important not to overheat your milk or it could kill the yeast. You can pretty much use any kind of milk you want in this cinnamon roll recipe and end up with great results.
Because we are working with yeast in this recipe (albeit quick rise/instant yeast), it’s important to let the cinnamon rolls rise or puff up in size before baking. If you don’t, you won’t get that soft and fluffy texture that is crucial in a good cinnamon roll. Don’t worry, though. All these cinnamon and apple rolls need to rise is just 30 minutes.
Yes. These apple pie cinnamon rolls are perfect for making the day before as you can pop them in the fridge overnight. You can keep unbaked cinnamon rolls in the fridge for up to 24 hours. The important thing to remember is to remove them from the fridge, allow them to come to room temperature and fully rise before baking.
To bake these cinnamon and apple rolls the following day, simply follow the instructions in the recipe card down below up until step number 8 and skip the 30 minute rise time. Instead, pop them in the fridge overnight (or for up to 24 hours). Remove them from the fridge, allow them to come to room temperature and fully rise in a warm place (should take about 30-60 minutes). Then proceed with following the recipe card instructions for baking (number 9 and beyond).
You can store these fresh baked cinnamon rolls covered in plastic wrap or in an airtight container on the counter for 2 days but in the fridge for up to a week. Popping them in the microwave for 15-30 seconds will bring them back to their warm and gooey state and is highly recommended before eating.
You can also freeze these cinnamon rolls, frosted or unfrosted, for up to 4 months.
For the Dough
- 3.5 cups All Purpose or Bread Flour
- 3/4 cup Warm (approx. 110°F) Whole Milk (or other milk of choice)
- 1/2 cup Warm (approx. 110°F) Water
- 1/3 cup Avocado Oil
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 1/4 tsp (or 1 packet) Quick Rise or Instant Yeast
- 1/4 cup Maple Syrup (or more Coconut Sugar)
For the Filling
- 4 Apples, peeled, cored and diced small
- 3/4 cup Coconut Sugar (or Brown Sugar)
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp room temperature (softened) Butter
- 1/3 cup Water
- 1 tbsp Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Ginger
- 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
For the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 4 oz. (softened) Cream Cheese
- 4 oz. room temperature (softened) Butter
- 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
- 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
- Splash of Vanilla Extract
- Make the Filling: In a bowl, combine the coconut sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Remove 4 tablespoons and set the rest aside until ready to use. Heat up 1 tbsp of butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the diced apples and water and cook, stirring occasionally, for a couple of minutes. Add the removed 4 tablespoons of the cinnamon sugar mixture to the apples and toss to coat. Cook an additional couple of minutes, until the sugar has melted and the apples are starting to soften. Remove from the heat and allow to cool as you make the dough.
- Make the Dough: Add 2 cups of flour, yeast and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also do this part by hand, if you wish). Using a dough hook, mix until well combined.
- Add the warm milk and water, maple syrup and oil and blend until combined and smooth, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl, if needed.
- Knead in the remaining flour, a little at a time, until a nice and soft dough forms and it stops clinging to the edges of the bowl. Be careful not to add too much or your rolls will come out dry and hard. Use your hands to form it into a smooth circular ball, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for 5 minutes.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle some more flour on top. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a large rectangle (it doesn't have to be perfect but try and get it as even and stretched out as possible).
- Do your best to spread the softened butter all over the rolled out dough. I find the easiest way to do this is to cut it into very thin slices, lay them out evenly over the dough then use a knife or back of a spoon to gently spread them out. The butter doesn't have to cover every square inch of the dough, just do the best you can. Add the remaining sugar/spice mixture over top, being sure to cover the entire surface. Then add the cooled apples in an even layer over top, leaving about a 1/2-inch border around the edges to account for the shifting/moving of the filling.
- Starting with the long end of the rectangle, roll the dough into as tight of a log as you can get it. This might be the part where you start cursing my name as the filling will try to escape out of the edges and make a sticky watery mess. Just try your best to keep it all in there. The mess will be worth it, I promise. Once you've got your dough rolled into a log, use a knife or piece of unflavoured dental floss (highly recommend) to slice the rolls into 12 even pieces. I find the easiest way to do this is by cutting the log in half to start and then cutting each piece into 6 even rolls from there.
- Place the rolls on a greased and parchment lined 9x13 baking sheet (can also use a glass baking dish for this). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Set the oven rack to the center and preheat to 350°. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the edges are browned and golden and the centers slightly underbaked and gooey. Be careful not to overbake or your rolls will be hard and dense.
- Make the Frosting: In a bowl, blend the cream cheese, butter, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla until well combined. Spread evenly over slightly cooled rolls. Enjoy!
To bake these cinnamon apple rolls the next day: Prepare the rolls up until step number 8 but skip the 30 minute rise time. Instead, place the covered tray in the fridge overnight (or for up to 24 hours). When ready to bake, remove the tray from the fridge and place it in a warm area. Allow the rolls to come to room temperature and fully rise (about 30-60 minutes) before continuing on with step number 9.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 248Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 234mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 2gSugar: 27gProtein: 3g
Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.
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