Best Cinnamon Rolls are easy to make from scratch and come out soft with gooey filling every time! This cinnamon roll recipe can be baked right away or made overnight!
It's about time my cinnamon rolls make their appearance! My family loves these rolls and I've been making them weekly for over a decade now. I tried, tested, and perfected my method years ago and they are truly perfect. This dough comes out so amazingly soft, the filling is the perfect balance of sweet and cinnamon and is so gooey! For beginners, or anyone who isn't used to baking with yeast we've included process shots and steps below, as well as a video for reference! Don't be nervous, working with yeast is easy, and this recipe is truly foolproof! If you're looking for more breakfast recipes while you're here, try out our Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole and our super Easy Blueberry Muffins too!
How do You Make Perfect Cinnamon Rolls from Scratch?
I've broke this down into steps for you guys. Following along with the photos will show you the exact results from my kitchen! You can think of this post as a handy guide to making the only cinnamon roll you'll ever need! First things first, I like to gather all of my ingredients that I will need. Keep in mind that it's best to allow your butter and eggs to come to room temperature for 1 hour before starting if possible. So, go ahead and set out your butter and eggs for the dough, as well as the butter for the filling and frosting. This dough is fairly forgiving, if you forget to set the butter and eggs out ahead of time just soften the butter in the microwave for about 10-20 seconds until soft and you can add the eggs (still in the shell) to a bowl of warm water for just 2-3 minutes.
- Warm your milk first. Microwaves vary and you can do this over low heat on the stove if you prefer. I find that 1 cup of milk takes exactly 1 minute in my microwave and it's the perfect temperature. Add the warmed milk to the bowl of your stand mixer, or just to a large mixing bowl if you will be using a hand mixer. Stir in the yeast and sugar until dissolved, keeping in mind it doesn't have to be perfectly dissolved either. It's ok if a few granules of yeast remain. Now, let the yeast mix sit for 10 minutes to proof. Once it's ready it will look foamy on top.
- Add your softened butter right to the mixer using the dough hook attachment. You can also use a hand mixer. Beat on medium speed for just about 2 minutes. The butter will still look clumpy and that's ok.
- Beat in the eggs next, one at a time. You will want to beat at medium-high speed to break up the eggs, just make sure that no big yellow streaks remain. Then, you can beat in the salt which won't take more than a few seconds.
- Turn your mixer off and add in 2 cups of the flour. Beat (mix or stir if not using a stand mixer) for just a minute or two until the flour is moistened. At this point you will have a very wet mixture and not a ball of dough.
Making Cinnamon Rolls Continued:
- Now, turn the mixer off again and add in 2 more cups of flour. Beat for one minute, then check the dough. If the dough is sticky, add the remaining flour ½ cup at a time, beating for a minute in between each addition until no longer sticky. You'll know it is ready when the dough is somewhat shaggy, tacky but not sticky to the touch, and is pulling away from the side of the bowl.
- If using a stand mixer, turn up to medium speed and allow the dough to knead for 6-8 minutes until smooth and soft. If you're making these by hand, lightly flour a clean work surface and knead the dough, pressing and folding it over itself for the same amount of time.
- Use a spatula to remove the dough from the hook. Place in a large, greased bowl and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. TIP: preheat your oven to 200 degrees, then turn the oven off. Make sure the dough is in an ovenproof bowl and place in the oven. In the oven it will take about 30 minutes to rise, otherwise on the counter it will need about an hour.
- Once the dough has risen (you can see photo 8 below for what it should look like) you can punch the dough down, and place it on a clean, floured surface. TIP: If you have a silpat, you can flour it and roll your dough out on that, it helps to get that nice rectangle shape.
Filling and Rolling The Rolls:
- I always grab a small bowl and mix together my filling while the dough is rising. We will use a stick of softened butter to spread over the dough. The filling consists of brown and granulated sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt! This is the BEST cinnamon roll filling, make sure you use both kinds of sugar!
- Rolling out the dough does not have to be perfect! As I said above, I love using my Silpat to get a nice rectangle shape, but that's not necessary. Even if your dough ends up more of a circle, that is fine. The biggest thing is to make sure that your dough is rolled out to about ¼ inch thickness.
- Grab your softened butter and use a brush or a spatula to spread it all over the dough leaving about a ½ inch border around the edges. Then, you can dump all of the cinnamon sugar filling on at once. Just use your hands to spread it out gently pressing down so that it adheres.
- Rolling the dough is easy, but take your time. It usually takes me about 5-6 minutes. You want to start at one of the long edges that is closest to you. Use both hands to tightly roll up the dough, moving in a "typewriter" type motion from one end to the other. Note that if you haven't done this before, you can watch the video below to see how rolling works!
- Use a serrated knife if possible to cut your rolls, it will slice through the raw dough so easily! Slice them into 12 even pieces. These don't have to be perfect, I always have a few that are slightly different sizes, get them as close as you can. Depending on how thick you slice, you may get anywhere from 10-15 rolls. Place them into a buttered or greased 9x13 inch dish.
- At this point the rolls need to rise again if you are baking them right away. If you're making them overnight, you can cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for now. The second rise is usually much shorter when done right away, if rising in the oven it takes about 15-20 minutes for me. If rising on the counter expect 30-45 minutes. If you're making them overnight, you will follow the directions in the recipe card, but keep in mind that after coming out of the refrigerator they will likely need to rise for 2 hours before baking.
Why Are My Cinnamon Rolls Dry?
If your cinnamon rolls are dry, it's likely because too much flour is being used. This is why we add the flour in intervals in this recipe. You may only need four cups of flour, or up to 5. The last cup of flour should only be added if necessary and should be done in ½ cups. Touch the dough after the first 4 cups of flour are added. The dough should be "tacky" and feel slightly wet but shouldn't be sticky at all. Only add more flour if the dough is still very sticky. To keep the cinnamon rolls moist after baking, you should make sure to store them in an airtight container at all times. You can do this with a tight fitting lid, or even better is covering with a layer of plastic wrap or foil. These rolls can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. They are best warmed slightly in the microwave before eating the leftovers.
RECIPE TIPS AND NOTES:
- Make sure that you are using regular, dry active yeast for this recipe. I have not tested this particular recipe with instant yeast.
- This recipe has only been tested with all purpose flour. I have not tested with almond, gluten free, wheat, self rising, or any other kind of flour, so please make as directed or use your best judgement.
- Make sure that your yeast has proofed/gotten foamy in the first step. If it isn't foamy after 10 minutes, you may need to check the date on your yeast, it could be old. Or, the milk that you used may have been too hot or cold. The milk should be nice and lukewarm to the touch (think warm bath water) but not scalding hot.
- Once baked and cooled, these rolls can be frozen! You can freeze all of them in an airtight container that has been wrapped very tightly in foil. Or, you can cut them and wrap in plastic wrap/foil for individual servings. Freeze for up to 3 months, thaw in the refrigerator overnight before eating.
- I like to use salted butter for this recipe because I think it gives the dough the very best flavor. You can however use unsalted and they will taste great as well.
- For the frosting, we love vanilla extract but use any kind of extract that suits your taste! It's great with almond, raspberry, banana, orange, or maple!
- The orange juice for the frosting is optional, and you can use milk instead. But, the OJ gives the frosting a really great flavor and isn't overpowering. My favorite combo is 1 TBSP OJ and 1 TBSP of milk.
Best Cinnamon Rolls
FOR THE DOUGH:
- 1 Cup Milk
- ⅓ Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
- 1 Stick Butter (½ Cup) Softened
- 2 Large Eggs Room Temperature
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 4-5 Cups All Purpose Flour
FOR THE FILLING:
- 1 Stick Butter Softened
- ¾ Cup Packed Brown Sugar
- ½ Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1 Pinch Salt
FOR THE FROSTING:
- ½ Stick Butter Softened
- 3 Ounces Cream Cheese Softened
- 2 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 1-2 Tablespoons Milk or Orange Juice
- OPTIONAL: 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract Almond Extract, Orange Extract, or Maple Extract
FOR THE DOUGH:
- Warm the milk in a medium bowl in the microwave for about 1 minute, or on the stove top in a small saucepan over low heat for 2-3 minutes.Then, pour the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. (Alternatively, pour the milk into a large mixing bowl if you don't have a stand mixer and are making by hand).
- Whisk the sugar and yeast into the milk just until mostly dissolved. Allow the milk mixture to sit for 10 minutes until foamy.
- Cut the softened butter into 6 chunks and add to the mixer. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes.
- With the mixer on low, beat in the eggs one at a time, and then the salt.
- Turn the mixer off and add in 2 cups of flour. Beat on low speed, gradually adding the remaining flour just until the dough is not sticking to the bowl.
- Turn the mixer off and add in 2 more cups of the flour. Then, beat on low speed for 1 minute, turn the mixer off and check the dough. It should feel tacky but not sticky. If it feels sticky add ½-1 cup more flour, beating in between additions until no longer sticky.
- Turn the mixer up to medium speed, and beat the dough for 6-8 minutes until smooth and elastic.
- Remove the dough from the hook and place on a lightly floured surface, then form the dough into a ball.
- Place the dough into a large, greased mixing bowl. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Alternately, Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, then turn the oven off. Place the bowl inside the oven and rise for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with 1 Tablespoon of butter.
- Punch the dough down, then, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, making sure it has even thickness. (About ¼ inch thick).
FOR THE FILLING:
- Use a brush, or a spatula to spread the softened butter evenly over the dough, leaving a ½ inch edge around the border.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Then, sprinkle evenly over the dough, pressing down slightly with your hands so that the filling sticks.
- Beginning at the longest edge closest to you, roll the dough tightly into a log, about 16-18 inches long.
- Using a serrated knife, slice the dough into rolls about 1 ½ inches thick to yield 12 rolls total.
- Place the rolls evenly in the prepared baking pan.
- If baking the rolls the same day, cover them in the pan and allow them to rise in a warm place (or warm oven) for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size. Then, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
- If making overnight cinnamon rolls, cover the pan tightly with foil and refrigerate for up to 12 hours. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and allow the rolls to rise in a warm place for 2 hours before baking.
FOR THE FROSTING:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or a large bowl if using a hand mixer, combine the softened butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1 Tablespoon of milk or juice, along with extract of your choice and beat on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until combined. Add an extra Tablespoon of milk or juice if necessary to thin the frosting out more. Frost rolls as desired.