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Caramel Apple Sweet Rolls

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This is an easy, small batch recipe for homemade Caramel Apple Sweet Rolls.  It starts with a classic cinnamon roll recipe for 4 rolls.  Then you add sweet, crunchy apples and maple syrup caramel sauce to upgrade the perfect breakfast treat!  

Caramel apple roll with apple slice on top

Caramel Apple Sweet Rolls

The dough for the Caramel Apple Sweet Rolls is basically a cinnamon roll dough.  It is one yeast dough that is super easy to make.  Actually, I think all yeast dough’s are easy to make – it’s just a matter of getting comfortable with how a yeast dough comes to life in your environment. 

To get a little technical, the sweet roll dough is considered an enriched dough.  This is because is has the added ingredients of milk, eggs and butter.  These make the dough soft and chewy and differentiates it from a regular bread dough.   

Mixing the Dough

Two words – One.  Bowl.  

You start with activating, or ‘proofing’ your yeast.  You will do this if you are using an active dry yeast.  My preference is to use is to use an active yeast and I buy the yeast in the jar from Fleischmann’s.  Call it being a control freak, or just a creature of habit, but I like to see the yeast bubble and foam in the liquid and watch it come to life so I know it will work. 

Just sprinkle the yeast on top of the milk and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes.  The mix will get foamy and frothy, which is its way of telling you it is ready to work and build up the dough.  

You can use instant yeast instead.  If so, you don’t need to proof it.  Just add it in with the flour, on one side of the bowl with the salt on the other.  Salt may retard the yeast causing it not to work.

After the yeast has proofed, you just mix everything together in one bowl (follow the ingredient additions per the recipe, of course! 🙂 ), and you will know it is ready to knead when it comes together as a dough and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Caramel apple sweet roll in a dish

Kneading and Proofing the Sweet Roll Dough

You will need to knead (hee hee!) the sweet roll dough for a few minutes.  This gets the gluten working in the dough.  The dough will be soft and smooth when you are done kneading it, and then it will be time to the let dough sit and proof. 

What Does Proofing Dough Mean

Proofing allows the yeast to work and develop a soft and tender dough.  The dough will need at least an hour to proof and double in size.  The temperature outside and the temperature in your kitchen can have an impact on how quickly your dough doubles, so you want to make sure you place the dough in a warm spot, free of any drafts.

The dough will tell you it is ready when it has doubled in size and looks spongy.  A tip I like to pass on is, I proof my dough in a large, clear Tupperware so I can see how much it has risen. 

I also learned on one of the many kitchen baking shows I watch (and awesome food blogger colleagues), that you can cover your dough with a shower cap while it is proofing.  The shower cap has elastic and is great to create a tight seal on the dough proofing bowl.

Caramel roll with a fork

How To Get The ‘Star’ Apple Slice Shape

I love seeing apple slices with the ‘star’ in the middle.  Rather than slicing apple wedges to garnish the sweet roll, you cut slices in the middle of the apple its ‘belly’.  Then just pop out the seeds from each slice.  Don’t worry about the rest of the core as it will soften while it bakes.  Very important step, I know.  🙂

Small Batch Breakfast

This recipe makes 4 sweet rolls.  If you want a larger batch, you can try my Maple Glazed Cinnamon Rolls.  There’s that dang maple syrup again! 

Anyway, to make these unique individual servings, bake them in at least 4-inch ramekins.  You can also bake them in a smaller baking pan – like a 6-inch square or round cake pan.  But I like the presentation of pretty white ramekins. 

And even though we only get 4 yummy rolls out of this recipe, you will be happy that is all there is.  They are large enough to share, but delicious enough to want to eat the whole batch!

So, how about some bacon, eggs and a Caramel Apple Sweet roll for a fully balanced breakfast … maybe … 

Caramel apple roll with apple slice on top

Caramel Apple Sweet Rolls

Yield: 4 Sweet Rolls
This is an easy, small batch recipe for homemade Caramel Apple Sweet Rolls!  It starts with a classic cinnamon roll recipe for 4 rolls.  Then you add sweet, crunchy apples and maple syrup caramel sauce to upgrade the perfect breakfast treat!  
Prep20 minutes
Cook15 minutes
Proofing Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total2 hours 5 minutes


  • 4 – 4-Inch Ramekins



  • 1/4 cup milk, room temperature (2% or whole milk)
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature and beaten

Apple Filling

  • 1 fresh apple, cored and chopped (Red Delicious was used in this recipe)
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar (may substitute brown sugar)
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Caramel Topping

  • Maple Syrup Caramel Sauce
  • 1 fresh apple, cut into full slices at the 'belly' and remove seeds once sliced (Red Delicious was used in this recipe)


  • In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, add the milk and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5-10 minutes until the yeast 'proofs' and gets foamy.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the yeast mixture, beaten egg yolk, and melted butter and stir with a wooden spoon. Stir the dough until all ingredients are combined and the dough starts to come together and pull away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will be sticky, but if it is too sticky, you can sprinkle in more flour, a teaspoon at a time.
  • Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough and your hands with flour. The dough will be sticky and we want to knead it past the sticky stage until it becomes smooth and elastic – about 5 minutes. You will know the dough has been kneaded enough when you poke it with you finger and it bounces back. Shape into a ball and place in a bowl that has been lightly greased with cooking spray. I use a large Tupperware bowl so I can see the dough through the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for the dough to rise for 60-90 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.
  • While the dough is proofing, make the filling (and Maple Syrup Caramel Sauce, if you do not have any on hand).
  • In a small bowl, combine the coconut sugar and cinnamon and stir until incorporated. The melted butter will be used to brush on to the dough.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size, transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a 5-inch x 8-inch rectangle – with the long side facing you. Brush the melted butter on the dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mix on top – leaving a small border on the top of the dough. Arrange the chopped apples evenly on top of the cinnamon-sugar.
  • With the long side of the dough closest to you, roll the dough as tightly as possible without stretching the dough, and gently press the seam end closed. Using a serrated knife, cut the dough into 4 equal rolls.
  • Spray the ramekins with cooking spray. Evenly pour the Maple Syrup Caramel Sauce into the bottom of the ramekins (you will have a little more than a 1/4 cup of caramel). Then place an apple slice on top of the caramel.
  • Place the cut sweet rolls in each of the ramekins. Cover with a dry kitchen towel and let rise again in a warm place, for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 400F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
  • Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake the sweet rolls for 15 – 17 minutes, or until the tops are golden and the center of the rolls no longer look doughy. Let the sweet rolls cool slightly before serving.
  • To serve, invert the sweet rolls onto a serving plate. Or to serve in the ramekins, you will need an extra ramekin to invert the first sweet roll. Then invert the remaining sweet rolls into the 'baked' ramekins.
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Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich
Nutrition information is calculated by a third-party and should only be considered an estimate and not a guarantee.
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about the author ...

I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!

I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you!

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