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Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

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Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

My homemade cinnamon rolls are, hands down, the best. Period. And add some oooey, gooey cream cheese frosting on top…

Look out Cinnabon, we can now make delicious, warm, gooey cinnamon rolls at home any time we want! Who’s with me? Yessssss!

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Fair warning, if you’re looking for a healthy recipe, turn around right now. While my homemade cinnamon rolls are anything but light, they’re exactly what your sweet tooth is looking for!

Layers of soft chewy dough, with brown sugar cinnamon between each one, all topped with a thick yet oozing cream cheese frosting, all swirled into one delicious treat. It’s the best cinnamon rolls recipe you’ll find…try it, you’ll see! And if you like these, wait till you try my cinnamon roll donuts.

You can make my recipe for cinnamon rolls fresh the same day. Or you can prep the dough the night before, so it’s ready first thing in the morning. Or you can make a big batch of cinnamon rolls and refrigerate or freeze them for later!

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)
Jump to:
  • How to make cinnamon rolls
  • A few helpful ingredient tips
  • Ingredients
  • Making the dough
  • First rising
  • Cinnamon roll filling
  • Forming the cinnamon rolls
  • Second rising
  • Baking
  • Making the icing
  • Additional filling ideas
  • How to make the dough the night before
  • Freezing the dough
  • Freezing finished cinnamon rolls
  • 📝 Recipe

How to make cinnamon rolls

While there are several steps involved to make homemade cinnamon rolls, it’s nothing difficult. I promise. 

The dough has to rise twice, but not for too long…just long enough to grab a cuppa coffee and relax for a bit while the dough does its thing.

There’s also a little kneading and rolling, but also easy peasy.

A few helpful ingredient tips

  • MilkUse whole milk or 2%. The milk should be warm…not hot. Warm milk will activate the yeast, but hot milk will kill it. Just nuke the milk in the microwave for about 45 seconds. It should be the temperature that you can dip your finger in and it will be just a little warm. Also, while I haven’t tried it myself, I’ve heard that you can also make cinnamon rolls with almond milk. If you try it, please let me know how it works out for you!  

  • Yeast For this recipe, I used Instant Yeast. You can use Active Dry yeast instead, but make sure to let it “proof” in the warm milk for about 5 minutes, and the rising of the dough may also take a little longer.

  • Butter For the dough and icing, the butter should be melted. But for the filling, the butter should just be softened so you can mix it with the brown sugar and cinnamon. If the butter is melted, it will be too runny and may run right out of your dough spirals. Melted butter makes it into a paste instead. I also used salted butter for this recipe, before that’s what I almost always use in my recipes…but if you prefer unsalted, go right ahead and use that.

  • Eggs Eggs should be at room temperature. Cold eggs could negatively affect the yeast doing its work. The eggs can be brought to room temperature in just a few minutes by placing them in a bowl of warm water.

  • Cinnamon For the strongest cinnamon flavor, make sure it’s a fairly new container. Spices do lose their potency over time.

  • Cream cheese The cream cheese should also be softened so that it mixes smoothly. To soften cream cheese quickly, remove it from its wrapper, place in a bowl, and microwave for 20-30 seconds.

  • Brown sugar – I used light brown sugar in my recipe, but if you want even more of a molasses sweetness, then you can certainly use dark brown sugar instead.
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Ingredients

Dough

  • Milk
  • Instant yeast
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt
  • All purpose flour

Filling

  • Light brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Butter

Icing

  • Cream cheese
  • Powdered sugar
  • Butter
  • Vanilla extract

See the recipe card below for full list of ingredients and their measurements.

Making the dough

For making the dough, I used a stand mixer, but you can also mix the ingredients by hand.

Place warm milk in a mixing bowl, add yeast, and give it a stir. Let it sit for a minute or two while you’re gathering the other ingredients. 

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls - Warm milk and yeast (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
Warm milk and yeast (Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Next, add sugar, eggs, butter, salt, and vanilla, and mix well. Lastly, using a dough hook, add flour and mix until it forms a firm yet tacky dough that pulls away from the edges (this will just take a couple minutes). Resist adding more flour…the dough should be slightly tacky.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Remove dough from the mixer and knead by hand, on a lightly floured surface, for 5 minutes (yes, even if you used a stand mixer). This step will help the dough become even more elastic and soft.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

First rising

Grease a large bowl with butter or cooking spray. Place the dough in this bowl, cover with a warm towel, and let sit in a warm spot for 1 to 1-½ hours or until it doubles in size.

Tip: You can make a warm towel by lightly sprinkling the towel with water and then microwaving for one minute.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls - Before and after the first rise (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
Before and after the first rise (Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Cinnamon roll filling

While the dough is rising, you can make the filling (although this step only takes about two minutes).

In a bowl, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, and softened butter until it resembles a paste.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Forming the cinnamon rolls

For this step, I used silicone baking mats, but you can also roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface.

With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle, measuring approximately 22” x 14”.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
Spoon on right for size reference (Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Drop some of the cinnamon roll filling here and there over the rolled out dough.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Then, using a rubber spatula, gently spread the filling all over the dough, keeping away from the edges by about a quarter inch (we don’t want any of that delicious filling to ooze out into the baking dish!).

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Starting at a short end (one of the 14” ends), gently but tightly roll the dough into one long roll.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Using a sharp knife (I found that a serrated knife worked best), cut the roll into 12 evenly sliced pieces. The easiest way to make sure they’re the same size is to cut the roll in half (6 on each side), then each of those in half again (3 in each section), then cut each of those into 3 pieces.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Tried this knife first, then found that a serrated knife worked better to slice through without smushing the dough (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Second rising

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Place the cut cinnamon rolls into a parchment-lined baking dish, three rows of four. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise for another 30 minutes, or until they’ve nearly doubled in size.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls - After second rising, ready for the oven (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
After second rising, ready for the oven (Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Baking

Remove the plastic wrap and place baking pan in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes. My cinnamon rolls took 30 minutes to bake, but you should start checking on them after 20 minutes. All ovens are different.

The cinnamon rolls will be done when the tops have just lightly browned and the dough sounds hollow when you lightly tap on it with a spoon. The rolls will rise even more while they’re baking and will most likely touch each other. This is fine and good…they’ll stay soft in the middle. 😀

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
Fresh from the oven! (Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Making the icing

While the rolls are baking, make the icing. Using either a stand mixer or handheld mixer, blend together cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Start the mixer out slow, so the powdered sugar doesn’t fly everywhere. Leave on the countertop. Don’t put it in the fridge or it will firm up.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

When the cinnamon rolls are done baking, let them cool about 5 minutes and add icing to the tops, so it will slightly melt and ooze between the swirls. If you prefer the icing thicker on top, wait until they’ve fully cooled. 

My recommendation is to serve warm, all oooey and gooey deliciousness. You can always rewarm the cinnamon rolls by microwaving for about 30 seconds or placed in a 350℉ oven for about 10 minutes.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Additional filling ideas

  • Nuts Pulse any nuts that you like in a food processor until pea-sized or coarse crumbs. Add them to the filling for a nutty addition.

  • Raisins Sprinkle raisins on top of the filling before rolling up the dough, for an additional sweet bite.

How to make the dough the night before

Follow the same steps as above, but stop after the first rising. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap (to make sure the dough doesn’t dry out) and put in the fridge overnight. The next morning, continue where you left off, but remember to let the dough come to room temperature before the second rise.

Freezing the dough

While I haven’t tried this myself, I’ve been told that it works: Complete the entire recipe (except for the icing). Cover tightly with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and freeze for up to 1 month. When ready to bake, remove from the freezer, let come to room temperature, and complete the second rise.

Freezing finished cinnamon rolls

Place finished cinnamon rolls on a baking sheet (not touching each other) and place in the freezer. Once they’re frozen, wrap tightly in plastic wrap or an airtight container and place in the freezer. When ready to eat, let them defrost at room temperature and then warm up in the microwave for 30 seconds or a 350℉ oven for about 10 minutes.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Do you have a sweet tooth like me? Check out a few more of our delicious recipes:

  • Cinnamon Roll Donuts
  • Easy Fudge Recipe
  • Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake Bars
  • Chocolate Cake in a Mug
  • Mint Chocolate Ganache Cheesecake
  • The Best Banana Nut Bread Recipe
  • Sour Cream Coffee Cake
  • Quick & Easy Blueberry Crisp
  • Easy Zesty Blueberry Muffins
  • Strawberry Shortcake Waffles with Nutella
  • Pear Almond Tart

Did you make these Homemade Cinnamon Rolls? Let us know in the comments below!

📝 Recipe

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

My homemade cinnamon rolls are, hands down, the best. Period. Layers of soft chewy dough, with brown sugar cinnamon between each one, all topped with a thick yet oozing cream cheese frosting, all swirled into one delicious treat. It’s the best cinnamon rolls recipe you’ll find…try it, you’ll see!

Prep Time 20 mins

Cook Time 30 mins

Rising time 2 hrs

Total Time 2 hrs 50 mins

Ingredients  

Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • 1 cup warm milk (not hot)
  • 2-½ teaspoons instant yeast
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups all purpose flour

Filling

  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • ½ cup butter, softened

Icing

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1-½ cups powdered sugar
  • cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions 

Making the Dough

  • Place warm milk in a mixing bowl, add yeast, and give it a stir. Let it sit for a minute or two while you’re gathering your other ingredients. 

  • Next, add sugar, eggs, butter, salt, and vanilla, and mix well. Lastly, using a dough hook, add flour and mix until it forms a firm yet tacky dough that pulls away from the edges. Resist adding more flour…the dough should be slightly tacky.

  • Remove dough from the mixer and knead by hand, on a lightly floured surface, for 5 minutes (yes, even if you used a stand mixer).

First Rising

  • Grease a large bowl with butter or cooking spray. Place the dough in this bowl, cover with a warm towel, and let sit in a warm spot for 1 to 1-½ hours or until it doubles in size.

Cinnamon Roll Filling

  • In a bowl, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, and softened butter until it resembles a paste.

Rolling out the dough, adding filling, and cutting into shape

  • For this step, I used silicone baking mats, but you can also roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle, measuring approximately 22” x 14”.

  • Drop some of the cinnamon roll filling here and there over the rolled out dough. Then, using a rubber spatula, gently spread the filling all over the dough, keeping away from the edges by about a quarter inch.

  • Starting at a short end (one of the 14” ends), gently but tightly roll the dough into one long roll.

  • Using a sharp knife (I found that a serrated knife worked best), cut the roll into 12 evenly sliced pieces. 

Second Rising

  • Preheat oven to 350℉.

  • Place the cut cinnamon rolls into a parchment-lined baking dish, three rows of four. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise for another 30 minutes, or until they’ve nearly doubled in size.

Baking Cinnamon Rolls

  • Remove the plastic wrap and place baking pan in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes. My cinnamon rolls took 30 minutes to bake, but you should start checking on them after 20 minutes. All ovens are different. The cinnamon rolls will be done when the tops have just lightly browned and the dough sounds hollow when you lightly tap on it with a spoon. The rolls will rise even more while they’re baking and will most likely touch each other. This is fine and good…they’ll stay soft in the middle.

Icing for Cinnamon Rolls

  • While the rolls are baking, make the icing. Using either a stand mixer or handheld mixer, blend together cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla until smooth. 

  • When the cinnamon rolls are done baking, let them cool about 5 minutes and add icing to the tops, so it will slightly melt and ooze between the swirls. If you prefer the icing thicker on top, wait until they’ve fully cooled. 

Notes

  • A few helpful ingredient tips

    • Milk – Use whole milk or 2%. The milk should be warm…not hot. Warm milk will activate the yeast, but hot milk will kill it. Just nuke the milk in the microwave for about 45 seconds. It should be the temperature that you can dip your finger in and it will be just a little warm. Also, while I haven’t tried it myself, I’ve heard that you can also make cinnamon rolls with almond milk. If you try it, please let me know how it works out for you!  
    • Yeast – For this recipe, I used Instant Yeast. You can use Active Dry yeast instead, but make sure to let it “proof” in the warm milk for about 5 minutes, and the rising of the dough may also take a little longer.
    • Butter – For the dough and icing, the butter should be melted. But for the filling, the butter should just be softened so you can mix it with the brown sugar and cinnamon. If the butter is melted, it will be too runny and may run right out of your dough spirals. Melted butter makes it into a paste instead. I also used salted butter for this recipe, before that’s what I almost always use in my recipes…but if you prefer unsalted, go right ahead and use that.
    • Eggs – Eggs should be at room temperature. Cold eggs could negatively affect the yeast doing its work. The eggs can be brought to room temperature in just a few minutes by placing them in a bowl of warm water.
    • Cinnamon – For the strongest cinnamon flavor, make sure it’s a fairly new container. Spices do lose their potency over time.
    • Cream cheese – The cream cheese should also be softened so that it mixes smoothly. To soften cream cheese quickly, remove it from its wrapper, place in a bowl, and microwave for 20-30 seconds.
    • Brown sugar – I used light brown sugar in my recipe, but if you want even more of a molasses sweetness, then you can certainly use dark brown sugar instead.
  • Additional filling ideas

    • Nuts – Pulse any nuts that you like in a food processor until pea-sized or coarse crumbs. Add them to the filling for a nutty addition.
    • Raisins – Sprinkle raisins on top of the filling before rolling up the dough, for an additional sweet bite.
  • How to make the dough the night before: Follow the same steps as above, but stop after the first rising. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap (to make sure the dough doesn’t dry out) and put in the fridge overnight. The next morning, continue where you left off, but remember to let the dough come to room temperature before the second rise.
  • Freezing the dough: While I haven’t tried this myself, I’ve been told that it works: Complete the entire recipe (except for the icing). Cover tightly with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and freeze for up to 1 month. When ready to bake, remove from the freezer, let come to room temperature, and complete the second rise.
  • Freezing finished cinnamon rolls: Place finished cinnamon rolls on a baking sheet (not touching each other) and place in the freezer. Once they’re frozen, wrap tightly in plastic wrap or an airtight container and place in the freezer. When ready to eat, let them defrost at room temperature and then warm up in the microwave for 30 seconds or a 350℉ oven for about 10 minutes.
  • Reheating: You can always rewarm the cinnamon rolls by microwaving for about 30 seconds or placed in a 350℉ oven for about 10 minutes.
  • Suggestion: If you enjoyed these, you’re gonna love my cinnamon roll donuts!

Calories: 484kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 23g | Sodium: 412mg | Potassium: 142mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 784IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 78mg

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