Homemade Cinnamon Rolls {Cinnabon Copycat}

The best homemade cinnamon rolls ever! If you love gooey cinnamon buns, here’s the secret ingredient. Everyone raves about these homemade yeast rolls. You may also love our orange rolls! 

Cinnamon rolls are one of the BEST breakfasts. You can make quick and easy cinnamon rolls or you can make cinnamon roll pancakes or bread pudding, but one of the most delicious way to serve cinnamon rolls is with this Homemade Cinnamon Roll recipe.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls {Cinnabon Copycat}

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

It’s been almost 5 years coming. The girls didn’t want me to do it, but we’re finally sharing our secret ingredient cinnamon rolls. The from-scratch breakfast sweet rolls that everyone craves. Gooey homemade cinnamon rolls. Our best recipe that we’ve been serving friends and family on holidays and any other day for over 15 years.

We’ll get to the secret ingredient, but let’s start right into how to make these sweet rolls, because I know you don’t want to waste any time. The exact directions and rising times are in the recipe box below, but here are some hints for making cinnamon rolls.

How do you make cinnamon rolls?

When I originally set out to make the best cinnamon roll recipe, I started with this bread dough. Over that year as I tweaked the recipe, I made the dough just a tad bit sweeter. The ingredients are very basic.

  • I like to use Red Star Platinum yeast which is an instant yeast. This means you don’t have to let the yeast “proof”. If you don’t use instant yeast, be sure to allow the yeast to proof in the warm milk until it is frothy. This will take an extra 5 minutes or so.
  • Be sure that your milk is warm to activate the yeast, but not too hot so that it kills the yeast (about 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit). You’ll also want to warm the butter so it is soft and mixes in easily.
  • Bring the eggs to room temperature also by placing them in a glass of warm water before adding them to the mix. If the ingredients are not cold, they’ll help the yeast to do what it needs to do quickly and give a beautiful rise to your cinnamon rolls.

After you have the ingredients added, it’s time to mix the dough.  In the video I use a stand mixer to mix the dough. If you have bread machine you can use the dough setting to make this extremely easy. Or, go the old-fashioned route and get those hands working by kneading the bread without a mixer. Any way works. If you decide to knead with your hands, be careful not to add too much flour. The dough is supposed to be tacky, which is what keeps these homemade cinnamon rolls soft.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls {Cinnabon Copycat}

**Pro Tip: Again…it’s important to note that the dough will be tacky and soft. It shouldn’t completely stick all over your hands, but if you touch it should feel tacky and not dry and floury. Don’t be tempted to keep adding flour!**

Cinnamon Roll Filling

We use three ingredients in our homemade cinnamon rolls filling:

  • softened (almost melted) butter (oh…and you should try our brown butter cinnamon rolls if you love butter!)
  • brown sugar
  • cinnamon

You can add a touch of vanilla extract if you’d like. We find it’s not necessary, but feel free to do so. Mix this all together while the cinnamon rolls are rising. This only takes a few minutes!

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls {Cinnabon Copycat}

How to Roll Cinnamon Rolls

After you let the dough rise in a greased covered bowl until it is double in size, you’re ready to roll the cinnamon rolls. Use a pastry mat sprinkled with flour to keep the dough from sticking.

Remember…the dough will be tacky and this is the point where it is ok to add flour on the pastry mat and on top of the dough itself for easy rolling. You’ll find this dough is very easy to roll out. If it is too much of an arm workout, you’ve most likely added too much flour.

After you’ve rolled the dough, spread the cinnamon filling on top and roll-up jelly-roll style. Cut into as many rolls as you’d like. We like to do 12 rolls for a 9×13 pan (which end up deliciously large!) or if we need to feed a bigger crowd, 15 rolls in a 10×15 baking pan.

*Note: the rolls will be more evenly if they are spread out in a 10×15 baking pan.*

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls {Cinnabon Copycat}

Gooey Cinnamon Rolls: Cinnabon Copycat Recipe

Before I had this homemade cinnamon rolls recipe, I was addicted to Cinnabon cinnamon rolls. They were large, soft, and gooey. I’m all about the gooey. I searched and searched (mostly recipe books because recipe websites were not a huge thing back then) and finally found a key idea.

Add heavy cream to the cinnamon buns before baking. THIS is the secret ingredient and what makes the rolls rich and gooey. Cinnabon copycat recipe? That’s not what I was going for, but I think we pretty much got it.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls {Cinnabon Copycat}

Here’s how you do it. After the cinnamon rolls are rolled into their pretty swirls and you’ve allowed them to rise in the pan…right before they are ready to bake, warm heavy cream in a small bowl.

Why warm the cream? Because your rolls have risen in warmth and you don’t want to add refrigerator-cold cream to your cinnamon rolls. Adding warm (not hot!) heavy cream will keep the rolls rising as they should during baking. Pour the heavy cream overtop all of the rolls and watch that rich cream soak in and around the cinnamon roll dough.

  • Can you make the cinnamon rolls without heavy cream? Yes.
  • Will they be good? Yes.
  • Will they be as gooey? No.

I find that the heavy cream helps the filling of the cinnamon rolls to be smoother and not as grainy. So just try it, K?

Note: If you don’t have cream, use half and half, coffee creamer, evaporated milk, whole milk or coconut cream. Any of these will work. Even 2% milk will work, but we prefer a higher fat milk.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls {Cinnabon Copycat}

Cinnamon Roll Frosting

After the homemade cinnamon rolls have baked and look like cinnamon heaven, it’s time to frost them. You can use a simple powdered sugar glaze or a store-bought fluffy white frosting if you’d like. But we prefer our cream cheese icing.

This frosting contains butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese and extract (either vanilla or maple). You could even throw in a touch of cinnamon to make a cinnamon glaze. We’ve done it all!

You can add the icing while the rolls are warm and allow it to soak in, or if you’d like a pretty frosted look, spread the cream cheese icing on when the rolls are at room temperature.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls {Cinnabon Copycat}

And that my friends, is one of our BEST family recipes. My girls were hesitant to share our family secret ingredient for homemade cinnamon rolls, but so many of you have asked, they reluctantly agreed because they love you and want to see you happy. 🙂

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

We often make the cinnamon rolls and get them to the point of the second rise (when they are rolled out, cut up and put in the pan). Cover and refrigerate until morning.

The morning you want to bake them, pull them out of the refrigerator. They may have doubled in size in the fridge overnight. If they have, let them sit for 30 minutes to get the chill off, then bake.

If they did not rise in the fridge overnight, allow them to rise at room temperature. Plan about at least an hour for this. Then pour on the cream and let them bake.

Can you freeze cinnamon roll dough before baking?

Yes! Make the cinnamon rolls and get them to the point of the second rise (when they are rolled out, cut up and put in the pan). Place them on a pan (not touching) and put them in the freezer for about 1 hour. Then place the rolls in a zippered bag.

When you’re ready to bake the rolls, plan ahead and put the rolls in the fridge to defrost overnight. Then pull them out of the refrigerate and allow them to rise the morning you want to bake them. Plan about at least an hour for this so you aren’t waiting too long! Allow them to do their second rise, then bake as normal.

What You Need to Make Cinnamon Rolls

  • Stand Mixer: Ok, you don’t 100% need this, but it does make life easier.
  • Red Star Yeast: My favorite yeast! It’s so forgiving and I have perfect baked goods, every time.
  • Saigon Cinnamon: The best flavored cinnamon.
  • Pastry Mat: This makes clean-up a breeze.
  • Dough Cutter: I JUST got one of these. What have I done without it all these years? Works as a scraper too, to get stuck-on dough off surfaces.
  • Baking Pan 9×13 or 10×15, depending on what you need.

Remember…we like to celebrate with GIANT CINNAMON ROLLS!

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