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Coffee Cinnamon Rolls

This weekend I decided to have some fun and make us a batch of coffee cinnamon rolls!

It’s another way to get your coffee fix in the morning and I’m all for it!

The unique coffee and cinnamon sugar filling combined with a generous drizzle of coffee glaze make this recipe a wonderful way to start the weekend.

image of coffee cinnamon rolls covered in coffee glaze

The Secret Ingredient in These Coffee Cinnamon Rolls

To give these coffee cinnamon rolls an intense coffee flavor, I use instant espresso powder.

It gives these cinnamon rolls a fantastic coffee taste without throwing off the consistency of the dough or filling.

I find the coffee flavors pairs great with the brown sugar and cinnamon in the filling.

image of wet ingredients being added into dry ingredients to make cinnamon roll dough

Instant espresso gives these cinnamon rolls a stronger coffee flavor, but instant coffee will work too!

Most large grocery stores carry both. You can also order instant espresso powder online if you can’t find it in store.

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 and with a stand mixer. 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 the egg, a sticky dough ball forms and you will need to add in additional flour.

I add in 1 tablespoon of flour at a time as I knead the dough. You need to add enough flour 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 that are difficult to roll.

This is why it’s a range. When using my stand mixer with this recipe, I usually add in 2-3 additional Tbsp.

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 10 minutes. This little break allows the gluten to relax bit and makes the dough easier to roll out.

image of coffee flavored dough being rolled out on a floured surface.

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.

Topping These Cinnamon Rolls

The finishing touch on any cinnamon roll has to be its topping!

A cinnamon roll isn’t complete without some type of melty icing. I decided to top these coffee cinnamon rolls with a delicious coffee glaze.

image of coffee glaze on a whisk

While I was tempted to use my cream cheese buttercream or my American buttercream, for some reason a coffee glaze just felt right.

You can use a more traditional frosting if you prefer your cinnamon rolls that way though!

If you opt to make a coffee glaze, you want the consistency to be just right.

The glaze should be thick enough to drizzle over your finger and keep its shape, just like I show in the video in this post.

I use this finger test every time I make a glaze. If the glaze keeps its shape once it’s drizzled over your finger, you know it’s the right consistency.

Substitutions and Swaps in These Coffee Cinnamon Rolls

While I love this recipe just the way it is, I know you might not have all these ingredients on hand!

image of ingredients laid out on a counter ready to make coffee cinnamon rolls

Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this recipe.

  • All Purpose Flour – I haven’t tested this recipe out with gluten free flour, but it should work if 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.
  • Instant / Rapid Rise Yeast – You can use active dry yeast in place of the instant yeast in this recipe, just be sure to activate it before adding it into the dough and allow the dough to rise for a bit longer. Active yeast takes longer to rise than instant.
  • 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!
  • Whole Milk – Most alternative milks work fine in this recipe, including soy, oat, and almond milk.
  • Instant Espresso or Coffee – The instant coffee or instant espresso in this recipe is a must! It’s the best way to add an intense coffee flavor into these cinnamon rolls without throwing off the consistency of the dough and filling.
  • Granulated Sugar – I don’t recommend changing the type or amount of sugar used in the dough.
  • 1 Large Egg – This is an enriched dough, so it uses an egg. You can try using a flaxseed egg or a vegan egg replacer if you have an egg allergy.
  • Brown Sugar – You can use light or dark brown sugar to make the filling for these cinnamon rolls.
image of espresso cinnamon rolls glazed and ready to be served

Tips for Making the Best Coffee Cinnamon Rolls

  • Use a ruler to make sure your dough is rolled out to the right size (12x18in.) and cut into even pieces.
  • Use dental floss to easily cut each cinnamon roll rather than a knife.
  • 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 8x8in.)
  • Let the cinnamon rolls cool for about 5-10 minutes, then add the glaze. This will allow it to perfectly melt over your cinnamon rolls.
  • Store leftover cinnamon rolls or cinnamon rolls made ahead of time in an airtight container to keep them fresh.
image of cinnamon rolls that have been cut very cleanly using floss instead of a knife

Making These Coffee Cinnamon Rolls in Advance

If you want to make these cinnamon rolls ahead of time, be my guest! I’m all about working ahead and making life easier.

This recipe can be made the evening before and then baked the following morning.

image of coffee cinnamon rolls in a pan ready to be proofed

You can refrigerate these cinnamon rolls after they have been cut in a greased or lined pan.

Cover the cinnamon roll pan tightly with plastic wrap, making sure the seal is airtight.

If the cinnamon rolls are exposed to air, they can dry out and no one wants dry cinnamon rolls!

The morning you want to bake them, take them out 1 hour before you plan to bake them, then follow the recipe instructions to bake.

image of a coffee flavored cinnamon roll on a plate

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 of 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 30 seconds!).

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this recipe for coffee 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 your creations!!

image of coffee cinnamon rolls covered in an espresso glaze

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 9

Coffee Cinnamon Rolls

image of coffee cinnamon rolls covered in coffee glaze

These fluffy coffee cinnamon rolls are made with a coffee cinnamon sugar filling, and are drizzled with a delicious coffee glaze.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 43 minutes

Ingredients

Coffee Cinnamon Roll Filling

  • 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar (150g)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon (9g)
  • 2 Tbsp instant espresso (10g)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (56g)

Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + up to 1/2 cup addition flour to be added later in process (455g-520g)
  • 2 1/4 tsp or 1 packet instant yeast (7g, 1/4 oz.)
  • 1 tsp salt (6g)
  • 1 cup whole milk (240ml)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (100g)
  • 1/4 cup butter (56g)
  • 2 Tbsp instant espresso (10g)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (56g)

Coffee Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (190g)
  • 2 Tbsp strong coffee (30ml)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (56g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4 ml)

Instructions

Coffee Cinnamon Roll Filling

  1. In a medium sized bowl, mix together 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 1 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon, 2 Tbsp instant espresso and set aside.

Coffee Cinnamon Roll Dough

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 F / 93 C.
  2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 3 1/2 cups of flour, 1 packet instant yeast and 1 tsp salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and 2 Tbsp instant espresso. Heat for 60-90 seconds in the microwave until the butter is melted. Stir to combine the ingredients.
  4. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the flour mixture and mix on medium speed with a dough hook.
  5. Add in one large egg and mix on a low speed until a sticky dough ball forms.
  6. Continue to mix on a medium-low speed for 2-3 minutes until the dough becomes more elastic.
  7. As the dough mixes, add additional flour, 1 Tbsp at a time until the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl.
  8. Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes. This will let the gluten in the dough relax and make it easier to roll out.
  9. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a large rectangle that's 12 x 18 in. It should be about 1/2 cm thick. 
  10. Spread 1/4 cup of softened butter over the dough, leaving 1/2 inch of dough on the long side of the rectangle uncovered (this will help you seal off the roll and keep it tight).
  11. Sprinkle the filling (instructions above) evenly over the buttered area. Tightly roll the dough horizontally, toward the uncovered strip.
  12. Cut 9 equal pieces and place in a greased 8 in x 8 in pan.
  13. Turn the oven off! I REPEAT, TURN THE OVEN OFF. Cover the cinnamon rolls with foil and place in the oven for about 30 minutes to give them an assisted rise.
  14. Remove from the oven and take off the tinfoil. Turn the oven back on and heat to 350 / 175 C degrees.
  15. Once the oven is preheated, bake the cinnamon rolls for 26-30 minutes, or until rolls are golden brown.

Coffee Glaze

  1. To make the coffee glaze, mix 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp strong coffee, 1/4 cup softened butter and 1 tsp vanilla extract together in a small bowl.
  2. Spoon the glaze over the cinnamon rolls and serve warm.

Notes

Using the Right Type of Yeast: Active Dry vs. Instant Yeast

Be sure you are using instant yeast! It comes in small packets that can usually be found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.

You can use active dry yeast in place of the instant yeast in this recipe, just be sure to activate it with a bit of warm water and sugar before adding it into the dough and allow the dough to rise for longer (active yeast takes longer to rise than instant).

Tips for Making the Best Coffee Cinnamon Rolls

  • Use a ruler to make sure your dough is rolled out to the right size (12 x 18 in) and cut into even pieces.
  • Use dental floss to easily cut each cinnamon roll rather than a knife.
  • If you're struggling to cut your cinnamon rolls, place the cinnamon roll log on a baking sheet and chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. It will make it easier to cut.
  • Cut 9 equal-sized cinnamon rolls from your log to make sure they all bake evenly.
  • Try to let the cinnamon rolls cool for about 10-20 minutes, then add the glaze. This will allow it to perfectly melt over your cinnamon rolls!

Making these Coffee Cinnamon Rolls in Advance

This recipe can be made the evening before and baked the following morning.

You can refrigerate these cinnamon rolls after they have been cut in a greased or lined pan. Cover the cinnamon roll pan tightly with plastic wrap, making sure the seal is airtight.

The morning you want to bake them, take them out 1-2 hours before you plan to bake them to let them warm up and rise a bit. Then follow the recipe instructions to bake in step 17.

Nutrition Information

Yield

9

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 499Total Fat 12gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 51mgSodium 326mgCarbohydrates 90gFiber 2gSugar 45gProtein 8g

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