If you haven’t had homemade cinnamon rolls yet then you’re missing out on one of life’s little pleasures that can transform a bleh morning into a delicious start to the day. So fragrant and not at all dry or crumby like those preservative-filled pre-made “treats”.
What You’ll Need for This Recipe
Instant Yeast: This fast-acting yeast goes directly into the dry ingredients. If you need to use active dry yeast then mix it into warm (110F) milk along with two teaspoons of sugar.
Unsalted Butter: If you’d like to use salted butter then reduce the added salt in the recipe by a pinch.
Sour Cream: If you can’t get ahold of sour cream then sub in plain yogurt.
How to Make Cinnamon Rolls
1. To make the cinnamon sugar add the white and brown sugars as well as the cinnamon to a small bowl then whisk together and set aside.
2. Add the flour, instant yeast, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to the bowl of your mixer and whisk together until combined.
3. In a medium bowl add the butter, milk, sour cream, and vanilla extract then heat until butter is melted and mixture is warmed through (about 110F). I use 20-30 second bursts in the microwave at 70% power but you can easily heat on the stovetop too.
4. Pour the warm liquid mixture into the dry and run the mixer fitted with a dough hook on medium low.
5. Add the egg while the mixer is running. Run the mixer until the soft dough starts coming together.
6. Transfer the dough to a clean, floured surface and knead until smooth, about 4-5 minutes. The dough will go from being shaggy to smooth and will hold it’s shape much better by the time you’re finished. The dough will be a bit tacky but not sticky.
7. Place dough in a large oiled bowl and cover. I like to heat my oven to 110F then turn it off and let that be my warm and cozy place for the dough. In the photo above you can see the dough doubled in size and is ready to roll.
8. Transfer the dough to a clean, floured surface and roll into a rectangle about a quarter of an inch thick. Move the dough as you go and add flour as needed to the work surface and your rolling pin. Spread the room temperature butter on the dough then sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar, leaving the unbuttered strip plain.
11. Roll the dough tightly so the unbuttered part is at the end. I have some cinnamon sugar to brush off the edge as you can see in the photo. You can roll it up from the short or long side, the former gives you more pieces the latter will have more of a spiral.
12. Cut the rolls into similarly sized pieces. You an go thicker (about an inch and a half) or thinner (closed to an inch). Place in a baking dish so they are not touching and have some room to puff up, then cover and place in a warm place to rise, about 40 minutes. Once risen the rolls will be baked at 350F for about 28 minutes or until golden brown. If the rolls are getting brown on top at the 20 minute mark cover loosely with foil. If you want to make these as overnight rolls just cover with plastic after assembling in the baking dish and refrigerate, then place in a warm spot to rise and then bake.
13. Make the glaze while the rolls are rising or baking so it’s ready as soon as they come out of the oven. I used a small food processor to make it but you can use a hand or stand mixer. Add the room temperature cream cheese, butter, and salt to a bowl and then beat until smooth. Pour in the milk, vanilla, and lemon juice then mix again until incorporated and then finally beat in the sugar.
14. As soon as the rolls are out of the oven add about half of the glaze to the rolls and spread to cover completely. Once cool, you can add the remaining glaze onto them while they’re in the baking dish or onto individual rolls as they’re plated.
Pro Tips for This Recipe
- Measure your flour correctly! Adding too much flour to the recipe is the most common mistake. The best, and easiest way to measure flour is by using a scale. If you don’t have one then fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off.
- Since the dough is quite enriched I suggest setting your oven to 100F and then letting it rise in a nice cozy environment for a while. Don’t panic if your dough doesn’t start rising right away, you’ll have to wait a bit longer because of all the delicious things we added to the dough.
- You can refrigerate the dough overnight, just punch it down after a couple hours in the fridge then roll it out when you’re ready to use. It will take a bit longer for the second rise since the dough will be cold.
- Make sure to give the rolls enough room to expand in the pan, don’t crowd them together.
- I would heartily suggest adding some toasted pecans if you’re in the mood for a little something extra.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I freeze them?
Yes! You have several freezing options: Freeze them after they’ve been baked and frosted, after baking but before frosting, or unbaked in the pan before rising. If you’re freezing before baking then allow them to thaw and rise. If after baking, thaw then warm in the oven. In all cases you should wrap very well with plastic and foil.
What’s the difference between Active and Instant Yeast?
Active yeast has larger granules of yeast, which need to be dissolved in water before using while instant yeast has a smaller granules that can be mixed directly into the dry ingredients.
What can you add to them besides a cream cheese glaze?
- Make a simple vanilla glaze with 2 cups of powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and 2-4 tablespoons milk. Mix together and add the milk a tablespoon at a time until a desired consistency is reached.
- You can also cover the rolls in caramel! Click here for the recipe.
What’s the best place for the dough to rise?
Your rolls will want a nice warm place to rise so the easiest thing to do, especially on a cold day, is to warm your oven to a low temperature. I like to heat my oven to 120F then lower to 100F and let the rolls rise there.
Should they be touching when baking?
You should place your rolls in a baking dish that’s large enough for them to expand during the second rise. If you crowd the rolls they will not have that light texture we all love.
How do you know when you’re done kneading?
The dough will go from rough to smooth and it will hold it’s shape more. Your dough will be tacky to the touch but will not stick to your fingers.
If you’ve tried this cinnamon roll recipe then don’t forget to leave a rating and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you!
- 9x9 inch baking dish or larger
For the Dough
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 420g plus more for dusting
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar 50g
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar 50g
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast 1 package
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch nutmeg optional
- 1 egg large, room temp
- 1/2 cup milk 120mL
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract 15mL
- 1/2 cup sour cream 120g
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter 85g
For the Filling
- 4 tbsp butter room temp, 57g
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
For the Glaze
- 4 oz cream cheese room temp, 114g
- 2 tbsp butter room temp, 28g
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract 15mL
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tsp lemon juice 5mL
- 2 cups powdered sugar 200g
- 1 tbsp milk plus more if needed for consistency
For the Cinnamon Sugar:
- Mix cinnamon and the two sugars in a bowl then set aside.
For the Rolls:
- In the bowl of your stand mixer add the flour, salt, spices, and sugars and yeast then whisk together to combine and set aside.
- In a separate bowl add the milk, butter, vanilla, and sour cream. Microwave until warm to the touch (about 110F) and stir until butter is melted.
- Attach a dough hook to the mixer and pour the wet mixture into the dry then run on low. Drop the egg in and mix until the dough comes together and it's tacky but doesn't stick to your fingers.
- Dump dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, sprinkling with additional flour as needed then transfer to a large oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. This is a very enriched dough so the yeast will take a bit of time to get going but the dough will more than double in size.
- On a well-floured surface roll the dough out to a rectangle that’s 1/4 an inch thick. Spread the room temperature butter over the surface leaving a little less than an inch at one of the narrow sides. If you choose the wider side for the unbuttered strip then you'll end up with more cinnamon rolls, but they will be smaller.
- Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar then roll the side of the dough across from the to create a spiral starting from the opposite ens of the unbuttered strip.
- Cut the dough into even pieces about an inch and a half long. You can use a length or dental floss that you loop around the roll then pull or just use a sharp knife.
- Place the rolls cut side up in a baking dish and allow to rest in a warm place for about 40 minutes for a final rise. Make the glaze while the rolls are rising or during the bake.
- Heat oven to 350F and Bake for about 28-30 minutes or until lightly browned on top. If your rolls are getting a bit too brown at the 20 minute mark then cover loosely with foil and continue to bake.
For the Glaze
- Place the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, salt, lemon juice and a tablespoon of milk in a bowl and beat until smooth. You can also make this VERY easily in a small food processor if you have one. Once smooth add the powdered sugar and beat once more until fully incorporated. You can mix in an additional tablespoon or two of milk if you prefer a thinner frosting. Drizzle about half of the glaze over the cinnamon rolls RIGHT after you pull them from the oven then add the remaining glaze once cooled or on individual pieces when serving.
- Measure your flour correctly! Adding too much flour to the recipe is the most common mistake. The best, and easiest way to measure flour is by using a scale. If you don't have one then fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off.
- Since the dough is quite enriched I suggest setting your oven to 100F and then letting it rise in a nice cozy environment for a while. Don't panic if your dough doesn't start rising right away, you'll have to wait a bit longer because of all the delicious things we added to the dough.
- If you want to make these as overnight rolls just cover with plastic after assembling in the baking dish and refrigerate, then place in a warm spot to rise then bake.
- You can refrigerate the dough overnight, just punch it down after a couple hours in the fridge then roll it out when you're ready to use. It will take a bit longer for the second rise since the dough will be cold.
- Make sure to give the rolls enough room to expand in the pan, don't crowd them together.
- I would heartily suggest adding some toasted pecans if you're in the mood for a little something extra.
- More cinnamon and spices is always an option! Try 1/4-1/2 tsp of a favorite spice like allspice or cloves.