There is nothing like Homemade Cinnamon Rolls. These rolls are always a favorite because Homemade Cinnamon Rolls taste so much better right out of the oven with the cinnamon butter center, oozing out and making your home smell like the best bake shop around.
Sometimes people think Homemade Cinnamon Rolls are too hard and take too much time to make. This could be true, but I really believe this is one food item that is worth the time and effort. I am going to give you all the instructions you need to make these delicious rolls. Come along and let’s have an adventure!
How To Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
1. The best thing to do when making Homemade Cinnamon Rolls is to think about your day. Schedule your day around the cinnamon rolls. It takes 20 minutes to make the dough. Set aside 2 hours for the first rise. Then 30-40 minutes to roll out the dough and get cinnamon rolls prepped and cut. Now they are ready for the second rise which takes 2 hours. The rolls bake for 20 minutes. After the rolls have cooled, they need to be frosted.
The truth is the real time to make homemade cinnamon rolls is about 60 minutes. The other 5 hours is time you can be doing something else. So plan to do other things during the first rise for 2 hours and the second rise for 2 hours. Then you can clean a bathroom or do a load of laundry while the rolls are baking.
Move backwards on your time line. When do you want to serve the rolls? I usually start in the morning at 8:00. The dough is rising by 8:30 am. Then at 10:30 the dough is ready to roll out. That takes 30 minutes. Then at 11:00, they start rising for the second time. At 1:00 I put them in the oven. Then at 1:30 they are ready to frost and by 1:45 my family is ready to eat delicious Homemade Cinnamon Rolls.
If you want to eat the rolls for breakfast, I suggest making the dough the day before. Make the dough and get it rolled out into individual rolls. Put the individual rolls on a cookie sheet and freeze them.
The night before you want to cook them, take the rolls out of the freezer, place them on a greased cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Then place this cookie sheet in the refrigerator. They should rise overnight in the refrigerator. Take them out of the refrigerator an hour before you want to bake them to bring them to room temperature. Bake and enjoy.
Using Fresh Yeast is Essential!
2. One of the most important things in making bread is to use fresh yeast. I buy my yeast in a big bag from Costco. I keep it in a plastic bag in the freezer. Most people do not make as much bread as I do. If you are buying individual packages from the grocery store, this yeast is as fresh as you can purchase.
3. Use a thermometer when making bread. I am a huge believer in measuring the water temperature when making bread. The water temperature should between 105° and 120°. If you have struggled to get your bread to rise consistently, using a thermometer will change that immediately.
My mom always told me the temperature for making bread is lukewarm. Okay, how do you measure that? There is no scientific method for measuring what is lukewarm! What is lukewarm to you is definitely not lukewarm to me. That is why using a thermometer is crucial. You can purchase one here on Amazon.
4. Heat the milk in a microwave safe container. If your milk is coming straight from the refrigerator, warm it up for 1 minute intervals in the microwave until it reaches the 105° – 120°. If you get it close to 105 degrees, but it is not quite there, warm it in 10 second intervals in the microwave until it reaches the correct temperature. I like using a Pyrex glass container. The glass measuring cup holds my thermometer without allowing it to slip down. It props up on the side and makes it easy to read.
5. Proof the yeast or in other words, get the yeast working. Once the milk is warm enough, add the yeast and stir with a fork. This is called proofing the yeast. Often when making breads, you want to add sugar to yeast. It feeds off the yeast and starts bubbling faster. When using milk, you do not need to add sugar. There is enough sugar in the milk for the yeast to bubble. This process takes about 2-5 minutes. Once you see bubbles form on the top of the milk, the yeast is proofing and is ready to add into the eggs and butter.
Read Further Below for Softening Butter Hacks
6. While the yeast is proofing, melt the butter in the microwave. I love leaving the butter in the paper coating when it is melting. The paper will prevent it from popping up on the top of your microwave and making a mess.
I place the two, 1/2 cup sticks in a microwave proof bowl and melt them for one minute intervals. I like to heat them until they are almost melted, but not quite. Then I take off the papers and use a fork to mix the solids into the liquid. This way I prevent my butter from getting too hot.
7. Beat the eggs in a stand mixer with the whip attachment. The lighter the color of the eggs, the lighter your bread will be. There are a few steps in making bread and getting the eggs beaten at the beginning sets up all the other steps.
Gradually pour in the melted butter into the eggs and add 1/2 cup of sugar. Beat these three ingredients while the yeast is proofing. If your butter is too hot (boiling) it will cook your eggs. I suggest stirring the butter with a fork until it cools a bit before adding it to the eggs. Even with warm butter, you want to pour in a thin line of butter so your eggs do not cook from the heat of the butter.
Using a stand mixer with a whip and dough hook attachments makes homemade cinnamon rolls easy.
8. Gradually add in the yeast mixture to the eggs and butter mixture. Add one cup of flour to the egg-butter mixture and then add in the milk and yeast. Mix until everything is well incorporated. Then add one cup of flour at a time until the batter starts to thicken up. Add the salt to the next cup of flour you add to the dough.
Adding salt to any bread is paramount. The salt will preserve your bread for a longer shelf life. If you forget salt in bread, you will find the bread molds much quicker, plus it does not taste as good. A little salt with anything sweet is always a good thing to balance the flavors.
Change out the whip attachment for the dough hook. Continue to add the flour one cup at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Add just enough flour until the dough moves as one large mass of dough. Once this happens, the dough does not need any more flour. Let the dough continue to mix/knead for 4-5 minutes. This gets the gluten activated to create light, fluffy and delicious cinnamon rolls.
9. Place the dough into a large, greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with vegetable oil. I use a bowl that is too large for one piece of of plastic wrap. I use two pieces and then use them again on the two cookie sheets after rolling out the dough on the second rise.
Plastic wrap holds the heat in as the yeast activates. The method my mom taught me was to place a dish towel over the rising bread. The plastic wrap provides a more even rise. Let the dough rise for two hours.
10. After the first rise, take off the plastic wrap and pull the dough out of the bowl. Divide it into two pieces. Sprinkle flour on a flat surface and roll out one half of the dough into a rectangular shape. It should be about 18-20 inches long and about 12-14 inches wide.
11. Mix the softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon together. This is the filling recipe below. Place half of the filling on the rectangle and spread over the surface. Push the filling to the edges leaving a 1/2 inch gap from the edge. Placing small amounts along the length of the dough helps to spread it more easily.
Softening butter can be done in the microwave by heating for one minute on the lowest cooking power. Microwaves tend to cook from the bottom up so to soften the other side, flip the butter over, soft side up. Heat it again on the lowest cooking level for another minute.
Another method for softening butter is to heat water in a glass until boiling, in the microwave. Dump the water out and turn the glass over so the butter is sitting inside the upside down glass. Leave the glass over the butter for 5 minutes. No peeking. You do not want any of the hot air to escape. The heat from the glass transfers to the butter and makes it soft.
Learn how to Soften Butter if you forgot to leave it out!
12. Start on the long side of the dough and roll towards the other side. Once one side meets the other, use your fingers to pinch the dough together. If it will not stay together, dip your finger in a small bowl of water. Run your moist finger along the seam of the dough. This should help the dough stay together after you try pinching it again.
Don’t worry if it doesn’t stay closed. When the rolls rise, they run into each other. Once baked, they will stay closed.
13. Once you have a long tube of dough you can use several methods to cut the dough. For years, I used a knife to make incisions in the dough. A serrated knife works best. Then I found the following method to cut the dough using sewing thread.
I cut off a large piece of sewing thread (about 2 feet long) and put it under the dough and then pull up on both sides, crisscrossing at the top and then pulling the thread until it cuts through the dough. I like how clean the cut is and I find it very easy to use. Cut the dough into one inch thick slices. This creates tall, fluffy cinnamon rolls. Continue cutting the dough. This recipe makes two long tubes of dough which gives you four small ends and about 24 rolls.
Using sewing thread to cut slices of dough is a game changer.
The ends of both rolls are often misshapen and are not big enough to create big, beautiful cinnamon rolls. Some people throw these ends away. I struggle throwing any dough away since I have worked so hard to create it. I place the four ends in a greased loaf pan, down the center of the pan. Cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap and let the ends rise with the other rolls. After the dough has risen and been baked, I bake the ends last. They make a perfect little snacks.
14. Place each slice on a greased cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with vegetable spay.
15. Let rise for two hours.
Can you see how the ends on all the cinnamon rolls are not completely sealed? Make sure to place the seam next to another roll. As the rolls bake, they will run into each other.
16. Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
17. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before frosting.
18. Mix the softened butter and cream cheese in a bowl. You can use the same softening hacks for the cream cheese, using the microwave method or the hot glass turned upside down onto the cream cheese. Leave the butter or the cream cheese in its package while using the glass method. If you take the butter and cream cheese out of the refrigerator at the beginning of the day when making your Homemade Cinnamon Rolls, they are perfectly softened by the time you need to make frosting.
Mix these two until they are well combined, about a minute. Then add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time. I do not add any milk to this frosting. If you beat the frosting long enough in between each cup of powdered sugar, you will not need to add any liquid. Once all the powdered sugar has been added, beat the frosting for 4 minutes. It makes very fluffy, light frosting.
19. Frost the rolls. I like to put the frosting in a plastic bag and cut the corner off. This way, I can drop a dollop of frosting onto each roll and then go back and use an offset spatula to spread evenly on the roll. I am not looking for perfect frosting at this point. I just want to get done so I can eat one!
Here are a few products I like to use when making Homemade Cinnamon Rolls.
Post a picture and tag me.
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
- 2 Cups Milk
- 2 Tbsp. Yeast
- 4 Eggs
- 1 Cup Butter
- 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 7-8 Cups Bread Flour
- 2 tsp. Salt
- 1 1/4 Cup Butter
- 2 Cups Brown Sugar
- 2 Tbsp. Cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 3/4 Cup Butter
- 8 oz. Cream Cheese
- 4 Cups Powdered Sugar
- Warm milk to 105°-120°
- Use a thermometer to know how warm it is.
- Add dry yeast to milk and stir.
- While yeast is proofing, beat eggs in a stand mixer.
- Melt butter and gradually add to beaten eggs.
- Add granulated sugar and beat until light in color.
- Gradually add yeast and milk to egg mixture.
- Add 3 cups of flour and salt. Mix well.
- Change whip attachment to the dough hook.
- Add the rest of the flour one cup at a time.
- Knead with dough hook for 5 minutes once everything is mixed in.
- Put dough in a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with vegetable spray.
- Let rise for two hours.
Rolling Out the Dough
- Punch down the dough and divide it into two pieces.
- The following steps will need to be repeated for the second piece of dough.
- Roll one piece into a rectangle, 18 inches by 12 inches.
- Using softened butter, add brown sugar and cinnamon and mix well until it is a thick paste.
- Place 1/2 of filling mixture down the center of the dough.
- Spread evenly over the dough leaving 1/2 inch edge around the outside.
- Roll the long end until it reaches the other side.
- Pinch the dough together. Slice with a knife or use sewing thread to cut the dough into 1 inch pieces.
- Place each slice on a greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
- Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with vegetable spray.
- Let rise for 2 hours.
- Take the plastic wrap off and bake in a 375° oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Make the frosting while the cinnamon rolls are baking.
- Mix cream cheese and butter until soft and well combined.
- Add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.
- Once all sugar is incorporated, beat for 4 minutes until frosting is light and fluffy.
- Let rolls rest for 10 minutes and then frost.