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Easy Cinnamon Rolls

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Easy Cinnamon Rolls are one of the best breakfast, or desserts, around. Our version is soft, light, and packed with brown sugar and cinnamon. After the cinnamon rolls bake to a beautiful golden brown, they’re drizzled with a sweet vanilla glaze.

Who doesn’t like warm, gooey, cinnamon rolls from scratch? They are certainly some of our favorites.

Whether you call them cinnamon scrolls, cinnamon buns, or sweet rolls, they seem to be a favorite with most people.

This is our recipe for soft, easy cinnamon rolls filled with plenty of cinnamon and brown sugar. Then they’re topped with a sweet vanilla glaze.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls on white plates with cinnamon sticks and coffee.

Dough for Easy Cinnamon Rolls:

Before you get started, check the expiration date on the yeast. If it’s passed the expiration date, the yeast won’t activate and the dough won’t rise.

I’ve made these easy cinnamon rolls with both active and instant yeast and have gotten consistent results. Check out the “Tips” near the bottom of the post to see the alternate version.

Start by measuring 2 1/2 cups of flour into a large bowl. Reserve the remaining flour just in case you need to add it later. It’s better to start with less and add additional flour as needed.

Depending on the weather, I’ve used close to 4 1/2 cups of flour. Let the amount of flour listed be a guide. It’s not set in stone.

Flour, sugar, brown sugar, butter, egg, and yeast used for homemade cinnamon rolls.

Next, add the sugar, salt, and yeast to the flour. Give it a stir to combine the dry ingredients.

Use a large measuring cup or microwave safe bowl to heat the water, milk, and softened butter.

Don’t overheat the liquids. It only needs to be heated to about 110 to 115 degrees. Otherwise, it will kill the yeast.

Ariel view of dry ingredients for homemade cinnamon rolls in a glass bowl.

Transfer the flour mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the milk and water mixture to the flour then add the lightly beaten egg.

Use the dough hook attachment and mix on low speed until all the flour is combined. At this point, you should know whether or not the additional flour is needed.

If the dough is wet, sticky, and stuck to the sides of the bowl, more flour is needed. Add additional flour about a 1/4 cup at a time.

Stop adding flour when the dough pulls away from the sides and bottom of the bowl. It will also be smooth and soft to the touch.

The dough shouldn’t stick to you fingers when touched. Continue to mix for 5 to 6 minutes on low-medium speed. Then, let the dough sit and rest for 3 to 5 minutes.

Ariel view of homemade cinnamon roll dough in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Rolling Out the Dough:

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle.

I was able to get a decent sized rectangle of 16-inches x 10-inches. This isn’t necessarily the size you’d have to roll out. It’s the size that normally works in our kitchen.

Rolling out a larger rectangle will result in more cinnamon rolls but a thinner dough. A smaller rectangle will give you fewer, thicker (more bread-y) cinnamon rolls.

Ariel view of cinnamon roll dough rolled into a rectangle with a rolling pin.

Add the Filling:

Use a spatula or your hand to spread the softened butter across the surface of the dough. Next, add the brown sugar and cinnamon. Make sure to leave 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch around the edges without filling. That way it won’t spill out as you roll.

We use ½ cup of brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of cinnamon. Please use these amounts as a guide and adjust to your tastes.

Ariel view of rolled out cinnamon roll dough covered with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll and Cut the Rolls:

Starting with the longer side of the dough, carefully roll the dough as tightly as possible making sure the cinnamon and sugar mixture is on the inside. Pinch the seam slightly to ensure the cinnamon rolls are secure.

Use a sharp knife, bench scraper, or dental floss to cut the length of dough in half. From there continue cutting even pieces until you have the desired number of cinnamon rolls. We normally cut between 10 and 12.

Ariel view of a roll of cinnamon roll dough cut into individual pieces next to a pastry cutter.

Let the Cinnamon Rolls Rise:

Place the cut cinnamon rolls into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Cover the dish with a clean towel or plastic wrap, and set it in a warm area. This is also know as proofing the dough.

The cinnamon rolls should double in size. The amount of time this takes varies greatly on the temperature of your home and where you place the pan.

We like to preheat the oven, and place the cinnamon rolls on the stove. It usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour depending on the temperature of the kitchen.

The photo below is after the cinnamon rolls have completed the first rise.

Ariel view of cinnamon rolls that have doubled in size in a white baking dish.

Baking the Cinnamon Rolls:

After the cinnamon rolls double in size, place them in the oven that’s been preheated to 350 degrees, and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove the cinnamon rolls from the oven and allow them to cool until they’re just slightly warm before applying the icing.

Ariel view of baked homemade cinnamon rolls in a white pan.

Easy Cinnamon Rolls Glaze:

While the cinnamon rolls are baking, go ahead and make the icing. If you like a lot of icing, the recipe can easily be doubled. (Watch the video to see what the cinnamon rolls look like with a double batch of icing!)

If you don’t want to double it, the cinnamon roll icing makes just enough for a light coating.

Whisk together the vanilla, milk, and powdered sugar. Add additional milk as needed to reach the desired consistency.

Use a spatula to apply the icing to the slightly warm cinnamon rolls.

Ariel view of iced homemade cinnamon rolls in a baking dish.

Tips for Easy Cinnamon Rolls:

How do you activate yeast for cinnamon rolls?

Over the years we’ve heard from some readers that the yeast didn’t activate after being added to the dry ingredients.

If you are using active yeast or have concern that the yeast isn’t being activated prior to being added to the flour mixture, here’s what we recommend as an alternative.

Heat the milk and water as directed but leave out the butter. Stir in the sugar and yeast and allow the yeast to foamy and tan in color. Next, add it to the flour, salt, butter, and egg then mix as directed.

We’ve used both active and instant yeast for this recipe, and both work well.

Having trouble working with yeast? Here’s a post we wrote to explain how to activate yeast.


How do I adjust this recipe for high altitude baking?

As mentioned above, start by using less flour and adding more as needed. Different environments, altitudes, and weather will affect this recipe.

I’ve used anywhere from 2 ½ cups to a little over 4 1/2 cups of flour depending on where I’ve lived and the indoor/outdoor humidity.

If you live in the mountains, the bake time and temperature may need to be adjusted slightly. Check out this article for more information about high altitude baking.


Can I freeze the cinnamon rolls before they’re baked?

Yes, our favorite way is to partially bake the dough before freezing then finish baking it when you’re ready.

Here’s how. Bake the cinnamon rolls at a slightly lower temperature (325°) for about 15 minutes, let them cool, bag them while they’re still in the pan, and freeze them.

When you’re read to bake the rolls, let them thaw, then continue to bake until they’re golden brown. For more detailed instructions, check out this post on how to freeze cinnamon buns from King Arthur Flour.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls on white plates with cinnamon sticks and blue linens.

Other easy cinnamon roll recipes you may enjoy:

Don’t forget to check out our Cinnamon Rolls web story!

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Join our Facebook group for more recipes from Berly’s Kitchen, our new site More Than Meat and Potatoes, and some of our blogger friends!

Close up photo of Easy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls used for Pinterest.
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls on white plates with cinnamon sticks and blue linens.

Easy Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 12 Cinnamon Rolls
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Rise Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

Homemade cinnamon rolls are one of the best breakfast, or desserts, around. Our version is soft, light, and packed with brown sugar and cinnamon. After the cinnamon rolls bake to a beautiful golden brown, they’re drizzled with a sweet vanilla glaze. 

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour, (see notes below)
  • 3 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 1/4 Teaspoons Yeast, (see note)
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, (softened)
  • 1 Egg, (lightly beaten)

Filling

Icing

  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 - 3 Tablespoons Milk, (adjusted for desired thickness)

Instructions

Dough

  1. Mix 2 1/2 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and yeast until well combined. Set aside.
  2. Heat water, milk, and butter to about 115 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add water, milk, and butter mixture to dry ingredients and add egg.
  3. Using a dough hook, mix on a low setting until the dough comes together. If the dough is too wet, add remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time to form a soft, smooth, elastic dough. Then continue to mix on low-medium speed for 5-6 additional minutes. Next, allow dough to rest for 3-5 minutes.
  4. After the dough rests, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll into a rectangular shape about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick.

Filling

  1. Use your hand or a spatula to spread the softened butter on the rectangle of dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon and brown sugar evenly over the softened butter.
  2. Beginning with the long side of the rectangle, tightly roll the dough, so the cinnamon and sugar are on the inside. Use a sharp knife, dough scraper, or dental floss to cut the rolled dough into 10-12 even pieces.
  3. Place the cut dough into a greased 9 x 13-inch pan, and cover with a clean towel.

Rise

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rolls in a warm, draft-free place and allow to rise until doubled in size.

Bake

  1. After the cinnamon rolls have doubled in size, place them in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  2. Remove from oven, and cool until just slightly warm before icing.

Icing

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together vanilla extract, confectioners' sugar, and milk. Pour over slightly warm cinnamon rolls. Use a spatula to spread the icing evenly over the cinnamon rolls.
  2. Store cinnamon rolls in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Notes

*Check out our tips in the post for working with active vs. instant yeast. 

*See post for in-depth instructions, recipe variations, photo, tips, and questions that we've answered regarding the recipe.

*Environmental factors cause the amount of flour required to vary slightly by region.  We've linked to a great resource in the tips section of the post.

*Recipe makes approximately 10-12 cinnamon rolls.

*Calories listed are an approximate and based on the ingredients listed. 

*We have not tried to substitute ingredients such as gluten-free flour, bread flour, almond milk, soy milk, etc. and cannot provide recommendations on the use of alternate ingredients.

*For the icing in the video, we used 2 cups powdered sugar, 5 tablespoons of milk, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla (a double batch). This made a thick and creamy glaze for the cinnamon rolls. The glaze in the photos was a single batch as shown in the recipe. 

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 Cinnamon Roll
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 460Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 191mgCarbohydrates: 87gFiber: 4gSugar: 14gProtein: 11g

*The calories are an estimate and are based on the ingredients and serving size listed. The calories can vary depending on the brand of product purchased.

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Carol

Sunday 7th of March 2021

These are perfect! 😋 I followed the recipe with active yeast, I don’t have a stand mixer so I used my bread machine for mixing and kneading then let it rest 5 minutes rolled out, added filling rolled up and cut into rolls. My house is cold so I placed plastic wrap (sprayed with Pam) on the top and placed in my microwave and prompt the door with the end of a spoon so the light would stay on, (that’s how I get my breads to rise)🤷🏻‍♀️ I set my timer for 1 hour to rise then baked at 350’ for 25 minutes let cool and topped with icing. I love baking breads (I’m not that good at it yet) and I never uses my bread machine I don’t like the breads I’ve baked in it, this was my first time to use it for mixing and kneading and it worked! 😉

Kimberly

Sunday 7th of March 2021

Hi Carol!

Thanks so much for the comment! I love your workaround for proofing dough in the microwave. That's a great tip!

I use our new bread maker more for kneading than actually making bread. Lol! It comes in handy. We're so happy the cinnamon rolls turned out and that you enjoyed them. Have a wonderful evening! :)

Shirley Bonner

Monday 22nd of February 2021

I just wanted to say they are so easy to make and that is alot I am terrifed of yeast dough but I did activate it separately and worked wonderfully also I let them raise on the stove my family loved them they were gone by the next day been requested to please make more I would recommend this recipe to anyone !

Kimberly

Monday 22nd of February 2021

Hi Shirley!

We are so happy to hear that, and thrilled that your family enjoyed the cinnamon rolls! :) Thank you so much for coming back to comment. We hope you have a wonderful week!

Terri

Friday 19th of June 2020

HI there - Can I let the cinnamon roles sit for awhile before they bake? Am planning on making these before going over to a friend's house to bake, but don't want them to over-proof and mess them up!

Kimberly

Friday 19th of June 2020

Hi Terri!

That's a great question! I wouldn't leave them too long; otherwise, you do run the risk of them overproofing. An extra 20-30 minutes probably wouldn't hurt, but I wouldn't leave them much longer. :)

Sandy Quintanilla

Friday 8th of May 2020

Hi can you tell me how to replace active or dry yeast with a starter? I have a sour dough starter I’d like to use when baking these cinnamon rolls.

John

Saturday 9th of May 2020

Good Morning Sandy, that's a great question. Kim and I chatted and we both came to the same conclusion. Unfortunately, we're not sure if that's possible with our recipe. So, I have provided 2 links to 2 different sites with sourdough cinnamon roll recipes. I hope this information helps and we wish you a lovely day :)

https://www.theclevercarrot.com/2017/12/how-to-make-sourdough-cinnamon-rolls-step-by-step-guide/ https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/sourdough-cinnamon-buns-recipe

Darrien

Sunday 13th of January 2019

Thank you for sharing this recipe. My family has been extremely pleased with the results every time, and wait the next batch on edge! I have been happy to serve them this greatness thanks to this post! Great recipe, and I will look into your others. Keeping sweet hunters happy!

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