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Apple Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

  • Author: by Mary
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 180 mins
  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes


Units Scale
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups (or more) flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 golden delicious apples
  • 2/3 cup pecans
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp milk or cream


  1. Heat the milk and 3 Tbsp butter together in the microwave (or stovetop) until the butter is melted. Let cool to 115F before adding the yeast, and letting proof for 5 minutes.
  2. When foamy, add to a stand mixer bowl with 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, and salt. Mix for 3 minutes, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add an extra 2 cups of flour — add more as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl.
  3. When the dough has come together, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for about 5 minutes — until the dough is very smooth and not sticky (add flour as necessary, but try to add as little as possible).
  4. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and let rise until doubled in size: about 2 hours.
  5. Butter a 9×12 baking dish, or two 8×8 pans.
  6. When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll out into a 11″x18″ rectangle. If it is pulling back too much, let it rest for five minutes before trying again.
  7. Using a box grater, shred the two apples. Wrap in cheese cloth and squeeze the excess liquid out of the apple shreds. Roughly chop the pecans.
  8. Pour 5 Tbsp melted butter over the rectangle of dough, and spread it over the surface — leaving 1 cm around the edges without butter. Spread the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the buttered area, topped with the apples and pecans. Gently press into the dough.
  9. Roll the dough tightly, from the longer side, into a log. Pinch the seam closed.
  10. If making traditionally-shaped cinnamon rolls, mark the log at 1″ intervals, and then cut the rolls. Place the rolls into your dish, evenly spaced with about 2 cm between each other.
  11. If you're going for a twist, cut the log in half lengthwise, then carefully twist as you lay it into the pan.
  12. Cover, and let rise for about 45 minutes.
  13. Preheat the oven to 400F, and when the rolls have risen, bake for 20-25 minutes. The tops should be turning brown, but just barely so. Remove from the oven. [I found that baking the twist required a bit more time than normal].
  14. While the rolls are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting. In a stand mixer, combine cream cheese and butter, and beat until very smooth — scraping down the sides as necessary. Sift the powdered sugar into the mixture, then add the vanilla, and mix until smooth. Add milk to reach desired consistency.
  15. When the rolls have cooled significantly, liberally spread the frosting over the rolls.