Vegan apple cinnamon rolls with a brioche-like dough, lots of apple and cinnamon sugar. These rolls combine the classic vegan apple pie with cinnamon rolls and are perfect for Autumn/Fall and Thanksgiving.
For a creamier custard version of these rolls, check out my apple custard cinnamon rolls!
Ingredients you'll need
To make these apple cinnamon rolls, you'll around 7 common ingredients including:
Notes about the ingredients
Bread flour or all-purpose flour. Either flour works well for this recipe. Cinnamon rolls made with bread flour are often fluffier, more elastic and rise quicker. In comparison, cinnamon rolls made with all-purpose flour are cakier. In this helpful post by Kitchen Seer, you can see that bread made with bread flour rises a little more.
Vegan block butter. I tested this recipe using room-temperature vegan block butter. Spreadable vegan margarine will also work in this recipe but you may need to add a little more flour to your dough. Alternatively, you may use softened coconut oil. If you do I recommend adding a little more liquid and a generous pinch of salt for flavor.
Apple, preferably a sweet snacking apple! I recommend chopping the apple finely as larger chunks can remain uncooked and crispy after baking.
A complete list of ingredients, quantities and instructions are in the gray recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Tips for preparing the dough
The dough for these vegan apple cinnamon rolls can be prepared in a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl.
If you're using a stand mixer, assemble the dough hook attachment and knead the dough for around 5-10 minutes or until the dough is soft and stretchy.
If using a large bowl, mix all ingredients using a wooden spoon. Then invert the dough onto a floured surface and knead for around 10-15 minutes until the dough is smooth and cohesive.
Initially, the dough will feel very sticky. Over time, the kneading will strengthen the gluten in the dough making it less sticky. Ideally, we want to avoid adding flour to the dough as it will make the final rolls drier.
First rise for the dough
Place the kneaded dough in a bowl (it can be the same bowl as you used before) and cover with a tea towel. Let it rise in the bowl for at least 1 hour or until it has doubled in size!
The time it'll take for your dough to double in size will depend on the temperature of your home and the consistency of your dough (drier dough rises slower).
Apples are in season in Autumn/Fall so it's likely that your home is a little cold when you're making this recipe. If you aren't sure where you should rest your dough, King Arthur Baking lists a few examples of warm and humid areas in a typical home.
While the dough is rising
In the meantime, I recommend preparing your cinnamon filling and chopped apples!
For the cinnamon filling, we're creaming the butter, sugar and cinnamon together and spreading this mixture on the dough. This is different from the conventional method where you spread melted butter on the dough and sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar!
I prefer creaming the filling as you won't have sugar falling out of the rolls while you assemble them! Also, when you bake the rolls, you won't have puddles of cinnamon sugar at the bottom of your tray.
However, you can still use the conventional method where you spread the melted butter and sprinkle on the sugar!
Assembling the cinnamon rolls
Once your dough has risen, invert it on a clean floured surface. Use a rolling pin (or a large bottle) to flatten the dough into a rectangle shape about 30 x 45 cm (12 x 17 inches) large.
Spread the cinnamon-sugar mixture on the dough so it's close to the edge. Then sprinkle the apple pieces on top!
Starting from the long side, tightly roll the dough into a tube.
Then use a very sharp knife or unflavored dental floss to cut the log into around 12 vegan apple cinnamon rolls. I prefer dental floss as it is less messy! When you 'slice' your cinnamon rolls, a few apple pieces may fall out. This is absolutely fine! Just stick them back into the rolls later.
Second rise and baking the cinnamon rolls
Place your vegan apple cinnamon rolls in your prepared baking dish and cover with a tea towel. Once again, allow them to rest in a warm humid spot.
The rolls are ready when they look puffy again. If you gently poke one of the rolls, it should spring back slowly.
These cinnamon rolls are ready when they're slightly golden brown which is around 20-25 minutes! If you're unsure, insert a toothpick in one of the center rolls and it shouldn't collect any wet dough.
Decorating and serving apple cinnamon rolls
These cinnamon rolls are lovely with either:
- Vegan cream cheese frosting (listed in the recipe below)
- A simple vanilla buttercream (listed in the notes of the recipe card below)
- Maple glaze, such as from my vegan sticky bun recipe
- Dairy-free yogurt and a drizzle of pure maple syrup
Expert tips and Customizations
You can take the filling to the next level by adding:
- Ground nutmeg, ground cardamom or even ground ginger!
- Chopped pecans or walnuts
- Other fresh fruit such as blueberries or strawberries
- Raisins or sultanas. You may soak them in orange juice for extra flavor! Or check out my hot cross bun cinnamon rolls for another variation!
As mentioned before, for a custard variation of these rolls, check out my apple custard cinnamon rolls!
More vegan apple recipes and desserts
Vegan Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- 3 ⅓ cups (415g) bread flour, or all-purpose plain flour, plus more if needed
- 1 cup (250g) dairy-free milk, warm
- ½ cup (115g) vegan butter, room temperature (note 1)
- 3 tablespoons (40g) brown sugar, coconut sugar or granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon (9g) instant dry yeast, (note 2)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
- Pinch of any good-quality salt, if using unsalted butter
Apple Cinnamon Filling
Making the dough:
- Add all the ingredients to a large bowl or stand mixer and mix until it comes together. Knead the mixture for at least 5 minutes until it forms a smooth and stretchy dough. Add a little more milk if the dough is too dry or a little more flour if the dough sticks to the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a tea towel. Set it aside in a warm spot for at least 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preparing the filling:
- Add the butter, sugar and cinnamon to a small bowl. Mix until a smooth paste forms. Set aside to thicken.
Assembling the apple cinnamon rolls:
- Grease or line a large cake or casserole tray about 33 x 23 cm (13 x 9 inches) large.
- Lightly dust a clean surface with flour. Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape about 30 x 45 cm (12 x 17 inches) large.
- Spread the cinnamon mixture onto the dough close to the edge. Sprinkle the apple pieces on top.
- Starting from the long side, tightly roll the dough into a tube. Use a sharp knife or unflavored dental floss to cut rolls out of the dough.
- Arrange the rolls in your prepared baking tray. Place a tea towel over the rolls and set aside to rise for at least 1 hour. The rolls are ready when they are puffy again and have increased in size by at least 50%.
Baking the rolls:
- When the rolls are puffy again, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Bake the rolls for around 20-25 minutes. The rolls are ready when they are slightly golden brown or when you insert a skewer in one of the middle buns and it doesn't have wet dough on it. Set aside to cool.
Frosting and serving:
- Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Add more sugar for a firmer frosting. Chill in the fridge until needed.
- When the rolls have cooled completely, spread the cream cheese frosting on top.
- The scrolls are best eaten the day they are baked. Alternatively, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Warm up the rolls before enjoying them again!
- You may use spreadable vegan margarine but will need to add a little more flour to your dough. Alternatively, you may use coconut oil instead but I’d recommend adding a little more milk and a generous pinch of salt for flavor.
- Instant yeast doesn't need to be 'activated' or 'bloomed' beforehand. However, if you use active dry yeast, mix it with the warm milk from the recipe and a pinch of sugar beforehand. Wait until the mixture bubbles then use it in the recipe.
- If you don't have cream cheese, you make a simple vanilla buttercream from ½ cup (110g) vegan butter and 1-2 cups (100-200g) powdered sugar. Alternatively, you can top the rolls with the maple glaze from my sticky bun recipe or pure maple syrup and yogurt.
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