Breads, Rolls + Donuts

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls | Sarah Kieffer | The Vanilla Bean Blog

I decided to see what would happen if I played around with my Sweet dough recipe – adding apple cider instead of milk like my Soft and Gooey Cinnamon Rolls call for, made for an Autumn-ish type of breakfast bun.

And it resulted in these delicious Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls, with the faintest apple flavor, and the softest texture. They’re adapted from my first book, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book.

I’m not one for apple chunks in my buns and rolls (I find them distracting), so instead, to draw out the apple flavor, I opted for an apple cider icing; I cooked down the apple cider, added a little cream cheese, butter, and confectioners’ sugar, and low and behold! Amazing.

At least, that’s what my 11-year old daughter exclaimed when she tried them. 

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls | Sarah Kieffer | The Vanilla Bean Blog


Each October, I am compelled to challenge myself to read slightly eerie or spooky literature. I’m not one for scary movies or books, so something with even the slightest trace of fearfulness is enough for me on the regular. I’m not sure what it is about crisp Autumn days, with their crunchy leaves and early nightfalls, but I’m ready to dive in to something unnerving. (It may have to do with my first reading of Lord of the Rings, which took place in September and October. I remember the Ring Wraiths feeling like a possible threat as I walked home from work after dark, passing the deserted church parking lot and the cluster of tall trees on the way to my apartment.)

Last year I read Phantastes (affiliate link) by George MacDonald, which was hauntingly beautiful; Anodos’ journey through Fairy Land is both eerie and moving. I am planning on re-reading Macbeth  – I recently read a synopsis to my kids (we have the Usbourne Shakespeare edition which they are really into right now), and it inspired me to turn to it again, especially during this bewitching month: Double, double toil and trouble; | Fire, burn; and, caldron, bubble. (I have a few of my favorite Shakespeare plays in these pocket editions – that way I always have one in my purse I can turn to in times of need) (I mean, you can be waiting for the doctor and just open up and read “Four days will quickly steep themselves in night; | Four nights will quickly dream away the time; | And then the moon, like to a silver bow | New-bent in heaven, shall behold the light” Midnight Summer’s Dream). 

I also just finished Faust, which was fascinating and thought-provoking while also being absolutely tedious and wretched. I started it because I had never read it and it is referenced in so many other books (and also, I had a pretty intense Achtung Baby phase in high school and Bono was running around stages mimicking Mephistopheles, so it’s possible it might be subconsciously connected to that as well). While the book is about Faust making a pact with the demon Mephistopheles (and that in itself should be criteria enough for my October reading), it does have a pretty epic Walpurgis Night scene that is perfect for near Halloween: Straddle a broomstick, a pitchfork’s fine too | Get up on a goat, a plain stick will do. | Who can’t make it up tonight, | Forever is done for, and so good night. | And when we’ve gained the very top, | Light down, swooping, to a stop. | We’ll darken the heath entirely | With all our swarming witchery. 

I’ll be completely honest,  I downloaded this LitCharts app and read a summary of each scene, and was at times more moved by the commentary then the drama itself. (Maybe I shouldn’t admit that out loud. But it’s true.) So that’s my spooky readings for 2019, unless you have something to suggest? I’d love to hear what you read around this time of year. 

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls | Sarah Kieffer | The Vanilla Bean Blog

More Cinnamon Roll Recipes:

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls

Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Delicious Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls, with the faintest apple flavor, and softest texture. The icing is infused with apple cider, too. They're the perfect breakfast treat for fall!
Sarah Kieffer
5 from 13 votes
Print Pin Rate



  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup apple cider, warm (100-110F)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 cups (568g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 10 tablespoons 1 1/4 sticks, (142g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces


  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons (29g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (226g) confectioners’ sugar


For the dough

  • Grease a large bowl.
  • In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the eggs, apple cider, and honey.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, yeast, and salt and stir on low to combine. Add the egg mixture and mix on low to combine. With the mixer on low, add the butter, one piece at a time. When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and beat the butter into the dough, until all the little butter pieces are incorporated, 1 minute. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl. The dough will be very sticky and you will need a spatula to scrape the dough into the bowl.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Place your fingers or a spatula underneath the dough and gently pull the dough up and fold it back over itself. Turn the bowl and repeat this folding again. Continue 6 to 8 more times, until all the dough has been folded over on itself. Re-cover the bowl with plastic and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat this series of folding 3 more times, for a rise time of 2 hours and a total of 4 foldings. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 72 hours.

To Assemble and Bake Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls

  • Flour a work surface and knead the Sweet Dough 10 to 12 times. Shape the dough into a ball, cover the top lightly with flour, then cover with a tea towel and let come to room temperature.
  • Grease a 9×13-inch pan; if desired, line with parchment paper (this makes for easier cleanup).
  • In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, spices, and salt.
  • Roll the dough into a 16 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle the sugar-spice mixture evenly over the top, pressing it lightly into the butter so it adheres. Starting at a long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pinch the seam gently to seal it and position the dough seam side down. Use scissors or a sharp knife to cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Transfer the pieces to the prepared pan and place them cut side up. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180C). Remove the plastic and bake 27 to 32 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the rolls are golden brown. While the rolls are baking, prepare the icing.
  • Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Using an offset spatula or table knife, apply a thin layer of the icing, using about one-third of the mixture. Let the apple cider cinnamon rolls cool for another 15 to 20 minutes. Top with the rest of the icing and serve.

For the Icing

  • In a medium saucepan, cook the apple cider and salt over medium-high until reduced to 1/4 cup, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth (there may be a few tiny cream cheese lumps, but they will come out as you whisk in the confectioners’ sugar). Slowly add the powdered sugar to the apple cider mixture, whisking constantly, until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
  • Reply
    Amy Wolfe
    Thursday, January 25, 2024 at 7:52 am

    5 stars
    These turned out, super soft and very delicious. The recipe was easy to follow.

  • Reply
    Saturday, November 4, 2023 at 7:56 am

    Is there a way to have these fully prepared so in the morning you can pop them right in the oven? If all steps are completed the night before, can we just have them get to room temp and bake? Thanks!!

    • Reply
      Cheryl McDonald
      Sunday, June 2, 2024 at 12:42 pm

      I was thinking the same thing, you would have to get up at 4 am to enjoy at breakfast. I hope someone answers this question!

  • Reply
    Sunday, October 29, 2023 at 5:50 pm

    5 stars
    I just finished sampling one of these rolls. Oh my—they are delicious!!! They do take a long time, but they are worth the wait! I was a bit confused by the icing. In the picture, it looks like the usual icing for rolls, but when making it, it was so thin. I added lots more than 2 cups of powdered sugar. I will definitely add this recipe to my “make again” file!

  • Reply
    Friday, October 27, 2023 at 11:09 am

    Do you think boiled cider would work in this recipe? I love how intense the flavor is but wonder if I would need to mix it with water to get the volume of liquid needed…planning to try this recipe this weekend regardless of boiled cider or regular! 🙂

  • Reply
    Lynne Patton
    Sunday, October 15, 2023 at 7:38 pm

    5 stars
    These were wonderful. Took them to a gathering this morning and was lucky to bring one home for my spouse will definitely make these again!

  • Reply
    Monday, October 9, 2023 at 8:49 am

    My question is this: The dough was in the fridge overnight, and I went to check on it and it did not rise. Will they still turn out, or will they only rise when I actually start the making of the rolls part?

  • Reply
    Friday, September 23, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    Do you think apple juice would be ok. I could even cook it down some.

    • Reply
      Sarah Kieffer
      Monday, September 26, 2022 at 1:29 pm

      Apple juice doesn’t have the same flavor so it won’t be as strong, but should still work!

  • Reply
    Friday, January 14, 2022 at 5:29 am

    5 stars
    I love apple cider! These cinnamon rolls look so delicious and the cider idea is simply genius! Can’t wait to try this recipe

  • Reply
    Lisa Cohen
    Tuesday, September 28, 2021 at 6:19 am

    5 stars
    These are DELICIOUS and the perfect transition into fall for a summer-loving-Fall-reluctant. The apple cider flavor in the glaze is wonderful!

  • Reply
    Sunday, September 26, 2021 at 9:54 am

    5 stars
    Just made these this morning and two big thumbs up! I wouldn’t change a thing…what a perfect fall treat!

    • Reply
      Saturday, November 12, 2022 at 8:00 pm

      It’s been quite a process. Just pulled them out of the oven. Can’t imagine how you did it in a morning!

  • Reply
    tabligh raiegan
    Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 10:46 am

    really nice

  • Reply
    Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at 6:56 am

    This recipe looks absolutely delicious! I will try definitely, the texture of the roll is yummy, thank you for sharing this recipe.

  • Reply
    Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 7:46 am

    Very interesting post thanks for sharing. Keep it up

  • Reply
    Wednesday, October 30, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    Made these to fortify us during a snowstorm. What a gooey, pillowy, crisp delight! I made your sweet dough for the first time for these, and now I think I really do need to buy your book.

  • Reply
    Friday, October 25, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    love these, icing is a nice tweak (I won’t say twist), thank you for this recipe!

  • Reply
    Ajay Kumar
    Thursday, October 24, 2019 at 4:16 am

    This is regarding your tips regarding food article studied me and I am very much impressed by the article and the way you have explained the things in details is really appreciable.I am looking forward for more learning tips from your side which would in turns would help me to gain more tips from your side.

  • Reply
    Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    These look absolutely delicious! I cannot wait to try that icing!

    What is your favorite spooky book you have ever read? I am a huge reader so I would love a recommendation!

  • Reply
    Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at 11:19 pm

    I love apple cider! These cinnamon rolls look so delicious and the cider idea is simply genius! Can’t wait to try this recipe ?

5 from 13 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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