Craving a gooey, fluffy Cinnabon roll, but you're nowhere near a Cinnabon location? No problem. Once you try this recipe, you'll agree with my family that this recipe makes cinnamon rolls that taste even better than the Cinnabon ones.
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There are several ingredients in my copycat Cinnabon cinnamon roll dough. Let's go through the key ingredients and see how it makes them so delicious.
- Bread Flour: gives these Cinnabon rolls the fluffy, chewy taste we love. All-purpose just won't work here.
- Honey: gives a soft texture, encourages the yeast to grow, and adds sweetness.
- Lard: you might be wondering about this one! Lard in bread makes these Cinnabon copycat rolls even softer and fluffier than with just butter.
- Cinnamon: I used Saigon cinnamon in this recipe, since it's a good substitute for the pungent Korintjie cinnamon that Cinnabon uses.
How to Make
- Heat the milk to 115 F, then sift the bread flour into a mixing bowl. Add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl, then mix them in with your finger.
- Dump in the softened butter, lard, and honey and mix everything together with your hand until it has a dry, crumbly texture like in the photo below.
3. Add the two eggs and half of the warm milk. Mix the ingredients together with your hand, gradually adding more warm milk as needed to create a slightly sticky dough.
4. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 10-15 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a buttered bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Set the bowl of dough in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
5. Once the dough has doubled in size, flip it out onto a floured surface and punch it down all over to knock out the big gas bubbles. Roll out the dough until it measures at least 19x19 inches.
6. Spread the softened butter all over, then sprinkle on the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
7. Start rolling up the dough from the side closest to you. Fold over the edge just a little, then keep rolling until you have a log. Pinch the seam and ends tightly to seal.
Chop off the uneven ends of the log with a bench scraper and use the scraper to mark the dough in 12 equal pieces. I nicked mine about every 1 ½ inches.
8. Now, cut the log into 12 rolls. I like to use a piece of thread for this, because a knife tends to flatten the roll. To cut with a thread, place the thread under the log and draw it tightly around the log until it cuts through.
9. Place the 12 cinnamon rolls in an unbuttered 11x14-inch pan. It's crucial to use an extra large pan here to give the rolls room to rise out. They'll grow a lot!
10. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside to prove in a warm place until they are springy to the touch, about 30 minutes. They should have noticeably increased in size, and the dough should spring back into place if you gently prod it with your fingertip.
11. Cover the pan of rolls loosely with aluminum foil and bake at 400°F for 25 minutes, then uncover them and bake for another 5 minutes to brown them slightly. Whip up the cream cheese frosting while the rolls bake.
12. Immediately after they come out of the oven, spread on the cream cheese frosting.
13. Let the cinnamon rolls cool for about 10 minutes, then enjoy these amazing Cinnabon copycat rolls!
Cinnabon uses a blend called Makara from the Korintjie (affiliate) region in Indonesia, and it has a very strong flavor. If you can't find Korintjie cinnamon, Saigon (affiliate) is a great option too.
One Cinnabon roll contains 880 calories and 37g fat per roll, making them far from being healthy! Fortunately, these homemade copycat Cinnabon rolls only contain 432 calories and 18g of fat per roll.
Cinnabon cinnamon rolls have a soft, fluffy texture, a strong cinnamon flavor, and lots of gooey brown sugar filling. The cream cheese frosting on top gives sweetness and creaminess to the rolls as well. In this Cinnabon copycat recipe, I replicated all the fluffiness and gooeyness that you love about Cinnabon's cinnamon rolls!
You can keep cinnamon rolls tightly covered at room temperature for up to two days, but they will stay much fresher if you freeze them after they have been baked and cooled. Seal them inside of a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month.
- Always, always, always use bread flour. All-purpose flour simply will not give you the light, fluffy cinnamon rolls you crave, because it has a lower protein content than bread flour.
- Measure the ingredients by weight. This is much faster and more accurate than using measuring cups.
- Knead thoroughly. One of the keys to high rising, fluffy cinnamon rolls (just like Cinnabon's) is kneading long enough. Use the windowpane test as described in the recipe card below to make sure that your dough has been sufficiently kneaded.
- Don't under-prove. The first prove should be long enough to allow the dough to at least double in size. The second prove should be long enough to make them springy when pressed with a fingertip. Under-proved cinnamon rolls will not rise well and will taste doughy.
- The rolls are done when the center ones have an internal temperature of 190°F. Do not simply go on baking time, because each oven cooks differently.
- Overnight: Mix up the dough, let it rise, then shape the cinnamon rolls as written. Tightly cover the pan of rolls and let them rise in the fridge for 8-12 hours. The next day, let them warm up to room temperature for 1 hour, then bake as directed.
Other Sweet Breads You'll Love
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Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls Copycat
For the Dough
For the Filling
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 4 teaspoons Saigon cinnamon
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 2-3 teaspoon heavy whipping cream
- ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
Making the Dough
- Sift the bread flour into a large mixing bowl. This step helps the bread have a thin crust and light, fluffy interior.
- Heat the milk in the microwave or in a saucepan until it's 115°F. Make sure it isn't hotter than this, or the heat may kill the yeast.
- Add the salt and fast-action yeast on opposite sides of the bowl of flour, then stir them both into the flour. Make sure to keep the salt and yeast separate, since salt will kill the yeast if it touches the yeast directly.
- Dump the honey, softened butter, lard, and eggs into the flour mixture. Stir and crush the mixture with your hand until it looks dry and clumpy.
- Gradually pour in the warm milk, stirring and crushing the flour mixture with your hand as you do so. You need enough milk to create a slightly sticky dough with no flour sitting at the bottom of the bowl. Depending upon the humidity and the brand of flour you're using, you may not need all of the milk.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes, until it is smooth and no longer sticky. To knead, use the heel of your hand to push the dough away from you. Give it a quarter turn and repeat the process. You can also slap the dough against the counter. Add only a little flour occasionally throughout the kneading process.
- Use the windowpane test to see if it is kneaded enough. Tear off a lump and use your fingers or even your knuckles to carefully stretch it as thin as you can. If you can read large print through it, it's kneaded enough. If you don't knead the dough long enough, the rolls will not rise as well or be as light and fluffy.
- Shape into a ball, place in a buttered bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm place until the dough has at least doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Alternatively, refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
Shaping the Rolls
- Mix together the cinnamon and sugar until well mixed.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and punch it down all over to knock out gas pockets.
- Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a 19x19-inch square. If it is too stiff, let it rest for a couple minutes. Make sure that the edges are the same thickness as the center.
- Use an angled spatula to evenly spread the butter over the dough, leaving a 1 inch border on all sides except the one near you. This will help the dough seal better when it's rolled up.
- Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture all over the butter, then spread it out with your fingers. Make sure that all of the butter is covered.
- Start rolling the dough from the side closest to you. Fold the edge over about ½ an inch, then tightly roll it up.
- Turn the log over so you can see the seam, and pinch it tightly so the log doesn't unroll.
- Cut off the ends of the log with a knife or bench scraper. (Prove and bake these ends in a large ramekin or small cake pan.)
- Mark the log in 1 ½ inch intervals with a knife or bench scraper so you have 12 equally sized rolls. Cut a piece of thread or unflavored dental floss about 8 inches long and place it under the log. Wrap the thread around the log and pull it tighter and tighter until it cuts through the dough. Repeat until the log is cut into 12 rolls.
- Space the rolls apart in an 11x15-inch pan. (It's important to use a large pan to give the rolls room to rise out instead of up and getting overcrowded.) Cover the pan with plastic wrap and put in a warm place. Let the rolls prove until they are springy to the touch, about 30-40 minutes.
Making the Cream Cheese Frosting
- Dump the softened cream cheese and softened butter into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy, then sift the icing sugar into the cream cheese mixture and beat until combined.
- Beat in the vanilla and a teaspoon of heavy cream to give the frosting a spreadable consistency. Taste and add more powdered sugar if desired. If the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar; if the frosting is too thick, add more heavy cream.
- Beat the frosting for 30 seconds to 1 minute on medium-high speed to make it fluffy and smooth. You should have about 1 cup of frosting.
Baking the Rolls
- About 30 minutes before the rolls are done proving, turn the oven to 400°F.
- Remove the plastic wrap and loosely lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the pan. Bake on the middle shelf at 400°F for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 5 minutes to brown the rolls. They are baked when the center ones have an internal temperature of 190°F on a meat thermometer.
- As soon as they come out of the oven, spread on the cream cheese icing. The heat will melt the icing, giving them a gooey texture.
- Allow the rolls to cool for 15 minutes before serving, as they are very hot. Enjoy warm.
- If you're not eating them within a couple hours, allow them to cool completely, then freeze in a freezer zip-top bag for up to 1 month. Do not refrigerate them, as it will make the bread part go stale. Also, the rolls cannot be stored at room temperature for more than 8 hours because of the cream cheese frosting.
- Always use bread flour. All-purpose flour will not make the lightest and fluffiest cinnamon rolls.
- Measure the ingredients by weight. This is much faster and more accurate than using measuring cups.
- Knead thoroughly. Use the windowpane test to make sure you've kneaded enough, otherwise the rolls will not be as soft and fluffy.
- Don't under-prove. Follow the directions in the recipe to see if your dough is proved enough, otherwise the rolls will be dense and heavy.
- The cinnamon rolls are done when the center ones have an internal temperature of 190°F. Do not simply go on baking time, because each oven cooks differently.
This post was originally published on December 13, 2019 and was republished on October 31, 2019 with updated content and reformatted photos.