Nothing can compare to the smell of homemade Cinnamon Rolls baking in your oven. The delicious aroma of that cinnamon sugar filling is hard to resist, and the tangy cream cheese frosting melting all over these hot rolls really seals the deal!
I consider myself somewhat of an expert on cinnamon rolls because you may not know this but my very first job was at a cinnamon roll shop. I learned how to make all the rolls by hand, shape them, cut them, prove them, bake them, frost them, and sell them. Oh and I ate a copious amount of cinnamon rolls too.
I’ve tweaked and tweaked my cinnamon rolls recipe year after year trying to achieve the familiar taste of those delicious rolls from my old shop. After many iterations and trials, I’m finally truly happy with the results. So get ready for the best cinnamon rolls ever!
How to Make Cinnamon Rolls from Scratch
- The cinnamon roll dough is made with my easy milk bread dough to achieve that super soft texture.
- The cinnamon roll filling is made with brown sugar and loaded with cinnamon. At the shop I used to work at, we used brown sugar in the filling. Butter is spread on the dough and the cinnamon sugar pressed on top instead of melting them all together.
- The cream cheese frosting – at the shop, we used cream cheese frosting instead of a glaze.
Making the cinnamon roll dough
Making the bread dough is easy with a stand mixer but you can certainly make it by hand as well. Simply mix the dough with a spatula or wooden spoon, and knead in the bowl or on the countertop by hand for a few minutes.
- Activate the yeast in a mixture of warm cream, milk, and sugar.
- Add flour and salt to the liquid mixture and knead with the dough hook or by hand until a wet dough forms.
- Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Place the dough into an oiled bowl.
- Allow the dough to rise until at least double in size.
Assemble the rolls
After the first rise, the dough should be less sticky and fairly easy to work with. Use extra flour sparingly, just enough to keep the dough from sticking to the countertop or just rolling surface.
- Roll the dough to about 20”x13” and brush melted butter over the surface of the dough. Add the cinnamon sugar mixture on top.
- Use your hand to spread the sugar mixture evenly and lightly press it into the dough.
- Roll the dough up starting at the bottom, longer edge.
- Divide the dough roll into 12 equal portions.
Get ready to bake
You’ll need a 9”x13” glass baking dish or metal cake pan for this recipe. You don’t need to line the baking pan with parchment paper, just brush melted butter generously all over the pan.
- Place the rolls into a buttered baking dish.
- Allow them to double in size again in a warm spot.
- Bake until golden brown.
- Separate the rolls with a serrated knife and spread cream cheese frosting on top of the hot rolls right away.
The cream cheese frosting
Make the cream cheese frosting while the rolls are baking in the oven. You’ll want to get it ready before the rolls come out so you can spread it on top of the hot rolls right away to allow it to melt into all the nooks and crannies.
This recipe will make about 1 cup of frosting, just enough for 1 batch of cinnamon rolls.
For really soft cinnamon rolls
- Avoid adding too much flour to the dough while rolling. The more flour you add to the bread dough, the dryer it will become.
- When you first make the dough, it will be sticky, this will yield softer bread in the end. But it should become much less sticky and easier to handle after the first rise.
- This recipe calls for heavy cream for the higher fat content which results in a softer dough.
- Whole milk is preferred along with heavy cream in this recipe, but you can use 2% milk if you don’t have whole milk. However, I don’t recommend replacing heavy cream with milk because milk has less fat content and will change the texture of the dough.
This recipe can be completed within 1 day – make the dough in the morning and by the afternoon you’ll have fresh rolls.
You can also make this recipe over the course of 2 days:
- Day 1: make the dough and form the rolls. Once the rolls are shaped and placed into the baking dish, let the rolls rise overnight in the fridge.
- Day 2: in the morning, take the rolls out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature, 30 mins to an hour, and then bake and serve fresh rolls for breakfast.
Furthermore, the bread dough can be made 2 – 3 days ahead and allow to rise slowly under refrigeration for its first rise. When ready to use, let it come to room temperature before rolling.
Storing leftover cinnamon rolls
These rolls can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days. They should fit in the glass baking dish with the lid on, or wrap them up tightly in plastic.
If you’re planning to keep them for longer, store them in the refrigerator for up to a week. They can be reheated in the microwave in about 20 – 30 seconds.
More drool-worthy bread
- Tropical Cinnamon Buns
- Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread
- Cinnamon Swirl Bread
- Asian Coconut Buns
- Coconut Swirl Brioche
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, send me a photo, rate it and don’t forget to tag me @wildwildwhisk on Instagram. I’d love to see what’s cooking up in your kitchen. Cheers!
- 9" x 13" Baking Pan
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream (240 g)
- 1 cup milk (whole milk preferred, but 2% will work, 240 g)
- ½ cup granulated sugar (90 g)
- 2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cup all-purpose flour (520 g)
- Additional flour for rolling
- Melted butter for baking dish
Cinnamon sugar filling
- 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark brown, 180 g)
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 oz unsalted butter (melted, 57 g)
Cream cheese frosting
- 4 oz cream cheese (113 g)
- 2 oz unsalted butter (57 g)
- 6 tablespoon powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Add cream, milk and granulated sugar to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the stand mixer bowl and allow the mixture to cool down to below 110°F, check with a thermometer.
- Sprinkle active dry yeast over the top of the milk mixture, stir and let it bloom for about 10 - 20 minutes. The mixture should visibly puff up.
- In another mixing bowl, sift the flour and stir in the salt. Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and knead with the dough hook on low speed until everything is incorporated and a wet dough forms.
- Scrape the dough out onto a floured countertop and knead a few times to form a ball. Place the dough ball into an oiled large bowl, cover with plastic, and allow it to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- Melt a tablespoon of butter and brush it all over your baking dish and set aside.
- When the dough is ready, dump it out onto a floured countertop. Roll and stretch it out to a rectangle 20”x13” with the longer edge facing you.
- Melt 2 oz of unsalted butter in the microwave for about 30 second, it doesn’t need to be completely melted, but it should be spreadable. Spread the softened or melted butter all over the dough, leaving about an inch untouched at the top.
- Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small mixing bowl, sprinkle the mixture evenly over the buttered surface of the dough. Use your hand to even it out and lightly press it to adhere.
- Roll the dough up starting from the bottom edge closest to you. When you get to the end, tuck the seam under. If the roll looks uneven, lift it up and stretch it out to make the entire roll about the same diameter. At this point, the roll could stretch out to about 23” - 24”.
- Divide the roll into 12 equal portions with a serrated knife. Place them into the buttered 9”x13” baking dish and allow them to rise for another hour until double in size.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and bake for 25 minutes.
- While the rolls are baking, make the cream cheese frosting by beating together cream cheese and butter until combined and creamy. Add vanilla extract and continue beating to combine. Stop the mixer to add powdered sugar, stir until combined and then continue beating until fluffy.
- Take the rolls out of the oven, use a knife to separate them and spread cream cheese frosting over the hot rolls right away. Serve warm.
- The dough can be made without a stand mixer, just mix the flour into the liquid with a spatula or wooden spoon and knead by hand.
- This dough is very soft and sticky when it first comes out from the mixing bowl. Try not to add too much flour when handling it. After the first rise, it will be much less sticky and easier to handle.
- After you roll up the dough with the filling inside, if some parts of the roll seem thicker than others, you can gently lift it and stretch it out to make the entire roll as even as possible. It’s okay if the roll stretches out longer.
- You can use a ruler to measure while rolling and cutting, but if you don’t have one long enough, just eyeball it and cut the roll into 12 portions as evenly as possible.
This post was originally published on 2/12/2015. The post and recipe have been updated and republished on 4/20/2020 with the latest improvements, extra tips, and process photos to help you in the kitchen.