I’ve been making cinnamon rolls from scratch for decades, and after dozens of batches, I finally came up with what we consider the BEST CINNAMON ROLLS of all time!
Soft and fluffy, with an ooey gooey cinnamon filling, and amazing cream cheese frosting, after trying this recipe you will never need to spend money on cinnabon cinnamon rolls ever again!
BEST CINNAMON ROLL RECIPE
WHY THESE ARE THE BEST HOMEMADE CINNAMON ROLLS
- A double rising of the dough adds flavor, and makes sure you end up with extra soft cinnamon rolls.
- They have the right balance of filling to dough ratio. You want plenty of cinnamon sugar filling, but not so much that it leaks out of the rolls as they bake.
- There is plenty of cinnamon in the filling to balance out the sweetness of the sugar in the filling and frosting.
- A touch of cream in the filling makes for extra ooey gooey cinnamon rolls.
- The frosting – I’ve tried many cinnamon roll frosting recipes over the last few decades, and they are all yummy. But this cream cheese frosting is my favorite. The tangy flavor is a perfect compliment to the sweet rolls. Seriously amazing!
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE CINNAMON ROLLS
- milk (I use 2%, but any milk should work.)
- butter (I use salted butter for all my recipes. You will need it for the dough, filling, and frosting, so make sure you soften it ahead of time.)
- instant dry yeast (I like using instant yeast because it doesn’t need to be dissolved in water. You can also skip the first rising time with instant yeast, but these cinnamon rolls are best when you let the dough rise before forming them.)
- granulated sugar (Used in both the dough and the filling.)
- salt (Salt gives yeast dough flavor, but also moderates the yeast. Without salt, the dough can raise too fast, leaving air pockets in your rolls. I also like to add a pinch of salt to all my frosting to offset the sweetness.)
- egg (I use large eggs for these cinnamon rolls.)
- all purpose flour (While some people swear by using bread flour, I think it’s too much of a hassle to store both kinds, so I use regular flour in all of my yeast breads. I’ve never had any complaints!)
- brown sugar (Brown sugar adds a wonderful rich flavor to the filling. I use light brown sugar.)
- cinnamon (I like plenty of cinnamon in my filling. If you prefer, you can add less.)
- cream (A bit of cream in the filling is a secret my grandma handed down. It helps dissolve the sugar, and makes for extra gooey cinnamon rolls!)
- cream cheese (Either light or full fat cream cheese work great for the frosting. I haven’t tried fat free.)
- powdered sugar (also known as confectioners sugar)
- Let your cream cheese and butter soften to room temperature. Heat milk and butter in a saucepan till butter is melted and milk is 100-110 degrees or warm to the touch. (If your butter is cold, you will have to heat the milk to a hotter temperature to melt it, then let the mixture cool before adding the yeast.)
- Add the remaining dough ingredients and enough flour to make a soft dough. When making yeast breads, you have to go by feel. The amount of flour needed varies with each batch, so just add enough that the dough is no longer sticky, but is still soft and pliable.
- Place the dough in a large bowl, cover, and let rise till doubled. It will usually take about an hour, but it depends on the temperature of your room. Again, it’s not an exact science.
- While the dough is rising, mix together the cinnamon roll filling ingredients.
- I like to roll my cinnamon roll dough on an oiled counter instead of using flour. More flour dries out the dough, and you don’t want that. Just spray your counter with non stick spray, or spread oil over the surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle and spread the filling evenly over the surface. I like to get as close to the edges as I can.
- Roll the dough up lengthwise, then pinch the edge together to seal in the filling. Use a piece of dental floss or sturdy thread to cut dough into 12 rolls. You can cut with a knife, but I think you get a much cleaner cut using thread.
- Place the rolls in a greased 9×13″ pan. Cover and let rise till doubled, usually about 30-45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake rolls for about 25 minutes. I usually bake mine on the bottom rack to make sure that the bottom gets cooked before the tops get too brown.
- Whip up your cinnamon roll frosting, and spread it over the rolls while they are still warm.
HOW TO STORE CINNAMON ROLLS
If you happen to have any leftover rolls, cover them tightly with plastic wrap in the pan. They will last for 2-3 days at room temperature. We like to reheat them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds before serving.
- Soften both your butter and cream cheese on the counter ahead of time, you will get better results if they are evenly softened instead of have hot spots from microwave softening.
- Don’t add too much flour to your dough, or your rolls will be dry. The dough shouldn’t be overly sticky, but it should be very soft.
- Make sure you let the melted butter for the filling cool. If it is too hot, the filling will be too runny, and it will ooze out of the dough as you roll and cut the cinnamon rolls. You can cool it quickly by placing it in the fridge or freezer for a bit.
- Don’t over bake your rolls! There are differing opinions about how long to bake cinnamon rolls. Some people like them crunchy on the edges. I prefer extremely soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls, so I bake them just till the tops are lightly browned. Baking on a lower rack helps insure that the bottoms cook before the top burns.
Can I make the cinnamon roll dough in a stand mixer?
Yes, of course! These work great in a Kitchenaid mixer. Unless you are doubling the recipe, I found that my Bosch was overkill and actually had a hard time mixing up such a small amount of dough.
What temperature should the milk be for yeast cinnamon rolls?
As for all bread recipes that use yeast, the water or milk should be between 105° – 112° fahrenheit. It should be warm to the touch, but not hot. It’s best to err on the side of too cool, as hot (above 120°) can kill your yeast.
Can I use regular instead of instant yeast?
Absolutely. Just make sure the yeast is fully dissolved in the warm milk mixture before adding the other ingredients. Instant yeast doesn’t need to be dissolved.
Can I make these cinnamon rolls dairy free?
Yes, just use water or another milk substitute instead of the milk, and replace the butter with vegetable oil. They won’t be as spectacular, but they will still be tasty. You will of course not be able to use the cream cheese frosting, and that will be the biggest difference.
RECIPES FOR CINNAMON LOVERS:
MORE SWEET ROLLS AND YEAST BREADS:
- Nutella Rolls
- Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls
- One Hour Cinnamon Rolls
- Cake Mix Cinnamon Rolls
- Raspberry Rolls
- Chocolate Rolls
- Cinnamon Swirl Bread
- Lime Rolls
- Cranberry Eggnog Bread
HOMEMADE CINNAMON ROLLS RECIPE
- 1 cup warm milk
- 3 Tbsp butter/ softened to room temperature
- 1 Tbsp instant dry yeast
- 2 Tbsp white granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (more or less)
- 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 1/3 brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp cream
Cinnamon Roll Frosting:
- 4 ounces light cream cheese softened (full fat also works)
- 1/4 cup salted butter softened
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp milk (more or less)
- Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until milk is warm to the touch and butter is melted. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
- Add yeast, sugar, salt, egg, and half of the flour. Beat till smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a dough that is soft.
- Knead for about 3 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Place dough in a large bowl that has been sprayed with non stick spray. Cover and let rise till doubled, about an hour.
- For filling, melt butter in a glass bowl. Stir in the brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, and cream.
- On a lightly oiled countertop, roll dough out into a rectangle about 18x12". Spread the filling evenly over the dough.
- Roll the dough up lengthwise, and pinch the seam together to seal. Cut into slices using a piece of dental floss. Just wrap the floss under the dough, cross it over the top, and pull.
- Place rolls in a greased 9x13" pan. Let rise till doubled, about 30-45 minutes.
- Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes or till lightly browned.
- For frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter together till smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, and enough milk to get a spreadable consistency.
- Frost cinnamon rolls while still warm.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 382Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 372mgCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 2gSugar: 25gProtein: 6g
(originally published 1/1/ 2010, recipe and post updated October 2020)
What are you waiting for? Pull out your ingredients and whip up a batch of the best ever cinnamon rolls!