Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

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Delicious & gooey homemade cinnamon rolls with step-by-step photos, detailed instructions, and all my top tips for perfect cinnamon rolls every single time.

Create the ultimate breakfast or brunch by serving these cinnamon rolls alongside these breakfast potatoes and this strawberry smoothie!

Up close photo of a homemade cinnamon roll with bite taken out of it

Homemade cinnamon rolls

If you ask my toddler what his favorite thing to eat is he won’t hesitate at all with yelling “CINNAMON ROLLS!” He loves them! Because of this, we make a lot of cinnamon rolls at our house, and subsequently do a LOT of testing:) The result of all that testing? This delicious cinnamon roll recipe that just might change what YOUR favorite thing to eat is…

I’ve included step-by-step photos and very detailed instructions below, so you can make these — even if you don’t have much baking experience. If you get a chance to try these let me know what you thought in the comment section below!

How to make these cinnamon rolls

Step One: warm milk and proof yeast

  • Warm the milk to exactly 100 degrees and remove it from the stove top (I use a thermometer for exactness)
  • Next we proof the yeast, which means that we activate it. To do this, add the yeast and sugar on top of the warm milk and let it stand for 5-10 minutes. Do not stir the yeast into the sugar and milk.

Process shots of homemade cinnamon roll: heating milk and adding yeast

Step Two: combine butter, vanilla, and egg

  • While the yeast is activating, melt 4 tablespoons of butter and let it cool back to room temperature – it’s important the butter isn’t hot so when it’s added to the egg, the egg doesn’t cook.
  • Whisk together the butter, an egg yolk (reserve or discard the whites), and pure vanilla extract.

Process photo of eggs and other ingredients in Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Step Three: combine the mixtures

  • Before combining the yeast with the butter & egg mixture, you need to ensure the yeast is activated. Activated yeast with have a bubbly foam on the surface, just like the picture below on the left. If you don’t get the foamy yeast you’ll need to start again or you’ll end up with dense homemade cinnamon rolls. The 2 most common reasons for the yeast not activating is old/bad yeast, or the milk was too hot. 
  • Once you’ve verified the yeast is activated, whisk together the yeast with the butter & egg mixture (bottom right photo).

Process shot of adding egg/butter mixture to yeast/milk mixture for Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Step Four: Add-in dry ingredients

  • Add all the dry ingredients to a stand mixer bowl. Mix together, then create an indent in the center of the dry ingredients.
  • Add the wet ingredients from step 3 to the indent you created in the dry ingredients (bottom left picture).
  • Mix on low speed with the dough hook until thick and slightly sticky (~2 minutes), scraping down the sides with a spatula as needed.
  • Knead on medium speed until the dough gathers around the hook, (~5-6 minutes).
  • If the dough is not gathering around the hook you can add a small amount of additional flour. You DO want the dough to be slightly sticky and tacky. Resist the urge to add too much additional flour as this will take away from the softness of the dough.

Process shot of whisking together dry ingredients, add in wet, and mixing it all together for Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Step Five: let the dough rise

  • Gently form the dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl. Cover. Let rise until doubled; about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • PRO TIP: The dough will rise faster in a warm (not hot!) environment. There are a couple ways we do this in our house. My husband will put his rising dough in front of our fireplace on low heat. I like to heat my oven to 170 degrees F, turn it off, add the bowl of dough, and keep the oven open just a crack.

Process shot of the dough for homemade cinnamon rolls

Step Six: roll out the dough

  • Lightly flour a clean surface and roll out the dough. Try to get a rectangle shape that is approximately 15 x 12 inches (with the 15 inch side facing you). Avoid overworking the dough.
  • Spread the butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar over the dough.
  • Starting on the long end, tightly roll up the dough in a jelly roll style roll. You should end up with an even-sized cylinder.
  • Cut the cylinder of dough into 12 even slices (use your measuring tape for perfect accuracy!)

Process shots of rolling out the dough, adding cinnamon sugar, and forming the dough into a log for homemade cinnamon rolls

Step Seven: let the rolls rise

  • Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan and place the cut homemade cinnamon rolls onto the pan. (This 9 x 13 Cake Pan is my favorite pan ever)
  • Cover the rolls and allow them to rise (again in a warm environment for best results) for 20-30 minutes or until nearly double
  • Once the the rolls have risen, pour warmed heavy cream evenly over the rolls. This makes the cinnamon rolls gooey, delicious, flavorful, and slightly caramelizes all the edges. This tip comes from Tastes of Lizzy T and we don’t make our cinnamon rolls without it now 🙂

 

Adding the secret ingredient (heavy cream)to the prepared pan of these homemade cinnamon rolls

Step Eight: bake and glaze

  • Place the cinnamon rolls in the oven and prepare the topping while they’re baking.
  • Once the homemade cinnamon rolls are out of the oven, let them cool for 10-15 minutes before spreading the frosting evenly over the rolls.
  • Enjoy while warm and gooey!

Process shot of the frosting and it being added to the homemade cinnamon rolls

Cinnamon Roll FAQS

A shot of the finished homemade cinnamon roll being eaten

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Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

5 from 10 votes
Delicious & gooey homemade cinnamon rolls with step-by-step photos, detailed instructions, and all my top tips for perfect cinnamon rolls every single time.
Print Recipe

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

5 from 10 votes
Delicious & gooey homemade cinnamon rolls with step-by-step photos, detailed instructions, and all my top tips for perfect cinnamon rolls every single time.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Dough Rising 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 48 minutes
Servings 12 large cinnamon rolls
Calories 339kcal
Author Chelsea

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 1 cup whole milk (I wouldn't recommend a lower fat)
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (not instant)
  • 1/3 cup + 1/2 teaspoon white granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose white flour, plus some additional to flour work surface
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed (I like dark, but light works great too)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream, slightly warmed

For the Frosting/Glaze

  • 4 ounces full fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste OR 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Instructions

Make the Dough:

  • Preheat your oven to 170 degrees F. Heat the milk in a medium pot over low heat until it reaches 100 degrees F. Remove pot from heat and add in the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Do not stir. Let sit until foamy, which should take roughly 5-10 minutes. (If the mixture doesn't foam you may need new yeast or you could have killed the yeast with milk that was too hot. Start over or your rolls won't rise).
  • While the yeast is sitting, melt the butter and let it return to room temperature. Once cooled, whisk in the vanilla extract and egg yolk until smooth. Whisk this mixture into the yeast/milk mixture.
  • Using a stand mixer, mix together the flour, the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, the salt and the cinnamon. Once combined, make an indent in the center and pour the yeast mixture into the indent. Mix on low speed with the dough hook until thick and slightly sticky (~2 minutes), scraping down the sides with a spatula as needed. Knead on medium speed until the dough gathers around the hook, (~5-6 minutes). If the dough is not gathering around the hook you can add a small amount of additional flour. You DO want the dough to be slightly sticky and tacky. Resist the urge to add too much additional flour as this will take away from the softness of the dough.
  • Remove the dough and shape into a ball (again it will be a little sticky!). Grease the mixing bowl with cooking spray or butter and return the dough to the bowl, turning to coat with the spray or butter. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise until doubled. This takes roughly 45 mins to 1.5 hours. Placing the dough in a warm environment will make it rise faster. (I turn off the oven that preheated to 170 degrees, add the bowl of dough into the oven, and crack the oven open a 4-5 inches).
  • Lightly flour a clean surface and roll out the dough. Try to get a rectangle shape that is approximately 15 x 12 inches (with the 15 inch side facing you). Avoid overworking the dough.

For the Filling:

  • In a large bowl, combine the 1/2 cup softened butter with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Beat until you have a thick mixture.
  • Use a butter knife or spatula to spread the cinnamon sugar mixture over the entire dough rectangle. Starting on the long side (closest to you), tightly roll up the dough into a jelly roll style roll.
  • Cut the roll of dough into 12 equal slices and place in a greased 9 x 13 ceramic or glass pan (avoid metal pans if possible)
  • Cover the rolls in the pan and allow them to rise until nearly doubled. Again, place in a warm environment to make it raise quicker. About 20-30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Warm the heavy cream for 15-20 seconds in the microwave (you don't want it hot, just not cold/straight from the fridge).
  • Pour the heavy cream over the risen rolls and allow it to soak down, in, and around the rolls.
  • Bake cinnamon rolls at 375 degrees F for 17-22 minutes, until the rolls are lightly golden brown at the edges and the center of the rolls are cooked through.

For the Frosting/Glaze:

  • While the rolls are cooling, prepare the frosting/glaze. Combine the room temperature cream cheese and butter in a large bowl and beat until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Beat until smooth.
  • Allow cinnamon rolls to cool at room temperature for 10-15 minutes and then spread the glaze evenly over the rolls. Enjoy warm!

Video

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 339kcal

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Nutrition Facts for Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Delicious, gooey, & sweet homemade cinnamon rolls with step-by-step photos, detailed instructions, and all my top tips/tricks for perfect cinnamon rolls every single time. via chelseasmessyapron.com #homemade #cinnamon #roll #recipe #easy #delicious #recipe #christmas #breakfast #brunch #party #best
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39 Comments

  1. I’m having an overnight gathering for New Year’s and this will be perfect for breakfast on New Year’s Day! I have an old recipe for basic cinnamon rolls I’ve used several times, but this one convinced me to try something new! Beautiful pictures, and thank you for this recipe!

  2. Oh my gosh I am so sorry about your travel story. Man it sounds like you make a movie out of your trip!
    But it had a happy ending. I tell ya, I would love to have a pan of these baking in the morning in time for
    my morning coffee. Wow that would be such a luxury.

  3. Hi Chelsea! I’m a follower of Fit Foodie Lee and I just joined the blogging world about 3 months ago. I’m stoked that she linked to your page because I’ve never been on your site before. LOVE it! Totally just purchased your book, too, because I’m very eager to learn how to grow my blog. Thanks for putting resources out there for other bloggers. 😉

  4. 5 stars
    Love the recipe, never knew to use Brown Sugar inside, I rarely eat cinnamon rolls when I do their instant but if I’m out all try your recipe.

  5. Hi Chelsea! I just LOVE your blog. I’ve been going from recipe to recipe the past month making them. My family (including little ones) have really enjoyed them. Thank you! Quick question.. can I make these the night before serving them and bake them in the morning?

  6. I see the link for the 9 x 13 pan in your post, but I’m wondering where you got the white one in the pictures. It’s so pretty!

    1. Thank you so much Kate! 🙂 I actually got it a while ago at World Market; not sure if it’s still there, but hopefully you’re able to find it 🙂

    1. Sorry Teddi! I’m definitely not vegan and don’t have too many vegan recipes on this site; I do have a good collection of vegetarian recipes though!

  7. I’m in the process of making these, however I cannot find where it’s listed to add the butter/vanilla/egg yolk mixture. I added it right after I added the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients. Also, I preheated my oven but am I supposed to put the dough in the oven to rise? I’m hoping these turn out as good as they look on your site!

  8. 5 stars
    These are perfect for weekend brunch and holidays. Homemade cinnamon rolls are a tradition for holidays in our house and these are so good!

  9. 5 stars
    I made these earlier this week. They were a hit. I couldn’t try one so I used my two guys to guinea pig for me. Well I did lick the spatula from making the frosting oh wow it was good. My other half and my son devoured the whole pan of them in one day. Thanks for the recipe. I am preparing to make for in the morning when the future in laws come for breakfast.

  10. Can I freeze these? If so do you recommend freezing them after they are baked and frosted or freeze before I bake them?

  11. 5 stars
    Just baked these and they’re delicious! Baked at 375 for 20 minutes. Didn’t have heavy cream on hand so I omitted this step. Also used 2% milk as that’s what I had. My frosting was not pourable as yours appeared to be in the picture, but did spread easily. I’m going to freeze some to be shared with my Election Official co-workers on Super Tuesday next week. Thanks for a delicious recipe once again, Chelsea!

  12. Hi chef, first of all these rolls look like dreamy creamy cinnabon cinnamon rolls
    why don’t you use a whole egg instead of using only the yolk??
    also I wanna ask you because I’ve found 2 recipes for potato dinner rolls..both call for almost the same ingredients but the 1st one calls for 2 whole eggs+6 tbsp butter but the 2nd one calls for 3 egg yolks+8 tbsp so please me which recipe do you prefer and why
    Thanks in advance!

  13. 5 stars
    Probably the best I’ve ever eaten. I only had 1/2 block of cream cheese so I adjusted the glaze. Thank you! So good!!

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