Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Fresh out of the oven, warm and gooey apple cinnamon rolls with delicious caramel icing on top! Recipe on

Like clockwork, my cinnamon roll cravings become pretty intense in September. It’s as predictable as the leaves changing color and the sun freaking setting.

Every Single September.

But this month, I decided to skip my regular version. I even passed on my all-time favorites: the maple cinnamon roll. Heck, I even ditched my beloved orange cinnamon rolls. And for what?

Greeting us all at the corner of comfort food and calorie-laden are APPLE CINNAMON ROLLS drowning in caramel icing. Move over every other type of cinnamon roll out there… there’s a new boss in town.

Fresh out of the oven, warm and gooey apple cinnamon rolls with delicious caramel icing on top! Recipe on

Just in case your cinnamon roll cravings aren’t as intense as mine, here’s a little extra enticing: (1) start the day with a treat that’s like eating a slice of apple pie and cinnamon roll in one. (2) the mornings are getting chillier and granola bars aren’t cutting it anymore. (3) granola bars don’t belong on the weekends anyway. (4) you can make these apple cinnamon rolls ahead of time!!!! (5) caramel icing.

Go ahead, indulge with me.

Red Star Yeast Platinum on

Let’s get down to the basics though. How many of you are nervous when it comes to yeast? Proofing it, working with it, kneading dough. Forget the haunted hay ride this year, yeast is terrifying enough right?? Well trust me, I used to fear working with yeast too. A ridiculous fear, actually. But once I started to use it (well, if we’re being honest, once the cinnamon roll cravings got strong enough) my fears quickly subsided.

My little secret can be found in the little packets you see above. ↑ ↑

Red Star Yeast. Quality yeast and a carefully formulated dough to pair with it helps guarantee success, no matter how terrified of yeast you are. The Platinum line makes working with yeast (even for you first timers!) super simple and approachable. I’m a huge fan of RSY and use this yeast exclusively in my kitchen because it’s always a guarantee.

The dough we’re using today is the same dough as my overnight cinnamon rolls. It’s become my standard traditional cinnamon roll dough. It’s soft and supple, rises up beautifully (obviously with Red Star Yeast!!!), and has this crazy awesome buttery flavor. I’ve used it plenty of times on my blog, too. Most notably: cinnamon roll wreath, maple pecan sticky buns, and biiiiiiig giant cinnamon buns.

Once the dough is made, allow it to rise in a warm environment, then punch it down so you can roll it out and fill it up.

How to make apple cinnamon rolls on

The filling = brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and apples. Music to our ears.

Let the rolls rise once again until they doubled in size.

How to make apple cinnamon rolls on

How to make apple cinnamon rolls on

And look how puffy they get!!! ↑ ↑

You have the option of making them in the morning OR you can get started the night before. Whichever you choose, the rolls bake up into this gorgeous golden brown color. And just WAIT until you smell them baking. In fact, if we could bottle the smell of this fall season, we would name it Apple Cinnamon Rolls. 🙂

A couple options for icing and I’ll let you be the judge. Some of my suggestions:

Fresh out of the oven, warm and gooey apple cinnamon rolls with delicious caramel icing on top! Recipe on

Fresh out of the oven, warm and gooey apple cinnamon rolls with delicious caramel icing on top! Recipe on

In short, you must: combat your fear of yeast, satisfy your weekend cinnamon roll craving, embrace fall, and make caramel icing.


Apple Cinnamon Rolls

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
  • Yield: 12 large rolls
  • Category: Cinnamon Rolls
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Warm and gooey apple cinnamon rolls with delicious caramel icing on top. Fall breakfast has never tasted so good!


  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk*
  • 2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons (14g) Red Star Platinum yeast (2 standard size packets)*
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 and 1/2 cups (558g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for dusting/rolling


  • 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups chopped apples (peel if you’d like, about 2 medium apples)


  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 2 Tablespoons warmed salted caramel


  1. Make the dough: Heat milk to about 95°F (35°C)– use microwave or stovetop. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment (OR you can use a handheld mixer OR no mixer, but a stand mixer is ideal). With a whisk, manually whisk in the sugar and yeast. Cover with a towel and let sit until the yeast is foamy, about 5-10 minutes. If the yeast does not dissolve and foam, start over with fresh active yeast. On low speed, beat in the softened butter until it is slightly broken up. Next add the eggs, one at a time, and then the salt. The butter won’t really be mixing into the mixture, so don’t be alarmed if it stays in pieces. On low speed, gradually add the flour. Once it is all added, beat on medium speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is soft and supple, about 6 minutes longer. *If you do not have a stand-mixer with a hook attachment, knead the dough by hand in this step.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands for 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, a paper towel, or aluminum foil and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours. Here’s what I do: turn the oven on to 200°F (93°C). Once heated to that temperature, turn the oven off. Stick the covered dough inside the oven and allow it to rise in this warm environment.
  3. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down and, using a rolling pin, roll into a 12×18 inch rectangle. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick.
  4. Fill the rolls: Spread the softened butter all over the dough. In a small bowl, toss the brown sugar and cinnamon together until combined and then sprinkle evenly over the dough. Top evenly with chopped apples. Tightly roll up the dough to form an 18-inch-long log. Cut into 12 equal rolls. Arrange them in the prepared baking pan. Cover the rolls very tightly with aluminum foi
  5. Allow rolls to rise in a warm environment again for about 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size.
  6. Bake the rolls: Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C). Bake rolls for about 25 minutes until they are golden brown. About halfway through the bake time, I like to cover the rolls loosely with aluminum foil so the tops don’t brown too much. Remove pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
  7. Whisk all of the icing ingredients together and drizzle over warm rolls. Serve warm. Cover leftover frosted or unfrosted rolls tightly and store for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to 5 days in the refrigerator.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions – Overnight: To prepare the night before serving, prepare the rolls through step 4. Cover the rolls tightly and refrigerate for 8-12 hours. The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise on the counter for 1-2 hours before continuing with step 6.
  2. Make Ahead Instructions – Freezing: Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up before enjoying. You can also freeze the unbaked rolls and here’s how: bake the rolls in step 6 for only about 10 minutes at 375°F (191°C). Cool completely, then cover tightly and freeze. To serve, take the rolls out of the freezer and put into the refrigerator a few hours before serving. Then, finish baking them.
  3. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Rolling Pin | Glass 9×13 Baking Dish
  4. Milk: Whole milk or even buttermilk is ideal for this dough. You can get away with 2% or 1%, but I do not recommend skim.
  5. Yeast: If using active dry yeast, the rise times will be slightly longer. I always use an instant yeast.

Fresh out of the oven, warm and gooey apple cinnamon rolls with delicious caramel icing on top! Recipe on


  1. Okay – these just came out of the oven and it’s 9:30 on a Friday night and I don’t think I’ll be able to stop myself from eating AT LEAST two before bed. OMGosh!

    The instructions were perfect! I had to add a teensy bit more flour but other than that, perfect!

  2. I made these yesterday and they were so good! The last time I tried to make apple cinnamon rolls they were a fail so I’m glad to have a go to recipe. So excited to hear about your addition, and looking forward to details! !!! 

  3. Made these last night following the overnight instructions. I got a little nervous when I pulled them out the fridge and they had a good bit of liquid all around the dough–assuming from the apples. I ended up having to bake about 15 minutes longer. Could have been the liquid or my oven, irregardless these were AMAZING!!!! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe! 

    1. Thank you for posting this. First time baking with yeast so I didn’t know what to expect. I followed the overnight instructions and had extra liquid in the pan before baking. The 25 minutes of baking time cooked the edges but the middle rolls were still very doughy. The extra 15 minutes worked like a charm. So yummy!

  4. Hi there!
    I’m new to your site and so glad I found you. I can’t wait to try these.  I’ve been using a recipe from Butter’s cookbook, and they are peach and pecan.  They’ve always been a wonderful favourite, but I’m really looking for that Fall decadent cinnamon apple sweet flavour to wow me.  Thank you so much for this recipe, I’m sure it will become a weekend staple at my house! xx [email protected]

  5. Hi Sally, I’ve made so many of your recipes and would love to make these for an upcoming dinner party! I have a friend who can not have dairy due to breast feeding her baby who is dairy intolerant, is there any way I could sub a dairy free milk for the dough?

    Also, congratulations on the birth of your daughter!! 

    1. I’ve had readers make this dough with almond milk with success. I haven’t tried it yet though! Let me know how it goes.

      Thank you for the congrats!!

  6. Hi Sally, is the dough supposed to be sticky when you first take it out of the stand mixer to knead it? I wasn’t sure what texture I was looking for and I have a feeling I overkneaded it.

    1. Yes, it’s supposed to be soft and supple– a little sticky. Not too sticky that you can’t handle it though. So adding a little more flour helps. How did they turn out?

  7. I made them over the weekend!  I’ve made other recipes before but these were the BEST!  I’m totally sold on the red star platinum yeast.  I’ve definitely had problems with yeast dough not rising enough,but not this time-they were nice and puffy.  the only problem now is that my family will want them all the time.  And there are so many things to bake!
    On a side note…my cookie book is coming today!!!

      1. I did find a gluten free cinnamon roll recipe. – I found the recipe on There’s even a photo. I have made cinnamon rolls but not these ones. My last sweet roll recipe were lemon and looking forward to making these ones!

  8. Hi Sally,
    What kind of apples do you use and would you recommend using? Tart? Sweet? Granny Smith? or something sweeter?

  9. You and I are cut from the same cloth.  I love cinnamon rolls and come september there is nothing that can stop my cravings!!!  There is an apple pull-apart roll at the cafe down the road that reminds me of these, but the apple pull-apart doesn’t look half as enticing as this cinnamon-y, gooey situation! 

  10. I have made other “rolls” and have had success but these didn’t work for me. The steps looked just like yours into the oven, and they were in for a little longer than yours, and the tops were browned and smelled amazing. But when I took them out of the baking pan, the entire middle was raw. None of the middle dough baked at all. I put it back into the oven but ended up overcooking the peripheral rolls and still don’t know about the middle.

    Have you had that problem? How do I counter? I baked in a 9/13 pan with all 12 in there. Should I bake in 3 pans, 2 x 2? Thank you for all the wonderful recipes and support you give.

    1. Try baking on the lower rack and lightly covering with foil to prevent the tops from over-browning too soon. Or you can try baking in a few smaller pans, yes.

  11. I saw a picture of your apple cinnamon rolls on Pinterest and they looked delicious! I clicked on the photo to find, to my delight, a recipe for the rolls. I have never attempted to use yeast since it is a horror story on its own. However, after your simple yet detailed explanations and tips, I have decided to try baking them this weekend. Hopefully the yeast won’t fight back.

  12. Hi Sally,

    reporting back about this amazing apple cinnamon rolls: they were wonderful, soft and fluffy dough, a little caramelized from melted sugar, butter and apple juices at the bottom, almost like sticky buns! Everybody loved them 🙂 I can’t believe I never tried brown sugar in a sweet roll filling before – so good. I added a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a good half tsp of ground cardamom alongside with the cinnamon, and we chose the maple icing – perfect flavour combination! Thank you for this perfect breakfast treat!

  13. Honestly, I’ve always really disliked homemade/bakery cinnamon rolls and felt the only good ones are made at Disney. Everything else was dry and lacked flavor. BUT THESE oh my goodness, I made them the other night and the tray barely made it till the next day. They were incredibly moist, had so much flavor, and the apples were great. They were even better reheated the next morning, so gooey and delicious. I’ll definitely be making these again!

  14. Hi Sally!

    Wondering if i could use this filling with your sticky pecan roll dough from your first cookbook? I prefer that dough recipe to this one. Also wondering if that dough can be made the night before like some of your other cinnamon roll recipes? I too was afraid of baking with yeast, thank you for giving me the confidence to try it! Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl!

  15. Oh My! I made these with my 8 year old grand daughter Abbey. (She thinks sifted flour is a beautiful thing) They were well worth the wait. The joy she has while we are baking together is so precious. Thanks for sharing your recipes with us.

  16. These are the best cinnamon rolls ever! This dough is so perfectly tender and flavorful! Any filling would be amazing! These apple cinnamon are my new favourite and may have to be made every weekend from now on! ❤❤ Thanks for another keeper recipe! I love that I’m not afraid of dough anymore.

  17. Just wanted to report back that I made these with your suggestions and they were amazing!!! They didn’t rise much after an hour on the counter so I used your oven trick and after 30 minutes they had risen perfectly. They’ve been added to my Christmas brunch menu this year and I’m so excited for the family to try these! Thanks for another wonderful recipe and for getting back to me so quickly! Take care!

  18. I want to make these for Christmas but am looking for make-ahead recipes. Can i freeze these before baking? If so, do i let it rise before or after freezing? Thx

  19. Hi Sally. I have these in the oven and it smells amazing in here, can’t wait to eat it. When freezing baked rolls, do I freeze with or without the icing?

  20. Kudos to you, my friend. I love love love the fact that you have in the beginning of your recipe the option to skip right to the recipe instead of trying to search “forever”, through the maze of commercials(ugh), just to find the recipe. Finally, a person that actually thinks about her readers. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    P.S. I love your recipes. I’ve become very familiar with your Pinterest name. Thank you for your postings.

    1. Hi Sandy! I like using a mix of tart (Granny Smith) and sweet (any sweet red variety like Fuji or Honeycrisp, whatever you like!). You can use any apples you like best though!

  21. I’m going to ask my golf league to arrive early, for our outing, so they’ll have time to enjoy these apple cinnamon rolls and still clean up before teeing off. I still need to find the best way to make these so I don’t need to do too much the morning of our outing.

  22. Inspired by your recent caramel post and a lonely Granny Smith Apple I had, I made a half batch and froze one partially baked like you advised (thanks for all the make-ahead and storing options) . I used homemade Apple Pie Spice mix instead of cinnamon – best idea, they tasted amazing!! Thank you Sally for a scrumptious recipe!

  23. I had a hankering for apple cinnamon something and decided to make these cinnamon rolls. They’re so good! I striped the apples so there was a combination of peeled and unpeeled Granny Smith bits. The frosting was delicious as well. Another great recipe!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally