Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share a commission.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls should absolutely be on your holiday or weekend brunch menu. These soft, pillowy rolls are filled with a cinnamon sugar mixture, and are topped with the best cream cheese frosting!

You may also want to consider the best Overnight Omelette Breakfast Casserole, some Raspberry Oatmeal Jam Bars, my favorite Maple Nut Scones, and fruit and yogurt bowls topped with some Healthy Chocolate Granola!

Side shot of roll, with the dish in the background.

Best Cinnamon Rolls

My mom made the most amazing cinnamon rolls, and she coached me over the phone when I decided to try them on my own. I’ve shared her recipe with you all, and this recipe is similar but different. I used regular 2% milk instead of the powdered variety that she kept on hand, and also added some butter to my version for a slight change in consistency.

Mom’s rolls included a delicious caramel frosting that I use in many other recipes, and then she often made Sticky Caramel Cinnamon Rolls that had an actual caramel topping baked in (instead of frosting). I think of her every time I bake with yeast, because that really was her specialty!

Reasons to love this recipe

  • The process is simple. Making rolls is not difficult, trust me. You can have them in pans for baking in about 1.5-2 hours, and some of that time is just waiting. Baking time is 25 minutes.
  • They’re soft and pillowy. These are soft, pillowy, and melt in your mouth delicious.
  • You can add different types of frosting. In addition to this cream cheese frosting, try my amazing caramel frosting for something different. Or a simple powdered sugar glaze works well too.
  • This recipe includes a pan for now and one for later. Now that we are empty nesters, I tend to make smaller pans of everything. Make one to enjoy today, and another to freeze for later. OR, you can bake them in one large pan for a gathering.

You do not need a fancy mixer to make rolls. This can be made by hand as well, using a large mixing bowl and a little bit of muscle.

Side shot of the baked cinnamon rolls with frosting, two rolls missing.

How to make this recipe

Step 1
Make the dough. In a large standing mixer, combine yeast, sugar, and warm milk. Be careful to use WARM milk, not hot. After about 15 minutes, the yeast should be bubbly and you can proceed.

Add the melted butter and kosher salt – and stir with a spatula. Then add the dough hook, about 4.5 cups of all-purpose flour, and start the mixer. Continue adding flour until you get your desired consistency. (I normally use just a little more than five cups.) Remove dough to a greased bowl.

Step 2
Let the dough rise. Cover the bowl of dough with a clean dish towel and place in a warm corner of your kitchen. Let the dough rise until it’s doubled in size.

Step 3
Divide dough in half. Place the dough on a greased baking mat, and use a knife to divide the dough in half. Make sure the butter is softened but not melted.

Step 4
Form and add cinnamon and sugar filling. Take one piece of dough and use your hands to quickly form it into a rectangle. (No need to push on the dough too hard.)

Then spread half (3 tablespoons) of the softened butter on top of the dough. Follow it with half of the brown sugar (1/3 cup) and half of the cinnamon (1 tablespoon).

The dough in a rectangle with butter on top.
The brown sugar on the butter layer.
The cinnamon on top of the butter and brown sugar.

Step 5
Roll the dough and slice into sections. Carefully roll the dough up (from long side to long side) so that the dough is in a log. Slice it into nine equal pieces.

The rolled cinnamon dough cut into nine slices.

Step 6
Let rise again. Place the dough rounds into an 8×8 baking dish or pan (that has been sprayed with baking spray). Use your hands to push down on the rolls slightly so that the dough fills the pan evenly. Then cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled in size.

Repeat process with the remaining half of the cinnamon roll dough.

Step 7
Bake rolls. Bake rolls in a preheated 350 degree oven, until golden brown on top, approximately 25 minutes. Remove rolls to a cooling rack.

Step 8
Make cream cheese frosting. Make the frosting by combining the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer to cream ingredients together until light and creamy. Then add the (sifted) powdered sugar and mix again until well combined.

Sifting your powdered sugar will result in a creamier frosting. You will eliminate any hard nuggets of powdered sugar, and the frosting will be extra smooth.

Step 9
Add frosting. When rolls are cooled, spread the frosting on top. If serving immediately, add frosting when rolls are just slightly warm.

Side shot of a spoonful of frosting on the baked rolls.

Can I make Cinnamon Rolls ahead of time?

Yes, you can definitely make these up ahead of time, according to one of the methods below.

  • Store them in the fridge overnight. After placing the rolls in the pans, cover them tightly and place them in the fridge. The following day, bring them to room temperature and let them rise again before baking. This can take several hours so plan in advance.
  • Freeze them before baking. After placing rolls in the pans, cover tightly and place in freezer bags. Freeze them immediately. The day you need them, give yourself around 12 hours to prepare them. Place them on your kitchen counter and let them thaw completely, come to room temp, and rise again. If you plan to serve them at breakfast, set them out overnight.
  • Bake them and freeze. Bake the rolls, cool, and wrap tightly. Place in freezer bags and freeze. When ready to serve them, remove from freezer and either let them come to room temp, or microwave them on defrost until they’re ready.

Possible Reasons your dough isn’t rising:

  1. You’re using old yeast. Be sure to look at the expiration date on your yeast. Use fresh yeast, or keep it in the freezer. I buy a large quantity and store it in the freezer for months (and give it away to friends). 🙂
  2. You didn’t use warm water (or milk) to activate the yeast. When proofing yeast, it is important to use warm liquid. Hot liquid kills the yeast, and cold liquid won’t activate it.
  3. The temperature of your home is too cold. Since we live in Texas, this never happens to me, but if you are in a very cold climate and aren’t heating your home enough, that could cause your dough to be stagnant.
  4. Your dough is too heavy. This can be caused by using too much flour or by using too many whole grains. It’s best to keep your dough slightly sticky, and I recommend using some all-purpose flour to lighten up grainier breads.
  5. You’re making it by hand and not kneading it enough. I’ve never made cinnamon rolls by hand, but if you do, you’re going to need to use some muscles to get it to rise. Make sure you spend some time kneading it with your hands.
A square dish of baked homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting on top.

Tricks to get your dough to rise faster:

  • Heat up a bowl of water in the microwave. Then place the bowl of dough on top of the bowl of warm water and cover with a clean towel.
  • Heat up about four cups of water in the microwave for approximately 5 minutes. Remove the water, and place the bowl of dough in the microwave for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Set your oven to bake at 200 degrees. Place the (oven-safe) bowl of dough in the oven, and shut the oven off. Keep the bowl in the oven until you see that it has risen.
A hand on a cinnamon roll.

Have you gotten into sourdough baking yet? I have! Stay tuned for how to make a starter, but in the meantime, I highly recommend you try my Overnight Sourdough Bread, the best Sourdough Bagels, and my Sourdough Sandwich Bread!

Kitchen Tools used for this recipe: (Amazon Affiliates)

xoxo ~Sue

A homemade cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls should absolutely be on your holiday or weekend brunch menu. These soft, pillowy rolls are filled with a cinnamon sugar mixture, and are topped with the best cream cheese frosting!
4 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Bread, Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cream cheese frosting, homemade cinnamon rolls
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Rise time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings: 18 servings
Calories: 400kcal
Author: Sue Ringsdorf

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 2 Tablespoons yeast – I use Red Star Active Yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups warm 2% milk – not hot, not cold
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter – melted
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 5-6 cups all-purpose flour – or to right of consistency

For the sugar and cinnamon mixture:

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter – softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese – softened
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter – softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar – sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

  • Make the dough. In a large standing mixer, combine yeast, sugar, and warm milk. Be careful to use WARM milk, not hot. After about 15 minutes, the yeast should be bubbly and you can proceed. 
    Add the melted butter and kosher salt – and stir with a spatula. Then add the dough hook, about 4.5 cups of all-purpose flour, and start the mixer. Continue adding flour until you get your desired consistency. (I normally use just a little more than five cups.) Remove dough to a greased bowl.
  • Let the dough rise. Cover the bowl of dough with a clean dish towel and place in a warm corner of your kitchen. Let the dough rise until it’s doubled in size.
  • Divide dough in half. Place the dough on a greased baking mat, and use a knife to divide the dough in half.
  • Form and add cinnamon and sugar filling. Take one piece of dough and use your hands to quickly form it into a rectangle. (No need to push on the dough too hard.)
  • Then spread half (3 tablespoons) of the softened butter on top of the dough. Follow it with half of the brown sugar (1/3 cup) and half of the cinnamon (1 tablespoon).
  • Roll the dough and slice into sections. Carefully roll the dough up (from long side to long side) so that the dough is in a log. Slice it into nine equal pieces.
  • Let rise again. Place the dough rounds into an 8×8 baking dish or pan (that has been sprayed with baking spray). Use your hands to push down on the rolls slightly so that the dough fills the pan evenly. Then cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled in size.
    Repeat process with the remaining half of the cinnamon roll dough.
  • Bake rolls. Bake rolls in a preheated 350 degree oven, until golden brown on top, approximately 25 minutes. Remove rolls to a cooling rack.
  • Make cream cheese frosting. Make the frosting by combining the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer to cream ingredients together until light and creamy. Then add the (sifted) powdered sugar and mix again until well combined.
  • Add frosting. When rolls are cooled, spread the frosting on top. If serving immediately, add frosting when rolls are just slightly warm.

Notes

How to make rolls ahead of time:

  • Store them in the fridge overnight. After placing the rolls in the pans, cover them tightly and place them in the fridge. The following day, bring them to room temperature and let them rise again before baking. This can take several hours so plan in advance.
  • Freeze them before baking. After placing rolls in the pans, cover tightly and place in freezer bags. Freeze them immediately. The day you need them, give yourself around 12 hours to prepare them. Place them on your kitchen counter and let them thaw completely, come to room temp, and rise again. If you plan to serve them at breakfast, set them out overnight.
  • Bake them and freeze. Bake the rolls, cool, and wrap tightly. Place in freezer bags and freeze. When ready to serve them, remove from freezer and either let them come to room temp, or microwave them on defrost until they’re ready.

Nutrition

Calories: 400kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 316mg | Potassium: 114mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 510IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @Suebeehomemaker or tag #suebeehomemaker!

2 Comments

  1. I did not bake these, but a friend brought me some. I served them warm, with Sue’s roasted pecans and Caramel ice cream. Delicious!!!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      So glad you enjoyed these rolls, Debbie! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating