Homemade Apple Cinnamon Rolls are cooked in a muffin pan with gooey layers of sweet apples and raisins nestled in a slightly sweet yeast dough. Add a caramel cream cheese icing for an incredible way to start your morning.
The holidays will be here soon and even if you’re not having a houseful of guests, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy homemade apple cinnamon rolls. While not needed, a decadent caramel cream cheese icing makes these pretty hard to resist.
If you don’t like overly sweet things for breakfast, leave off the icing, these are amazing even without the caramel topping. The dough is as light as can be even with a little whole wheat flour mixed in. And who doesn’t love apples with raisins and nuts. It’s like a combination of a baked apple and yeast roll.
I made these the first time on a snow day, when the house was all toasty and the smell of apples and yeast bread made it feel like Christmas. Now that fall is here and apples are plentiful it’s time to make another batch.
Why you’ll love apple cinnamon rolls
- Since these are baked in a muffin tin, you have perfect individual servings to share
- They are an awesome winter vacation dessert or for Christmas morning
- These cinnamon rolls are great for a brunch or to serve when guests visit
- They aren’t overly sweet but are super delicious with the apples sweetening the bread naturally
Have you ever tried dinner rolls where the dough is layered into a fan shape. This technique also works great for cinnamon rolls because you get some of the yummy center in each bite. The technique is actually easier than traditional or strawberry or peach cinnamon rolls, all you have to do is stack and cut the dough.
What you’ll need for apple cinnamon rolls
- Apples – use a variety you like. If they’re crisp, then they’ll need to cook a little longer before adding to the cinnamon roll. I like using Fuji because of their sweet flavor.
- Pecans– I love the crunch they add.
- Golden raisins– they are so yummy.
- Bread and whole wheat flour or you can use all bread flour.
- Butter, eggs, brown and white sugar and yeast.
What you’ll need for a caramel cream cheese icing
- Cream cheese – this gives the icing texture and adds a tangy flavor.
- Butter – the perfect combination with cream cheese.
- Powdered sugar – just enough to sweeten it but not overly sweet.
- Caramel – you could make your own but you only need a couple of tablespoons, so I’ld pick some up at the grocery.
- Milk or cream – Add as much or as little as you like depending on whether you want to pour it over or spread it. With this type of cinnamon roll it’s easier to pour than spread.
How do you make apple cinnamon rolls in a muffin tin
Using a stand mixer, prepare the yeast dough and let it rise in a warm place. Try boiling water in a microwave and then place the bowl of dough in the warm microwave with the door closed, or place it in a warm oven that has been turned off.
Cook the apples, raisins and brown sugar in a skillet with butter until thenapples are slightly soft but not mushy. Let them cool before using.
Once the dough has risen, form it into a large rectangle and cover it with softened butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and add the apple mixture and pecans.
Instead of rolling, you will cut the dough into 5 strips and stack them on top of each other.
Cut the strips into rectangles and then cut the rectangles in half.
Place each stack in a muffin tin with the cut sides facing up and let rise for 45 minutes.
Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.
If adding frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer and add powdered sugar and milk and beat until smooth. Add vanilla and caramel.
Pro Tip: You can prepare the dough and place them in the muffin tin and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Let them come to room temperature before baking.
Adding cooked apples and raisins to cinnamon rolls are so much better than just sugar and cinnamon. I prefer this version to an overly sweet cinnamon roll. You can actually enjoy the flavor of the apples and the wonderful dough. All you need is a little butter on top and you have an amazing breakfast.
However, the rest of the world, including my family, loves frosted cinnamon rolls. Nothing goes better with apples than caramel, so I added caramel to my cream cheese frosting and poured it over the top. While I love these with just butter, they are pretty tasty with a caramel frosting.
Other uses for caramel frosting
- Mix with yogurt
- Dip fresh fruit or pretzels into it
- Serve up world famous waffles and pour it over the top
- Slice up fresh apples and drizzle caramel frosting over the top and sprinkle mini chocolate chips over them for apple nachos
- Drizzle it over a chocolate cobbler as you’re about to serve it
The Ergo spout® is just what you need to pour the frosting over the cinnamon rolls. You can control the amount and go with just a drizzle or cover them in frosting. It’s perfect for my group of picky eaters. Everyone adds the exact amount of frosting they want. I just left a mason jar of frosting on the table.
This is my go-to kitchen gadget for when I make salad dressing for ranch potato salad or a vinaigrette for roasted carrots. You just shake up the dressing in a mason jar, add the Ergo spout® and pour it onto your salad without getting dressing everywhere. The spout screws right onto the top of a mason jar, how cool is that!
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FAQ’s and tips
What type of apples are best for cinnamon rolls?
I don’t want a tart apple in a cinnamon roll, so I use something a little sweeter than a granny smith. Fuji or Gala’s are great, or try a sweet tango. If you’re using a crisp apple, you may need to cook the apples a little longer so that they’re not crunchy.
Can you make the dough ahead of time?
You can prepare the dough and place them in the muffin tin and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Let them come to room temperature before baking.
What’s the best flour for apple cinnamon rolls?
I use a combination of bread flour and whole wheat flour but you can use all bread flour if you prefer. The whole wheat adds a little texture.
You can use regular active yeast or quick acting. If you use regular active yeast, you may need extra time for rising.
More apple recipes you’ll love
More breakfast treats
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- 1 pkg yeast 2 ¼ teaspoons
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup butter melted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups bread flour
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 large 3 cups apples , peeled and diced
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup butter softened
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- ¾ cup pecans chopped and toasted
- 4 tablespoons butter softened
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons caramel
- ¼ cup milk
- Muffin tin
- Ergo Spout
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine yeast with warm water and 1 teaspoon of sugar and let sit for 5 minutes until foamy. Add egg, sugar, butter, salt and the bread flour. With the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed for 1 minute until smooth. Gradually add the whole wheat flour, mixing until a soft dough forms.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead adding additional bread flour if sticky. When it is smooth and elastic, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic. Place in a warm place and let rise until doubled, 45 minutes.
- While the dough is rising prepare the filling. Add 1 tablespoon butter to a skillet over medium-high heat. Add diced apples, raisins and brown sugar and cook for 5 minutes, until apples are crisp-tender, not mushy. Let cool for 30 minutes.
- Punch down dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 20 x 12 inch rectangle. Spread softened butter over the dough. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the butter. Next add the apple mixture and sprinkle with pecans.
- Cut dough into 5 strips that are 12 x 4 inches each. Carefully place each strip on top of each other replacing apple mixture as you go. Cut the strip into 6 even rectangles and then cut each rectangle in half so that you end up with 12 stacks. Place each in a muffin tin with the cut side facing up.
- Cover loosely and let rise for 45 minutes until the rolls are about ¾ inch above the muffin tin.
- Preheat oven to 375º. Place a baking sheet under the muffin tin in case it drips. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool slightly before removing. Serve with butter or cream cheese frosting.
- In a small bowl, creme butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, salt and caramel and beat until smooth. Add milk until it’s the consistency you want.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
You can refrigerate the rolls after they have been placed in the muffin tins. Let warm up to room temperature before baking.
The apple filling will fall out of the stacks, just push it back in.
If using very crisp apples, let them cook a little longer.
Let the dough rise in a warm microwave, heat a bowl of water to boiling and remove it and add the bowl of dough. The heat and humidity will help them rise.
Place a cookie sheet under the muffin pan to catch any juices that might spill over.