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Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Pie Filling

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Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Pie Filling is the best recipe you’ll make all season!

Using simple ingredients, these cinnamon rolls are made with a classic yeast dough, filled with a buttery cinnamon sugar mixture and homemade apple pie filling. Topped with a sweet vanilla icing, these perfect cinnamon rolls make a cozy breakfast treat the whole family will love!

A pan of cinnamon rolls with apple pie filling and vanilla icing

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This apple cinnamon roll recipe is one of my favorites on the blog. The dough is simple to make and does not require the fuss of an electric mixer or a dough hook attachment. A wooden spoon and a large pot are all you need.

For the apple pie filling, I wanted it to be homemade, so I took inspiration from the filling of my favorite Dutch apple pie recipe on the blog. And just like the pie, the cinnamon roll dough is layered with melted butter, extra cinnamon sugar, and sweet chunks of apple that have been tossed in warm cinnamon, sugar, and butter.

After baking, a simple vanilla icing is added to finish these cinnamon buns properly. 

The result is warm cinnamon rolls that are big and fluffy and smell of sweet apple pie. These are the perfect breakfast to serve around the holidays and can even be prepped the night before for a sweet and easy breakfast on Christmas morning!

Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls Recipe Ingredients

The full ingredient amounts can be found on the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Ingredients For The Dough

  • Whole milk – feel free to use a low fat milk if that’s what you have on hand
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Yeast – Both instant and active dry yeast work for this recipe. 
  • All purpose flour – All purpose flour makes the dough tender and fluffy, and strong enough for the apple pie filling.
  • Baking powder
  • Kosher salt

The dough for these apple pie cinnamon rolls have been adapted from Ree Drummond’s cinnamon rolls recipe.

The Apple Pie Filling

  • Fresh apples – I really like a mixture of sweet red apples (Honeycrisp or Fuji) and two Granny Smith apples.  This is the same combination I use for traditional apple pie.
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Ground cinnamon – make sure your cinnamon is fresh for best results.

Cinnamon Sugar Mixture

  • Unsalted butter, melted but not hot
  • Sugar – I use white, but feel free to swap light brown sugar if that’s your preference.
  • Ground cinnamon

Vanilla Icing

  • Powdered sugar
  • Whole milk – a lower fat milk, lemon juice, or heavy cream works as well if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Vanilla extract – pure vanilla extract is best for this icing.

This is the same icing I used on my easy Puff Pastry Cinnamon Rolls and my Iced Oatmeal Cookies, it’s super versatile around the holidays!

Instructions

Step 1: Make the dough

In a medium sized pot or dutch oven, heat the milk, butter, and sugar over medium heat until the liquid is steaming and the butter and sugar are melted. The temperature is around 185° (6-8 minutes).

Remove the pot from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to 100°.

Step 2: While the milk is cooling, make the apple pie filling

Diced apples in a cast iron skillet

Over medium-high heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a 10” skillet. Add the diced apples to the skillet and toss to coat in butter. 

Sprinkle on the 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of sugar over the apples

Apple pie filling cooked and cooling in a cast iron skillet

Cook the apples until tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Any liquid should be evaporated and the apples should be reduced to 3 cups. Remove the filling from the heat and let cool.

Step 3: Finish making the dough

Once the milk mixture has cooled, sprinkle the yeast on top of the warm milk and bloom for 1 minute.

Hint: Adding the yeast to the milk when it’s too hot (above 110 degrees) will kill the yeast and keep the dough from rising.

Sticky dough for the cinnamon rolls in a pot, ready for first rising

Add 4 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt to the milk and yeast mixture. 

Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir until combined (it will be sticky) and cover with a damp towel. Let the dough sit in the pot for 1 hour to rise.

After adding the last cup of flour to the dough

Once the dough has risen, add the last 1 cup of flour to the pot and stir until mostly combined. Some streaks of remaining flour are ok.

Dough in a smooth ball on a white counter

Pour the contents of the pot out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough into a smooth ball. Sprinkle the work surface with additional flour only if needed to prevent sticking.

The dough should be soft, but not stick to the countertop. 

Tip: Sometimes you don’t need to add much flour to the work surface, and other times you need to add a lot. It all depends on the weather and humidity that day. Start with a little bit and add more if needed.

Step 4: Add the fillings

Spreading the butter onto the cinnamon roll dough

Once the dough is in a smooth ball, use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll it out about 1/2” thick into a 16 x 21 inch rectangle. If the dough starts to pull back on you, let it rest for 10-15 minutes and try rolling it again.

Once rolled, pour the 5 tablespoons of melted butter over the rectangle. Use a spoon or a pastry brush to evenly coat the surface of the dough in butter.

Cinnamon sugar added to the dough.

Next, combine your 2 tablespoons of cinnamon and 1 cup of sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly over the butter and dough. 

Next, grab your cooled apple filling and evenly distribute it over the cinnamon sugar.

Step 5: Shape and cut the cinnamon rolls.

Rolling up the filled cinnamon rolls.

To roll up the cinnamon buns, start with the edge nearest to you (the long side) and roll it up to the top.

Sliced cinnamon rolls.

Roll the dough tightly and keep the filling from falling out.  Roll until you’ve formed a log and the seam side is hidden underneath. 

Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the log into slices 1 1/4” wide.

Spray two 9 x 9 inch pans (square or round) with nonstick cooking spray and divide your cinnamon roll slices between the two pans. You’ll have about 7-9 rolls per baking dish.

Step 6: The second rise and baking

Cinnamon rolls in a pan with the apple pie filling showing

Cover the cinnamon rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rise for the second time in a warm place for 30 minutes. While the buns are rising, preheat your oven to 375°.

The buns won’t double in size, but they will have risen slightly.

Baked cinnamon buns in a pan

After 30 minutes, pop your apple cinnamon rolls into the oven and bake at 375° for 27-30 minutes until golden brown and the centers have risen. 

 Step 7: Make the vanilla icing

To make the icing, combine the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth.

When your cinnamon rolls are done baking, remove them from the oven and immediately pour the glaze over each pan of rolls. Allow the cinnamon rolls to cool down enough to be handled and serve warm.  Enjoy!

Vanilla icing on the cinnamon roll

Video Instructions

Variations

  • Add toasted, chopped pecans or walnuts to the filling
  • Swap the cinnamon for apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice
  • Add some lemon zest or fresh ginger to the apple pie filling
  • Top the cinnamon rolls with a cream cheese icing
  • Sprinkle your cinnamon rolls with a cinnamon crumble, like the one I use on my favorite apple pie recipe!
  • If you want to use canned apple pie filling, drain off the juice, save it, and dice the apples into bite-sized pieces. Use the reserved apple pie liquid in place of milk in the icing.

Top Tips

  • Make sure when you sprinkle the yeast onto the milk mixture, that the temperature is no higher than 110° for active dry yeast or 120° for instant/bread machine yeast. High temperature heats will kill the yeast. I recommend cooling your milk to 100° to get the right temperature.
  • Bread machine yeast works for this recipe too, just add it along with the 4 cups of flour, no need to bloom.
  • If you’re letting your cinnamon rolls rise in the fridge overnight, make sure to let them come up to room temperature before baking. This way they’ll bake up nice and big and fluffy.
  • A quick way to bring your cinnamon rolls up to temperature (after being in the fridge overnight) is to set your oven to its lowest temperature or 100° and put your cinnamon rolls in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the rolls from the oven and set them in a warm place while the oven preheats to 375°.
  • Don’t worry if the cinnamon rolls and apple pie filling release juices during the rising process, the juice will bake right back into the dough.
  • To test the cinnamon rolls for doneness after baking, poke the middle of the centermost cinnamon bun. If it mushes or feels too “squishy” let it bake for a few minutes longer.

Make Ahead Instructions

These cinnamon rolls involve a few steps, but the apple pie filling to the whole batch of cinnamon rolls can be prepared in advance for a sweet treat on a weekend morning.

Making the Apple Mixture in Advance

The apple pie filling can be fully cooked and prepared  1-3 days in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to use. Let the filling come up to room temperature before adding to the cinnamon rolls.

Make The Cinnamon Buns A Day Ahead

These cinnamon buns can be prepared the night before and baked off the next day. .

  1. Prepare this recipe as stated above, including rolling, filling, and slicing. Divide the cinnamon rolls between two pans, but instead of letting them rise for 30 minutes in a warm spot, cover the dishes in plastic wrap and pop them in the fridge overnight. 
  2. When you’re ready to bake the next morning, take the cinnamon rolls out of the fridge and let them sit on the counter at room temperature for 2 hours.
  3. Once the cinnamon buns are no longer cold to the touch, bake them at 375° for 27-30 minutes.

TIP:If you’re short on time, you can place your cinnamon buns in a warm (100°) oven for 30 minutes, then remove them, and let them sit on the back of the stove while the oven preheats to 375° for another 30 minutes. 

Freezing Your Cinnamon Rolls

Unbaked cinnamon rolls can be frozen and baked later! This is particularly helpful because this recipe makes two good sized pans of cinnamon rolls. Just think, you can bake off a pan of homemade cinnamon rolls for Thanksgiving morning and freeze the second pan to be baked on Christmas morning!

  1. To freeze, just prepare the cinnamon buns as listed in the recipe, including the filling, rolling, and cutting parts.
  2. Divide your cinnamon buns between the two pans, but instead of the second rising, double wrap each pan in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and pop them in the freezer.
  3. The day before you’re ready to bake, take the cinnamon rolls out of the freezer and pop them in the fridge–keeping them covered in plastic still. You’ll want to do this around late morning or afternoon, because they need to thaw completely AND rise during the overnight. 
  4. The next morning, take your thawed cinnamon rolls out of the fridge and let them sit on the counter for 2 hours to come up to room temperature. Give them an extra 30-60 minutes if they still feel super cold to the touch. 
  5. Once the cinnamon rolls are at room temp, bake at 375° for 27-30 minutes.

Storing Leftovers

Cinnamon rolls can be stored in the freezer for up to a month.

These cinnamon rolls are best the day they are baked but will keep for up to three days when stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

To refresh day old buns, just pop the quantity needed in the microwave and heat uncovered for about 15 seconds. The cinnamon rolls will be nice and soft and the apple pie filling warm and delicious!

FAQs

What type of apples to use for the pie filling?

For the filling, I tried to use apples that I would use in a traditional apple pie. I really like a mixture of sweet red apples (Honeycrisp or Fuji) and two Granny Smith apples.   

Using a sweet type of apple will make the filling sweet and moist while the Granny Smith will hold its shape, during baking.

Can I freeze these cinnamon rolls?

Yes! I often divide these apple cinnamon rolls into two pans and bake one off immediately and freeze a second pan for another day! See the freezing instructions in the “make ahead” section.

Related Recipes

Pairings

Image of a whisk

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A pan of cinnamon rolls with apple pie filling and vanilla icing

Cinnamon Rolls With Apple Pie Filling

Yield: 17 Cinnamon Rolls
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Big fluffy cinnamon rolls full of homemade apple pie filling. The perfect fall twist on a classic!

Ingredients

Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant or active dry yeast
  • 5 cups of all purpose flour + more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

Apple Pie Filling

  • 4-5 apples peeled and diced to about 1/4" (will be 5 cups of diced apples)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Cinnamon Sugar Mixture

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted but not hot
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Vanilla Icing**

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons of whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Instructions

    Make the Dough

    1. In a medium sized pot or dutch oven, heat the milk, butter, and sugar over medium heat until the liquid is steaming and the butter and sugar are melted. The temperature is around 185° (6-8 minutes).
    2. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to 100°.

    While the milk is cooling, make the apple pie filling

    1. Over medium hight heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a 10” skillet.
    2. Add the diced apples to the skillet and toss to coat in butter. 
    3. Sprinkle on the 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of sugar over the apples and cook until tender. This should take about 20 minutes and any liquid should be evaporated. The apples should reduce to 3 cups. Remove the filling from the heat and let cool.

    Finish making the dough

    1. Once the milk mixture has cooled, sprinkle the yeast on top of the milk and bloom for 1 minute.
    2. Add 4 cups of flour, the baking powder and the salt to the pot. Stir until combined (it will be sticky) and cover with a damp towel. Let the dough sit in the pot for 1 hour to rise.
    3. Once the dough has risen, add the last 1 cup of flour to the pot and stir until mostly combined. Some streaks of flour are ok.
    4. Pour the contents of the pot out onto a floured work surface and knead the dough into a smooth ball. Sprinkle on additional flour only if needed to prevent sticking. The dough should be soft, but not sticking to the countertop.*

    Add the fillings

    1. Once the dough is in a smooth ball, use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll it out about 1/2” thick into a 16x21” rectangle. If the dough starts to pull back on you, let it rest for 10-15 minutes and try rolling it again.
    2. Once rolled, pour the 5 tablespoons of melted butter over the rectangle. Use a spoon or a pastry brush to evenly coat the surface of the dough in butter.
    3. Combine the 2 tablespoons of cinnamon and 1 cup of sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly over the butter and dough. 
    4. Next, grab your cooled apple pie filling and evenly distribute it over the cinnamon sugar.

    Shape and cut the Cinnamon rolls

    1. To roll up your cinnamon buns, start with the edge nearest to you and roll it up to the top. Make sure to roll the dough tightly and keep the filling from falling out.  Roll until you’ve formed a log and the seam side is hidden underneath. 
    2. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the log into slices 1 1/4” wide.
    3. Spray two 9x9” pans (square or round) with cooking spray and divide your cinnamon rolls between the two pans. You’ll have about 7-9 rolls per pan.

    The Second Rise and Baking

    1. Cover the cinnamon rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes. While the buns are rising, preheat your oven to 375°.
    2. The buns won’t double in size, but they will have risen slightly. 
    3. After 30 minutes, pop your apple cinnamon rolls into the oven and bake at 375° for 27-30 minutes until golden brown and the centers have risen.

    Make your vanilla icing

    1. To make the icing, combine the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth and add an extra tablespoon of milk if needed to get the icing pourable.
    2. When your cinnamon rolls are done baking, remove them from the oven and immediately pour the glaze over each pan of rolls. Allow the cinnamon rolls to cool down enough to be handled and serve warm. Enjoy!

    Notes

    *sometimes you don’t need to add much flour, and other times you need to add a lot. It all depends on the weather and humidity that day! 

    **If you're only baking 1 pan of cinnamon rolls, cut the icing recipe in half to 1 cup powdered sugar 2 tablespoons of whole milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

      Nutrition Information:
      Yield: 18 Serving Size: 1
      Amount Per Serving: Calories: 342Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 185mgCarbohydrates: 66gFiber: 3gSugar: 37gProtein: 5g

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      One Comment

      1. Hands down, the BEST apple recipe I’ve made this season!! The rolls are supremely light and fluffy, and the apples get perfectly gooey as everything bakes up. I also love that you don’t need to use a mixer. So easy, and I can’t wait to make these again!!!!

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