These easy cinnamon rolls from scratch are perfect for yeast beginners because they only require 1 rise. Each cinnamon roll is extra soft with the most delicious cinnamon swirl! The rolls freeze beautifully, so this is a great make-ahead recipe, especially for planning ahead for holidays or the next time you need a special breakfast. Choose from a few easy icing flavors to top the warm & gooey rolls.
This recipe is brought to you in partnership with Red Star Yeast.
This easy cinnamon roll recipe is one of the most popular recipes on my website, for good reason.
These are classic, homestyle cinnamon rolls. It took me lots of recipe testing trial-and-error to develop quick cinnamon rolls that maintain all the flavor and texture of traditional overnight cinnamon rolls. But THIS. IS. IT. And I promise, making these easy cinnamon rolls is 100x more satisfying than that feeling you get from popping open a store-bought can of ready-to-bake rolls.
Here’s Why You’ll Love These Easy Cinnamon Rolls
- All the deliciousness of traditional homemade cinnamon rolls, but in half the time
- Soft and fluffy
- Gooey cinnamon sugar swirl
- Only 1 rise time
- Easy enough for yeast beginners
- Great make-ahead, freezer-friendly recipe
Lately, I’ve had even more success with the dough when I let the yeast dissolve in the warm milk/butter mixture, instead of whisking it into the dry ingredients. The rolls turn out even fluffier and softer, and I know you’ll appreciate that, too! The recipe below includes this small change.
Here’s what some readers are saying about this recipe:
Reader Kristine says: “This recipe is perfect in every way. It is simple to execute and requires a very reasonable amount of time. … The best part for me, however, is that they tasted just like my grandmother’s cinnamon rolls. I have her recipe but it requires hours and hours and I rarely have that kind of time. Tasting these warm from the oven brought back a flood of happy memories and made me feel like I was right back in her kitchen.★★★★★“
Reader Lana says: “I admit, I was very skeptical about my cinnamon rolls rising in 90 minutes. And I was nervous about making cinnamon rolls because I didn’t think that I could make anything close to what my grandma used to make. But I’ve made other recipes from your site and have been successful so I gave it a try. Let me say, the cinnamon rolls are amazing! And easy!★★★★★“
Just like grandma used to make! Is there a better compliment than that? I doubt it.
Yeast Beginners Rejoice: Only 1 Rise!
Do you love homemade cinnamon rolls, but are nervous to bake with yeast? You’re not alone! But if you’re curious about learning how to bake with yeast, this recipe is a perfect one to start with. No yeast cinnamon rolls are quick and tasty, but the Fluffiness Factor (I should trademark that) is simply unparalleled when it comes to yeast rolls vs. no-yeast rolls.
Unlike these homemade overnight cinnamon rolls that require hours of rise time, plus a 2nd rise after the rolls are shaped, this easy cinnamon rolls recipe requires only 1 rise, for just 60–90 minutes. And, honestly, they’re every bit as delicious. Bakery-style perfection for beginners!
Are You a Yeast Beginner?
This Baking with Yeast Guide is a wonderful starting point for yeast beginners. I answer many common yeast FAQs in easy-to-understand explanations, so you can learn about the basics before beginning.
Key Ingredients to Use for the Dough
Here’s my #1 tip: I recommend using a strong and dependable yeast. Platinum Yeast from Red Star is a premium instant yeast, which cuts down on rise time. Its careful formula contains natural dough strengtheners and makes working with yeast simple. And simple is always good, right? See recipe Note if using active dry yeast instead.
Here’s the rest of the lineup of ingredients for this rich dough:
- Flour: Flour provides the dough structure. All-purpose flour is best for these cinnamon rolls. You could also use bread flour—the rolls will be chewier.
- Sugar: You need white granulated sugar in the dough, both for flavor and to feed the yeast.
- Salt: Flavor.
- Whole milk: Whole milk is ideal for the richest-tasting cinnamon rolls. Buttermilk works just as well without any changes to the recipe. Many readers have successfully substituted nondairy milks. In a pinch, you can use low-fat milk, but avoid using nonfat milk.
- Butter: This is a rich dough, meaning it has fat to help guarantee softness.
- Egg: Like butter, egg promises a softer, richer dough.
These Step-by-Step Photos Will Help
The first step is to mix your dry ingredients together in a big bowl and this includes the flour, sugar, and salt. After that, warm the milk and butter together, and then whisk in the yeast until it has dissolved. Then you know it can start working its magic in your dough!
Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients, add the egg and then mix everything together. You do not need a stand mixer for this recipe, though you could certainly use one if desired.
Transfer dough to your work surface (below, left), and then knead by hand for 3 minutes until a soft dough forms (below, right).
Let the dough rest for 10 minutes as you prepare the filling—this gives the dough’s gluten a chance to settle and relax, which will make rolling out much easier.
3 Ingredient Filling
- Butter: Use super-soft butter for the filling—not too hard, not too melty. If the butter is too hard, it won’t be easy to spread it evenly over the soft dough. If it’s too melty, it will seep into the dough, and we don’t want that either. Butter that’s had time to soften to room temperature should be just right. If you forgot to get it out of the fridge earlier, here’s my trick for how to quickly soften butter.
- Brown Sugar: Using brown sugar in the filling gives these cinnamon rolls an extra-delicious depth of flavor.
- Cinnamon: You can’t have cinnamon rolls without it!
Roll out the dough and then top with softened butter and the brown sugar & cinnamon mixture.
Roll up the dough and then use your sharpest knife to cut into 10-12 rolls.
Why Are My Cinnamon Rolls Not Fluffy?
There are a lot of variables that go into the consistency of dough, even down to the weather and humidity. But the most common reason cinnamon rolls don’t turn out fluffy is because the dough didn’t have enough time to rise. In this particular recipe, with only 1 rise, it’s imperative the shaped rolls double in size in step 5 below. See the next photo? You want a pan of puffy-looking rolls even before baking.
Additionally, be sure to add only as much flour as you need to make a workable dough. This is a soft and tacky dough and it’s not supposed to be tough and hard. Too much flour will give you stiff, dense, dry cinnamon rolls.
Arrange your rolls in a lightly greased 9-inch or 10-inch pan. I appreciate that this recipe makes a slightly smaller batch than most other cinnamon roll recipes.
Here are the rolls before and after rising. This is the only rise! They’re ready to bake after they have nearly doubled in size.
Why Do My Cinnamon Rolls Rise Unevenly When Baking?
Sometimes the centers of the cinnamon rolls can pop up whack-a-mole-style while baking. This is caused by either rolling them too tight, or if the pan is too small/crowded. It’s happened to me many times before. But this is really easy to fix! Pull the pan out of the oven and use the back of a spoon to gently press the overly risen parts back down.
You Have Options for the Icing
It takes a couple quick minutes to mix a bowl of cream cheese icing together and for that, you need cream cheese, a little butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract. For something even easier, try a vanilla or coffee icing. Simply whisk confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and a little milk or strong coffee together until smooth. The video tutorial in the recipe below shows both icing options.
Spread or drizzle your icing on the warm rolls before serving—both icings seep right into every gooey swirl! The finished rolls pictured above have cream cheese icing, and here is the vanilla icing batch:
These easy cinnamon rolls from scratch are completely irresistible and they take half the time. If you’re looking for that perfect cinnamon roll recipe that doesn’t require 4+ hours, this is the winner.
Success Tips for Making the Best Cinnamon Rolls
- Don’t add more flour than you need. You can add a little more flour to bring the dough into a knead-able consistency, but adding too much will give you dense, dry rolls.
- Don’t kill the yeast. If your butter/milk mixture is too hot, it will kill the yeast and you won’t really notice until you’re far into the recipe… when the rolls won’t rise! Keep the temperature warm to the touch, around 100–110°F (38–43°C). An instant read thermometer is a handy tool for this baking recipe and many others.
- Use your sharpest knife to cut the rolls, so they don’t squish down.
- Use the correct size pan. This recipe makes 10–12 rolls, which fit in a 9- or 10-inch pan. If the pan is too small, they’ll be overcrowded. You can use a 9- or 10-inch pie dish, round cake pan, or square baking pan. If you want larger rolls, check out this recipe for jumbo cinnamon rolls!
- Let the rolls rise in a warm, draft-free environment. Here’s my favorite trick: Preheat your oven to 150°F (66°C), then turn it off. Cover the shaped rolls with aluminum foil and place the pan inside the warm oven. Leave the oven door cracked open for about 30 minutes, then close it and let them finish rising (another 30–60 minutes) in the oven with the door closed. Just don’t forget to take them out of the oven before you preheat it to bake them!
These easy cinnamon rolls are perfect for yeast beginners because they only require 1 rise. You have a few options for toppings. The recipe below includes a simple cream cheese icing, but we also love these with the coffee icing or vanilla icing that’s included in the recipe Notes below.
Cream Cheese Icing
- Make the dough: Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Combine the milk and butter together in a heatproof bowl. Microwave or use the stove and heat until the butter has melted and the mixture is warm to the touch (about 110°F/43°C, no higher). Whisk in the yeast until it has dissolved. Pour mixture into the dry ingredients, add the egg, and stir with a sturdy rubber spatula or wooden spoon OR use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed. Mix until a soft dough forms.
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Using floured hands, knead the dough for 3 minutes. You should have a smooth ball of dough. If the dough is super soft or sticky, you can add a little more flour. Place in a lightly greased bowl (I use non-stick spray), cover loosely, and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes as you get the filling ingredients ready.
- Fill the rolls: After 10 minutes, roll the dough out in a 14×8-inch (36×20-cm) rectangle. Spread the softened butter on top. Mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar. Sprinkle it all over the dough. Roll up the dough to make a 14-inch log. Cut into 10–12 even rolls and arrange in a lightly greased 9- or 10-inch round cake pan, pie dish, or square baking pan.
- Rise: Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 1–2 hours or until double in size. (For a tiny reduction in rise time, see my answer to Where Should Dough Rise? in my Baking with Yeast Guide.)
- Bake the rolls: After the rolls have doubled in size, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Bake for 24–27 minutes, or until lightly browned. If you notice the tops are getting too brown too quickly, loosely tent the pan with aluminum foil and continue baking. If you want to be precise about their doneness, their internal temperature taken with an instant read thermometer should be around 195–200°F (91–93°C) when done. Remove pan from the oven and place pan on a wire rack as you make the icing. (You can also make the icing as the rolls bake.)
- Make the icing: In a medium bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add the butter and beat until smooth and combined, then beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until combined. Using a knife or icing spatula, spread the icing over the warm rolls and serve immediately.
- Cover leftover frosted or unfrosted rolls tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead Instructions: This dough can be made the night before through step 4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise in a warm environment, about 1 hour. Continue with step 6.
- Freezing Instructions: Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2–3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up before enjoying. You can also freeze the unbaked rolls and here’s how: bake the rolls in step 6 for only about 10 minutes at 375°F (190°C). Cool completely, then cover tightly and freeze. To serve, take the pan of rolls out of the freezer and put into the refrigerator a few hours before serving. Then, finish baking them for the remaining 15–18 minutes.
- Yeast: I highly recommend instant yeast. If you only have active dry yeast, you can use that instead. Active dry and instant yeast can be used interchangeably in recipes (1:1). Active dry yeast has a moderate rate of rising and instant dry yeast has a faster rate of rising; active dry yeast will take longer to raise the dough.
- Milk: This recipe used to call for 1/2 cup (120ml) milk and 1/4 cup (60ml) water. The rolls taste much richer using all milk, and that is what I recommend. Whole milk or even buttermilk are ideal for this dough. If needed, you can substitute 3/4 cup (180ml) lower-fat or nondairy milk.
- Coffee Icing (or Vanilla Icing): Whisk 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, and 2–3 Tablespoons (30–45ml) strong brewed coffee together until smooth. Or swap milk for coffee for regular vanilla icing. Drizzle over warm rolls.
- Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
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