Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Apple Cinnamon Rolls
5 from 1 vote
Indulge in the irresistible allure of apple cinnamon rolls. This treat combines the classic flavours of cinnamon and apple, resulting in an easy-to-make dessert that's a hit for any occasion. Read on to find out the history, variations, and tips for mastering this delightful pastry.
Apple Cinnamon Rolls

The apple cinnamon rolls! You might think it’s a twist on the classic cinnamon roll, and you’re not wrong. This recipe introduces the humble apple to an already popular dessert, creating a union that seems like it was meant to be.

Whether you’re a fan of apple pie or cinnamon rolls, this combination is the best of both worlds. 

Hailing from the Swedish cinnamon roll, known as kanelbulle, this Americanised version with apples draws its inspiration from multiple places. While cinnamon rolls are quite straightforward, adding apple gives it that quintessential autumn feel, making it even more appealing. 

Now, you might wonder about the difficulty level of this recipe. Rest assured, this is something that anyone with basic baking skills can take on. Sure, the list of ingredients might appear daunting, but the steps are fairly simple. Plus, the result is absolutely worth it. 

Variations of this recipe are also numerous. For instance, you could try adding a dash of nutmeg for extra spice or even using different types of apples to give each roll a unique character. Some prefer Granny Smith apples for their tartness, while others might opt for Honeycrisp for a sweeter touch. 

If you’re keen on experimenting further, consider a cream cheese frosting instead of the simple milk and icing sugar glaze. Even a caramel sauce could work wonders, elevating this already fantastic recipe to greater heights. 

Talking about the glaze, don’t underestimate its power. While the rolls are delicious on their own, the glaze brings out the flavour in a more prominent way, lending a creamy texture that contrasts beautifully with the soft, fluffy dough and the crunch of the apple bits. 

So why not give this delicious, comforting dessert a go? The best part is, it’s not exclusive to any occasion.  

Whether it’s a Sunday brunch, a festive gathering, or simply an ordinary day that calls for an extraordinary treat, these apple cinnamon rolls are your go-to. Prepare yourself for a culinary journey that promises nothing but joy at the end. 

What Ingredients to Use & Why  

Let’s dive into the intricacies of the ingredients that make these apple cinnamon rolls so irresistible. Each ingredient plays a crucial role in shaping the texture, flavour, and overall appeal of this delightful dessert.  

Understanding the importance of each component not only enhances your appreciation for the dish but also gives you the confidence to make adjustments or substitutions as you see fit. So, let’s get started. 

All-Purpose Flour: The backbone of any good pastry, all-purpose flour gives structure to your apple cinnamon rolls. While you could try bread flour for a chewier texture, the all-purpose variety provides a softer crumb, which most people prefer in a cinnamon roll. 

Instant Yeast: This is what makes your rolls rise and become fluffy. You could opt for active dry yeast; just remember to activate it in warm water before adding it to your dough. Instant yeast is generally more user-friendly and less finicky. 

Warm Milk: Milk contributes to the dough’s richness and tender crumb. You could use alternatives like almond or oat milk for a dairy-free option. Just make sure to heat it to the right temperature for activating the yeast properly. 

Granulated Sugar: In addition to sweetness, sugar helps in browning and can keep your rolls moist. While you can replace it with coconut sugar or even honey, keep in mind that the texture and flavour may vary. 

Melted Unsalted Butter: Butter adds a rich flavour and contributes to the soft texture of the roll. If you’re vegan, margarine or plant-based butters work as substitutes. However, the taste might be slightly different. 

Salt: A small amount enhances the overall flavour profile, balancing the sweetness. Himalayan pink salt or sea salt can replace regular table salt but adjust quantities as these can be less salty. 

Medium Apples: Apples provide the defining characteristic of this dish. Different apple varieties bring different tastes and textures. Granny Smiths offer tartness, while Honeycrisp lends sweetness. 

Brown Sugar: This is what makes your filling so delectable. Brown sugar brings caramel notes that white sugar just can’t match. However, coconut sugar could be a healthier alternative, offering a similar caramel-like flavour. 

Ground Cinnamon: Cinnamon adds the necessary warmth and spiciness to the rolls. For a different twist, you could even mix in a bit of nutmeg or allspice. 

Unsalted Butter, Softened: This is used to spread on the dough before adding the filling, making each bite soft and moist. As with the melted butter, plant-based butters can be used if dairy-free is the way to go for you. 

For the Glaze:  

Icing Sugar & Milk: The glaze is what gives these rolls their finishing touch. You could experiment with a cream cheese frosting or even a caramel sauce for a different twist on the classic. 

As we wrap up the breakdown, it’s evident that each ingredient has its role to play. Whether it’s adding structure, flavour, or that extra oomph, nothing is superfluous.  

Understanding these roles not only makes you more adept at following this particular recipe but also better equips you to innovate and make it your own. Now that you’re well-versed in the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of these apple cinnamon rolls, you’re all set to bake up a storm. 

The Importance of Yeast in Baking Apple Cinnamon Rolls 

If you’ve ever marvelled at the fluffiness of apple cinnamon rolls, give a silent nod to yeast, the miracle worker behind the scenes.  

When working with dough-based desserts like these rolls, yeast becomes a critical element. Essentially, yeast is a fungus that ferments the sugars in your dough to produce carbon dioxide gas, which in turn creates that pillowy, airy texture we all love so much. 

The choice between instant and active dry yeast may seem trivial, but it can impact the baking process considerably. Instant yeast is fine-grained and dissolves more quickly, meaning you can add it directly to your flour.  

On the other hand, active dry yeast needs to be dissolved in warm water before it’s introduced to other ingredients. If you’re not vigilant about the temperature of the water, you might end up killing the yeast, causing your dough not to rise. 

Let’s talk about shelf life too. Yeast isn’t immortal; it loses potency over time. If you’re using old yeast, you may notice that your rolls don’t rise as much as they should, or they might have a denser texture.  

Always check the expiration date on the yeast packaging to ensure you’re using a product that will give you optimal results. 

You may wonder if yeast can be substituted. Well, chemical leavening agents like baking powder or baking soda can be used, but they won’t replicate the exact texture or flavour that yeast provides. Yeast brings a unique complexity to your apple cinnamon rolls that chemical alternatives can’t quite mimic. 

The Role of Apples in Apple Cinnamon Rolls 

Now, let’s shift our focus to apples, the fruity component that makes these rolls unique. While traditional cinnamon rolls are delightful in their own right, adding apples elevates the dish to a new level.  

The natural sweetness and tartness of apples balance the sugary richness of the roll, providing a multi-layered flavour experience. 

Selecting the right type of apple is crucial for this recipe. The apple variety you choose can greatly influence the final taste. For instance, a Granny Smith apple offers a tartness that contrasts beautifully with the sugary cinnamon, while a Fuji apple lends a crisp, sweet burst of flavour. 

The method of preparing the apples also impacts the overall dish. Whether you dice, slice, or shred the apples, each method imparts its unique texture. Dicing provides a firmer bite, slicing offers a chewy experience, and shredding almost melts into the roll. So, your preparation choice can add another dimension to your dessert. 

But apples don’t just bring flavour and texture; they also introduce moisture to the rolls. This moisture contributes to a softer dough and enhances the overall eating experience. It’s like having a cinnamon roll and an apple pie rolled into one, quite literally! 

Not a fan of apples? Fear not; there are other fruits you could consider. Pears make a good substitute, bringing their unique texture and flavour. Similarly, peaches offer a different but equally delectable experience.  

Whichever fruit you decide to use, remember that it will become the defining characteristic of your cinnamon roll. 

The Significance of Cinnamon in Apple Cinnamon Rolls 

When it comes to spices that evoke a sense of comfort, cinnamon tops the list for many.  

While the soft dough and sugary glaze are integral parts of apple cinnamon rolls, the true soul of this comforting dish lies in its namesake spice. The aromatic qualities of cinnamon give the rolls a warmth and depth that few other spices can replicate. 

Let’s talk about the form of cinnamon you can use in the rolls. Cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon are the most commonly available types, each with its own set of merits.  

Ground cinnamon easily mixes with the sugar and apples, making it the go-to choice for many. However, using a cinnamon stick to infuse the melted butter can offer a subtler hint of the spice if that’s your preference. 

The quality of cinnamon also matters. Like many spices, cinnamon loses its potency over time. Freshly ground cinnamon will imbue your apple cinnamon rolls with an intensity of flavour that might be lacking when using older, pre-ground cinnamon. 

Interestingly, cinnamon doesn’t just contribute to the taste; it has a role in aroma as well. A well-prepared batch of apple cinnamon rolls can fill a room with its delicious smell, adding an extra layer of pleasure to the culinary experience. It’s hard to resist a tray of rolls that not only taste divine but smell amazing as well. 

If you’re looking to mix things up, you can explore other spices that complement cinnamon. Nutmeg or cardamom can introduce nuanced undertones, and mixing these with cinnamon can create a more complex flavour profile.  

However, these shouldn’t overpower the core essence of the roll, which is unmistakably cinnamon. 

How to Achieve the Perfect Dough Texture for Apple Cinnamon Rolls 

Creating the perfect dough is the bedrock upon which delicious apple cinnamon rolls are built. You might think it’s all about following the recipe to the letter, but understanding the dough’s characteristics can give you much-needed leeway for experimentation. 

Firstly, the type of flour you use has a direct impact on the dough’s quality. All-purpose flour is typically recommended due to its balanced protein content, which ensures good gluten formation without making the dough too tough.  

However, if you’re looking for a healthier alternative, whole-wheat flour can be used, albeit at the expense of some softness. 

Milk also plays a vital role. Not only does it help to combine the ingredients, but the fats in milk contribute to a tender crumb. If you’re lactose-intolerant or prefer plant-based options, almond or oat milk can be used, although these may slightly alter the dough’s flavour. 

When it comes to kneading the dough, don’t underestimate the importance of this step. Kneading develops gluten strands, which give the dough its structure. It’s this structure that allows the dough to rise well, creating that soft, fluffy texture we all crave in our rolls. 

The resting period is another aspect to focus on. Allowing the dough to rest gives the gluten strands time to relax, making the dough easier to roll out. Skipping or rushing this part can result in a denser roll. 

Don’t forget that the external environment, such as humidity and temperature, can also affect your dough. If you’re baking on a humid day, you might find that the dough is stickier and needs a little more flour. On cooler days, the rising process might take longer than usual. 

The Art of Creating the Perfect Glaze for Apple Cinnamon Rolls 

Getting the glaze right for apple cinnamon rolls is more than just a finishing touch; it’s the proverbial cherry on top that completes the entire experience. Now, you might wonder, what makes a good glaze?  

It’s a careful balance of sweetness, consistency, and flavour that accentuates, rather than overshadows, the roll itself. 

Let’s talk about the sugar first. Icing sugar is generally preferred due to its fine texture, which allows for a smoother glaze. However, if you’re looking for a less refined option, coconut sugar can also be used. Keep in mind that it will add a hint of caramel flavour to the glaze, subtly changing the overall taste. 

Milk, the other primary component, adds a liquid element that helps you achieve the desired consistency. Full-fat milk tends to give a creamier finish, while skimmed or low-fat milk may result in a slightly less rich texture.  

Plant-based options like almond or oat milk are also excellent choices, but they may lend their own flavours to the glaze. 

Speaking of flavour, while a basic milk and sugar glaze is delectable, don’t hesitate to experiment.  

A dash of vanilla extract can elevate the entire experience, adding a layer of aromatic sweetness that complements the cinnamon beautifully. For those who enjoy citrusy notes, a bit of lemon or orange zest can provide a refreshing twist. 

Consistency is another crucial aspect. It should be thick enough to adhere to the rolls but thin enough to spread easily. This balance is crucial, and you’ll often find that it takes a little bit of back and forth with milk and sugar to get it just right.  

And let’s not forget the timing: drizzling the glaze while the rolls are still warm ensures it seeps into every nook and cranny, making every bite a piece of heaven. 

The Importance of Proofing in Baking Apple Cinnamon Rolls 

Proofing is one of those baking steps that might seem tedious but is absolutely crucial for the success of apple cinnamon rolls. Essentially, proofing refers to the time you allow the dough to rest and rise before and after shaping it into rolls.  

During this time, the yeast ferments the dough, creating carbon dioxide gases that make the dough rise and result in the soft, fluffy texture we all love. 

Temperature is key during this process. Too cold, and the yeast will not activate correctly; too warm, and you risk over-fermentation, which could result in a dough that collapses. Finding that sweet spot, usually a warm area of your kitchen, can make all the difference in the final product. 

Don’t underestimate the role of humidity as well. Lower humidity can dry out the dough, forming a crust that prevents it from rising properly. On the flip side, extremely humid conditions might result in a sticky dough that’s difficult to manage.  

So, you may have to adjust the dough’s moisture levels slightly based on the day’s weather. 

Covering the dough during proofing is another vital step. A clean kitchen towel usually does the trick, creating an environment that retains moisture while allowing the dough to breathe. You can also use plastic wrap, but make sure it’s loose enough to give the expanding dough room to grow. 

The final proofing, after shaping the rolls, is your last chance to affect the texture. This shorter rest allows the rolls to puff up one more time, ensuring a soft and airy interior. Skipping or rushing this part could lead to denser rolls, which, while still tasty, won’t give you that melt-in-the-mouth experience. 

The Versatility of Milk in Baking Apple Cinnamon Rolls 

Milk is one of those ingredients in apple cinnamon rolls that might appear unassuming but plays several crucial roles. For starters, the type of milk used can impact not just the taste but also the texture of the rolls.  

Full-fat milk is the go-to choice for a richer flavour and a moist, tender crumb. The fats in the milk interact with the flour and other ingredients to give a luxurious mouthfeel that is hard to replicate. 

However, full-fat milk isn’t the only option. Skimmed or low-fat milk can also be used, especially if you’re watching your caloric intake.  

While you might sacrifice a bit of richness, the end product is still quite satisfying. And for those who are lactose intolerant or prefer plant-based diets, alternatives like almond milk, oat milk, or soy milk can do the job.  

Each of these options brings its own set of flavours and nutritional profiles, making the rolls adaptable to various dietary needs. 

Milk’s role isn’t just limited to taste and texture. It also contributes to the beautiful golden-brown colour that makes these rolls visually appealing. The sugars and proteins in milk undergo the Maillard reaction when exposed to heat, resulting in that tantalizing hue.  

This aesthetic factor is more than just for show; it signifies a well-baked roll, appealing to the eyes as much as to the palate. 

Warm milk is particularly beneficial when working with yeast. Yeast is a living organism that requires a conducive environment to activate. Warm milk serves as that gentle heat source, encouraging the yeast to ferment optimally. This is crucial for the dough to rise well and attain a fluffy, light texture. 

Lastly, let’s not overlook the nutritional benefits. Milk is a source of various nutrients like calcium, protein, and Vitamin D. While apple cinnamon rolls might not be the healthiest food, the inclusion of milk does add some nutritional value.  

The Science of Sugar in Apple Cinnamon Rolls 

Sugar, often viewed as a basic sweetening agent, is a complex ingredient with multiple functions in the realm of baking apple cinnamon rolls. Granulated sugar is generally used in the dough, lending not just sweetness but also contributing to its texture. Sugar interacts with the proteins in the flour, hindering gluten formation and thereby ensuring the rolls remain soft and tender. 

Brown sugar often finds its place in the filling, where its moist texture and rich flavour profile accentuate the apples and cinnamon. Unlike white sugar, brown sugar contains molasses, which adds a depth of flavour, almost caramel-like, which harmonizes well with the natural sweetness of the apples. 

Sugar is also essential in yeast activation. While it’s not mandatory, adding sugar to the yeast and milk mixture can speed up the fermentation process.  

Yeast feeds on the sugar, resulting in faster carbon dioxide production, which is necessary for the dough to rise. This results in a shorter proofing time and could be useful when you are pressed for time. 

It’s worth noting that sugar also affects the shelf-life of the apple cinnamon rolls.  

Sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the environment. This property helps keep the rolls moist for a more extended period, effectively lengthening their shelf-life. If you find that your rolls are drying out too quickly, the sugar content could be a variable worth tweaking. 

The world of sugar isn’t limited to just white and brown. Alternative sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar can also be used. Each comes with its own set of flavours and sweetness levels.  

However, be cautious when substituting, as these liquid sweeteners can affect the dough’s moisture balance and may require adjustments in other ingredients. 

The Alchemy of Butter in Apple Cinnamon Rolls 

Butter, with its creamy richness, serves as a linchpin in the construction of apple cinnamon rolls.  

At a fundamental level, it acts as a lubricant that coats the flour proteins, resulting in a tender crumb. It essentially disrupts the formation of a strong gluten network, yielding rolls that are soft rather than chewy. Unsalted butter is commonly used to have greater control over the sodium content, allowing for a balance between the sweet and savoury elements. 

While unsalted butter is an excellent choice, alternatives abound. If looking for a non-dairy substitute, margarine can work, although it might slightly alter the flavour profile.  

Coconut oil can also be employed, adding its unique tropical note to the rolls. If considering a healthier option, one could opt for avocado oil, though it’s advisable to test smaller batches first to assess the change in texture and flavour. 

The use of butter extends beyond the dough; it is also integral to the filling and even the glaze.  

In the filling, softened butter is spread across the rolled-out dough, acting as a glue for the apple-cinnamon mixture. The fat in the butter melds with the sugar and spice, creating a gooey, luscious centre that contrasts well with the dough’s softness. 

Butter also has a browning effect, giving the rolls a gorgeous golden hue when baked.  

This isn’t just about aesthetics. The browned crust contributes a slight crunch and a nuanced flavour, augmenting the eating experience. Moreover, butter contains water, which turns into steam during baking, helping the dough to rise and become airy. 

Lastly, one must not disregard the sensory experience butter provides. Its aroma during the baking process fills the kitchen, amplifying anticipation for the finished product.  

It’s one of those ingredients that makes you appreciate the transformative power of baking — turning simple elements into something extraordinary. 

The Anatomy of Flour in Apple Cinnamon Rolls 

Flour serves as the structural foundation for apple cinnamon rolls. The type of flour you use can significantly affect the texture, taste, and appearance of the final product. All-purpose flour is a reliable choice, offering a balanced protein content that yields a tender yet sturdy crumb. This type of flour is highly versatile, making it suitable for the rolls’ needs. 

If you’re interested in adding a healthful twist, whole-wheat flour is a viable option.  

It has a higher fibre content and offers more nutrients. However, because it contains the bran and the germ, it absorbs more liquid and can result in a denser product. It’s advisable to mix whole-wheat flour with all-purpose flour to counteract this effect. 

For those with dietary restrictions, gluten-free flour blends are available. These usually contain a mixture of rice flour, potato flour, and xanthan gum, among other ingredients.  

However, one must remember that the absence of gluten would mean a different texture and may require additional binders like eggs or guar gum. 

The flour’s role extends beyond just forming the dough. When creating your filling, a little flour can be added to thicken the mixture, preventing it from becoming too runny and making the rolls soggy. This especially comes in handy when your filling includes juicy elements like fresh apples. 

Moreover, flour aids in the Maillard reaction, contributing to the golden-brown crust that is so desirable in baked goods. Not just a pleasing visual, this indicates that the proteins and sugars have interacted adequately, hinting at a well-baked interior.  

In a way, the flour silently governs numerous aspects, from texture to appearance, making it indispensable in the world of baking. 

Check Out These Other Recipes 

Oh, you loved my apple cinnamon rolls, didn’t you? Those little swirls of baked heaven really hit the spot. So, while you’re still here, let me tell you about a few other treats you absolutely have to try. Trust me, your oven is going to thank you for this! 

First up, how about some good ol’ French Bread? Imagine the scent of freshly baked bread wafting through your kitchen. Golden crust, soft, airy inside—it’s the bread of your dreams.  

I mean, if you’re going to make something as delicious as apple cinnamon rolls, why not add a classic French bread to your baking repertoire? 

And, oh, have you tried my Banana Bread yet? Picture this: a warm loaf of moist banana bread, speckled with nuts and a hint of cinnamon. Yes, cinnamon! Just like our apple cinnamon rolls, this recipe brings out the cosy vibes of home. 

Now, if you want to stick with the fruity and cinnamon-infused theme, you should definitely give my Apple Pie a try. The flaky, buttery crust, combined with the tartness of Granny Smith apples and that sprinkle of cinnamon—it’s a match made in culinary heaven. 

Looking for something a bit on the sweeter side? You have to try my Blueberry Cheesecake. Think creamy, dreamy cheesecake texture with a juicy blueberry topping that just melts in your mouth. If you’re a fan of the creamy filling in my apple cinnamon rolls, this is going to be your next love. 

Lastly, since we’re talking about cinnamon, you should not miss out on my Cinnamon Rolls. Yeah, the classic version. It’s like our apple cinnamon rolls, but stripped down to the essentials. Swirls of buttery, cinnamon goodness that make you close your eyes in sheer delight. 

I’m telling you, you won’t regret whipping up these scrumptious dishes. So go ahead, try ’em out and let me know what you think in the comments. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts! 

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

by Nabeela Kauser
Indulge in the irresistible allure of apple cinnamon rolls. This treat combines the classic flavours of cinnamon and apple, resulting in an easy-to-make dessert that's a hit for any occasion.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Proof Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Swedish
Servings 12 rolls
Calories 257 kcal


  • 500 g Plain Flour
  • 7 g Yeast
  • 250 ml Milk Warm
  • 50 g Sugar
  • 50 g Unsalted Butter Melted
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 Apples Peeled, cored, and finely chopped
  • 100 g Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 50 g Unsalted Butter Softened

For the Glaze:

  • 100 g Icing Sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp Milk


  • In a large bowl, combine the warm milk and instant yeast. Let it sit for about 5 minutes until frothy.
  • Add the melted butter, granulated sugar, and salt to the yeast mixture. Stir to combine.
  • Gradually add the flour and mix until a dough forms. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let it proof in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
  • While the dough is proofing, prepare the apple filling. In a small bowl, mix together the chopped apples, brown sugar, and ground cinnamon.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and roll it out on a floured surface into a rectangle.
  • Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough, then sprinkle the apple filling mixture on top.
  • Roll up the dough tightly from the long edge to form a log. Cut the log into 12 equal slices.
  • Place the slices in a greased baking dish, leaving some space between them. Cover and let them rest for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
  • Bake the rolls for about 25 minutes or until they are golden brown and cooked through.
  • While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze by mixing icing sugar and enough milk to achieve a thick but pourable consistency.
  • Once the rolls are out of the oven, drizzle the glaze over them while they are still warm.
  • Serve the delicious Apple Cinnamon Rolls and enjoy!


Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done so merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 257kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 4gFat: 0.4gSaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 1mgPotassium: 45mgFibre: 1gSugar: 0.1gCalcium: 6mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Apple, Food, Fruit, Kids Snacks, Recipe, Snack
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!

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Hi, I’m Nabeela and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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