Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe By
Filed Under: Bread | Breakfast | Christmas | Dessert
5 from 1 vote
5 from 1 vote

Gooey Cinnamon Rolls are ultra soft and tender, loaded with ooey gooey buttery cinnamon filling, and flooded with vanilla icing. Better than Cinnabon and can be made the night before!

Yield: 12 cinnamon rolls

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook: 25 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Sweet without being cloying. Tons of cinnamon goodness.
Texture: The best part. The rolls are ultra soft and pillowy and as you peel away the spiral the filling is insanely gooey and buttery. The flooded icing on top just sends the whole thing into dessert overdrive!
Ease: Takes a few hours but can be made the night before.
Pros: My new favorite scratch made cinnamon roll recipe.
Cons: NONE.
Would I make this again? Yes yes yes yes.

Is there anything more delightful and comforting than homemade cinnamon rolls baking in the oven?

I’m SO excited to share this particular recipe with you. I’ve shared a few recipes for cinnamon rolls in the past with various techniques, textures, and flavors. But I’m pretty sure this one is my favorite.

Cinnamon rolls in a baking dish with icing on top

In my family special occasions were marked with cinnamon rolls. But since neither of my parents are bakers, that usually meant prepared cinnamon roll dough from those crazy tubes at the grocery store.

My goal for this recipe was to get a similar ooey, gooey, doughy, and rich texture as the tubed cinnamon rolls… but with way better flavor. And no crazy artificial ingredients or overwhelming sugary sweetness. I also wanted that flood of icing that melts into the rolls in the most mouthwatering way.

If you take these cinnamon buns into work with you, they won’t last longer than an hour. True story.

Unbaked cinnamon rolls rising

And that’s assuming there’s any leftover to even take to work!

How to Make Ultra Ooey Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

Here are my favorite tips and tricks for making the best cinnamon rolls ever. Recipe warning: your friends and family will be requesting these constantly!
Spreading icing on homemade cinnamon buns

Can I knead cinnamon roll dough by hand?

Yes! You can knead this dough by hand without a stand mixer and dough hook. It may take some more time and upper body strength! Check out my full tutorial on how to knead dough by hand here.

This is a very rich dough so it will take longer to knead than other recipes. ONLY add as much flour as needed to handle the dough. It’s better for the dough to be sticky at the start than to add too much flour and wind up with dense rolls instead of light and fluffy ones.

How long does cinnamon roll dough take to rise?

This dough is an enriched dough, meaning it has ingredients like milk, butter, sour cream, sugar, and eggs to make it ultra rich, tender, and soft once baked. But those ingredients can also slow down rising time. For me the dough took 2 hours for the first rise, and 90 minutes for the second rise.

Rising times will depend on the warmth and humidity of your kitchen so keep that in mind.

How to tell when the dough is risen?

The dough should double in volume for the first rise. I always like to use a glass mixing bowl to rise my dough in so I can see how much it’s risen more easily.

The best way to tell if the dough is risen enough to shape is to perform the ripe test. Press two fingers in the risen dough up to the second knuckle and then take them out. If the indentations remain the dough is “ripe” and ready for punch down. If not, cover and let the dough rise until the indentations do remain.

Now the dough is ready to be rolled out and shaped into rolls! Allow the shaped rolls to rise again until a gentle indentation from your finger remains.

How to Shape Perfect Cinnamon Rolls Spirals

Rolling up cinnamon roll dough

Rolling up your cinnamon roll dough nice and tight is the key to beautiful round rolls and visible spirals.  As you roll the dough up, stretch it towards you and over so it stays tight instead of floppy. Finish off the spiral with the seam side down to seal in the filling. Push the ends into the center slightly with your palms to create an even log shape then cut off the wonky end bits.

How to Slice Cinnamon Roll Dough

To get picture perfect cinnamon buns, it’s important to slice the log of dough without squashing it. The best tool for that is a very sharp chef’s knife that you use sweeping motions, not sawing motions. If you don’t have a super sharp knife you can also use a serrated knife and sweeping motions. Or you can use dental floss to slice the dough, but be sure it’s unflavored.

To get evenly sized pieces cut the log directly in half so you have two logs. Then cut each log in half again. Cut each remaining piece into 3 pieces for a total of 12. I know this sounds confusing to read but as you slice it’ll make sense.

Easy Cinnamon Roll Icing

I opted for a basic powdered sugar icing for this recipe. I love when the icing floods the cinnamon rolls and melts into them for the ultimate gooey bite. Kind of like the refrigerated cinnamon roll tubes from the grocery store. You want the icing to have a pourable consistency, not too thick and not too watery. Adjust the powdered sugar to milk ratio if needed.

Can I make Cream Cheese Frosting Instead?

Yes! Just combine the below ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high for 2 minutes, or until super smooth.

  • 8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 cup (125 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

How to Make Cinnamon Rolls Ahead of Time

Cinnamon rolls are best served fresh and warm. Right out of the oven if possible! You can store them covered at room temperature for a day, but I’d advise re-warming in the oven or microwave them before serving.

The fact is cinnamon rolls stale quickly. That’s why making them ahead of time is a great option!

Refrigerate the shaped but unbaked cinnamon rolls in the pans you plan to bake them in. I like to let them rise at room temperature for about 30 minutes before refrigerating to give them a jump start on rising, especially in the winter when it takes longer. Cover the rolls tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. The dough should continue to rise slowly in the fridge. You can also freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost overnight.

When getting ready to bake, loosen the plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size. This will depend entirely on how much they rose in the fridge and how warm / humid your kitchen is. It may take just 20 to 30 minutes or it may take over an hour. Proceed with baking as the recipe is written.

Cinnamon rolls with icing on plates

More Sweet Breakfast Recipes

5 from 1 vote

How to make
Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 12 cinnamon rolls
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Rising time 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 55 minutes
Gooey Cinnamon Rolls are ultra soft and tender, loaded with ooey gooey buttery cinnamon filling, and flooded with vanilla icing. Better than Cinnabon and can be made the night before!


For the dough:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • 1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast*
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cup to 4 1/4 cups (508 to 540 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt

For the filling:

  • 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, completely softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt

For the icing:

  • 2 cups (250 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Make the dough:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter until the butter melts. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream until smooth. Let cool until lukewarm (about 110°F).
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, use a spatula to combine the milk mixture with the yeast, sugar, egg, egg yolks, and vanilla until well combined. Add in half of the flour and the salt and stir with the spatula until combined. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and gradually add the remaining flour until a dough begins to form. Only add as much flour as you need to form the dough. Knead at medium speed until the dough is very soft, smooth, pliable, and doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl, about 8 to 10 minutes. If the dough is unbearably sticky add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. Only add as much flour as needed to create a smooth dough.
  3. Lightly grease a large bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Make the filling:

  1. While the dough rises, add filling ingredients to a medium mixing bowl. Beat with a hand held electric mixer on medium-high until very well combined, about 3 minutes.

To shape the dough:

  1. Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to shape the dough into a 16x12-inch rectangle, long side facing you.
  2. Spread the filling mixture all over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the far edge. Brush the border with water to help seal. Roll the dough up, pulling with your hands to keep it tightly rolled until it’s an even log shape. Press the border to seal. Trim the edges. Lightly flour the roll.
  3. Grease a 13x9-inch baking dish or two 9-inch pie pans. Cut the roll into 12 equal pieces using a sharp serrated knife or unflavored dental floss. Place the rolls cut side up in the prepared baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. MAKE AHEAD: Allow the shaped rolls to rise until they’ve grown in size by about a quarter. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Allow to come completely to room temperature and continue to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours, before baking as directed below.

  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°Bake the rolls until lightly golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes.

For the icing:

  1. While the rolls bake, combine the icing ingredients in a small mixing bowl until a smooth pourable icing forms.
  2. Spread over hot rolls immediately after they come out of the oven. Serve warm the day they’re baked.

Recipe Notes

*You can use active dry yeast in place of the instant yeast. Add it in with the warm (110°F) milk and butter mixture and a teaspoon of the sugar and allow it to proof for 5 to 10 minutes, or until foamy.
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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  1. #
    ALChan — August 18, 2019 at 7:41 am

    Tessa, can this recipe be used for making the rolls using the traditional Swiss Rolls method —- Bake the batter flat , roll up . When cooled. unroll and put in filling then cut. it would be less messy. TQ

    • #
      Tessa Arias — August 19, 2019 at 10:37 am

      No, I don’t believe that would work at all.

  2. #
    Claudia — August 18, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    My first time ever making cinnamon rolls! They are incredible as I shared with friends who loved the soft gooey centers of the rolls. I have never made bread or worked with yeast and with your detailed directions I feel like a pro. Thanks so much for a recipe that I cannot wait to make again!

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