Homemade Cinnamon Rolls are the only breakfast worth waking up to in the morning! These are perfectly soft and fluffy with a buttery, brown sugar, cinnamon filling that’s all rolled up into swirls of deliciousness. To top it off, you have a rich, sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting. A must try recipe that’s even better than Cinnabon!

Pulling an iced cinnamon roll out of a baking pan.

There’s really not much better than fluffy cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven, warm, and gooey. No need to drag the family out of bed when you are making these for breakfast! The wonderful aroma is going to fill the house waking everyone up. While you can bake up a can of Pillsbury Grands, nothing can compare to these pinwheels of sweet breakfast bliss. Spread on the rich, creamy, cream cheese icing and you just created the best morning ever!

Making homemade cinnamon rolls may seem a bit daunting, but it’s really quite simple, and we’re walking through each step with visuals for extra guidance. These are SO worth the extra work that makes them even more satisfying and delicious. Plus, you can make these ahead of time and they’re even freezer-friendly. Anytime we have a special breakfast or brunch, these are always on the menu! Christmas morning, Easter, Mother’s Day brunch, birthdays, a lazy Sunday morning, my family asks for these big, gooey cinnamon rolls to celebrate pretty much everything.

Why this recipe works

  • Wonderful flavor: These could not be more delicious! The silky cream cheese icing soaks right into the warm rolls, and is a great contrast to the spiced cinnamon sugar swirl.
  • The perfect texture: These rolls puff up nicely as they bake, but are perfectly tender all the way through. Each bite just melts in your mouth!
  • Option to make overnight rolls: You can make the rolls the night before and bake them in the morning. Another option is to freeze the rolls or the dough for later. 
  • Tried and true recipe: This recipe has been in my family for years! We’ve made them time and time again, and they always turn out perfectly tender and sweet!

This recipe deserves more than 5 stars. These were WONDERFUL! They were super soft, fluffy and delicious! Definitely recommend using this recipe!

— Charla
Iced cinnamon rolls in a pan.

Ingredients needed

The ingredients in this homemade cinnamon rolls recipe 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, 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: Use softened unsalted butter for the dough, filling and frosting.
  • Granulated sugar: Perfectly sweetens the dough and helps 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 tsp 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.
  • Eggs: Two large eggs make for a softer, richer dough.
  • 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.
  • 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: Use a high-quality, flavorful cinnamon variety for that classic spicy warmth.
  • 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: Use only pure vanilla extract in your baking. Imitation extracts are just not as flavorful.
  • Pure maple syrup: A small amount of maple syrup in the frosting gives it such a nice flavor.
  • Powdered sugar: Confectioners’ sugar to sweeten the icing.
Bowls filled with flour, milk, powdered sugar, eggs, vanilla, and maple syrup.

How to make this recipe

Do not let working with yeast scare you off from making the most divine cinnamon buns! It’s really very easy! Let’s walk through all of the steps:

Make the dough

  1. Heat milk: Microwave milk for 2-3 minutes until it’s bubbling. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.
  2. Mix: Add the butter, sugar and salt. Mix on low speed until the butter is melted. Let the mixture cool until warm, but not hot. (If it’s too hot it will kill the yeast and the rolls won’t rise.) Add the yeast and eggs and mix until combined.
  1. Add the flour: 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. After about 7 to 8 minutes, the dough should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl and be soft and slightly sticky. If after 8 minutes the dough is too sticky and is staying stuck to the sides (as opposed to pulling away), then add more flour 2 tablespoons at a time. You want the dough to be a little sticky to the touch, but still soft enough to handle easily.
  1. Let rise: 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.

Fill and bake

  1. Form dough into a rectangle: Roll the cinnamon roll dough into a large rectangle, (horizontal in relation to your body) about 18×12 inches. Spread softened butter over the dough.
  1. Make the cinnamon sugar filling: Stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the dough. Pat it in slightly with the palms of your hands.
  1. Roll the dough: Starting with a long end, roll up the dough as tightly as possible, pinching the seam lightly to seal.
  2. Cut the dough: Using a serrated sharp 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.
  1. Let rise: Place the rolls evenly spaced on a large, parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet or 9×13-inch baking dish. Cover and let rise until double.
  2. Bake: 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.

Make the cream cheese frosting

  1. Mix ingredients: For the frosting, in a large bowl, whip together the cream cheese and butter. Add the vanilla, maple syrup and salt and mix until combined.
  2. Add powdered sugar and milk: Gradually add the powdered sugar, and mix until thick and creamy. Add cream or milk a tablespoon at a time until the frosting is smooth and spreadable to your liking.
  1. Frost: Spread the cinnamon rolls with the frosting glaze and enjoy.

Expert tips

Some helpful tips and tricks for the best cinnamon rolls:

  • Weigh the ingredients: If you have a digital kitchen scale, we always recommend using that when baking because it is the most accurate way to measure ingredients. If you don’t have a scale, spoon the flour into a measuring cup and level with knife (don’t pack it down).
  • Don’t overheat the milk: If the milk is too hot, it will kill the yeast, and the cinnamon rolls will not rise. It should be between 105-115 degrees F. Dip your finger in the milk, it should feel warm similar to warm bath water but not hot. If it’s hot, simply wait a few minutes until it cools down enough to touch.
  • Use room temperature eggs: Using cold eggs, could affect the yeast or mix with the melted butter and cause it to coagulate. To bring your eggs to room temperature simply place them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.
  • Keep an eye on the dough while kneading: If after 7 or 8 minutes the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, then add more flour 2 tbsp at a time. Dough should be soft and just slightly sticky to the touch.
  • Flour your work surface and the rolling pin: Having a nice floured surface will prevent the dough from sticking and makes it easier to roll out and handle.
  • Let the dough rest: If it keeps springing back when it’s rolled into a rectangle, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. This allows the gluten to form making the dough easier to work with.
  • An alternative cutting method: Instead of using a serrated knife to cut the rolls, you can use unflavored dental floss to cut the log of rolled dough. This makes a clean cut, so each roll stays round and the swirl stays in tact.

Frequently asked questions

Can I make cinnamon rolls ahead of time?

Yes! These are great overnight rolls to make 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.

What if my dough is too sticky while kneading?

Add more flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until it’s less sticky and easier to handle. It may be necessary to add up to about 1/2 cup more flour.

Why did my rolls not rise?

Several reasons why your rolls might not rise: if the milk/butter mixture is too hot it will kill the yeast, your yeast is expired or the room is too cool. The warm liquid in the dough should help with this, but it’s best to keep the dough covered 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 they are done baking. When fully cooked, the tops will be golden brown and the dough in the center will be cooked through. To check the dough for doneness, insert a knife into the center roll. It should come out without gooey or liquid dough on it. It’s okay if the knife has a little filling on it. Also, if they 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.

Helpful tools

Here are some recommended kitchen tools that will make this recipe a success:

  • Stand mixer: For easier kneading, use the dough hook on your stand mixer. Feel free to knead the dough by hand, if you’d prefer.
  • Rolling pin: This is my favorite rolling pin for rolling out dough.
  • Serrated knife: A serrated knife is the best for cutting dough. You can also use floss.
  • 9×13 inch pan: We either use a 9×13 inch baking pan or a baking sheet pan, so all of the rolls fit well and bake properly.

Storage recommendations

Cinnamon rolls stay fresh on the counter for about 2 days. We like to store them in the refrigerator, and they will keep fresh for about 5 days. You can reheat leftovers in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Freezing tips

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. When you’re ready to bake:

  1. Remove the frozen cinnamon rolls from the freezer the night before you want to bake them.
  2. Leave the dough on the counter to come to room temperature and rise until doubled in size.
  3. After the dough has risen, bake as directed.

Freezing after baking: Let the cinnamon rolls cool completely. To freeze the entire pan of rolls, wrap it well or transfer to an airtight container. You can also individually wrap each roll and put them in an airtight container. Freeze up to 3 months. To enjoy, 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.

Cinnamon roll on a white plate with a fork.

If you try this recipe, leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.

Pulling an iced cinnamon roll out of a baking pan.
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Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls are the only breakfast worth waking up to in the morning! These are perfectly soft and fluffy with a buttery, brown sugar, cinnamon filling that's all rolled up into swirls of deliciousness. To top it off, you have a rich, sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting. A must try recipe that's even better than Cinnabon!
Author: Kim

Ingredients

For the Rolls

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (100g) white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon (9g) instant yeast, 1 (0.32 oz) packet
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 5 1/2 to 6 cups (720g) all-purpose flour, start with 5 1/2 cups and only add more 2 tablespoons at a time if dough is too sticky

For the Filling

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (141g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup (268g) packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tablespoon ground cinnamon

For the Icing

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • pinch pinch salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk, or as needed for consistency

Instructions 

  • 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. (If it's too hot it will kill the yeast and the rolls won't rise.) 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. After about 7 to 8 minutes, the dough should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl and be soft and slightly sticky. If after 8 minutes the dough is too sticky and is staying stuck to the sides (as opposed to pulling away), then add more flour 2 tablespoons at a time. You want the dough to be a little sticky to the touch, but still soft enough to handle easily.
  • 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 or 9×13-inch baking pan. 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 frosting, in a large bowl, whip together the cream cheese and butter. Add the vanilla, maple syrup and salt and mix until combined.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar, and mix until thick and creamy. Add cream or milk a tablespoon at a time until the frosting is smooth and spreadable to your liking. Spread the cinnamon rolls with frosting and enjoy.

Notes

To make in advance:
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!
 
 
 
 
Serving: 1cinnamon roll, Calories: 634kcal, Carbohydrates: 104g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 80mg, Sodium: 390mg, Potassium: 168mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 55g, Vitamin A: 666IU, Calcium: 92mg, Iron: 3mg

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