Insanely Delicious Cinnamon Roll Cake with Apples and Pecans

Recipe Pin
1 hour
8 servings

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Insanely Delicious Cinnamon Roll Cake with Apples and Pecans combines the flavors of fall like apple and pecan together with refrigerated cinnamon rolls for an easy ooey gooey breakfast cake or quickie coffee cake. Trust me – stop what you’re doing and make this recipe!

an apple and cinnamon cake in a casserole dish

This easy country coffee cake cheats by calling for refrigerated cinnamon roll dough that, once combined with ripe apples and sweet pecans, becomes a coffeetime indulgence you’ll not soon forget.

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One bite of a homemade cinnamon roll and you’ll swear you’re going to learn to bake come hell or high water.

Hey, in my case, there’s a first time for everything! But seriously…

All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC

As the world slowly begins to open up again, I am hearing from readers that quick idea dinners and sweet snacks and bakes are at the top of the post-pandemic wish list.

For so many others of you for whom the jury is still out on whether we are post-pandemic or just in a calm, surprisingly you’ve requested quickie dinner and sweet snacks and bakes as well.

Boxed cake mix hacks are an easy way to achieve sweet bakes without really having to be a baker.

So yeah, those hacks are for me! Not a baker – SO NOT A BAKER!

That’s why this clever cinnamon cake begins with a step up from a boxed mix and works with premade cinnamon roll dough as its base.

The apples and pecans will have eaters fooled into thinking YOU baked this all up from scratch!

How This Recipe Came About…

I love a good coffee cake mid morning when I stop to assess how the day will play out.

I grab coffee, my calendar, a quiet corner, and often, a piece of warm cake I’ve zapped in the microwave for a few seconds. It’s my morning fix.

I also love cinnamon rolls, maybe even more than cake, as I find myself popping the pre-mades into my oven more often than not.

When you run a food blog, there are days you crave certain things, but there’s just no energy to whip ’em up.

an apple and cinnamon cake in a casserole dish

Coming up with a breakfast cake recipe or a coffee cake recipe to utilize those pre-mades was in the works for a while if I’m honest.

It just made sense. No fussing with a cake batter or sticky cinnamon mixture outside of the pre-made refrigerated cinnamon rolls was in my future, and now hopefully in yours.

The concept of using refrigerated biscuits or bread dough is not new.

In fact, I sheepishly latched on to this speedy hack for when I needed my cheap and easy sweet fixes.

What’s different about this one is that I am using fresh chopped raw apples that will bake at the same time and temp as the bread dough.

A healthy shot of whiskey wakes those apples right up!

And when supporting ingredients like pecans, vanilla, and sugar are added, this easy cinnamon roll cake recipe becomes a baking delight.

Insanely Delicious Cinnamon Roll Cake With Apples And Pecans

an apple and cinnamon cake in a casserole dish

Do You Have What’s Needed For An Insanely Delicious Cinnamon Roll Cake With Apples And Pecans? Check The List!

  • Unsalted butter
  • Apples
  • Refrigerated cinnamon rolls
  • Brown sugar, light or dark
  • Cinnamon
  • Light corn syrup
  • Whiskey
  • Eggs
  • Pecans
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Milk

What Are The Best Canned Cinnamon Rolls To Use For A Cinnamon Roll Cake?

It may seem like any old refrigerated cinnamon roll dough will do, but many brands are miles apart when tasting side by side.

In particular, many come across as tasting ‘salty.’ I have tasted numerous brands for this cake.

Here are three I recommend for this recipe:

Trader Joe’s Canned Refrigerated Cinnamon Rolls, Annie’s Cinnamon Rolls, and Immaculate Baking Cinnamon Rolls.

With the exception of Trader Joe’s, the others are both available at most US grocers.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a Trader Joe’s locally, then you have that additional choice.

What Kind Of Apples Work Best In Apple Pecan Cinnamon Roll Cake?

Any apple will work in this bake.

Given they go in uncooked and are only in for about 40 minutes total oven time, most varieties hold their shape.

an apple and cinnamon cake in a casserole dish

For this cinnamon roll cake using canned cinnamon rolls I am using one Granny Smith and one Honeycrisp.

This way, if my bake runs over time, or the Honeycrisp breaks down slightly, I will still have pieces of apple versus apple sauce!

How To Make An Apple Pecan Cinnamon Roll Cake?

Cinnamon roll coffee cake is as easy as chopping the apples and arranging with the cinnamon rolls in a buttered cake pan.

The remaining ingredients are whisked together and poured over top. The ensemble then goes into a 375°F oven for a 35-to-45-minute bake.

The most difficult part of this recipe for cinnamon cake is waiting while it bakes.

The aroma of cinnamon and apples wafting from your kitchen will have you pacing that oven timer of yours!

What If I Do Not Have Whiskey?

This recipe calls for one tablespoon of whisky.

If you did not have whisky but wanted to substitute another liquor, consider apple brandy, pear cognac, or any sort of orange flavored liquor such as Cointreau.

If you prefer not to add any alcohol at all, replace with equal measures of apple or orange juice.

Do I Have To Use Pecans?

Pecans scream autumn in the American South, so you’ll see me specify them in practically everything I make.

If you do not have access to pecans or prefer to use another nut, walnuts, almonds, or macadamia nuts work great. Unsalted, untoasted, just plain naked…

apple cinnamon roll cake

How Long Does Cinnamon Roll Cake Take To Prepare?

Set aside just under one hour for this recipe for cinnamon roll cake.

You’ve got about ten minutes of prep and an oven pre-heat. Beyond that, a 35 to 45 minute bake.

I do allow the cake five to ten minutes to cool once pulled from the oven and before hitting it with the glaze.

Modifying The Norm To Make It Not Entirely Average…

Swollen golden raisins, chopped crystalized ginger, white chocolate chips, or a drizzle of warm caramel in addition to the sugar glaze would make this recipe not entirely average for sure!

For Christmas last year, my Mom added several tablespoons of chopped chocolate covered orange peels to the apple cinnamon roll layer before she added the whiskey brown sugar mixture.

The orange became the dominant flavor and the chocolate was just a really pleasant surprise when I dug my fork into the warm cake!

featured image for cinnamon swirl toasted pecan bundt cake not entirely average
Cinnamon Swirl Toasted Pecan Bundt Cake

Can A Cinnamon Roll Cake Be Made Ahead?

Yes. This cinnamon cake recipe may be made ahead by one day.

Because it must be stored in the refrigerator, you will need to reheat it in your microwave for several seconds if you want that warm cinnamon roll experience.

Can A Cinnamon Roll Cake Be Frozen?

Yes. If you have a vacuum sealing system, this is the way to go for this cake in particular.

It is able to retain a degree of moisture this way, whereas it looses this attribute if say freezing in a plastic freezer bag or casserole.

How To Serve An Apple Pecan Cinnamon Roll Cake?

WARM! Warm with just the glaze it calls for or even warm with a scoop of French vanilla and some hot caramel topping!

What’s The Difference Between Cinnamon Rolls And Cinnamon Buns?

Frosting! Or…no frosting if you prefer to look at it that way. Cinnamon rolls are always adorned with a to-die-for-drizzle of confectioners sugar glaze or embellished with a rich cream cheese frosting. Cinnamon buns infuse in their own brown sugar and cinnamon syrup, exquisitely saturating them. Rolls and buns both are wickedly indulgent and absolutely decadent!

featured image for an apple and cinnamon cake in a casserole dish

Insanely Delicious Cinnamon Roll Cake With Apples And Pecans

Jenny DeRemer
Insanely Delicious Cinnamon Roll Cake With Apples And Pecans combines the flavors of fall like apple and pecan together with refrigerated cinnamon rolls for an easy ooey gooey breakfast cake or quickie coffee cake!
4.08 from 14 votes
Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Cooling 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 201 kcal



for the cinnamon roll cake

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter divided; 1 tablespoon melted, the other at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups apples peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 can (roughly 10 ounces) canned cinnamon rolls
  • cup brown sugar light or dark, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon whiskey may substitute apple brandy, pear cognac or any orange-flavored liquor such as Cointreau
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup pecans halves and pieces

for the glaze

  • cup Confectioners sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons milk reduced fat or full fat


  • Heat oven to 350°F. Use 1 tablespoon of the butter which has softened to room temperature to butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round or 8 x 8-inch cake/baking pan. **NOTE in Not Entirely Average test kitchen trial bakes, this cake baked ooey gooey at 350°F with the apples in tact and texture maintained. We also baked this cake at 375°F for the same amount of time and yielded a less ooey gooey cake with slightly broken down apples. Oven accurateness plays a major role in how recipes finish. Take all into consideration when determining the best temperature to set your oven within the 350°F to 375°F range for this recipe.
  • Spread 1 cup of the apples in the bottom of the pan. Separate the canned cinnamon rolls and cut each into 4 pieces. Arrange cinnamon roll pieces point side up over the apples. Scatter remaining apples.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining tablespoon of butter which you have melted, brown sugar, cinnamon, corn syrup, whisky, and the eggs. Using an electric hand mixer, beat the mixture to 2 to 3 minutes until the brown sugar is visibly at least partially dissolved.
  • Stir in the pecans and pour over the assembles apples and cinnamon roll points being sure to fill all of the peaks and the valleys.
  • Bake for 35 to 45 minutes at 350°F or until the top of the cake has turned a deep golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes. Cake will have puffed up significantly.
  • While the cake cools, prepare the sugar icing by whisking all of the glaze ingredients in a small bowl until very smooth. Drizzle over warm coffee cake.
  • Serve warm with hot coffee as a breakfast, Brunch, or mid-morning treat, or serve warm with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of hot caramel sauce as a dessert.


Substituting Alcohol use apple or orange juice in equal measure in lieu of any alcohol if preferred.
Substituting Pecans use walnuts, macadamias, or whole or chopped almonds in lieu of pecans if preferred.
Make Ahead by one day and refrigerate uneaten portions for up to three days. Reheat in microwave for several seconds to serve warm.
To Freeze use a vacuum sealing system if possible. May also freeze in a plastic freezer bag or casserole dish with a lid.

The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.

Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 201kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 3gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 31mgPotassium: 96mgFiber: 2gSugar: 23gVitamin A: 175IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 28mgIron: 1mg
Did you love this recipe?Leave a comment and Let me know how it was!
Pinterest pin image for an apple and cinnamon cake in a casserole dish

4.08 from 14 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. Sounds Delish !!! Can’t wait to make this for my family. I won’t tell them about the whiskey and they’ll never know…..What a treat5 stars

    1. Audrey, I had to laugh when I read your comment. We have friends of ours who do not drink. Although there is very little alcohol in this bake, I make a point of being transparent always. Well, turns out amidst absolute chaos (over 35 people in the house, trying to remove a ham from the oven, dogs, kids…chaos) our friend helped himself to the dessert buffet waaaay ahead of things. He proceeded to go back, then back again for seconds before I had the opportunity to tell him that the cinnamon roll cake had liquor baked into it. Did NOT stop him – he went back for thirds! I really hope you will enjoy this! x – Jenny

  2. In your commentary you say to bake these in a 375 degree oven. However, your instructions say 350 degree oven. What is the best temperature to use?

    1. Judy, so glad somebody finally asked this question…during our test bakes, the cake that seemed to resonate with everybody was the cake baked in a 350°F oven that came out softer, slightly gooier. I was the stand alone who enjoyed the less gooey cake, the cake baked in a 375°F oven for the same amount of time. My kitchen assistants pointed out that the majority of package directions for each brand of cinnamon roll dough we tried also indicated baking their product in a 350°F oven. My argument was that the apples offered additional moisture that the manufacturer’s instructions would not have accounted for. I was overruled…

      Here is my thing. If you like a slightly gooey cake, go with 350°F. By bumping to 375°F you will end up with a less gooey cake, but still filled with that cinnamon pull-apart goodness 🙂

      1. Oh my gosh! Thank you. I, also don’t like gooey cake. Now I know why my rolls always seemed not done. Blessing on your day.

    1. Jane, you absolutely caught my mistake – the recipe calls for 2 eggs, and should read “In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining tablespoon of butter which you have melted, brown sugar, cinnamon, corn syrup, whisky, and the eggs.” My apologies if I’ve muddled you up, as it was not my intention of course. Please do let me know how the cake turns out for you. Jenny

  3. This looks delicious! Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner party! Hope to see you again tomorrow! Happy Halloween!

  4. What a jaw dropping delicious sounding cake! I love this idea, it looks so indulgent yet with the apples that makes it healthy right? hahaha.5 stars

    1. Um, sure Rebecca…very, very healthy! lol Let me know if you make it, how you end up enjoying it! x – Jenny

  5. This sounds like just the thing for breakfast for my thanksgiving guests! Visiting you from the Thurs Favorites link up!