Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls are gooey and fluffy with tons of cream cheese frosting on top! Make them ahead of time to enjoy in the morning. A family favorite!

Yield: 12 rolls

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls are gooey and fluffy with tons of cream cheese frosting on top! Make them ahead of time to enjoy in the morning. A family favorite!

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: So. much. cinnamon. Simply amazing when paired with the tangy cream cheese icing!
Texture: The rolls are golden and slightly crusty on the outside with a fluffy interior and a super ooey gooey filling.
Ease: Easy, but time consuming and messy. Watch the video if cinnamon rolls intimidate you!
Appearance: Beautiful!
Pros: These smell better than any candle while baking and they can be fun to make and are of course heavenly to eat.
Cons: Messy and time consuming but since these aren’t an everyday thing, I don’t mind.
Would I make this again? I’ve made these many times for special occasions!

Growing up in my family it wasn’t Christmas morning unless there were cinnamon rolls baking in the oven. The only thing better than opening presents was the sweet aroma of cinnamon rolls baking in the oven. It felt like such a treat to basically have dessert for breakfast!

Unbaked assembled cinnamon rolls in pan

For most families, including mine, Christmas morning isn’t about baking and cleaning. It’s about relaxing and spending time with family, so who wants to be stuck in the kitchen all morning and then all day to make dinner? We always used those refrigerated tubes of premade cinnamon rolls, the ones that are terrifying to open because it feels sort of like holding a live bomb that might explode in your face.

Cast iron pan with cinnamon buns and fork taking bite

Although those strange tubes will always have a special place in my heart there’s nothing better than homemade cinnamon rolls made with love.

They do take some time and effort, but the good news is you can make them ahead of time. I’ve included a bunch of tips just below. These would be perfect to bake for Christmas morning, Easter, or a Mother’s Day brunch, or when you’re hosting company and want something special. Or just when the craving strikes!

Half of a homemade cinnamon roll with cream cheese icing

How to Make the BEST Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Can I Knead by Hand?

Yes! You can definitely knead this dough by hand without a stand mixer + dough hook. It may take some more time and definitely more elbow grease! Check out my full video tutorial on how to knead dough by hand here.

Shaping Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

As you roll up the cinnamon roll dough after filling, be sure to keep the roll nice and tight so the filling won’t fall out. Do this by kind of stretching the dough out as you roll it. This will help maintain beautiful spirals. Finish off the spiral with the seam side down to seal in the filling. Push the ends into each other slightly with your palms to create an even log shape.

How to Slice Cinnamon Roll Dough

To get beautiful rolls, it’s important to slice the log of dough without squashing it down. The best tool for that is a very sharp knife that you use sweeping motions with to slice the dough. If you don’t have a super sharp knife you can also use a serrated knife. Or you can use dental floss to slice the dough, but be sure it’s unflavored.

To get evenly sized pieces I like to slice off any weird end pieces and discard. Then cut the log directly in half so you have two logs. Repeat by cutting each log in half. 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 and you’ll end up with cinnamon rolls that are the same size and height. If any filling falls out as you place the rolls onto the baking pan you can always kind of sprinkle it back into the seams of the spirals.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Roll Icing

Arguably the best part of cinnamon rolls right behind the most gooey center piece!! This icing recipe has a little bit of corn syrup to make it smooth, creamy, and shiny. Feel free to replace with golden syrup or omit entirely if you need to.

If your family prefers regular icing, here’s the simple recipe: beat together 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted room temperature butter with about 4 cups (500 grams) powdered sugar and about 1/4 cup cream. Adjust the cream to sugar ratio until you have your desired consistency. This makes enough icing for a generous amount on each roll.

How to Make Cinnamon Rolls Ahead of Time

Cinnamon rolls are definitely best served fresh and still warm from the oven. You can get away with storing them for a day, covered at room temperature, then re-warming them before serving. But they become 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.

More Cinnamon Roll Recipes

Easy fluffy homemade cinnamon buns

How to make
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 12 rolls
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Rising time 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 55 minutes
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls are gooey and fluffy with tons of cream cheese frosting on top! Make them ahead of time to enjoy in the morning. A family favorite!

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
  • 4 cups (508 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the filling:

  • 3 tablespoons (53 grams) butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the cream cheese icing:

  • 8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup or golden syrup, omit if you'd prefer
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 cup (125 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

Directions

Make the dough:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, water, and butter until the butter melts. Remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm (about 110°F).
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, use a spatula to mix together the milk mixture, yeast, sugar, egg, and egg yolks until well combined. Add in the salt, vanilla, and half of the flour 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 smooth 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.
  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, 1 1/2 to 2 hours or allow to rise in the fridge overnight.

Shape the dough:

  1. Press down the risen dough and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Use a rolling pin, shape the dough into a 16x12-inch rectangle, long side facing you. Brush all over with melted butter.
  2. Combine remaining filling ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the far edge. Roll the dough up, pinching with your fingers to keep it tightly rolled. Lightly flour the roll.
  3. Grease a 13x9-inch baking dish or two 9-inch cake 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 place in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Invert the rolls on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes.

Make the icing:

  1. While the rolls cool slightly, place the cream cheese, corn syrup, cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed until combined. Increase speed to high and beat until the icing is smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. If making the plain icing, beat together the butter, sugar, cream, and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Turn the rolls out onto a serving plate and spread the icing all over. Serve warm.
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade

This post was originally published in 2013 and recently updated with recipe improvements and new photos. 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. #
    zara asif — December 18, 2013 at 3:29 am

    hey can i use salted butter and omit the extra salt in the dough?

    • #
      Tessa — December 18, 2013 at 8:43 am

      That should be fine!

  2. #
    Stephanie Hanson — December 18, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Yay!! I am so excited you posted these! I will be making them over the weekend for Christmas Day 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — December 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm

      Yay!!! I love to hear when people use my recipes for holidays. Makes me feel like I’m celebrating with your family 🙂

  3. #
    Mimi @ Culinary Couture — December 18, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    You’re so great on video Tessa..Food Network needs to give you a call!

    • #
      Tessa — December 19, 2013 at 8:17 pm

      Thank you so much! What a wonderful compliment.

  4. #
    Jaclyn — December 19, 2013 at 11:01 am

    These look perfect Tessa! Cinnamon rolls basically make for the best breakfast ever!

    • #
      Tessa — December 19, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      Thank you!! I agree – best breakfast ever 🙂

  5. #
    zara asif — December 19, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Hey sorry one quick question. Can I use a food processor to make the dough?

    • #
      Tessa — December 19, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      No, you cannot make this dough in the food processor. You can make it by hand though.

  6. #
    Bella — December 23, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I love being able to watch your videos! Takes the recipes to a whole new level. Definitely making these for Christmas morning 🙂

  7. #
    Chelsea Haga — December 23, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Just made 3 batches of these. Great 🙂

  8. #
    Christine — January 8, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Made these for Christmas morning as well. Turned out great, never had such a fluffy yeast dough before. My fmily already wants more!

    • #
      Tessa — January 8, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      So happy to hear that!!

  9. #
    Alia — April 2, 2014 at 5:46 am

    I made these, & they turned out AWESOME !! An exact recipe, great instructions. Definitely a KEEPER! Thank you Tessa.

  10. #
    Isabella — November 30, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I made these in the weekend and they were so good!! Thanks for the recipe 🙂
    Once they are baked, how long can i store them in the freezer for?

  11. #
    Beverly Hayes — January 22, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    The measurement for the rolled out dough is missing a 1. It says 16 X 2 inch–it should be corrected to 16 X 12 inch. Thought you may want to correct that. I look forward to making them this week! Have you tried making them with whole wheat flour?

  12. #
    Becca — December 22, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    I ended up using your hawaiian roll recipe in my bread machine for thanksgiving-HUGE hit. I’m now the bread maker for the family! Ha! Since I knew that recipe so well, I ended up using that recipe for the dough to make my Christmas morning cinnamon rolls. I used the filling and icing from this recipe! Thank you so much for making me feel like a chef for our holidays!

  13. #
    [email protected] — July 24, 2017 at 4:32 am

    Made these yesterday for a get together, they absolutely loved them!

    • #
      Tessa — July 25, 2017 at 11:52 am

      Wonderful!!

  14. #
    Sarah L. — October 2, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Oh my goodness!

    Cinnamon Rolls and I have not gotten along so well in the past few years. For whatever reason they just don’t quite turn out. And Even though everyone else who eats them likes them I have been less than satisfied.

    This recipe though… Perfect! I may end up tweaking a few things but this is my new go-to recipe for cinnamon rolls. The dough was perfectly cooked, the filling had the perfect amount of cinnamon. I Can’t wait to make these for Christmas morning!

  15. #
    Laura Adams — October 20, 2018 at 5:11 am

    Isn’t that supposed to be a 16×12″ rectangle? Not a ’16×2″ rectangle”, as written? Looks like a keeper!

  16. #
    MARGIE INEZ — January 1, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    These were delicious

  17. #
    Angela — February 5, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    I just finished cutting my cinnamon rolls and I’m in love with this dough! The rise time is double from my old recipe but this dough is worth the wait. This will definitely be my new go to recipe. I’ve uaed many of your recipes and have had nothing but success! Love your chewy brownie recipe! I promised my super picky daughter that I would make a batch. Thanks so much for sharing your recipes and knowledge! Your hard work is very much appreciated.

  18. #
    Marie Czarnecki — April 12, 2019 at 9:31 am

    Recipe a 10+ as the Orange Rolls…

  19. #
    Anne — April 15, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    How long can I store these after they are baked? Should they be kept in the refrigerator?

    • #
      Tessa — April 16, 2019 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Anne, your question is answered in the blog post in the pink box. “Cinnamon rolls are definitely best served fresh and still warm from the oven. You can get away with storing them for a day, covered at room temperature, then re-warming them before serving. But they become stale quickly.”

  20. #
    Marti Crockett — May 3, 2019 at 6:39 am

    Best rolls I have made it a long time. I have tried several recipes. Am keeping this one for a long time. Love how they raise and are light and fluffy. Family says the best ones I have ever made. Thank you for the recipe and tutorial.

  21. #
    Tilly — May 3, 2019 at 11:52 am

    It might be me but I can’t find the eggs in the written recipe.
    According to the video there is one and 2 yolks, right?
    Trying to perfect my rolls and make them more fluffy and not stale so quickly.
    Any good suggestions?

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