Apple Butter Rugelach

It’s apple season, and these Apple Butter Rugelach are ready to fill your kitchen with that sweet smell of autumn. Flaky, beautiful, and ever-so-tasty, with a crunchy cinnamon sugar topping, and studded with sweet pecans. Holiday baking has arrived. 🍎

Spreading apple butter on rugelach dough with an offset spatula

I’m a sucker for all things fall, which officially starts next week!

When grocers stock their aisles with autumnal baking goods, I can’t help but fill up my cart.

Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pumpkin… And jars of apple butter and pumpkin butters –  BUT WAIT, what the heck do you do with those butters??

Cutting Apple Butter Rugelach into pieces

I’ve got great ideas to share!

AND excitingly – coming REALLY soon – we will have Key Lime Lexi ® apple and pumpkin butters available on the shelves at Bealls!

I’ll be sure to announce when they hit the stores, but in the meantime (and for those who don’t live nearby a Bealls), for this recipe you can substitute another jar of high quality apple butter and the end result will be close.

Basting apple butter rugelach

Some of my favorite things to do with apple or pumpkin butters:

  • A schmear on toast for a quick breakfast
  • A swirl added to oatmeal with a drizzle of pure maple
  • Using as an ingredient in quick breads and muffins
  • Adding into traditional pumpkin or apple pies to bump up the flavor
  • As an ingredient in sweet treats! Like these cookies!

Close up of basting apple butter rugelach

I’ve been making rugelach for years (pronounced something like “ROO-guh-la”, but with a trailing and fading “kh” sound that I can’t quite train my tounge to produce)… it’s a cherished family treat in the fall, and this year I decided to develop a version using Key Lime Lexi ® apple butter, one of my favorite sweet, sticky condiments!

Close up of apple butter rugelach on parchment after baking

It’s funny, I didn’t grow up eating rugelach, but I did grow up with my Slovakian grandmother’s nut horns, which are a close cousin of this eastern european delight. I believe all my exposure to my grandmother’s traditional cooking allowed me to fall easily and comfortably into cooking and baking for the Jewish holidays, since it’s all rooted in the cuisine from the same part of the world.

And Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, has become one of our kids’ favorites since you’re supposed to enjoy sweet food to ring in the sweet year ahead! Cinnamon raisin studded challah bread, apple cake, honey on EVERYTHING! And of course, rugelach!

No matter your traditions, you are sure to love these fall inspired cookies complete with a fun apple butter twist. Be sure to stay tuned for a super fun pumpkin butter treat coming soon!

Top down of apple butter rugelach

Any Tips or Tricks?

  1. You can easily half the recipe for a smaller batch.
  2. You can make the cookies and freeze them after they are formed and before they are baked off. No need to thaw before baking, just add 5-8 minutes to the baking time.
  3. Walnuts can be substituted for the pecans, or leave the nuts out altogether if you prefer.
  4. A small, offset spatula works best to smear the apple butter over the dough.
  5. I used a roll and slice technique to shape these cookies, but a rolled crescent shape, which looks like my grandmother’s nut horns (see my Holiday Cookie post) is also traditional. To make that shape, roll the dough into a circle, spread the filling on, then cut like a pizza into 12 wedge shapes. Roll up starting at the fat end, then brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar mixture.

Apple butter rugelach on a white serving platter

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Make Ahead Dinner Party

Angled view of apple butter rugelach with tea towel in background
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Apple Butter Rugelach

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Servings: 30 cookies

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup apple butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans optional
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Make the dough. In a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, butter, salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Beat until combined using the paddle attachment. Add the flour and mix until the dough just comes together. Divide in half, flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, or up to a day.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the apple butter and brown sugar. You should taste this mixture to make sure it is the appropriate sweetness. Depending on your brand of apple butter, you may need more or less brown sugar.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Dust another sheet of parchment with flour. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into a rectangle ⅛ inch thick. If it is still too cold to roll, let it rest 10 or so minutes and try again.
  • Trim the edges to make an even rectangle. Cover with half of the apple butter, spreading to the edges, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of pecans if using. Roll tightly into a log starting at the longest end. Use the parchment paper to assist in rolling the dough up - it really is helpful!
  • Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log in half, then half again, until you have 12 pieces. Use a sawing motion so that the cookies don’t compress as you cut them. Place the rolled cookies on the prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart and repeat with all of the remaining dough. If you have a lot of scraps left from the trimming, you can reroll them and fill with any extra filling, jam, or cinnamon sugar.
  • Mix the egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush the tops of the log with the egg wash, then sprinkle liberally with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  • Bake cookies in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through for even browning.
  • Remove and let cool completely. Cookies keep in a sealed container for 3-4 days at room temperature.

Tips & Tricks

The parchment paper I use is lined at 2” increments, which is helpful when trimming the dough to get an even edge.

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