This is my version of the best homemade cinnamon rolls! It is big, soft, fluffy and totally delicious bread swirls with cream cheese frosting. You can make this recipe ahead of time and freeze them.
I've been craving for this delectable treat and it took me 3 tries to perfect it! For me, that's an achievement!
In this article, I answered some questions you might have in mind to make the best homemade cinnamon rolls! I've also listed down some pro-tips, I hope you can try this recipe and let me know how it goes for you!
Which yeast to use?
I prefer to use instant dry yeast for this recipe because I can immediately mix it with other ingredients. It does not require proofing so I am able to save 10-15 minutes of preparation time.
The other type of yeast is active dry yeast, it requires to be dissolved with warm liquid. This process is called 'proofing', if the yeast is active it will start bubbling. By then, you can use it and mix it with other dough ingredients.
Making this delicious treat does not require too complicated ingredients. Here are what you'll need to make the best homemade cinnamon rolls:
- Flour: plain flour or all-purpose flour can be used for this recipe. It has a high protein level that helps to produce more gluten, thus making the cinnamon rolls soft and chewy. You may use bread flour as a substitute.
- Milk: I use full-cream milk, put it in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm the milk. Do not overheat the milk especially if you are using active dry yeast. It might kill the yeast and will not bloom at all. As an alternative, you may use almond or soy milk.
- Sugar: it is essential to add sugar as it helps to activate the yeast.
- Salt: don't skip this! It will enhance the flavor of the bread.
- Yeast: use instant dry yeast to rise it faster. You may also use active dry yeast but the proofing time will be slightly slower.
- Butter: this recipe calls for unsalted butter, I use it for the dough, filling and frosting.
- Brown Sugar: to achieve the powerful brown color, use dark brown sugar.
- Cinnamon: You cannot miss this!
- Cream cheese: You cannot go wrong with cream cheese for the frosting! It is creamy and delicious!
How to Make Cinnamon Rolls?
Start by making the dough, combine the milk, butter and sugar. Mix thoroughly until the sugar is dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast, if you are using active dry yeast, you need to wait about 10 minutes to proof the yeast.
Next, add the flour and salt, mix until well combined and very sticky. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for an hour. I like to pre-heat the oven at 100°C or 212°F then turn it off and place the dough inside to get it nice and cozy warm.
While waiting, make the filling by combining the melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. I know others like to spread the ingredients separately however, I prefer to mix them together before spreading it to the dough. This way, I am sure that I don't have any spots that do not have one of those ingredients.
Once the dough has doubled in size, add another cup of flour. Mix using a spatula and start to knead manually for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer and mix for 6 minutes or until very smooth and it should spring back when poked.
Stretch, flatten and roll the dough into a large rectangle. I used a dough scraper to fix the edges and achieve an almost perfect rectangle.
Spread the filling evenly on top of the dough. Take your time to do this! You want to make sure all spots are covered.
Roll up the dough into a log. I found out that it creates a more spiral effect when rolled horizontally. So you can do it either left to right or right to left. Use the weight of your hand to roll it tightly. If there is a particular fat part, stretch it out to make it even.
I used unflavored dental floss to cut and divide the rolls. This hack is a genius! Trust me, I tried cutting it with a dough scraper or knife but it squish the dough and kinda push down the rolls.
Place the rolls in a prepare greased pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for another 30-45 minutes.
Then bake it for 20-25 minutes at 180°C or 356°F. Once cooked, allow it to cool for 10 minutes then put the frosting.
How to make the glaze?
It is so easy to make the cream cheese glaze. Cream the butter and cream cheese using a hand-held mixer until soft and fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, then pour the milk and vanilla extract. It should be homogenous and runny.
When to glaze?
After baking, allow it to cool for 10 minutes then generously drizzle and spread the cream cheese frosting on top of the warm cinnamon rolls.
How to Make Ahead?
If you want to make ahead, place it in a pan with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap, and put it inside the fridge overnight. The following day, allow it to rest at room temperature then rise for 30-45 minutes and bake.
Can it be frozen?
Freezing before baking: After rolling cinnamon rolls, cut and divide them as per instruction and arrange them in an aluminum container. Cover with plastic wrap and put inside the freezer for up to 3 months.
When you are ready to bake, let it thaw inside the refrigerator (preferably overnight). Then, let it rise for 45 minutes to an hour and bake as directed.
Freezing after baking: Allow the cinnamon rolls to cool down completely after baking. Put it in an air-tight container and freeze for up to 3 months. You can freeze them either with or without frosting. When you are ready to eat, defrost them at room temperature, then warm in the oven at 160°C or 320°F for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can re-heat it individually in the microwave for 30 seconds once defrosted.
Make it gluten-free
If you are looking for a delicious treat but want to stick with your gluten-free diet, don't worry this recipe can be easily switched to gluten-free best homemade cinnamon rolls.
There are gluten-free flour that you can now buy in most groceries. Alternatively, you can replace the plain flour with any of the following non-gluten flours:
- Buckwheat Flour
- Cassava Flour
- Almond Flour
- Potato Flour
- Millet Flour
- Chickpea Flour
- Coconut Flour
- Brownrice Flour
- And other gluten-free flours
I would not recommend you to freeze it for more than one week if you choose to do the gluten-free option.
Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
- 2 cups milk warm to touch
- ½ cup granulated white sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted
- 2 tsp instant dry yeast or 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter melted
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ¼ cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- ½ cup cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
To Make The Dough
- In a large bowl, combine the warm milk, melted butter and sugar. Mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add the yeast, if you are using active dry yeast, you need to let it rest for 10 minutes or until it becomes foamy.
- Add 4 cups flour and salt to the milk mixture. Stir using a wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for an hour or until the size is double.
- Once the dough is ready, add the remaining flour and stir until just combined. Transfer unto a clean flat surface, leave a bit of flour on the side to be use as necessary.
- Knead the dough manually for 10 minutes or until it is very smooth and bounce back when poked. Alternatively, mix in a stand-mixer for 6 minutes at speed no. 4.
To Make the Filling:
- In a bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix well and set aside.
To Assemble and Bake:
- Prepare round or rectangle pans, generously grease with canola spray or butter.
- Flatten and roll the dough into a large rectangle about ½ inch thick. Fix the edges using a dough scraper or spatula. Spread the filling evenly over the dough.
- Roll up the dough into a log, you can do it either from left to right or right to left. Place the seam-side at the bottom. Using an unflavored dental floss, cut and divide the log into 15 pieces, about 8-inch thick.
- Place the rolls in a prepared pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for another 30-45 minutes. If you want to freeze them, place it an aluminum tray, cover with plastic wrap and put inside the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C or 356°F. Once the dough has expanded to it's original size, remove the cover and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
- Once the cinnamon rolls are cooked, remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
To Make the Frosting
- In a bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar while whisking. Add the milk and vanilla extract, continously whisk until well blended and the consistency is runny.
- Generously spread the cream cheese frosting over warm cinnamon rolls. Serve immediately and enjoy!