Ever since I made my last batch of quick yeast cinnamon rolls, my husband has been asking me to make another. But this time I wanted to mix things up, and try something new. That’s when the idea of funfetti cinnamon rolls popped into my head.
My husband is a pretty picky eater and doesn’t like fruit in baked goods, so my flavor options were pretty limited. But he loves sprinkles and all things funfetti, so I knew this was the perfect cinnamon variation to try!
What Flavor is Funfetti?
In my opinion, anything funfetti flavored really just includes sprinkles!! But I also like to add in a hint of almond extract to the frosting to elevate the overall flavor a touch more.
This funfetti cinnamon roll recipe has rainbow sprinkles folded into the dough and baked into each swirled layer. The sprinkles add both a pop of color, and a bit of texture to each bite.
While sprinkles themselves are mostly sugar, there is something about that little bit of crunch in each bite that is absolutely delicious.
What Types Of Sprinkles Should I Use To Make Funfetti Cinnamon Rolls?
While you might think all sprinkles are created equal, they’re not. When making funfetti cinnamon rolls, you have to be sure you use the right type of rainbow sprinkle.
The best sprinkles for making this are rainbow jimmies. They are the longer sprinkles that you used to (and may still) put on your ice cream.
These sprinkles keep their color, and won’t bleed into your dough.
This is important, because it allows the color of the sprinkles to really shine through once the rolls are baked.
If you really want to be picky about your sprinkles, I also recommend getting a rainbow sprinkle blend that doesn’t have any chocolate/brown sprinkles in it.
The type of sprinkle you should NOT use are the tiny, round, rainbow sprinkles. They’re called nonpareils, and they bleed their colors a lot more easily! Because they’re so small, they also don’t add that wonderful textural component.
The key takeaways? Use rainbow jimmies in this funfetti cinnamon roll recipe!
How Much Flour Am I Supposed to Use??
One part of this recipe that can be a bit daunting or hard to interpret is the amount of flour this recipe uses. As you can see on the recipe card, it isn’t a set amount.
I tried so hard to find the perfect amount, but the truth is it will vary batch to batch, and kitchen to kitchen.
I’ve made these by hand, in a stand mixer, here in NYC, and in my childhood home in Seattle. Each time I use a slightly different amount of flour.
Now, the amount of flour you start with is set, at 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour.
But as you add in your wet ingredients and a sticky dough ball forms, you will likely need to add in additional flour.
I do this as I knead the dough, and add in a Tablespoon at a time. You need enough to create an elastic, workable dough that you can roll out.
However, if you add too much flour you can end up with dense, chewy cinnamon rolls.
This is why it’s a range. When using my stand mixer, I usually add in 4-6 additional Tbsp as the dough is kneaded.
But in some batches I’ve used less, and in a few I’ve used the full additional 1/2 cup of flour.
Making These Cinnamon Rolls: By Hand vs.Stand Mixer
My first couple batches of cinnamon rolls were made when I was home for the holidays, and I didn’t have a stand mixer.
This recipe can be made by hand or with a dough hook / stand mixer.
It is definitely easier to make using a stand mixer, but a little elbow grease never hurt anyone.
Whichever method you use to make the dough, just be sure to knead or mix the dough until it gets an elastic texture, and pulls away from the bowl or counter.
Once you get to this point, stop and let the dough rest for about 5 minutes.
If you continue to work the dough, the gluten strands can become too tight. Just like adding in too much flour, this can also lead to dense cinnamon rolls.
It’s pretty easy to sense when the dough is ready if you’re kneading by hand.
However, if you’re using a stand mixer, keep a close eye on your dough to ensure you don’t accidentally overwork it.
Giving These Rolls a Bit of Height
When I think about cinnamon rolls, I want them tall. Like Cinnabon tall!
In my opinion, they should be at least 2 inches tall once they’re baked. To give these cinnamon rolls that kind of height, I roll my dough out to be 18 inches long.
Yes, I use a ruler to make sure I get the dimensions right. It also helps me cut each cinnamon roll to be a similar size.
I also only cut 9 cinnamon rolls from the rolled dough. This means they’re about 2 inches tall before they rise and bake.
I rarely make breakfast for more than 9 people, so this works great for me.
However, if you need to feed more people, you can cut the dough into more pieces. Just be forewarned that they will end up being shorter than mine.
The Assisted Rise
Another thing that helps these funfetti cinnamon rolls turn out soft, fluffy and tall is an assisted rise.
This recipe actually uses your oven to help the yeast rise. Don’t worry, the oven is preheated at a low temperature (200 degrees F), and then turned off before you place the cinnamon rolls in there to rise.
The cinnamon roll pan is also covered with foil, to ensure no actual baking takes place.
I love this method, because in the winter my house is always cold. It’s almost impossible to find a warm spot for the cinnamon rolls to rise.
No matter what temperature your kitchen is, your cinnamon rolls are guaranteed to rise and puff up with this method.
You also know how long it will take for them to rise (about 30 minutes), rather than anxiously checking on them every 10 minutes to see if they’ve risen.
The Best Way to Cut a Cinnamon Roll: Dental Floss
Now I know this sounds weird, but I highly recommend having some floss on hand to help cut your cinnamon rolls.
Most knives don’t cut the rolls as cleanly, and tend to kind of smush the cinnamon roll log.
On the other hand, if you use a piece of floss, it cuts through the dough smoothly. It takes hardly any effort, and you get perfectly cut cinnamon rolls every time!!
Try it just once, and you’ll never look back.
And if you only have mint dental floss on hand? Don’t worry! I tried this with mint flavored dental floss, and my husband had no clue. I also couldn’t tell!
The Best Cinnamon Roll Frosting
The finishing touch on any cinnamon roll has to be the frosting.
A cinnamon roll isn’t complete without sweet, melty icing. I decided to top these cinnamon rolls with a small batch of my american buttercream.
While I was tempted to use my cream cheese buttercream, for some reason my classic buttercream frosting felt right. But you can use cream cheese frosting if you prefer it on cinnamon rolls!
No matter what frosting you chose to make, you want the consistency to be just right! The frosting should be thick enough to spoon onto each cinnamon roll, but thin enough that it will melt over every inch of your warm cinnamon rolls.
This cinnamon roll frosting recipe uses 2 cups of powdered sugar to make it nice and sweet, and it’s thinned out with some heavy cream and vanilla extract.
Substitutions and Swaps
While I love this recipe just the way it is, I know some of you might not have all of these ingredients on hand!
Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this recipe:
- Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand you can use it in place of the unsalted butter in this recipe. Just be sure to omit the salt that this recipe calls for. You can also use vegan butter in its place!
- Instant / Rapid Rise Yeast – You can use active dry yeast in place of the instant yeast in this recipe, just allow the dough to rise for an extra 15 minutes (active yeast takes longer to rise than instant!).
- 1 Large Egg – This is an enriched dough, so it uses an egg! You can use a flaxseed egg in its place to make eggless or vegan funfetti cinnamon rolls
- All Purpose Flour – I haven’t tested this recipe out with gluten free flour, but it should work as long as you use a good blend like King Arthur’s GF flour. Just be sure to knead the dough a bit longer, to help give it structure.
- Heavy Cream / Whole Milk – Most alternative milks work fine in this recipe, including soy, oat, and almond milk!
Tips for Making the Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls:
- Keep adding flour to your dough and kneading it until it becomes elastic and easy to handle
- Use a ruler to make sure your dough is rolled out to the right size (10in x 18in), and cut into even pieces
- Use dental floss to easily cut each cinnamon roll, rather than a knife
- Let the cinnamon rolls cool for about 5-10 minutes, then add the frosting. This will allow it to perfectly melt over your cinnamon rolls
- Only cut 9 cinnamon rolls from your log, to create tall and fluffy cinnamon rolls
- Bake the cinnamon rolls in a greased, square pan (mine is 8in x 8in)
Making These Funfetti Cinnamon Rolls in Advance
If you want to make these funfetti cinnamon rolls ahead of time, be sure to use regular yeast rather than instant yeast and double the amount.
Some of the yeast may be damaged when frozen, so doubling the amount ensures your cinnamon rolls will rise properly.
You can freeze the cinnamon rolls after they have been cut and proofed in a greased pan.
Cover the cinnamon rolls with an airtight lid or plastic and freeze for up to a week.
To thaw, take them out 2 hours before you plan to bake them, and then follow the recipe instructions to bake. Keep in mind they make take a few extra minutes to fully bake through!
You can also bake the cinnamon rolls, then let them cool and freeze them individually! This is what I do with our leftover cinnamon rolls. I leave the leftover rolls unfrosted, then tightly wrap each roll in a layer if plastic wrap then foil.
I move individual cinnamon rolls from the freezer to the fridge the night before I want to eat them. Then in the morning, I unwrap the cinnamon roll and heat it up in the microwave until it’s warm and gooey (usually about a minute!).
Let Me Know What You Think
If you try this recipe for funfetti cinnamon rolls, I’d love to hear what you think! Please leave a rating and a comment with your thoughts.
You can also tag me on social media @chelsweets or use #chelsweets, so I can see you creations!!
Funfetti Cinnamon Roll Dough
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + up to 1/2 cup addition flour (added later in process) (455 grams)
- 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
- 2 1/4 tsp or 1 packet instant dry yeast (7 grams, 1/4 oz.)
- 1 cup whole milk (245 grams)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
- 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature (56 grams)
- 1 egg, at room temperature and beaten (56 grams)
- 1 cup rainbow sprinkles (175 grams) - to be added after the dough is made!
Cinnamon Roll Filling
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (56 grams) - to be spread on the dough
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (100 grams)
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon (6 grams)
- 1 tsp cornstarch (optional, but helps the filling stay in place while the rolls bake) (3 grams)
- 1/4 cup (or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (57 grams)
- 1/4 tsp salt (1 gram)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (4 grams)
- 1 tsp almond extract (4 grams)
- 1 cup powdered sugar (125 grams)
- 1 Tbsp whole milk (14 grams)
Funfetti Cinnamon Roll Dough
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 3 1/2 cups of flour, 1 packet instant dry yeast, and 1 tsp salt.
- In a separate bowl, add 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup softened butter, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar into a microwave safe bowl.
- Heat on high power for 90 seconds, until the mixture is warm to the touch.
- Stir to combine the ingredients.
- Add 1/3 of the warm milk mixture into the flour mixture at a time, mixing on medium speed with a dough hook between additions.
- Add in the beaten egg, and mix on a low speed until a sticky dough ball forms.
- Continue to mix on a medium low speed for 2-3 minutes, until the dough becomes more elastic.
- As the dough mixes, add additional flour, 1 Tbsp at a time until the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl. I like to add in a Tbsp at a time, to get just the right amount.
- Cover your bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside to allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes. The plastic wrap should fog up a bit from the warmth of the dough.
- Generously flour your counter and start to roll out your dough ball.
- When you're about half way through rolling, sprinkle the dough with 1/2 cup of rainbow sprinkles and gently press them into the dough.
- Fold the dough in thirds (like a letter), and continue to roll it into a large rectangle 10 inches x 18 inches. It should be about 1/2 cm thick.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of rainbow sprinkles on top of the dough, and gently roll or press them into the dough.
- Heat the remaining 1/4 cup of room temperature butter in the microwave to 10-15 seconds, to partially melt it.
- Pour the partially melted butter over the dough, and gently spread it over the sprinkles with a pastry brush or the back of a rubber spatula. Be sure to leave about 1 inch of dough on the long side of the rectangle uncovered (this will help you seal off the roll and keep it tight).
- Spread the cinnamon roll filling (instructions below) evenly over the buttered area, and pat down with the back of a spoon or spatula.
- Tightly roll the dough horizontally, toward the uncovered strip.
- Cut dough log into 9 equal pieces with dental floss (you can cut it into more pieces if you want smaller/shorter cinnamon rolls), and place in a greased square pan (mine is 8in x 8in).
- Turn the oven off! I REPEAT, TURN THE OVEN OFF.
- Cover the cinnamon roll pan with foil and place in a the oven for 20-30 minutes (until the cinnamon rolls have risen).
- Remove the pan from the oven and take off the tinfoil. Turn the oven back on, and heat to 350 degrees.
- Once the oven has preheated to 350 F, bake for 25-30 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.
Cinnamon Roll Filling
- While the dough rises, make the cinnamon roll filling.
- In a medium sized bowl, mix together 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 1 1/2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon, and 1 tsp cornstarch.
- Set aside.
Cinnamon Roll Frosting
- To make the cinnamon roll frosting, place 1/4 cup of unsalted butter in a medium sized bowl.
- Add in 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 tsp almond extract and mix with a stand mixer or hand mixer on a low speed until combined.
- Add in 1 cup of powdered sugar, then pour in 1 Tbsp of milk. Mix on a low speed until smooth.
- Let the cinnamon rolls cool for 5-10 minutes, then spoon the frosting over each cinnamon roll.
- Serve warm.
Making These Funfetti Cinnamon Rolls in Advance:
If you want to make these funfetti cinnamon rolls ahead of time, be sure to use regular yeast rather than instant yeast, and double the amount (some of the yeast may be damaged when frozen, so doubling the amount ensures your cinnamon rolls will rise properly). Freeze the cinnamon rolls after they have been cut and proofed in a greased pan.
Cover the cinnamon rolls with an airtight lid or plastic and freeze for up to a week. To thaw, take them out 2 hours before you plan to bake them, and then follow the recipe to bake.
If you want to make smaller cinnamon rolls, cut the rolled dough into 12 pieces.
Amount Per Serving Calories 788Total Fat 31gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 16gCholesterol 52mgSodium 601mgCarbohydrates 118gFiber 3gSugar 45gProtein 9g