You can make Copycat Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls right at home! Super soft and full of fantastic cinnamon flavor and topped with an amazing cream cheese frosting, these are the perfect homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning, Mother’s Day, or any day of the year! You can even prep them the day before and bake them in the morning so they’ll be hot and fresh!
Any time you go to any mall in America, there’s a certain point where you start smelling something heavenly. It’s sweet and cinnamony, and you know that you are approaching the Cinnabon store. It’s SO HARD to walk by and not buy a cinnamon roll. (Do they actually have fans where they blow the scent through the mall? I swear they do this).
Now you don’t have to go to the mall to get a super fluffy, packed-with-cinnamon and smeared-with-frosting cinnamon roll. You can make them right at home! This Cinnabon recipe (without a bread machine) doesn’t have any special ingredients. In fact, you probably have everything you need at home right now! These are honestly the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had!
I’m going to take you through the process, step by step for these amazing homemade cinnamon rolls. First, check your pantry and fridge for the following:
Ingredients for Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls
For the dough:
- Warm milk
- Granulated Sugar
- Butter (room temperature)
- Bread flour (or regular flour)
For the filling:
- Brown sugar
- Butter (softened)
For the frosting:
- Cream cheese (softened)
- Butter (softened)
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla or Vanilla Extract
How to Make Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls
First, you need to make the dough. I use my Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook, but you can mix it in a large bowl with a wooden spoon and knead it by hand if you wish.
Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size. (Secret trick: to get it to rise faster, heat your oven to 200 degrees F. Then turn it off, cover your dough in an oven-safe bowl with a kitchen towel and put it in the oven. It will rise super quick!)
Now punch the dough down and roll it out on a large, floured surface. Roll it out pretty thin. You are going to have a really large rectangle about 16 inches by 24 inches. (Mine didn’t look like a perfect rectangle, and that’s fine).
Take your softened butter and spread it across the surface of the dough. I like to leave one edge uncovered so it will seal better when I roll it up.
After you spread the butter, top with your cinnamon mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, and a little flour. I roll over it with my rolling pin to press the cinnamon sugar into the butter.
Now it’s time to roll it up. Start on the long edge, and start rolling toward the other side. Since you’ve rolled the dough quite thin, you’re going to have lots of layers and end up with a really long log. Lightly score the top of the log so you know where to cut your rolls. You can make each roll about two inches wide. Now use dental floss to cut the rolls. To see how to do this, you can go to my post for Orange Rolls. Alternately, you can cut your rolls with a sharp knife.
Line a 9×13-inch pan and an 8×8-inch pan with parchment paper. (Or if you have a pan larger than 9×13, you can just use one pan). Place your unbaked rolls in the pan and cover loosely with plastic wrap for their second rise. Let rise until doubled. (At this point, if you’re planning to bake them the next morning, cover with plastic wrap and place in your fridge. They’ll slowly rise overnight and be ready to go in the morning!)
Now bake at 350 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Now if you really want gooey centers, you’re going to want to mix up your delicious cream cheese icing while these are baking and have it ready as soon as they come out of the oven. While the rolls are still nice and hot, spread a layer of frosting over the top. It will melt down into the crevices.
Then once the rolls have cooled more, you can add more frosting to the top where it will stay thick and creamy.
Now it’s time to eat and enjoy! Add a cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate and you’ve got the perfect combo!
This recipe adapted from Cinnabon Copycat Cinnamon Rolls from Bite of Delight.
For the Dough
- 1 cup warm milk
- 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 1/2 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
For the Filling
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon flour
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl, add 1 cup warm milk, 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast, and about a teaspoon of sugar (from the 1/2 cup). Let sit for about ten minutes until the yeast is activated and is frothy.
- Add the remaining sugar, two eggs, 1/3 cup melted butter, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix.
- Add 3 cups of the bread flour to the bowl and mix with the dough hook or by hand.
- Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl. If additional flour is needed, add 1 Tablespoon at a time until no longer sticky.
- Knead for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. (If using a stand mixer, continue using the dough hook to knead the dough).
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size. This may take about an hour (See the notes for instructions on how to get the dough to rise faster).
- While the dough is rising, combine the filling ingredients of 1 cup of brown sugar, 2 1/2 Tablespoons of cinnamon, and 1 Tablespoon of flour. Set aside.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it down and then turn out onto a large floured surface. Cover and let rest for ten minutes. Then roll into a large rectangle, about 16"x24". The dough should be rolled out quite thin.
- Spread the 1/3 cup softened butter over the top of the dough.
- Sprinkle the brown sugar/cinnamon/flour mixture over the butter and spread evenly with your hands. Use a rolling pin to gently roll and press the mixture into the butter.
- Starting at the long end, begin rolling up the dough. Once rolled, lightly score the top of the log every two inches.
- Use dental floss to cut the rolls.
- Place parchment paper into a 9x13 and 8x8 pan. (Alternately, you can grease the pans). Place the cut rolls into the pans. Cover and let rise until the rolls spread out and fill up the pans.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes, until golden.
- While the rolls are baking mix together the frosting ingredients. This is easiest done in a large bowl with a hand mixer. Add the 6 ounces cream cheese and 1/2 cup butter and mix well. Then add the 3 cups of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and blend on low speed until everything is mixed together.
- As soon as you remove the rolls from the oven, spread some of the frosting over the top so it will melt down into the cinnamon rolls. Once the rolls have cooled completely, spread the remaining frosting over the top.
To make your own bread flour, you can replace 1 1/2 teaspoons of each cup of flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten.
To prep these rolls beforehand, make the day before you want to bake them. Once the rolls have been cut and placed in pans, cover them loosely with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the refrigerator about an hour before baking to let come to room temperature.
To speed up the rising process, preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. Then turn your oven off. Place your dough in an oven-safe bowl and cover with a towel. (Do not use plastic wrap). Place inside the warm oven. Check after about 20-30 minutes. When dough has doubled, remove it from the oven. Be sure to use hot pads.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 373Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 261mgCarbohydrates: 55gFiber: 1gSugar: 30gProtein: 6g
Common Cinnamon Roll Questions
Should I use unsalted or salted butter?
Most professional bakers and chefs will probably recommend using unsalted butter. Mainly because with unsalted butter, you know exactly how much salt is going into your recipe.
That said, you can totally use salted butter in this recipe and the cinnamon rolls will still be delicious!
Honestly, it would take a massive amount of salted butter to change the taste of just about any recipe — all I’m saying is don’t panic if all you have is salted butter.
Can I use Margarine instead of butter?
I wouldn’t use margarine for this recipe, simply because it could change the texture of the cinnamon rolls. Margarine tends to have more water and less fat, although this depends on the type of margarine you get. If you are going to use margarine, look for one that contains higher amounts of fat.
I’ve never used margarine for cinnamon rolls, so I am not exactly sure how it will affect the texture. If you have swapped out the butter for margarine, let me know how it went in the comment sections below!
What is the best flour to use for cinnamon rolls?
I definitely recommend using bread flour. Bread flour has extra proteins and produces more gluten, therefore making your bread more dense and chewy.
Can I substitute bread flour with cake or pastry flour?
While I think it’s ok to substitute bread flour with all-purpose flour, I don’t recommend using cake or pastry flour for cinnamon rolls. Cake flour (as you may have guessed) is used for making cakes. Cakes are generally light and airy, whereas cinnamon rolls need to be more dense and chewy to give you that bread-y texture and hold that beautiful spiral form.
What happens if you leave the dough to rise for too long?
Yeast feeds on the sugars in the flour and expels carbon dioxide in the process. The carbon dioxide then forms bubbles in the air pockets of your dough. If you leave your dough to rise for too long, the more air bubbles you’ll have in your dough. Unfortunately, too many air bubbles mean the texture of the bread will be porous, dry, and extremely crumbly.
How long should I knead the dough?
I wish there was a magic amount of time that gives you the perfect cinnamon roll dough. Wouldn’t it be nice if I said, “Knead for 3 minutes and 47 seconds for the perfect dough texture.”
Instead of a certain amount of time, I like to go by the texture and smoothness of the dough. For cinnamon rolls, you want your dough to be moderately soft, slightly tacky, and have a smooth texture. If you’re mixing your dough in a mixing bowl, you’ll notice that it starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl, and will have a tacky (not sticky) texture.
Can I use a bread machine to knead dough?
Yes! Just be sure to set your machine to the “dough only” setting.
If you do this, just be careful to not let the machine over-knead your dough.
How do you keep cinnamon rolls from getting hard?
Wrap your cinnamon rolls individually and tightly with saran wrap or foil. Put them in a freezer bag and place them in your freezer. When you’re ready for more gooey cinnamon roll goodness, take them out to thaw, if you’re impatient like I am, put them in the microwave for about 20-25 seconds.