I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but toot toot! I’ve created countless cinnamon roll recipes over the years but these really are the very best cinnamon rolls. I really don’t say that lightly considering I’m always my own worst critic. But these are everything you want a cinnamon roll to be: soft, with intense cinnamon flavor, fluffy, and covered with cream cheese frosting. They even have the soft edges from baking so close together so you don’t end up with the hard bits on the outside with only a soft center—the whole roll is soft! Plus, it comes together in just a few hours even with two rises.
I realize that this isn’t necessarily a holiday recipe, strictly speaking. But growing up, my mom would always make cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Thanksgiving and Christmas morning. Granted, they were the pillsbury ones from a can with the orange glaze (sorry mom, the cat’s out of the bag) and to me having a warm cinnamon roll while we were cooking together or opening our stockings is true holiday nostalgia. What a wonderful surprise for your family and guests to arrive to the smell of cinnamon rolls in the oven to be enjoyed while everyone cooks together and socializes. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but that sounds like a really fucking great morning.
I don’t really have too many holiday traditions in terms of food (except prime rib on Christmas, and burgers on New Year’s—more on that later), I’m usually winging it every year and doing something new and wild. But having these cinnamon rolls in the morning is just a non-negotiable for me. You can even start the dough the day before, make the rolls and then refrigerate overnight so that all you have to do is let them come to room temperature in the morning before baking and voilà! The very best cinnamon rolls!
I hope you all enjoy baking these rolls, hopefully with your loved ones, as much as I do. And in reality, they’re great any day of the year. Happy almost Thanksgiving!
I have tried a lot of cinnamon rolls over the years, but these truly are the very best!
- 1 1/2 cups cultured buttermilk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted, unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup whole milk powder
- 7 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (4 oz), unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Gently warm buttermilk and heavy cream together in a measuring cup in the microwave just until barely lukewarm. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the buttermilk mixture, yeast and two tablespoons of sugar. Let sit for 5-7 minutes until foamy. If your yeast doesn’t foam, either your yeast is too old or your liquid was too hot and you’ll need to start over.
- Add the remaining sugar, eggs, melted butter, and oil to the yeast and mix on low with the dough hook. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, milk powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until the dough comes together. Knead in the mixer or by hand for another 5-10 minutes, until dough is smooth and soft. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 hours depending on the temperature in your home.
- While the dough is proofing, mix the room temperature butter together with the cinnamon until everything is evenly mixed. Set aside. Mix together brown sugar, white sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Once the dough is done proofing, turn it out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough out into a 24×16 rectangle or so, about 1/4 inch thick all the way through. With one of the long sides facing you, spread the butter all over the surface, leaving 1 inch bare on the opposite long end. Sprinkle the sugar/cornstarch mixture all over the butter. Brush the bare inch with a little water. Rolling away from yourself, roll the dough into a tight log. Pinch the seam shut and roll over it a couple of times to seal it. Transfer to a baking sheet to the freezer for 10 minutes. This is an optional step but it makes it way easier to cut.
- Meanwhile, line a rimmed baking sheet (I use a half sheet pan) with parchment paper. Remove the roll from the freezer and use either a serrated knife or floss/fishing wire to cut into 2 inch rolls. I used floss this time and it blew my mind with how easy and even the rolls were, no smushing! Place the rolls side by side, about an inch apart on the baking sheet. Placing them closer together ensures that the outsides will stay nice and soft and they’ll bake into each other. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and proof for another hour or so at room temperature.
- While the rolls are proofing, you can make the frosting. Add the room temperature butter and cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar, cream and vanilla and beat until smooth. Cover and set aside.
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25 minutes, or until the rolls are just barely golden. DO NOT OVERBAKE! Remove the rolls from the oven and let them cool until they are barely warm. Spread the slightly warm rolls with frosting and serve!