How to Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls From Scratch

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homemade cinnamon rolls with icing
Photo: abrooks

You don't have to run to the mall to satisfy your craving for cinnamon rolls — soft and warm from the oven and drizzled with icing. We'll show you step by step how to make cinnamon rolls from scratch — from making the dough to filling, forming, baking, and icing — with loads of helpful tips along the way.

How to Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

For this step-by-step demo, we'll follow the recipe for Clone of a Cinnabon.

Tip: Be sure to measure out the butter for the filling and icing separately and let them come to room temperature so they'll be ready when you need them for the recipe.

1. Prepare the yeast dough. Once the dough has risen once, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Flatten the dough with the palms of your hands and gently stretch and/or roll it into a rectangle.

Pressing cinnamon roll dough into a rectangle. | Photo by Meredith.

2. Use a rolling pin (try this $16 best-seller) to roll the dough out into a larger rectangle, approximately 12 inches wide by 20 inches long. The dough might be sticky, so flour the work surface and the rolling pin, checking to be sure the dough isn't stuck to the work surface and adding more flour as necessary.

Rolling Out Cinnamon Roll Dough with Rolling Pin
Rolling out cinnamon roll dough to a larger rectangle with a rolling pin. | Photo by Meredith.

3. Spread the softened butter over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch strip along the long edge of the rectangle furthest away from you completely dry. (Other cinnamon roll recipes call for egg wash instead of butter; if you're using egg wash, brush the entire surface.)

4. Generously sprinkle cinnamon-sugar over the butter, spreading the mixture evenly. Other spices, such as nutmeg and cardamom, also work well. Leave the 1-inch border free of sugar. Tip: Adding a pinch of ground cloves to the cinnamon-sugar mixture boosts the cinnamon flavor.

5. Add any other fillings you're using — raisins, nuts, shredded coconut, orange zest — taking care to distribute them evenly.

6. Start at the left-hand corner of the edge closest to you. Working from left to right, tug the lip of the dough up and over the filling, keeping it tight. Roll up the dough, tightening the log as you go.

Rolling Up Cinnamon Dough
Rolling up cinnamon roll dough. | Photo by Meredith.

7. When you reach the far edge of the dough, moisten the bare edge with egg wash or water and pinch to seal the seam.

Pinching Rolled Cinnamon Dough Closed
Pinching rolled dough closed. | Photo by Meredith.

8. Use a serrated knife, pastry cutter, or length of unwaxed dental floss (our favorite method) to cut the dough into even-sized pieces. You might want to discard the very ends of the roll since they often contain little filling.

Cutting Dough Into Small Rolls With Floss
Use floss to cut dough into small rolls. | Photo by Meredith.

9. Place the cut rolls on a greased or parchment-lined baking pan or cookie sheet.

  • For sticky buns: Prepare the pan with the cinnamon smear and chopped pecans before arranging the rolls.
  • For pull-apart rolls: Use a baking pan and arrange the rolls about an inch apart.
  • For individual rolls: Space them two to three inches apart on a cookie sheet.

Cover the rolls with a damp cloth and let them rise until they nearly double in size, about 45 minutes to an hour. (Scroll down to see how to make overnight cinnamon rolls.)

Placing Cinnamon Roll Dough in a Baking Pan
Place cinnamon roll dough in a baking pan. | Photo by Meredith.

10. When the rolls have doubled in size, bake them in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven. Cinnamon rolls are generally baked at a lower temperature than other breads — if the rolls are close together, the tops will begin to brown before the edges and centers are done. If the rolls begin browning too soon, cover pan with foil.

11. After approximately 30 minutes, test for doneness. Use a paring knife or fork to pull up the center-most roll; if the dough is still sticky and raw-looking, return the pan to the oven for about ten more minutes. The rolls should be golden to dark brown on top, and fully baked in the center of the coil.

12. Cool the pan on a rack about 10 to 15 minutes before icing the rolls.

Iced Cinnamon Rolls on Cooling Rack
Iced cinnamon rolls on cooling rack. | Photo by Meredith.

VIDEO: Watch it all come together in this video for Clone of a Cinnabon

How to Make Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

To make overnight cinnamon rolls, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. The next morning, let the rolls rise at room temperature until doubled, then bake as directed. The dough can also be frozen for two weeks to one month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature. Proof and bake as directed.

Cinnamon Roll Icing

It's mighty tempting to ice your oven-fresh cinnamon rolls right away, but you really should let them cool off for a few minutes before drizzling or spreading icing over the top, otherwise the heat will cause the icing to slip right off the rolls. You can use that cooling time to mix The Perfect Cinnamon Roll Icing with cream cheese, butter, confectioners' sugar, milk, and vanilla. Tip: Make sure the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature so they cream together smoothly.

Cinnamon Roll Fillings

Cinnamon Roll Recipes to Try

No-Yeast Cinnamon Rolls

These speedy rolls are made with no yeast, no proofing, and no kneading. See how it's done:

VIDEO: How to Make Quick Cinnamon Rolls


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