How to Make the Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

The ultimate Sunday morning treat, homemade cinnamon rolls are sweet, buttery, gooey and glazed. Learn how to make this decadent treat with the our Test Kitchen’s foolproof cinnamon roll recipe.

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When you’re staying in for a leisurely breakfast (rather than hitting your favorite brunch destination) there’s one treat that tops them all: homemade cinnamon rolls. Sure, popping open a can is fine in a pinch, but there’s no match for the scratch-made version covered in cream cheese icing.

These swirled buns packed with cinnamon, brown sugar and butter are just about the most comforting bake you can imagine, and they’re just what you want on a relaxing Sunday with a cup of coffee. And if you’re familiar with baking basic bread, making homemade cinnamon rolls isn’t too far of a departure. We’re confident that you can tackle this project for the upcoming weekend.

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How to Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Taste of Home

This delicious recipe for homemade cinnamon rolls comes to us from reader Shenai Fisher of Topeka, Kansas. She says that this recipe is a family favorite—it’s also a favorite in our Test Kitchen.

For the dough:

  • 1 packet (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm whole milk (about 110ºF)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:

  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted, divided

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Get Recipe

Tools for Making Cinnamon Rolls

  • Bench scraper: If you love to bake bread, grab a bench scraper. This helps clear your counter of scraps and you can use it to divide this dough into individual rolls.
  • Quality cinnamon: Cinnamon is the star of this recipe so be sure to get the good stuff. We like Saigon cinnamon from the Spice House. It’s sweet but bold—perfect for this recipe. There are a few other kinds of cinnamon, though, so choose which you like best. Learn more about the types of cinnamon here.
  • 13×9 pans: You’ll need two 13×9 pans to bake up these cinnamon rolls, so be sure to grab an extra if you only stock one in your pantry.

Directions

Step 1: Make the cinnamon roll dough

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As with any yeasted bread, you’ll start the recipe by proofing the yeast. Instead of using warm water (as you would with many basic bread recipes), this cinnamon roll recipe calls for warm milk.

The process, though, is the same. Just add your packet of yeast to a cup of warm milk. Be mindful to not let the milk get too warm while heating. Between 105º and 115ºF is just right. Let this mix sit for a few minutes. The yeast is active and ready to add to the other ingredients when it starts to get a bit frothy.

With your yeast is ready, it’s time to stir up the dough. You can do this in your stand mixer with a dough hook or by hand—just depends on how much of a workout you want!

To make the dough, combine the sugar, melted butter, eggs, salt, yeast mixture and 2 cups of flour. Beat on medium speed until smooth (or stir, stir, stir until smooth). Incorporate additional flour (up to 2-1/2 cups more) to make a soft, slightly sticky dough.

Step 2: Knead and then rest

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Once your dough is feeling good, turn it out onto a floured surface and start kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. This should take about eight minutes. If the dough is really sticky, you can always sprinkle in a little more flour as needed (and kneaded!).

If you already have your mixer out, you can knead the dough with your stand mixer. It’ll save you a little elbow grease!

Once kneaded, pop the cinnamon roll dough into a greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover and let the dough rise until doubled in size—about an hour. If the chilly weather outside means your home isn’t quite warm enough for a good proof, don’t worry! Here are tips on how to proof bread when it’s a bit colder than is ideal.

Step 3: Make the cinnamon filling

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While the dough is proofing, use the time to stir up the cinnamon filling. It’s simple—just stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Use a fork or small whisk so you break up all the clumps of brown sugar.

Step 4: Roll out the dough

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Once the dough has risen, punch it down. That means pressing down on the dough with your knuckles to deflate it just a bit. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into two portions.

Then grab your favorite rolling pin and roll each portion into a rectangle about 11 by 8 inches. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mix over the top—leaving about a half-inch perimeter.

Editor’s tip: If you like, you can add even more flavor here by sprinkling chopped toasted walnuts over the cinnamon blend. This adds flavor and crunch!

Step 5: Roll the dough into spirals

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Starting with the long side, roll the dough up jelly roll-style. Work slowly and carefully here. Once rolled up, pinch the long seam to seal it up. You don’t want your rolls unwinding.

Step 6: Slice into individual rolls

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Next, using a bench scraper (a sharp knife works too) to slice off the ends of each roll (you can bake these scraps up as an extra treat). Then divide each roll into eight even pieces.

Step 7: Proof again

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Grease two 13×9-inch pans and arrange eight rolls inside each. Be sure to leave space between the rolls because they will expand during this proof.

Cover with a kitchen towel and proof a second time until the rolls double in size. This should take about an hour.

Step 8: Bake and cool

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Once proofed, pop the pans into a 350ºF oven and bake until golden—about 20 to 25 minutes. After baking, place the pans on wire racks to cool.

Step 9: Make the icing

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While the rolls are cooling, take the time to make some delicious icing. This part is super simple. Just beat together softened butter, softened cream cheese, vanilla and salt until well blended. Then gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until you have a nice, thick icing.

Editor’s tip: You can add a little extra flavor here if you like with grated orange zest or some orange extract in lieu of the vanilla. Orange and cinnamon are a great flavor combination.

Step 10: Frost and enjoy!

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After the rolls have cooled slightly (they can be warm but not hot) smother them in as much icing as you like. The warmth from the cinnamon buns will help the icing drip along ever spiral. Once frosted, remove from the pan and eat up!

How to Serve and Store Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Taste of Home

Homemade cinnamon rolls are served best warm and dripping in delicious cream cheese icing. This recipe is great served alongside fresh coffee for a leisurely breakfast in and is perfect for sharing with company.

If you can’t eat them all in one go, store any frosted extras in the fridge due to the cream cheese. Unfrosted buns can be stored in an airtight container for a few days or popped into the freezer. Revive them with a quick stay in a warm oven and top with fresh icing.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an associate editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.