This is how to make the BEST cinnamon rolls recipe for perfectly fluffy and slathered with a buttery cream cheese frosting.
I’ve always had high standards when it came to cinnamon rolls. I’ve tried many recipes over the years, on a quest for the perfect recipe. Well folks, that ended as soon as I tried these rolls, from baker extraordinaire, Sarah Kieffer. Sarah is the cookbook author and blogger behind the blog that Savuer named the Best Baking & Dessert Blog, The Vanilla Bean Blog, and a friend who is just as sweet as these rolls. I’ve featured Sarah on the blog before (check it out here) and this cinnamon roll recipe comes from Sarah’s first cookbook, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book.
These melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon rolls hit all the bases. They’re soft, tender, fluffy, and full of amazing flavor. They start off with a recipe for a sweet, enriched dough that is perfectly tender (thanks to honey and eggs) and is actually really simple to make with only the help of a stand mixer that does most of the kneading for you. The only work that needs to be done is setting the timer on your phone to remind you to give the dough its series of flips and folding while it rests and rises.
What’s in These Cinnamon Rolls?
Now that I’ve sufficiently professed my love for these cinnamon rolls, it’s time to get to the good stuff — how to make them.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for the cinnamon roll dough:
- Whole milk
- All-purpose flour
- Instant yeast
- Unsalted butter
And for the cinnamon roll filling you’ll need:
- Brown sugar
- Unsalted butter
And finally, the addicting cinnamon roll icing:
- Unsalted butter
- Cream cheese
- Vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar
How to Make These Cinnamon Rolls
I used to be intimidated over making cinnamon rolls, but Sarah provides a simple method and clear instructions, making them easy. Plus, I love that you can make these ahead of time.
Here’s how to make them:
Start the Rolls at Night
I found the perfect time for making these easy cinnamon rolls was in the evening, starting the dough-making process while fixing dinner, then flipping and folding as the evening wore on and finalizing the process before I went to bed. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days, making it a good candidate to add to any brunch or breakfast table. One thing to note, the dough will be pretty shaggy and rough the final time you pull it out of the fridge.
Mix the dough, then let it rest. If you have a stand mixer, now’s the time to use it (and you don’t need a dough hook attachment––a paddle works just fine here!). You’ll first need to make the dough, then cover it with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel wrap and let the dough rise for 30 minutes (the microwave is a great place for it to rest).
Punch and rest some more. After 30 minutes is up, fold the dough back over itself 6 to 8 times, then recover the dough and let rise another 30 minutes. Repeat this series of foldings a total of 4 times (it’ll take 2 hours total).
Rest and chill overnight. Once the dough has had time to rise and has been folded multiple times, cover it one last time and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight, where it will rise more.
Roll it Out in the Morning
Roll, sprinkle, and cut. The next morning, on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle. Brush it with melted butter, then sprinkle with a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Roll up the dough and cut it into even-sized pieces. I cut these down into just 8 rolls, but you can certainly make them smaller to 12 portions and pack them in tighter if you prefer.
Tip: You could use a knife, but I like to use sharp kitchen scissors or dental floss for nice, clean cuts!
Rest and rise until doubled in size. Place the cinnamon rolls in a greased baking dish, then cover them with plastic wrap and let them rise until doubled.
For the Best Cinnamon Rolls, Glaze Twice
Sarah suggests slathering a layer on as soon as the rolls come out of the oven so the glaze sticks in every nook and cranny, and then adding more again after they’ve somewhat cooled. Genius move.
Make the icing. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium until smooth and creamy, then add the vanilla and salt and mix on low speed to combine. Add the powdered sugar and mix on low until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides in between.
Bake and glaze. Once risen, bake the homemade cinnamon rolls until golden brown. While the cinnamon rolls cool, make the icing and slather it liberally over the rolls while they’re still warm. Glaze with more icing just before serving.
Can I Freeze Cinnamon Rolls?
Yes, you can freeze cinnamon rolls. First let them cool completely, then seal them in a freezer bag and freeze them. When you’re ready to eat the frozen cinnamon rolls, set them on the counter to thaw. Note that you should freeze them without the icing, and should make a fresh batch of cinnamon roll icing just before you serve them.
Can I Refrigerate These Overnight During the Second Rise?
Yes, you totally can. However, the dough still needs to be chilled before rolling. After you’ve assembled your rolls and nestled them in the greased pan, cover them with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator overnight.
In the morning, you need to remove the cinnamon rolls from the fridge (keep them covered) and let them come to room temperature before baking, about 30-40 minutes or so. Also, note that they may take longer to bake.
Fun Cinnamon Rolls Ideas to Try
If you want to experiment, from this classic version, here are some ideas you could try:
- Orange and Almond Cinnamon Rolls: Add the orange zest of 1-2 oranges to the cinnamon sugar filling and ½ teaspoon of almond extract to the cream cheese frosting.
- Cinnamon Rolls with Raisins and Nuts: Add 1 cup of raisins and 1 cup of chopped nuts to the cinnamon roll filling
- Raspberry Cinnamon Rolls with Lemon Creme Fraiche Frosting: Substitute the ½ cup brown sugar with ¾ cup raspberry jam for the filling and switch out the cream cheese with creme fraiche.
- Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Roll: Add ½ cup of canned pumpkin and ½ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to the cinnamon and brown sugar to use as the filling.
More Breakfast Baked Goods to Master
- Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
- Pull-Apart Cinnamon Pecan Rolls
- Gwenyth’s Blueberry Muffins
- Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast Cups
- Blueberry Oatmeal Bread
More Brunch Recipes You’ll Love
- Easy Quiche Lorraine
- Healthy Caprese Breakfast Sandwiches
- Asparagus and Mushroom Frittata
- Healthy Egg McMuffins
- Instant Pot Oatmeal
Visit Sarah’s at her blog here, and purchase The Vanilla Bean Baking Book here.
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