Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

If you like your Cinnamon Rolls gooey, rich, and drowning in cream cheese icing, this is the recipe for you! The dough is made with yeast because: There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.

Award-winning Homemade Cinnamon Rolls have been a family tradition passed down from baker to baker; I’m proud to share my recipe for the best made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting you’ll ever taste.

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled cinnamon roll ingredients in various bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Active Dry Yeast: Fleischmann’s, Red Star, Bob’s Red Mill, or Saf are all good brands. Just make sure the yeast is fresh and hasn’t expired. Can you use instant yeast? Yes you can. Keep reading–I’ll show you how to tell if yeast is good.
  • Heavy Cream: This is a make-or-break ingredient that gives these cinnamon buns extra-special gooey appeal. Adding slightly warm heavy cream will keep the rolls rising as they should during baking.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. First, scald the milk. Milk is scalded when it’s heated until a thin skin forms on top of the milk. This happens at about 170 degrees.
    If you've ever wondered what it means to scald milk, it's a tried and true technique that yields the fluffiest breads, rolls, and cakes you've ever tasted. This old-fashioned technique still has its place in the kitchen, and it's remarkably easy to do. 
  2. Next, combine the butter, sugar, and salt. Stir in the scalded milk and cool to 110 to 115 degrees. Meanwhile, bloom the yeast. Add active dry yeast to warm water (about 110 degrees). After 5 minutes, the yeast should be fragrant and foamy on top.
    Yeast blooming in warm water and sugar in a glass bowl.
  3. In your mixer, combine flour and the bloomed yeast. Add in the scalded milk mixture until the dough comes together. If the dough is sticking to the bottom of the mixer, add more flour, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough is fully released.
    Award-winning Homemade Cinnamon Rolls have been a family tradition passed down from baker to baker; I’m proud to share my recipe for the best made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting you’ll ever taste.
  4. Shape your dough into a ball, brush with butter, and proof the dough (let it rise) in a warm place, about 80 to 85 degrees. This is especially important in cold months or chilly climates!
    Award-winning Homemade Cinnamon Rolls have been a family tradition passed down from baker to baker; I’m proud to share my recipe for the best made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting you’ll ever taste.
  5. While the dough is rising, mix your filling. Turn the proofed dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a rectangle (12 inches by 18 inches) and brush with melted butter.
    Award-winning Homemade Cinnamon Rolls have been a family tradition passed down from baker to baker; I’m proud to share my recipe for the best made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting you’ll ever taste.
  6. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar filling over the dough and gently press it in. Leave about 1/2-inch border around the outside of the dough.
    Award-winning Homemade Cinnamon Rolls have been a family tradition passed down from baker to baker; I’m proud to share my recipe for the best made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting you’ll ever taste.
  7. Starting at the long edge of the dough, roll the dough into a tight cylinder and pinch the seam to seal. Set the cylinder seam-side down and cut the dough in 12 equal pieces.
    Award-winning Homemade Cinnamon Rolls have been a family tradition passed down from baker to baker; I’m proud to share my recipe for the best made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting you’ll ever taste.
  8. Proof the cinnamon rolls a second time until doubled.
    Award-winning Homemade Cinnamon Rolls have been a family tradition passed down from baker to baker; I’m proud to share my recipe for the best made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting you’ll ever taste.
  9. Pour heavy cream over the top of the proofed rolls to make them extra gooey.
    Award-winning Homemade Cinnamon Rolls have been a family tradition passed down from baker to baker; I’m proud to share my recipe for the best made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting you’ll ever taste.
  10. Bake until the rolls are golden brown and irresistible, about 25 to 30 minutes.
    Award-winning Homemade Cinnamon Rolls have been a family tradition passed down from baker to baker; I’m proud to share my recipe for the best made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting you’ll ever taste.
  11. Frost with my delicious cream cheese frosting, or the icing of your choice. If frosting too sweet for you, brush the baked rolls with melted butter instead of frosting.
    Award-winning Homemade Cinnamon Rolls have been a family tradition passed down from baker to baker; I’m proud to share my recipe for the best made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting you’ll ever taste.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Room temperature ingredients: When it comes to baking, using room temperature ingredients, especially eggs, is important. If you forgot to leave the eggs out,  warm them up in a bowl of warm water.
  • Blooming yeast: In this recipe, you add yeast to 1/4 cup lukewarm water (90-110 degrees). At the end of 5-10 minutes, the yeast should look foamy. If it does not, the yeast isn’t alive and should be discarded. Yeast activates at 40 degrees and dies at 140 degrees.
  • Proofing: “Proofing” is a fancy term of waiting for yeasted dough to rise. To create the perfect place for proofing, preheat your oven to its minimum temperature (170°F, 200°F, etc.), but shut it off once the temperature reaches 110°F.  Place your dough (in a greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap), on a baking sheet and in the oven.  The oven temperature will drop when you open the oven door, but enough residual heat will remain that your dough should steadily rise. In this recipe, the dough should double in 90 minutes to 2 hours under these conditions.
  • Make ahead: These cinnamon rolls can be made to the point of the second rise (once they’re rolled out, cut, and added to the pan). Cover them, refrigerate the pan until morning, then bring them out and let them go through their second rise. Add heavy cream and bake, proceeding with the recipe as planned.
  • Freezing: Roll out, cut, and fill the baking pan with the cinnamon buns. Wrap the baking pan in layers of plastic wrap and foil and freeze. When ready to bake, take them out and move the to the refrigerator, letting them thaw overnight. The next morning, take them out and let them warm up while you preheat the oven. Bake according to the recipe, adding 5-10 minutes to the cooking time.
  • Orange icing: For an orange twist, add a tablespoon or two of orange juice and a tablespoon of fresh orange zest to the icing.
  • Maple and pecans: Add 1/2 cup of finely chopped pecans to the filling mix as well as 1 tablespoon of real maple syrup for another layer of cinnamon bun perfection. You can add even more toasted chopped nuts over the icing, if you want to.

Cinnamon rolls on a plate next to pan of them.

More sweet breakfast ideas:

Homemade cinnamon rolls on a baking sheet.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

If you like your Cinnamon Rolls gooey, rich, and drowning in cream cheese icing, this is the recipe for you! The dough is made with yeast because: There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total proofing time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 485kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter divided (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 2 envelopes active dry yeast or 4 1/2 teaspoons (see note 1)
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water 110 degrees
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 cup butter melted (1/2 stick)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (slightly warm, for after the 2nd proof, see note 2)

For the icing:

  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese softened
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (4 ounces)

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a scalding temperature (when a skin forms on top of the milk, about 170 degrees), stirring frequently. Remove immediately from heat after scalding.
  • Meanwhile, combine 1/3 cup butter, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Pour scalded milk over the top and cool to 110 degrees to 115 degrees, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the eggs.
  • While the scalded milk mixture is cooling, add the yeast to the warm water (110 degrees) and let it "bloom" for 5 minutes (see note 2).
  • In an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine 4 1/2 cups flour, yeast, and water. With the motor running on low, slowly drizzle in the scalded milk mixture.
  • Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix until shiny and smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. If the dough is sticky after 3 minutes, add the remaining ½ cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. Using a small, microwave-safe dish, melt the remaining butter for 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Turn out the dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball. Place in a greased bowl and brush with 1 teaspoon melted butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let proof (rise) in a warm place (80 degrees to 85 degrees) until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours (see note 3).
  • While the dough is rising, mix the filling. In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt until combined.
  • Coat a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan with nonstick spray. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 12-inch by 18-inch rectangle and brush with the remaining melted butter.
  • Sprinkle filling to within 1/2 inch of the edge of the dough and press into an even layer. Using a bench scraper or metal spatula, loosen the dough from the counter if necessary.
  • Starting at a long edge of the rectangle, roll the dough to form a tight cylinder. Pinch seam to seal. Arrange cylinder seam side down and cut into 12 equal pieces. Using your hand, slightly flatten each piece of dough to seal open edges and keep the filling in place.
  • Arrange rolls in prepared cake pan. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let proof in a warm place (80 degrees to 85 degrees) until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes (see note 3). Pour heavy cream evenly over the rolls after this second proofing.
  • While the rolls are proofing the 2nd time, make the icing. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, buttermilk, and powdered sugar and stir until smooth.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Bake until the rolls are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Switch the positions and rotate the orientation of the sheets halfway through baking time. Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle with icing.

Video

Notes

  1. Active Dry Yeast: Fleischmann’s, Red Star, Bob’s Red Mill, or Saf are all good brands. Just make sure the yeast is fresh and hasn’t expired. Can you use instant yeast? Yes you can. Keep reading--I'll show you how to tell if yeast is good.
  2. Heavy Cream: This is a make-or-break ingredient that gives these cinnamon buns extra-special gooey appeal. Adding slightly warm heavy cream will keep the rolls rising as they should during baking.
  3. Room temperature ingredients: When it comes to baking, using room temperature ingredients, especially eggs, is important. If you forgot to leave the eggs out,  warm them up in a bowl of warm water.
  4. Blooming yeast: In this recipe, you add yeast to 1/4 cup lukewarm water (90-110 degrees). At the end of 5-10 minutes, the yeast should look foamy. If it does not, the yeast isn't alive and should be discarded. Yeast activates at 40 degrees and dies at 140 degrees.
  5. Proofing: "Proofing" is a fancy term of waiting for yeasted dough to rise. To create the perfect place for proofing, preheat your oven to its minimum temperature (170°F, 200°F, etc.), but shut it off once the temperature reaches 110°F.  Place your dough (in a greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap), on a baking sheet and in the oven.  The oven temperature will drop when you open the oven door, but enough residual heat will remain that your dough should steadily rise. In this recipe, the dough should double in 90 minutes to 2 hours under these conditions.
  6. Make ahead: These cinnamon rolls can be made to the point of the second rise (once they’re rolled out, cut, and added to the pan). Cover them, refrigerate the pan until morning, then bring them out and let them go through their second rise. Add heavy cream and bake, proceeding with the recipe as planned.
  7. Freezing: Roll out, cut, and fill the baking pan with the cinnamon buns. Wrap the baking pan in layers of plastic wrap and foil and freeze. When ready to bake, take them out and move the to the refrigerator, letting them thaw overnight. The next morning, take them out and let them warm up while you preheat the oven. Bake according to the recipe, adding 5-10 minutes to the cooking time.
  8. Orange icing: For an orange twist, add a tablespoon or two of orange juice and a tablespoon of fresh orange zest to the icing.
  9. Maple and pecans: Add 1/2 cup of finely chopped pecans to the filling mix as well as 1 tablespoon of real maple syrup for another layer of cinnamon bun perfection. You can add even more toasted chopped nuts over the icing, if you want to.

Nutrition

Serving: 1piece | Calories: 485kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 488mg | Potassium: 135mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 758IU | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 2mg
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  1. Sarah Foscarini Wilkes

    Quick question, is there a way to substitute sourdough starter rather then dry yeast? I have read that you just need to adjust the amount of flour? And or liquid?

    1. meggan

      Hi Sarah, I am sure there is a way, but I’m not sure what it is. It would take some testing for sure! I have played with sourdough but not enough to know off the top of my head how you would convert this recipe. I’m sorry about that! Good luck. -Meggan

  2. Dianna

    I have a question. The ingredients in the dough recipe says “1/2 cup butter, DIVIDED” but the directions don’t say what the division is; it just says to add butter, without specifying the amount. Is it supposed to be 1/4 cup for the dough and 1/4 cup for the filling (the filling recipe ingredients lists 1/4 cup butter) or 1/2 cup butter in the dough? I look forward to hearing from you. Many thanks.

    1. meggan

      Hi Dianna, so sorry about that! In Step #2, it’s 1/3 cup butter that you add. You end up melting the rest and brushing it on the dough later (1 teaspoon before proofing and the rest after you’ve rolled out the dough into a rectangle, before adding the cinnamon mixture). I’ve fixed the recipe. Thank you for pointing this out! -Meggan

  3. jane

    easy and taste great5 stars

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