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Quick Yeast Cinnamon Rolls

These quick yeast cinnamon rolls are ready in 90 minutes, bake up soft and fluffy with gooey centers, and are topped with the best cream cheese frosting!

image of cream cheese frosting being added to cinnamon rolls

How to Make These Quick Yeast Cinnamon Rolls

Let’s walk through each step of this recipe to make sure it turns out as amazing as possible!

I’ve also shared a video tutorial on how to make them below, along with the tools I used. If you don’t have all of these on hand, feel free to get creative and work with what you’ve got!

Tools / Equipment

Step 1: Make the 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 flour, 2 1/4 tsp or 1 packet instant dry yeast, and 1 tsp salt.

In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup butter. Heat for 1 minute in the microwave, then stir to combine the ingredients. The butter should be mostly melted, and the mixture should feel warm but not hot to the touch. If it’s too hot, it can kill the yeast!

Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed with a dough hook or by hand with a dough whisk. If you don’t have a dough whisk, you can use a large wooden spoon.

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

Add 1 large egg and mix on a low speed until a sticky dough ball forms. Continue to mix on a medium-low speed for a couple of minutes until the dough becomes more elastic.

image of cinnamon roll dough being mixed in a stand mixer with a dough hook

As the dough mixes, add additional flour 1 Tbsp at a time until the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl. I usually add 1-3 additional Tbsps of flour.

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.

image of quick yeast dough being tested by poking it with a finger and seeing if it's tacky but not sticking to my finger

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to let the dough rest for 10-20 minutes. This will make it easier to roll out.

Step 2: Make the Cinnamon Roll Filling

As the cinnamon roll dough rests, make the cinnamon roll filling. In a medium-sized bowl, mix 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon, and 2 tsp cornstarch together. Set aside.

Step 3: Roll Up and Bake the Cinnamon Rolls

Once the dough has had a chance to rest, place it on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a large rectangle that’s roughly 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).

image of brown sugar cinnamon filling being sprinkled onto cinnamon roll dough

Sprinkle the filling (instructions above) evenly over the buttered area, then roll the dough horizontally, toward the uncovered strip.

Cut 9 equal pieces using dental floss and place them in a greased or lined 8 in x 8 in pan.

image of cinnamon rolls being cut with dental floss

Turn the oven off! I REPEAT, TURN THE OVEN OFF. Then cover the cinnamon rolls with foil and place them in the oven for about 30 minutes to give them an assisted rise.

They should look puffier and have grown in size once they’ve risen.

image of quick yeast cinnamon rolls that have been proofed and are ready to be baked

Remove them from the oven and take off the tinfoil. Turn the oven back on and heat it to 350 F / 175 C.

Once the oven has fully preheated, bake the cinnamon rolls for 26-30 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.

image of quick yeast cinnamon rolls that have been baked and are cooling off in the pan

Step 4: Make the Cinnamon Roll Frosting

The last step is to make the frosting! Mix 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.

Then mix in 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and 2 Tbsp of heavy cream on a low speed until combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.

image of cream cheese frosting being mixed in a glass bowl with a hand mixer

Let the cinnamon rolls cool for 10-20 minutes, then spoon the frosting over each cinnamon roll and serve warm.

image of cream cheese frosting being added to 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.

I tried so hard to find the perfect amount, but the truth is it will vary from 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.

image of flour being added to quick yeast cinnamon roll dough

I add 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 anywhere from 1-3 additional tablespoons of flour. Sometimes I end up using less than that, and occasionally I use more!

Making These Quick Yeast Cinnamon Rolls By Hand vs. Stand Mixer

This recipe can be made by hand or with a stand mixer and dough hook.

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 lets the gluten relax 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.

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 after popping them into the oven to rise.

image of quick yeast cinnamon rolls that have risen and are ready to be baked

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.

If your oven has a proof setting, you can also simply turn that on, and place the cinnamon rolls uncovered in the oven for about 30 minutes.

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.

image of cinnamon rolls being cut with dental floss

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.

Substitutions and Swaps in This Recipe

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

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, and bake the rolls for a few extra minutes.
  • Instant / Rapid Rise Yeast – You can use active dry yeast in place of the instant yeast in this recipe, just be sure to activate the yeast with warm water and sugar before adding it, 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.
  • Granulated Sugar – I don’t recommend changing the type or amount of sugar used in the dough.
  • Large Egg – This is an enriched dough, so it uses an egg. For best results use a large, room-temperature egg.
  • Brown Sugar – You can use light or dark brown sugar to make the filling for these cinnamon rolls. I prefer using light in this recipe!
image of cream cheese frosting being added to cinnamon rolls

Can I Double This Recipe?

Yes, you can! If you want to make more cinnamon rolls, I’d recommend doubling the ingredients, cutting 12 cinnamon rolls, and baking them in a 9×13-inch metal pan. Bake them at 350F / 175 C for 28-32 minutes, or until golden brown.

This will yield cinnamon rolls that are a bit taller and larger.

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 overnight once they have been cut and placed in a greased or lined pan. Cover the cinnamon roll pan tightly with plastic wrap, making sure the seal is airtight.

Take them out 1-2 hours before you plan to bake them the following morning to let them warm up and rise a bit. Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C as the cinnamon rolls warm up.

Once the oven is fully preheated, bake the cinnamon rolls for 26-30 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.

image of a quick yeast cinnamon roll being pulled out of the pan

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. This usually takes about 30 seconds in my microwave.

Tips for Making the Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

  • Don’t add too much flour! Add in additional flour 1 Tbsp at a time, and check the dough using the finger test. When you poke the dough with your finger, it should feel tacky but not sticky. As you pull your finger away, there should be no residue on your finger.
  • Use a ruler to make sure your dough is rolled out to the right size (12 in x 18 in) and cut into 9 even pieces.
  • Use dental floss to easily cut each cinnamon roll rather than a knife.
  • Cut 9 equally sized cinnamon rolls from your log to make sure they all bake evenly.
  • Bake the cinnamon rolls in a metal, 8-inch square pan if possible! A round, 8-inch metal pan can be used too.
  • Try to let the cinnamon rolls cool for about 10-20 minutes, then add the frosting. This will let it perfectly melt over the cinnamon rolls!
  • Store leftover cinnamon rolls or cinnamon rolls made ahead of time in an airtight container to keep them fresh.
image of cream cheese frosting being added to cinnamon rolls

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 comment below.

You can also tag me on social media @chelsweets or use #chelsweets so I can see everything you’re baking up!!

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 9

Quick Yeast Cinnamon Rolls

image of cream cheese frosting being added to cinnamon rolls

These quick yeast cinnamon rolls are ready in 90 minutes, bake up soft and fluffy with gooey centers, and are topped with the best cream cheese frosting!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Additional Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 28 minutes

Ingredients

Quick Yeast Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + addition flour added later in the process (440g)
  • 2 1/4 tsp or 1 packet instant dry yeast (7g, 1/4 oz.)
  • 1 tsp fine salt (6g)
  • 1 cup whole milk (240g)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (100g)
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature (56g)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (56g)

Cinnamon Roll Filling

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (100g)
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon (6g)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch (optional, but helps the filling stay in place while the rolls bake)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature - to be spread on dough later (56g)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/4 cup full fat cream cheese, room temperature (56g)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (56g)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (8g)
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream (30g)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (190g)

Recommended Tools / Equipment

Instructions

Cinnamon Roll Dough

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 F / 95 C. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 3 1/2 cups flour, 2 1/4 tsp or 1 packet instant dry yeast, and 1 tsp salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup butter. Heat for 1 minute in the microwave, then stir to combine the ingredients. The butter should be mostly melted, and the mixture should feel warm but not hot to the touch. If it's too hot, it can kill the yeast!
  3. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed with a dough hook or by hand with a dough whisk. If you don't have a dough whisk, you can use a large wooden spoon.
  4. Add 1 large egg and mix on a low speed until a sticky dough ball forms. Continue to mix on a medium-low speed for a couple of minutes until the dough becomes more elastic.
  5. As the dough mixes, add additional flour 1 Tbsp at a time until the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl. I usually add 1-3 additional Tbsps of flour. 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.
  6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to let the dough rest for 10-20 minutes. This will make it easier to roll out.

Cinnamon Roll Filling

  1. As the cinnamon roll dough rests, make the cinnamon roll filling. In a medium-sized bowl, mix 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon, and 2 tsp cornstarch together. Set aside.

Roll Up & Bake the Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Once the dough has had a chance to rest, place it on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a large rectangle that's roughly 12 in x 18 in. It should be about 1/2 cm thick. 
  2. 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).
  3. Sprinkle the filling (instructions above) evenly over the buttered area. Roll the dough horizontally, toward the uncovered strip. Then cut 9 equal pieces using dental floss and place them in a greased or lined 8 in x 8 in pan.
  4. Turn the oven off! I REPEAT, TURN THE OVEN OFF. Then cover the cinnamon rolls with foil and place them in the oven for about 30 minutes to give them an assisted rise. They should look puffier and have grown in size once they've risen.
  5. Remove them from the oven and take off the tinfoil. Turn the oven back on and heat it to 350 F / 175 C.
  6. Once the oven has fully preheated, bake the cinnamon rolls for 26-30 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.

Cinnamon Roll Frosting

  1. The last step is to make the frosting! Mix 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.
  2. Then mix in 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and 2 Tbsp of heavy cream on a low speed until combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
  3. Let the cinnamon rolls cool for 10-20 minutes, then spoon the frosting over each cinnamon roll and serve warm.

Notes

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

Make 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 to the dough and allow the dough to rise for longer (active yeast takes longer to rise than instant).

Can I Double This Recipe?

Yes, you can! If you want to make more cinnamon rolls, I'd recommend doubling the ingredients, cutting 12 cinnamon rolls, and baking them in a 9x13-inch metal pan. Bake them at 350 F / 175 C for 28-32 minutes, or until golden brown.

This will yield cinnamon rolls that are a bit taller and larger.

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 frosting. 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 overnight once they have been cut and placed in a greased or lined pan. Cover the cinnamon roll pan tightly with plastic wrap, making sure the seal is airtight.

Take them out 1-2 hours before you plan to bake them the following morning to let them warm up and rise a bit. Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C as the cinnamon rolls warm up. Once the oven is fully preheated, bake the cinnamon rolls for 26-30 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.

Nutrition Information

Yield

9

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 697Total Fat 27gSaturated Fat 15gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 74mgSodium 515mgCarbohydrates 104gFiber 3gSugar 41gProtein 10g

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Monday 26th of February 2024

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Cindy

Monday 15th of January 2024

Made these with active yeast and didn’t have cream cheese for the frosting so used melted butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. These are the bomb?? So delicious, my husband loves them??

Chelsweets

Saturday 20th of January 2024

Love that Cindy!! Improvising at it's finest :) Thank you for sharing!!

Rhonda

Sunday 14th of January 2024

Just made these with the advance method, stored wrapped in the fridge overnight. In the morning, I let them rest on the counter 1.5 hours, then covered in foil and let rise in oven heated to 200 degrees then turned off. Baked 30 minutes at 350 and they were amazing. My son said they were the best cinnamon buns he'd ever eaten and that includes Cinnabon. This recipe is a keeper... thank you!

Chelsweets

Sunday 14th of January 2024

YAY!! So happy to hear that Rhonda :) I love making these ahead of time too! Thank you for sharing!!

Mandy Wright

Friday 5th of January 2024

I am not an experienced baker but, on Christmas morning I decided to make these cinnamon rolls. They were OUTSTANDING!

Thank you for this amazing recipe!

Chelsweets

Sunday 7th of January 2024

Hi Mandy,

I am so happy to hear that!!! Yay :) Thank you for sharing!

Jessica P

Monday 25th of December 2023

I think I maybe made cinnamon rolls homemade once as a teenager, so now that I'm in my middle age I thought I'd make them for Christmas morning. I didn't start early enough to have them for breakfast. I kneaded my dough in my food processor, which worked wonderfully well. I covered the dough to rest and left for my family gathering. When I got home the dough was huge! I knocked it out and then rolled it and followed the rest of the steps. I had a few for an evening snack and am taking the rest into work tomorrow. These turned out great. Thanks for the recipe.

Chelsweets

Tuesday 26th of December 2023

So happy to hear you loved this recipe Jessica!! I think they'd be delicious any time of day :) Thank you for sharing!!

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