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Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

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This is the best homemade cinnamon rolls recipe ever with delicious cinnamon roll icing! The light and fluffy texture, brown butter flavor, and silky cream cheese icing cannot be beaten.

overhead of iced cinnamon rolls in a pink baking pan

I love making this cinnamon roll recipe at home. These are seriously the best cinnamon rolls I have ever had – better than, even, Cinnabon!

These have a soft, fluffy texture. The brown butter in the icing, dough and filling give them an extra caramel hint. The flavor is totally irresistible.

This is the best cinnamon roll icing I have tasted. It is creamy and silky from the cream cheese, but it also tastes caramel-like from the brown butter.

Start your day off right. Join me in making homemade cinnamon rolls for yourself and your loved ones.

You’ll be licking cinnamon roll icing off your fingers before you know it!


Why this recipe works

  • The brown butter in the dough, filling and icing creates a unique caramel-like flavor in the rolls.
  • Using cornstarch in the dough breaks down the gluten development and results in soft and tender rolls.

Homemade cinnamon rolls are so amazing. You can taste the difference between premade or store-bought rolls.


Watch how to make it

side view of a single cinnamon roll on a white plate with teal napkin behind

What you need

There is a reason these cinnamon rolls are better than Cinnabon! Let’s discuss just a few of the key ingredients:

Ingredients

This is a short overview of the ingredients I used and why I chose them. The full recipe can be found at the bottom of the post!

  • Milk & butter: The warm milk activates the yeast, while the butter adds richness to the rolls.
  • Yeast: I use instant yeast in this recipe. However, you can use active dry yeast with a longer rise time.
  • Eggs: These add moisture and create tenderness in the rolls.
  • Flour: I use all-purpose flour in this recipe to create the right texture for the dough.
  • Sugar: This ingredient adds the right amount of sweetness to the recipe.
  • Cornstarch: I use cornstarch in this recipe to break down gluten development, which results in soft and tender rolls.
  • Cinnamon: This spice adds a sweet and woody flavor to the rolls.
  • Cream cheese: This gives the icing a rich texture and flavor.

Equipment

This is a list of tools I used to make the recipe.


How to make cinnamon rolls

1. Brown the butter

Making brown butter is a big part of the cinnamon rolls recipe. It goes into the dough, the filling and the icing to create a caramel-like flavor.

overhead of brown butter in a white fry pan
  1. Whisk the butter frequently in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Then, cook until melted. It’s OK for the butter to foam as it will subside.
  3. Continue to cook until brown bits develop in the bottom of the pan. The butter will turn a light golden brown.
  4. Set aside to cool slightly. Remove ⅓ cup to use in the filling. Remove ¼ cup to use in the icing. Then, about ⅔ cup should remain for use in the dough.

2. Make the dough

You’ll create the cinnamon roll dough by combining wet and dry ingredients.

dough in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook next to dough risen in a glass bowl
  1. Add warm milk to a bowl. Then, whisk in yeast until it is dissolved. Next, whisk in the eggs and ⅔ cup brown butter.
  2. Then, add the flour, sugar, cornstarch and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer. The mixer needs the dough hook attachment.
  3. With the mixer on low, gradually pour the milk mix into the flour mix.
  4. Continue to beat on low until flour is incorporated. Stop and scrap sides and bottom of the bowl, as needed.
  5. Then, turn the speed up to medium. Mix until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the bowl’s sides. This will take about 10 minutes.
  6. Scrape the dough out into a lightly oiled bowl. It is normal for the dough to be soft, smooth and tacky.
  7. Brush oil on the top of the dough. Then, cover and set in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

3. Fill and shape rolls

First, you will make the filling. Then, you will use it along with the dough to form homemade cinnamon rolls.

cinnamon rolls in pink baking pan unrisen on the left and risen on the right
  1. Prepare the 9×13-inch baking pan by generously greasing it. Set aside.
  2. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Then, roll it into a 25×15-inch rectangle.
  4. Spread ⅓ cup brown butter over the dough. Then, evenly sprinkle the brown sugar mix.
  5. Starting on the long side, roll the dough into a log. Then, pinch the seam to seal.
  6. Place the log, seam-side down, on a cutting board. Slice the log into 12 equal cinnamon rolls.

4. Bake and ice rolls

The rolls will need to bake while you prepare the icing. Then, top with icing to finish the rolls.

cinnamon roll icing in a bowl on the left and iced cinnamon rolls in a pink baking pan on the right
  1. First, arrange the 12 pieces cut side up on the pan. Then, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. If you have a microwave above the oven, this is a great place to put the rolls to rise while the oven heats.
  3. Remove plastic wrap. Then, bake the rolls until golden brown and the filling is melted. This should take 24-27 minutes.
  4. Start on the cinnamon roll icing while the rolls are baking. Beat cream cheese and remaining ¼ cup of brown butter together until creamy.
  5. Then, beat in the confectioner’s sugar, ½ cup at a time, until incorporated.
  6. Add the vanilla and the cream to the mix. Blend icing until smooth and spreadable.
  7. Remove the rolls from the oven. Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and top with ½ cup of cinnamon roll icing.
  8. Finally, cool for 15 minutes prior to topping the cinnamon rolls with remaining icing.
  9. Serve warm and enjoy!

Frequently asked questions

Can you add nuts and raisins?

Some readers like adding chopped nuts and raisins to their rolls. This works fine. Sprinkle them over the dough after you add the filling in step 4 of “Make the filling”.

How do I use active dry yeast with this recipe?

Instant yeast and active dry yeast can be used interchangeably. Active dry yeast needs a longer rise time. Follow the proofing instructions on the back of the yeast packet.

Can I use bread flour instead of all-purpose?

I don’t advise it! The recipe was developed using all-purpose flour. This means the ratio of ingredients is based on this particular type of flour. Using anything other than that can affect how the final product turns out.

Jen’s Best tips

  • Help the dough rise by turning the oven on the lowest setting for 3 minutes. Then, turn off the oven and place the bowl of dough inside.
  • Plan to make the brown butter ahead of time. Allow it to cool, but not solidify, before using it in the recipe.
  • If your brown butter solidifies while you are working on the recipe, you can heat it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds until melted.
close up of an iced cinnamon roll with a bite taken out on a white plate

Storing & Freezing

To store: You can store baked and glazed rolls for no more than 4 days by covering tightly and storing in the fridge.

You can partially prepare the rolls, too. Make them through step 5 of, “Make the filling,” of the cinnamon rolls recipe.

Then, cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for no more than 24 hours.

When ready to bake, remove the rolls from the fridge. Partially unwrap and then continue with step 6.

To freeze: The baked and glazed rolls can be frozen for no more than 2 months.


More sweet roll recipes to try

Breakfast is not complete without a sweet roll! These are some of my favorites on the blog:

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side view of a single cinnamon roll on a white plate with teal napkin behind

Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 12 rolls
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Rise Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes

This homemade cinnamon rolls recipe is truly the best ever! They are so light and fluffy, made with brown butter, and topped with silky cream cheese icing. 

Ingredients

For the brown butter

  • 1 ¼ cup (283 g) unsalted butter

For the dough

  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, warmed to 105-115ºF
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast, 1 envelope
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • ⅔ cup (122 g) brown butter, melted
  • 4 ¼ cups (552 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

For the filling

  • 1 ½ cups (315 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cups (61 g) brown butter, melted

For the icing

  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup (47 g) brown butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups (180 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

Instructions

Make the brown butter

  1. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk frequently. Continue to cook until melted. The butter will foam and then subside.
  2. Continue to cook until brown bits develop in the bottom of the pan and the butter turns a light golden color, about 8 minutes.
  3. Set aside to cool slightly. Remove ⅓ cup of the brown butter and reserve it for the filling. Remove ¼ cup of the brown butter and reserve it for the icing. You should have about ⅔ cup remaining to use for the dough.

Make the dough

  1. Add the warm milk to a medium liquid measuring cup or bowl. Whisk in the yeast until it's dissolved. Whisk in the eggs and ⅔ cup brown butter.
  2. Add the flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the mixer with the dough hook attachment.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, gradually pour the milk mixture into the flour. 
  4. Continue to beat on low until the flour is incorporated, stop and scrape down the sides and bottom as needed. Turn the speed up to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and comes away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes. The dough will be soft, smooth, and tacky.
  5. Scrape the dough out into a lightly oiled bowl. Brush a little oil over the top of the dough. Cover and set in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Make the filling

  1. Generously grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 25×15-inch rectangle.
  4. Spread ⅓ cup brown butter over the dough and sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar mixture. (If the brown butter has solidified, zap it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds until melted.)
  5. Starting on the long side, tightly roll the dough into a log and pinch the seam to seal. Place the roll, seam-side down, on a cutting board. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces and arrange them cut side up in the prepared pan.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F. If you have a microwave above the oven, this is a great place to allow the rolls to rise while the oven preheats.
  7. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the rolls until golden brown and the filling is melted, 24-27 minutes.

Make the glaze

  1. While the rolls bake, beat the cream cheese and remaining ¼ cup brown butter together until creamy. Beat in the confectioners' sugar, ½ cup at a time until incorporated.
  2. Add the vanilla and cream. Mix until the icing is smooth and spreadable.
  3. Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and top with ½ cup of glaze. Cool for 15 minutes then top with remaining glaze. Serve warm and enjoy!

Notes

Brown butter: Plan ahead since the brown butter must be made first. Allow it to cool but not solidify before dividing it and using it in the recipe.

Yeast: You can use active dry yeast also but the rise time will need to be extended slightly. Follow the instructions on the yeast packet for proofing.

Dough rising: To create a warm environment for the dough to rise, turn the oven on to the lowest setting and allow it to heat for about 3 minutes. Turn the oven off and place the bowl of dough inside. In a microwave above the stove with the oven preheating is also a good option.

Mixing: You can still make these rolls if you don't have a stand mixer! Follow the recipe, mixing in a large bowl with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand. The dough is meant to be soft and slightly tacky, try to avoid adding too much additional flour during kneading as this will make the rolls dry and dense.

Mix-in: Some readers like adding chopped nuts and raisins to their rolls. This works fine. Sprinkle them over the dough after you add the filling in step 4 of "Make the filling".

Make ahead tip

  1. Baked and glazed rolls will keep for up to 4 days, cover tightly and store in the refrigerator.
  2. Baked rolls will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and warm to your liking before serving.
  3. You can make the rolls all the way through to step 5 of "Make the filling". Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, remove from the refrigerator, partially unwrap, and continue with step 6.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 roll
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 563Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 432mgCarbohydrates: 82gFiber: 2gSugar: 45gProtein: 8g

* Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy by an online nutrition calculator and is not guaranteed to be accurate. Always seek advice from a nutritionist or medical professional.

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