These are the ULTIMATE best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls. Easy to make and so soft, fluffy and perfect ♡ Slather them in your favorite cream cheese frosting for the perfect special brunch.
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There’s not many things I love more than homemade cinnamon rolls. I guess homemade soft pretzels are very high up that list, too, but otherwise? The perfect soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls is where it’s at.
I used to make cinnamon rolls in a very complicated fashion, with three rises and all the works – but I have changed my method as of October 2019, so I’m updating this post with my new and way easier (and better!) recipe. Enjoy!
How to Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls:
Read on for the detailed step-by-step instructions, or scroll down for tips and the printable recipe card.
Watch the video tutorial for my cinnamon rolls:
Ingredients for homemade cinnamon rolls:
The best thing about making cinnamon rolls? You only need a handful of simple ingredients!
For the dough, you need:
- all-purpose flour
- dried active yeast
- melted butter
For the filling
- brown sugar
- white sugar
- ground cinnamon
- softened butter
I usually make some recommendations on ingredients substitutions, but honestly? I cannot recommend ANY substitutions here.
Maybe one, you can technically use all white sugar for the filling vs a mix of white and brown. But other than that? I beg you, make this recipe as written and don’t try to swap out any ingredients.
Key steps to make cinnamon rolls:
Making your own cinnamon rolls is easy once you get the hang of it:
- combine the dough ingredients
- knead the dough
- set the dough aside until doubled in size
- roll out, fill and shape
- second rise
eat a reasonable amount of warm cinnamon rollsdevour the entire pan
1 Combining the dough ingredients
First, melt the butter and set it aside to cool slightly. In the meantime, combine all dry ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer.
Then, stir the melted butter into the milk. There’s no need to heat the milk! This way it will be slightly warmed from the melted butter, but the mix won’t be too hot to destroy the yeast.
Add the milk and butter mix to the bowl, too.
2 Kneading the dough
As soon as you add the milk/butter mix to the bowl, start kneading in your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment on medium-low speed.
You’ll want to mix until a soft dough forms, which takes about 5 minutes. You may need to scrape it down from the sides a few times as it kneads.
3 Setting the dough aside for the first proof
Once you have a soft ball of dough, remove it from the bowl and knead it 4-5 times on the counter.
Shape it into a tight ball, place it back into the bowl and cover with a clean tea towel to keep the dough from drying out.
You’ll want to leave the dough alone in a place at warm room temperature until it has doubled in size and is puffy.
The exact timing will depend on many factors, including:
- your room temperature (cooler room = slower rise)
- your bowl (really! ceramic bowls are warmer, so if you want your dough to rise faster, don’t leave it in your mixer’s stainless steel bowl)
- your altitude (higher altitude = faster rise)
- your yeast (instant yeast = fast rise; active yeast = regular rise; organic yeast = slow rise)
Note: This stage can also be done in the fridge overnight! Just make sure to remove the dough from the fridge 15-30 minutes before continuing with the recipe, so it can warm up.
4 Rolling, filling, shaping
It’s quite easy to create the perfectly shaped cinnamon rolls, as long as you know how to do it!
Making the filling:
Many recipes for cinnamon rolls call for the butter to be melted, then spread on the rolled out dough.
I find this makes a terrible mess and the dough gets so sticky. It’s impossible to roll it up tightly.
So this is what I do:
- Cream the butter
- Add sugar and cinnamon and blend well
- Spread on the rolled-out dough
This doesn’t warm up the dough, doesn’t get sticky or messy, and you can roll the dough and filling into a really tight log – which leads to way prettier cinnamon rolls!
Rolling and filling:
I like to divide the dough into 2 pieces, because it makes it easier to roll/shape. I roll each piece into a rectangle sized about 15 x 12 inches on a silicone baking mat. You can also roll it between two sheets of baking parchment, but please don’t add any extra flour or the rolls will be dry.
Then I spread each with half the filling. I try not to leave too much of a gap on the edge, because nobody likes a half-filled cinnamon roll.
Finally, roll up the dough very tightly from the SHORTER side – this gives the prettiest rolls.
Pinch the seam once you have rolled up the log.
Now this is where the real magic happens! Ever rolled a beautiful log of cinnamon rolls, only to then destroy their beautiful round shape by running a knife through them?
It’s actually way easier, neater and prettier to cut them with a piece of sewing thread or some unscented dental floss.
Check out my recipe video up in this post or down in the recipe card to see how it’s done!
You’ll want to cut each log into 6 even rolls.
5 Letting the rolls rise for a second time:
Place the finished rolls in a baking dish – my enamel one is about 9×12 inches, so something around the dimensions of a 9×13 inch dish works perfectly.
Don’t use a pan that’s much larger, or they won’t turn out quite as soft. If you use a much smaller pan, chances are they won’t bake and end up very doughy.
Cover the cinnamon rolls with the tea towel again and let them sit until they’re big and puffy – they should be touching each other at this point, or at least almost touching each other.
6 Baking the cinnamon rolls:
Cinnamon rolls are supposed to be soft and a bit gooey, so don’t overbake them – they’ll be dry.
It’s perfectly fine if they turn a light golden on top, but they shouldn’t turn out crispy and dark brown on top.
The rolls will take around 12-15 minutes in the lower half of your oven.
Be sure to watch them like a hawk! No shame in hanging out in front of your oven just to get that perfect batch of homemade cinnamon rolls 🙂
7 Frosting the rolls:
I like to let my cinnamon rolls cool for about 5 minutes, then I frost them warm straight in the pan.
And for my frosting… Excuse me for not giving you an actual recipe for a frosting. I know there are all kinds of complicated formulas with butter and tons of icing sugar available, and do feel free to use whatever you enjoy.
But I usually just stir a few tablespoons cream cheese together with a few tablespoons of icing sugar, and maybe a touch of half-and-half to thin it out if needed. Takes 30 seconds to make and tastes delicious 😉
Make ahead instructions:
You can do the first rise in the fridge overnight. Make sure to remove the dough from the fridge about 30 minutes before continuing with the recipe.
I suppose you could try letting the finished rolls do the second rise in the fridge overnight if you know you’ll be short on time in the morning! They may need a few extra minutes to bake, be sure to watch them in the oven.
How to serve cinnamon rolls:
Kidding. We love these by themselves, but they do go perfectly with a mug of hot chocolate. If you’re looking for a lighter side, try my fruit salad made with winter produce!
Get the printable recipe for the BEST ever cinnamon rolls here:
The Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
For the dough
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried active yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick butter melted
- 3/4 cup milk
For the filling
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 2-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 stick softened butter
- Stand Mixer
To make the dough:
- Combine ingredients: Combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Combine melted butter and milk in a separate measuring jug, then pour into the bowl with the flour mix.
- Knead dough: Knead the dough in the stand mixer on medium-low speed until a smooth ball forms, about 5 minutes.
- First rise: Shape the dough into a tight ball on the counter, then place back in the bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Let stand at room temperature until doubled in size, about 45mins – 1 hour.
Fill and cut the rolls:
- Prepare filling: In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients for the filling well.
- Roll out the dough: Cut dough in half and roll each half on a baking mat or between two sheets of baking parchment into a rectangle of roughly 15 x 12 inches.
- Add filling and roll up: Spread half of the prepared cinnamon-sugar-butter filling over each dough rectangle. Starting on the SHORT side, roll each up into a log.
- Cut the rolls: Using a piece of unscented dental floss or sewing string, cut each log into 6 rolls (check the post for video instructions and step photos!).
Finish and Bake:
- Final rise: Place the rolls in a medium-large casserole dish (about 9×13 inches). There should be some space between the rolls so they can rise and expand. Cover with the dish towel and rise for about 20 minutes, or until big and puffy.
- Bake: Preheat your oven to 375°F. Bake the rolls for around 12-15 minutes, or until baked through and just starting to turn golden on the top. Do not overbake! Frost with your favorite frosting while warm.