These apple cinnamon rolls are free of dairy and refined sugar and made in under an hour using instant yeast. They’re filled with tender apples and warm spices, making them the perfect fall treat! Overnight instructions also included.
You can probably see from my recipe page, that my family has a thing for cinnamon rolls! They can be plain, pumpkin, orange, or berry flavored. Doesn’t matter, the combo of sweet, soft doughy bread and cinnamon-sugar is addictive! Since it’s fall, I thought it would be a yummy idea to add juicy apples to our next batch. The result was amazing!
Not only do the apples give them plenty of flavor, but they also add moisture so they’re nice and gooey in the center—my favorite part!
My hubby, the apple pie lover, said these were his new fave! He says that about almost everything I make though. 😉
Since I don’t like things super sweet, I used mostly granny smith apples in the filling. It adds the apple flavor without the sweetness, but feel free to use your favorite apple. Using coconut sugar adds a little caramel-y flavor to the filling and also makes these rolls free of refined sugar! Win-win!!
Although they’re good on their own, I topped these rolls with a maple sweetened + cinnamon spiced cream cheese frosting, which is such a delicious and creamy addition. Feel free to use your favorite buttercream or a simple powdered sugar glaze instead, if it suits your fancy.
We enjoyed every single, apple-filled bite of these cinnamon rolls! I hope you give them a try! Enjoy!!
- 3–4¼ cups (405g–570g) unbleached all-purpose flour, just enough to form a soft dough plus a little more for kneading (can use up to half whole-grain flour—spelt, einkorn, or whole wheat, if you'd like)
- 2¼ teaspoon (.25oz packet) rapid rise or instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup (177ml) warm almond milk or other milk of choice (approximately 110º F)
- ½ cup (118ml) warm water (approximately 110º F)
- ⅓ cup (80ml) avocado oil or other oil
- ¼ cup (60ml) maple syrup, cane sugar, or other sweetener of choice
- ½ cup (113g) softened butter, separated (can use dairy-free)
- ¾ cup (110g) coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of ginger
- 4 apples, peeled, cored, and diced small (I used granny smith and gala)
- ⅓ cup water
- In a small bowl, mix together coconut sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; Take out ¼ cup of the sugar/spice mixture and set the rest aside.
- Place a large skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter, then add the chopped apples and water. Saute for 1–2 minutes. Sprinkle the ¼ cup of sugar/spice over the apples and continue to cook for another 1–2 minutes, just until sugar has melted and apples are slightly tender. Let cool.
- Combine 2 cups of flour, instant yeast, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add warm milk, water, sweetener, and oil, blending until mixture is combined and smooth.
- Knead in extra flour, a little at a time, until it forms a soft dough. You may need more than the specified amount, but be careful not to add too much flour or the rolls will be dry and hard.
- Cover and let dough rest in a warm place for 5 minutes.
- Place dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a large rectangle.
- Spread softened butter generously over the surface of the dough and top with the sugar/spice mixture. Top evenly with cooled apples.
- Beginning at the long edge of the rectangle, tightly roll dough into a log.
- You can use a sharp knife, but I prefer to cut each roll with dental floss, which doesn't flatten them.
- Place a long piece of floss under the middle of the log and criss cross each end and pull it straight to slice the roll in half.
- Divide each half into six equal portions and place into a greased or parchment lined 13x9 baking dish. (To make the next morning, skip down to the instructions for Overnight Rolls)
- To make rolls immediately: Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Close to the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 350ºF.
- To make the rolls the next morning, after putting the cut rolls into the pan, cover the pan tightly with tin foil and place into the refrigerator.
- The next morning, take the pan out of the refrigerator and set in a warm place to rise, about 30–60 minutes, or until puffy (they may not take that long if they had risen some overnight.) Once the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Place pan onto the middle rack and bake for 25-35 minutes, just until rolls are lightly golden around the edges and centers are puffed. Depending on how large you cut your rolls, they may need time to bake. Check the center for doneness and remove when fully cooked. Careful not to overbake.
- Remove and let cool slightly before topping with glaze/frosting.
- Blend together cream cheese, softened butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon until creamy. Add milk, if needed, to thin. Spread over warm rolls.
- If using the vanilla buttercream recipe, spread onto slightly cooled rolls and serve.