Make these better than Cinnabon cinnamon rolls for a Christmas morning breakfast the whole family will love. Learn how to make the yeast dough and the gooey frosting from scratch with all of my tips. These light and fluffy rolls will disappear in minutes!
For the Dough
- 4 1/8 cups bread flour (500g)
- 3 teaspoons fast-action yeast (10g)
- 2 teaspoons fine salt (10g)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (43g)
- 3 tablespoons lard (40g)
- 5 tablespoons clover honey (100g)
- 1 cup whole milk, warmed (240 ml)
- 2 large eggs
For the Filling
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (72g)
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed (150g)
- 4 teaspoons Saigon cinnamon
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened (57g)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (38g)
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted (120g)
- 2–3 teaspoon heavy whipping cream (10–15 ml)
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Making the Dough (35 min prep + 1 1/2 hrs proving)
- Sift the flour. Sift the bread flour into a large mixing bowl. This step helps the bread have a thin crust and light, fluffy interior.
- Warm the milk. Pour the milk into a microwave-safe container and place a glass stirring rod or wooden skewer into the milk to break the surface tension, which will prevent explosions in the microwave. Warm the milk in the microwave until it’s 115 F. It’s crucial to use a thermometer to check the temperature, because if it is above 115 F, it can kill the yeast.
- Mix the dry ingredients. 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.
- Add sweetener and fats. Dump the honey, softened butter, and lard into the flour mixture. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl, then dump them into the flour mixture. Stir and crush the mixture with your hand until the ingredients look dry and clumpy.
- Mix in the liquid. Gradually pour in the warm milk, stirring and crushing the flour mixture with your hand as you do so. You need just 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.
- Knead. 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.
- Check. 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.
- Prove. Shape into a ball, place in a buttered bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm, but not hot, place until the dough has at least doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. For overnight rolls, refrigerate for at least 8 hours at this stage.
Shaping the Rolls (20 min prep + 30 min proving)
- Cinnamon and sugar. Mix together the Saigon cinnamon and dark brown sugar until well mixed.
- Punch down. 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.
- Roll it out. Use a wooden rolling pin to roll out the dough to a square measuring at least 19×19 inches. If it is too stiff, let it rest for a couple minutes, then try again. Make sure that the edges are thin, or the rolls won’t have a pretty swirl.
- Butter. Use an angled spatula to evenly spread a thin layer of softened butter all over the dough. Leave a 1 inch border of no butter on the ends and the long side that’s away from you. This will help the dough seal better when it’s rolled up.
- Sugar. 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 with an even layer of the cinnamon sugar.
- Roll it up. Start rolling the dough from the side closest to you. Fold the edge over about 1/2 an inch, then tightly roll it up.
- Seal. Turn the log over so you can see the seam, and pinch it tightly so the log doesn’t unroll later.
- Trim the ends. 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.
- Slice the rolls. Mark the log in 1 1/2 inch intervals with a knife or bench scraper so you have 12 equally sized rolls. Cut a piece of thread 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.
- Prove. Space the 12 rolls swirl side up in an 11×14-inch lasagna pan or cake 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 (10 min prep)
- Beat. Dump the softened cream cheese and softened butter into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy.
- Add sugar. Sift the icing sugar into the cream cheese mixture and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and mix again until smooth.
- Flavor and taste. 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 until fluffy. 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 (5 min prep + 30 min baking)
- Preheat. About 10 minutes before the rolls are done proving, turn the oven to 400 F.
- Bake. Remove the plastic wrap and loosely lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the pan. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven at 400 F for 25 minutes. Remove the foil covering and bake for 5 minutes more to brown the rolls slightly. The rolls are baked when the center ones have an internal temperature of 190 F on a meat thermometer.
- Frost. As soon as they come out of the oven, spread the cream cheese icing on each roll. The heat will melt the icing, giving them a gooey texture.
- Cool and enjoy. Allow the rolls to cool for 15 minutes before serving, as they are very hot. Enjoy warm.
- Storing the rolls. 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 2 hours because of the cream cheese frosting.
- Always use bread flour. All-purpose flour will not make the lightest and fluffiest 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 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.
- Category: Bread
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: better than cinnabon cinnamon roll recipe, cinnamon rolls from scratch, cinnabon cinnamon rolls recipe