The BEST Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Be warned friends, these cinnamon rolls will disappear quickly! Perfectly soft and sticky, and topped with cream cheese frosting, this cinnamon roll recipe is easy to make at home and is as good as any bakery’s. Easy to follow instructions included, plus a few helpful time-saving and make-ahead tips, too.
A couple of Sundays ago over a plate of freshly baked French toast, Ben confessed that what he had really wanted to make me for my birthday breakfast was a batch of cinnamon rolls but couldn’t find a straightforward recipe on my blog. Tragic!
To rectify the situation, I turned to google, which led me to epicurious and 159 rave reviews of Molly Wizenberg’s cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing. It seemed like a safe bet. I printed the recipe, took out some butter to soften, and went to bed.
The next morning I set to work kneading dough in the stand mixer, mixing brown sugar and cinnamon, whipping up cream cheese icing. By noon, nine incredibly delicious cinnamon rolls graced our kitchen table and nine more rested in the fridge, an experiment I hoped would yield freshly baked rolls the following morning, too.
The experiment worked. The next morning the rolls rested at room temperature for about an hour, baked for twenty minutes, and cooled for ten.
It worked like a charm, but just be warned: no ten minutes of your life might pass so slowly; no single baked good might disappear so quickly. Iced or not, these rolls go down fast.
Cinnamon Rolls: Make Ahead Tip
Cinnamon rolls are a bit of an endeavor, but if you divide the work over a few days, they feel more manageable. Here are a few ways to break up the work.
- Mix the dough one day and let it rise in the fridge till you have time to make the rolls.
- Make the recipe through the step in which you place the cut rolls into their baking pans, then stick the pans in the fridge. Start to finish, this should take about 4 hours.
- Frosting can be made up to 3 days in advance and stashed in the fridge.
- Cinnamon-sugar mixture can be mixed a day in advance and stashed in an air-tight container at room temperature.
There are two ways to make these in advance:
- You could do the initial mixing at night and let the dough rise overnight in the fridge. This would require a little bit of work in the morning — punching down the dough (provided it has risen sufficiently), rolling it out, rolling it up, cutting, etc. Your rolls won’t be ready first thing in the morning, but they’ll be ready soon enough.
- The second way is how I described in the post — follow the recipe until the rolls are cut and placed in their baking pans, then stick them in the fridge to rest overnight. As far as timing goes, allow yourself about four hours to mix the dough, let it rise, assemble the rolls, etc. — so if you go to bed at 10, make sure you’ve started the rolls by 6, and if you have the time, you’re best off starting them even earlier in the day.
for the dough:
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3½ cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2¼ teaspoons rapid-rise or instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray (I used butter)
for the filling:
- ¾ cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
for the glaze:
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Make the dough: Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, 30 to 45 seconds. (I don’t have a microwave, so I warm this in the oven in a Pyrex liquid measuring cup until the butter is melted.) Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 2½ cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. (I add an additional ¼ cup flour.) Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. (I just leave it the mixer, switch to the dough hook, and let it mix for 8 minutes.) Form into ball.
- Let the dough rise. Lightly oil a large bowl with nonstick spray (or with butter or oil). Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
- Shape the rolls. Meanwhile, mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl. Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving ½-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter. Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about ½ to ¾ inch wide).
- Spray two 9-inch square (I use 8-inch square pans and butter them) glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.
- Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.
- Make the glaze: Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. (Note: if ingredients are at room temperature, you can whisk by hand.) Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Pastry
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: cinnamon, buns, best, cream, cheese, frosting