Homemade Cinnamon Rolls are soft, fluffy, and the perfect weekend baking project! Make the dough in advance, then bake when you’re ready, top with sweet glaze or cream cheese icing, and dig in!
The Best Cinnamon Roll Recipe
I really should have titled these “award winning cinnamon rolls”, because so many readers have won baking contests using this recipe! Made with basic pantry staples and a tested and perfected baking technique, they’re basically foolproof.
Next time you have a free afternoon in the kitchen, put on your apron and give this cozy recipe a try! You can bake them all at once, or use the overnight method, which lets you make them partially in advance. Once they’re in the oven, sit back and enjoy the delightful smell of brown sugar and cinnamon filling your kitchen. No scented candle required!
Ingredients for Cinnamon Rolls
- Milk: For best results, I suggest using whole milk. In a pinch, lesser fat milks and even plant based milks will work. Although the dough will be less soft and flavorful due to less fat in the milk.
- Butter: Unsalted butter is preferred, but if you only have salted butter on hand, use it. And simply reduce the amount of salt called for by 1/2. Or omit completely if you know your butter is very salty.
- Flour: All-purpose flour is the only flour I can guarantee will work for these cinnamon rolls. Some readers have reported great success using 1 for 1 GF flour, so feel free to give that a try. If you’re up for experimenting, of course, as I have not tried this myself!
- Active Dry Yeast: Be sure to use fresh yeast that is not expired. I don’t suggest rapid rise yeast because it works too fast for the methods used in this recipe. And do not try subbing baking powder for yeast. It will not work.
- Sugar: You’ll need three varieties of sugar for this recipe. Granulated sugar for the rolls, brown sugar for the filling sugar mixture, and confectioners’ sugar for the glaze.
- Salt: This ingredient enhances all of the flavors in the recipe while also balancing sweetness.
- Egg: Be sure to use a large egg that’s been brought to room temperature.
- Spices: Ground cinnamon and just a touch of cloves add warmth and depth of flavor the cinnamon roll filling. If you don’t have cloves, feel free to just use cinnamon.
- Heavy Cream: This is used to make the sweet icing, but in a pinch, milk will also work. Start with a smaller amount of milk as it’s thinner than cream so it will alter the texture.
How to Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
- Prep: Lightly grease a large bowl and set it aside. You’ll use this bowl to rise the dough, so be sure it’s roomy enough for the dough to double in size.
- Make the Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine some of the flour and all of the remaining dry ingredients. Then add in the wet ingredients. Add the remaining flour, a little bit at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Beat the Dough: Once all of the flour has been added, increase the speed to medium and beat the dough for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on your mixer here, it might move around a good amount. Then knead the dough by hand for a minute or so.
- Let the Dough Rise: Form the dough into a ball and place it inside the prepared bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it aside until it’s doubled in size.
- Pan Prep: Generously grease a 9×13-inch baking dish and set it aside until you’re ready to bake.
- Roll out the Dough: Punch down the dough, then turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll it into a large rectangle that’s evenly thick.
- Fill the Dough: Using a small spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the cinnamon sugar filling combination all over the dough.
- Roll it Up: Tightly roll up the dough then slice the log into 12 even rolls. Pro-tip: use unflavored dental floss to do this! Then place the rolls in the prepared baking pan.
- Second Rise: This is where you come to a crossroads. You can either cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours. Or, cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for another hour, or until they’ve doubled in size.
- Bake your Cinnamon Rolls: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees about 20 minutes before baking. If you chose the overnight option, remove the pan from the fridge and let the rolls rise in a warm place until they’ve puffed up and almost doubled in size, about 2 hours. If you chose to rise at room temp, you can simply bake right away.
- Glaze: Spread the warm cinnamon rolls with sweet glaze, or whip up a batch of cream cheese frosting and use that instead. Serve while they’re still warm to the touch, or cool completely. No matter how you serve them, they’ll be delicious.
How to Avoid Burnt Cinnamon Rolls
If you find your rolls are browning too much, you can cover them loosely with aluminum foil halfway through the baking process. Personally, I like my rolls with a good amount of color so this doesn’t bother me. But just be sure you bake them for at least 22 minutes, otherwise they could be raw or undercooked in the middle.
Tools for this Recipes:
- Stand Mixer with Dough Hook Attachment: Unfortunately a handheld mixer won’t work for this. In a pinch, you can knead it by hand, but be ready to really pump that elbow grease.
- Digital Kitchen Scale: The best way to measure flour is with a digital scale. If you don’t own one, fluff your flour first then lightly spoon it into the measuring cup.
- Baking Dish: A 9×13 inch baking pan works best, but a large skillet will also work. Just remember the material of your baking pan will alter the baking time, so keep an eye while your rolls are baking.
- Rolling Pin: Every baker should have a trusty baking pin! But in a pinch, use a wine bottle.
- Small Bowls: These are great for measuring out spices or making the glaze.
- Plain Dental Floss: This might sounds strange, but unscented and unflavored floss is actually the best way to slice cinnamon rolls. I swear by it, and I really think you will too after trying it.
More Cinnamon Roll Recipes:
- Christmas Morning Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls
- Butter Pecan Cinnamon Buns
- Strawberry Rolls with Vanilla Glaze
- Salted Caramel Sticky Buns
- Triple Almond Sticky Buns
- Soft Fluffy Orange Cinnamon Rolls
The BEST Easy Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
For the Cinnamon Rolls:
- 1 cup whole milk (whole milk means full-fat)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
- 3 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- (1) 0.25 oz package active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
For the Filling:
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
For the Glaze:
- 3 and 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Cinnamon Rolls:
- Lightly grease a large bowl and set it aside.
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the milk just until small bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan; remove from heat. Add in the butter and stir until it’s completely melted; let mixture cool while you mix your dry ingredients.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine 2 and 1/2 cups of flour, yeast, sugar and salt; mix on medium-low speed until ingredients are evenly combined. Add in the egg, then add in the warm milk mixture and beat until combined.
- Add the remaining flour, a little bit at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Once all of the flour has been added, increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. The dough should form a ball around the hook and pull away from the edges of the bowl.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands for 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to the prepared bowl.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Generously grease the sides and bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan and set it aside.
- Gently punch down the risen dough, then turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using a rolling pin, roll it into a 12x18-inch rectangle. Be sure the dough is evenly thick before adding the filling.
For the Filling:
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, both sugars, cinnamon, and cloves; mix well until it’s a uniform paste. Using a small spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the sugar/butter combination all over the dough.
- Tightly roll up the dough to form an 18-inch log. Using a piece of unwaxed/unflavored dental floss, slice the log into 12 even rolls. To do this, simply slide a 12-inch piece of floss under the roll where you want it cut, grab both ends of the floss (one in each hand), cross it over the top of the roll, and pull it until the slice you want is cut. Repeat for all slices.
- Arrange the rolls in the prepared baking pan, cut sides up. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours.
- When ready to bake, remove the pan from the refrigerator and let the rolls rise in a warm place until they’ve puffed up and almost doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- Once the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C). Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Remove pan from the oven and cool the rolls on a wire rack while you make the glaze.
For the Glaze:
- In a large spouted measuring cup, combine all of the ingredients and mix until well combined. If the glaze appears too thick, add a little more cream; if the glaze appears too thin, add a little more confectioner's sugar.
- Drizzle the icing over the warm rolls and serve at once, or set aside and allow the icing to set before serving.
- Wrap any leftover rolls tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.