This Is Why Cinnabon's Cinnamon Rolls Are So Delicious

Fact: Cinnabon locations nationwide sell more than 8,000 cinnamon rolls every hour (yes, hour) during the Thanksgiving travel season (as of 2014). That means that in just five days, from the Wednesday before the holiday to the Sunday after it, over 1 million of the ooey gooey treats get gobbled up by drooling travelers. If that's not proof that Cinnabon's cinnamon rolls are jaw-droppingly good, we don't know what is.

Of course, if you've ever eaten one of the giant sweets you know just how delicious they are, but you probably haven't stopped to consider the intricacies of all the deliciousness that you're frantically inhaling. Take a breather from your Cinnabon-eating frenzy and you would notice that it's actually the sum of their parts  — the oh-so-tender dough, the massive amounts of cinnamon and sugar, and the frosting you could eat by the spoonful — that makes them so darn tasty. But what exactly is it about each of those parts that forms one of the best cinnamon rolls you can get your hands on? Let's find out all of Cinnabon's recipe secrets.

The recipe took time to perfect

Cinnabon's cinnamon roll recipe isn't some old family heirloom that was handed down from generation to generation until founder Rich Komen decided to open his first store. No, the cinnamon roll recipe that we've all come to know and love was created especially for Cinnabon, and it took months to perfect. 

Komen recruited Jerilyn Brusseau, a restaurant owner with a background in baking, to create the recipe, and for three months Brusseau made batch after batch attempting to fulfill Komen's request for an "irresistible" cinnamon roll (he'd already had the "Irresistible" sign made up, you see). This irresistible treat also needed to bake in just 14 minutes in a convection oven — the longest Komen had determined people would stand in line. A tall order, to be sure. Komen's son remembers, "I can't tell you how many times I tried something and said, 'This is fantastic!' Dad would come in and spit it out." 

But after sourcing just the right cinnamon, and perfecting a dough that was "both pillowy and able to hold its shape," Brusseau finally hit the jackpot with a recipe that produced a towering cinnamon roll complete with a "sticky-sweet syrup," and "lemony cream cheese icing." It was, indeed, irresistible — so much so that it's gone unchanged since its inception. 

The "goo" is essential

You know you're digging into a Cinnabon cinnamon roll when you see that drool-worthy puddle of brown sugar-cinnamon syrup underneath your pastry. That syrup, which was one of founder Rich Komen's original requirements for the recipe, is lovingly referred to as "goo," and without it, a Cinnabon just wouldn't be the same. In fact, it's such an important part of the Cinnabon experience that former CEO Dennis Waldron is quoted as saying, "If the melted brown sugar, cinnamon and margarine doesn't ooze, it doesn't get served." 

Aside from the "goo factor," there's one other essential element that makes a Cinnabon cinnamon roll oh-so-gooey, and that's the just-barely-cooked middle. Bloomberg notes that "deep inside the roll, the bun's core is hot and yet just barely cooked," and Greg Komen once described the rolls, which get pulled from the oven at 165 degrees rather than 190 degrees, as "medium rare to even rare." Turns out steaks and cinnamon rolls are both better when they're not overcooked.

It's not your usual cinnamon

One of the first things you notice the moment you sink your teeth into a piping hot Cinnabon is that cinnamon flavor. Of course, any cinnamon roll is going to have cinnamon flavor, but Cinnabon doesn't use just any cinnamon. The proprietary blend, trademarked "Makara," is from the Korintjie region of West Sumatra in Indonesia, and it makes all the difference. 

Jennifer Hollwill, Cinnabon's Senior Director of Culinary Research and Development told MyRecipes how it's different from what you'd buy at the grocery store, and why it makes their cinnamon rolls stand out. "We source our cinnamon from a specific growing region, and at very high elevations, and this contributes to the superior quality in the product. The Saigon cinnamon on grocery store shelves is very different. While others may harvest or buy cinnamon from the same Korintje region in Indonesia, Cinnabon has its own specs and quality control measures for the Makara cinnamon used in our products. Specifically, our cinnamon is unique due to its high volatile oil and cellulose content [making its spice robust and more pungent]. It's what provides that unmistakable aroma and ooey-gooey thick consistency to Cinnabon's world famous cinnamon rolls..."

The never-replicated frosting

The five basic components of a Cinnabon cinnamon roll are really pretty standard: Dough, margarine, cinnamon, brown sugar, and frosting. But somehow, even though most cinnamon roll recipes have those same basic components, no others come anywhere close to comparing to the deliciousness that is Cinnabon. Could the thing that puts their classic roll way over the top be that luscious cream cheese frosting that's applied to every roll with a decidedly heavy hand? 

Yes, according to Cinnabon's website, their signature frosting is exactly what puts their rolls over the top. "It's often been imitated but never replicated. The smooth, Ooey-Gooey topping of Cinnabon cream cheese frosting adds another depth of flavor. Painted all over our rolls, it's a final layer to perfection." 

It's hard to disagree with them there. Imagine a world where your Cinnabon is not swimming in frosting — it's not a world we want to live in. 

They've got a lot of sugar

We all know that a Cinnabon cinnamon roll isn't as nutritious as a quinoa-kale salad or a green smoothie. But the thing is, we're not ordering a Cinnabon cinnamon roll because of its nutrients or antioxidants or green-ness.

Does a Cinnabon cinnamon roll have 880 calories? Yes. Does it have 58 grams of sugar? Yes. And does it have 37 grams of fat? Yes. Do we care if one roll is almost half an average 2000 calorie diet? Nope. Do we care if it's more sugar than a human is supposed to consume in one day? Nope. And do we care if it's almost your entire daily recommended intake of fat? No, we do not. 

See, the very reason a Cinnabon cinnamon roll tastes so good is because of all that sugar and fat (and yeah, yeah, sugar is addictive, too). But we all know that we're supposed to eat a balanced diet, and sometimes a balanced diet just happens to include an over-the-top cinnamon roll. 

The smell draws you in

Even if you didn't think you wanted a Cinnabon cinnamon roll, the moment you walk into a mall or an airport and smell that telltale smell, you're done. Suddenly, the only thing you want is a cinnamon roll, and nothing is going to stop you from finding the source of that tantalizing aroma. Think that's a coincidence? It's not.

Cinnabon purposely places their ovens at the front of their stores, so that the smells waft out and grab you when the oven doors open. The ploy works, too — President Kat Cole admitted to the Wall Street Journal (via Eater) that when a test location used an oven in the back of the store, sales dropped "significantly." On top of front and center oven locations, franchisees are instructed to buy the "weakest hood possible," without compromising fire codes, presumably so that more of the cooking odor stays put instead of getting sucked out of the building. And when they're not baking cinnamon rolls every 30 minutes to entice you, employees will even heat up baking sheets full of cinnamon and sugar to keep that impossible-to-resist Cinnabon smell in the air. Genius.

They're always fresh

If it seems like you've never been served a less-than-fresh Cinnabon cinnamon roll, it's because you haven't. Cinnabon bakes a new batch of rolls every 30 minutes, at minimum, so you know you're in for a fresh-from-the-oven treat no matter what time you place your order. You also know that when you dig into the center of that roll, it's going to be nice and warm. It's one of the things that makes the Cinnabon experience so great, every single time.

At some locations, you can even watch as the workers painstakingly roll out the dough to the just-right measurements, douse it with a hefty coating of cinnamon-sugar (that's been precisely weighed, of course), and slice it into even widths. It's all done by hand, and watching the process leaves no doubt in your mind that you're getting a freshly baked cinnamon roll. And the smell that goes along with it won't hurt your feelings either. 

They're even good reheated

So you got a little carried away at the Cinnabon counter and "accidentally" bought a dozen ginormous cinnamon rolls. You could always share all those extras, but if you can't bear to part with even one, nobody would blame you. The good news, according to Cinnabon, is that you can enjoy your ooey gooey treats for days to come, and they'll be just as delicious. 

The company recommends keeping them on the counter (if you'll be eating them within a few days), and reheating in the microwave for 20-25 seconds. This should bring all that glorious goo back to life. You can also freeze the cinnamon rolls for up to 30 days, then thaw and reheat in the microwave. Imagine how happy future you will be with past you when a Cinnabon craving strikes and you realize you don't even have to drive to the mall to satisfy it.