Gooey, homemade Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls are filled with sweetened apple butter, baked to a soft, golden brown and spread with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
Today is a special day.
We’re sharing with you one of our favorite cinnamon roll recipes. This isn’t just any cinnamon roll, but our much-loved, classic breakfast. These are such a loved recipe (about as much as our apple dumpling recipe) that I really just wanted to be selfish and keep them my little secret.
Mom convinced me that you’d love them too, so I’m handing over to you the best cinnamon roll recipe around, dressed up for fall with apple butter inside.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Gooey & cinnamony. So good!
- Easy dough that is easy to mix with your stand mixer, bread machine or by hand.
- Apple butter baked inside.
- Melt in your mouth cinnamon creamy frosting.
When you take the apple butter cinnamon rolls out of the oven, beware! Your kids will crowd around the pan, waiting until it cools off. I did it, too. Even though I still had to wait to eat them, it was just good to smell these amazing rolls. One of our best apple recipes for apple picking season.
Is apple butter the same as apple sauce?
No, the two ingredients are different. Both apple butter and apple sauce are slow cooked apples and spices. Apple butter is cooked longer than applesauce which creates a thick, smooth, intense apple flavored spread.
You’ll use apple butter for the filling of these cinnamon buns. You can buy it at the store or make apple butter at home.
Tips to Make Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls
Although there are detailed instructions below in the recipe card, here are a few key tips.
- Mix the dough with a stand mixer, bread machine (on the dough setting) or by hand.
- Different yeast calls for slightly different proofing methods. We follow Red Star Platinum’s temperature guidelines. Please check your yeast packet to see what temperature the milk should be at.
- Don’t add all of the flour at once. Start with just 4 cups, then add the rest only if you need it. It’s important to note that the dough will be tacky and soft. It shouldn’t completely stick all over your hands, but if you touch it should feel tacky and not dry and floury. Don’t be tempted to keep adding flour!
- For smaller rolls, cut the dough into 15 slices and use a 10×15″ baking pan. The larger pan will also allow the rolls to rise more evenly.
- Our secret ingredient is dousing the rolls in heavy cream right before baking. It makes them extra gooey! If you don’t have cream, use half and half, coffee creamer, evaporated milk, whole milk or coconut cream. Any of these will work. Even 2% milk will work, but we prefer a higher fat milk.
Cream Cheese Frosting for Cinnamon Rolls
The simple cream cheese frosting on the top is only 4 ingredients:
- cream cheese
- powdered sugar and
Beat it together until it is smooth. Trust me, you might want to hide it somewhere you won’t eat it so you can actually put it on the rolls.
It’s that good. And it will melt in your mouth.
Looking for something just a little different? Try swapping out cream cheese for mascarpone cheese. The frosting will be a little lighter and soak into the rolls a little more.
We often make the cinnamon rolls and get them to the point of the second rise (when they are rolled out, cut up and put in the pan). Cover and refrigerate until morning.
The morning you want to bake them, pull them out of the refrigerator. They may have doubled in size in the fridge overnight. If they have, let them sit for 30 minutes to get the chill off, then bake.
If they did not rise in the fridge overnight, allow them to rise at room temperature. Plan about at least an hour for this. Then pour on the cream and let them bake.
Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 cup 2% or higher fat milk warmed to 110-115ºFahrenheit
- 1/2 cup salted butter melted
- 1 package Red Star Platinum Yeast (or any instant yeast)
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- 4-4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup apple butter
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 6 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
- 5 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pour the warm milk, eggs, melted butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.**
- Add in two cups of flour and yeast. Use the beater blade to mix just until combined. Then add in another 2 cups of flour (save the other 1/2 cup and add only if you need it later).
- Mix again using the beater blade just until the ingredients are barely combined. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes so the flour has time to soak up the liquids.
- Scrape the dough off the beater blade and remove it.
- Attach the dough hook. Beat the dough on medium speed, adding in up to 1/2 cup more flour if needed to form a dough. Knead for 5-7 minutes or until the dough is elastic and smooth. **The dough should be tacky and will still be sticking to the sides of the bowl. That's ok! Don't be tempted to add more flour at this point. We generally add about 4 1/2 cups, but start with 4 cups.
- Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Use a rubber spatula to remove the dough from the mixer bowl and place it in the greased large bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a towel or wax paper. Set the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to rise until nearly double.
- Sprinkle a pastry mat generously with flour. Turn out the dough onto the pastry mat and sprinkle the top of the dough with additional flour.
- Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough to about a 24×15" rectangle. (the size of the rectangle can vary…it does not have to be exact!)
- Spread the apple butter to cover the dough. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over the top.
- Starting on the long end, roll the dough up tightly jelly roll style.
- Cut into 12 slices and place in a greased 9×13 baking pan.****
- Cover the pan and allow the rolls to rise for 20 minutes or until nearly double.
- Preheat the oven to 375º Fahrenheit.
- Warm the heavy cream until the chill is off. Don’t make it hot…you just don’t want it cold. It should be warm to the touch.
- Once the rolls have risen, pour the heavy cream over the top of the rolls, allowing it to soak down in and around the rolls.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the rolls are lightly golden brown and the center rolls are cooked through. Note…the time will vary based on how big the rolls are, what type of pan, how close the rolls are packed, etc. Check the rolls at 20 minutes. If they are getting too browned, cover loosely with foil for the remaining baking time.
- While they are cooling, make the frosting. In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and butter using a hand mixer. Blend well.
- Add in the powdered sugar and cinnamon. Beat until combined.
- Spread the frosting over the warm cinnamon rolls.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
More Apple Butter Recipes
- Apple Butter Sheet Cake
- Apple Butter Streusel Muffins
- Apple Butter Pie
- Apple Butter Buttercream Cupcakes
What You Need to Make Cinnamon Rolls:
- Red Star Platinum Yeast: My favorite yeast.
- Saigon Cinnamon: This is our favorite cinnamon. You can’t beat its flavor!
- Stand Mixer: A hand mixer will work, but I always find it easier to make frostings with a stand mixer.
- Pastry Mat: This silicone mat keeps your cupboard clean and makes rolling out pastries so easy.
- 8×8 Baking Pan: I love that this cinnamon roll recipe makes a small batch. Then I’m not tempted to eat as much.