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Our Must Have Cozy Fall Recipes 🍁

Sticky Apple Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

We’ve already posted the world’s best cinnamon rolls recipe! My goodness, they are perfection! Imagine those with an apple filling and caramel-y sticky sauce drizzling down the sides. Yes, you have reached the peak of the apple dessert mountain. The pinnacle of perfection. Get your buns in that kitchen and make these!

a photo of a single sticky apple cinnamon roll sitting on a white saucer topped with browned butter icing and sitting in a pool of caramel sticky sauce.

We usually associate apple desserts with fall, as we should! It is when apple are harvested and the cheapest at the grocery store. I live for this season when I can get honeycrisp apples for a somewhat reasonable price. Why are they so dang heavenly?!

But you don’t have to wait for fall to make these apple cinnamon rolls! They are 100% appropriate any time of year! Christmas or Easter breakfast, baby shower, Mother’s Day, family reunion, or just a random Saturday…these apple sweet rolls are a sure hit!

a photo of a single cinnamon rolls sitting on a white saucer with a silver fork sitting next to the roll on the plate. the cinnamon roll is topped with browned butter icing and has caramel sticky sauce oozing out the bottom.

What Ingredients Do You Need for Sticky Apple Cinnamon Rolls?

Don’t get overwhelmed with the size of this ingredients list! There are 4 different components to this recipe, and many of the ingredients are repeated between components so it’s not really as long as it looks. Here is what you will need:

Rolls

  • Water
  • Whole Milk – activates the yeast, we recommend whole milk
  • Instant Yeast – I almost always use instant yeast. It just gives me the best results every time.
  • Sugar – feeds the yeast and makes the dough more tender
  • Salt – enhances the flavor and sweetness of the dough
  • Egg – adds structure to the dough
  • Canola Oil
  • Butter
  • Flour – all purpose flour works great
  • Soy Lecithin – emulsifier

Sticky Sauce

  • Brown Sugar – sweetness
  • Butter – give the caramel its richness
  • Corn Syrup – thickness

Apple Filling

  • Brown Sugar – sweetness and flavor
  • Apples – half honeycrisp and half granny smith
  • Cinnamon – flavor
  • Nutmeg – flavor
  • Cloves – flavor
  • Butter

Icing

  • Powdered Sugar – sweetness
  • Butter –
  • Vanilla –
  • Heavy Cream – allows you to choose your desired consistency

The measurements for each ingredient can be found in the recipe card below.

a photo of a 9x13 silver pan full of frosted golden cinnamon rolls.

How to Make Apple Cinnamon Rolls

You will start by making the dough, then while the dough is rising, you can make the other components. Here are the basic steps for the dough:

For the Dough

  1. Heat the milk and water in the microwave until warm.
  2. Add sugar and yeast and stir to combine. Allow the yeast to activate.
  3. In a standing mixer, add the rest of the sugar and the salt, oil, butter and egg and mix everything to combine.
  4. Add the yeast mixture and mix on low.
  5. With the mixer still on low, add the flour and soy lecithin.
  6. Once the flour is incorporated, turn the speed up to medium and mix until a soft dough forms.
  7. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rise.
  8. While the rough is rising, make the sticky sauce, filling and icing (see section below).
 
a photo of two apple cinnamon rolls each sitting on a separate saucer with a fork sitting on the saucer and covered in melty browned butter icing.

Three Important Apple Rolls Components

Sticky Sauce

  1. Prepare your baking dish.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter and then add in the brown sugar and corn syrup. Whisk thoroughly until it looks like caramel. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Spread the caramel all over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

 

a photo of a metal 9x13 baking dish with a caramel sticky sauce filling the bottom of the pan.

Apple Filling

  1. Peel, core and finely chop the apples. Place them in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, add the brown sugar, cornstarch and spices. Stir to combine.
  3. Pour half of the brown sugar/spice mixture on top of the apples and stir to coat the apples.

a photo of a glass bowl full of cinnamon and other spices used for the apple filling.

Icing

  1. Brown the butter. Allow it to cool.a photo of melted browned butter in a glass bowl with a rubber spatula sitting on the side of the bowl..
  2. Once the butter is cool, combine it with the powdered sugar and vanilla and mix with a hand mixer until its smooth. Add cream as needed to reach the consistency you desire. Set aside until rolls are baked.

How to Assemble Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Now it is time to create the cinnamon rolls! This is my favorite part! They are so beautiful with that tight spiral and little chunks of apple sticking out. Here are the steps:

  1. Roll the dough on a floured surface into a rectangle.
  2. Spread the softened butter all over it and sprinkle it with the brown sugar/spice mixture (the half without the apples).
  3. Then spread the coated apples evenly all over the dough.
  4. Starting on the long side of the dough, roll the dough into a tight spiral. Seal the dough at the seam by pinching it shut.
  5. Slice the rolled up dough with unflavored floss 1-1 1/2 inches thick. Place the rolls on top of the sticky sauce in the baking dish.
  6. Allow the cinnamon rolls to rest and rise.
  7. While the rolls are resting, preheat the oven.
  8. Bake until the tops start to get golden. You don’t want to over bake them! Cover with foil if they start to brown too much.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the rolls to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes.
  10. Give the icing a stir and add to the rolls while they are still warm.
  11. Serve while warm with extra sticky sauce!
All these instructions in full detail can be found in the recipe card below.
 
 

Other Options

If you want to add more to the filling, feel free to add in a couple of handfuls of these:

  • Raisins
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts

Why You Will Love This Recipe

This probably doesn’t even need to be discussed, but just in case you need to see the reasons listed out, here you go…

  • Combines two of your favorite desserts into one…cinnamon rolls and apple pie
  • Can be enjoyed for breakfast or dessert
  • That browned butter icing is a dream
  • The sticky caramel sauce takes the gooey-ness factor over the top! Just like our pecan sticky buns!
  • Fluffy homemade bread dough is tender, with golden crunchy edges and chewy in the middle

a photo of a single cinnamon rolls being removed from the middle of a pan of several cinnamon rolls.

Can this Apple Cinnamon Rolls Recipe Be Made Ahead?

You can make these apple rolls ahead of time by baking them completely, allowing them to cool and then wrapping them without the icing in plastic wrap and then foil. When you’re ready to eat them, allow them to thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat at 375° for 15 minutes. Make the icing while they are warming up and add to the warm rolls.

a photo of a 9x13 metal pan full of frosted golden cinnamon rolls with two cinnamon rolls missing and a serving spatula sitting in their place in the pan.

What is Soy Lecithin?

Soy lecithin acts as an emulsifier so your bread will turn out softer and hold together well. I use it in everyone cinnamon rolls recipe! It really takes the rolls to the next level, but you can skip it if you don’t have any. You can keep it in the pantry and it has a shelf life of up to 2 years (even longer if you keep it in the fridge).

a closeup photo of a pan full of golden apple cinnamon rolls topped with melty browned butter frosting.

Cinnamon rolls are all about those golden edges and the warm gooey centers! Add in chunks of tart apple, a sticky caramel sauce and some browned butter icing and you have an apple cinnamon rolls recipe worth throwing an elbow for!

 

More Easy Apple Desserts: 

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a photo of a single sticky apple cinnamon roll sitting on a white saucer topped with browned butter icing and sitting in a pool of caramel sticky sauce.

Sticky Apple Cinnamon Rolls

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Prep Time: 3 hours
Additional Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 12 rolls

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 1/2 Cup Warm Water
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar plus 1 teaspoon
  • 2 1/4 Teaspoons Instant Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 3/4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 2 3/4 Tablespoons Butter unsalted
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour plus more for dusting
  • 1 Dime Sized Soy Lecithin optional

Sticky Sauce

  • 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Butter melted
  • 1/4 Cup Light Karo Syrup

Filling:

  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar packed, plus 1 Tablespoon
  • 1/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 1 3/4 Cups Granny or Honeycrisp Apples peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Cloves
  • 6 Tablespoons Butter softened

Icing

  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1 to 1½ Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Heavy Cream

Instructions

For the Dough

  • Heat milk and water in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until warm.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of the sugar and all the yeast and stir to combine. Allow to foam for 5 minutes.
  • In a standing mixer, add the remaining sugar, salt, oil, butter and egg, stirring to combine. Add the yeast mixture and mix on low.
  • On low speed, slowly add the flour and soy lecithin.
  • When it's incorporated, beat turn up to medium speed until a soft dough forms, about 2 minutes.
  • Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover loosely with plastic or a towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2-2 hours.
  • While dough is rising, make the sticky sauce.

For the Sticky Sauce

  • In a saucepan, begin to melt the butter and then mix in brown sugar and the corn syrup. Whisk thoroughly until all the butter is mixed in and it looks like caramel.
  • Bring to a simmer for about 30 seconds. Spray a 9x13" pan with nonstick spray. Spread the mixture in the pan bottom. Set aside.

For the Filling

  • In a bowl, prepare the filling. Add brown sugar, cornstarch and spices, stirring to combine.
  • Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12x18” rectangle. Spread the softened butter all over. Sprinkle with 3/4 of the the cinnamon filling. Toss the remaining filling with the apples and spread it all over the dough. Roll, starting on the long side and pinch the dough shut at the seams. 
  • Slice using unflavored floss by sliding it under the rolls, pulling each end up and crossing to slice through. Arrange in a pan over the sticky sauce. Allow to rest until doubled, about 45 minutes to 2 hours if the house is cool
  • Once the rolls have risen...
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 30-40 minutes, watching the tops because as soon as they are golden the rolls are done and you DO NOT want to over bake.

Begin the Icing

  • Place the butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally until it begins to turn nutty in color with browned bits on the bottom. Pour off into a bowl to cool and go back to the rolls.
  • Cover rolls with aluminum foil in the oven if they begin to brown too much.
  • Remove pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes and meanwhile finish the icing.

Finishing the Icing

  • Once the butter is cool, using a hand mixer, add the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla to a bowl and beat to combine. Add cream as needed.
  • Pour and spread glaze over warm cinnamon rolls immediately! Serve with any extra sticky sauce.

Notes

Make ahead: baked cinnamon rolls (without the glaze) can be stored in the freezer for 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until warm. Spread glaze on top and serve immediately.
Nutrition Facts
Sticky Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Amount Per Serving (1 roll)
Calories 625 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Fat 25g38%
Saturated Fat 16g100%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 71mg24%
Sodium 394mg17%
Potassium 141mg4%
Carbohydrates 98g33%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 66g73%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 697IU14%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 73mg7%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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a photo of a single cinnamon rolls sitting on a white saucer with a silver fork sitting next to the roll on the plate. the cinnamon roll is topped with browned butter icing and has caramel sticky sauce oozing out the bottom.

Our Must Have Cozy Fall Recipes 🍁