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.
Who doesn’t like warm, gooey, cinnamon rolls from scratch? They are certainly some of our favorites.
Whether you call them cinnamon rolls, cinnamon buns, or sweet rolls, they seem to be a favorite with most people.
A few years ago I shared our easy cinnamon roll recipe with all of you, and I had no idea that it would become one of our most popular recipes.
In regards to the original post, we’ve given it an update of sorts and added lots of step-by-step photos, extra instructions, and resources to help guide you along the way.
How to Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls:
There are a couple of different ways to make our homemade cinnamon rolls recipe. I’ve tried it both ways and both work great.
However, the one that I’m going to list in the recipe card is the the version that we use in our kitchen.
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 this cinnamon roll recipe with both active and instant yeast and have consistent results. Check out the tips at the bottom of the post to see the alternate version.
Start by measuring 2 ½ 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.
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.
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. This usually takes about 3 to 4 minutes. 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 tablespoon 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.
After any additional flour has been added, increase the mixer speed to medium and continue to mix 5 to 6 more minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured service 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 cinnamon rolls.
After the dough has been rolled out, spread the softened butter across the surface of the dough. Next, add the brown sugar and cinnamon. We use ½ cup of brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of cinnamon. Please use these amounts as a guide and adjust to your tastes.
Starting with the longer side of the dough, carefully roll the dough as tightly as possible making sure the cinnamon/sugar mixture is on the inside.
Use a sharp knife, pastry cutter, 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.
Place the cut rolls into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Cover the dish with a clean towel or plastic wrap. Set the rolls in a warm area and allow them to rise. This is also know as proofing the dough.
They 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 place the cinnamon rolls on the stove, and it usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour. During this time, preheat the oven.
After the rolls double in size, place them in the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the cinnamon rolls from the oven and allow them to cool completely before applying the icing.
How to Make Cinnamon Roll Icing:
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!) It 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 cool cinnamon rolls.
Tips for the Best Homemade 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. Having trouble working with yeast? Here’s a great resource that may help out.
- 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 3 cups of flour depending on where I’ve lived and the outdoor humidity. If you live in the mountains, the bake time and temperature may need to be adjusted slightly. Check this out for more information about high altitude baking.
- Don’t over mix the dough. Just like adding too much flour will make it dense and tough, the same will happen if it’s over mixed. It needs to be smooth and elastic.
- Use the filling and icing amounts as a guidelines. Those can be adjusted to your tastes. We’ve made this recipe the way we like it, but your family may not like as much sugar or may want more icing. You may want to cut back the cinnamon a touch or even add extra. Play around and see what you like best!
- Did you watch our video showing how to make cinnamon rolls? I’ve listed the recipe for the icing in the “Notes” section of the recipe card. It’s a thick and creamy, double batch of the original.
Easy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups All Purpose flour
- 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 package active yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons; See Note)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3 Tablespoons softened butter
- 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
- 3 Tablespoon softened butter
- 4 - 5 Tablespoons cinnamon (to taste)
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 - 3 Tablespoons milk (adjusted for desired thickness)
- Mix 2 1/2 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and yeast until well combined. Set aside.
- Heat water, milk, and butter to about 115 degrees.
- Add water, milk, and butter mixture to dry ingredients and add egg.
- Using a dough hook on a stand mixer, mix on a low setting.
- Add remaining flour a Tablespoon at a time to form a smooth dough.
- Continue to mix for 5-6 minutes.
- Allow dough to rest for 3-5 minutes.
- Next, use a rolling pin to roll into a rectangular shape.
- Spread the softened butter on the rectangle of dough.
- Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon and brown sugar.
- Beginning with the long side of the rectangle, tightly roll the dough, so the cinnamon and sugar are on the inside.
- Cut the rolled dough into 10-12 even pieces.
- Place the cut dough into a greased 9 x 13-inch pan.
- Place rolls in a warm, draft-free place and allow to rise until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place rolls in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and cool completely before icing.
- Whisk together vanilla extract, confectioners' sugar, and milk.
- Pour over cooled cinnamon rolls.
- Finally, store cinnamon rolls in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.