Soft, sticky Cinnamon Rolls from Scratch are simple to make and utterly addictive to eat! Everyone will fight for the last homemade roll, made of sweet yeast dough wrapped around real butter and cinnamon sugar.
Real, Made-From Scratch Cinnamon Rolls
There are occasions in life that call for swinging by your local bakery or coffee shop… and then there are times when you just want to get in your kitchen and make your own bakery-style treat, from start to finish.
Whether it’s Christmas cookies, a luscious Valentine’s dessert, or the perfect batch of cinnamon rolls, sometimes the most special sweets are the ones you make yourself!
I like to make cinnamon rolls (or any sweet roll, really) on a relaxed weekend. It’s especially fun to do early in the morning during spring or summer break, to treat the kids before it gets too hot outside.
These are also amazing for warming up a winter’s day, of course. And, no matter the weather, they are easy – and, honestly, kind of fun to make!
What’s the Difference Between Cinnamon Rolls and Cinnamon Buns?
Trivia time! You may be wondering what the difference between these two iconic sweet rolls actually is. Honestly, depending on who you ask, there may not be any difference at all. You could walk into two different bakeries and order a cinnamon roll at one, and a cinnamon bun at the other, and get more or less the same thing from each place.
If you want to get down to details, then you may find that a cinnamon bun is more likely to contain nuts of some kind, and maybe to be glaze-less. Either way, count me in!
The List of Ingredients
Simple, wholesome ingredients are all you need for real, from-scratch cinnamon rolls. No need for artificial anything. This is a treat you can feel great about even with all the bonus calories. 😃
For the Dough
- Flour: You’ll need soft spelt flour, both for the dough and for sprinkling, rolling and kneading.
- Milk: The milk should be warm but not hot.
- Yeast: Instant dry yeast.
- Butter: Melted butter makes the dough rich and flavorful.
- Sugar: Just a bit, to make the dough lightly sweet.
- Egg Yolks: These will help bind and enrich the dough, giving it that bakery taste and texture.
For the Filling
- Butter: More butter, softened at room temperature.
- Cinnamon and Sugar: Ground cinnamon and confectioners sugar.
- Salt: Just a pinch.
For the Glaze
- Cream: Heavy cream makes a silky-smooth glaze.
- Confectioners Sugar: This dissolves easily right into the cream, no cooking needed.
How Do You Make Cinnamon Rolls?
There are basically three stages to making cinnamon rolls from scratch, so you can see that this recipe takes a little time. For the best results, read through the recipe a few times before you get started, and give yourself plenty of time. If the cinnamon rolls are done earlier than you expected, no worries – they reheat beautifully.
Make the Dough
- Mix the Dough Ingredients. Get out a big mixing bowl, and stir the flour, sugar, and yeast together in it. Next, add in the melted butter, warmed (not hot!) milk, egg yolks, and salt. Stir this well until it starts to come together into a dough.
- Knead the Dough. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface lightly sprinkled with flour. Knead the dough for about 5 – 8 minutes. (You can also knead the dough in the mixing bowl, until it forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.) The dough should be stretchy and slightly sticky, but not wet.
- First Rise. Place the ball of kneaded dough into a clean, oiled bowl, and the turn it over so that the top and bottom are now thinly coated with oil. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm place to rise. It usually takes 1 – 1 ½ hours to double in size.
Fill and Shape the Rolls
- Make the Cinnamon Sugar. Once the dough has risen, take a small bowl and combine the sugar and cinnamon. Set this aside for a moment.
- Shape the Dough into a Rectangle. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured, clean work surface. Roll it out into a rectangle, about 16×19 inches. (If you would like your cinnamon rolls to have even more swirls, roll out the dough larger, about 19×22 inches.) The rectangle should be a fairly even thickness, all the way across.
- Add the Butter and Cinnamon Sugar. Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough, and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the butter, all the way to the edges.
- Roll and Slice. Roll the dough up, starting with one of the long sides. Make sure to roll tightly. You should end up with a long log of dough. Turn the log over so that the seam is underneath. Using a very sharp knife, slice the dough into 12 even portions, and arrange them in a greased baking dish, evenly spaced.
- Second Rise. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap, and allow them to rise for about 30 minutes in a warm area, until they are doubled in size.
Bake the Cinnamon Rolls
- Preheat the Oven. When the cinnamon rolls are almost done rising, you can preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bake. Remove the plastic wrap from the cinnamon rolls and bake them for 17 – 20 minutes, or until they are golden-brown on top. Then take them out of the oven, and set them aside until the glaze is ready.
Make and Add the Glaze
- Make the Creamy Glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and heavy cream to make a smooth glaze.
- Spread the Glaze. Generously glaze the cinnamon rolls. If you wish, you can add an extra layer or sprinkle of glaze to the rolls just before serving.
There are a few more helpful hints I’m excited to share, for making the perfect batch of cinnamon rolls. These easy tips are sure to make your breakfast a huge success.
- Flour Options: I used spelt flour, but it is definitely possible to use other flours like all-purpose. However, different types of flour absorb different amounts of water. You may need to add more water to the dough if it seems too dry or stiff, or sprinkle in more flour if the dough is too liquid-y.
- Instant Yeast: Dry instant yeast does not need to be previously dissolved in milk. You can add it directly into the mixture with the flour and the sugar.
- Kneading: Feel free to knead your dough by hand, or use the dough hook in your stand mixer. Either way, make sure to knead the dough until it is smooth and stretchy.
- Rising: The time it takes for dough to rise can be much shorter or longer depending on how warm your kitchen is, so keep an eye on it.
What to Serve with Cinnamon Rolls
When you make cinnamon rolls from scratch, there’s not much you need to add to the menu, is there? These luscious little spirals are a fabulous breakfast with nothing more than a cup of coffee (or ice-cold milk, for the kids). But if your cinnamon rolls need to be part of a larger breakfast or brunch menu, try some of these mouthwatering early risers:
- Egg Muffin Cups: Easy and savory, these little Sausage and Egg Breakfast Cups are made with real Italian sausage, cheese, and a biscuit crust.
- Quiche Lorraine: Traditional Quiche Lorraine with Bacon is an all-time favorite, blending silky eggs and cheese with salty bacon, and colorful veggies.
- A Baked Omelette: Who could resist a square of this amazing breakfast casserole? Baked Denver Omelette is packed with onions, peppers, ham, and cheese. It’s super simple to make, and feeds a crowd.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To store leftover cinnamon rolls, just place them in airtight containers or zip-top bags, and store in the fridge for up to four days, or on the counter for two days. If you live in a very hot climate, it might be best to refrigerate.
- To reheat, you can microwave these for a few seconds until warm (don’t microwave them for too long or they’ll be scalding hot!). You can also pop them in a preheated, 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
Freezing and Make-Ahead Instructions
There are basically two ways to freeze cinnamon rolls; after they’re baked, or before.
- If you simply want to freeze baked or leftover rolls, no problem! Cool them down, wrap them tightly in a layer of plastic plus a layer of foil, and freeze for up to three months.
- Thaw in the fridge before reheating.
For Unbaked (Make Ahead) Cinnamon Rolls
- To freeze unbaked cinnamon rolls, the process is pretty similar. First, prepare the dough, roll it up, and slice it. But instead of letting it rise, freeze the cut cinnamon rolls until frozen solid. Transfer to a freezer bag, and freeze for three months.
- Take them out the night before you’re ready to bake, and let them thaw/rise in the fridge (hint: if they don’t double in size in the fridge overnight, let them finish rising at room temperature for half an hour or more). Bake as directed in the recipe, and you’re good to go!
Cinnamon Rolls from Scratch
For the Dough
For the Filling
For the Glaze
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
Make the Dough
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and yeast. Mix well. Add the melted butter, warmed (not hot) milk, egg yolks, and salt. Stir and knead the dough for about 5 to 8 minutes, until it forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be stretchy and slightly sticky, but not wet.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl, and turn it so that the top and bottom are now thinly coated with oil. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm place to rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size.
Fill and Shape the Rolls
- Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, and set aside.
- Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
- Roll out the dough into a rectangle, about 16×19 inches. (If you would like your cinnamon rolls to have even more swirls, roll out the dough larger, about 19×22 inches.) The dough should be an even thickness all the way across.
- Spread the softened butter over the dough, and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the butter, all the way to the edges.
- Roll the dough up, starting with a long side and rolling tightly to make a long log. Turn the log over so that the seam is underneath.
- Cut the dough into 12 even portions, using a very sharp knife. Place in a greased baking pan, evenly spaced.
- Cover the rolls with plastic wrap, and allow them to rise for about 30 minutes in a warm area until they are doubled in size.
- During this rise, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Once the cinnamon rolls have risen, remove the plastic wrap and bake them for 17 to 20 minutes, or until the rolls are golden-brown on top.
- Remove them from the oven, and set them aside until the glaze is prepared.
- Combine the powdered sugar and heavy cream in a mixing bowl, and whisk until smooth. Spread the glaze over the warm cinnamon rolls.
- The glaze will be evenly distributed over the cinnamon rolls, making them shiny. If you wish, add an extra layer or sprinkle of glaze to the rolls just before serving.