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The Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe is hands down the Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls Ever. The perfect soft, gooey and fluffy cinnamon rolls are right at your fingertips. Just like my great-grandmother used to make them! They are sure to be your new family tradition in no time!

Once you’ve had my great-grandmother’s cinnamon rolls, you will never want any other kind. And while they are a small labor of love to make, the end result is so worth it!

They are fluffy, gooey and the sweetest cinnamon rolls you’ve ever put in your mouth! The results are better than anything you could get with a canned, store-bought version. So, do yourself and your family a favor by making this special treat!

The Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Cinnamon Rolls as a Christmas Morning Tradition

Growing up, our family always ate these delectable cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, along with these 3-ingredient sausage balls and some fruit. It’s not exactly a healthy tradition, but it was comfort food at its finest. And now I’m continuing the tradition with my own family.

The recipe takes my great-grandmother’s yeast roll recipe and makes cinnamon rolls out of it. So, many time we would make a batch of roll dough, use half of it for rolls at dinner time and then use the other half for cinnamon rolls for the morning.

Note: I’ve halved the yeast roll recipe for this cinnamon roll recipe today. So, if you need rolls, too, you’ll need to double it!

I wish I could convey through this screen how much these homemade breads taste like the coziest home cooked meal you’ve ever put in your mouth. But I can’t, so you’re just going to have to make them and try them yourself!

Best Cinnamon Rolls from my great-grandmother

Ingredients Needed to Make the Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

You’ll need a variety of everyday food items that are probably already stocked in your pantry or fridge!

  • Milk: I usually have 2% milk on hand, so that’s what I use! Any whole milk, almond or coconut milk would work great, too.
  • Yeast: We love Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise Yeast, which in an “instant yeast,” meaning you don’t spend as much time waiting for the rolls to “proof.”
  • Sugar: Use granulated white sugar for the dough and sprinkling on the cinnamon and sugar mixture. And use confectioner’s sugar for the icing. Light brown sugar can be substituted in the cinnamon sugar filling, if desired.
  • Shortening: I love Nutiva shortening, as an organic alternative to other major brands.
  • Flour: unbleached, all-purpose flour will do the trick! All-purpose flour will give a chewier substance than bread flour, which will have a sturdier texture.
  • Baking Soda: This leavening agent will help your cinnamon rolls rise!
  • Baking Powder: Another leavening agent that can’t be skipped, if you want your rolls to rise and shine.
  • Salted butter: Softened butter is used with the cinnamon and sugar filling in the middle of the rolls, making them buttery delicious!
  • Salt: In addition to salted butter, you’ll need another half a teaspoon of salt to enhance the flavors and activate the leavening agents.
  • Ground cinnamon: Combined with sugar for the filling, this is the key flavor in cinnamon rolls!
  • Powdered Sugar: Or confectioner’s sugar gives the glaze topping a smooth, sweet taste!
  • Vanilla extract: The vanilla flavor pairs so well with the cinnamon, butter and sugar. We use it to give the sugar glaze a warm, delicious taste!
Best Homemade Cinnamon Roll recipe

Tips for Making Delicious Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

  • Make these rolls at least a day ahead of time, because they are so time intensive. On the morning you want to serve them, simply pop them in the oven to rise for 45 minutes, then cook! It will take 1 hour and 15 minutes from start to finish, if you prep everything the day before.
  • Use rapid rise yeast to cut your rising time exponentially.
  • Pull out a stick of butter to soften at the start of making this recipe! It will be ready to go when you are ready to spread the filling on the rolls.
  • Roll the cinnamon roll dough into a perfect-ish rectangle, so that rolling it up on a long roll is easy!
  • Use a small piece of string or clean piece of dental floss to “cut” the rolls in perfect sizes. (See the photo example below.)

How to Make the Best Cinnamon Roll Recipe

There are quite a few steps to make these worth-in breakfast treats. Don’t freak out, though! Nothing is difficult, it’s just a process. So, I thought I’d walk you through them with as much clarity and photo assistance as possible.

Step 1. First, combine the milk, half of the sugar and shortening in a saucepan over low to medium heat.

Step 2. Heat it until the shortening melts, but do not let it boil.

Step 3. Once heated thoroughly and the shortening has melted, remove from heat.

Step 4. Position a candy thermometer on the side of the pan with the end in the liquid, and let the mixture cool to 115 degrees. I set a timer to come back and check every 5 minutes or so. 

candy thermometer for cinnamon rolls

Step 5. Meanwhile, in a very large bowl, combine 3.5 cups of flour and yeast. Stir and add liquid mixture. It should be the consistency of thick cake batter. 

Step 6. Cover the bowl of dough with a tea towel and put in a warm place to let it rise until double in size.

Place bowl of dough in a warm place, like a window

This may 30 minutes, to 2 hours, depending on which yeast used.

Cinnamon roll dough doubled in size
The cinnamon roll dough has doubled in size.

Step 7. In a small mixing bowl combine 1 cup flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add this second mixture to the dough after it’s risen, stirring well. Knead the dough until it is all combined. (I don’t recommend using a stand mixer because it will over-knead the dough.)

Step 8. Turn this dough out onto a lightly floured surface and work in extra flour until dough is easy to handle. 

Step 9. At this point dough can be refrigerated up to 5 days, perfect for making ahead of time.

Step 10. When ready to make the cinnamon rolls, preheat the oven to 110 degrees.

Step 11. Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape about ½ inch thick.

Roll dough rolled out in a rectangle

Step 12. Combine room temperature or softened butter, half a cup of sugar and ground cinnamon. Spread evenly over the the dough.

Or spread a thin layer of butter on the roll dough and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on it.

Cinnamon roll recipe

Step 13. Roll the dough up starting at one of the long sides until there is a long log of rolled dough.

Roll up cinnamon rolls

Step 14. Use a piece of thread or floss to cut the slices of cinnamon rolls by sliding the center of the thread under the the roll of dough and bringing the ends up, criss-crossing the thread until it cuts off a uniform piece of the roll. Keep them about 2 inches thick.

Cutting cinnamon rolls

This method keeps the rolls round and not smushed. But if you want to use a serrated knife, you can!

Step 15. Place rolls touching one another in a large 9 x 13 glass or ceramic baking dish. At this point you can also refrigerate the rolls for up to 5 days, or freeze them for up to 8 weeks.

cinnamon rolls before baking, placed side-by-side in a baking dish

Step 16. Set the pan of rolls in an oven on 110 degrees for about 45 minutes, until they have doubled in size.

Step 17. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the tops of the rolls are gold brown. Remove rolls from the oven.

Step 18. While the rolls cook, mix confectioner’s sugar, milk and vanilla extract in a small bowl to make the glaze. Drizzle glaze over the rolls while hot and serve warm, preferably with milk.

Cinnamon rolls after baking

Frequently Asked Questions

Can homemade cinnamon rolls be frozen?

Yes! They can be frozen. You can freeze them for up to 6 weeks before the final rising time and baking. Double wrap them in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil on top before freezing.

When you decide to bake them, let them thaw for 1-2 hours before rising time in the oven (step 13 in the recipe).

How long are homemade cinnamon rolls good for?

Keep the rolls in an airtight container and consume within 5 days.

Can cinnamon rolls be reheated?

Yes! You can reheat cinnamon rolls in an oven-safe container in the oven on 325 degrees for 5-7 minutes.

Do you need eggs to make cinnamon rolls?

Some recipes for cinnamon rolls call for using eggs, but this recipe does not!

More Favorite Breakfast Recipes to Try:

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The Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

cinnamon roll recipe
This recipe is hands down the Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls Ever. The perfect soft, fluffy, gooey cinnamon rolls are right at your fingertips. Just like my great-grandmother used to make them! They are sure to be your new family tradition in no time!
Laura
Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes

Equipment

  • Large mixing bowl
  • 9 x 13 glass or ceramic pan
  • Tooth floss
  • Rolling Pin
  • candy thermometer

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • cup shortening
  • 4.5 cups flour, divided
  • ½ Tablespoon Rapid Rise yeast
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • t teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ Tablespoon salt, heaping
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

Sugar Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. milk, or more until good consistency for drizzling
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

  • First, combine the milk, half of the sugar and shortening in a saucepan over low to medium heat.
  • Heat on low to medium heat it until the shortening melts, but do not let it boil.
  • Once heated thoroughly and the shortening has melted, remove from heat.
  • Position a candy thermometer (like this one) on the side of the pan with the end in the liquid, and let it cool to 115 degrees. I set a timer to come back and check every 5 minutes or so. 
  • In a very large bowl combine 3.5 cups of flour and yeast. Stir and add liquid mixture. It should be the consistency of thick cake batter.
  • Cover the bowl of dough with a tea towel and put in a warm place to let it rise until double in size.
  • This may 30 minutes, to 2 hours, depending on which yeast used.
  • In a small mixing bowl combine 1 cup flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add this second mixture to the dough after it’s risen, stirring well. Knead the dough until it is all combined.
  • Turn this dough out onto a well-floured surface and work in extra flour until dough is easy to handle.
  • At this point dough can be refrigerated up to 5 days, perfect for making ahead of time.
  • When ready to make the cinnamon rolls, preheat the oven to 110 degrees.
  • Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape about ½ inch high.
  • Combine softened butter, half a cup of sugar and ground cinnamon. Spread evenly over the the dough.
  • Or spread a thin layer of butter on the roll dough and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on it.
  • Roll the dough up starting at one of the long sides until there is a long log of rolled dough.
  • Use a piece of thread or floss to cut the slices of cinnamon rolls by sliding the center of the thread under the the roll of dough and bringing the ends up, criss-crossing the thread until it cuts off a uniform piece of the roll. Keep them about 2 inches thick.
  • Place rolls touching one another in a large 9 x 13 glass or ceramic baking dish.
  • Set the pan of rolls in an oven on 110 degrees for about 45 minutes, until they have doubled in size.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the tops of the rolls are golden brown. Remove rolls from the oven.
  • While the rolls cook, mix confectioner’s sugar, milk and vanilla extract in a small bowl to make the glaze. Drizzle glaze over the rolls while hot and serve warm, preferably with milk.

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