Two layers of buttery pastry dough, sweet cream cheese, and apple pie filling make up these Apple Cheesecake Pop-tarts. A thick layer of cinnamon maple glaze on top is reminiscent of the nostalgic brown sugar cinnamon pop-tart. I know I’m not the only one who loved those as a kid! These scratch-made pop-tarts are basically a mix between a toaster pastry and the best pop-tart you’ve ever tasted. You won’t be going to back to the store-bought varieties after you try these.
The pop-tart pastry I use for these is a simple pie dough that comes together quickly and bakes up with lots of flaky layers. And there’s not just one but TWO fillings sandwiched between the dough for a burst of cozy, fall flavors. There’s a light layer of sweetened cream cheese topped with scratch-made apple pie filling. A creamy, apple cinnamon-spiced combo and a perfect use for your fresh-picked apples.
The ingredients for these apple cheesecake pop-tarts are pretty straightforward and you probably have most of them on hand, but let’s go over a few that require a bit more detail.
- Flour. Regular ol’ all-purpose flour is all you need for this recipe but it is crucial how you measure this because too much or too little flour in pie dough can make all the difference. I always highly recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients when baking. This is far more accurate since a cup of flour could actually be a different weight every time. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, be sure to fluff your flour up with a spoon then scoop it into your measuring cup, and scrape the excess off with a knife. You never want to pack down your flour when using a measuring cup and this “fluffing” method will give you the closest results to using a scale.
- Butter. There is butter in the pop-tart dough, the apple filling, and the glaze. The temperature of the butter that goes in the dough is most important. You want it to be very cold and cut into small cubes. I like to cut my cold butter into cubes and then stick it back into the fridge until right before it needs to be added to the food processor. If you find that it’s getting too soft, you can even pop it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Cold butter can make or break your pie dough so don’t skip this!
- Ice Water. Along with the cold butter, we want to use ice cold water in the pie dough to help keep that butter firm. This recipe calls for ¼ cup of ice water, although you may not need to use the entire amount. I measure out ¼ cup of cold water, add several ice cubes, then when I’m ready to add the water to the dough, strain out the ice cubes and measure ¼ cup of the water. Be sure to drizzle the water slowly and only add as much as needed to form a dough.
- Apples. Most any apple will work here. Honeycrisps are my absolute favorite so that’s what I use. Fuji is another good one. I would recommend choosing an apple that you like for snacking. A Granny Smith would be a good choice if you prefer a less sweet and more tart apple.
How to Make Apple Cheesecake Pop-Tarts
- Mix the dough. The dough comes together quickly in a food processor. Be sure to add the water slowly, as you may not need all that the recipe calls for. You want a soft dough, but it shouldn’t be overly sticky. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours, but I prefer to let it chill overnight.
- Make the apple cinnamon filling. This apple cinnamon filling is made with fresh apples, a little butter, brown and white sugars, a splash of lemon juice, and of course, a generous amount of cinnamon. These all get cooked together on the stove until the apples are tender, then a cornstarch slurry is added to thicken the mixture which gives it that classic, saucy apple pie filling texture. You want this to cool completely before assembling the pop-tarts.
- Make the cream cheese filling. This filling is just 3 ingredients – cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Cream it all together – that’s it. Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature so your mixture is smooth and lump-free. This will also make it easier to spread onto the pop-tart dough.
- Roll out the dough. Once the dough has chilled, you’ll split the dough in half and work with one portion at a time. Each half of the dough will be rolled into a large rectangle, then trimmed down to a 10” x 12” rectangle and cut into eight 3” x 5” pieces. A ruler and a pizza cutter will help this part go quickly and smoothly.
- Assemble the pop-tarts. Start with eight of the dough rectangles on a sheet pan and add a scoop of the cream cheese filling, spread it out slightly, add a scoop of the apple filling on top, and spread it across the cream cheese. Be sure to leave at least ¼” border around the sides. Eggwash those edges, then lay the other eight rectangles on top of each of the pieces with filling. Press down on the edges with your fingers, then press a fork into the sides of the dough to seal the edges.
- Chill, bake, and glaze. Chill the assembled pop-tarts for 30 minutes. Once the pop-tarts are chilled, bake them at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. While you’re waiting for the pop-tarts to cool, make the cinnamon maple glaze which comes together in one bowl. Add a scoop of the glaze to the top of the cooled pop-tarts and spread it around with the back of a spoon. Add a little sprinkle of cinnamon on top and enjoy!
Tips for the Best Pop-Tarts
- Plan ahead. There is some waiting time involved in this recipe. You want your pop-tart pastry dough to rest in the fridge (ideally overnight) and the apple cinnamon filling to cool completely before assembling. I recommend making the pie dough and the apple filling the day before. You can even make the cream cheese filling ahead of time and refrigerate it overnight, but make sure to bring it to room temperature before assembling the pop-tarts, so you can easily spread it.
- Chill the dough. The key to any pie or pastry dough is to not let it get too warm, otherwise, the butter will start to get soft making the dough hard to work with. If at any point the dough becomes too difficult to work with, just pop it on a sheet pan and place it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. This is why it’s so important to chill the dough overnight, or at least for a couple of hours before rolling it out. You’ll also chill the assembled pop-tarts for about 30 minutes before baking to give the dough time to rest and for the butter to firm up.
- Make the glaze while the pop-tarts cool. The glaze thickens as it sits so if you make it too far in advance, you may need to add more milk. Keep that in mind when adding milk to get the desired consistency. If it’s too thin, let it sit for a few minutes. I prefer a pretty thick, spreadable glaze but if you want a thinner glaze, just add a little more milk. Be sure to let the pop-tarts cool completely or the glaze will melt all over.
- Enjoy right away. These pop-tarts are best enjoyed the same day they are baked. That flaky, buttery crust just isn’t the same after the first day. If you’re keeping them longer, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. You can pop these back in the oven for a few minutes to crisp them up a bit but the glaze will melt.
Can I use store-bought pie dough?
I recommend making the pie dough from scratch because it is so quick and easy but if you’re in a pinch, store-bought works just fine. For eight 3” x 5” pop-tarts you will most likely need 2 packages of the refrigerated store-bought stuff. Follow the package directions for softening the dough then roll each pie crust out to make them slightly thinner.
Can I use store-bought apple pie filling?
Yes. If you want to make these super quick, you can swap a can of apple pie filling for the homemade apple cinnamon filling. One large can should be plenty but I recommend chopping it in a food processor so you have smaller, bite-sizer pieces of apple.
How do you crimp the edges of the pop-tarts?
A simple fork works great for this. Place the tines of the fork about ¼” in from the edge of the pop-tart and press down to seal the 2 pieces of dough together. I tried something a little different when I made these and used a pastry wheel turned on its side to press the edges down for a fun, unique pattern.
Do I need any special tools to make these?
No! You’ll need a few basics like a rolling pin and baking sheets. A food processor is helpful when it comes to making the pie dough but you can even mix it by hand if you don’t have one. I recommend using a ruler and a pizza cutter to help make accurate, clean cuts in the dough but nothing fancy is necessary!
More Breakfast Pastries You’ll Love
- Almond Cream Brioche Buns
- Pumpkin Cinnamon Streusel Muffins
- Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins
- Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake Loaf
Lastly, if you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment below and tag @sweetkitchencravings on Instagram or TikTok. Or if Pinterest is more your style, you can save my recipes to your collection there. Happy pop-tart making!
Apple Cheesecake Pop-Tarts
For the Pop-Tart Pastry Dough
- 2 ½ cups (314g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks or 226g) unsalted butter , cold and cut into cubes
- ¼ cup (60g) ice water
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water, for egg wash
For the Apple Cinnamon Filling
- 3 medium apples, peeled and cored
- 2 Tablespoons (14g) unsalted butter
- ¼ cup (56g) brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons (26g) granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon (14g) lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon water
For the Cheesecake Filling
- 8 oz (1 block or 227g) cream cheese, at room temperature
- ¼ cup (28g) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Cinnamon Maple Glaze
- ¼ cup (57g) butter, melted
- 1 cup (120g) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon maple flavoring
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1-2 Tablespoons milk
- Pop-Tart Pastry: In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add the cold cubed butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs and the butter chunks are pea-sized.
- With the processor running, slowly start to drizzle in the cold water. Only use as much as needed for a dough to form, which may be less than the full ¼ cup. As soon as the dough comes together and forms a ball, do not add any more water. The dough should be soft but not too sticky. Flatten the dough into a rectangle and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
- Apple Cinnamon Filling: Chop the apples into small cubes. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter then add the apples, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Stir to combine and cook over medium-low heat until the apples are tender, about 10 minutes. Combine the cornstarch and water. Once the apples are soft and the mixture is bubbling, stir in the cornstarch mixture and continue to stir while the mixture thickens, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Cream Cheese Filling: Using an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Set aside.
- Assembly: Once the pastry dough is chilled, remove from the fridge and divide it in half. Wrap one half back in the plastic and place it back in the fridge while you roll out the other half. Place the dough on a generously floured surface and roll it into a large rectangle, measuring roughly 11” x 13”. Using a ruler and a pizza cutter or sharp knife, trim the edges to create a rectangle that measures exactly 10” x 12”. Then cut that piece into eight equal pieces, each measuring 3” x 5”.
- Place the rectangles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. They won’t spread much in the oven so these can be fairly close together. Set aside and repeat the same process with the other half of the dough to create eight more rectangles.
- Scoop about 1½ Tablespoons of the cream cheese filling in the center of half of the rectangles and spread it out slightly, leaving at least a ¼” border on all sides. Add about 2 Tablespoons of the apple filling on top of the cream cheese. Lightly brush the edges of the rectangles with egg wash. Place the remaining rectangles over the filling and press the edges of the two rectangles together with your fingers. Using a fork, press down on the edges to seal the dough. Refrigerate the pop-tarts for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Once the pop-tarts are chilled, use a fork to poke 3 sets of holes in the dough to allow steam to escape. Brush the entire top of each pop-tart with egg wash. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the pop-tarts are puffed and golden brown. Allow to cool completely before glazing.
- Cinnamon Maple Glaze: While the pop-tarts cool, make the glaze. Whisk together the melted butter, powdered sugar, maple flavoring, cinnamon, and 1 Tablespoon of milk. Add more milk as needed until you have a spreadable consistency. The glaze will thicken as it sits so you may need to add more right before spreading it on the pop-tarts.
- Spoon the glaze onto the top of the pop-tarts, using the back of a spoon to spread it out. Serve at room temperature and enjoy!