Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Y’all, HERE IT IS, my Homemade Cinnamon Rolls recipe! You guys are going to fall in love with these heavenly homemade cinnamon rolls! They are perfectly soft and fluffy rolls with a buttery, brown sugar, cinnamon filling and topped off with a delicious classic cream cheese frosting. Seriously, these are the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had… even better than Cinnabon!
Brunch food is my favorite food! I love hosting friends and family, and I often serve some type of egg dish, like my sausage egg casserole or an easy frittata, and I always prepare a homemade baked good, like these irresistible cinnamon rolls. These are actually really easy to bake up, but look and taste so impressive!
Is there really anything better than a soft, fluffy cinnamon roll, hot from the oven?! I think not! Anytime we have a special breakfast or brunch, these homemade cinnamon rolls are always on the menu. Christmas morning, Easter, Mother’s Day brunch, birthdays, a lazy Sunday morning, my family asks for these gooey cinnamon rolls to celebrate pretty much everything.
For a long time, I was intimidated to make cinnamon rolls. When I finally gave it a try, I realized it was actually really easy. Just a few simple steps and very little effort, and you can have picture perfect cinnamon rolls! You guys HAVE to try them!
Cinnamon Rolls Ingredient List
The ingredients in these homemade cinnamon rolls are simple, common staples that you probably have on hand – flour, sugar, butter, eggs, salt, cinnamon, etc. I don’t recommend making any substitutions if you truly want the best results. However, here are some notes about the ingredients and possible substitutions.
- Milk: Whole milk yields the best results in this cinnamon roll recipe, but 2% milk works too. I would not use a milk lower than 2% because the fat content is what makes these rolls rich and moist.
- Butter: I typically use salted butter in this cinnamon rolls recipe, however unsalted butter also works.
- Granulated sugar: Granulated white sugar will sweeten the cinnamon rolls and help activate the yeast.
- Salt: Don’t skip the salt, it balances out the flavors of the rolls and is important for activating the yeast. Even if you use salted butter, use the full teaspoon of salt.
- Instant yeast: Use quick rise or instant yeast in this recipe to help the cinnamon rolls rise faster. Active dry yeast will work, but the rolls will take slightly longer to rise.
- All-purpose flour: You can use bread flour in place of all-purpose flour for a lighter texture. I have not tried using any other flour varieties, so I cannot say how they would work out.
- Brown sugar: For the filling, I recommend using light brown sugar, however if you prefer the strong molasses flavor of dark brown sugar, you can use that in place of some or all of the light brown sugar.
- Ground cinnamon: I suggest using a high-quality flavorful cinnamon variety. I use the ground Saigon cinnamon from Costco.
- Cream cheese: For the icing, you can use full fat or light cream cheese or Greek yogurt cream cheese. Of course, the full fat cream cheese will yield a richer flavor.
- Vanilla extract: I highly suggest using only pure vanilla extract in your baking. Imitation extracts are just not as flavorful.
Grab all of these ingredients, and you’re ready to make the best cinnamon rolls ever!
How Do You Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls?
Let’s walk through all of the steps, so that you will easily end up with wonderful cinnamon rolls!
The first step in the process is to make the dough. First, heat the milk for 2-3 minutes and until bubbling. Pour the milk into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
Add the butter, sugar and salt. Mix on low speed until the butter is melted. Let the mixture cool until warm, but not hot. Add the yeast and eggs and mix until combined.
Gradually add about half of the flour. Switch to the dough hook attachment and add the rest of the flour until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. Knead the dough for a few minutes.
Transfer the dough to a large bowl sprayed with nonstick spray. I like to spray a fine mist on the top of the dough too, so I can cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled, about one hour.
Filling and Cutting Cinnamon Rolls
Flour a large surface and a rolling pin. Roll the dough into a large rectangle, (horizontal in relation to your body) about 18×12 inches. Spread softened butter over the dough. Stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the dough. Pat it in slightly with the palms of your hands.
Time to roll up the rectangle of dough! Start with a long end, roll up the dough as tightly as possible, pinching the seam lightly to seal.
Using a serrated knife, cut a shallow slit in the roll at the half point, then cut a slit in the center of each half so you’ve got 4 equal portions, and cut slits for 3 cinnamon rolls in each of those portions, until you’ve got 12 cinnamon rolls. I like to do shallow slits to make sure they’re even before I cut all the way through. Cut with a gentle sawing motion.
Then, bake the cinnamon rolls for about 20 minutes and until light golden brown. Allow rolls to cool for about 10 minutes before frosting.
Cinnamon Roll Icing
This homemade cream cheese icing is SO delicious! I suggest that all of the icing ingredients are at room temperature, so they mix easier. And I like to whip this up while the cinnamon rolls are baking.
For the icing, stir together powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla, milk, and cream cheese until smooth. You can add a bit more milk, if needed to get the right consistency. Drizzle the icing over the warm rolls. It may seem like you won’t have enough icing, but don’t worry, it will be perfect!
Tips For Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Can I Make Cinnamon Rolls Ahead Of Time?
Yes! I often make these rolls the night before a special occasion. After arranging the rolls on the pan, cover well with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, remove them from the fridge and let them come to room temperature. It will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour for the chill to come off and for them to rise. Bake as directed.
How Long Do Homemade Cinnamon Rolls Last?
Cinnamon rolls stay fresh on the counter for about 2 days. I typically store my rolls in the fridge and they will last about 5 days. You can reheat leftover rolls in the microwave for 30 seconds.
Why Did My Rolls Not Rise?
Here are several reasons why your rolls might not rise:
- Liquid too hot: If you add the yeast to the butter/milk mixture before it has time to cool off a bit, the liquid will be too hot and it will kill the yeast.
- Expired yeast: Old yeast may be dead. I recommend buying new yeast before making these rolls, just to be on the safe side.
- Cool room: If the room where you let the dough rise is too cool, the dough may take longer than expected to rise or it may not rise at all. The warm liquids in the dough should help with this. I recommend keeping the dough covered to keep it warm and try to keep the dough in a warm area, like near a sunny window. Another tip is to turn the oven to the lowest setting for a couple of minutes and then turn it off to rise the dough in a slightly warm oven. The oven should not be above 90 degrees F.
How Do I Know When My Rolls Are Done Baking?
After about 18 to 20 minutes of baking, check to see if your cinnamon rolls are done baking. When fully cooked, the tops will be golden brown and the dough in the center of the cinnamon rolls will be cooked through. To check the dough for doneness, insert a knife into the the center roll. It should come out of a baked cinnamon roll without gooey or liquid dough on it. It’s okay if the knife has a little filling on it.
If the cinnamon rolls are fully cooked, they will sound hollow when gently hit with a wooden spoon. And the outside of the rolls will feel firm (and not doughy) to the touch.
Freezing Cinnamon Rolls
Freezing before baking: When the rolls are cut and on the pan (before the second rise), cover well, then place in freezer. You cannot bake from frozen.
- Remove the frozen cinnamon rolls from the freezer the night before you want to bake them.
- Leave the dough on the counter to come to room temperature and rise until doubled in size.
- After the dough has risen, bake cinnamon rolls as directed.
Freezing after baking: Let the cinnamon rolls cool completely. To freeze the entire pan of rolls, wrap it well or transfer rolls to an airtight container. You can also individually wrap each cinnamon roll and put the rolls in an airtight container. Freeze up to 3 months. To enjoy rolls, let them thaw at room temperature, then heat them in the oven at 350ºF for 10-15 minutes. You can also heat up thawed rolls, individually, in the microwave for 30 seconds. You can freeze them frosted or before frosting and then add the frosting when you’re ready to enjoy.
These cinnamon rolls are so freaking fantastic right out of the oven with a simple, yet irresistible cream cheese icing. And I love that you can make them ahead of time or even freeze them. You better believe these are on the menu for any special occasion – everyone loves them! Cinnabon, you’ve got nothing on these rolls!
More Brunch Recipes
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
For the Rolls
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 2 eggs
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
For the Filling
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons softened butter
- 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 1/4 tablespoon ground cinnamon
For the Icing
- 2 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2-3 tablespoons milk, as needed for consistency
- 2 oz cream cheese or greek yogurt cream cheese, room temperature
- Microwave milk for 2-3 minutes until it’s bubbling. Pour the milk into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.
- Add the butter, sugar and salt. Mix on low speed until the butter is melted. Let the mixture cool until warm, but not hot. Add the yeast and eggs and mix until combined.
- Gradually add about half of the flour. Switch to dough hook attachment and add the rest until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. Knead for 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a large bowl sprayed with nonstick spray. I like to spray a fine mist on the top of the dough too, so I can cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about one hour.
- Roll the dough into a large rectangle, (horizontal in relation to your body) about 18×12 inches. Spread softened butter over the dough.
- Stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the dough. Pat it in slightly with the palms of your hands.
- Starting with a long end, roll up the dough as tightly as possible, pinching the seam lightly to seal.
- Using a serrated knife, cut a shallow slit in the roll at the half point, then cut a slit in the center of each half so you’ve got 4 equal portions, and cut slits for 3 cinnamon rolls in each of those portions, until you’ve got 12 cinnamon rolls. I like to do shallow slits to make sure they’re even before I cut all the way through. Cut with a gentle sawing motion.
- Place the rolls evenly spaced on a large, parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Cover and let rise until double.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the cinnamon rolls for 18-22 minutes until light golden brown. Allow rolls to cool for about 10 minutes before frosting.
- For the icing, mix together powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla, milk, and cream cheese until smooth. You can add a bit more milk, as needed for consistency. Drizzle over warm rolls. It may seem like you won't have enough, but it turns out to be the perfect amount.
After rolling and placing onto pan, cover and store overnight in the fridge. When you are ready to bake, let the cinnamon rolls come to room temperature for about 45 minutes to 1 hour for the second rise, then bake as instructed. *More tips and tricks can be found in the blog post above! Recipe adapted from letsdishrecipes.com. Photos by Danielle from Our Salty Kitchen.