It all started out as a simple idea to make some quick yeast cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. They tasted good and were fluffy and soft, but I wasn’t 100% satisfied.
That’s when I began making cinnamon rolls every Saturday. It was a quest to create the ultimate cinnamon roll recipe.
I wanted it to be quick and easy to make and I wanted them to taste so delicious that you went back seconds.
The ultimate stamp of approval was getting a thumbs up from my husband, who is a notoriously picky eater.
Throughout these trials and tribulations, I learned a lot. Below are the key things you need to know to make your own, drool-worthy cinnamon rolls.
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 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.
This is why it’s a range. When using my stand mixer, I usually add in about 4-6 additional tablespoons of flour. In some batches I’ve used less and in a few I’ve used the full additional 1/2 cup of flour.
Making These Quick Yeast Cinnamon Rolls: By Hand vs. Stand Mixer
My first 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.
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 the exact same size.
I didn’t go to all the effort of making homemade cinnamon rolls just to cut them different sizes and have them bake up unevenly!
To make nice and tall cinnamon rolls, I only cut 9 cinnamon rolls from the rolled dough. This means they’re 2 inches tall before they rise and bake up.
I rarely am making 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 cinnamon rolls turn out soft, fluffy, and tall is an assisted rise.
This recipe uses your oven to help the yeast rise. Don’t worry, the oven is preheated at a low temperature (200 F/ 95 C) and then turned off before you place the cinnamon rolls in there to rise.
Below is a picture of my quick yeast cinnamon rolls before popping them into the oven 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 Icing
The finishing touch on any cinnamon roll has to be the cream cheese icing.
A cinnamon roll isn’t complete without its topping. While I was tempted to top these with my cream cheese buttercream, I decided to create a delicious cream cheese glaze.
I found that a glaze with a 2:1 ratio of cream cheese to butter helped the cream cheese flavor shine through.
In addition to packing this glaze with flavor, it’s also important to get the consistency right.
You want the glaze to be thick enough to spoon onto each cinnamon roll, but thin enough that it will melt over every inch of your cinnamon rolls.
This cinnamon roll icing uses powdered sugar to make it nice and sweet, then it’s thinned out with some heavy cream and vanilla extract.
Tips for Making the Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
- Don’t overwork the dough! Knead it just until it becomes elastic and easy to handle.
- Use a ruler to make sure your dough is the right size (12in x 18in) and to cut even pieces
- Use dental floss to easily cut each cinnamon roll, rather than a knife
- Let the cinnamon rolls cool for 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 Quick Yeast 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.
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.
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 quick yeast 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!!
Other Recipes You Might Like:
Cinnamon Roll Filling
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (56g)
- 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar (150g)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon (9g)
- 2 tsp cornstarch (optional, but helps the filling stay in place while the rolls bake)
Quick Yeast Cinnamon Roll Dough
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + up to 1/2 cup addition flour -added later in process (455-520g)
- 2 1/4 tsp or 1 packet instant dry yeast (7g, 1/4 oz.)
- 1/2 cup sugar (100g)
- 1 tsp salt (6g)
- 1 cup whole milk (240ml)
- 1/4 cup butter, room temperature (56g)
- 1 large egg, room temperature (56g)
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/4 cup or 2 oz. full fat cream cheese, room temperature (56g)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (56g)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (8ml)
- 1/4 tsp salt (>1g)
- 2 Tbsp heavy cream (30ml)
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (190g)
Cinnamon Roll Filling
- In a medium sized bowl, mix 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar, 1 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon and 2 tsp cornstarch together and set aside.
Cinnamon Roll Dough
- Preheat your oven to 200 F / 95 C.
- 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, combine 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup softened butter, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar and heat for 1 minute in the microwave. Stir to combine the ingredients.
- Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the flour mixture and mix on medium speed with a dough hook.
- Add in 1 large 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. My favorite way to know if my dough is ready is to poke it with my finger. It should feel tacky but not sticky. As you pull your finger away, there should be no residue on your finger.
- Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a large rectangle that's 12 in x 18 in. It should be about 1/2 cm thick.
- 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).
- Sprinkle the filling (instructions above) evenly over the buttered area.
- Tightly roll the dough horizontally, toward the uncovered strip.
- Cut 9 equal pieces and place in a greased 8 in x 8 in pan.
- 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.
- Remove from the oven and take off the tinfoil. Turn the oven back on and heat to 350 F / 175 C.
- Once the oven has fully preheated, bake the cinnamon rolls for 26-32 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.
Cinnamon Roll Frosting
- To make the frosting, stir together 1/4 cup of cream cheese, 1/4 cup of butter, 2 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp salt with a spoon or electric mixer.
- Stir in 1 cup of powdered sugar, then add 2 Tbsp of heavy cream. Mix in the remaining 1/2 cups powdered sugar and stir until the frosting is smooth.
- Let the cinnamon rolls cool for 10-20 minutes, then spoon the frosting over each cinnamon roll and serve warm.
Using the Right Type of Yeast: Active 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 Quick Yeast Cinnamon Rolls
- Use a ruler to make sure your dough is rolled out to the right size (12 in 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 Quick Yeast 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.
Amount Per Serving Calories 579Total Fat 21gSaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 74mgSodium 412mgCarbohydrates 91gFiber 2gSugar 46gProtein 8g