The apple cinnamon rolls with brown butter cream cheese frosting are the ultimate fall treat! We’re also sharing how to prepare them the night before and bake in the morning.
Easy Apple Cinnamon Rolls
We can’t get enough of these deliciously fall-y apple cinnamon rolls! They’re ooey gooey and topped with an easy brown butter cream cheese frosting that you’ll be licking right off the spoon.
Plus, we’ll show you how to prepare the rolls the night before so all you need to do is bake them in the morning.
why you’ll love ’em!
Amazing flavor: we love a good cinnamon roll as much as the next person, but can’t get enough of the apple-y twist to a classic cinnamon roll. You’ll find little morsels of sautéed honey crisp apples in every bite.
Prepare the night before: you can prepare your rolls the night before and store in the fridge overnight. Simply bake in the morning, and ENJOY.
No white sugar: instead this recipe uses maple syrup and light brown sugar for a never too sweet flavor combination.
Ingredients for Apple Cinnamon Rolls
The ingredients for these apple cinnamon rolls can be broken down to 3 elements: the dough, the filling and the brown butter cream cheese frosting. Here’s what you’ll need:
FOR THE DOUGH
- 2% milk
- Quick rise yeast
- Maple syrup
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour
FOR THE FILLING
- Unsalted butter
- Light brown sugar
- Ground cinnamon
- Diced honey crisp apples
- Ground nutmeg
FOR THE Brown Butter CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- Browned butter
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Cream cheese
- Ground cinnamon
How to Make Apple Cinnamon Rolls
For the full recipe, scroll down to the recipe card for a list of ingredients and instructions.
START WITH THE DOUGH
Prepare the yeast by adding the warm milk and quick rise yeast packet to a bowl for at least 5 minutes or until the yeast has bloomed.
then, whisk together the rest of the wet ingredients and combine with the bloomed yeast mixture.
Then, with your stand mixer on low-medium speed with a dough hook, and slowly add the flour and salt to the wet ingredients until it forms a shaggy dough. And then continue until the dough is smooth and elastic (it should bounce back when you poke it).
Don’t have a stand mixer? You can use a wooden spoon until the dough is formed enough to knead by hand. Then hand knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic.
LET THE DOUGH RISE
Transfer you ball of dough to a lightly buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap and then a tea towel. Place in a warm place (we like to set ours IN the oven with the oven OFF) until the dough has doubled in size. This will take approximately 1-1.5 hours.
MAKE THE FILLING
While your dough rises, it’s time to make the filling. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and begin to melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Once the butter is melted, add your diced apples and nutmeg, and cook until the apples are soft.
While the apples are sautéing, simply measure the following in a small bowl and stir together until fully combined:
- Softened butter (softened / room temperature butter is CRITICAL to ensure you don’t have clumps of butter in your filling)
- Light brown sugar
- Ground cinnamon
Maple Cinnamon Rolls
Looking for another cinnamon roll recipe? Try our maple cinnamon rolls! Mmm!
ROLL THE DOUGH
Now that your dough has risen, it’s time to turn it out. Using a rolling pin, roll your dough into a rectangle that’s approximately 18” long, 12” wide, and 1/4” thick.
Then, spread the filling over the dough, top with the apples and roll it into a tight log.
Want larger rolls?
You’ll see that we rolled our dough starting on the LONG SIDE, but if you prefer larger more over-sized maple cinnamon rolls (and thus, less total rolls), simply roll your dough starting on the SHORT SIDE.
Next, slice the log into 1” rolls. To do this, start in middle of the roll, and mark the dough with a knife, then mark every inch on each side of the middle mark. This will ensure you have equal sized rolls 😀
Add the apple cinnamon rolls to your prepared dish, cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel again, and place in a warm location to rise for a 2nd time, this time for around 30 minutes.
Making these rolls for tomorrow? Instead of placing in a warm location, cover and place in the fridge overnight for baking in the morning. Just make sure you allow your rolls to come to room temperature before baking in the morning.
MAKE THE Brown Butter FROSTING
In a small pot or skillet, brown the butter over medium heat, stirring continuously and then let it cool.
Combine the cooled butter, softened cream cheese vanilla extract and cinnamon in your stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Once combined, slowly add the powdered sugar. Beat the frosting on medium speed until it’s light and fluffy.
TIME TO BAKE
Once your rolls have risen for a 2nd time, it’s time to bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes. Your house is about to smell AMAZING.
FROST & ENJOY
Wait at least 10 minutes after your rolls have come out of the oven before spreading on the brown butter cream cheese frosting. Then, SERVE AND ENJOY!
Pro Tips for Apple Cinnamon Rolls
We have a few pro tips to share when it comes to making these apple cinnamon rolls. Follow these tips to cinnamon roll perfection:
Don’t Overheat the milk
Because the yeast is getting started in the warm milk, you don’t want it to be TOO WARM. Yeast will bloom perfectly when the milk is around 110°F. If the milk is too warm, it can kill the yeast. Conversely, if the milk is too cold, the yeast will have a tough time blooming, which can result in dense rolls — no one wants that!
Quick Rise Yeast vs Active Dry Yeast
We love using quick rise yeast for these rolls! Technically, quick rise yeast doesn’t require you to let it bloom before mixing into the dough, but we like to get it started in warm milk to allow for perfect rising.
Does active dry yeast work, too? Yes! Follow the same instructions, but be mindful that your rise times may increase slightly.
USE A SHARP serrated KNIFE TO CUT ROLLS
Use a SHARP serrated knife and gently slice your apple cinnamon rolls using a gentle back and forth motion, making sure to not squish the rolls. This will help keep the form, but don’t you worry if the rolls squish a bit — you can reform the rolls easily with your hands.
EXPECT A LITTLE FIlling OOZING
Expect a small amount of apple cinnamon filling to ooze out from your dough when rolling and cutting your cinnamon rolls. Simply take this filling and either spread it on top of the cinnamon rolls once they’re cut, or lick that deliciousness off your finger and enjoy 😀
TO CUT EQUAL-SIZE CINNAMON ROLLS
For equal-sized apple cinnamon rolls, you’ll need to evenly divide the roll of dough into 1 inch cinnamon rolls. Start in middle of the roll, and mark the dough with a knife, then mark every inch on each side of the middle mark.
Overnight Apple Cinnamon Rolls Instructions
To prepare these cinnamon rolls the night before so all you need to do the morning you serve them is bake, follow these simple instructions:
- Make the rolls as instructed up to step 11.
- Then, in the morning, take the rolls out of the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature (approximately 30 minutes).
- Bake as instructed.
- Frost & enjoy!
Store these apple cinnamon rolls in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To reheat: while reheating in the microwave absolutely works, our preferred method is in the oven. Reheat rolls covered at 350°F for 10 minutes or until the rolls are warm and just as delicious as the first time you took them out of the oven.
Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- 3 tablespoons salted butter browned
- 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3- oz. cream cheese softened
- ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- Make the cinnamon rolls. Add the warm milk and yeast to a large bowl. Set aside until the yeast has bloomed/bubbed– about 5 minutes.
- Next add the maple syrup, melted butter, egg, and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
- Using a stand mixer on low-medium speed with the dough hook attachment, slowly stir the flour and salt into the wet ingredients. Once all of the flour has been added and a shaggy dough has formed, knead for 2-3 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic (it should bounce back when you poke it).
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap and then a tea towel. Place it in a warm place to rise until doubled in size — about 1-1.5 hours. While the dough rises you can make the filling and cook your apples (below).
- Make the apples. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside until ready to use.
- Next, peel your apples and dice them into small pieces.
- Then, heat a sauté pan over medium heat and begin to melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Once the butter is melted, add your diced apples and nutmeg, and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the apples are soft. Set aside.
- Make the brown butter cream cheese frosting. In a small pot or skillet, brown 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat, stirring continuously. Let cool.
- Combine the cream cheese, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and browned butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- When the cream cheese and butter are smooth, turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add the powdered sugar.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn the mixer to medium speed. Beat for 30-45 seconds or until the frosting is light and fluffy. Set aside.
- Assemble the cinnamon rolls. Once the dough has risen for 1 to 1.5 hours, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
- Roll it into a rectangle that is approximately 18” long, 12” wide, and 1/4” thick.
- Spread the butter over the dough and then sprinkle the filling over the butter, and then sprinkle the diced apples over the filling. Then roll into a tight log, starting at one of the long sides. For larger rolls, roll the tight log starting at one of the short sides.
- Slice the log into 1” rolls. This will yield about 12 rolls, depending on how tightly you roll your log and whether you start rolling at a long or short side of the dough.
- Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish or line it with parchment paper. Add the rolls to the dish, making sure they just barely touch. Depending on how tightly you rolled dough into the log, you can either place rolls 3×4 OR 2×4 with extra rolls in another baking dish.
- If you’re making the rolls in advance, wrap them in plastic and place them in the fridge for up to 12 hours. Bring the rolls to room temperature (about 30 minutes) when you’re ready to bake and then skip to step 13.
- If you aren’t making the rolls in advance, cover with plastic wrap and then a tea towel, and place them in a warm spot to rise until the rolls begin to touch — about 30 minutes. While the rolls rise, preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Bake the apple cinnamon rolls for 18-22 minutes (depending on your oven) or until the centers are set, be sure not to overbake.
- Allow the cinnamon rolls to cool for 10 minutes before frosting.
Tips & Notes
- If you roll these from the short side of the dough, it will yield larger rolls (what we did in the photos). If you roll from the long side of the dough, it will yield smaller rolls.
- We preferred not to strain the brown butter as the bits were integral to the flavor of the frosting.