These soft, moist caramel apple cinnamon rolls with sweet and tangy filling are just to die for. They are the perfect breakfast and dessert recipe this fall.
Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite recipes to make starting in September because they make my whole home smell divine.
Cue slow motion cinnamon roll pull-apart with a decadent caramel apple filling drizzle and roasted pecan pieces – a piece of apple cinnamon goodness in every bite.
Types of yeast used when making Cinnamon Rolls
All in all, there are two types of yeast you could use when baking caramel apple cinnamon rolls.
The first is instant yeast or quick-rise yeast. This yeast does not require blooming, which is where you wait for the yeast to activate, bubble, and float to the top. Thus, you can simply add instant yeast to your mixture without added waiting time.
Second, you can use active dry yeast, which is what I use for this caramel apple cinnamon roll recipe. Thus, this means you must wait for the yeast to activate before mixing it with the rest of the dough ingredients.
As a matter of fact, you can use either when baking cinnamon rolls depending on what you prefer and what you have on hand.
All things considered, I like using active dry yeast because, by activating it, you know for sure that it’s alive.
How do you know when yeast is activated?
At this time, I’ll teach you everything you need to know about yeast activation.
Initially, stir the yeast so it’s well mixed, but then leave it alone!
By and large, you will know it’s activated when the yeast floats to the top and bubbles (this is called blooming).
However, if this does not happen, the milk and butter mixture you added to the yeast was TOO HOT (or maybe even too cold). Unfortunately, you will have to scrap the materials and start again.
Markedly, you should see signs of “life” within the first 5 minutes, and it should pretty much be fully “alive” within 10 minutes.
How to measure flour for Cinnamon rolls
In brief, the best way to measure flour is using a scale.
However, if a scale is not available to you, my number one rule is DO NOT pack your flour in – you want the natural air within to remain.
Simply, take a spoon and transfer your flour to your measuring cup. Additionally, you can level the flour out with a knife.
For the most part, this should ensure your flour is measured correctly.
Why You’ll love this caramel apple cinnamon roll recipe
In truth, I’m OBSESSED with this recipe.
In time, I have perfected my cinnamon roll dough so that it’s the perfect, fluffy texture.
Likewise, the caramel apple filling is sweet and buttery, so when it’s baked, it melts in your mouth.
If you love apples, cinnamon, or caramel then this recipe was made for you.
Ingredients for Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Surely, the best part of this recipe is that most of the ingredients can be found in your pantry:
Caramel Apple CINNAMON Rolls
Milk of choice
Active dry yeast
Pinch of salt
Caramel apple cinnamon roll filing
Butter, room temp
Apple pie spice
Apple, cored, thin sliced
Caramel apple cinnamon roll icing
Leftover liquid from the filling
In brief, to make this recipe vegan, simply use vegan butter and dairy free milk of your choice. Particularly, I prefer almond or coconut milk.
How to Make Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Preparing the dough for caramel apple cinnamon rolls
Foremost, here is a reminder to take your butter out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature. Specifically, you need it to be soft and spreadable.
Second, melt the butter over medium heat in a medium-sized pot. After fully melted, add the milk to the butter. Heat the milk and butter till it’s warm, but not too hot to the touch. If you want to be sure, use a thermometer and measure till it’s 100-110F.
Third, add a tablespoon of sugar and stir till completely dissolved.
After, sprinkle the active dry yeast in the milk mixture and let it activate for 10 minutes. You’ll know it’s activating when the yeast looks foamy.
Meanwhile, you can peel, core, and chop up your apples for the filling.
Afterward, when the yeast is activated, add the rest of the sugar and a pinch of salt.
Next, add your flour to the milk mixture and stir with a wooden spoon consistently.
Once 2 cups are added, the dough should still be very sticky. After, gradually add a little bit of flour at a time and knead for 1 – 2 minutes until the dough is semi-smooth (should take between 25 – 50g).
In addition, you’ll need to place the dough in a bowl to rise. I recommend greasing the bowl with a little bit of olive or coconut oil to prevent sticking.
Moreover, cover the greased bowl with plastic wrap or a tight lid and allow the dough to rise for an hour in a warm place (you’ll know its fully risen when it about doubles in size).
Preparing the Filing for caramel apple cinnamon rolls
While the dough is rising, you can prepare the caramel apple filling.
Thus, in a medium pot, mix cored and thinly sliced apples, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tbsp butter, and 1 tbsp apple pie spice. Bring to a boil and, simmer for 15 minutes.
Then, drain the apple slices and save the liquid.
Now, lightly flour a flat surface and roll out the dough into a rectangular shape.
Following, spread the room temperature butter on the dough with a spoon or knife and sprinkle apple pie spice and sugar on top.
Then, spread the caramel apple mixture on top.
Thereafter, tightly roll the dough into a long cylinder and cut into 9 even pieces using a sharp knife or a long piece of unflavored floss (slide the floss under and pull to the opposite end).
Lastly, grease an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish with butter or coconut oil and place the rolls cut-side down, with space in between to rise and expand.
After, cover the baking dish with plastic wrap to rise for an additional 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to preheat your over to 350 F.
Then, remove the plastic wrap and brush the cinnamon buns with butter. Optionally, sprinkle crushed pecans on top before baking.
Lastly, bake the Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls for 25 minutes.
Preparing the Caramel Apple Cinnamon Roll Icing
At this point, you can utilize the liquid you saved from the filling.
First, simply mix the powdered sugar and the caramel apple liquid.
However, if this is not enough liquid, you can add milk to reach your perfect consistency.
Finally, pour the icing onto your cinnamon rolls.
What is the secret to making cinnamon rolls?
Letting the dough rise
On one hand, if you are making this recipe in the summer, I usually just place the covered bowl/dough in a sunny area to rise.
On the other hand, in the winter you can use my mom’s tried and true method:
First, bring a pot of water to a slightly warm temperature.
Then, without touching the water, place the bowl/dough on top. You can use a rack or simply place the bowl on top.
This is a great option to make you cinnamon rolls fluffier if you’ve got some extra time.
Foremost, once the dough is risen for the first time, let the air out by kneading a couple minutes and cover again (room temperature is fine).
Then, once the dough is proofed again (usually 20 – 30 minutes), you can continue the steps for assembling the cinnamon rolls.
Significantly, make sure your apple slices are THIN so that you can roll your dough tightly.
How to Store Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Once fully cooled you can wrap the cinnamon rolls in plastic wrap or place them on your counter in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
On the other hand, they last for about a week in the fridge.
Can you freeze Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls?
Freeze them individually and store them in the freezer for up to 2 months. Simply defrost them in the fridge overnight and serve the next day.
In general, I like to zap them in the microwave for 30 seconds so that they’re nice and warm.
What goes well with caramel apple cinnamon rolls?
In truth, these caramel apple cinnamon rolls taste amazing on their own.
However, they also would taste amazing with:
- Whipped cream
- A scoop of vanilla ice cream
- Greek yogurt
- A cup of milk, coffee, or tea
- Paired with your favorite savory breakfast
Undeniably, the possibilities are endless!
OTHER DELICIOUS Apple-Inspired RECIPES:
What other cinnamon roll recipes would you like to see? Leave a comment below.
Cinnamon Roll Recipe
- 1 cup milk *
- 3 tbsp vegan butter
- 1 pack active dry yeast 7g
- 3 tbsp cane sugar (divided)
- 1/3 cup apple sauce
- Pinch of salt
- 3 heaping cups all purpose flour (375g) + 1/2 cup more for dusting
Caramel Apple Filling
- 1/4 cup butter (room temp)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (divided in half)
- 2 tbsp apple pie spice (divided in half)
- 1 apple (cored, thin sliced)
- 1/3 cup crushed pecans (optional)
1. Start with taking the butter for the filling out from the fridge to make it soft and spreadable.
2. In a medium-sized pot, melt the butter over medium heat. When fully melted, add the milk to the butter. Heat the milk and butter mixture until it’s warm (100-110 F). It should be warm, but not hot to touch.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and stir well to dissolve the sugar crystals.
4. Sprinkle the active dry yeast across the milk mixture and let it activate/bloom for about 10 minutes. The yeast should be foamy when activated.
5. When the yeast is activated, add the remaining sugar and pinch of salt to the milk mixture.
6. Slowly add the flour to the milk mixture while stirring with a wooden spoon as you add the flour.
7. Once you add all 3 cups of flour the dough should still be very sticky. Move the dough to a floured kitchen counter and knead the dough with your hands. Gradually add flour and knead for 1-2 minutes until the dough is semi-smooth.
8. Form the dough into a round ball.
9. Grease a clean large bowl with either coconut oil or olive oil to prevent the dough from sticking to it and add the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a tight lid.
10. Let the dough rise for about one hour in a warm place (See tips in the post).
11. While the dough is rising, mix cored and thinly sliced apples, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 tbsp butter, and 1 tbsp apple pie spice in a medium pot.
12. Bring to a boil and, simmer for 15 minutes.
13. Drain the apple slices and save the liquid.
14. Lightly flour a flat surface and roll out the dough into a rectangular shape.
15. Spread the room temperature butter on the dough with a spoon or knife and sprinkle apple pie spice and sugar on top.
16. Spread the caramel apple mixture on top.
16. Tightly roll the dough into a long cylinder and cut it into 10 even pieces using a sharp knife or a long piece of unflavored floss (slide the floss under and pull to the opposite end).
17. Grease an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish with butter or coconut oil and place the rolls cut-side down, with space in between to rise and expand.
18. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap to rise for an additional 20-30 minutes.
19. Preheat your over to 350 F.
20. Remove the plastic wrap and brush the cinnamon buns with butter. Optionally, sprinkle crushed pecans on top before baking.
21. Bake the Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls for 25 minutes.
Preparing the Icing
22. Mix the powdered sugar and the caramel apple liquid**
23. Top your cinnamon rolls with icing mix.
*To make this recipe vegan and dairy-free, use vegan butter and dairy-free milk of your choice (I love using coconut milk)
**if this is not enough liquid, you can add milk to reach your perfect consistency
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 200Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 78mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 1gSugar: 18gProtein: 2g
The Nutrition Facts above are specific to the ingredients I chose to use for this recipe, which may vary.