Cinnamon Rolls are one of life’s most essential comfort foods. Big, soft, pillowy dough- swirled with oozing gooey cinnamon-sugar filling and topped off with creamy frosting. It can seem daunting to make the best homemade cinnamon rolls at home, but I assure you this is the easiest recipe for homemade Cinnamon Rolls! I call this recipe my “every day” cinnamon roll because while we have multiple recipes for cinnamon rolls on Our Best Bites, this is the most basic and simple and it’s so quick! It requires basic pantry ingredients, no proofing of yeast, and can be made start to finish before a movie is over. One batch just makes 1 9×13 pan of small-medium sized rolls so it’s perfect for most families. Want big giant cinnamon rolls? Simply double this recipe and bake on a standard, rimmed baking sheet. Want to make these a day ahead? Instructions included. Want to know if you can freeze them pre-baking? That’s covered, too. NOTE: There are LOTS of tips outlined and described past the recipe card below. Keep scrolling to read them!
Soft fluffy cinnamon rolls, made with basic pantry ingredients and in record time! See Notes section for instructions on making ahead, doubling the recipe, and freezing.
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
2 T melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1–2 Tbs milk
Dough: Place milk and 4 tablespoons butter in a microwave safe bowl. Heat on high for about 1 minute 30 seconds. Butter should be mostly melted, but do not boil. Stir and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 C flour, yeast, white sugar, and salt. When milk mixture has cooled to warm (not hot) add it to the flour mixture along with the egg while the beater (paddle attachment for those using a stand mixer) is running. Beat until well combined, about 1 minute.
Switch to a dough hook if you have one and ad remaining flour only until dough barely leaves the sides of the bowl. It should be very soft and slightly sticky. Continue to let the dough knead for 5 minutes. If you are not using a stand mixer, turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 5 minutes by hand. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and let rest for about 10 minutes while you make the filling.Filling: It helps to have butter super soft. Mix with brown sugar and cinnamon.
Assembly: Roll dough into a rectangle about 12 x 14 inches. Spread brown sugar mixture (it will be slightly thick, you might have to “crumble” it) over the surface and use your fingers or the back of a spoon to gently spread around. Roll up from the longer side of the rectangle and pinch edges closed. Score the roll into 12 equal pieces and then cut into rolls. Place in a 9 x 13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover pan with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. In the mean time, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
When rolls have finished rising bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown. If desired spread with icing while still warm. Makes 12 rolls.
Tip for quick rising: My favorite place to proof rolls is in the oven or microwave (while it’s turned OFF). Tip: Heat a small bowl of water in the microwave until it boils. Open the door, quickly move the bowl aside and set the pan of rolls in and shut the door. Just let them sit in there to rise. The hot water will warm up the temp, and also keep the dough moist. You can do this same thing in your oven with it turned OFF. Place your rolls in there and add pan to the rack right below it. Fill the empty pan with boiling water and then quickly shut the oven door to lock it all in there.
For Large Cinnamon Rolls: Double recipe and proceed as written. Line a standard rimmed baking sheet (like a rimmed cookie sheet) with enough heavy duty foil that there is some overhang. Pull sides of foil up to “hold rolls in”. You can also use any other baking dish you like that fits your dough nicely.
To Freeze: After rolls are sliced and before they rise, immediately place in/on a parchment-lined pan in the freezer. When they are frozen, remove them from the parchment and place them in an airtight container or ziplock bag for easier storage.
To cook from frozen: Bring to room temperature and then allow to rise as normal. You can transfer them to the fridge to thaw overnight, and then place them on the counter in the morning to plump and rise, or you can place your frozen rolls at room temperature and wait for them to thaw and then rise (just like you would Rhodes Rolls). The total time for both of these really depends on the temperature of your home and other factors.
To Make the day before: If you’d like fresh rolls in the morning, you can save yourself some time and prepare these pre-baked the day before. Simply follow the instructions as written, but after rolls have been placed in the pan, immediately cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge. The next morning, put them out and let them rise as room temp and continue as instructions describe.
When it comes to cinnamon rolls and other breads, it seems like everyone has their favorite recipe, but I think part of the reason they taste so good is that when people have a favorite, they know exactly how the dough should look and feel so they come out perfect every time. I’m going to share a few of my little tricks for this recipe in hopes that it will turn out perfect for you too. When I was a teenager, I tried cinnamon rolls over and over and they were always dense and dry. It wasn’t until my Mom’s friend LeeAnn (who’s also my friend), a cinnamon roll master, made them with me side-by-side that I saw I was adding waaaaay too much flour! When she showed me how the dough should look and feel, it made all the difference.
How to Make Quick and Easy Cinnamon Rolls
The first thing you’ll do is melt some milk, butter and sugar in the microwave. You don’t want this boiling- I know mine is perfect when I can still see a pat of butter in there. It will continue melting after it comes out of the microwave.
Then add your dry ingredients to your mixing bowl, only part of our flour is going in at this point. You’ll see there’s yeast in there- there’s no need to proof your yeast in this recipe! You really do just toss everything in a bowl and it all works out. Make sure you’re using “Quick Rise Yeast” in this recipe.
Now add the milk mixture and you’ll also add an egg in there and mix it up. It will be a thick mixture, but a runny dough.
At this point it’s time to add the rest of the flour. Do not add too much flour! It took me a long time to figure this out and it’s still one of the biggest mistakes people make. Cinnamon roll dough should’t look like play-dough. It should seem like it would even be too soft to roll out, but when you gently dump it on a well floured surface it works just fine. Remember that a soft tender dough results in soft tender rolls. Too much flour and your rolls will be dense and dry. As you’re beating with a dough hook, it should come away from the sides of the bowl and not totally stick to your hands when you touch it, but it will be quite soft. You can see how mine is holding together in a solid blob, but also kind of gently falling off the dough hook and that’s what you want.
For the filling I mix everything together and spread it on in one step, If you want, you could spread on butter, then sprinkle on sugar, then cinnamon.
I roll out my dough and just spread on my cinnamon blob.
I’ve told you this before, but one thing I always keep in the kitchen is dental floss. It’s the best way to cut bread dough. Using a knife often ends up smashing it. And yes, that’s mint flavored- don’t worry, it won’t flavor your dough!
Use the piece of floss to score the roll of dough into 12 pieces. Tip: If you want even sized rolls start from the middle. So for 12 rolls, divide evenly in the middle and then divide each of the halves into thirds, and then into thirds again. After the dough is evenly scored, slip the floss underneath, then cross over top and just pull to slice. Use this same method to cut these Cheesy Garlic Bread Swirls (have you guys all tried those? They’re amazing.) . Then pop them in your pan to rise!
How to Freeze the Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
If you’d like to freeze your cinnamon rolls pre-baking, this is the point to do it! You’ll want to freeze them BEFORE they rise. Place your rolls in/on a parchment-lined pan and pop them in the freezer. When they are frozen, you can then remove them from the parchment and place them in an airtight container or ziplock bag for easier storage. Or you can simply freeze your prepared pan like in the photo above.
To Cook Homemade Cinnamon Rolls from Frozen
When you are ready to eat your cinnamon rolls, they’ll need to be placed in a baking pan and both thaw to room temperature, and then rise as normal. You can transfer them to the fridge to thaw overnight, and then place them on the counter in the morning to plump and rise, or you can place your frozen rolls at room temperature and wait for them to thaw and then rise (just like you would Rhodes Rolls). The total time for both of these really depends on the temperature of your home and other factors.
Baking The Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Your rolls are ready to bake when they’re plump and puffed! They’ll rise faster in a warm, steamy environment.
My favorite place to proof rolls is in the oven or microwave (while it’s turned OFF). Tip: Heat a small bowl of water in the microwave until it boils. Open the door, quickly move the bowl aside and set the pan of rolls in and shut the door. Just let them sit in there to rise. The hot water will warm up the temp, and also keep the dough moist. You can do this same thing in your oven with it turned OFF. Place your rolls in there and add pan to the rack right below it. Fill the empty pan with boiling water and then quickly shut the oven door to lock it all in there.
Bake the rolls until they’re golden on top. I think of those centers as built-in timers. Most of the time, when the middle pops up, they’re done!
Honestly I’ve never measured icing before, ever. I just grab some powdered sugar, add some vanilla and melted butter and then add milk until it’s the consistency I like. I put it on warm so it melts in all the cracks. You could also use this cream cheese frosting if you prefer cream cheese icing on your rolls.
How do I make Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls?
This recipe makes just one pan of small-medium cinnamon rolls. If you want JUMBO cinnamon rolls, then just double this recipe and they fit perfectly on a standard rimmed baking sheet (like a cookie sheet). I like to line my pan with foil and pull the overhanging foil up to mimic a taller pan. It helps keep them nice and shaped.
I suggest putting the icing on when they are just warm. If they’re too hot the icing will melt all over, too cool and it will be harder to spread. Just warm is perfect.
Enjoy these easy to make, every day cinnamon rolls!