Homemade Soft & Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls begin with a dough mixed with sour cream, butter, and an egg for a pillowy soft texture. These rolls are filled with a buttery, brown sugar cinnamon filling and smothered in cream cheese frosting for a perfectly delicious breakfast treat that’s easy to prep ahead.
Waking up on Saturday morning to a fresh batch of soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls is my kind of weekend! Whether it’s strawberry rolls in the summer, pumpkin rolls in the fall, or gingerbread rolls in the winter, you can’t go wrong with enjoying this sweet treat with family.
As a pastry chef, I’ve made many yeasted recipes. Working with yeast may seem intimidating, but even beginner bakers will find it easy to make these fluffy sweet cinnamon rolls. It’s a simple dough with an overnight option too.
In this post, I share tips, tricks, and answers to common troubleshooting questions to ensure your cinnamon rolls come out perfect every time. There are even options for freezing them to help you prep in advance. Let’s get baking!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Pillowy, soft, and tender. Every bite of these cinnamon rolls is soft and fluffy! Between their texture and gooey centers, it’s an irresistible combination.
- Simple, versatile dough. This dough is easy to work with, forgiving, and pairs well with all your favorite fillings, making it a staple go-to recipe for your favorite breakfast rolls (just like for pineapple cinnamon rolls)!
- Creamy frosting. Easy whipped cream cheese frosting adds the final touch for a slightly tangy complement.
Ingredients You'll Need
- All-purpose flour. Perfect for creating cinnamon rolls with a soft, tender, and fluffy dough. Bread flour works too, but the rolls will be chewier, and you’ll need to slightly increase the amount of milk in the dough.
- Yeast. I prefer instant yeast (also known as rapid or quick-rise yeast). It’s the easiest to use, just add straight to the dough (more on yeast below!).
- Salt. Adding salt to the dough helps control the yeast during the rising process.
- Butter. You’ll need butter for the dough, filling, and cream cheese frosting. Stick with unsalted butter to control the amount of salt in the recipe. If you already have salted butter, that’s okay too.
- Granulated sugar. Slightly sweetens the dough and helps to activate the yeast.
- Sour cream. Even a bit of sour cream adds a slight tanginess and richness to the dough. It also creates an incredibly tender dough.
- Egg. Just one egg is all you need. It adds to the richness of the dough.
- Milk. Helps create a soft and fluffy dough. You can use any kind of milk, but whole milk will give you the best texture.
- Brown sugar. Adds a caramel-like sweetness to your filling. You can use light or dark brown sugar. Avoid using granulated sugar for the filling. It just won’t give the filling that irresistible gooeyness.
- Cinnamon. It’s the perfect warm spice to mix with the brown sugar for the filling.
- Cream cheese. Use block cream cheese. It has a dense, firm texture that is perfect for making frosting. Bring your cream cheese to room temperature to create a smooth and creamy frosting.
- Powdered sugar. Adds sweetness to the cream cheese frosting. Its fine texture creates a smooth and creamy frosting consistency.
Which Yeast is Best to Use for the Dough
There are various yeast options, and knowing which one to select can be confusing. Here are the two that I recommend using:
- Instant yeast. You’ll also see it labeled as quick or rapid-rise yeast. I love using this type since you add it straight to your dough. There’s no extra step for activating it in a warmed liquid.
- Active dry yeast. This type requires activation, meaning you must dissolve it in a liquid (in this case, warmed milk) before adding it to the dough.
Note: Whether you use instant or active dry yeast, your milk needs to be warmed for this recipe. Warm it so it’s between 105°F and 115°F (it should be warm to the touch, not hot). Anything hotter can kill the yeast, meaning your dough won’t rise.
Helpful Tools to Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
- Digital kitchen scale or measuring cups. Using a scale will give you exact measurements for consistent results.
- Measuring spoons.
- 9x13-inch baking pan. I recommend using this sized pan so the rolls fit together nicely and don’t overcrowd or overspread.
- Medium bowl. For whisking the dry ingredients.
- Small bowl. For mixing the filling ingredients.
- Stand mixer. You’ll need the dough hook for your stand mixer to knead the dough. No mixer? You can also mix this dough by hand (it’s messier but definitely doable!).
- Rubber spatula or bench scraper. Makes it easy to scrape the dough from the bowl onto a surface for rolling.
- Serrated knife. It cuts the dough easily without forcing the cuts and smushing the dough. You can also use unflavored dental floss to slice the rolls.
How to Make the Dough
Before you begin: Allow your sour cream and egg to come to room temperature.
Whisk dry ingredients. In a bowl, whisk the flour, yeast, and salt.
Whisk wet ingredients. Whisk the butter, sugar, sour cream, and egg in a stand mixer bowl.
Add the dry ingredients and milk. Use the dough hook to mix for 5-7 minutes.
Let the dough rise. Cover the mixing bowl and allow the dough to double in size.
How to Assemble the Rolls
Roll out the dough. Roll into a 12x18-inch rectangle.
Whisk filling ingredients. Whisk the brown sugar and cinnamon.
Spread butter. Spread the softened butter over the dough.
Sprinkle sugar. Evenly sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture over the butter.
Roll and cut. Tightly roll the dough into a log and slice into 12 rolls.
Proof and bake. Arrange rolls in a pan, cover for 30 minutes, and bake uncovered.
How to Make Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
Using the overnight method to make cinnamon rolls gives them the best flavor (I use it for chocolate brioche too!). Plus, you can split the prep time in half and don’t need to wake up extra early in the morning to prepare this sweet treat for breakfast. Here are two options:
- Mixed dough. Pop your mixed dough in the fridge overnight for a slow first rise, which develops the flavor. In the morning, bring the dough to room temperature and continue preparing your cinnamon rolls according to the remaining recipe instructions.
- Rolled and cut dough. After slicing the cinnamon rolls, arrange them in your prepared pan, cover them tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, bring the cinnamon rolls to room temperature and allow them to rise 45 minutes to an hour before baking.
Recipe Tips & Tricks
- Make sure you use fresh yeast. I like to store mine in the refrigerator to keep it fresh longer. There’s nothing like using yeast that isn’t fresh, only to have dough that does not rise.
- Lightly flour your work surface. Before rolling your dough, lightly flour your surface so it doesn’t stick. I also add a light dusting to the top of the dough so that my rolling pin doesn’t stick either.
- Use room temperature butter for the filling. For the perfect spreadable consistency, use very soft room temperature butter. You can even pop it in the microwave for 10-second intervals to soften it.
- Don’t rush the rise times. Give your cinnamon roll dough the love it deserves and let it have its full rise time (both times). The results are well worth it (pillowy, soft, sweet rolls!).
- Don’t overbake them. The best part of cinnamon rolls is their soft and fluffy texture. Keep an eye on your rolls during the last 10 minutes of baking. They should start to look lightly golden brown on the tops.
If you have any leftovers, you can store your frosted cinnamon rolls covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Note: Reheat these homemade cinnamon rolls in a 300°F/149°C oven for 10 minutes or until heated through to make them soft and fluffy again.
Two Methods for Freezing Your Rolls
We love freezing cinnamon rolls for a future sweet treat. You can even prep your rolls ahead of time and freeze them unbaked for an easy breakfast for the family. Here’s how:
- Freeze before baking. After your cinnamon rolls have been rolled and cut, arrange them in a freezer-safe baking pan as directed in the baking instructions. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil, and place in the freezer. When ready to bake, thaw overnight in the fridge and give your cinnamon rolls their second rise in a warm place before baking.
- Freeze after baking. Make sure your baked rolls come fully to room temperature. You’ll want to store them in a freezer-safe container, frosted or unfrosted, for up to 3 months. You can also wrap each cinnamon roll individually in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and freeze. When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the fridge, warm in the oven, and frost if unfrosted.
Frequently Asked Questions
Continue to mix while adding a bit of flour, one tablespoon at a time, until it comes together.
Absolutely! Chopped nuts and raisins are great additions. You can also add ginger, nutmeg, and a bit of cardamom or ground cloves for a fall-inspired filling.
If too much flour is added to the dough or if it’s over mixed, it can cause dense cinnamon rolls. This also happens if the dough does not have its full rise time.
This can happen if you roll the dough too tightly or if your pan is smaller than what’s called for.
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I hope you love these Soft & Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls as much as we do and that they become a family favorite! Pin it on Pinterest to make them and share this special treat with the ones you love. Please leave a comment below, I love reading your feedback. Happy Baking!Print