Soft, fluffy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting are hard to beat. The enriched brioche dough is light and pillowy filled with sweet brown sugar and cinnamon mix. What makes these stand out from the crowd is the brown butter cream cheese frosting that gets slathered onto these rolls when they're fresh out of the oven. Next level perfection for your breakfast, dessert, or snack.
This recipe uses my enriched brioche dough recipe that forms the base for many delicious recipes. It's soft, buttery, comes together easily and works perfectly to make bread, scrolls, rolls, babka and donuts. Don't be intimidated by it! In my post, I have step-by-step process shots and plenty of hints and tips so that you know exactly what you need to do.
Confession time, I only started eating cinnamon last year. And only in these Homemade Cinnamon Rolls!! My whole life, I’ve veered away from ANYTHING with cinnamon. I could smell it a mile off in any dish, and you’d only see the back of me as I ran.
However, with a family, sometimes you have to make a dish that you otherwise wouldn’t like to eat for yourself. My eldest daughter, Malia, loves cinnamon rolls and has begged me constantly to make them. Finally, after all my no’s, I relented and said YES! She was as surprised as I was! Once baked I reluctantly tried the roll - and stop the press- loved it! So a couple of recipe tests later, and here we are with this fab recipe for you.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Few ingredients. You'll most likely have all the ingredients in your pantry or fridge.
- Flavour packed. The brown butter cream cheese frosting adds incredible flavour onto what is already a delicious roll.
- Can make over night. Imagine waking up to homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Dreamy right?! I give you instructions to do just that.
This is one of those recipes where you’ll have all the ingredients needed in your pantry and fridge (fingers crossed anyway!) The list isn’t exhaustive and they are all pretty basic. Here’s What you’ll need to make these dreamy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls.
The brioche dough
- Active dry yeast. There are two types of yeast out there, dry yeast/instant rise yeast or active dry yeast. This recipe calls for active dry yeast, so you must follow the steps to activate it by soaking it as per the instructions. If you don't, you'll have little yeast balls in the dough, and your rolls won't rise.
- Whole milk and sugar. The milk needs to be warm when the sugar and active dry yeast are added to it. Once left for 10-15 minutes, the yeast will start to foam, and you'll know that it's activated.
- Flour, salt and more sugar. Use plain (all-purpose) flour in this recipe. The yeast provides the lift so that we don't need a leavening agent like baking powder found in self-raising flour. The sugar and salt both add sweetness and seasoning to the dough. If you don't use it, it will taste bland. I salt all my components in my baked goods. It makes such a difference!
- Eggs, butter and vanilla bean paste. Brioche, enriched dough wouldn't be rich without the eggs and butter. Ensure the eggs are at room temperature (place for ten mins in warm water will do the trick), and the butter should be unsalted as I like to control the amount of salt in my recipes. There is lots of lovely butter in this recipe - hence the reputation for being a rich, melt in your mouth dough, so buy the best quality that you can. Vanilla bean paste adds flavour and sweetness, and I use the paste as I find the flavour more intense and love seeing the flecks in the dough, but vanilla extract is totally fine to use too.
Brown sugar filling
- Butter, brown sugar, cinnamon powder and salt. Room temperature unsalted butter is vital here. Brown sugar (or light brown if that's all you have) is a must. The molasses in it when combined with the butter and baked goes all gooey and unctuous at the bottom of the pan. And of course cinnamon and sold for maximum taste.
Brown butter cream cheese frosting
- Brown butter. Seriously, doing this one extra step to brown the butter makes all the difference for this glaze. It adds a nutty vibe that is unmatched!
- Cream cheese, powdered icing sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and milk. Yes to all the cream cheese tangy goodness. Sift the icing sugar before adding to limit any lumps and add in salt to balance the sweetness. The milk helps to loosen the frosting ever so slightly so that you can spread it all over the rolls.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
The brioche dough
First things first. Let’s talk about the enriched dough we use to make these Homemade Cinnamon Rolls With Brown Butter Cream Cheese Icing. The quantity of butter makes for a super-rich, buttery bread. Proving the dough twice allows for it to become soft and pillowy when baked. Totally dreamy!
Luckily for you, I have a whole post dedicated to making brioche dough and all the hints and tips you need to succeed. My aim is to debunk the myth that it's hard to make. In my post, I have all the process shots and step-by-step instructions you need to make this beautiful dough.
How to make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Once the dough is has had it’s first rise and been refrigerated (for 2 hours) or frozen (for approx 45 mins), its time to shape and cut our tasty cinnamon rolls. Let’s go through the process:
1. Prepare the pan and roll out the dough. Grease a round baking dish or pie pan with butter (alternatively, line the dish with parchment paper so that you can lift the scrolls out.
On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a rectangle. It should measure approximately 0 x 48cm (12 x 18-inches).
2. Cover dough in butter and cinnamon sugar. Smear the softened butter all over the surface of the rolled out dough. The butter has to be super soft, so as not to tear the dough. If necessary, place in the microwave for ten seconds to soften. But don’t melt it! (Image 1 )
In a small bowl mix the cinnamon, brown sugar and salt together then sprinkle this evenly all over the butter. (Image 2 & 3)
TIP: Size of pan and number of rolls
In the images that I’m sharing with you today, you can see that I made 7 cinnamon rolls that baked in a round pie pan. Now, these 7 are BIG cinnamon rolls. The same recipe can be used to make 12 rolls baked in a rectangular pan. See the tip in Step 3 to know how to cut more rolls and what pan to use.
3. Roll the rectangle into a log shape. On the long edge, roll the dough up as tightly as you can without pulling or stretching the dough (Image 4) The pinch the seam closed all the way along with your fingertips. (This stops the roll unravelling once you've cut it. (Image 5)
4. Cut into roll. Slice the two ends off with a sharp knife. They can be a bit raggedy. Using the knife, cut the log into 7 equal pieces. (That's how many I cut for large rolls to fit into my round pan. See TIP below for how to make 12 rolls. (Image 6)
TIP: Serving of 12 rolls
Instead of making 7 large homemade cinnamon rolls as I did, you can make 12 standard-sized rolls. To do this, once the dough is rolled tightly into a log, and the ends cut off, then slice in half, then cut each of those halves in half again. You'll have four long logs now. Cut each of those four into three equal size pieces. Voila, there you have 12.
Rather than a round baking dish, use a 23cmx33cm (9x13inch) rectangular dish to fit them all in. You can see that I have done this in my Rhubarb Scroll post if you’d like a visual.
5. Place in the pan. Place the cut cinnamon rolls on their sides with the beautiful scrolls facing up, into the dish that you’ve prepared. If they have become a bit misshapen from cutting, then now is the time to gently use your fingers to make them round again. Ensure there is a little space around all the rolls. (Image 7)
6. Second rise then bake. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 mins. The dough visually has to expand by at least half of its original volume. (Image 8) See the difference in images 7 & 8 above. Whilst the dough is on its second rise, this is the time to preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Once risen, remove plastic wrap and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. (Image 9 below) Halfway through, cover the pan in aluminium foil if the rolls are browning too quickly.
TIP: Egg wash dough
If you aren't going to cover the rolls in a cream cheese frosting (or even if you are!), then to get that nice sheen to the baked dough, a tip is to egg wash prior to baking. I did this to my rolls for the photos to show the beautiful sheen that you get (see Image 9).
Make the egg wash by beating one small egg and 1 tablespoon of milk together in a small bowl. Once the rolls have had their second rise in a warm place, remove the plastic wrap and branch the egg wash onto the tops of the scrolls. Bake as instructed.
How to make Brown Butter Frosting
7. Brown the butter. In a medium saucepan placed over medium heat on your stovetop, heat the butter until bubbling whilst whisking continuously. Continue to whisk and heat the butter until a foam appears on the top, and the butter develops from a pale yellow to a rich golden brown, and it smells nutty. At this point, remove the butter from the heat and pour it into a separate bowl, scraping the browned bits off the bottom, as this is where the flavour lies. Set aside for 20-30 minutes to cool down to room temperature.
8. Make the frosting. In a separate bowl, using electric hand-held beaters (or a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment), cream together the brown butter and cream cheese for about 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Mix in the powdered icing sugar, vanilla, salt, and 1 tablespoon of milk until smooth. Add in an extra tablespoon of milk for a runnier consistency. The brown butter frosting should be a smooth, spreadable consistency.
When the cinnamon rolls are finished baking, let them cool for about 10 minutes. Spoon the frosting over the cinnamon rolls, using the back of a spoon to spread if desired.
Variations / Substitutions
I adore this Homemade Cinnamon Roll Recipe as there are quite o few ways of adding in different ingredients to create your own favourite flavour profile.
- Apple cinnamon rolls: peel, core, and dice one apple and toss the apple with the brown sugar filling and before sprinkling all over the dough and rolling. You'll have yourself some tasty cinnamon rolls with the perfect fruity addition.
- Pecan sticky cinnamon rolls: Add one cup of chopped pecans and ½ cup brown sugar together and sprinkle across the base of your pan with a few knobs of butter before adding the unbaked scrolls. Continue with the recipe and once baked the brown sugar and butter melt to form a sticky layer with the added crunch of the nuts on the bottom of the rolls.
- Chocolate cinnamon rolls: add chopped chunks of dark 70% chocolate into the Brown sugar filling. Once baked you'll have little pockets of melted chocolate within the swirls of the dough
- Orange cinnamon rolls. Add the zest of two oranges into the dough when mixing. Substitute the milk in the cream cheese glaze with orange juice. You'll add the perfect sweet orangey flavour profile that works so well with cinnamon.
- Refrigerate the dough after the first rise: When it comes to rolling out the dough, sprinkling the sugar filling, re-rolling, and cutting into scrolls - this is so much easier to do with the cooled dough. Trust me!
- Soft butter for the filling. The butter has to be super soft so as not to tear the dough when you spread it out. Don't melt it though otherwise, you'll have a red hot mess on your hands!
- Cutting neat scrolls. Either use a sharp-bladed knife to cut the long log or use unflavoured dental floss to get the clean edges. (Food stylist's tip!)
Frequently asked questions
Cinnamon rolls with most likely have some form of vanilla or cream cheese frosting on top of the rolls. With sticky buns, they don’t have any frosting and will have a lot of the sugar/butter filling mixture sprinkled into the base of your baking pan to form a gooey, sticky layer once baked. Preppy Kitchen shows perfectly how to make Sticky Buns.
If there is too little flour, then the dough will be sticky and won’t have enough structure to rise, resulting in dense, soggy rolls.
If there is too much flour in the dough then it will turn out dry and crumbly once baked.
Your best bet it to weigh your ingredients using digital scales for an accurate and reliable way to create this and every recipe!
Absolutely! Once you've cut your scrolls and placed them in your baking pan ready for their second rise...this is your chance to refrigerate them. Wrap the baking pan tightly in plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge overnight. The next morning, take the dish out of the fridge and let it stand at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour, and then bake as per the recipe instructions. There’s nothing like waking up to warm scrolls for breakfast!
How to store and freeze
To store: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls are definitely best eaten fresh and warm straight out of the oven. If you do need to store them then place the rolls in an airtight container and store them at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Microwave for 10-20 seconds to freshen them up as they will dry out the longer you keep them
To freeze: These tasty cinnamon rolls can be frozen. Place in a freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before serving or re-heating.
Tools you’ll need
- Electric stand mixer fitted with dough hook: You can knead the brioche dough by hand but it takes some serious arm muscle. The stand mixer makes the whole process easier.
- Rolling Pin: Essential to roll out the brioche dough in order to spread the filling on top of it and then roll it up into a log.
- 23cm (9-inch) round pie dish: The perfect size baking dish to bake 7-8 large rolls in.
More Brioche Enriched Dough Recipes
I love this dough and am slowly amassing quite a few recipes using it. Take a look and save them for later.
- BRIOCHE LOAF In this post I provide all my hints and tips on how to make brioche dough.
- RHUBARB ROLLS WITH CRÈME FRAÎCHE GLAZE Brioche scrolls filled with a home-made rhubarb jam and slather in a tangy, sweet crème fraîche glaze
- STRAWBERRY DONUT BRIOCHE SCROLLS These are so fun. Individual scrolls are filled with strawberry jam, baked, and then tossed in strawberry sugar. Fun to make for the kids, these taste just like strawberry jam-filled donuts without the hassle of frying.
- FIG, CARAMEL AND PECAN BABKA One of my first forays into the enriched dough. I used my friend, Erin from Cloudy Kitchen enriched dough recipe and added in my own delicious filling of caramel, pecans, and figs.
If you tried this Homemade Cinnamon Rolls Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
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Homemade Cinnamon Rolls With Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
Enriched brioche dough
- 10 g active dry yeast
- 210 ml whole milk, luke-warm
- 50 g granulated sugar
- 500 g plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste, or extract
- 115 g unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
- 1 tsp vegetable oil (or canola oil), for greasing
Brown sugar cinnamon filling
- 60 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 140 g brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- ¼ fine salt
Brown butter cream cheese frosting
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 60 g cream cheese, softened
- 180 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp fine salt
- 30 ml whole milk, as needed
Enriched brioche dough (Refer to my How to make Enriched Brioche Dough post detailed instructions, tips and process images)
- Make the dough. Add the yeast, milk, and 1 tablespoon (15 g) sugar into the bowl of an electric stand mixer and mix well. Set to one side for 15 minutes until foamy. Into that mixture, add the flour, remaining sugar, salt, eggs and vanilla bean paste and using the dough hook, mix on low for 5 minutes until the dough comes together.
- Add butter and knead. Whilst the mixer is running at a low speed, add the butter gradually, and once incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium speed and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl and have formed a ‘tornado’ around the dough hook. Do the windowpane test on the dough - grab a small piece of dough between your fingers and thumbs and stretch it out. If it tears quickly, the dough requires more kneading. If it stretches thinly and you can see the light through it, then it’s perfect!
- First rise and refrigeration. Tip the dough onto a greased worktop and pull the corners into the centre. Turn over so that the seams are underneath and place the dough ball in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for approximately 1½ hours. Once doubled in size, gently punch down the dough, form it into a rectangle and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or freeze for 45 minutes (my preferred option). This step is optional, but chilling the dough now makes it much easier to roll and shape later.
- Prepare the pan and roll out the dough. Grease with butter a 23 cm (9-inch) round pie dish or cake pan. Line the dish with parchment paper if you want to lift the rolls out of the dish once baked. Once the dough is cold, on a lightly floured countertop, roll the dough into a rectangle measuring approximately 30 x 48cm (12 x 18-inches).
- Cover dough in brown sugar cinnamon filling. Dollop the softened butter all over the rectangle and gently smooth it out to the edges using an offset spatula. (The butter has to be super soft, so as not to tear the dough. If necessary, place in the microwave for ten seconds to soften. But don’t melt it!). In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly all over the butter.
- Roll the rectangle into a log shape. On the long side of the rectangle, roll the dough tightly into a long log and then pinch the seam closed with your fingers.
- Cut into rolls. Using unflavoured dental floss or a sharp knife, cut the ends off the roll as they won’t be as filled as the rest of the log. Cut the log into 7 even pieces.
- Place in the pan. Place the cinnamon rolls on their sides with the scroll facing up in the cake pan. Leave room around each roll.Second rise, then bake. Cover dish with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes until they have expanded by about half of their original volume—Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Remove plastic wrap and bake the cinnamon rolls for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Halfway through, cover with foil so as not to brown too much.
Brown butter cream cheese frosting
- Brown the butter. While the cinnamon rolls are baking, make the browned butter glaze. In a medium saucepan placed over medium heat on your stovetop, heat the butter until bubbling whilst whisking continuously. Continue to whisk and heat the butter until a foam appears on the top, and the butter develops from a pale yellow to a rich golden brown, and it smells nutty. At this point, remove the butter from the heat and pour it into a separate bowl, scraping the browned bits off the bottom, as this is where the flavour lies. Set aside for 20-30 minutes to cool down to room temperature.
- Make the frosting. In a separate bowl, using electric hand-held beaters (or a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment), cream together the brown butter and cream cheese for about 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Mix in the powdered icing sugar, vanilla, salt and 1 tablespoon of milk until smooth. Add in an extra tablespoon of milk for a runnier consistency. The brown butter glaze should be a smooth, spreadable consistency.
- Decorate. When the cinnamon rolls are finished baking, let them cool for about 10 minutes. Spoon the glaze over the cinnamon rolls, using the back of a spoon to spread if desired.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.