Easy Cinnamon Roll Recipe

Who doesn't love waking up to the delicious smell of fresh baked cinnamon rolls? Well guess what? You don't have to book a reservation at a bed and breakfast to make this dream a reality. Because you too can bake delicious, and yes, easy cinnamon rolls for your family, guests, or hey, just for you! 

Mark Beahm, who blogs at Sunday Baker, and says he's loved baking for as long as he can remember, assures Mashed about his recipe, "This is definitely a recipe for a cinnamon roll novice! You can mix the dough in one bowl, and you don't need a stand mixer or even a hand mixer." He adds, "You can mix and knead the dough by hand. Because the recipe uses instant yeast, you don't have to proof the yeast first, so you can just add the yeast right in with the dry ingredients."

We love approachable pastries, and perhaps what makes these so appealing is that, as Beahm explained, "This is a great recipe for a weekend morning when you're craving cinnamon rolls for breakfast, but you didn't plan ahead." He added, "A lot of cinnamon rolls rise overnight or take several hours, but you can make these as a last minute decision. They're also great for a holiday breakfast."

Still, if you're new to baking cinnamon rolls (guilty!), Beahm has some great advice: "Read the steps ahead of time before diving in, but don't worry too much. This is a great beginner recipe for cinnamon rolls." Besides, as he notes, "Frosting hides a lot of mistakes!"

Gather your cinnamon roll dough ingredients

Perhaps the best way to approach this recipe is to divide it into three separate sections. First, you'll gather your dough ingredients, many of which you probably already have in your pantry: all purpose flour, granulated sugar, a packet of instant yeast, salt, whole milk, unsalted butter, and a room temperature egg. As for why Beahm chose unsalted butter to create his easy cinnamon rolls, he told Mashed, "I always prefer to bake with unsalted butter. Different brands of butter have different salt contents. This way, you have more control over the amount of salt in your recipe." 

He also shared the best way to get butter — and cream cheese for that matter, which you'll need later — to room temperature. "If you plan ahead, you can pull the cream cheese and butter from your refrigerator the night before. By morning they should be softened. But even if you make these last second, if you pull the butter and cream cheese out when you start making the dough, by the time the cinnamon rolls are baked they should be soft enough to mix the frosting."

Gather your filling ingredients

Secondly, you'll pull your filling ingredients together. Again, you'll likely have these staples in the house already, and if not, they are certainly easy to acquire: unsalted butter, dark brown sugar, and cinnamon. We asked Beahm about why he loves this classic spice in this recipe, as opposed to say, nutmeg. "I'm a purist, and the filling is very cinnamon-y," he says.

You may be more accustomed to using light brown sugar in recipes, but the dark brown sugar is what brings a lot of the magic to these cinnamon rolls. Like its lighter counterpart, dark brown sugar is made with molasses... just more of it. Because of that, the color is darker, the flavor is stronger, and it brings even more moisture to your recipe. 

Gather your frosting ingredients for the perfect cinnamon rolls

Third, you'll gather your frosting ingredients. Once again, there is nothing exotic here, supporting Beahm's notion that this recipe truly is accessible even if you've never attempted cinnamon rolls before. 

You will need cream cheese, unsalted butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. That's it! We asked the baker why he chose confectioners' sugar — also known as powdered sugar — for the icing, and as he explained, "Granulated sugar wouldn't mix properly and the frosting would be gritty." You don't want that! Now, on to the preparation of your dough.

Prepare the cinnamon roll dough

Okay, don't chicken out now! Making cinnamon roll dough is not as hard as it may seem. First, you'll simply whisk together your dry ingredients. Then, add your heated milk, melted butter, and the room temperature egg. 

As Beahm notes, "I heated the milk in the microwave, starting with 30 seconds, and then at 10 second intervals until it reached the correct temperature." He adds, "You could also heat it on the stove." As for getting the egg to room temperature, he offers home cooks an easy hack: "Carefully place the egg in a glass or a mug and fill it with hot water from the tap. After about five minutes, the egg will be warm enough to mix with."

Once all of your ingredients are added to your bowl, stir the mixture with a rubber spatula until the dough is formed. Now, on to kneading!

Knead the dough for your cinnamon rolls

The good news on the kneading front is you don't need a food processor, or an electric or hand mixer for this recipe. "You can mix by hand," confirms Beahm. Go ahead and lightly dust your work surface with flour and then knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. This will take about five minutes. You want to wait until your dough is tacky, which according to Beahm means, "The dough shouldn't feel dry and it will have a slightly sticky feel, but bits of dough won't stick onto your hands or the counter." 

Once your dough has reached this stage, transfer it to a lightly-greased bowl, cover it with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel, and let it rest for ten minutes.

Prepare your cinnamon roll filling

The time you're waiting for the dough to rest is the perfect opportunity to make the filling for your cinnamon rolls. And this step is super easy. Simply combine your softened butter, dark brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl until it reaches a smooth consistency. Set the filling aside — you'll be using it in just a few minutes. Anyone getting hungry? Us too!

Roll out your cinnamon roll dough

Once ten minutes has passed, transfer your dough to a well-floured surface, and grab your trust rolling pin. You're going to want to dust your work surface with a little flour before you get started to keep it from sticking — and to make it easier to roll when the time comes. 

Roll out the dough to roughly a 14x9-inch rectangle. As Beahm told Mashed, "You can use a ruler, but the measurement is more of a guideline." Now grab your filling!

Add the cinnamon to your cinnamon roll

Now it's time to spread the filling over your dough — Beahm says, "You can use a rubber spatula, an offset spatula if you have one, or even the back of a spoon" for this step. Just be sure to leave a bit of a margin at the top of the dough.

Next is the fun part! 

Slice the cinnamon roll into buns

Next, roll your dough snugly into a log. Then, you'll cut 1-inch sections using a serrated knife, aiming to create 10-12 rolls. Finally, go ahead and arrange your rolls, laying flat, into a 9x9-inch baking pan. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap. 

Sorry, but the next step is tough — you have to wait about an hour for your dough to rise. When they are ready to bake, Beahm says, "The rolls will have roughly doubled in size. If you press a roll with your finger, it should leave an indent that slowly rises back."

If you simply cannot stand waiting an hour, Beahm says there is another way. You can preheat the oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, then turn the oven off. Place your cinnamon rolls in the oven, with door left cracked, and let them rise for about 30 minutes. 

Prepare your cinnamon roll frosting

Place your ready-to-bake cinnamon rolls in a preheated 350 degree oven with the plastic wrap removed. They will be ready in just about another 20 minutes — you want them to be just slightly golden brown. While you wait about five to ten minutes for the rolls to cool (so difficult!), prepare your frosting. 

In a medium mixing bowl, you'll whisk together room temperature butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. 

Frost the cinnamon rolls

The very final step before digging into this delicious breakfast is to spread the frosting over the warm cinnamon rolls. Beahm says about his favorite way to enjoy this delectable meal, "I serve them with lots of hot coffee!" That sounds absolutley perfect to us. 

Easy Cinnamon Roll Recipe
4.9 from 102 ratings
Who doesn't love waking up to the delicious smell of fresh baked cinnamon rolls? You don't have to book a reservation at a hotel to make this dream a reality.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Finished cinnamon rolls
Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • 2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast (1 packet)
  • ½ plus ⅛ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ cup whole milk, heated to 115 degrees Fahrenheit
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, and ½ teaspoon of salt.
  2. Pour in the milk, melted butter, and the egg, and stir with a rubber spatula until the dough comes together.
  3. Lightly dust your work surface with flour and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about five minutes. The dough will be tacky, but shouldn't stick to the counter or your hands.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover loosely, and let the dough rest for ten minutes.
  5. While the dough is resting, make the filling. In a small bowl, combine the 3 tablespoons of the softened butter with brown sugar and cinnamon until smooth.
  6. After 10 minutes, transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and roll out to a 14x9-inch rectangle. Spread the filling over the dough, leaving a bit of margin at the top. Roll the dough snugly into a log and cut into 1-inch sections with a serrated knife. You should get 10-12 cinnamon rolls.
  7. Place the cinnamon rolls into a greased 9x9 inch baking pan or a 9-inch round cake pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rise until doubled in size, about 60 minutes*.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the plastic and bake the cinnamon rolls for 20 minutes, until just slightly golden brown. Let them cool for 5-10 minutes before frosting.
  9. While the cinnamon rolls cool, make the frosting. In a medium mixing bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of butter with cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and ⅛ teaspoon of salt with a whisk or rubber spatula until smooth. Spread over the cinnamon rolls and serve.
Calories per Serving 369
Total Fat 15.5 g
Saturated Fat 9.2 g
Trans Fat 0.4 g
Cholesterol 57.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 52.7 g
Dietary Fiber 1.7 g
Total Sugars 24.9 g
Sodium 173.9 mg
Protein 5.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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