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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Harold
1 month ago

5 stars
Made these the first time and they were awesome. Made them again today and they were just as good. I am definitely going to add it to the rotation. Thanks!

Last edited 1 month ago by Harold
Gloria
1 month ago

5 stars
This is the best!!

Question??
Ive made these several times and great success but I tried the freezing and thaw overnight and they wouldn’t rise even after several hours?! Any suggestions why?

Ellen
1 month ago

5 stars
I’ve made this recipe about 5 times so far and it’s been a hit every single time! The recipe is very forgiving for an amateur baker, I’ve quickly made the dough before bed without exactly measuring and whatnot and they’ve still come out perfectly when I cook the next morning. Thank you so much!

Del Thomas
2 months ago

5 stars
Can you give me a bake time for baking these same rolls but in 2 pans of 6

Claudette Rodrigues
2 months ago

5 stars
OMG! I made this EXACTLY as stated did not alter anything and they were a huge hit! I will b making this again!!! Thank you !

Mckenzie
2 months ago

5 stars
Hey. The recipe card says rise time is 1 hour &10 mins. But when I read the recipe instructions it only states 2 times to rise. The first rise for 30, second rise for 20. Am I missing something?

Mckenzie
2 months ago

5 stars
i’ve made these cinnamon rolls at least 4 times & they have turnt out amazing every. single. time. everyone loves them. I plan to make them again soon and I just realize i’ve been using the wrong flour this entire time lol. i’ve been using All purpose, nor bread.. but they still have turnt out amazing! goes to show this is an amazing recipe. I think i’ll probably stick with all purpose !

Andrew Basile
2 months ago

These are Phenomenal!!!!! They are the BEST cinnamon buns that I have ever made or tasted!!!! What a delight!! I did find that there was some extra liquid “cinnamon goo” at the bottom of the pan. In the future I may bake them on the lower level of the oven for the first 15 minutes to dry it up a bit. However it’s not like I didn’t scoop it up and pour some on top of my first bun!!! It was delicious!! I made two additions: I added two tablespoons of molasses to the brown sugar and butter mixture to… Read more »

Leah
2 months ago

5 stars
Love these and so dies everyone I make them for. I’m now known for “my” cinnamon rolls 😀 I don’t have a stand mixer, and wonder if it would be helpful for others without to have manual instructions…

We always use 1/4 cup butter in the dough and extra frosting!!

Aman
2 months ago

3 stars
This is a easy to follow recipe. The dough was very sticky, didnt come away from the mixing bowl, even after the first rise it was too wet so I needed to add more flour. They baked well and did rise however I found the rolls to be too sweet. I feel these having a total of over 1/2 kilo of sugar to be excessive but that my own personal preference.

Audrey
2 months ago

5 stars
Made these two days ago and I already need to make more, that’s how good they are! The heavy cream in the pan really does the trick, it makes them sooo soft on the inside and fluffy. I used all purpose flour instead of bread flour and it came out perfect.

Amanda
2 months ago

Can I do a mixture of bread and all purpose flour?

Npz
2 months ago

I’ve made these about 3-4 times now. My family drools over them! They basically fight for them because they’re just that good! I would recommend using a food scale to measure ingredients for the most accurate results. I think that makes a huge difference and it will always be consistent. I used unsalted butter and just added ¼ teaspoon of salt in addition to what the recipe calls for. I used AP flour instead of bread flour and they were super soft even the next day. Worked out perfectly. For the secret ingredient, I used heavy cream the first time… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Npz
Rene
2 months ago

So, I decided to make these for my son for his 44th birthday. Used my breadmaker. I’m at the let rolls rest for 20 minutes stage, so I thought would take this time to describe what they look like. Very loose! When I tried to roll up the dough after applying the filling, the roll would not keep its shape. Cutting through it was difficult. I ended up scoring as deeply as I could and then pulling the rolls apart and quickly put them into the prepared 9×13 pan. I am going to nix the heavy cream as the rolls… Read more »

Barbara
2 months ago

5 stars
These turned out delicious! I will be making them again I’m sure. I used all purpose flour but that’s the only thing I changed. Wonderful recipe!

Mom
2 months ago

Can I freeze these