** Updated 8.17.2020 **
Easy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls are always a hit. Imagine waking up to the sweet smell of these warm and fluffy cinnamon rolls. They're topped with a simple cardamom glaze with a gooey cinnamon center.
This cinnamon roll recipe is easy and uses ingredients you may already have in your pantry. Although it calls for yeast, don't feel intimidated by this ingredient. You'll be surprised by how easy it is to work with yeast when baking. Active yeast was not always my pantry staple but because I love making what I consider the best homemade pizza dough and of course these easy homemade cinnamon rolls I keep active yeast on hand.
If you're looking to make a fun breakfast that your family will love, you gotta try this recipe.
So, stick around as I walk you through how to bring freshly baked homemade cinnamon rolls to your kitchen table.
- Warm milk
- Packet of active yeast
- Melted butter
- Unbleached all purpose flour
- Brown sugar (light or dark)
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Cardamom (if you don't have cardamom spice, cinnamon works too)
How to make cinnamon rolls
I doubled the recipe which resulted in 12 cinnamon rolls.
- In a measuring cup, add a packet of dry active yeast to 1 cup of warm milk (I use cow's milk either 2% or whole). Stir to dissolve the yeast as much as possible. Then, add the sugar and whisk. Next add the melted butter and a lightly beaten egg and whisk until ingredients are combined.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix quickly using a medium sized spoon until a ball of dough forms. DO NOT OVER-MIX THE DOUGH.
- In a separate large bowl, rub the inside of the bowl with butter and place the ball of dough in the bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow the ball of dough to sit for 1 hour to 1-1/2 hours covered, so it can rise or double in size. This step is crucial for soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls.
- The filling requires 2 ingredients... just cinnamon and brown sugar. I would recommend dark brown sugar if you have it as the molasses that's in dark brown sugar results in a much gooier center.
Rolling the dough:
- Dust your work surface with flour before placing the ball of dough to your work surface. Also, dust the rolling pin with flour, then roll the dough out about 1/4 inch thick.
- After you've rolled the dough out, spread a generous amount of the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly across the entire surface of the dough.
- Before rolling the dough into a log, dust flour over your hands as the dough may be a bit sticky in some areas. This will make it really easy to work with the dough when forming the log. Keep extra flour close by in case you need it for dusting other areas of the dough.
- Tightly roll up the dough to form a log and slightly pinch the seam so it seals.
Slicing the dough:
- After rolling the dough into a log, use a sharp knife to cut about an inch of dough off both ends.
- Slice the log by cutting into 12 pieces and place the rolls in a round pie baking dish or cast iron skillet.
- Place the cinnamon rolls in the oven to bake for about 17 to 20 minutes or until they're golden brown and cooked through. DO NOT OVER-BAKE.
- Allow the cinnamon rolls to cool a bit after baking.
- Prepare the glaze and drizzle over the cinnamon rolls and enjoy.
Other creative ideas
Add nuts: For texture, feel free to add finely chopped, walnut, almonds or pecans to the filling or on top before baking.
Add other warm spices: Combine the cinnamon-sugar mixture or the the glaze with cardamom, all-spice, pumpkin spice and ground ginger.
How to make cinnamon rolls ahead of time
You can make these homemade cinnamon rolls ahead of time by following these simple steps.
Follow the instructions up to the point that you have placed the cinnamon rolls in the baking dish. However, do no put them in the oven to bake. (In this case, do not use a cast iron skillet).
- Instead, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, remove them cinnamon rolls from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature.
- Bake according to recipe instructions.
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Easy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 cup warm milk (2% or whole milk should be warm and not hot. You can use water instead of milk)
- 1 packet active yeast
- 1.5 tbsp granulated sugar (for more sweetness you can add 1 additional tbsp of sugar)
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- 1 lightly beaten egg
- 3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1.5 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp milk (plus more until you reach your desired consistency. do 1 tbsp at a time. if too thin, add more powdered sugar. if too thick add more milk a little at a time)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp cardamom (or cinnamon if you do not have cardamom (this step is optional))
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease inside of large mixing bowl with butter (to store dough). Set aside. Grease a cast iron skillet with butter. If you do not have a cast iron skillet, a round baking dish will work just as well. Set aside.
- Mix brown sugar, cinnamon & additional warm spices. Set aside.
- Add packet of dry active yeast to 1 cup of warm milk (or water). Stir to dissolve yeast as much as possible. Add sugar and whisk. Add lightly beaten egg, melted butter & vanilla extract. Whisk until combined.
- In a separate mixing bowl, add dry ingredients (flour & salt) and whisk. Set aside.
Combine Wet & Dry Ingredients
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until ingredients are incorporated. Do not overwork the dough. Place dough on lightly floured surface and form dough into a ball. Place the ball of dough into a greased mixing bowl. Cover bowl with a clean dry kitchen towel or saran wrap. Set aside for 1 hour to 1-1/2 hours or until dough doubles in size.
- After dough has risen, lightly flour a cutting board and rolling pin and roll out dough into 1/4 inch thick. Spread the cinnamon-sugar mixture over entire surface of the rolled-out dough. Gently roll dough into a nice log. (If dough feels a little sticky while rolling, dust that area with a little flour & your fingers if necessary).
- Cut log into 12 pieces and place the rolls in prepared cast iron skillet or baking dish a couple of inches apart. Dust the top of each roll with any remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Place in oven and bake for about 17-20 minutes or until the tops are a light golden brown. Test for done-ness by inserting rolls with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cinnamon rolls are done.
- Allow rolls to cool then drizzle each cinnamon roll with glaze.
- You can feel free to use light brown sugar although dark brown has molasses which makes for a more gooey cinnamon roll.
- Cardamom is an intense spice and a little goes a long way (pay attention to how much you add).
- If you do not have a cast iron skillet, a baking dish will work as well.
- I doubled the recipe which resulted in 12 cinnamon rolls.
- Store any remaining cinnamon rolls in an airtight container for no more than 1 day.
- Heat up the next morning by zapping in the microwave for a few seconds and serve with your favorite morning beverage.