Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Soft, fluffy cinnamon rolls stuffed with brown sugar & apples, and generously glazed with homemade caramel.

Soft, fluffy cinnamon rolls stuffed with brown sugar & apples, and generously glazed with homemade caramel!

Today I’m bringing you round 2 of my caramel apple cinnamon rolls. You see, round 1 was a complete disaster. Yep, I experience disasters in the kitchen too. It isn’t pretty, so I’ll spare you the photos.

I’ll share with you how to make these rolls perfectly and what I did wrong the first time. I’m not shy to say that the final version are the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had. 🙂

Soft, fluffy cinnamon rolls stuffed with brown sugar & apples, and generously glazed with homemade caramel!

I made these cinnamon rolls last Friday night. And again on Saturday morning. Sometimes recipe disasters make me feel like a failure, but other times it just motivates me to keep trying until I get that perfect result. It took me 11 months and about 15 different tries to get my Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies right. Soft, thick, tasting homemade, but bursting with cake batter flavor. And trust me, they were worth the wait.

And so were these apple cinnamon rolls. The dough is soft, moist, and sweet. The rolls bake up to be puffy and very fluffy. The center is filled with sliced apples and a mix of cinnamon, brown sugar, and butter.The brown sugar and butter caramelize making these rolls extra sticky. I topped the pretty coiled rolls with a homemade (and easy!) caramel sauce. I love apples and caramel together. These would be a perfect breakfast in the fall. Or, well… any time of year. 🙂

There is quite possibly no better aroma than a pan of these big, puffy rolls baking in the oven, fragrant with cinnamon, brown sugar, and sweet apples. I hope you’re ready for these!

Soft, fluffy cinnamon rolls stuffed with brown sugar & apples, and generously glazed with homemade caramel!

I used to be so fearful of yeast. Growing up, my mom made us gooey cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning. I swore I’d never be able to recreate the masterpiece rolls on my own because yeast is so intimidating.

What is so scary about yeast though? It’s just another leavening agent. It does all the work for you as you let the dough sit and rise. Baking cinnamon rolls at home actually require less work than a lot of my cupcake recipes. All you do is wait around for the yeast to do its job.

Baking with Yeast Guide

Reference this Baking with Yeast Guide whenever you work with baker’s yeast. I include practical answers to all of your common yeast questions.

Soft, fluffy cinnamon rolls stuffed with brown sugar & apples, and generously glazed with homemade caramel!

** If you plan to make these rolls at home, be sure to read the whys and the why nots of this recipe:

Start with a packet of dry instant yeast and 1/2 cup of warm water in a large mixing bowl. I like to use Red Star Platinum yeast. I did not take the water’s temperature – just lukewarm water will do here. To be precise, it will be 105F-115F. Let the yeast dissolve in the warm water for a minute. Give it a quick stir, then add most of the remaining dough ingredients. For the liquid in this dough recipe, I used apple juice. It (obviously) enhanced the apple flavor in the rolls. You could also use apple cider instead. The rest of the ingredients you’ll add in this step are: sugar, salt, 1 large egg, 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons butter, and HALF of the flour called for in the recipe: 1.5 cups.

 Beat the mixture on low, scraping down the sides as needed. I used a hand-held mixer (rather than stand mixer) because I had much more control over the beating process. A mixer is required to make these homemade cinnamon rolls in order to beat everything into the proper consistency.

Add the rest of the flour to the dough and stir with a wooden spoon. (Do NOT use the mixer in this step unless you want dough bits flying all over your counter and face. Been there, done that.) Mix it up and add more flour (little by little) until the dough is easy to handle by hand. The consistency of the dough should be soft and springy – not sticky. Poke it with your finger – if the dough bounced back, it is ready to knead.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for about 5-6 minutes. The dough should be very smooth and elastic – bouncing back as you pull on it. Shape the dough into a ball and place into a clean bowl. I spray the bowl with cooking spray to alleviate any dough sticking to the sides. Works like a charm. Cover the dough with a clean dish towel or aluminum foil and place in a warm spot. I made these rolls on a very cold day, so I preheated the oven to 200F degrees and turned it off. I placed the bowl inside as the oven was still warm. It took about 1.5 hours for the yeast ball to double in size.

Look at that puff ball! ↓

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls by

While the dough was rising in this step, I prepared some of the filling.

Here is where I went wrong the first time I made these cinnamon rolls.  Don’t do this: in a small saucepan, I cooked apples, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon for about 20 minutes. The juices from the apples, the melted butter, and brown sugar all created a heavy liquid – and a lot of it. I let it cool for a few minutes, then poured this  liquid mixture over the rolled out dough and tried to roll it up. Ha! The dough was too fragile to hold all of this liquid and was impossible to roll. Duh Sally. It was a soupy mess! I tried rolling, cutting, reshaping, and baking the rolls anyway and came out with alien-looking rolls. Wow. Lesson learned.

Disheartened, I tried the rolls again the next morning with a completely different way to fill the rolls using the same exact ingredients. Do this: As the ball of dough is rising, peel, core, and thinly slice 2 apples. I went with 1 Granny Smith apple and 1 Gala apple. Cook the apples with 2 Tablespoons of butter over low heat in a small saucepan for about 20 minutes. The apples melt down and become super soft, tender, and juicy. Drain most of the juices from the saucepan and stick the apples into the refrigerator to cool off.

As the apples cool, mix 1 cup of dark brown sugar with 2 hefty Tablespoons of cinnamon. Cinnamon rules the world and there’s quite enough of it in this roll filling! Along with the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture, grab 2 Tablespoons of softened butter, your rolling pin, and a ruler. I am very precise when rolling out breakfast roll recipes. You need to make sure that the rolls are even in size, thick enough, and that you have enough of them to fill the baking pan. For these reasons, it’s important to measure the dough with a ruler as you are rolling it.

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls. Fluffy cinnamon rolls stuffed with brown sugar apples and generously glazed with caramel. Recipe by

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 15×9″ rectangle. It takes some time to get a perfectly sized rectangle. Spread with 2 Tablespoons of softened butter. Sprinkle the buttered rectangle dough with half of your cinnamon/brown sugar. Grab your apples, which have cooled off in the refrigerator, and layer them on top of the cinnamon/brown sugar. Sprinkle them with the rest of the cinnamon/brown sugar.

Tightly (very tightly!) roll the dough up. Using your sharpest knife (or even flavorless dental floss), cut into 15 slices – about 1 inch wide in thickness. Stuff the rolls into a large baking pan lined with parchment paper, 5 lengthwise and 3 across. Leave some space between them (if you can), so they have room to expand. Cover your baking pan and store in a warm place once again for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

After the uncooked rolls have risen and expanded in the baking pan, you may bake them. Prepare to be graced with the most amazing cinnamon roll fragrance. Picture yourself passing Cinnabon in the mall and baking a homemade apple pie at once. I mean, can I bottle that scent please?!

The rolls only take about 25-30 minutes in the oven at 375F degrees. Be sure to cover your rolls with aluminum foil (yes, you may use foil here!) as they bake to prevent the tops from getting too brown.

Soft, fluffy cinnamon rolls stuffed with brown sugar & apples, and generously glazed with homemade caramel!

As the rolls bake, prepare the caramel sauce. AKA: the best topping for cinnamon rolls in the world.

The caramel sauce you make is the same caramel sauce I use to make my beloved Salted Caramel Frosting. But I do not add salt. However, feel free to add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to this caramel sauce as it cooks in the saucepan to create a salted caramel topping for your apple cinnamon rolls.

How do you make the sauce? Easy peasy. Over low heat, melt 1/4 cup of salted butter (or unsalted butter). Once melted add 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar and 2.5 Tablespoons of heavy cream. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Allow to bubble for about 1 minute. Remove from heat, allow to (very slightly) cool and drizzle all over the cinnamon rolls.

This sauce is heaven.  ↓

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls by

Drippy, thick, sticky, sweet caramel sauce. You’ll want to pour the caramel sauce onto the cinnamon rolls immediately before serving. The sauce will become quite solid if you let it cool too long or store it in the refrigerator, so be sure to warm the sauce up a bit if it is too thick.

Caramel, cinnamon, and apple flavors unite in each sticky sweet roll. Not only do you have the caramel sauce poured on top, but the brown sugar and butter caramelize inside and underneath the rolls as they bake. You’re getting a double dose of caramel in each soft doughy bite.

The buttery taste, the swirly dough layers, the cinnamon apples, the fluffy texture, the scent, the drippy sauce… oh my goodness. I can’t think of a better breakfast to wake up to in the morning. Just wait until you taste one warm from the oven, dripping with sweet caramel sauce. A comforting breakfast indeed. Life is good with homemade apple cinnamon rolls!

Round two was a sweet swirled success. 🙂

Soft, fluffy cinnamon rolls stuffed with brown sugar & apples, and generously glazed with homemade caramel!

Trust me, even a novice baker could make these. There are a lot of steps, but the directions are very straightforward and easy to follow. There’s a lot of waiting time with these rolls, not so much active time. Just follow my easy directions, wait around a bit for the dough to rise, make some caramel sauce, and dig right in.

What are you waiting for?

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make! 


Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes (or overnight)
  • Yield: 15 rolls
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Soft, fluffy cinnamon rolls stuffed with brown sugar & apples, and generously glazed with homemade caramel.


For the Dough

  • 1 package active dry yeast (I prefer Red Star Platinum)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup apple juice or apple cider
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 33.5 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)

For the Filling

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 medium sized apples, peeled, cored, & thinly sliced (about 1.5 cups)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

For the Caramel Sauce

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons heavy cream (no substitutions)


  1. Make the dough: Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water for about 1 minute. No need to use a thermometer for the water’s temperature, but to be precise: about 105°F (41°C)-115°F (46°C). Stir the yeast/water around. Then add apple juice, sugar, salt, egg, vanilla extract, butter, and 1.5 cups of flour. Beat everything together on low with a handheld mixer, scraping down the sides as needed. (A mixer is definitely needed to break up all the butter and beat everything to the proper consistency.) With a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough easy to handle – about 1.5 – 2 more cups. You are looking for a dough that is not sticky and will spring back when poked with a finger.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands for about 5-6 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours.
  3. Line the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving room on the sides. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using a rolling pin, roll into a 15×9 inch rectangle. I used a ruler for accuracy. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick, even at the corners.
  4. For the filling: As the dough is rising, melt 2 Tablespoons butter in a saucepan. Add the thinly sliced apples and cook down for about 20 minutes until the apples are very soft. Drain the apples from the butter and juices and place into a small bowl. Stick the apples in the refrigerator to cool down. In another small bowl, mix together brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread the dough rectangle with 2 Tablespoons of softened butter and sprinkle with 1/2 of the cinnamon/brown sugar. Line the apples on top of the cinnamon/brown sugar then sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon/brown sugar. Tightly roll up the dough and cut into 15 even rolls (1 inch in width each) with a very sharp knife. Arrange them in the prepared baking pan, cut sides up. Cover the rolls and let them rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C). Cover the rolls with aluminum foil and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until they are lightly golden in color. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for about 15 minutes.
  6. Make the caramel sauce: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once melted, add brown sugar and heavy cream. Stir constantly over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Allow to bubble for 3-4 full minutes, no more. Remove from heat pour over cinnamon rolls before serving. Caramel sauce will thicken up at room temperature or if cold. You’ll have to warm it back up to pour over rolls. Baked rolls can be frozen up to 1 month (without sauce) and warmed up to enjoy at a later date.


  1. Overnight Instructions: The dough may be made the night before through step 4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and let rise, about 1 hour.
  2. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.

Keywords: caramel apple cinnamon rolls

Soft, fluffy cinnamon rolls stuffed with brown sugar & apples, and generously glazed with homemade caramel!


Comments are closed.

  1. you have me drooling at my computer, Sally! These look amazing! I’m just learning to bake with yeast, and I really want to try cinnamon rolls!

    1. Truly such an easy recipe using yeast, Katie. Give these a try!

  2. Ella-Home Cooking Adventure says:

    These must have been delicious.. with apples.. great idea

  3. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers says:

    What a great way to wake up in the morning!! I would love some caramel apple cinnamon rolls! Yum!! Great recipe!! Have a great weekend Sally!!

    1. You too Jennifer! Thank you 🙂

  4. Erin | The Law Student's Wife says:

    Cheers to persistance! Cinnamon rolls have such a special place in my heart too. My grandma made them all the time growing up, and now that I’ve started really getting into sweet rolls over the past year or so, they have become my favorite breakfast to make! I have yet to try to adding apple, but it sounds like cinnamon-fruity goodness. And homemade caramel? Yes and yes.

  5. I had a disaster like this happen before. Spent two days trying to do orange rolls. The dough didn’t rise during baking and all of the insides melted to the bottom. It was pretty bad. These look pretty good!!

    1. Hey Nancy! Have you seen my Orange Sweet Rolls? Fluffy, puffy, and sweet. They were the second recipe I made using yeast and turned out beautifully:

  6. Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies says:

    I made a healthy apple cinnamon roll a few weeks ago, so tasty– great minds thing alike! I love the caramel sauce, makes for a very decadent breakfast 🙂

    1. Apple cinnamon rolls are now my favorite. I love the flavors in a fluffy roll like this 🙂 Thanks Kelly! Have a great weekend!

  7. Jen @ Savory Simple says:

    Oh what I wouldn’t give to have these for breakfast!

  8. Wow, Sally, too beautiful! I love all the action-shots (sort of!) of caramel dripping…and the bubbling sauce. Great photography, as always, but also thanks for making yeast recipes so non-intimidating! I’d love to see what you would do with cinnamon raisin swirl bread (like the Pepperidge Farm kind, you know?), because I’ve been looking for a great recipe for that and everything seems so scary or lacking raisins/cinnamon. Since you admittedly love them both, I’m sure you would do a fabulous job! 😀 Hint hint 😉

  9. Glad they can be helpful Colleen!

  10. Cinnamon rolls are my MOST favorite of any dessert..EVER! These..look scrumptious but hard to make!!

    1. Hey Loren! I mention quite a few times how easy these rolls are to make. You should give them a shot!

  11. Cassie | Bake Your Day says:

    Oh Sally, I’m a goner. These look incredible. Caramel is my weakness and I LOVE cinnamon rolls!

    1. I knew you’d like these Cassie. We have such similar tastes!

  12. wow. these look delicious. and i can only imagine what your house smells like while they are baking. this is something i definitely wouldn’t mind waking up to!

  13. Anna {Herbivore Triathlete} says:

    So, um, yeah. These look awesome! The smell of apples and cinnamon baking is fabulous and so comforting. I love cinnamon rolls and these look perfect.

    1. They look perfect? Thank you Anna! The first time I made these (the ones where I made the mistake) were awful looking!

  14. Ali | Gimme Some Oven says:

    These look AMAZING, Sally!! Such a great idea for cinnamon rolls!

  15. Nice!! The perfect sweet treat 🙂

  16. jodye @ chocolate and chou fleur says:

    Baking with yeast is definitely scary until you try it, but one you do you always wonder what all the fuss was about. It opens up so many more possibilities, fresh baked cinnamon rolls being one of the most enticing options. This version sounds so amazing! That caramel sauce on top, oh my! The pictures have me drooling…

    1. Jodye, I couldn’t agree more. The first time I baked with yeast I went “well, this isn’t so bad!” What was I so afraid of? There are so many breads and rolls I’m looking forward to making this year. 🙂 thanks Jodye!

  17. Avery @ Southern Belle Living Well says:

    Food. All I can say is FOOD. Oh my gosh 🙂 🙂 🙂

  18. Eva @ Eva Bakes says:

    I finally got the courage to make cinnamon rolls, and I think these need to be next on my list.They look heavenly!

  19. sarah k @ the pajama chef says:

    sally, these look amazing!! yum!

  20. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet says:

    Jaw-dropping breakfast, Sally! Pinned to my Caramel board on Pinterest!

    1. Thank you for pinning Anna!

  21. [email protected] Plaid and Paisley Kitchen says:

    Ok I am so making these this weekend! OMG they Look Heavenly!

  22. Oh my, these look SINFULLY delicious, Sally! They look like a perfect fall recipe, like you said, but would also be perfect for a cold winter weekend morning…yum!

    1. Exactly. I think I’m going to make them year round. Thanks Ikhlas!

  23. Nicole @ says:

    Sally its no wonder I love your blog so much. You create recipes that I am terrified to make like these rolls (yeast doesn’t like me) and then you explain detail by detail about how to perfect it. Fear gone, I am gonna make these rolls tonight! The filling alone look’s good enough to eat on its own.

    1. Hey Nicole! I’m so glad to hear that. I had a strong fear of yeast as well, but I want to show you all how EASY it is to work with in these rolls. Let me know how these rolls turn out! I think you’ll love them 🙂

  24. Carla @ Carlas Confections says:

    Oh wow. That sauce looks so dreamy! And sounds so easy. My kind of sauce! Im glad you tried these again, because they are beautiful! 🙂

    1. Thanks Carla! Second time was a charm. The caramel sauce is heavenly… 😉

  25. Meagan @ Scarletta Bakes says:

    Wow. If I wasn’t so busy wiping drool off of my face, I’d be furiously scribbling down your amazing, thorough instructions. I think that recipes such as cinnamon rolls can be very intimidating so I really, really appreciate your thoughtful walk-through.

    Another fantastic one, Sally! You’re on a roll!! (EW. SORRY.)

    1. hahahahhaha… you’re on a roll. I love you meagan.

  26. Jess @ On Sugar Mountain says:

    Absolutely positively worth the wait. Oh caramel apple cinnamon rolls, where have you BEEN ALL MY LIFE?! 🙂

    1. exactly. why did I wait so long to make these?? i love caramel and apples. these rolls just made sense!

  27. Caroline @ Pass the Cocoa says:

    This look so yummy, Sally! I used to also be scared of yeast recipes and never made them until about a year ago, but you’re right, it’s actually not that hard. I’ll definitely have to give these a try!

    1. Let me know how you like them if you try them out Caroline. And I’m with ya on the yeast. Terrified of it! But not anymore. It’s not so bad 🙂

  28. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes says:

    A lot of my disasters come from recipes where I use yeast 🙂 That’s why I tend to shy away from yeast recipes sometimes. These cinnamon rolls look to die for!! I need to stop looking at your site when I’m starving….

  29. Elizabeth @ Confessions of a Baking Queen says:

    OH MY GOD! Seriously apples and caramel are my favorite and add them to a cinnamon roll dear lord help me!! Why am I at work!! And why do I work all weekend!!?!! I want one now!! These look spectacular Sally. Absolutely perfect 🙂 Will definitely be making these in the near future!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I hope you still have a great weekend, even though you are working! Bummer!

      1. Elizabeth @ Confessions of a Baking Queen says:

        So surprise I made time to make these but I made a cream cheese frosting with salted caramel on top… TO DIE!! I would like to post about them if you are okay with that 🙂 Of course as your recipe adapted by me!

      2. OMG that sounds heavenly Elizabeth! You may link to my recipe, of course! 🙂

  30. I’ve lived in fear of cinnamon rolls since I started baking years ago. I’m going to go for it on Sunday. I have some friends coming over for brunch – wish me luck!

    1. You have to try them Elizabeth! They aren’t hard to make at all. Hope you all have fun and enjoy!

1 2 3 4

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Sally's signature

Recipes You’ll Love



Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe. Review Sally's Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions.

View More

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

Sally's Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

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