Best-Ever Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Start your morning on the sweeter side with these soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls. Tender, buttery dough swirled with a delicious cinnamon-sugar filling is topped with a just-sweet-enough cream cheese icing for an unforgettable breakfast treat. Make these for a delightful weekend morning, an indulgent brunch, or a sweet holiday morning.

A rectangular baking pan lined with parchment paper with cinnamon roll covered in cream cheese icing on a counter with a stack of plates in the back right.

Friends, I am so, SO excited to share these cinnamon rolls with you today! They are quite literally the best I have ever had and cannot wait for you to try them, too. I went through batch after batch, tweaking a bit here and there, until I arrived at this recipe.

The dough is soft and fluffy, the filling sweet and substantial, and the cream cheese icing puts them over the top. The rolls puff up in the center, look rustic and a bit crazy, but trust me when I tell you that you will never want to try another recipe again.

While I’ve made a cream cheese dough version and a salted caramel apple version, this honest-to-goodness classic homemade cinnamon roll recipe is the one and only you will ever need. They come together quickly but can be held overnight in the refrigerator to bake fresh in the morning, as well.

Holidays and weekend brunches just got SO much better!

Cinnamon Rolls vs. Sticky Buns

Both of these sweet breakfast treats have many noticeable similarities and are often used interchangeably to describe the other. They feature fluffy dough wrapped in tight spirals with a sweet filling. Beyond that, they differ in both texture and topping.

  • Texture: Sticky buns tend to have less dough and are a bit heartier in texture. Cinnamon rolls on the other hand have a light, fluffy dough.
  • Topping: You will find smooth swirls of frosting on top of cinnamon rolls. The sticky bun cooks in a glaze at the bottom of the pan. The finished buns are inverted and served with the sticky, nutty topping they baked in.

A homemade cinnamon roll on a stack of two plates.

How to Make The Best Cinnamon Rolls

Let’s break down the cinnamon roll into the three basic parts: the soft and fluffy dough, the sweet cinnamon-y filling, and the tangy cream cheese frosting.

Dough Ingredients

  • Milk: Whole milk, warmed to 105°F to 110°F helps activate the yeast and moistens the dough.
  • Yeast: To help these rolls rise quickly, use instant dry yeast.
  • Sugar: Feeds the yeast which helps give the rolls a nice, tall rise.
  • Egg + Yolk: Enriches the dough and gives it a soft, chewy texture.
  • Butter: Adds flavor as well as gives the rolls a flaky texture.
  • Flour: I use bread flour to make these rolls, it gives the dough the soft, fluffy finish every cinnamon roll deserves. If necessary, you can substitute all-purpose flour.
  • Salt: Flavor, flavor, flavor.

Ingredients for cinnamon rolls in bowls on a counter labeled with purple boxes.

How To Make the Dough

  • Activate the yeast: Pour milk into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl). Sprinkle yeast over the milk, then add the sugar, melted butter, egg, and egg yolk.
  • Add the flour: Use a wooden spoon to mix together. Add the flour and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Ingredients for dough on the left in a silver bowl and dough loosely mixed together on the right in a silver bowl.

  • Knead the dough: Using the dough hook, knead on medium-low speed until a smooth shiny ball of dough is formed, 3 to 6 minutes. You can also knead by hand until a smooth ball is formed.
  • Let dough rise: Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm draft-free spot until doubled in size, 60 to 90 minutes.

Two side by side photos of the dough for cinnamon rolls in a white bowl.

Cinnamon Roll Filling

Close to when the dough finishes rising, make the cinnamon roll filling. You will need:

  • Butter: Melted, unsalted butter will bind the cinnamon sugar together and stick to the dough.
  • Brown Sugar + Cinnamon: A mixture of dark brown sugar and cinnamon make the iconic filling of these cinnamon rolls.

Make the filling: In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until the sugar is completely moistened and everything has been thoroughly combined.

Two side by side photos of making the cinnamon sugar filling in a white bowl with a spoon.

Putting the Cinnamon Rolls Together

  • Roll the dough out: Remove the dough to a clean work surface and roll into a 12×18-inch rectangle.
  • Spread the filling: Using an offset spatula, spread the filling evenly, all over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges.
  • Roll the dough up: Starting with the short side of the dough, roll the dough up tightly into a cylinder, sealing the edges by pinching them together. Slice off about 1/2 to 1 inch off the ends, so you have clean edges.
  • Slice the dough: Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the log into 12 equal pieces.
  • Second rise: Place the cinnamon rolls into a greased 9×13-inch baking pan, evenly spaced apart. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let rise in a draft-free spot until nearly double in size and puffy, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Side by side photos of cinnamon roll dough being rolled out, covered with cinnamon sugar, and after being cut into rolls.

  • Set the oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F when you are ready to bake.
  • Bake: Remove the towel and plastic wrap and bake the cinnamon rolls until lightly golden brown on top and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 190°F, about 22 to 27 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside while you make the icing.

Cream Cheese Frosting

The final part to these irresistible cinnamon rolls is the tangy, cream cheese frosting. To make the frosting you will need:

  • Cream Cheese + Butter: Creamed together at room temperature this combo makes the base for the perfect frosting.
  • Powdered Sugar: Sweetens and balances the tangy cream cheese perfectly.
  • Salt + Vanilla: Flavor, flavor, flavor!

Make the frosting: In a medium bowl, mix together butter and cream cheese until smooth and combined. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and stir vigorously until smooth and the consistency of icing.

You can also mix this frosting with a hand or stand mixer, but if your butter and cream cheese are soft enough, I find it easy enough to do with a large spoon.

A hand with an offset spatula spreading cream cheese icing on a pan of cinnamon rolls.

Frost the cinnamon rolls: Using an offset spatula, spread the icing evenly over the warm cinnamon rolls. Let sit for 15 minutes, then swerve warm or at room temperature.

Flavors and Mix-ins

The beautiful thing about cinnamon rolls – aside from the swirls of cinnamon sugar and pools of cream cheese frosting – is their adaptability. You can take the dough and flavor the cinnamon rolls in a million different ways. Here are a few fun ways to switch up your buns!

  • Chocolate chips: Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over the cinnamon-sugar mixture before rolling the dough into a tight log.
  • Chopped nuts: Use chopped pecans or walnuts and sprinkle over the cinnamon-sugar mixture for a nutty roll.
  • Spices: Try nutmeg, ginger, or cardamom in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to switch up the flavor.
  • Zest: Add lemon or orange zest to the dough to give it a punch of citrus flavor.

A cinnamon roll on a white plate with another behind it and two forks crossed in the back right.

Storage and Freezing

If you are looking to make these cinnamon rolls in advance or have some left-over rolls here is how to store, freeze, and prepare them for the future.

  • Storage: For maximum freshness store your cinnamon rolls in an airtight container or covered tightly with plastic wrap. Rolls can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
  • Make-Ahead (Overnight): Complete the recipe through step #6 (slicing the cinnamon rolls). Place in the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, bring the cinnamon rolls to room temperature and allow them to rise until doubled and puffy, about 1 hour, before baking as directed.
  • Freezing Before Baking: Once you cut the rolls and place them in a 9×13 baking pan cover with plastic wrap, then foil and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Place in the refrigerator overnight before baking to thaw and then set on the counter and allow to come to room temperature before baking.
  • Freezing After Baking: Allow the rolls to cool completely then cover with plastic wrap and foil. Freeze up to 2 months. Move the rolls to the refrigerator the night before and allow them to thaw. Then heat, frost, and serve in the morning. You can also wrap the cooled rolls individually in plastic wrap, place them in a freezer-safe bag or airtight container, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature or in the microwave.

Cinnamon rolls spread out on a piece of parchment paper with other cinnamon rolls on plates in the top and bottom right corner and middle left side.

Serve your Cinnamon Rolls with…

I am all about balancing out the sweet with the savory. To make this pan of cinnamon rolls into a meal try adding one (or all) of these savory breakfast items to the menu.

A cinnamon roll on a plate with a bite taken out and a cinnamon roll on a plate in the back with forks stacked.

More Delicious Cinnamon Roll Recipes

Cinnamon Rolls

Soft and buttery cinnamon rolls with a sweet cinnamon sugar filling and a tangy cream cheese frosting are the only way I want to start my day. Perfect for when you’re having overnight guests, hosting a brunch, or maybe just want to indulge a little on the weekends. Indulge away!

If you make this recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

Servings 12 cinnamon rolls
Prep 45 minutes
Cook 25 minutes
Rise time 2 hours
Total 3 hours 10 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Michelle

Soft, fluffy cinnamon rolls with an irresistible, tangy cream cheese icing makes the perfect recipe for weekend mornings or hosting brunch.

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

  • 1
    cup
    whole milk
    (warmed to 105 to 110 degrees F)
  • 1
    tablespoon
    instant dry yeast
  • cup
    granulated sugar
  • 1
    egg
  • 1
    egg yolk
  • 6
    tablespoons
    unsalted butter
    (melted)
  • 4
    cups
    bread flour
  • 1
    teaspoon
    salt

For the Filling:

  • 6
    tablespoons
    unsalted butter, melted
  • 1
    cup
    dark brown sugar
  • 2
    tablespoons
    ground cinnamon

For the Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 4
    ounces
    cream cheese
    (room temperature)
  • 6
    tablespoons
    unsalted butter
    (room temperature)
  • 1
    cup
    powdered sugar
  • Pinch
    salt
  • 1
    teaspoon
    vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Make the Dough: Pour the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl). Sprinkle the yeast over the milk, then add the sugar, melted butter, egg, and egg yolk. Use a wooden spoon to mix everything together. Add the flour and salt and stir with the wooden spoon until a shaggy dough is formed.

  2. Using the dough hook, knead on medium-low speed until a smooth, shiny ball of dough is formed, 3 to 6 minutes. (You can also knead by hand until smooth ball is formed.) Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size, 60 to 90 minutes.

  3. Make the Filling: In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until the sugar is completely moistened and everything has been thoroughly combined.

  4. Assemble the Rolls: Remove the dough to a clean work surface and roll into a 12x18-inch rectangle. Spread the filling all over the surface of the dough (an offset spatula is perfect for this!), leaving a ½-inch border around the edges.

  5. Starting with the short side of the dough, roll the dough up tightly into a cylinder, sealing the edges by pinching them together. Slice off about ½ to 1 inch of the ends, so you have clean edges.

  6. Using a very sharp serrated knife, slice the log into 12 equal pieces.

  7. Place the cinnamon rolls into a greased 9x13-inch baking pan, evenly spaced apart. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until nearly doubled in size and puffy, 30 to 45 minutes.

  8. Bake the Cinnamon Rolls: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  9. Remove the towel and plastic wrap and bake the cinnamon rolls until lightly golden brown on top and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 190 degrees F, about 22 to 27 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside while you make the icing.

  10. Make the Cream Cheese Icing: In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and combined. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, and stir vigorously until smooth and the consistency of icing. (You can also mix this using a hand or stand mixer, but if your butter and cream cheese are softened enough, I find it easy enough to do with a large spoon.)

  11. Using an offset spatula, spread the icing evenly over the warm cinnamon rolls. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, then serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes:

  • Pan: I use a 9x13-inch pan to bake the cinnamon rolls. If you prefer your rolls to not be touching and not "pop up" so much, you can bake them on a rimmed half-sheet baking pan where they can be spaced apart.
  • Flavors and Mix-Ins: See the post above for notes on incorporating things like chocolate chips, chopped nuts, spices, and zest.
  • Storage: For maximum freshness store your cinnamon rolls in an airtight container or covered tightly with plastic wrap. Rolls can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
  • Make-Ahead (Overnight): Complete the recipe through step #6 (slicing the cinnamon rolls). Place in the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, bring the cinnamon rolls to room temperature and allow them to rise until doubled and puffy, about 1 hour, before baking as directed.
  • Freezing Before Baking: Once you cut the rolls and place them in a 9x13 baking pan cover with plastic wrap, then foil and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Place in the refrigerator overnight before baking to thaw and then set on the counter and allow to come to room temperature before baking.
  • Freezing After Baking: Allow the rolls to cool completely then cover with plastic wrap and foil. Freeze up to 2 months. Move the rolls to the refrigerator the night before and allow them to thaw. Then heat, frost, and serve in the morning. You can also wrap the cooled rolls individually in plastic wrap, place them in a freezer-safe bag or airtight container, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature or in the microwave.
Nutritional values are based on one serving

Nutrition:

Calories: 491kcal
Fat: 22g
Saturated fat: 13g
Trans fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 87mg
Sodium: 248mg
Potassium: 127mg
Carbohydrates: 66g
Fiber: 2g
Sugar: 35g
Protein: 7g
Vitamin A: 731%
Vitamin C: 1%
Calcium: 77%
Iron: 1%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Photography by Dee Frances