Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

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Discover the secret to the best homemade cinnamon rolls with our foolproof recipe! Learn our heavy cream trick that makes a gooey caramel sauce on the bottom of the rolls.

It’s been over 7 years since we first unveiled our homemade cinnamon roll recipe. And since that first day the recipe made its appearance on Tastes of Lizzy T, you all have loved it. 

We thank you so much for your support and excitement for this recipe. We love hearing from you about the many ways these easy homemade cinnamon rolls find their way to your table, bringing your family together just as it has ours for over 23 years. 

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

There’s nothing quite like the cherished tradition of eating homemade cinnamon rolls on Thanksgiving, Christmas morning or other special occasions.

With a pillowy soft dough, a rich cinnamon filling, and melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese frosting, these are often called a Cinnabon Copycat Recipe. I spent the first 5 years of my marriage researching (and taste-testing 😋) cinnamon roll recipes and cracked the code that made everyone beg for the recipe.

Our cinnamon rolls were the first to feature the secret of heavy cream. Yes, we’ve been pouring cream over unbaked cinnamon rolls for 23 years. This secret ingredient transforms the base into an irresistible caramel sauce that’s the hallmark of the gooey cinnamon roll.

It’s THE trick that makes the BEST cinnamon rolls.

What readers are saying:

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Sara says, “I made these about 5 times already, and each time they turn out SO perfect. i followed the recipe EXACTLY as written and had no issues at all! I find that depending on the size of the pan i use, the baking time varies (which is normal and expected) – so just watch them after the 25 minute mark carefully. Sooooo yummy and always a hit! Thank you!”

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Nina says, I have wanted to make cinnamon rolls for awhile, but couldn’t find the right recipe, until now! This is easiest recipe, absolutely perfect. My friends & family devoured them in literally minutes! Thank you so much for this amazing recipe… I’m going to try the pumpkin rolls tomorrow, can’t wait!

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Amy says, “I wanted Cinnabon this morning, but was unwilling to leave the house. I made these instead and I can 110% say it was worth the effort. I will NEVER eat Cinnabon again. “

I love that last comment by Amy. Is this the official Cinnabon recipe? No, but it is better than the original. And I’ll teach you exactly how to make them.

Ingredients for Cinnamon Rolls

ingredients for cinnamon rolls
  • Milk. 2% milk is what I traditionally use for the dough. Whole milk or non-dairy almond or coconut milk works too.
  • Yeast. I have much success with instant yeast. You can also use active dry yeast.
  • Eggs. Large eggs are standard. I have not tried any replacement for eggs in this recipe.
  • Butter. The original recipe called for ⅓ cup butter, but since I’ve made it over the years, one tweak I made was to increase the butter to ½ cup. See this in the notes I made in the recipe card. I highly recommend it!
  • Sugars. Granulated sugar goes in the dough. Brown sugar is in the filling. Dark brown sugar is also delicious.
  • Salt. Although we use salted butter, we still add 1 teaspoon of salt to the dough. 
  • Flour. Bread flour will help the rolls have a fluffier, chewy but sturdier texture. If you don’t have bread flour, use all-purpose flour.
  • Cinnamon. Use Saigon cinnamon in this filling.
  • Heavy cream. Heavy cream is what gives the best results. Evaporated milk, whole milk or half and half works too. Don’t skip this! It’s what makes gooey cinnamon rolls.
  • Cream cheese. Full fat cream cheese is for the frosting.
  • Powdered sugar.
  • Maple or vanilla extract. I love, love maple flavor for my yeast cinnamon rolls, but vanilla extract works just as well.

Before You Start: Tips on How to Make Cinnamon Rolls

  • Be sure that your milk is warm to activate the yeast, but not too hot so that it kills the yeast (115º Fahrenheit is perfect). You’ll also want to warm the butter so it is soft and mixes in easily. But again, the butter should not be over 110º Fahrenheit. I use salted butter, but unsalted butter works well too.
  • Bring the eggs to room temperature also by placing them in a glass of warm water before adding them to the mix. If the ingredients are not cold, they’ll help the yeast to do what it needs to do quickly and give a beautiful rise to your cinnamon rolls.
  • In the video I use a stand mixer to mix the dough. If you have bread machine, use the dough cycle to make this extremely easy. Or, go the old-fashioned route and get those hands working by kneading the bread without a mixer. If you decide to knead by hand, be careful not to add too much flour. The dough is supposed to be tacky, which is what keeps these rolls soft.

Make the Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • Pour the warm milk (115ºF) in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast overtop. Allow this to sit for 3-4 minutes. The yeast will get a little frothy to show it is activated.
  • Add the eggs, butter and sugar. Mix until combined.
  • Add in salt and 4 cups (save the other ½ cup and add only if you need it) of flour and mix using the beater blade just until the ingredients are barely combined. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes so the flour has time to soak up the liquids. Scrape the dough off the beater blade and remove it. Attach the dough hook.
dough in a bowl with a dough hook
  • To knead, beat the dough on medium speed for 5-7 minutes, adding in up to ½ cup more flour only if needed to form a dough. The dough should be elastic and smooth. **The dough should be tacky and will pull away from the sides of the bowl but may stick slightly to the bottom. That’s ok! Don’t be tempted to add more flour at this point. We generally add about 4 ¼ cups, but start with 4 cups.**
  • Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Use a rubber spatula to remove the dough from the mixer bowl and place it in the greased large bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or wax paper.
dough in a bowl
  • Set the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to rise until nearly double. If the house is cool, turn on the oven to the lowest setting for 1-2 minutes. Then turn off the oven and place the dough to rise in there. It normally takes about 30 minutes for the dough to rise. Do not allow the dough to rise too much or your cinnamon rolls will be airy.

Read our tips on all about how to get dough to rise.

Cinnamon Roll Filling

We use three ingredients in our homemade filling: butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Soften the butter and mix the sugar and cinnamon with it to spread over the rolled out dough. Or simply spread on the softened butter, then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over the top.

And if you love raisins, chopped pecans or walnuts, sprinkle them over this filling, then roll up.

How to Roll Cinnamon Rolls

After you let the dough rise, you’re ready to roll. Use a pastry mat sprinkled with flour or other lightly floured surface to keep the dough from sticking.

Remember…the dough will be tacky and this is the point where it is ok to add flour on the pastry mat and on top of the dough itself for easy rolling. You’ll find this dough is very easy to roll out. If it is too much of an arm workout, you’ve most likely added too much flour.

bread dough sitting on a pastry mat

After you’ve rolled the dough, spread the cinnamon mixture on top and roll-up jelly-roll style.

Use a sharp, serrated knife or a steel dough cutter to cut into as many rolls as you’d like. 12 rolls fit in a 9×13″ pan (which end up deliciously large) or for smaller rolls, 15 rolls in a 10×15″ baking pan.

Pro Tip for cutting cinnamon rolls:

Use unflavored dental floss! It makes a perfect cut without squishing the dough.

The Secret to the Best Cinnamon Rolls

Heavy cream has been our trade secret to the best cinnamon rolls for over 23 years. It has since gone viral over and over on social media, and we’re thrilled that so many of you love it! It really is the best part and makes for gooey rolls.

Here’s what to do. After the cinnamon rolls are rolled into their pretty swirls and you’ve allowed them to set in the pan while the oven is heating, warm heavy cream in a small bowl.

Why warm the cream? Because your rolls have risen in warmth and you don’t want to add refrigerator-cold cream to your unbaked rolls. Adding warm (not hot!) heavy cream will keep the rolls rising as they should during baking.

Pour the heavy cream over the top of the unbaked cinnamon rolls and watch that rich cream soak in and around the rolled dough.

Can you make these rolls without heavy cream? Yes.

Will they be good? Yes.

Will they be as gooey and have a luxurious caramel sauce on the bottom? No.

Pro Tip

If you don’t have cream, use half and half, coffee creamer, evaporated milk, whole milk or coconut cream. Any of these will work. Even 2% milk will work, but we prefer a higher fat milk.

Bake the Rolls

Bake the rolls at 375º for 20-22 minutes, until the rolls are lightly golden brown and the center rolls are cooked through. 

A note about baking cinnamon rolls

The time will vary based on how big the rolls are, what type of pan, how close the rolls are packed, etc. They could take up to 30 minutes. Check the rolls at 20 minutes. If they are getting too browned, cover loosely with foil for the remaining baking time.

For consistent results, test the temperature with an internal probe thermometer. It should read 190ºF in the center roll.

Cinnamon Roll Frosting

After the homemade cinnamon rolls have baked and look like cinnamon heaven, it’s time to frost them. Use a simple powdered sugar glaze or a store-bought fluffy white frosting. But we prefer our homemade cream cheese frosting.

This frosting contains butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese and extract (either vanilla or maple). You could even throw in a touch of cinnamon to make a cinnamon glaze. We’ve done it all!

Spread the icing over the warm rolls and allow it to soak in, or for a pretty frosted look, spread the cream cheese icing on when the rolls are at room temperature.

overhead view of a pan of cinnamon rolls

And that my friends, is the BEST cinnamon rolls ever. My girls were hesitant to share our family secret ingredient, but so many of you have asked, they reluctantly agreed because they love you and want to see you happy. 😊

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make overnight cinnamon rolls?

We often make the cinnamon rolls and get them to the point of the second rise (when they are rolled out, cut up and put in the pan). Cover and refrigerate until morning.

The next morning, pull them out of the refrigerator. They may have doubled in size in the fridge overnight. If they have, let them sit for 30 minutes to get the chill off, then bake.

If they did not rise in the fridge overnight, allow them to rise at room temperature. Plan about at least an hour for this. Then pour on the cream and let them bake.

Can you freeze cinnamon roll dough before baking?

Yes! Make the cinnamon rolls and get them to the point of the second rise (when they are rolled out, cut up and put in the pan). Place them on a pan (not touching) and put them in the freezer for about 1 hour. Then place the rolls in a zippered bag and freeze.

When you’re ready to bake the rolls, plan ahead and put the rolls in the fridge to thaw overnight. Then pull them out of the refrigerate and allow them to rise the morning you want to bake them. Plan about at least an hour for this so you aren’t waiting too long! Allow them to do their second rise, then bake as normal.

Why aren’t my cinnamon rolls fluffy?

If you didn’t end up with fluffy cinnamon rolls, chances are the yeast did not activate and they didn’t rise properly. Also, use bread flour for more fluffiness.

closeup of a cinnamon roll on a plate with a fork
closeup of a cinnamon roll on a plate with a fork

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (Cinnabon Copycat Recipe)

4.80 from 5434 votes
The best homemade cinnamon rolls ever! If you love gooey cinnamon buns, THIS is the recipe with the secret ingredient that makes all the difference.
Servings 12
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Rise Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 42 minutes

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Ingredients
 

For the Dough:

  • 1 cup warm milk (115 degrees F)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast* (I like Red Star Platinum Baking Yeast)
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup salted butter** (Melted or very softened, but make sure it isn't over 110º Fahrenheit.)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour (divided)

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter (almost melted)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream*** (for pouring over the risen rolls)

For the Frosting:

  • 6 ounces cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/3 cup salted butter (softened)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple extract (or vanilla)

Instructions
 

  • Pour the warm milk (115ºF) in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast overtop. Allow this to sit for 3-4 minutes. The yeast will get a little frothy to show it is activated. 1 cup warm milk, 2 ½ teaspoons instant dry yeast*
  • Add the room temperature eggs, butter and sugar. Mix until combined. 2 large eggs, ⅓ cup salted butter**, ½ cup granulated sugar
  • Add in salt and 4 cups (save the other ½ cup and add only if you need it) of flour and mix using the beater blade just until the ingredients are barely combined. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes so the flour has time to soak up the liquids. 1 teaspoon salt, 4 ½ cups bread flour
  • Scrape the dough off the beater blade and remove it. Attach the dough hook.
  • To knead, beat the dough on medium speed for 5-7 minutes, adding in up to ½ cup more flour only if needed to form a dough. The dough should be elastic and smooth. **The dough should be tacky and will pull away from the sides of the bowl but may stick slightly to the bottom. That's ok! Don't be tempted to add more flour at this point. We generally add about 4 ¼ cups, but start with 4 cups.
  • Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Use a rubber spatula to remove the dough from the mixer bowl and place it in the greased large bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel or wax paper.
  • Set the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to rise until double. I like to turn on the oven to the lowest setting for 1-2 minutes. Then turn off the oven and place the dough to rise in there. It normally takes about 30 minutes for the dough to rise. Do not allow the dough to rise too much or your cinnamon rolls will be airy.
  • While the dough is rising, prepare the cinnamon filling. In a medium bowl, combine the soft butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, mixing until well combined. Set aside. ½ cup salted butter, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • Sprinkle a pastry mat or work surface generously with flour. Turn out the dough onto the surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with additional flour. 
  • Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough to about a 24×15" rectangle. (the size of the rectangle can vary…it does not have to be exact!)
  • Use a rubber spatula to smooth the cinnamon filling over the whole dough rectangle.
  • Starting on the long side, roll the dough up tightly jelly roll style. 
  • Cut into 12 slices and place in a greased 9×13 baking pan.**** Cover the pan and allow the rolls to rise for 20 minutes while the oven is preheating.
  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  • Warm the heavy cream until the chill is off. Don't make it hot…you just don't want it cold. It should be warm to the touch. Once the rolls have risen, pour the heavy cream over the top of the rolls, allowing it to soak down in and around the rolls. ½ cup heavy cream***
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes, until the rolls are lightly golden brown and the center rolls are cooked through. Note…the time will vary based on how big the rolls are, what type of pan, how close the rolls are packed, etc. They could take up to 30 minutes. Check the rolls at 20 minutes. If they are getting too browned, cover loosely with foil for the remaining baking time.
  • While the rolls are cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting.
  • In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and butter using a hand mixer. Blend well. 6 ounces cream cheese, ⅓ cup salted butter
  • Add in your favorite extract and the powdered sugar. Beat until combined. Spread the frosting over the cooled rolls. ½ tablespoon maple extract, 2 cups powdered sugar

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Notes:
*One packet of yeast is 2 ¼ teaspoons. If you have packets rather than bulk yeast, it is completely fine to just use one packet of yeast. Different yeast calls for slightly different proofing methods. We follow Red Star Platinum’s temperature guidelines. Please check your yeast packet to see what temperature the milk should be at.
**A note about the butter, we have used ½ cup of butter instead of ⅓ cup many times. We feel it keeps the rolls softer. Give it a try!
***If you don’t have cream, use half and half, coffee creamer, evaporated milk, whole milk or coconut cream. Any of these will work. Even 2% milk will work, but we prefer a higher fat milk.
****For smaller rolls, cut the dough into 15 slices and use a 10×15″ baking pan. The larger pan will also allow the rolls to rise more evenly.
Our original recipe called for all-purpose flour, but we make them exclusively with bread flour now. Either will work, but bread flour yields a fluffier, sturdier roll with a slightly chewy texture. All-purpose flour gives a softer, more tender roll.
Overnight Instructions
We often make the cinnamon rolls and get them to the point of the second rise (when they are rolled out, cut up and put in the pan). Cover and refrigerate until morning.
The morning you want to bake them, pull them out of the refrigerator. They may have doubled in size in the fridge overnight. If they have, let them sit for 30 minutes to get the chill off, then bake.
If they did not rise in the fridge overnight, allow them to rise at room temperature. Plan about at least an hour for this. Then pour on the cream and let them bake.
*The Calorie count shows the amount with ALL of the frosting used. There will be less calories in the rolls if you don’t use all of the frosting at once. Calories are per roll with the recipe making 12 frosted rolls.

Nutrition

Calories: 618kcal | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 427mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 47g | Vitamin A: 965IU | Calcium: 89mg | Iron: 2.6mg
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Calories 618
Keyword brunch, christmas morning, weekend
About JulieJulie Clark

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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4.80 from 5434 votes (3,684 ratings without comment)
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Danielle
6 years ago

Is there anyway to freeze them? Or make them put in oven in the a.m.?

Beth
6 years ago

Can you freeze the cinnamon rolls to bake at a later date?

Linda
6 years ago

5 stars
I have been hunting for this recipe for years! Maybe not the exact one, but a cinnamon roll that called for cream being poured over them just before baking! It was my mother’s recipe and as a teenager, I would bake them for my grandpa. Back then we had the good old fresh cream. Oh they are so good! As it goes, the recipe got lost over the years … I’m 70 now. You have made me so very happy. Thank you!

Mo
6 years ago

5 stars
Made it today for the first time. Awesome recipe. Turned out very good. Sooo soft sooo delicious. Thank you so much for sharing.

Nikki
6 years ago

Thank you for sharing your recipe. I am going to make these. I have been looking for a good cinnamon roll recipe and this one sounds amazing.

Kimberly B.
6 years ago

5 stars
This recipe is amazing! My family loved them. I doubled the recipe and used only one batch of icing and had lots of icing left over. Will make this again!

Anonymous
6 years ago

Can I add raisins to the filling? Golden or dark raisins? How many….a cup?

Terry Robinson
6 years ago

How hard would this be to do with a hand mixer?

Robyn Couch
6 years ago

I made these today and WOWZA!!! They are fantastic! Thank you for this most scrumptious recipe.

Dorothy kimball Boszak
6 years ago

5 stars
My mother made her cinnamon rolls as per the recipe….but instead of pouring sweet cream over them, she mixed brown sugar with sour cream ….and I believe she poured it over just a few minutes before taking out of the oven. Then when they were turned out, upside down, there was a wonderful caramel coating on them. My kids and all of the cousins still rave about Grandmas cinnamon rolls.
So much nicer than icing.

Cindy
6 years ago

5 stars
How could I modify to make these pumpkin cInnamon rolls?
These sound soooo good and I’m going to make your recipe today!

Yvonne
6 years ago

The recipe I use is very similar except instead of just pouring warm cream over the rolls before baking, I make a cinnamon whipped cream from the heavy cream and put a dollop of the whipped cream on top of each roll just before putting them in the oven.

Ines
6 years ago

Thank you so much for sharing such a great recipe! Your advice on how to prepare the dough is helpful. I tried one recipe with fresh blueberries and a little blueberry jam in the filling in one attempt of making rolls. My rolls were dry. Again when I tried another recipe of orange rolls and the dough again was dry. I used the amount of flour that was specified. Then I saw your recipe and video! I need to be careful not to add too much flour. The idea of adding cream just before baking was a surprise! I can… Read more »

Tonikia Freeman
6 years ago

I can’t wait to try these cinnamon rolls with my 3 Girls!

Pam
6 years ago

5 stars
I can’t wait to try these! My kids will love them.

linda
6 years ago

This sounds amazing! thank you for sharing!

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