Learn how to make sweet, fluffy homemade cinnamon rolls from scratch. This step-by-step tutorial shows you how to form, fill, and bake delicious cinnamon rolls that are better than store-bought.
How to Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
For this step-by-step demo, we'll follow the recipe for Clone of a Cinnabon. Tip: Be sure to measure out the butter for the filling and icing separately and let them come to room temperature so they'll be ready when you need them for the recipe.
1. Prepare the yeast dough. Once the dough has risen once, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Flatten the dough with the palms of your hands and gently stretch and/or roll it into a rectangle. Related: Learn how to proof yeast and work with yeast dough.
2. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a larger rectangle, approximately 12 inches wide by 20 inches long. The dough might be sticky, so flour the work surface and the rolling pin, checking to be sure the dough isn't stuck to the work surface and adding more flour as necessary.
3. Spread the softened butter over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch strip along the long edge of the rectangle furthest away from you completely dry. (Other recipes call for egg wash instead of butter; if you're using egg wash, brush the entire surface.)
4. Generously sprinkle cinnamon-sugar over the butter, spreading the mixture evenly across the whole sheet of dough. Other spices, such as nutmeg and cardamom, also work well. Adding a pinch of ground cloves to the cinnamon-sugar mixture enhances the cinnamon flavor. Leave the 1-inch border free of sugar.
5. Add any other fillings desired—raisins, nuts, shredded coconut, orange zest—taking care to distribute them evenly.
6. Start at the left-hand corner of the edge closest to you. Working from left to right, tug the lip of the dough up and over the filling, keeping it tight. Roll up the dough, tightening the log as you go.
7. When you reach the far edge of the dough, moisten the bare edge with egg wash or water and pinch to seal the seam.
8. Use a serrated knife, pastry cutter, or length of unwaxed dental floss to cut the dough into even-sized pieces. You might want to discard the very ends of the roll since they often contain little filling.
9. Place the cut rolls on a greased or parchment-lined pan or cookie sheet.
For sticky buns: Prepare the pan with the cinnamon smear and chopped pecans before arranging the rolls.
For pull-apart rolls: Use a baking pan and arrange the rolls about an inch apart.
For individual rolls: Space them two to three inches apart on a cookie sheet.
Cover the rolls with a damp cloth and let them rise until they nearly double in size, about 45 minutes to an hour. The rolls can also be covered with plastic wrap and placed in the refrigerator. The next morning, let the rolls rise at room temperature until doubled, then bake as directed. (The dough can also be frozen for two weeks to one month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature. Proof and bake as directed.)
10. When the rolls have doubled in size, bake them in the preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven. Cinnamon rolls are generally baked at a lower temperature than other breads—if the rolls are close together, the tops will begin to brown before the edges and centers are done. If the rolls begin browning too soon, cover pan with foil.
11. After approximately 30 minutes, test for doneness. Use a paring knife or fork to pull up the center-most roll; if the dough is still sticky and raw-looking, return the pan to the oven for about ten more minutes. The rolls should be golden to dark brown on top, and fully baked in the center of the coil.
12. Cool the pan on a rack about 10 to 15 minutes before icing the rolls.
Cinnamon Roll Icing
It's mighty tempting to ice your oven-fresh cinnamon rolls right away, but you really should let them cool off for a few minutes before drizzling or spreading icing over the top, otherwise the heat will cause the icing to slip right off the rolls. You can use that cooling time to mix The Perfect Cinnamon Roll Icing with cream cheese, butter, confectioners' sugar, milk, and vanilla. Tip: Make sure the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature so they cream together smoothly.
More Ways to Make Cinnamon Rolls
- Yeast-Free Cinnamon Rolls eliminate the wait for yeast dough to rise, but they're still light and fluffy.
- Yes, you can make cinnamon rolls from frozen bread dough. It's so easy!
- Make Johnson Family Cinnamon Rolls in your bread machine.
- Quick Cinnamon Rolls are made with no yeast, no proofing, and no kneading.
- Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls are made with gluten-free bread flour mix.
- Use refrigerated biscuit dough to make Best Ever Cinnamon Pull Apart rolls.
- Apple Walnut Cinnamon Rolls are made with refrigerated crescent rolls.
- And of course there are Vegan Cinnamon Rolls.
- Ooey-Gooey Cinnamon Buns are baked on top of a mixture of pecans, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon to make a rich and nutty glaze when you turn out the pan.
Cinnamon Roll Fillings
- Grandma's Orange Rolls with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting are made tangy with plenty of orange zest and orange juice.
- Ground cardamom adds subtle spice to Danish Cinnamon Snails.
- Soft, Moist, and Gooey Cinnamon Buns have an optional sprinkling of walnuts and raisins in the filling.
Explore our entire collection of cinnamon roll recipes.
- Discover inventive treats you can make with ready-made refrigerated cinnamon roll dough, including bacon-stuffed cinnamon rolls and cinnamon roll bunnies.