This recipe for Homemade Cinnamon Rolls makes cinnamon rolls that are soft, easy to make, and frosted with sweet homemade cream cheese frosting. They take a little time to make but the end result is worth every minute!
Intimidated Using Yeast?
If you have never used yeast it may seem intimidating. Here are a few tips to make it a bit easier:
- Use instant yeast, quick-rising yeast, or rapid rise yeast (also called bread machine yeast). This type of yeast makes a yeast dough recipe almost fail proof! There is no proofing needed (although I still proof it every time to be safe). This yeast isn’t as hard to use. You can just add the yeast in with all of your ingredients (even though you can do this, I still proof it like I stated before). It can be a fast rising yeast, cutting time off of a recipe.
- You need a liquid and a sugar to feed the yeast to activate it. Sugar and honey can be used interchangeably for this.
- Using instant yeast makes the process a little more forgiving. The temperature of the water (or milk) doesn’t have to be so exact. If it is a little too hot or a little too cool the recipe should still work great. If you are using active yeast the temperature matters. If it is too hot, it will kill the yeast; too cool it won’t proof/activate.
- Using instant yeast usually means you don’t have to let your breads rise twice. For a lot of my recipes I still have two rises. let my dough raise until doubled in size, roll them out and then let them raise again. This isn’t always needed like my Easy French Bread recipe…it has only one rise.
- If you use active dry yeast, you will need to watch the water temperature a bit more and make sure you proof your yeast. Proofing it will let you know the yeast is not dead and will ensure your breads rise.
- Store your yeast in the fridge for up to 4 months. It needs to be kept in a cool, dry place in a sealed container. Not doing so could result in dead yeast, which means no rise. You can also freeze it for up to 6 months. It just may take a little bit longer for it to activate when proofing.
Cinnamon Roll Dough
I use instant yeast for this recipe. I still proof my yeast, even though it is not necessary with instant yeast. I want to make sure it is not dead and will work in the recipe.
I proof my yeast by adding it to my stand mixer with sugar and warm milk. I heat my milk in the microwave then pour it into my mixing bowl. Then I add the sugar and instant yeast. I give it a little stir and then let it proof.
Let the mixture sit for a few minutes. If you watch it you will see the yeast start to bubble up and get foamy. This means the yeast is active and will work its magic and the dough will rise!
Once the yeast is proofed/activated you are ready to make your cinnamon roll dough and add in the other ingredients.
Add in your partially melted butter.
Then your beaten egg, and salt. Mix it until it is all mixed together.
Next add in your flour.
Start with 2 cups and mix it in fully.
Slowly add the remaining flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl and is only slightly sticky. It should stick to your fingers just a bit but not make your hands messy. You may not add the entire 3 cups. Add the amount needed to get the right consistency of dough.
Cover the mixing bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let it raise until doubled in size. About 45 minute to an hour. (If you turn on your oven and put the bowl of dough near it, the heat will help it rise faster.
The Pan for Baking
You can use a half sheet pan or a 9×13 baking pan for these cinnamon rolls.
I prefer a half sheet pan for baking cinnamon rolls. They aren’t as squished on the pan and seem to bake better in my opinion. I always feel like the rolls rise and are squished in a 9×13 pan and the middle cinnamon rolls don’t ever seem to bake all the way through. (Maybe I’m the problem, not the pan!)
If you want to use a 9×13 pan, that is great. Grease it and set it aside.
If using a half sheet pan, grease it or use parchment paper.
While the cinnamon rolls raise, make your cinnamon roll filling.
Add the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon to a bowl and mix it together. Your butter should be soft, not melted or it will make a mess when spreading it on the dough. Set it aside.
Making the Cinnamon Rolls
After the dough has doubled in size, on a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a 12×18 inch rectangle. The size doesn’t have to exact.
Then spread the cinnamon filling on the dough. I have found using the back of a spoon spreads the cinnamon filling better than a spoon, knife or your hands. Spread it as evenly as you can.
Then roll your dough on the long end (lengthwise). Try and keep the ends as even as you can.
Using dental floss or a sharp knife cut the roll into 12 equal pieces. I have to admit, mine never come out completely even (see the photos)!
Place each cinnamon roll on your parchment paper lined or greased baking sheet or in your greased 9×13 pan. Cover again with the same clean kitchen towel. Let the rolls raise for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Remember, if using a 9×13 pan the rolls will raise and squish into each other and will raise a bit more in the oven, sometimes causing the center to ”pop” up. If this happens, just gently push it back down.
Baking Cinnamon Rolls
After the rolls have doubled in size, place them in the oven to bake. (I only have a photo of them doubled in size in a 9×13 pan…they will raise a bit more as they bake).
Bake them for about 15 minutes. Check on them the last few minutes. You know they are done with the tops get a nice toasted brown color to them and the cinnamon filling is melted and gooey looking.
Cream Cheese Frosting
I LOVE cream cheese frosting. I use it in almost every recipe that needs a frosting (unless it calls for chocolate frosting.) It is smooth, sweet and creamy and make the perfect homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting.
Add your ingredients into your mixing bowl and mix it until it is smooth and creamy. Make sure your cream cheese and butter are softened all the way so the frosting isn’t lumpy.
Finishing the Cinnamon Rolls
Once the cinnamon rolls are baked, you can immediately frost them so the frosting can melt on them and sinks into the rolled layers. If you want to wait to frost the until they cool that is great too. But really, what is better than a warm, frosted homemade cinnamon roll!?!
Enjoy your homemade cinnamon rolls!! Nothing is better than a warm fresh cinnamon roll, but they are yummy the next day too. Pop it in the microwave for about 10 seconds just to warm it a bit and enjoy them all over again (if they last until the next day).
Try my Cinnamon Twists (faster than cinnamon rolls and just as tasty)!
For some other recipes that use my cream cheese frosting recipe try my Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting, my Banana Cookies with cream cheese frosting or my Sheet Pan Brownies with cream cheese frosting, or my Pumpkin Bars with cream cheese frosting.
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Homemade Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
Cinnamon Roll Dough
- 1 cup warm milk *warm it in the microwave for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on high- it should be warm enough but not too hot if you were to drink it
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp instant or rapid rise (bread machine) yeast
- 4 tbsp butter, partially melted * 1/2 stick of butter, not fully melted- salted or unsalted, either works
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups all purpose flour *add more or less as needed-see notes
- 1/2 cup butter, softened not melted *1 stick, salt or unsalted, either works
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup butter, softened *1 stick, salted or unsalted, either works
- 8 oz. cream cheese *one block
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 to 3 cups powdered sugar *add more or less to your liking to get it as sweet and as thick as you like
Cinnamon Roll Dough
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease a 9×13 baking dish.Use whichever pan you prefer…see notes below.
- In a stand mixer, using the dough hook, add your sugar and warm milk. Then add your yeast. Give it a little mix with a spoon and then let it sit for a few minute to “proof”. The yeast mixture should get foamy and bubbly. This means the yeast is alive and will work!
- Next, add your partially melted butter and mix the ingredients together on low speed just so they are mixed a bit. Next add your slightly beaten egg and mix it again on low.
- Add your salt, mix it on low for a few seconds. Then add 2 cups of the flour. Start out mixing it on low speed then increase the speed as the flour mixes in.
- Add the last cup of flour a little at a time until the dough is pulling away from the sides of the mixing bowl and the dough is soft and slightly sticky. Add more or less flour as needed. Once you get the right amount of flour in the dough, let it mix and knead itself on medium-high speed until the dough is soft and smooth.TIP: You will know you have added enough flour when your hands stick to the dough but do end up covered in sticky dough. You shoud be able to pull your fingers away and not have too much dough stick to them. See the photo above in the blog post.
- Leave the dough in the bowl and cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to one hour.
Cinnamon Filling (make while the dough rises in the bowl before rolling them out)
- In a medium sized bowl mix your softened butter, brown sugar and cinnmon together. Set aside.
Rolling out the Cinnamon Rolls
- Once the dough has doubled in size, roll out the dough into a large rectangle (About 12×18 inches roughly). Using the back of the spoon, or your fingers, spread the cinnamon filling on the dough leaving just a little bit of an edge around the dough (see photos above).
- Roll the dough up from the long end (lengthwise) so you have a long roll. Place the long roll seam side down to cut. Then cut the long roll into 12 equal pieces. Use a sharp knife or dental floss to cut the cinnamon rolls into pieces.
- Place each roll on the parchment paper lined baking sheet evenly spaced, or in the greased 9×13 baking pan.Use whichever pan your prefer…see notes below
- Cover the cinnamon rolls with a clean kitchen towel and let them raise again until doubled in size, or about 45 minutes to one hour.
Baking Time-Preheat your oven to 350°F
- Make sure to preheat your oven to 350F. You can place your pan of rolls next to the oven so they will raise faster.
- Once the rolls are doubled in size, let them bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes. Check them at the 15 minute mark. You will know they are done when the tops of the rolls are golden brown and the filling is gooey and melty. *Every oven cooks different. Cooking times are just an estimate.*If using a 9×13 pan the baking time may need to be a bit longer so the rolls in the center of the pan can get baked completely. If the rolls are getting too brown on top lay a piece of foil on the top of them and let them bake until done in the very center.
Cream Cheese Frosting – make while the rolls bake
- In a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), add all of the frosting ingredients and mix them together until smooth and creamy. Add more or less powdered sugar to your liking.*if the cream cheese and butter are not super soft the frosting may be lumpy
- Frost the rolls after they have baked when they are warm so the frosting melts on them. If you prefer to have the rolls cool before frosting them that is fine too!
- Enjoy!The rolls can be covered with foil in the pan and enjoyed the next day. Pop the cinnmon roll in the microwave for a few seconds and they will taste just as good as they did when they were fresh!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated and should only be used as an approximation.