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Everything You Need To Know To Make Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

Everyone thinks their mom is the best cook in the world, but in reality that title belongs to MY mom. ;-) I’ve shared several of her recipes on my blog over the past few years, and it is really rewarding when I hear from readers who end up loving her recipes as much as I do! My mom has been making many of the same recipes for as long as I can remember, and a few of them have become the stuff of family legend.

Related: My Mom’s Amazing Sour Cream Cookies

Short on time? Try the canned cinnamon roll hack in my video at the end of this post!

Tips For The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

Take, for instance, my mom’s cinnamon rolls. Everyone in the family, Dad included, was over the moon every time Mom would make them for us. (It’s an old school recipe that takes a bit of time and effort, so she usually reserved them for special occasions.) But this once-in-a-while cinnamon roll schedule was simply not enough for my older brother Kevin. When we were teenagers, he had our mom teach him how to make cinnamon rolls so he could have them whenever he liked. (He was your typical teenage boy who had little interest in cooking or baking otherwise. These cinnamon rolls are just THAT good!)

Since my mom’s cinnamon rolls are tied to special occasions in my mind, I always crave them around the holidays. And cinnamon rolls do make a delicious Christmas morning treat! So today I thought I’d share them with you! But before we get to the recipe, I want to share a couple of tips to help you through the trickier parts of the cinnamon roll-making process.

2 Helpful Tips For Cinnamon Roll Success

Tips For The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

Tip #1 – Use A Silpat

Putting the cinnamon filling on the dough is easy enough, but rolling the dough up can be tricky! So to make it easier, I roll my dough out on a silpat-type flexible baking mat. Then once I have the filling in place, I’m able to use the flexible mat to roll the whole thing evenly.

Just lift up one of the long sides of the baking mat and give the dough a little nudge until it starts to fold over on itself. Continue lifting and let the dough do the rest of the work. When you reach the other end, roll the whole “log” over a few more inches so the seam is underneath against the mat. You should end up with the perfectly shaped “log,” perfect for cutting.

Much easier than doing it a little at a time with just your hands! (Just make sure you have enough flour on your mat so the dough doesn’t stick while you’re rolling.)

Tips For The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

Tip #2 – Use Dental Floss

Another tricky phase when making cinnamon rolls is cutting the rolled dough into individual pieces. Even the sharpest kitchen knife can end up smashing your roll instead of cutting it. The easiest way I know to cut cinnamon rolls is by using a piece of dental floss!

Take the two ends of floss and make like you are going to tie a knot and then in one fluid movement, pull the two ends of the floss tight. The floss slices through the roll all the way around with even pressure, so your pieces end up looking picture perfect. :-)

Okay, now that you know a few of the keys to success, let’s get to that recipe!

Tips For The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

My Mom’s Cinnamon Rolls

Dough Ingredients:

  • 2 packages (4 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp shortening
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour

(Note: this dough recipe is what my Mom uses for homemade dinner rolls as well.)

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1/2 – 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)

Directions:

Tips For The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

Step 1 – Make The Dough

The first step is to “bloom” or activate the yeast. Add the yeast to 1 cup of warm (not hot!) water, along with a pinch of sugar. Stir and set aside. Do this in a separate small bowl or measuring cup. That way if your yeast won’t cooperate, you can try again without starting a whole new dough.

Tips For The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

While the yeast is doing its thing, use a small saucepan to scald the milk. You want to heat it until steam is rising from the surface, and you see small bubbles forming around the edge of the milk. Then remove the milk from heat. (Why scald the milk? Scalding kills some of the proteins in milk that can inhibit the rising process, so you’ll end up with cinnamon rolls that are extra light and fluffy.)

To your scalded milk, add the sugar, salt, and shortening. Stir well, and allow the mixture to cool off until it’s warm rather than hot. (If your milk mixture is too hot, you risk scrambling the eggs and killing the yeast in the next step. So be patient!)

Tips For The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

When the milk mixture is cool enough, pour it into the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the beaten eggs and the yeast mixture, then turn your mixer on low. Add the flour a little bit at a time to form your dough.

Tips For The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

Step 2 – Let It Rise

Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set the bowl aside (preferably in a warm place) so the dough can rise. You want it to double in size, which usually takes around an hour and a half.

Tips For The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

Step 3 – Assemble

Punch the dough down, remove it from the bowl, and divide it in half. Roll out one half of the dough into a large rectangle. (There’s no need to knead, so dust your surface with just enough flour to ensure that nothing sticks.)

Tips For The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

Brush the dough with half of the melted butter, then sprinkle on half of the brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins (if desired). Roll the dough lengthwise, then use a piece of dental floss to cut it into 2″ wide sections. Place your sliced rolls in a greased baking pan.

Repeat the process with the other half of your dough, adding the remaining butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins.

Tips For The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

Step 4 – Let It Rise (Again)

When your rolls are all formed and ready to go, set them in a warm place to rise a second time. You want the rolls to approximately double in size.

Tips For The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

Step 5 – Bake

Then it’s time to bake! Bake the rolls at 350° for 20-30 minutes. The cinnamon rolls are done with the tops are golden brown and they’re cooked throughout. Remove your rolls from the oven and allow them to cool before frosting and serving.

Tips For The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

Bonus Recipe: My Mom’s Cinnamon Roll Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Tips For The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

Stir the ingredients to make the icing. (You may need to add a bit more milk or powdered sugar to reach your desired consistency.) Generously apply the finished frosting to your cinnamon rolls, and enjoy! :-)

Too Sweet For You? Here’s Something Savory

A warm pan of cinnamon rolls makes the perfect breakfast treat on Christmas morning! But if you prefer savory breakfasts to sweet ones (or if you’d like to offer both,) I’ve got you covered there, too! Here are a couple of savory breakfast options for your Christmas morning festivities. (I highly recommend the Breakfast Casserole! It’s so easy, and it’s a family favorite too.)

Don’t have time for homemade cinnamon rolls? This is the next best thing!

YouTube video
Canned cinnamon rolls that rival Cinnabon!? Watch and see!

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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MORE IDEAS FROM

Food & Recipes

    • Boil a large pot of water and place it in your oven. Then place your dough in the oven along with the pot. The oven is never on, but the steam and hot water creates a warm environment for the dough. :-)

    • Donna ~ I know your comment was years ago but if you are still following the blog, I use a heating pad for my yeasted baking! I start my heating pad on low, cover it with a fairly thick kitchen towel, place my bowl or pan of yeasted dough on the pad/towel, cover with another kitchen towel. I do check often just because I don’t want to raise the dough too much!! Works great in my cool apartment!

  • I’ve been using the same recipe for cinnamon rolls for over 25 years, but decided to try your recipe yesterday OH, MY! Super delicious, in fact I made 2 batches. Thank you for sharing. Delicious!!!!!

  • These are AMAZING! I have never tried to bake with yeast. I have never had the “patience”. I did cut recipe in half, and it came out phenomenal! Thank you so much!

  • My mom made them too whenever she made buns. Except she put caramel in the bottom of the greased pan before she put the cinnamon rolls in. There really wasn’t a recipe for the caramel. Some butter with a little white karo syrup and brown sugar all melted together in a small pan. When the sugar is all dissolved, she poured that in the bottom of the pan. It didn’t have to cover the whole pan as it spread when baking. When they’re done, let sit for a bit so the caramel isn’t quite as liquid, and then turn out on a sheet of foil, waxed or parchment paper on top of some sheets of folded newspaper for a cushion. Any excess caramel in the pan can be spread onto the the rolls. She used a piece of white sewing thread to cut them with. I still use the white sewing thread for cutting them. My family and anyone else that has ever had them, loved them and wanted more. I don’t make them as often anymore because we really don’t need them. Great treat once in awhile tho. They do make good gifts at holiday time for friends, and co-workers etc.

    She

  • Thank you for this wonderful post, Jillee! My mother made almost the same exact cinnamon rolls for as long as I can remember! She always had a freezer full so my brothers and I could take them on trips with friends, presents for teachers, etc. Every Christmas Eve, my dad and I would load up 50+ pans and deliver them to friends, family and neighbors so they could enjoy the delicious cinnamon buns on Christmas Day! My mother passed away four years ago. Thank you for reminding me of such a wonderful tradition!

    • You can make them the night before. After you have made them and put them in the pan, cover them and place in fridge. Do not let them rise a second time. The next day, take them out of the fridge and let them rise on the counter for an hour. Then heat the oven and cook as directed. The rolls will rise somewhat in the fridge overnight and more so when you take them out. This is a delicious recipe and I make it often for my spouse. I also freeze the uncooked rolls for an easy breakfast. I just freeze the rolls on a cookie sheet. Once frozen I place in a zippy bag. When my spouse wants one or two, I place the roll(s) on a greased pan, cover and place in fridge overnight. The next am I place them on the counter for an hour, then cook as directed.

  • We like ours really gooey. So I put brown sugar on the bottom of the pan and dot it with butter. I also sprinkle Butterscotch pudding on the dough before I roll it and sprinkle it in the bottom of the pan too. Learned this from my mother-in-law many years ago. So tasty!

  • Another step you might consider is to pinch and fold the end to the rest of the roll to ensure the dough doesn’t split. You can also use string to “cut” the rolls, but I can see where unscented dental floss might also work. I have a steam oven and a warming draw, which quickens up the “proofing/rising” time. From a retired Home Economics teacher.

    • Hi Chris L. I just read this recipe and wondered the same thing! I have a bread machine and it’s a great time saver. I think the only way to find out is to try it! Lol!
      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!

  • OMG!!!! We tried this recipe and we couldn’t get enough of them… So DELISH!!!!! We also add chopped walnuts. So good…my coffee an me were so happy…

  • I used to knock myself out on Christmas Eve making a Cinnabon clone roll for the family. Now we just use the Rhodes frozen ones. I have tried the Christmas morning ones. I didn’t actually do it for Christmas. I halved it since there’s just 3 of of us now. Your moms recipe sounds good.

  • Your Mother’s cinnamon roll recipe is the exact same one my Grandmother taught me when I was 10 years old. Her recipe (which came from my Great-grandmother) is one I use for loaves of bread, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, raisin bread as well our special fruit braid for Christmas morning. The recipe is just so versatile! One difference is that our recipe is done totally by hand, we don’t use a mixer. Our recipe also specifies that the dough not be punched down which always amazes anyone who gets the recipe, though we do knead the dough.

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