Salted caramel apple cinnamon rolls are the perfect combination of salty and sweet, making them the ultimate breakfast treat! The caramel adds an amazing flavor to these delicious rolls.
We love salted caramel syrup here with everything from our salted caramel apple Bundt cake (yes it is as amazing as it sounds) to these salted caramel apple cinnamon rolls. Sometimes we even add it to our coffee, seriously it is delicious in coffee.
The first time I made these rolls I tried something completely different. It didn’t turn out so well because I put the apples in the caramel and then spread it over the dough. Don’t do that, trust me the dough got wet and fell apart. Lesson learned!
So then it was back to the kitchen to perfect these – I can be determined sometimes. I figured out what I did wrong (added wet caramel drizzle to dough) and then created an amazing cinnamon roll. The second time making them turned out perfect and we made them a few times again to be sure before sharing them with you.
We now have our recipe perfected and we hope you enjoy the salty sweet flavors of these rolls as much as we do!
- Flour – We used all purpose flour and weighed it on a scale to give you an accurate amount. If you do not have a kitchen scale, you want to spoon and level the flour to get the closest amount.
- Yeast – Instant yeast is what we recommend. Rapid rise bread machine will work also, but regular yeast (non instant) has not been tested and is not recommended.
- Sugar – Granulated sugar, either minimally processed or granulated white sugar is good. Be sure if using minimally processed that it is a 1 for 1 substitute for granulated and the same texture.
- Cinnamon – Ground cinnamon, no substitutes recommended. This is used in the dough for the rolls and the filling.
- Salt – Regular iodized salt or you can use fine sea salt.
- Butter – Unsalted is recommended. Butter is used in the dough and also the filling.
- Milk – We use and recommend whole milk, but you can use a lower fat if you prefer. You can substitute water for milk, but milk is best for the taste and texture.
- Egg – No substitutions recommended. Best if it is at room temperature and not just out of the fridge.
- Heavy cream – This is optional but recommended for the best taste and texture. You can use milk or half and half in it’s place if needed. Should be room temperature.
- Apples – We love honey crisp apples for ours, but you can use your favorite apple.
- Brown sugar – We use dark brown sugar, but you can use light brown sugar if you prefer.
- Salted caramel – We use a homemade salted caramel sauce for cinnamon rolls. It’s easy to make and only requires heavy cream, butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt.
Making the salted caramel apple cinnamon rolls
These apple cinnamon rolls are easy to make but they do take a little bit of time. Working with yeast always takes a little bit of time for rising.
Start by mixing the flour, salt, sugar (all but about 1 tablespoon) and cinnamon in a small bowl. Use a whisk to mix well to break up any flour clumps. Set aside.
Melt the butter and add the milk to it. Check the temperature, it is is around 115 degrees Fahrenheit, it is perfect. If it is too cold, heat it carefully until it is around 115 degrees. Be sure it is not hotter then 119 degrees, if it is let it cool for a few minutes.
Add the warmed milk and melted butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Pour in the yeast and the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Allow it to sit a few minutes until the yeast starts to get a little frothy.
Once the yeast is a little frothy, turn your mixer on low with a paddle attachment. Add in the egg and then the flour mixture. Mix until it is just combined. Change over to the dough hook and knead on stir for about 5 minutes, until it is elastic and smooth.
As a note, the dough for these salted caramel apple cinnamon rolls will be tacky. You may need to add more then the 3 cups (390 grams) of flour, but do not add too much. It will be a bit more sticky then bread or dinner roll dough. We usually add about 3-4 tablespoons more.
Allow the dough to sit for about 10 minutes while cutting the apples.
Filling and rolling
First you want to prepare the filling. I use just barely melted butter, but you can use softened butter. When I say just barely melted, I mean that you have it in the pan and some is melted but there may be a small bit of butter that is still a soft clump.
Why did I use just barely melted butter? I started by accident as it can be struggle in the winter time to soften butter without slightly melting it. While this wouldn’t work in dough that requires softened butter, it will work here mixing for the filling.
In a small bowl mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together until there are no large brown sugar clumps. Add in the butter and mix well.
Peel and cut the apples into small pieces. Pour the heavy cream now and allow it to sit at room temperature so it’s not cold when you need it. Do not add it until after they rise.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a floured surface to a rectangle about 18 inches by 12 inches. Doesn’t have to be exact but this is about how big ours is every time we make the salted caramel apple cinnamon rolls.
Spread the sugar mixture as evenly as you can across the dough. Add the apple pieces all over the sugar mixture. You can use less then the 2 apples if you prefer. We do not recommend using more or you may struggle rolling it into a log.
Roll it into a log as best as you can. It is best to have a dough scraper in case some of the dough sticks on the bottom as you are trying to roll it into a log.
Cut the log into 12 equal pieces.
Rising, baking and serving
Once you cut them into 12 equal sections, place them in a slightly oiled or non stick 13×9 baking dish. We do not use oil in the bottom of the pan, it is a non stick pan.
Cover and allow to rise in a draft free environment. We use the bread proof feature on our oven which creates a temperature of around 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit with no drafts. We let them rise about 30-40 minutes. They will be almost double in size.
As you can see by the picture, they are not huge after rising and that is ok. They will rise more in the oven! The upper left is before rising and the upper right is after rising with cream over them.
Once you have let them rise, pour the heavy cream over the salted caramel apple cinnamon rolls. Place in the oven preheated at 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 25-30 minutes. They will be starting to turn golden brown and they will be much bigger in size.
If you are using the homemade caramel syrup, be sure that it is warmed up enough to be easy to pour. It does start to solidify as it cools down but reheating it will turn it to liquid again.
Pour the salted caramel syrup over the top of the apple cinnamon rolls and serve.
Can I make these cinnamon rolls without a stand mixer?
Sure you can! Making the dough is similar to with the mixer but you will stir with a spoon like a wooden spoon instead of using the paddle attachment on the mixer. Follow the same directions for making the dough but mixing with a spoon.
You also will be kneading it by hand. Once you get to where we switch to the dough hook, you will be using your hands to knead the dough. Like in the mixer, you may need to add a little bit more flour for it to become elastic, but be careful not to add too much flour. Remember the dough should be tacky and likely sticking to your hands a little bit. I recommend kneading it in the mixing bowl instead of a floured surface.
Follow the rest of the instructions for the salted caramel apple cinnamon rolls after kneading the dough by hand.
Frequently asked questions
No, a hand mixer will not work. It mixes on too high of a speed for these rolls and you cannot use a high speed (or regular beaters) to knead dough. You can mix and knead by hand in place of a stand mixer.
No it is not. These cinnamon rolls rise a lot in the oven as they are baking. Ours often go in without quite doubling in size and they always come out a nice size. Do let them rise for 30-40 minutes tho, don’t put them in the oven immediately after cutting.
They should last 2-3 days covered at room temperature, but they are so delicious that the family might have them gone sooner!
Salted Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 cup milk
- 4 Tablespoons butter unsalted, melted
- 2¼ teaspoons Instant yeast 1 packet
- 1 egg room temperature
- 3 cups flour spooned and leveled – 390 grams
- ⅓ cup sugar divided
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup salted caramel syrup adjust to taste
- ½ cup brown sugar packed
- 4 Tablespoons butter partially melted or really soft
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 medium apples peeled and cut into small pieces
- Mix the melted butter and milk together. Heat until the temperature reaches 115° Fahrenheit. You can go up to 119°, but no hotter then 119°.1 cup milk, 4 Tablespoons butter
- Add the milk and butter mix to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in yeast and about 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast starts to get frothy.2¼ teaspoons Instant yeast, ⅓ cup sugar
- In a separate bowl mix flour, remaining sugar, cinnamon and salt.3 cups flour, ⅓ cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon salt
- Turn the mixer onto stir with the paddle attachment and add in the egg then the flour mixture. Mix on stir until it is incorporated.1 egg
- Remove paddle and use dough hook. Knead on stir for 5-7 minutes until is it elastic and smooth. You may need to add a little flour, but the dough should be tacky. We usually add about 3-4 tablespoons more flour, do not add too much.Set dough aside while you prepare the filling.
- Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add in the slightly melted/very soft butter and mix well.½ cup brown sugar, 4 Tablespoons butter, 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- Peel and cut the apples. They should be very small pieces for the rolls.2 medium apples
Rolling and prepping the rolls
- Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface to about 18×12 inches – doesn't have to be exact.
- Spread the brown sugar mixture over the dough and sprinkle the apple pieces over the filling mixture.
- Carefully roll the dough up into a long log, keeping it as tight as you can while rolling. Doesn't have to be perfect but try not to be too loose with it.
- Cut into 12 even pieces and place them into a 13×9 baking dish. Be sure to oil the dish if it is not non stick.
- Cover and allow them to rise for about 30-40 minutes in a draft free room. They will rise to be almost double the size, the will rise more in the oven.
- Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit.
- Your heavy cream should be at room temperature, be sure to take it out just before shaping the rolls or you can heat it slightly on the stove to take the chill off.Pour it evenly over the rolls.⅓ cup heavy cream
- Bake rolls at 375° Fahrenheit for about 25-30 minutes. They will be getting slightly golden brown and they will have grown to a much larger size.
- Remove from oven and pour the salted caramel syrup over them in the desired amount. We use about ½ cup, you may want more or less.If you make the caramel early (we keep some in the fridge), heat it shortly before the rolls come out so it is thin enough to pour.½ cup salted caramel syrup