Diced apples are mixed with butter and cinnamon and rolled up in these pillowy soft Apple Cinnamon Rolls. Brown sugar frosting then oozes into the crevices, making them the idyllic fall breakfast treat!Jump to Recipe
Let's talk about cinnamon rolls. There are okay cinnamon rolls (the refrigerated tube kind), there are good cinnamon rolls and then there are super incredible cinnamon rolls you can't stop thinking about. And I'm happy to say these are most definitely the latter.
When we got home from the apple orchard with two large bags of apples, I wanted to make allllll the things. Apple Crisp. Apple Dapple Cake. And my favorite Apple Crumble Pie. But for some reason I couldn't get the idea of an apple cinnamon roll out of my mind.
Fast forward to a couple rounds of testing and perfecting and BOOM. These rolls exceeded every expectation and will now be on my list of "go to" apple recipes I must make every fall! Who am I kidding....all year round!
Ingredients Needed (full recipe at the bottom of the post)
For the Dough
- Quick Rise Yeast
- Warm Water (110-115°F) - The temperature for this is super important for the yeast to work
- Very Warm Milk - Not boiling, just very warm
- Mashed Potatoes - Leftover mashed potatoes or instant potatoes will work great
- Softened Butter - I use salted butter
- Egg Yolk
For the Filling
- Apples - Peeled, cored and finely diced
- Brown Sugar - Light or dark brown sugar will work great
- Melted Butter - I use salted butter
For the Brown Sugar Frosting
- Brown Sugar - Light or dark brown sugar will work great
- Butter - I use salted butter
- Powdered Sugar
How to Make Apple Cinnamon Rolls
If you've ever made homemade cinnamon rolls, you know that they're a labor of love! There are many steps and moving parts, but in the end, they're SOOOO worth it!
I've got the full recipe below (at the end of the post), but wanted to include visuals of different steps below! As always, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out and ask!
Making the Dough
To make the dough, you'll start by mixing up the yeast, sugar and warm water. This will give the yeast a little bit of time to activate before being added into the dough. It'll look foamy when it's ready to use.
The dough starts with a mixture of warm milk, potatoes, butter, sugar, egg, salt, vanilla and a portion of the flour. Then the yeast mixture is added. Once that's incorporated, the remaining flour will be mixed in.
The dough is then kneaded (I find it easiest to use the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment) and extra flour is added if needed.
Once the dough has been kneaded, it'll go into a greased bowl to rise. It'll take about 60-90 minutes in a warm place for the dough to double in size.
Making the Filling & Forming the Rolls
Once you have your apples finely diced, the filling comes together really quickly. Simply mix the apples with the brown sugar, butter, flour and cinnamon.
When the dough has had a chance to rise, you'll press it or roll it out to a large rectangle. Then, the filling is evenly spread over the dough and rolled up.
To cut the rolls, I prefer to use unflavored floss as I feel that it squishes the dough less than other options. However, you could also opt to use a sharp serrated knife to cut the 12 cinnamon rolls. Place them in a greased 9x13" pan and let rise.
Time to Bake & Frost!
Once the cinnamon rolls are nice and puffy, it's time to bake them! Preheat the oven and let them bake until they're golden brown on top. The center of the rolls should register to at least 190F.
Lastly, you'll mix up a super easy brown sugar frosting and pour it over the warm cinnamon rolls. This gives the icing a chance to seep into the crevices of the cinnamon rolls, making the extra yummy!
How to Serve & Freeze Cinnamon Rolls
I've heard numerous times that people love cinnamon rolls on the first day, but then they seem to get stale. Due to the potato starch (and the moist apple pieces!) in these, they're still very good a day or two later.
However, I enjoy them most after a little time in the microwave, to get that fresh-out-of-the-oven appearance and texture!! Especially when that frosting melts and oozy... (mmmmmm!)
If you plan to wait to enjoy the rolls for a few days, simply pop them in the freezer (frosted or unfrosted). Then thaw, nuke in the microwave and enjoy!!
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Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 packet (or 2 ¼ teaspoons) quick rise yeast
- ⅓ cup + 2 teaspoons sugar divided
- ¼ cup warm water 110-115°F
- ⅔ cup very warm milk
- ⅓ cup mashed potatoes
- ¼ cup butter softened
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups finely chopped apples (peel first)
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup melted butter
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon flour
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
Brown Sugar Frosting
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 cups powdered sugar
Make the Dough
- In a small bowl, add the yeast and 2 teaspoons of sugar to the water (be sure that the water is 110-115°F). Give it a stir and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough attachment, add the warm milk, ⅓ cup sugar, mashed potatoes, butter, egg yolk, salt and vanilla. Stir until the butter is melted.
- Add 1 cup of the flour and stir to combine.
- Pour in the yeast mixture (should have risen a bit and look foamy) and stir.
- Add the remaining flour. Knead the dough by using the stand mixer on low speed for 10 minutes (or knead by hand for 12 minutes). The dough will be a bit sticky, but you should be able to touch the dough lightly with your finger and have it not stuck to you finger. (It might pull a bit, but should release from your finger). If it's too sticky, add an additional ¼ - ½ cup of flour and knead an additional few minutes to make sure it's well-incorporated.
- Using greased hands, gather the dough into a ball and place into a greased glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for 60-90 minutes, or until doubled.
Fill and Shape the Rolls
- While the dough is rising, make the filling by combining the apples, brown sugar, melted butter, flour and cinnamon; set aside.
- Once the dough has doubled in volume, punch it down and then lay it on a greased countertop. Roll the dough into a large rectangle (mine was about 17" x 19").
- Dollop the filling mixture over the dough and spread carefully with the back of a spoon.
- Roll the dough up tightly.
- Use a piece of fishing line, unflavored floss or a sharp serrated knife, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces.
- Place the rolls into a greased 9x13" pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30-60 minutes, or until puffy and noticeably larger.
Bake the Rolls
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Once the oven is preheated, bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes or until a light golden brown on top. A thermometer stuck into the center of the rolls should register 190°F+.
Frost the Rolls
- Add the brown sugar, butter and milk to a large microwave-safe bowl.
- Microwave for 1 minute, then stir and continue to microwave until boiling.
- Stir until the brown sugar is dissolved.
- Add the powdered sugar and use a whisk to make sure it's all incorporated.
- Spread the warm frosting over the warm rolls.