The perfect Cinnamon Rolls are soft and fluffy, with traditional or cream cheese glaze. You can make them ahead of time, or even freeze them.
 
Baked cinnamon rolls on a sheet pan.
I love how huge, and SOFT these amazing Cinnamon Rolls are. They’re absolutely better than any bakery and I have all the tips you need to save time and prep them ahead of time for special occasions like Christmas morning, birthdays or any time your sweet tooth hits!

How to make Cinnamon Rolls:

1. Proof the yeast. (If using instant yeast, skip this step and add water, yeast and sugar in step 2). In a small bowl, stir together yeast, warm water and ½ teaspoon sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes to “proof”. (If the mixture doesn’t get foamy on top, either the yeast is bad or the water was too hot).

2. Mix Dough: In a stand mixer or large bowl add the yeast mixture, warm milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add another cup of flour and mix or knead until combined. Continue kneading the dough for about 5 minutes, adding additional flour as or if needed to reach a soft dough that pulls away from the sides and bottom of the bowl and is not overly sticky, but very soft. Be careful not to add too much flour, or the rolls will be hard and dense, instead of soft.

3. First Rise: Place dough in a well-greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about 1 ½ hours. Meanwhile, butter a rimmed bakers half sheet (18×13”) or a 9×13” pan. Set aside.

4. Roll out: Dust a work surface lightly with flour, or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Punch down the risen dough and transfer to work surface. Roll it out into about a 20”x18” rectangle.

Four process photos for making cinnamon rolls including proofing the yeast, mixing the dough, first rise, and rolling out.

5. Add butter and cinnamon sugar filling: Spread the 6 tablespoons of softened butter over the top of the dough. Mix sugar and cinnamon together, and then sprinkle over buttered dough, leaving ½ inch border. Sprinkle with walnuts, pecans, or raisins if desired.

Softened butter smoothed over rolled out dough, then cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top..

6. Roll and cut: Beginning on the 18-inch side, role up dough tightly into a log. Pinch the ends together to seal. Cut into 12 equal portioned pieces (about 1 ½ inches wide). A sharp serrated knife or a piece of floss work well to cut the dough.

Filled cinnamon roll dough being rolled up, then cut into pieces.

7. Second Rise: Arrange rolls on prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap (I like to spray the plastic wrap lightly with cooking spray first, so it doesn’t stick to the dough). Allow the rolls to rise again for about an hour, until doubled in volume.

8. Bake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Once risen, uncover rolls and bake for 18-22 minutes or until no longer doughy in the center.

Two process photos of Cinnamon rolls on a baking tray before and after they're baked.

Icing: While the cinnamon rolls bake, make the icing. Mix butter and powdered sugar together for several minutes. Mix in vanilla, and enough milk to reach a soft frosting consistency. Spread icing over hot cinnamon rolls, right from the oven.

A sheet pan with 12 freshly baked cinnamon rolls with glaze on top.

For Cream Cheese Glaze:

To switch the traditional glaze in the recipe for cream cheese glaze, beat 4 ounces softened cream cheese with the butter. Omit the milk, and mix in vanilla and enough powdered sugar to reach a soft frosting consistency, about 1 ½ – 2 cups.

Tip for Quick Rise Cinnamon Rolls:

Make dough up to first rising, placing it in a well greased bowl, turning it once to grease the dough all over. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Preheat oven to 180 degrees F, then turn oven off. Place bowl into the oven, leaving the oven door slightly cracked open. Allow to rise until doubled. Then remove, punch down and roll out.

Make Ahead, Storing and Freezing Instructions:

Once cooled, store leftover cinnamon rolls in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature, or 1 week in the fridge. Rewarm individually in microwave for about 15 seconds or until soft.

To Make Ahead of time: 

Make dough and assemble rolls through step 7 (just before the second rise). Cover really well with plastic wrap or a lid and let rise in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight. Remove from fridge, keep covered and allow to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 to 1 ½ hours, before baking.

You could also refrigerate the dough after step 2 and allow it to rise for several hours in the fridge, before rolling out, filling and baking.

To Freeze Cinnamon Rolls: Baked rolls can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm in the microwave for a few seconds. To freeze unbaked cinnamon rolls, bake the assembled rolls for only about 12 minutes at 375°F. Allow to cool completely, then cover well and freeze. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then return to oven for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through.

You may also like:

Cinnamon Roll Cake

Orange Rolls

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Lemon Blueberry Rolls

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Recipe

Baked cinnamon rolls on a sheet pan.
Prep 2 hrs 10 mins
Cook 2 hrs 10 mins
Total 4 hrs 20 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Video

Ingredients
  

For the Dough:

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast*
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk , warmed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar + ½ teaspoon, divided
  • 1/3 cup butter , slightly melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg , room temperature
  • 3 1/2-4 cups bread flour , or all-purpose

Cinnamon Sugar Filling:

  • 6 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup raisins , chopped walnuts, or pecans (optional)

Icing:*

  • 4 Tablespoons butter , softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-6 Tablespoons milk , as needed

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl, stir together yeast, warm water and ½ teaspoon sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes to "proof". (If the mixture doesn't get foamy on top, either the yeast is bad or the water was too hot). For instant yeast, add yeast, water and sugar with everything in step 2.
  • In a stand mixer or large bowl add the yeast mixture, warm milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add another cup of flour and mix or knead until combined. Continue kneading the dough for about 5 minutes, adding additional flour as or if needed to reach a soft dough that pulls away from the sides and bottom of the bowl and is not overly sticky, but very soft. Be careful not to add too much flour.
  • Place dough in a well-greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about 1 ½ hours. Meanwhile, butter a rimmed bakers half sheet (18x13'') or a 9x13'' pan. Set aside.
  • Dust a work surface lightly with flour, or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Punch down the risen dough and transfer to work surface. Roll it out into about a 20''x18'' rectangle.
  • Spread the 6 tablespoons of softened butter over the top of the dough. Mix sugar and cinnamon together, and then sprinkle over buttered dough, leaving ½ inch border. Sprinkle with walnuts, pecans, or raisins if desired. 
  • Beginning on the 18-inch side, role up dough tightly into a log. Pinch the ends together to seal. Cut into 12 equal portioned pieces (about 1 ½ inches wide). A sharp serrated knife or a piece of floss work well to cut the dough.
  • Arrange rolls on prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap (I like to spray the plastic wrap lightly with cooking spray first, so it doesn't stick to the dough). Allow the rolls to rise again for about an hour, until doubled in volume.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Once risen, uncover rolls and bake for 18-22 minutes or until no longer doughy in the center.
  • While the cinnamon rolls bake, make the icing. Mix butter and powdered sugar together for several minutes. Mix in vanilla, and enough milk to reach a soft frosting consistency.
  • Spread icing over hot cinnamon rolls, right from the oven.

Notes

Yeast: to substitute Instant or rapid rise yeast skip the first step of proofing. Mix the yeast with 2 cups flour, sugar and salt before adding that to the stand mixer with warm water, milk, egg, and butter. Note that the rolls may rise faster when using instant yeast.
  • Tip for Quick Rise Cinnamon Rolls: Make dough up to first rising, placing it in a well greased bowl, turning it once to grease the dough all over. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Preheat oven to 180 degrees F, then turn oven off. Place bowl into the oven, leaving the oven door slightly cracked open. Allow to rise until doubled. Then remove, punch down and roll out.
For Cream Cheese Icing: beat 4 ounces softened cream cheese with the butter. Omit the milk, and mix in vanilla and enough powdered sugar to reach a soft frosting consistency, 1 ½ - 2 cups.
Storing Instructions: Once cooled, store leftover cinnamon rolls in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature, or 1 week in the fridge. Rewarm individually in microwave for about 15 seconds or until soft.
Make Ahead Instructions: Make dough and assemble rolls through step 7 (just before the second rise). Cover really well with plastic wrap or a lid and let rise in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight. Remove from fridge, keep covered and allow to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 to 1 ½ hours, before baking.
You could also refrigerate the dough after step 2 and allow it to rise for several hours in the fridge, before rolling out, filling and baking. 
Freezing Instructions: Baked rolls can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm in the microwave for a few seconds. To freeze unbaked cinnamon rolls, bake the assembled rolls for only about 12 minutes at 375°F. Allow to cool completely, then cover well and freeze. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then return to oven for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through.

Nutrition

Calories: 427kcalCarbohydrates: 65gProtein: 7gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 55mgSodium: 341mgPotassium: 107mgFiber: 2gSugar: 36gVitamin A: 488IUCalcium: 52mgIron: 1mg

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I originally shared this recipe October 2010. Updated September 2020 with process photos, video and additional tips.

 

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love ❤️ your page!!! Such delicious and easy to follow recipes that even my picky bunch can enjoy!! Thank You so much for being an understanding Mom!! Please don’t ever stop 🤗

  2. 5 stars
    There are a favorite at our house. My kids always request these for “special” breakfast. As a kick-off to fall, I made these this past weekend and, once again, they were a hit! I just wanted to say thanks for such a great recipe that the whole family can agree on.

  3. Can I use rapid rise yeast? And if so how do I do it? With all this COVID stuff the rapid rise was the only thing I could find.

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe many times now and it always comes through! I usually add less flour then it asks for and put the dough in the slightly warm oven for faster proofing when i’m short on time. It also holds overnight very well, I just have to let them get to room temperature for about an hour.

    Excellent recipe, and fairly simple to make!

  5. I laready made your recipe the orange cinnamon roll , its so wonderful i make it , thank you so much for this kind of recipe , and you explain it so clearly ,

    1. 4 stars
      I prepared the rolls the night before, didn’t let them do the second rise but just covered the pan and put them in the fridge right away. Next morning I took them out and let them sit out for 15-20 minutes then put them in the oven. They turned out great!