Do you want to make the best homemade cinnamon rolls but your just not sure how?
This post is will take you through the essential steps to make the most tender, fluffy, yeasty, BEST cinnamon rolls you have ever tasted.
The smell of warm cinnamon in the air first thing in the morning is one of my favorite things.
It reminds me of Christmas baking and anyone who knows me knows that Christmas is tippy top of my list of greatest things ever.
This year for my daughter’s birthday, she requested cinnamon rolls for breakfast.
We are currently in the middle of social distancing and trying to limit our store trips so homemade cinnamon rolls it is!
I’ve never made a homemade cinnamon roll that I love. I’ve tried them on several occasions and thought the end product was just OK, not worth the long wait time required.
If you have to wait 3 hours for something, it had better be great, right?
However, sometimes the best thing is born out of necessity because these cinnamon rolls are Out-Of-This-World AMAZING!!!
As in the best homemade cinnamon roll I have ever had.
Prepare yourself because this post is LONG. So consider this your:
How to make the best homemade cinnamon rolls (step by step instructions)
The first thing we need to talk about is making the dough. There are two ways you can do this:
The bread machine method or
the traditional method using a stand mixer.
The first time I made these, I used a bread machine.
Now, you may be wondering how in the world you can make cinnamon rolls in a bread machine. Great question because, unfortunately, those wonderful machines can’t magically add the filling and form the dough into those cute little spirals that we all know and love.
The bread machine is used to combine, knead, and proof the dough. The rest is performed manually.
The benefits of doing it this way is that the bread machine provides optimal conditions for proofing the dough and you often have superior results, especially if you are a novice baker.
No worries though if you don’t have a bread machine. These things were so good that I continued testing the recipe using a more traditional method so that everyone could enjoy these cinnamon rolls, weather they have a bread maker or not.
Both methods are described in detail below.
It was fun to figure out ways to provide good proofing conditions for the home baker. I discovered a slightly warm oven provides just the right amount of warmth and a plastic shopping bag, like the ones you get from Target, make excellent proofing bags. Or just drape a moist cloth over the top.
So lets break this down according to the method used.
Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls: Bread Machine Method
Add the dough ingredients to the bread maker in the order listed.
Turn the bread machine on and hit the dough setting (if your bread machine requires a loaf size then pick large).
Allow the bread machine to do it’s thing. Don’t open the lid during this process! When the bread machine is done you will have perfectly proofed dough that is ready for rolling out.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a 13 x 19 inch rectangle. (see below for detailed pictures).
Spread the softened butter all over the top and then sprinkle liberally with the filling.
Roll up the dough and slice into 16 symmetrical rolls.
Place the rolls into 2 greased 9-inch round baking pans (8 rolls in each pan).
Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap (don’t forget to grease the plastic wrap or your dough will stick to it).
Place into a slightly warm area without drafts (I like to turn my oven on for a few minutes, then turn it off and place the rolls on top) and allow the rolls to rise again.
Once doubled in size, carefully remove the plastic wrap and bake the rolls at 325 until golden brown, about 13-16 minutes.
Top with cream cheese icing.
Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls: Traditional Dough method (with pictures)
Lower the oven rack to it’s lowest position and remove additional racks to make room for the dough bowl. Turn the oven on to lowest temp (mine is 170) for about 5 minutes and then turn the oven off and continue to step 2.
Add the dough ingredients (in the order listed) to a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.
Turn the stand mixer on low until the all the ingredients are combined and then knead on medium-high for 4-5 minutes. The dough will form into a ball on the hook. The dough will also be on the sticky/wet side, but if it seems too wet then feel free to add a little additional flour.
4. Keep the dough in the stand mixer bowl, cover loosely with a damp cloth or a proofing bag. Place the dough bowl on the lowest rack in the oven.
5. Allow the dough to rise undisturbed until it doubles in height, about 90 minutes. See the fluffiness compared to the above picture? This is what you want.
6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a rectangle that is roughly 13 inches by 19 inches. Spread the softened butter all over the top.
7. Sprinkle liberally with the filling (brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder). Yes, I found a way to add chocolate to my cinnamon rolls. Give it a try. It adds a depth of flavor to the filling and takes it to the next level. No one will ever know why this filling is so good. It will be our little secret.
8. Roll up the dough and slice into 16 symmetrical rolls.
9. Place the rolls into 2 greased 9-inch round baking pans (8 rolls per pan).
10. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap (the greased part is important or the dough will stick to the plastic).
11. Allow the cinnamon rolls to do a second rise in the pan in a warm place.
12. Once doubled in size, carefully remove the plastic wrap and bake the rolls at 325 until golden brown, about 13-16 minutes.
13. While the cinnamon rolls are baking, make your vanilla cream icing. This stuff is addicting. I use it on everything. Brownies, cookies, cakes, as a filling. Or just eat it by its self. It’s that good.
14. Remove the cinnamon rolls from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before icing and serving.
Tips for making the best cinnamon rolls
Make sure your yeast is still active and alive. To test this you can add a pinch of yeast and a pinch of sugar to one cup of warm water and stir to combine. If you notice bubbles within 10 minutes then the yeast is active and alive, if not then the yeast has gone bad and should be tossed.
Make sure the milk is not too hot. The milk should be warm to help activate the yeast, but if it’s too hot it will kill the yeast.
Plan your baking time in advance. The whole process from start to finish will take at least 3.5 hours. So if you are wanting these rolls for breakfast you may need to do one of the following:
Get up REALLY early.
Put them in refrigerator overnight and bake in the morning. After placing the rolls in the pan, put plastic wrap on top, and then place them in the refrigerator. In the morning, remove them from the refrigerator. They will have risen some over night and then you can allow them to finish rising in a warm spot for about another hour before baking.
You can freeze the cinnamon rolls by placing them in a single row on a baking sheet and placing in the freezer (after you have sliced the dough into rolls, but prior to the second rise). Once the cinnamon rolls are frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag for storage. When you are ready to use them, place them into a greased 9-inch pan, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, take them out of the refrigerator and allow them to rise at room temperature before baking.
Looking for additional Missouri Girl Home breakfast recipes?
Are you already hungry and need something to eat while you wait for those cinnamon rolls to rise? Here are just a few of my favorite Missouri Girl Home breakfast recipes:
Healthy breakfast recipes
- Easy Oatmeal pancakes
- Blueberry baked oatmeal cups
- Sweet Potato breakfast burrito
- Banana Nut Farro Bowl
Decadent breakfast recipes
- Cinnamon Streusel Muffins
- Christmas Morning Blueberry Muffins
- Secret Ingredient Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes
- Pumpkin Spice Buttermilk Waffles
Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls With Homemade Vanilla Cream Frosting
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp warm milk
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 2 large egg whites lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 cups all purpose flour (more may be needed if dough seems too wet)
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tsp active dry yeast
- extra flour for rolling dough out
- 4 tbsp salted butter softened
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp +1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
Vanilla Cream Icing:
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 stick butter softened
- 1 tsp 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
MAKE THE DOUGH AND FIRST RISE:
Bread Maker Method:
- Add the dough ingredients to the bread maker in the order listed.
- Turn the bread machine on and hit the dough setting (if your bread machine requires loaf size then pick large).
- Lower the oven rack to it’s lowest position and remove additional racks to make room for the dough bowl.
- Turn the oven on to lowest temp (mine is 170) for about 5 minutes and then turn oven off.
- Add the dough ingredients (in the order listed) to a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.
- Turn on the stand mixer on low until the all the ingredients are combined and then knead on medium high for about 5 minutes.
- The dough will be on the wet side, but if it seems too wet then feel free to add a little additional flour.
- Keep the dough in the stand mixer bowl, cover loosely with a proofing bag or a plastic grocery store bag.
- Place the dough bowl on the lowest shelf in the oven.
- Allow the dough to rise undisturbed until it doubles in height, about 90 minutes.
Make the filling:
- Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder in a small bowl, set aside.
Form the rolls and seconds rise:
- Remove the risen dough form the bread machine or from the stand mixer bowl (depending method used).
- Roll out dough on a floured surface into a rectangle that is roughly 13 inches by 19 inches.
- Spread the softened butter all over the top and then sprinkle liberally with the filling.
- Roll up the dough and sliced into 16 symmetrical rolls (I will sometime cut off each end before slicing so that the rolls are even).
- Place 8 rolls into 2 greased 9-inch round baking pans.
- Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap (this is important or the dough will stick to the plastic).
- Place into a slightly warm area (I like to turn my oven on for about 1-2 minutes, then turn it off and place the rolls on top) and allow the rolls to rise again, until double in size.
- Preheat the oven to 325.
- Bake the cinnamon rolls for 13-16 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the rolls are baked through.
- Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before adding the icing.
Make the icing:
- Combine the softened cream cheese and the softened butter in a small bowl.
- Cream with a hand mixer until well combined.
- Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and mix well. Pour over the warm cinnamon rolls and serve.