Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls

These delectable little cinnamon rolls with apple pie filling were a happy accident last month when I had a huge box of straight-from-the-tree Honeycrisp apples staring me in the face (courtesy of my sweet friend Deb and her mom, Kaye, who brought them all the way from Washington). We (meaning me, I think I single-handedly devoured about 93% of them) would have had no qualms about eating all of them out of hand (so delicious they taste like candy, truly) but I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t bake at least one fall-inspired treat with the beauties.

So apple pie cinnamon rolls were born.

Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls

Using a slightly adapted version of this light and tender cinnamon roll dough as the base, I went to town sautéing apples in a concoction of buttery brown sugar and cinnamon which resulted in my house smelling better than any Bath and Body works candle. The whole process was almost derailed when, for the sake of quality control I swear, I tasted a smidgeon of the apple pie filling. Oh heavens. It’s a miracle any of the glorious apple filling made it into the cinnamon rolls. Which should be a clue that if you just want to ditch making roll dough from scratch and instead eat buttery, sweet and syrupy cinnamon apples straight from the skillet, even burning your tongue in the process, there will be no judging here.

Drizzled with a simple glaze, these warm apple pie cinnamon rolls are divine.

I know you’ll be tempted to curse my name when you are in the process of rolling up the rather saucy mixture of apples in the luscious, soft dough. Curse away. It certainly won’t be the first time and I’m willing to take one for the team. If you persevere through a tiny bit of glorious baking mess, the result will be worth it. I promise.

One Year Ago: Fruit Salad with Creamy Glazed Dressing
Two Years Ago: Roasted Balsamic Vegetable Pasta Sauce
Three Years Ago: Pumpkin Cheesecake Crumble Bars

Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: Makes 12-15 rolls

Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls

If you don't have instant yeast and want to use active dry, dissolve the yeast in a couple tablespoons warm water with a pinch of sugar. It's really important to let the apple mixture cool to room temperature (chilled is even better). It's a bit of a messy process rolling it up in the dough - but is much better if the mixture is cooled and not overly warm.

For the milk, I have best results using 2% or whole milk for this recipe.


  • 2 cups milk (see note above)
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast (see note above)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 - 6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Filling:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 6 cups peeled, small-diced apples (about 2 1/2 - 3 pounds)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar, more or less depending on sweetness of apples
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • _Glaze:
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk or cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. For the dough, heat the milk in a medium saucepan until the milk is scalded (which is basically heating it until right before it simmers - it will start steaming and little bubbles will form around the edge of the pan). Pour the milk into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or you can do this by hand with a large bowl, wooden spoon and lots of elbow grease).
  2. Add the butter, sugar and salt. Mix until the butter is melted and let the mixture cool until warm but not hot.
  3. Add the yeast and eggs and mix until combined.
  4. Gradually add the flour until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. The exact amount will depend on the temperature, humidity and how you measure flour. The dough should be pretty soft and just slightly sticky without leaving a lot of residue on your fingers - don't overflour until the dough is stiff or else the rolls will be dry. Let the dough knead for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled.
  6. While the dough rises, make the filling by melting the 3 tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the apples and salt and cook for 3-4 minutes until the apples soften slightly. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and flour and stir to coat the apples with the mixture. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture is thick and syrupy and the apples are cooked and tender. Remove from the heat to cool completely (you can speed up this process by scraping the mixture into a bowl and refrigerating).
  7. Line a large rimmed baking sheet (about 11X17-inches) with parchment paper. Set aside.
  8. Lightly punch down the dough and on a lightly greased countertop, press it into about an 18X12-inch rectangle.
  9. Spread the cooled apple mixture over the dough leaving a 1/2-inch border at one long edge. Start rolling from the other long edge. This part is a little messy. Don't let it stress you out (you know, like it did me). It's ok if the filling spreads and squeezes out a bit. It helps to kind of lift the dough up as you roll it - lifting it over the filling instead of smushing it out if that makes sense - these won't roll up as nice and tight as a classic cinnamon roll. Once rolled up, pinch the edge to seal.
  10. Using unflavored dental floss or a sharp serrated knife, cut the long roll into 12-15 rolls and space evenly on the prepared baking sheet about an inch or so apart (if you only cut 12 rolls, still space them somewhat close together even if it leaves an empty space at the end of the pan - you don't want them too far apart). It's ok if the filling oozes out as you cut; you can scrape up any excess filling and drizzle it over the rolls once they are on the pan. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until puffy and nearly doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour (maybe longer if your kitchen is cool).
  11. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, uncovered the rolls and bake for 20-25 minutes until just lightly golden on top and around the edges.
  12. For the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk or cream, and vanilla until smooth. Let the rolls cool until just warm before drizzling with the glaze.
  13. These rolls are best served warm, in my opinion. They reheat really well for just a few seconds in the microwave.

Recipe Source: roll dough adapted from Gloria’s amazing cinnamon rolls, filling and glaze adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Fall 2015 Sift mag

27 Responses to Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Christina says:

    Thanks for this awesome recipe, Mel! My hubby, 4 boys and I canned 25 quarts of apples this fall. We’ve found that they work really well in these delicious cinnamon rolls!
    Two thumbs up!

  2. Anne says:

    I would like to try these, but with cream cheese frosting. It is so much better on cinnamon rolls. What do you think with this version?
    BTW- I loved your pumpkin roll recipe! Cream cheese frosting reminded me of it. That recipe is easy and delicious! Great instructions!

  3. Vika Tsymbal says:

    Could I by any chance make these in advance and store overnight for the next morning for breakfast? Like make the dough and form the rolls, just not bake it till the next morning, wake up and pop it in the oven ?

    • Mel says:

      I think that would probably work – certainly worth a try. I’d make sure to pull out the rolls to let them come to room temp and rise a bit before baking the next morning (my cheater tip is sometimes I’m too lazy to do that and so I put them in the oven as it preheats).

  4. Anna says:

    Do you think the filling would be easier to work with if you cooked it, chilled it, then put it on the dough?

    I usually make Cook’s Illustrated’s Skillet Apple pie filling in a gigantic batch and freeze it.

    I think I’d be tempted to chill the mixture, then chop the apples a bit more, while they’re cold. The only times I’ve tried the grated apple idea, they cooked down to applesauce really fast. Tasty, but not the goal.

    • Mel says:

      Good feedback on the shredded apples, Anna – you have a good point there. And yes, I think the filling would be much easier to work with if it was chilled (as long as someone has the patience to wait!). 🙂 My sister actually made this recipe yesterday and ended up forming some of them into twists instead of classic cinnamon rolls to make the whole messy filling thing easier. I’ll have her chime in with what she did exactly.

      Hello Anna – Emily (the sister here :). I had cut my apple chunks pretty large, so my filling was messy and it was hard to make them circular. After I cut the pieces from my log they were kind of oblong shaped, so I twisted them and made them into about 5 inch long twists. I loaded any filling that spilled out in the quick twisting process on top and they turned out amazing that way!

  5. Laura says:

    About how long would you say this recipe takes start-to-finish?

  6. Jessica says:

    I’m planning on making cinnamon rolls tomorrow, and now I’d love to try these! I have a cinnamon roll recipe for the bread machine – can I still use that recipe? Helps me while chasing the littles around. I don’t think it rises again after they are rolled up….

  7. MJ says:

    Do you knwoany part of this be made ahead? I know sometimes dough can be left in the fridge to rise

    • MJ says:

      Whoops, accidentally hit “Post”.
      Do you know if any part of this could**

      And thanks for all your hard work with this site. It’s awesome!

    • Mel says:

      I haven’t made this particular version ahead of time but usually cinnamon rolls of many types do well made ahead, shaped on the pan, covered and refrigerated to be baked the next day.

  8. Paige says:

    Yum! I’ve seen a lot of cinnamon roll variations over the last couple years, but these apple pie ones are a first for me and they look absolutely delicious!


  9. Tara says:

    You mentioned “see note above” beside the milk ingredient but I cannot find any note! I wondered what type of milk. I always have whole milk in my fridge for my baby and 1% for the rest of us. I’m guessing the whole would be better?

  10. Tiggerr says:

    Don’t bite my head off but Apple season is fast coming to an end where I live. Would this work with canned apple pie filling? Or would it be too wet?

  11. Sarah says:

    these look excellent! wondering if you think the chunkiness of diced apples adds to the eating experience or if the filling would work well with apples grated through the food processor?

    • Mel says:

      Sarah – I think you could definitely do that, especially if you aren’t after the chunky apple texture. The grated apples may make it a bit less messy to roll up, too. You’ll definitely want to cut down the cooking time in the skillet if the apples are grated.

  12. Laurel says:

    I’m making cinnamon rolls for a RS social today. As of now, I’m TOTALLY sneaking in apples. Yum! You are a super creative genius!

  13. You have made me very happy! Can’t wait to try these!!!!!!

  14. Carine says:

    This recipe seems to be a healthier version of the perfect cinnamon rolls, isn’t-it ?
    Thank you for this good idea, apples are a delightful fruit.

  15. Kim in MD says:

    Honey Crisp apples are my favorite! My family will love this recipe!

  16. Becki says:

    Honeycrisp apples are the best! These would be an amazing fall morning treat – the filling sounds wonderful!

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