The Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

4.95 from 227 votes

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These Cinnamon Rolls are the ultimate Cinnabon clone. Chewy, soft, and homemade, you’ll never need another Cinnamon Roll Recipe again!

Ok guys, HERE IT IS, my Homemade Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls Recipe! I’m pretty sure this is the most anticipated recipe I’ve hyped up in a very long time–and for good reason! These Cinnamon Rolls are absolutely heavenly and I’ve been working hard trying to get this recipe as close as I can. To give you an idea of what I’ve been up to and why it took me so long to finally publish this, let me explain my whole process.

Cinnamon rolls

Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll Recipe

First I googled the ingredients of the Cinnabon. After a few minutes, I found them. All companies have published their actual ingredients list SOMEWHERE. If it’s not on the web, go into the store and ask. These days, most companies have their nutritional information online. I found Cinnabon’s here. I also found a bunch of ‘cloned’ recipes which had almost NONE of the actual ingredients found in one of these divine cinnamon rolls. Real clone? I think not!

Once I had that list, I shortened it by taking out all the preservatives and things most people wouldn’t have on hand like whey, powdered egg, potassium sorbate, and yellow #5.

Then from here I went through the list again and decided what ingredients were used for what. Flour-goes in the dough, brown sugar-goes in the filling, etc. Also, having the ingredients listed in order from most to least helped quite a bit.

Once I had all that figured out, I just started testing. After 6 huge batches, I think I got a pretty good clone. If you’re going to make a clone, use this recipe! It’s the closest, next best thing using all the same ingredients.

Cinnamon Rolls Ingredient List

Okay, get your shopping list ready because there are a lot of ingredients that go into this recipe. Most ingredients you might already have because they are baking staples. Others you might have to shop around for (like corn syrup or buttermilk).

  • For the dough, you’ll need warm water, active dry yeast (use the fast-acting kind), salt, granulated sugar, buttermilk (at room temperature), egg, canola oil (or vegetable oil), and all-purpose flour.
  • For the cinnamon filling, you’ll need softened margarine (or butter), light brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and cornstarch.
  • For the cinnamon roll icing, you’ll need cream cheese (at room temperature), softened margarine (or butter), vanilla extract, corn syrup, fresh lemon juice, and powdered sugar.

Once you have all of these ingredients, you’re ready to make the best cinnamon rolls ever!

Want more dessert ideas? I got you covered: Actually Perfect Chocolate Chip CookiesThe Best Homemade Brownie RecipeThe Best Cheesecake RecipeEasy Cannoli Recipe*AMAZING* Peach Cobbler, and Ultimate Banana Pudding Recipe.

Yeast Mixture

How to Make Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Start out with warm water in your mixing bowl {not milk like the impostor Cinnabon recipes online.}
  2. Sprinkle some quick-rising active dry yeast into the bowl along with about a tablespoon of the sugar.
  3. Stir it around and let it proof for a few minutes while we get some other ingredients together.

Buttermilk Mixture

  1. Over to the side, measure out some oil, an egg, and… buttermilk–the secret ingredient!

(Out of all the ‘cloned’ recipes I looked through online, NONE of them had buttermilk!! If you search Cinnabon secret ingredient on YouTube, you’ll find the creator talking about her ingredient. She never says what it is, but buttermilk fits the bill of everything she was saying! I’m onto something…)

  1. Whisk this all together to break up that egg.

Frothy Yeast Mixture

  1. Now, after 5-10 minutes, your yeast should be looking pretty frothy and bubbly (see picture above).
  2. Now you can add in that buttermilk/egg mixture, the remaining sugar, and some salt. Stir this around for a minute.

Flour

  1. Then dump in about half of the measured flour into the bowl and stir.
  2. Once that is incorporated, sprinkle in more flour in 1/4 cup increments until the dough pulls away from the sides and the bowl looks clean.

(The dough should be sticky but not sticky enough to stick to your fingers when touched. You might use the full 4 1/2 to 5 cups of flour. You might use more, you might use less. Just be sure to look for these telltale signs that the dough has enough flour incorporated.)

  1. Then, turn your mixer on low to knead 5 minutes.

(This dough pictured below is not quite ready. See how it’s sticking to the bottom? I ended up adding about 1/4 cup more flour and it was ready.)

Cinnamon Roll Dough

  1. Once the dough is all kneaded, keep your dough in the greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a dishtowel and rise 1-2 hours or until it has doubled in size.

(In retrospect, I would have just greased a bowl and let it rise in there because, after a few hours, things start to pop out and bulge. So, don’t be like me and wrap the dough in plastic wrap, keep it in the bowl.)

Proofing Dough

Filling and Cutting Rolls

  1. In a small bowl, measure out some brown sugar, corn starch, and cinnamon. Stir this all together and set it aside.

(I know cornstarch is a totally weird ingredient, but it helps hold the filling in the cinnamon roll instead of oozing out all over the place. It still oozes, but not nearly as much. Cinnabon actually uses some sort of chemical/food gum to help it not ooze which is REALLY appetizing I know…)Cinnamon Sugar

  1. Before you start rolling, get some baking pans ready by lining them with parchment paper and lightly greasing them with margarine.

Lined and greased pan

  1. Roll your dough out on a floured work surface to be a 20×30 inch rectangle…or as close to it as possible. Don’t sweat if it’s 1-2 inches shorter. I ended up cutting a section of dough off one end and patching it into the other end–no biggie.
  2. Spread some really soft margarine over the dough, leaving a 1-inch strip of dough plain and untouched.

Margarine on Dough

  1. Dump the filling onto the margarine and spread it around to create an even layer. As you can see, we still are leaving that 1-inch strip of dough completely alone. 
  2. Lightly press the sugar into the margarine with a rolling pin.

Cinnamon Sugar on Dough

  1. Then roll up the dough as tightly as you can, ending with the plain dough on the bottom of this log.
  2. Slice the uneven ends off and get out your measuring tape!
  3. Score the log of dough every 2 inches, then slice it to ensure even rolls.

Rolled and Scored Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Then prop them up in the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap and a dishtowel and let them rise, at room temperature, on the counter.
  2. An hour or two later, you should have some pretty darn perfect rolls.

Unbaked Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Don’t forget to take the plastic wrap off before you bake! That would be bad…
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 17- 20 minutes. You’re going to want to watch these like a hawk!!! DO NOT let these overbake! Once the tops start to brown, they are done!

Proofed Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Roll Icing

Sweet blessed cream cheese frosting. I used a tiny little food chopper for mine, but feel free to use a hand mixer or a stand mixer.

  1. Start by mixing the softened cream cheese and margarine together.

Cream Cheese and Margarine

  1. To this, pour in some corn syrup, vanilla, and lemon juice.
  2. Blend this up, scrape the sides and blend again.

Cinnamon Roll Frosting

  1. Now dump in all your powdered sugar and mix.
  2. Scrape the sides and mix again until everything is smooth and delicious.

(If you want your frosting to look more like Cinnabon’s, whip it 5-7 minutes or until it lightens in color.)

Cinnamon Roll Icing

Assembling Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Once your rolls are freshly baked, pull them out of the oven and give them a healthy slathering of icing.
  2. If your icing isn’t finished once the rolls are done, pull them out and cover them lightly with foil. You don’t want the tops of these getting hard!

Baked Cinnamon Rolls

  1. You’ll only end up using about half the frosting right away and that will melt right into the rolls. Then once they have cooled off a little more, feel free to go back and re-frost them.

Do these not look incredible?! Picture perfect rolls….and my house smelled amazing!!

I dove face first into this entire pan and ate every last morsel. TO.DIE.FOR. Super sweet, chewy, light, fluffy, cream cheesey. Mmmm….heaven!

Cinnamon Roll Recipe

Cinnamon Rolls Pro Tips

Over kneading. Kneading dough in a stand mixer is a great way to make this enriched dough, however, there is a tendency to add in too much flour. Be sure it’s sticky, but not sticky enough to stick to your fingers. Knead by hand is a great way to ensure the dough doesn’t get over kneaded.

More Yeast. Because this is such an enriched dough (sugar, oil, eggs, etc..) the yeast has a harder time rising as fast as maybe we’d like. Of course, adding in too much flour can prevent dough from rising too. If this is a concern to you, add in an extra teaspoon or two of rapid rise yeast. It’ll work wonders!!

Rolling. Roll your dough relatively tightly so they maintain their shape, but not so terribly tight that the dough can’t rise. Practice makes perfect!

Cinnamon Rolls

Why do you use margarine?

Because that is what Cinnabon uses. Of course, you can use real butter in place of the margarine.

Can I make Cinnamon Rolls ahead of time?

Yes, you can!  Follow the directions up until letting the dough rise after filling and rolling them. At this point, you can store them in the fridge overnight if you are making them ahead of time.

To make them the next day, bring them up to room temp and let them rise before baking. (After I took the pan out of the fridge, I let them rise 4 hours. It takes a while to take the chill off.) After that, prepare the icing and follow the directions as normal.

Do I have to use the corn syrup and corn starch?

No! The corn syrup adds a nice shine to the frosting and the corn starch helps hold the filling in place.

The Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Why did my rolls not rise?

Well, this could be caused by a number of reasons. Your yeast was not fast-acting, your yeast was old, you kneaded in too much flour, your kitchen was on the colder side, etc. etc. If you’re really concerned about it, simply double the yeast to have some extra insurance. These rolls are made with a very enriched dough (buttermilk, sugar, oil, eggs, etc..) which make it a slow rise. This is totally normal! Again, if you’d like to speed things up, simply double the yeast.

More Sweet Breakfast Recipes!

If you enjoyed this recipe as a breakfast treat, you’re going to love my other sweet breakfast recipes!

So, there you have it! The Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls! Hopefully, you’ll all find a few hours to make these! They are TOTALLY worth the wait! 🙂 Have a great day! 🙂

4.95 from 227 votes

The Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

These Cinnamon Rolls are the ultimate Cinnabon clone. Chewy, soft, and homemade, you'll never need another Cinnamon Roll Recipe again!
servings 15 rolls
Prep Time 6 hrs
Cook Time 17 mins
Total Time 6 hrs 17 mins

Ingredients

for the dough-

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast use rapid rise (*see notes below)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
  • 4 1/2-5 cups all purpose unbleached flour

for the filling-

  • 1/2 cup margarine softened (or butter)
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

for the frosting-

  • 2 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup margarine softened (or butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Make the Dough-

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, pour in water, yeast and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar. Stir and proof 5 minutes. 
  • Once the mixture looks bubbly and frothy, pour in remaining sugar. Stir on low for 15-20 seconds. In a small bowl, measure buttermilk, oil, and egg. Whisk ingredients together until egg is incorporated to other two ingredients. Pour contents into the water and yeast mixture. Stir another 20 seconds in the mixer. 
  • Pour 2 cups of flour and salt into mixer and stir on low until incorporated. Sprinkle flour in by 1/4 cup increments until dough cleans the sides and bottom of the bowl. **You may not use the entire amount of flour to get to this stage. THAT'S OK! When the dough is tacky but not sticky enough to stick to your hands when touched, it's perfect. Once it has reached this stage, knead for 5 minutes. 
  • Remove dough from bowl, grease and replace back into same mixing bowl {since it's practically clean anyways.} Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Rise 1-2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

Filling and Cutting Rolls-

  • In a medium-size bowl, stir brown sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch together until combined. Set aside. 
  • Punch down dough. Flour a large clean table liberally with flour. Lightly flour dough as well. Roll dough out to be a 20x30 rectangle {or as close to that as possible} while moving dough around to ensure it's not sticking to your work surface. If it's a little short or uneven, feel free to cut off the edges to even it all out.
  •  Spread softened margarine over dough, being sure to go right to the edges leaving a 1-inch strip untouched on one of the longer sides of dough. Dump brown sugar mixture onto the middle of the dough and spread with your hands, creating an even layer over top of the margarine, still leaving that 1-inch strip of dough untouched. If you have any filling that falls off the sides of the dough, use a bench scraper to replace. Lightly press the sugar mixture into the margarine using a rolling pin.
  • Roll the dough up into a tight log, finishing with the plain dough on the bottom to seal the entire thing together. Cut off the uneven ends to even out the log. Score log every 2 inches and then slice your rolls using those marks. Place onto parchment paper lined, margarine greased pans. 12 into a 9x13, 3 remaining into a loaf pan, or 8x8 with the small ends. Cover pans with plastic wrap and dish towels. 
  • Let rolls rise another 1-2 hours or until they are touching and have risen almost double. If you are not using quick rise yeast, have added too much flour or are working in a chilly kitchen, it may take 3-4 hours for your rolls to rise. 
    My rolls always spread out more than up, so just be aware that they will most likely spread out more than up. Bake in a preheated 350 degree for 17-20 minutes, or until tops start to brown. Watch them carefully!!

Cinnamon Roll Icing-

  • While the rolls are baking, whip cream cheese and margarine together. Stir in vanilla, corn syrup and lemon juice. Scrape sides and mix again. Pour in powdered sugar and stir slowly until it starts to incorporate. Then mix on high for 5 minutes or until frosting starts to lighten in color. Scrape sides and mix again briefly. 
  • Once rolls have been removed from the oven, frost using half the amount made. Then after they have cooled a few more minutes, frost again with remaining frosting. The first frosting will melt down into the rolls and the second layer should stay put. Serve warm.

Notes

*I use Red Star Platinum Yeast (rapid rise kind). Feel free to double the yeast in this recipe to ensure a good rise, especially if you're working in a drafty kitchen.
-See step by step photos for more details.
-If your frosting isn't quite ready after you pull the rolls out of the oven, cover with foil so the tops don't dry out and get crispy.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 432kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 290mg | Potassium: 105mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 485IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 2.1mg
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: breakfast, cinnamon roll recipe, cinnamon rolls, Easy Cinnamon Roll Recipe, how to make cinnamon rolls
Polaroid photo of granola bars

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730 Responses
  1. Lori

    I plan to make these for a kids sleep over party, would I be able to make them mini rolls somehow & how would I have to adjust cooking time?

  2. Jacqueline Moore

    I made a few modifications like adding egg whites to the egg, vanilla, and used real butter and skipped the corn starch and corn syrup. I also made my own buttermilk and I free poured everything. This dough was so light and airy – wow did this recipe ever turn out amazing. By far the best buns yet!

    PS how come I cannot post your recipe to social media eg. FB?

  3. Jacqueline Moore

    5 stars
    This recipe was amazing! How come you cannot post it to social media? e.g. FB

    I modified it such as adding egg white to the egg and vanilla to the dough. I also made my own buttermilk and I used real butter and skipped the corn syrup and corn starch.

    I also free poured everything including the yeast! BEST BUNS EVER!!!

  4. How To Make A Cinnamon Rolls - Dum Dum Donutterie

    […] just a little bit is actually you have to enhance all of the tastes.picture collage of reducing cinnamon roll and putting it in baking […]

  5. Ivory Vane

    5 stars
    Hi Lauren! I made these today to get me through the week before midterms crush and they’re absolutely heavenly! Thank you for all your research and for posting this recipe, it is my new favorite. Margarine and all.

  6. Amanda Waxman

    5 stars
    These were wonderful!! The next time I make them, I will cut the lemon juice in the frosting to 1/2 teaspoon, though. The frosting was just slightly too tangy for my taste.

  7. Aly

    5 stars
    I made these and followed the recipe to the T it was amazing! I can’t wait to make again!! I thought I’d have a hard time but nailed it on the first try

  8. EMILIE

    Hello! I’m a first time dough maker, hence my question. Should the dough rise in a warm space or cool space?
    Thanks!
    Emilie

  9. Jessica Frazier

    5 stars
    I made these and my family loves loves loves them!!! They are a hit! I added pecans the second time because they requested and they turned out great!!

  10. Holly

    I’m going to add some dough enhancer (which has whey and lecithin) and some malted barley flour. I see those things in the “original” that you found. I’m a bread baker and have those on hand all the time. We’ll see what happens. 🙂 Thanks for posting.

  11. Arna

    4 stars
    Only 4 stars since I followed the directions and took them out of the oven when they were golden brown on top. Unfortunately, after I iced them and tried them, they were not done. A lot of work, and I am sure they would have tasted great if I had left them in longer. I was afraid to leave them in after they were golden brown as instructed. Next time I will have to let them darker brown to have them bake through.

  12. Sheena M

    5 stars
    My cinnamon rolls “fell” once I took them out of the oven and they cooled. Any ideas why? They still tastes great tho!

  13. Astrid

    5 stars
    Hi Lauren,
    Thanks so much for the recipe. May I check with you, when i baked mine, lots of the cinnamon filling escaped and was oozing out the bun, making the base of the bun very messy. Is it because I didn’t roll it tight enough?
    Other than that, 😋😋 it was fabulous
    Thanks again

  14. Erica Campbell

    5 stars
    I made them and they turn out right. The only problem I had was with my dough hook on my kitchen aid mixer. Lol other than that they were great. Would have post a picture but it wouldn’t let me.

  15. Obakeng

    5 stars
    Made them today (still in quarantine) these are so good, I can’t believe it.
    I did not have cream cheese, so I used condense milk as a topping, added some lemon juice.

  16. Jennifer

    Hi! Is there a way to make this without the egg? Would it turn out the same if I left the egg out? I love cinnamon rolls but my husband can’t eat eggs. Thanks!

  17. Jennifer

    Hi, will it turn out ok if I leave out the egg? I love cinnamon rolls but my husband can’t eat eggs. I’m so excited to try making these. Thanks!

  18. Niki

    5 stars
    I made these last night/this morning, and man, you have absolutely nailed it. The buttermilk in the dough and the lemon in the frosting were absolutely the key here, I think – they provide a beautiful contrast, rather than the pure “sweet” you might otherwise expect.

  19. Sjenelva

    So….
    I tried this!
    Taste is very good.
    Texture very soft.
    Everything was perfect…….
    Until they burned on top within 10 minutes😂😂😂😂
    So, my question is: your over was set to 350 degrees. Is it Celsius or Fahrenheit ?

  20. StephanieG

    Can you please help me to understand why you would proof instant yeast? I thought that instant/rapidrise yeast would lose its ability to quick rise if it was mixed with water too early in the recipe.

    I didn’t have buttermilk, but I did have powdered buttermilk. The instructions say to mix this in with the dry ingredients prior to mixing in the liquids, so I added it with flour and water to replace the measurement of liquid buttermilk.

    One more question – I keep vital wheat gluten powder, which is supposed to make baked goods extra tender. Have you ever added gluten to your powder mixture?

    1. Lauren

      I like proofing all my yeast to make sure its good. I haven’t noticed any problems with doing this in this recipe.

      I would have created ‘buttermilk’ by stirring the powder together with water and using the proper measurement. Sounds like you got it figured out!

      I’ve never added the vital wheat gluten powder to this recipe since its based off the cinnabon recipe, but you are welcome to test it out!

  21. Callum

    5 stars
    Fantastic recipe, Can you let them rise/proove overnight in the fridge at any point? Would love to just pop them in the oven in the morning for a breakfast treat. Thanks

  22. whitney

    5 stars
    Soooo….I threw the ingredients in the bread machine, with a little extra water because itnwas really thick and I used 4 tsp of rapid rise yeast. I was worried aboutnl the dough being so firm bit i kept going…. Let them rise in machine 30 minutes, in a bowl for 1.5 hours and after assembling they rose for another hour…These are amazing…. I didn’t have all of the icing ingredients so I whipped cream cheese and a simple syrup together and put that over top of it and it was delicious! Made 14 gigantic ( 5*5 inch) buns!