Quick Cinnamon Rolls

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An ooey gooey easy cinnamon roll recipe with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting …ready in about one hour! These quick cinnamon rolls are like a cinnabon cinnamon rolls that you can make at home.

spatula removing a 1 hour cinnamon roll


 

Seriously try not to drool. I know it’s going to be tough. Because these copycat cinnabon cinnamon rolls that are made in an about hour start to finish are totally droolworthy.

 Basically, get those sweatpants and get ready. 

I’ve made these cinnamon rolls a few times. It took me a few attempts to get this recipe right, but when I did. Boy oh boy. I am going to make these for any brunch coming up in my life. Mother’s Day? Yup. Easter? Definitely. Any Sunday that needs it. Check. Because I mean cinnamon rolls can be a time consuming process but when they are done in an hour there’ no excuse not to whip some up. 

So let’s grab some yeast and let’s do this because I’m getting impatient. I want cinnamon rolls. Like now.

Ingredients Needed

For the dough: 

  • Milk – I used whole milk for the best flavor, and texture. Low-fat milk can be used or a dairy free milk as well.
  • Butter – I used unsalted butter so I can control the amount of salt
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Rapid Rise Yeast – Or instant yeast. You can use active dry yeast however the rolls will take longer to rise.
  • Flour 
  • Egg

For the filling:

  • brown sugar
  • cinnamon

For the icing: 

  • cream cheese
  • powdered sugar
  •  butter
  • vanilla 
close up of easy cinnamon rolls

How To Make These Easy Cinnamon Rolls

Let’s face it. Cinnamon rolls might be the ultimate breakfast treat. Worth every calorie. But all that time waiting for the dough to rise? No way Jose. Not this girl. So what is a person to do? Eat oatmeal. Yea, right. Nope, use fast-acting yeast.

And there you go! These quick cinnamon rolls, adapted from Lauren’s Latest, from dough to baked and to your tummy in an hour.

rapid rise yeast package

Making The Dough: 

Start by combining the milk, sugar, salt, and butter together in a sauce pan over medium heat. combine the milk,  Heat until the butter melts and then allow to cool. 

Into the bowl of a stand mixer, measure out 2 cups of flour and yeast with dough hook attachment . 

Once butter mixture has cooled, add into stand mixer and mix on low. Add in the egg and combine.

Add in remaining 2 cups of flour. Scrape edges of bowl to stir flour in evenly. Knead 5 minutes on low. If dough seems a bit sticky, stir in 2 tablespoons of flour at a time until it starts pulling away from the bowl. {You still want it to be a little sticky!} Rest dough 5 minutes.

Shaping The Cinnamon Rolls

To help roll out the dough, I like to use my silicone pastry mat

Once you have the dough rolled out, go ahead and slather it in butter. Sprinkle it with brown sugar and cinnamon. You know what Heaven is made of. And roll it on up. Place them in a 9 by 13 inch pan. 

rolling and shaping cinnamon rolls

Heather’s Pro Baking Tip

Use thread or unwaxed unflavored dental floss to cut the rolls without squishing the dough. Or you can also cut them into strips and roll the individually. Cutting these rolls into go by much faster. Like I did for these Healthy Cinnamon Rolls  below.

You can freeze them at this point if you would like and continue with the second rise and baking at a later date! Just wrap in dish, well. Then you need to let them rise for 20-25 minutes until puffy. 

And the best part of these rolls? They take 20 minutes to bake. Seriously. Do you hate me for introducing these into your life? 

Frosting These Easy Cinnamon Rolls

 And of course, half the reason I eat those cinnamon swirled treats is the thick layer of vanilla cream cheese frosting on top. I used my go-to cream cheese frosting  recipe that I have used to frost a carrot cake, pumpkin cupcakes, and my favorite red velvet cupcakes.

The key is to keep the cream cheese frosting cold when you mix it with the butter.  When you frost your rolls, use only half the frosting so it can melt into all those cinnamoney (yes spell check that IS a word) nook and crannies. Then once they have cooled (if you can wait that long) spread the remaining frosting on.

Ok now you can dive in.

Bet you’re glad you busted out those sweatpants now aren’t you?

cinnamon rolls being iced

More Recipe Tips

  • Use A Thermometer. You want to use a thermometer to test the temperature of your milk/butter mixture before adding to the bowl. Yeast is a living thing, which means if the milk is too hot, it will kill the yeast. If the milk is too cold the yeast will not proof properly. Because this mixture uses Rapid Rise Yeast, it can be at a higher tempreature than use for other types of yeast. The mixture can be between 120-130°F. You can read more here from Bob’s Red Mills about what temperature kills yeast. 
  • Measure your flour accurately. Either measure using this method on how to measure flour described in this post, or use a kitchen scale for best accuracy. You can read (and watch there’s a video!) on how to measure all your ingredients here too.
  • Use A Mixer. You can use your stand mixer with a dough hook attachment to make kneading this bread easy or make your bread dough in a mixing bowl with a dough whisk, and knead your bread dough by hand. However, a mixer makes everything come together much faster!

How To Get These Done In An Hour

These cinnamon rolls will take about an hour or so – give or take. Here are my tips to speed up the process!

  • Weigh Your Ingredients. Yes it’s just faster! Besides being more accurate, it will speed up the measuring process. You can read (and watch there’s a video!) on how to measure all your ingredients here too.
  • Use A Mixer. If you are making these by hand, then expect things to take a little longer.
  • Cut Into Strips. As you saw above, I used to roll the dough up and then cut with a sharp knife or dental floss, but I found it much faster and easier to cut the dough into 12 strips after it’s been rolled out and then roll up each individual roll. Much faster and easier!
  • Proof In Your Oven. Yeast will take longer in a colder kitchen. So if your kitchen is below 70oF and it’s winter do yourself a favor and proof in your oven. Turn your oven on at its lowest setting (for me that’s 170oF) and let it preheat. Once it’s preheated, I turn my oven off and put my pan of rolls into proof. This will speed up the process greatly!
  • Use The Yeast Called For. If you use active yeast it will take longer for these to rise. 
easy cinnamon roll with a bite taken out of it

Recipe FAQ’s

Can I freeze these easy cinnamon rolls?

Yes! And you should! This is what eases the stresses of holidays. After rolling and cutting after the first rise, you can wrap the pan in plastic wrap (and then a layer of tin foil to ensure no freezer burn). When ready to bake, allow to thaw overnight in the fridge, or at room temperature for 2 hours then continue with the second rise and bake as directed. You can also freeze baked cinnamon rolls. After baking, allow to cool completely before wrapping up and freezing.

How do I store these cinnamon rolls?

If you have them covered in cream cheese icing, then they will need to be refrigerated (should keep for up to 2-3 days). Just warm them ( I do this in the microwave for a few seconds until warm and gooey again). You can also try warming them in the oven for a few minutes (200oF). If they are unfrosted, then you keep them at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Can I make these quick cinnamon rolls ahead of time?

Unbaked: If you want to make the rolls but not bake them, go ahead make and shape these. But then cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in your fridge. The next day, bring them out and let them proof as usual before baking. 
Baked: Yes you can make them the night before. Just warm them up gently in an oven or in the microwave for a few seconds (10-15 for each roll. They should last at room temperature for up to 3 days. Any longer and I would freeze. If they have a cream cheese icing I like to store in the fridge wrapped to be safe.
Freezing Unbaked: You can also freeze the rolls unbaked as well for up to 3 months. If freezing unbaked rolls, shape them and then freeze before you allow them to proof (rise for the last time). And then when ready to bake, let them thaw overnight in the fridge. Then when ready to bake the day of, take them out and let them proof as normal until puffy in volume and bake as normal. 
Freezing Baked: Allow them to cool completely before freezing. And then I like to place on a baking sheet to freeze solid and then pop into a plastic bag for up to 3 months. You can reheat them in the microwave. 

Why is my dough so sticky?

The dough should be somewhat sticky. It should come off the sides of the bowl, but still stick to the bottom of the bowl. If it’s not coming away from the sides of the bowl, then add in a bit more flour. Just add a few tablespoons at a time though, so you don’t end up adding too much (which will make for a tough cinnamon roll in the end).

Why are my rolls dry?

This is probably because you added too much flour, either at the measuring stage or the shaping step. Weighing your flour will help prevent this (or spoon and level your flour). When shaping, lightly flour your counter, and try to not add too much flour to your dough and counter at this stage.

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Quick Cinnamon Rolls

In about one hour, ooey gooey easy cinnamon rolls topped with a thick layer of cream cheese icing!
4.74 from 23 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: breakfast
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 12 rolls
Calories: 503kcal

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 Tbs., 76 g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (99 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons (2 pkg.) rapid rise yeast
  • 4-4 1/2 cups (480-540 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 large egg

For the filling:

  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 Tbs., 76 g) softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (220 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (12 g) ground cinnamon

For the icing:

  • 4 oz. (113 g) cream cheese
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. (36 g) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups (142 g) confectioners sugar sifted

Instructions

Making the dough:

  • In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine the milk, granulated sugar, salt, and butter. Heat until the butter melts and then allow to cool. (Mixture should be about 120-130oF.) If using active dry yeast, the mixture should be between 105-110oF. Note: If using active dry yeast, rolls will take longer to rise.
  • Into the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 cups of flour and yeast with dough hook attachment .
  • Once butter mixture has cooled, add into stand mixer and mix on low. Add in the egg and combine.
  • Add in remaining 2 cups of flour – 1/2 cup at a time (You may not need it all). I find 4 cups is perfect (but this may depend on how you measure your flour – refer to my notes). Scrape edges of bowl to stir flour in evenly. Knead 5 minutes on low. If dough seems a bit sticky, stir in 2 tablespoons of flour at a time until it starts pulling away from the bowl. {You still want it to be a little sticky!} Rest dough 5 minutes.

Shaping the cinnamon rolls:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with silicone baking mat or parchment paper, spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • Sprinkle counter with flour and roll dough to be about 12×16 inches.  
  • Spread with softened butter over dough, being sure to go right to the edges leaving a 1-inch strip untouched on one of the longer sides of dough. 
  •  Dump brown sugar and cinnamon mixture onto the middle of the dough and spread with your hands, creating an even layer over top of the butter, still leaving that 1-inch strip of dough untouched.   Lightly press the sugar mixture into the butter using a rolling pin.
  • Shaping Method #1: Using a pizza wheel, cut the dough into 12 equal strips. Roll up each strip into one roll and place into your pan.
    Shaping Method #2: Roll the dough up into a tight log, finishing with the plain dough on the bottom to seal the entire thing together. Cut off the uneven ends to even out the log. Slice your rolls into 1 1/2 inch rounds and place on prepared pan. 
  • Cover the dish with a towel and allow to rise in a warm draft place for about 20-25 minutes until puffy. (If you used instant or active dry, rise times will be longer)
  •  Bake about 20 minutes or until tops start to brown lightly.

Make the cream cheese icing:

  •  Cream the cream cheese and butter together.
  • Add in your vanilla extract.
  • Then add in your sugar 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until smooth and creamy.
  • Once rolls have been removed from the oven, frost using half the amount made. Then after they have cooled a few more minutes, frost again

Video

Notes

  • Making Ahead/Storage:
    • Unbaked: If you want to make the rolls but not bake them, go ahead make and shape these. But then cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in your fridge. The next day, bring them out and let them proof as usual before baking.
    • Baked: Yes you can make them the night before. Just warm them up gently in an oven or in the microwave for a few seconds (10-15 for each roll. They should last at room temperature for up to 3 days. Any longer and I would freeze. If they have a cream cheese icing I like to store in the fridge wrapped to be safe.
    • Freezing Unbaked: You can also freeze the rolls unbaked as well for up to 3 months. If freezing unbaked rolls, shape them and then freeze before you allow them to proof (rise for the last time). And then when ready to bake, let them thaw overnight in the fridge. Then when ready to bake the day of, take them out and let them proof as normal until puffy in volume and bake as normal.
    • Freezing Baked: Allow them to cool completely before freezing. And then I like to place on a baking sheet to freeze solid and then pop into a plastic bag for up to 3 months. You can reheat them in the microwave.
  • Butter: Make sure to use real butter in stick form, not margarine or tub butter which is made with oils and will affect the dough outcome.
  • Cream Cheese: Use the brick variety, full fat is best. Do not use the tub variety.
  • Tips On Baking These: 
    • Test Your Milk Mixture. You want to use a thermometer to test the temperature of your milk before adding your yeast. Yeast is a living thing, which means if the milk is too hot, it will kill the yeast. If the milk is too cold the yeast will not proof properly. You want the milk mixture to be around 105-110°F. 
    • Weigh Your Ingredients For Best Accuracy (And It’s Faster!). If you don’t use a scale, then measure your flour accurately by spooning the flour into your measuring cup and then level it off. Be sure to NOT pack it down. Either measure using this method described in this post, or use a kitchen scale for best accuracy.
    • Slightly Sticky Dough Is Good. It’s better to have your dough be on the bit sticky side, this will result in a fluffier roll. 
    • Cut Into Strips. I used to roll the dough up and then cut with a sharp knife or dental floss, but I found it much faster and easier to cut the dough into 12 strips after it’s been rolled out and then roll up each individual roll. Much faster and easier!
    • Proof In Your Oven. Yeast will take longer in a colder kitchen. So if your kitchen is below 70oF and it’s winter do yourself a favor and proof in your oven. Turn your oven on at its lowest setting (for me that’s 170oF) and let it preheat. Once it’s preheated, I turn my oven off and put my pan of rolls into proof. This will speed up the process greatly!

Nutrition

Calories: 503kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 249mg | Potassium: 169mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 40g | Vitamin A: 574IU | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 3mg
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74 Comments

  1. Selena Bonner says:

    Can these cinnamon rolls be made without eggs? My little niece has an egg allergy and I wanted to make cinnamon rolls for them to enjoy christmas morning

    1. Unfortunately, no eggs are a must I would simply google an eggless cinnamon roll recipe recipe

  2. They were not 1 hour rolls they were more like 2 1/2 hour rolls

  3. I just made these to have ready for the morning. When I added my butter mixture into the yeast and flour, it didn’t really foam up. My yeast is new, so I’m afraid maybe my mixture wasn’t hot enough. Will my rolls still rise or probably not?

    1. If the yeast didn’t foam – it could be that the mixture was either too hot or too cold. Too hot and it could have killed the yeast. But If it wasn’t hot enough that means your mixture will just take longer to rise is all. THey will still rise but just take longer!

  4. Made the rolls tonight hoping I can use this recipe for Christmas morning. I used the rapid yeast as recommended however they didn’t rise as big as pic shown – not sure if my yeast was getting too old. It had not expired however said it was good through Dec 2022. I will get new package and try again. I may need to let them raise longer. Was looking for a yeast roll that was more fluffy than I achieved. Taste was good. Thanks.

    1. Hi Traci! Sounds like maybe your yeast was a bit old- or just need more rising time. Time with yeast can vary depending on water temperature and kitchen temperature. Try with new yeast and extend rising time slightly if need be. Hope that helps!

      1. Carla Aker says:

        i made these rolls, and they were good, but i used instant yeast instead of rapid rise yeast, so…they took about an hour to rise. all in all, about two hours to make.

      2. Hi Carla, glad you loved these! Yes if you use instant yeast they will take a bit longer to make, but glad you were able to make them work with the ingredients you had on hand!

  5. 5 stars
    Very nice! It’s been a while since I made cinnamon rolls so I was a little nervous. I made these for Halloween so I used a pumpkin spice spread that’s been in my pantry. So good! Of course I love that cream cheese icing.

    1. Ooh love the idea of using a pumpkin spice spread – going to have to try!!

  6. I may be overlooking it, but I don’t see where you said to let it rise, then punch down and roll. Is that a step that can be skipped? Also, if the flour can be weighed, how much should it weigh?
    I am anxious to make these!

    1. Hi Shirley, these are quick cinnamon rolls and use rapid rise yeast, so the dough does not need to rise and be punched down. Once the dough is made you can go ahead with rolling out the dough. And the weight of the flour is listed in the recipe card. Let me know how you like them!

  7. Oh they are sooo yummy. Mine did take longer to proof, but well worth the wait. This was much easier than other recipes I have tried. Thank you so much!!!

    1. that’s awesome Dena I’m so glad you loved them as much as we did!!

  8. Hi i was wondering what type of salt to use? I have Mortons iodized salt which is fine like table salt or do I need coarser salt like kosher salt?

    1. Hi Tiffany I use sea salt for it’s fine texture and taste – but yes you can use either table salt or kosher salt. Table salt is finer and could yield a slightly saltier taste – you can always reduce the salt slightly (3/4 teaspoon) to safe.

  9. Charlotte says:

    5 stars
    Wonderful. Easy and great. I use a little lemon juice in the icing.

  10. 5 stars
    These are the best and very simple to make! Definitely will be my go to for cinnamon rolls. Thank you Heather for sharing!

  11. Have you tried to double this recipe with success?

    1. I haven’t tried doubling. I would recommend making two separate batches.

  12. Lyndsey Batterberry says:

    Hi there,
    Thank you for the wonderful recipe. I do have a question about proofing in the oven. Will the proof time still be about 20-25 minutes or will it be quite a bit less time? Thank you for an advice you can offer!

  13. Mary Petrocchi - Kersey Pa says:

    I have tried cinnamon roll recipes over the years and never had success in the end until NOW!!
    They turned out fantastic!! I to get used the pizza cutter to roll the dough was so easy.
    Definitely a recipe to KEEP in my favorites

    1. Aw that means the world to hear Mary! I’m so glad you loved these. And yes the pizza cutter trick has changed my life 🙂

  14. Terry Broberg says:

    They look perfect in the oven-love the idea of cutting in strips and rolling them up-that worked like a charm!! I only used 3 1/2 flora also reduced the powdered sugar by 1/2 cup—can’t wait to taste them with some chili!!

    1. Glad you liked the tip Terry! Let me know how they turn out 🙂

  15. Christina says:

    5 stars
    I’m currently cooking them but I proofed the dough before rolling it out and making the actual rolls. I hope it still turns out ok! And I used 4 cups of flour and used a digital scale. It was 490 g of flour. It was too much it seems by my scouts wasn’t very sticky. I’ll be trying this recipe again though.

    1. Hi Christina! Let me know how it turns it out!

  16. 3 stars
    One hour is not accurate. I definitely could not get through all of the melting/mixing/rolling/cutting in 20 minutes, and they definitely didn’t rise in 20 minutes, either. Took about 35 minutes to go from ingredients to a baking pan, and closer to 45 minutes just for them to rise. Add 25 minutes for baking, it’s closer to 2 hours. They are really good, but not as fast as the recipe claims.

    1. Hi Melody, I’m sorry to hear that they took you 2 hours. A couple things to help speed up the process for you: I recommend using a kitchen scale for measuring, and a new trick I learned for cutting them is to cut the rectangle into strips and roll up each one individually (I’ll be sure to put this in the post!) and keep in mind proofing for everyone can be different depending on how warm your kitchen is. If you want to speed it up, turn your oven to its lowest setting and leave it to preheat. Then turn it off, and pop your pan in and let them proof faster this way. Hope this helps!

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