THE BEST CINNAMON ROLLS FROM SCRATCH (+ Make-ahead Options)

What could be better than a warm, gooey batch of homemade cinnamon rolls? These cinnamon rolls are super soft, pillowy, fluffy and moist – simply the BEST cinnamon rolls from scratch!

Cinnamon Rolls


I love making cinnamon rolls! There’s something therapeutic about kneading the dough by hand and watching it rise!

If you haven’t made cinnamon rolls at home before, don’t feel intimidated! It really isn’t complicated at all. I think the most difficult part is waiting for them to cool down when they come out of the oven!

And the amazing aroma that fills the kitchen…OMG, pure bliss!

This recipe is straightforward with plenty of tips. I also offer a few make-ahead options, too.

How to Make the Best Cinnamon Rolls from Scratch in 8 Easy Steps:

STEP 1: WARM THE OVEN

This is a simple trick I use if I want the dough to rise faster. I turn the oven on for a few minutes (at 194° F / 90° C ) and then turn it off. This creates a nice, warm environment for the dough, allowing it to rise faster.

STEP 2: MAKE & KNEAD THE DOUGH

Simple, basic ingredients is all you need for the dough: flour, yeast, sugar, salt, milk, butter & 1 egg. You can use a stand mixer or knead by hand for about 5 minutes. I love kneading by hand!

STEP 3: LET THE DOUGH RISE

Put the dough in a greased, oven-proof bowl & place it in the warm oven to rise (about 1 – 1 ½ hours).

STEP 4: MAKE THE FILLING

Mix the softened butter, sugar, and cinnamon together.

STEP 5: ROLL OUT & CUT THE DOUGH

After the dough has risen, lightly grease your work surface with oil and roll out the dough into a rectangle. Spread the dough with the cinnamon sugar filling and then tightly roll it up, starting from the bottom. Cut into 10 – 12 pieces, (the number of pieces will depend on how large your rectangle is).

STEP 6: LET THE DOUGH RISE A SECOND TIME

Place the pieces in a pan, about 2 inches (5 cm) apart and let them rise again (for about half an hour). They should have doubled in size.

STEP 7: BAKE

Preheat the oven to 356° F / 180 °C. Bake for about 20 – 30 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and puffy. Then let them cool for about 15 minutes.

STEP 8: MAKE THE GLAZE 

Mix the powdered sugar with some milk or water, adding more liquid if necessary. Drizzle over the cooled rolls.

cinnamon rolls

THREE WAYS TO MAKE THE FILLING:

  • Spread room temperature butter on the dough. Then add the cinnamon sugar & spices.
  • Melt the butter and brush it on the dough. Then add the cinnamon sugar & spices.
  • Mix room temperature butter with the cinnamon sugar & spices and then spread it on the dough using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.

MAKE-AHEAD OPTIONS

There are different ways you can easily make these cinnamon rolls in advance, just make sure they are tightly covered so they don’t dry out.

Want freshly-baked, warm cinnamon rolls in the morning?

Put the rolls in a pan, cover, and refrigerate overnight (you don’t need to wait to let them rise first). The next day, you’ll see that they have risen nicely! Let them rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes (you can do this while preheating your oven). Then uncover them and bake as directed.

Want to save the cinnamon rolls and bake them later?

Here are 2 easy ways and you don’t need to let them rise first!

  • In a pan: Tightly wrap the entire pan with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and freeze. If your pan has a lid, make sure it’s tightly covered.
  • Individual rolls: Place some rolls on a baking sheet and then put them in the freezer until they are frozen (a few hours). Then take them out and tightly wrap each one in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag or freezer container.

Cinnamon rolls can be frozen for up to a month. To bake, let the rolls thaw at room temperature overnight and then bake as directed.

cinnamon rolls

Tips for perfect homemade cinnamon rolls

  • Use room temperature ingredients. They will be better incorporated in the dough, making it easier to work with.
  • Don’t kill the yeast. Make sure you proof the yeast properly (see my note below).
  • Measure the flour properly when you mix your dough. If your dough is a bit sticky & too wet, add some flour, but only a tablespoon at a time, until it’s pliable. If you don’t use enough flour, the dough will be too sticky and the cinnamon rolls will turn out dense. If you use too much flour, the cinnamon rolls could turn out dry and crumbly, not soft and fluffy! The dough should be a bit tacky, but not sticky.
  • Make sure the dough rises in a well-greased bowl. This will make it easier to remove. Also, keep in mind that rising times will depend on how warm and humid your kitchen is.
  • Grease your work surface before rolling out the dough instead of flouring it. I find that greasing the surface with some light vegetable oil is much better and makes the dough easier to work with.
  • Roll the dough tightly. This will help the rolls hold their shape when baking.
  • After cutting the rolls, give them plenty of space in your pan because they will need to rise a second time. Make sure they’re about 2 inches (5 cm) apart so that they rise evenly.
  • Let the baked cinnamon rolls cool before glazing them, otherwise the glaze melts to the bottom of the pan instead of staying on top of the rolls.

How to Proof Active Dry Yeast

  • Warm the milk. The temperature should roughly be between  105° F – 115° F (40°C – 46°C) degrees. To test if the temperature is right without a thermometer, the milk should feel comfortably warm on your wrist, not hot. If it’s too hot, it’ll kill the yeast! If the temperature is OK, add the yeast and a teaspoon of sugar and give it a little stir. The sugar acts like food for the yeast, which will activate it.
  • Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes. This will give the yeast enough time to feed on the sugar. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture becomes foamy and bubbly. If the mixture hasn’t proofed, then your yeast might be old. If that’s the case, you’ll need to start over with yeast that hasn’t expired.

Homemade cinnamon rolls are best the same day they are baked, but if there are any left the following day, you could easily reheat them! Simply microwave them for about half a minute.

AMAZING TOPPINGS FOR CINNAMON ROLLS

Apart from the classic glaze and cream cheese frosting, these are some of my favorite toppings for cinnamon rolls:

  • Slather with butter as soon as they come out of the oven! OMG! The most delicious breakfast ever!
  • Drizzle some melted, dark chocolate over the warm cinnamon rolls.
  • Top with Greek yogurt, muesli and fruit.
  • Top with some whipped cream and sprinkle some cinnamon on top!
  • Top with a scoop of your favorite ice cream!
  • Spread some Nutella over them!
  • Pour some caramel sauce or homemade chocolate syrup on top!
  • Add some chopped apples and then drizzle with honey or pour some maple syrup over them.
  • Top with crushed mini pretzels (it sounds weird, but trust me; it’s incredible!)

I really hope you enjoy these cinnamon rolls!

~Voula

Let me know how these cinnamon rolls turned out for you in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

THE BEST CINNAMON ROLLS FROM SCRATCH (+ Make-ahead Options)

What could be better than a warm, gooey batch of homemade cinnamon rolls? These cinnamon rolls are super soft, pillowy, fluffy and moist – simply very best cinnamon rolls from scratch!
Total Time3 hrs
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best, breakfast, cinnamon rolls, from scratch, make-ahead options
Servings: 12 approximately

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 1¾ cup (200 ml / 6 fl oz) warm milk (105°F-115°F / 40°C – 46°C ) plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 packet (8 g / 0.28 oz / 1 ½ teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 beaten egg, at room temperature
  • 2 ½ -3 cups (328-381 g / 11.5 – 13.4 oz) all-purpose flour (+ 1-3 tablespoons more if needed)
  • 6 tablespoons (60 g / 2 oz) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g / 0.5 oz) melted butter

For the filling

  • 3 ½ tablespoons (50 gr / 3.5 oz) butter, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup (78 gr / 2.8 oz) packed brown sugar
  • 1  tablespoon ground cinnamon

For the glaze

  • 1 cup (120 g / 4.2 oz) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) milk (water works great, too!), use more as needed

Instructions

  • Warm the oven: Preheat the oven to 194°F / 90 ° C for a few minutes and then turn it off.
  • Proof the yeast: Add the yeast and a teaspoon of sugar to the warm milk and give it a little stir. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes, until it becomes foamy and bubbly.
  • Make the dough: Mix the flour, sugar and the salt. Set aside.
    In a large bowl, mix the yeast mixture together the beaten egg. Add the dry ingredients and mix until a soft dough forms, adding 1-3 tablespoons more flour if needed or if dough is too sticky. The dough should be a bit tacky, but not sticky.
    Knead the dough for about 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Add the melted butter and knead for another minute or so.
  • Let the dough rise: Grease an oven-proof bowl and put the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and then a clean kitchen towel and place it in the warm oven and let it rise for about 1 – 1 ½ hours.
  • Make the filling: Mix together the butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • Roll out and cut the dough: After the dough has risen, lightly grease your work surface with a little oil and roll out the dough into a rectangle. Spread the dough with the filling and then tightly roll it up, starting from the bottom. Cut into 10 – 12 pieces, (the number of pieces will depend on how large your rectangle is).
  • Let the dough rise a second time: Place the pieces in a pan, about 2 inches (5 cm) apart and let them rise a second time (about 30 minutes). They should double in size.*
  • Bake: Preheat the oven to 180 °C / 355° F. Bake for about 20 – 30 minutes or until they’re golden brown and puffy. Then let them cool for about 15 minutes.
  • Make the glaze: Mix the powdered sugar with the milk, adding more if necessary. Drizzle over the cooled rolls.
  • Cover the cinnamon rolls tightly and store for up to 5 days in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

* Rising times will depend on how warm and humid your kitchen is.
For Overnight Cinnamon Rolls: Put the rolls in a pan, cover, and refrigerate overnight (you don’t need to wait to let them rise first). The next day, you’ll see that they have risen nicely! Let them rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes (you can do this while preheating your oven). Then uncover them and bake as directed. 
© Pastry Wishes
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