Pillowy soft Homemade Cinnamon Rolls with gooey brown sugar and cinnamon swirls topped with a homemade creamy vanilla cream cheese frosting. These rolls are well worth the effort!
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls are pillowy soft and fluffy and swirled with brown sugar and cinnamon and a soft, warm, gooey center. They're topped with homemade sweet vanilla cream cheese frosting.
Warm cream is poured over the rolls just before baking, which gives them a caramel-like sauce on the bottom and the ultimate gooey cinnamon roll texture.
While they are a bit of work to make, they are well worth the effort. They can also be made the night before, or even frozen for months until ready to bake. Which means you can have fresh, homemade cinnamon rolls anytime!
Why Pour Cream on the Cinnamon Rolls?
Pouring warm cream on the rolls helps a few factors. The cream steams the rolls a bit as they bake, keeping them super soft and tender. It also collects on the bottom of the pan with the brown-sugar-and-cinnamon drips and makes a gooey, delicious, caramel-y sauce situation on the bottom of the cinnamon rolls, kind of like Cinnabon's.
How to Serve Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
These are big fluffy cinnamon rolls that can be served as breakfast with a cup of coffee (or milk for the kids!), or even as dessert.
Alternate powdered sugar icing
If you're not a big fan of the cream cheese icing on cinnamon rolls, that's okay. It's super easy to substitute with this simple vanilla glaze.
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
To make the vanilla icing, simply combine all of the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Start with just 2 tablespoons cream, and add more if you need to thin it out. Then spread over warm cinnamon rolls, and enjoy!
Tips for Success
Being a former baking-with-yeast-phobic, I understand that it can seem intimidating. Especially when many yeast breads take sooo long to make. It would be so much time and ingredients wasted if they don't turn out.
But these cinnamon rolls were actually one of the first few things that I've made with yeast, and they're pretty forgiving. Follow these extra tips to help the process go a little smoother.
- Room temperature ingredients: The warmed milk and room temperature eggs will help your rolls rise faster and higher. Also make sure your melted butter is warm and melted but not hot. If it gets too hot, let it sit for a few minutes to cool off before adding. Too much heat will kill the yeast, leaving you with dense, flat rolls.
- Use a thermometer: Candy or meat thermometer are cheap, and very helpful! Getting a quick read on how hot your milk or butter is will help prevent you from accidentally killing your yeast. I have this digital thermometer, which has a clip for candy making or baking (clip it on the bowl!), but also works for meat.
- Baking Dish: I recommend using a glass or metal 9"x13" baking dish for this recipe. A ceramic dish will increase the cook time significantly, and a nonstick pan will overcook the outsides.
- Warm environment: Let the rolls rise in a warm, draft-free environment. If your house is a little chilly, try this trick. Preheat your oven to 150°F, and once it reaches temperature, turn it off. Cover the shaped rolls with aluminum foil or a kitchen towel, and place inside the warm oven. Leave the oven door cracked open for about 30 minutes, then close it and let them finish rising, if necessary, in the oven with the door closed. Just don’t forget to take them out of the oven before you preheat it to bake them!
- Cutting trick: In order to prevent smushing your cinnamon rolls, use your very sharpest knife. Or better yet, unflavored dental floss or sewing string. Slide the floss under the roll where you want to cut. Pick up the two ends of the floss and cross them like you're going to tie them. Instead, just keep pulling until the floss has cut through the dough. Because it's cutting toward the center of the roll instead of down to your surface, it won't smush! Repeat until all of your rolls are cut.
Can You Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls the Night Before?
Yes! Of course, you can bake these and frost them or leave them unfrosted and just warm in the microwave or eat at room temperature in the morning.
Or, if you'd like freshly baked cinnamon rolls in the morning, prepare the rolls the night before serving through step 10. Cut your rolls and place them in the baking dish. Then cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 8 to 12 hours (Do not exceed 16 hours).
In the morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to do the final rise on the counter for 1 to 2 hours before continuing with step 12.
How to Freeze Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls are super easy to make ahead in larger batches, and then freeze until your ready to bake them fresh. Here's how:
After the final rise in step 11, bake the rolls at 375°F without the cream for only 10 minutes. They will not be cooked through at this point. Allow to cool completely. Then cover tightly and freeze.
To serve, take the rolls out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Once thawed, pour warm cream over the rolls, and finish baking them for about 15-20 more minutes.
More Sweet Breakfast Recipes You'll Love
- Chocolate Pancakes - rich, decadent, fluffy chocolate pancakes topped with a homemade, sweet caramel sauce.
- Cinnamon Swirl Bread - homemade from scratch, this fluffy bread with lots of sweet cinnamon-spiced swirls. It's perfect with butter, apple butter, or even as French toast!
- Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast Casserole - a sweet breakfast casserole that can be made ahead to set overnight with a creamy cheesecake filling and fresh strawberries.
- Cinnamon French Toast - A classic simple French toast recipe. Load it up with all of your favorite toppings like fresh berries, whipped cream, or maple syrup.
- Best Ever Blueberry Muffins - my family recipe for the best ever soft and sweet blueberry muffins topped with a crispy streusel.
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls Video
- 1 cup warm milk (110°F-115°F)
- 2½ teaspoons instant dry yeast
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter melted and cooled to about 110°F
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup heavy cream for pouring over the risen rolls
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- 2⅔ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons cream or milk (to thin if necessary)
- Pour the warm milk in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast overtop. Add the eggs, butter and sugar. Mix with a mixer or whisk until combined.
- Add in salt and 4 cups of flour and mix using the beater blade or paddle 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 then 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 if needed to form a dough. The dough should be elastic and smooth. But it will still be tacky! (and that's okay!)
- Place dough in a large greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel. Set in a warm place and allow the dough to rise until double, about 30 minutes (time will vary depending on room temperature).
- While the dough is rising, prepare the cinnamon filling. In a medium bowl, combine the soft butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour, mixing until well combined. Set aside.
- Turn risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle the dough with additional flour and flour a rolling pin.
- Roll dough out to about a 24"x15" rectangle.
- Using a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon, spread filling onto the whole rectangle.
- Starting on the long end, roll the dough up tightly jelly roll style.
- Cut into 12 slices and place in a greased 9×13 baking pan. Cover and allow rolls to rise again for 20 minutes, or until nearly double.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Warm the cream to about 110°F (should feel warm to the touch but not hot.)
- When rolls are done rising, pour warm cream over the rolls.
- Bake at 375°F for about 20-22 minutes, until rolls are golden and the centers are cooked through.
For the Frosting
- In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth.
- Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and combined.
- If frosting is very thick, add a tablespoon or 2 of cream or milk to thin it out slightly.
- Spread the frosting over the cooled rolls. Store in an airtight container.
- Cooking Time: 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 25-27 minutes. Check the rolls at 20 minutes. If they are getting too browned, cover loosely with foil for the remaining baking time.
- Storage: Cover leftover frosted or unfrosted rolls tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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