The Biggest Cinnamon Roll Mistake You're Making

Wondering why your homemade cinnamon rolls aren't turning out quite like the ones they sell at Cinnabon? While you might assume it has something to do with a trademarked recipe they hold under lock and key, the truth is that anyone can bake amazing cinnamon rolls at home with a key tip. Cinnamon certainly is a star ingredient, but the secret actually has less to do with the spice and more to do with the butter

According to Miss Vickie, it's really simply the butter that you use that can make or break the final outcome of your gooey pastry. And no, it's not the brand of the butter, or whether it's salted or unsalted, but rather the temperature that matters most. When preparing cinnamon roll dough, you should always be using butter that's slightly softened — and not melted. This ensures the texture of the dough will be both soft and fluffy once baked. After all, no one wants a dense cinnamon roll that's a challenge to pull apart — and if you're using melted butter or cold butter instead of slightly softened butter, that's exactly what you'll likely end up getting.

Why does softened butter in cinnamon rolls make such a big difference?

As with every baking recipe, it all comes down to science. Simply Recipes explains that, the more incorporated the butter is in the dough, the better the cinnamon roll bakes. The best way to achieve this facet is by getting your butter to room temperature so it spreads more easily but isn't liquidy like melted butter. Epicurious further elaborates in a video on YouTube, stating that, by creating thin sheets of butter, this "acts to tenderize dough by shortening the long gluten strands and preventing them from clumping together."

There may be a lot riding on getting the butter texture right when baking with it, but the good news is there's an easy way to tell if yours is up to cinnamon roll standards. "You should be able to easily press your finger all the way through the butter with zero resistance," Simply Recipes explains of knowing when you have the temp just right. "It will feel like lotion." To make things easy on yourself, Simply Recipes also recommends that you leave out the butter that you plan to use the night before. This ensures it will be consistently soft throughout rather than unevenly heated if you had planned to use the microwave to warm it up. Once your butter is the perfect temperature, your cinnamon rolls will be too.