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These Apple Cinnamon Rolls are soft, tender, gooey cinnamon rolls with a generous layer of cinnamon apple compote rolled inside! This Apple Cinnamon Rolls Recipe is topped with an easy cream cheese frosting for the perfect breakfast.

Apple Cinnamon Rolls Bitten

These Apple Cinnamon Rolls have a soft dough rolled up with a generous amount of cinnamon filling and apple compote! Each roll browns a little on the outside but they stay soft and gooey on the inside. Every single bite is packed with cinnamon, brown sugar and apples.

This apple cinnamon rolls recipe uses the same dough as The Best Cinnamon Rolls, because it truly is the best. You could also make a sourdough version by using the dough from my Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls, and this Easy Apple Compote tastes good on savory dishes as well, so making extra would be delightful.

Tips for the best Apple Cinnamon Rolls

  • Chill the Dough: This dough is easier to work with cold. You can proof the dough the full time in the refrigerator or just pop it in about 30 minutes before proofing is complete.
  • Make Time for the Refrigerator Proof: If you choose to proof it the full time in the refrigerator it will add about an hour and a half to the proof time. I did this while filming for the CLF YouTube Channel to intentionally give myself more time to make and cool the apple compote.
  • Make the Apple Compote ahead of time: I didn’t have this luxury while filming but you should absolutely make the apple compote up to a week in advance for these apple cinnamon rolls. You can also use store-bought with no regrets. There is a double flavor impact from the compote and traditional cinnamon sugar filling!
Apple Cinnamon Rolls White Baking Dish
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  • Whole Milk: I generally use whole milk in yeasted breads like cinnamon rolls for the added flavor and fat. It has a lower water content and the extra fat helps keep the rolls tender and moist.
  • Dry Active Yeast: These little dry active yeast guys require the added step of hydration, but they are fast yet controllable. Giving the dough time to develop gluten and relax while proofing is essential to the end result.
  • Whole Egg: The eggs are here to add fat, moisture and flavor. The fat from the yolk adds richness and helps keep the rolls moist.
  • Butter: Unsalted butter allows you to control the flavor of the dough while still adding all the buttery goodness!
  • All Purpose Flour: I prefer to use all-purpose flour in the majority of my roll recipes because it has the perfect amount of gluten for developing a strong network but remaining tender and soft. The exception is when I want a chewy texture like with bagels.
  • Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is lass salty than table salt and a teaspoon weighs less than other finer ground varieties. It adds flavor but also contributes to the dough structure. I factor it into the hydration that the dough needs as well.
  • Sugar: There is a little bit of sugar here for flavor, caramelization of the crust and also to give the yeast an easy and readily accessible food supply to begin to bloom!
  • Cinnamon: I use Saigon cinnamon but any cinnamon will do. You could also replace half with my apple pie spice. The cinnamon-apple relationship is one of the best flavor combinations ever, so keep the party going with my easy apple pie recipe next!
  • Apple Compote: I use my recipe for easy apple compote but you can also use store-bought apple pie filling, but you will need to chop it finer.
  • Dark Brown Sugar: I use dark brown sugar for the filling but you could certainly use light brown to an equally delightful effect.
  • Cream Cheese: I use original Philadelphia Cream Cheese for all my baked goods including frostings and buttercreams {Cream Cheese Buttercream is one of my favorites}. You could also add a bit of apple butter!
  • Confectioner’s Sugar: Confectioner’s sugar grinds finely into a powder so it is useful for glazes and frostings. And so, it creates a smooth, silky icing without the application of heat.
  • Vanilla Extract: Vanilla Extract adds a beautiful flavor itself but it also boosts the flavor of other ingredients around it in these apple cinnamon rolls, like brown sugar and cream cheese.
Apple Cinnamon Rolls Two Plates

Possible Substitutions

  • Milk: I generally use whole milk in yeasted breads for the added flavor and fat. You could substitute low fat milk, alternative milks, or water if desired.
  • Yeast: Half the quantity of instant yeast can be substituted; however, the slower proofing allowed by using dry active yeast improves the flavor and the texture of the apple cinnamon rolls.
  • Flour: You could certainly substitute bread flour for the all-purpose flour if you wish. I would not suggest using pastry flour or cake flour. There isn’t the gluten needed to provide the structure for the enriched dough.
  • Sugar: You can omit or reduce the sugar by half with good results. I love the flavor it adds and we’re already in it, so why not go all in?
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Frequently Asked Questions about Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Do apple cinnamon rolls need to be refrigerated?

Apple cinnamon rolls are stored best tightly wrapped at room temperature, though they can also be refrigerated. They are best the day they are baked.

How long until apple cinnamon rolls go bad?

Cinnamon rolls keep for 3 days at room temperature or a week refrigerated. They will slowly dry out as time passes, so keep in mind to eat as many as you can the day you bake them.

When can you freeze homemade apple cinnamon rolls?

You can freeze the baked, un-iced, cinnamon rolls. They will still be a little dry upon reheating but freezing is a better idea than refrigerating. Allow your apple cinnamon rolls to thaw, uncovered, at room temperature and then warm in a 325°F oven until warmed through. Make the icing and glaze them just before serving!  

How long in advance can I make apple cinnamon rolls?

There is too much yeast in this recipe to prepare the apple cinnamon rolls dough too far in advance of baking. The process can be slowed by proofing at each stage in the refrigerator and then stored overnight in the freezer. Bake when fully proofed even if still frozen. Isn’t yeast magical?!

Can I use this recipe in bulk for more apple cinnamon rolls?

Yes! As always with pastry recipes, use your kitchen scale, because weighing the ingredients will have much better results. This is particularly important with bread even one as simple as cinnamon rolls.

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Possible Variations on Apple Cinnamon Rolls

  • Nuts: In addition to the cinnamon roll filling and apple compote, roll up your favorite toasted nuts inside the cinnamon roll for a crunchy surprise. Pecans are always a wonderful addition.
  • Caramel: Like the bridge between cinnamon rolls and sticky buns there are caramel apple cinnamon rolls! It’s a little messy to eat, but I suggest spreading some caramel sauce on the bottom of the greased baking dish before adding the rolls. Then add a little caramel sauce to the frosting for impact! {I have an excellent dry caramel tutorial you can watch.}
  • Cinnamon Muffins: Roll the dough in the opposite direction (longwise) to make smaller rolls. Then slice about an inch apart and place each cinnamon roll in a greased muffin tin for an individual serving!
  • Pull apart cinnamon roll bread: Roll out the dough (refrigerated) as directed then spread the filling. Slice it in half and fold it over itself like a sandwich. Roll to twice the size. Cut squares and layer vertically inside a greased loaf pan. Proof and bake as directed until a knife or cake tester comes out clean. Cool, frost and pull apart.

Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip

Be sure to cut the apples for your compote into bite-sized pieces. This way the apple compote will be in every bite and the rolls will still roll up evenly. You can also chop your apple pie filling or apple compote after cooking to save you the prep work! It isn’t cheating if it saves you time and stress around the holidays!

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If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!

Apple Cinnamon Rolls Delicious Serving
5 from 2 ratings

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

These Apple Cinnamon Rolls are soft, tender, gooey cinnamon rolls with a generous layer of cinnamon apple compote rolled inside! They are topped with an easy cream cheese frosting for the perfect breakfast.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Proof: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total: 2 hours
Servings: 12 cinnamon rolls


For the Dough:

For the Cinnamon Sugar Filling:

For the Cream Cheese Icing:


Make the Dough:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer add the warm milk then sprinkle the yeast over the surface. Whisk to break up any clumps. Allow to bloom (sit unperturbed) for 10 minutes or until bubbly.
  • Add the remaining ingredients for the dough to the bowl. All at once! Just dump it in there!
  • Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and mix until incorporated and no lumps remain. Switch to the dough hook. Mix on medium for 3-4 minutes. The dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl and you will be able to pull a window pane. It is a stickier dough but don’t be dissuaded.
  • Turn out into a bowl sprayed with cooking spray. Give the dough one series of folds. Starting on one side, pull the dough up and fold it halfway towards the center. Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and repeat with each side until you have a little dough packet. Turn it seam-side down. The top should be smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and bulk proof in a warm spot for 30-45 minutes. My oven has a proof setting that I use at 85°F. When it has doubled, it is done!
  • You can also proof the dough in the refrigerator. This is called “retarding” the dough. It will make it proof slower but the cold dough will be easier to work with.

Make the Filling:

  • While the dough proofs, make the filling. In a bowl, mix together butter, sugar and cinnamon. Mix until a paste forms. Set aside.

Roll Dough Out:

  • Cover your counter generously with flour and turn out your dough onto the counter. A bowl scraper or rubber spatula helps here because the dough is sticky. Sprinkle a generous amount of flour on top of the dough and flour a rolling pin.
  • Roll the dough out into a rectangle 12 inches long by 10 inches high. (Try to keep those sharp corners! It’s harder than it looks but it’s good to have goals, right?) Once you have your rectangle, spread your filling with an offset spatula. Sometimes it is necessary to let your fingers join the party to help spread/hold the dough. I purposefully keep a border on the top and the bottom edge. Distribute the cooled apple compote over the cinnamon sugar paste.
  • Starting at the bottom edge (12 inches across) start to roll away from you. Seal the top edge. Cut approximately 1 inch pieces with a knife (or your bench scraper). This makes 12 rolls. You can also cut the log into 8 equal pieces for larger rolls.
  • Spray a 9“x 11” baking dish with cooking spray and then place the cinnamon rolls about 2 inches apart. I offset them so I have a row with 2 and then one in the center followed by another row of 2 and so on. This gives them space to proof and grow without crowding.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and place back in your warm spot to proof an additional 20-40 minutes. I proofed 20 and then remove the dish to another spot and preheat my oven to 350°F convection. The smaller rolls will proof and bake faster than 8 larger ones.
  • Remove the plastic wrap and bake 350°F for approximately 15-20 minutes. Mine baked in 18 minutes. They will be golden brown around the edges and a bit on top and the centers will no longer look or feel doughy. You can also test with a cake tester. It should come out clean.
  • Allow to cool before icing.


  • Mix all the ingredients for the icing together. I find a spatula easier to use than a whisk to incorporate the cream cheese. I kept mine a bit thicker so that I could spread it on the cinnamon rolls still warm from the oven. A little bit of heaven on earth to be sure!


Calories: 389kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 217mg | Potassium: 142mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 458IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Calories: 389
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Before You Go!

Check out our other delicious, chef-developed recipes for Breakfast + Brunch or check out the 20 Best Apple Dessert Recipes!

Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

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