Easy cinnamon rolls topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting are a heavenly family favorite. We like to make cinnamon rolls around the holidays or for a special weekend treat. My kids LOVE this cream cheese frosting. “It’s just like Cinnabon!” They eagerly claimed. And that made my day.
In this recipe, I show you how to make cinnamon rolls with a bread machine to prepare the dough. It’s been a while since I made cinnamon rolls. I don’t consider this a difficult recipe, but they do take time and a little patience to make. I use my bread machine to prepare the dough because I think it makes the overall process much easier.
If you don’t have a bread machine, don’t worry. You can still make these easy cinnamon rolls. It will just require you to do the kneading instead of the machine. The dough will be left to rise in a bowl in a warm spot in the kitchen. It should be covered and away from drafts. See the section below about how to make cinnamon roll dough without a bread machine.
Cinnamon rolls are made from a sweetened enriched dough, which means it contains sugar and an egg. I like the combination of sugar and a little liquid honey for flavor. If you don’t like honey, increase the sugar quantity to 1/3 cup. I recommend using bread flour for cinnamon rolls. It is the best kind of flour for the best result. However, I have made them with regular all-purpose flour and they turned out just fine.
An important step that I think makes a big difference in the quality of the cinnamon rolls and particularly the sweet gooey cream cheese frosting is to make sure your ingredients are at room temperature before you begin. The cream cheese in particular will lump up if it is not at room temperature before mixing it up with the frosting ingredients.
What you’ll need
Cinnamon roll dough
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/4 cup luke warm water
- 3 1/2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
Cream cheese frosting
- 4 oz cream cheese (half a block)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
I had really good results baking the cinnamon rolls in a cast iron skillet. Make sure you spray the pan with vegetable spray (like PAM) before setting the rolls in to rise. There was a nice even bake with the cast iron pan. And it is such a pretty rustic presentation when they are out of the oven. If you don’t have a cast iron pan, that’s ok. You can bake these in a 9 x 13 non-stick baking pan or casserole dish.
Making the cinnamon roll dough
As I mentioned, I love using my bread machine to prepare the dough. Follow your bread machine’s manufacturer’s guidelines regarding the order in which to place the water (liquid ingredients), flour, yeast, sugar and salt.
My bread machine requires I start with the liquid ingredients first as follows:
- lemon juice
Followed by the dry ingredients
- Sprinkle the flour all over the pan on top of the water
- Add sugar on one side
- Salt in the opposite corner
- Make a small well in the center of the flour (keep the water covered by flour) and pour the yeast packet in the well
Select the “dough” cycle on the bread machine and press start. Let the bread machine do it’s job while you go make yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee.
Troubleshooting the dough
Once the dough has started to form in the bread machine, take a look. If it appears too wet, sprinkle another 1 tablespoon of flour on top. That being said, I’ve still had success even with a somewhat “wetter” dough. So, you can leave it alone if you prefer. Baking is tricky science. Precise measurements, humidity and elevation play a factor in how your recipe will turn out. Breads in particular are susceptible to humidity levels and elevation. This recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups water. But I have found 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons of water is plenty for our coastal humidity levels. I also find it’s easier to “save” a wet dough by dusting it with more flour when rolling it out, rather than trying to save a “dry” dough. This is why I say, leave it alone if you prefer.
Tips for making cinnamon roll dough
- Use bread flour
- Make sure the yeast is fresh and not past its expiry date
- Use luke warm water
- Make sure ingredients are at room temperature before you start
- When rolls are rising, keep them covered with a kitchen towel and away from drafts
Rolling out the cinnamon roll dough
After the dough has risen and has doubled in size it is ready to roll out. Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a 9 x 14 inch rectangle. Spread melted butter all over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon and the brown sugar all over the dough surface. Next roll up the dough tightly starting on the shorter side of the rectangle (9 inch side). You sometimes have to seal up the ends of the dough roll to avoid having sugar spill out.
Slicing the cinnamon rolls and baking
At this point you will have a long roll of dough. Spray the pan with vegetable spray. If using a cast iron pan, I find they fit best if you cut out eight rolls. Slice the roll in half. Then cut eat half into even quarters (generally about 2 inches wide). If you are using a rectangular non-stick baking pan or casserole dish, you can cut the long roll into 12 even slices. I use a sharp carving knife to cut the rolls. Floss also works well. Evenly space out the rolls in the pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and set them aside to rise in a warm spot in the kitchen for 45 minutes. Then bake in a 350 F degree oven for 25 minutes.
Frosting the cinnamon rolls
This cream cheese frosting is so delicious. It is tangy with a slight hint of acidity from the lemon. The most important tip for making the frosting is to make sure everything is at room temperature before you begin. So, make sure you pull everything out of the fridge, measure and set it aside early enough in the process. Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir it up. I often use a fork or whisk for this. Once the cinnamon rolls come out of the oven, allow them to cool slightly. Then spread the frosting all over the tops of the warm rolls. It’s amazing!
How to make cinnamon roll dough without a bread machine
Follow these steps if you do not have a bread machine to prepare the dough.
Measure out the water for the recipe. Make sure the water is luke warm, not hot. Dissolve the yeast in the water. It will bloom. In a large bowl add the remaining liquid ingredients and the bloomed yeast. In a medium sized bowl combine all the salt, flour and sugar and stir until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well until it the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted with flour. Knead the dough into a large ball. Dust your hands with flour as necessary. Place the dough into a large bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow it to rise in a warm place on your counter top for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
Can cinnamon rolls be refrigerated overnight?
Yes. This is smart planning to cut down on the work in the morning. You can prepare the cinnamon rolls the night before, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate them overnight. Early the next morning, remove the plastic wrap and cover them with a kitchen towel. Leave the rolls to rise in a warm spot on the counter. Because they are cold, it will take more time for the second rise. Then bake.
I hope you enjoy this easy cinnamon roll recipe. Please let me know how they turned out for you in the comments below.
Easy cinnamon rollsCourse: Breakfast, Holiday favoritesCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Intermediate
Easy cinnamon rolls topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting are a heavenly family favorite. Just like Cinnabon! Easy peasy when you use a bread machine to make the dough.
- Cinnamon roll dough
1 large egg
1 1/4 cup luke warm water
3 1/2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 package active dry yeast
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
- Cream cheese frosting
4 oz cream cheese (half a block)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Additional flour for dusting as needed
10 inch cast iron skillet or 9 x 13 baking pan
- Measure all ingredients and bring them to room temperature. Follow your bread machine’s manufacturer’s guidelines regarding the order in which to place the water (liquid ingredients), flour, yeast, sugar and salt.
- Place water, egg, oil, lemon juice and honey into the bread machine bowl. Sprinkle the flour all over the pan on top of the water. Add sugar on one side and salt in the opposite corner. Make a small well in the center of the flour (keep the water covered by flour) and pour the yeast packet in the well.
- Select the “dough” cycle on the bread machine and press start. Let the bread machine do it’s job.
- Once the bread machine signals the dough cycle is complete, transfer the dough to a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a 9 x 14 inch rectangle.
- Spread melted butter all over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon and the brown sugar all over the dough surface. Next roll up the dough tightly starting on the shorter side of the rectangle (9 inch side). You sometimes have to seal up the ends of the dough roll to avoid having sugar spill out.
- Spray a 10 inch round cast iron pan with vegetable spray. (See notes below if using a 9 x 13 rectangle baking pan.) Slice the long dough roll in half. Then cut eat half into even quarters (generally about 2 inches wide). Place the 8 rolls into the pan. One in the center, the others evenly spaced out around it. Use a sharp knife or floss for this.
- Cover the rolls with a clean kitchen towel. Set them aside to rise in a warm, draft free spot in the kitchen for 45 minutes. During this time, preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
- Cream cheese frosting
- Take all the frosting ingredients out of the fridge early enough in the process to bring them up to room temperature.
- Place all the frosting ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir. Use a hand held mixer or a whisk for this.
- Allow the cinnamon rolls to cool slightly. Then spread the frosting all over the tops of the warm rolls.
- If you don’t like honey, increase the sugar quantity to 1/3 cup.
- I recommend you read the full post for tips and tricks for making cinnamon rolls. If you do not have a bread machine, read the instructions for preparing the dough in the post.
- Use a 10 inch cast iron skillet (8 rolls) or 9 x 13 baking pan (12 smaller rolls) for baking.
- If using a 9 x 13 baking pan, cut the long dough roll into 12 even slices (approximately 1.5 inches wide). Spray the pan with vegetable spray. Evenly space the rolls out along the pan.