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Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

This homemade Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe will make you forget about store-bought cinnamon rolls forever. The rolls are soft and fluffy, while the cream cheese frosting is rich and delicious. You can even prep them the night before and bake them fresh in the morning, making them perfect for a weekend breakfast.

Overhead shot of cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting and chopped walnuts.
These cinnamon rolls are rolls are soft and fluffy and the cream cheese frosting is rich and delicious.

VIDEO: WATCH US MAKE THIS RECIPE

Why This Recipe Stands Out

These rolls are soft, sweet, and absolutely delicious, making them the perfect treat for any occasion. Here’s why this recipe is a must-try:

  • Simple: The recipe uses simple, everyday ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.
  • Make Ahead: You can prepare the dough and frosting the night before and bake the rolls fresh in the morning, making it incredibly convenient – exactly how we believe tasty desserts should be.
  • Perfect Texture: The rolls are soft and fluffy, while the cream cheese frosting is rich, creamy, decadent, and certainly not the thin, runny coating some of us are used to. It’s what we use in our Moist Carrot Cupcakes and Gingerbread Loaf Cake too!
  • Irresistible Flavor: The combination of sweet cinnamon filling and tangy cream cheese frosting is simply irresistible, and if you’re looking for more cinnamon roll treats then you’ll love our Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake.
  • Crowd Pleaser: This recipe is sure to impress your family and friends, making it perfect for gatherings and special occasions.
  • Homemade: Nothing beats the taste of homemade cinnamon rolls, and this recipe delivers on that promise.
Overhead shot of unbaked cinnamon rolls in a baking dish.

Key Recipe Ingredients

  • Instant Yeast – This is the leavening agent that makes the dough rise, creating fluffy and soft cinnamon rolls.
  • Egg and Egg Yolks – These add richness and color to the dough while further helping it rise.
  • Brown Sugar and Ground Cinnamon – These are the main ingredients for the filling, providing a sweet and spicy flavor that’s characteristic of cinnamon rolls.
  • Real Cream Cheese – This is the star ingredient for the frosting, giving it a tangy flavor that perfectly balances the sweetness of the rolls. It also makes the frosting creamy and smooth.
  • Corn Syrup – This ingredient gives the cream cheese frosting a rich and wonderful texture. It can be omitted for a slightly thinner frosting.
  • Heavy Cream – It adds a luxurious richness to the cream cheese frosting, making it extra creamy and smooth.

Substitutions And Variations

Our homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting recipe is a favorite, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add your own twist to it! Here are some substitution and variation ideas for you to try:

  • Frosting Flavors: While our cream cheese frosting is a classic, you could experiment with different flavors. Adding citrus zest, such as orange or lemon, can give a refreshing tang, or try adding some cocoa powder for a chocolatey twist. If you’re a coffee lover, mix in some instant coffee granules to the frosting or use Stabilized Whipped cream with Kahlua for a mocha spin as we do in this decadent Double Chocolate Cake.
  • Sugar Variations: The sweetness level is adjustable to suit your taste. If you prefer less sweet, simply reduce the sugar in the dough or the frosting. Remember, the frosting will still be delicious with less sugar!
  • Fillings: For a fun twist, consider adding finely chopped nuts, dried fruits, or even a smear of Nutella to the cinnamon filling. Just be sure to keep the original quantity for a balanced sweetness and texture.
  • Dairy-Free: If you need to make this recipe dairy-free, substitute the milk with almond or soy milk, and use a dairy-free butter alternative. There are also dairy-free cream cheese options available for the frosting.

Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions

  1. Blend all the icing ingredients together at low speed in a standing mixer for a minute, then increase the speed to high until the frosting is smooth and lump-free.
  2. Combine the cinnamon filling ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside.
  1. Heat milk and butter to about a hundred degrees Fahrenheit. In a standing mixer, combine water, yeast, sugar, egg, and yolks at low speed. 
  2. Add salt, the warm milk mixture, and two cups of flour, and mix at medium speed until blended.
  1. Switch to a dough hook, add two more cups of flour, and knead at medium speed until the dough is smooth. Add one tablespoon of flour at a time as needed.
  2. Knead the dough for ten minutes, shape it into a ball, and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until it doubles in size.
  1. Press down the risen dough and roll it out to a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a half-inch border at the far edge.
  2. Roll the dough tightly from the long edge closest to you until you reach the far edge. Moisten the far edge with water and seal the roll.
  1. Grease a baking dish and cut the roll into twelve equal pieces. Place the rolls in the baking dish and cover with plastic wrap.
  2. Let the rolls rise until they double in size. If baking the next morning, let the rolls sit in the fridge overnight.
  1. Place the rolls in a cool oven with a large pan of boiling water on the rack below. Let the rolls rise until they look fluffy and almost doubled.
  2. Bake the rolls at a temperature of 350F until they turn golden brown. Invert the rolls onto a wire rack and let them cool. Transfer the rolls to a serving plate, ice, and serve warm.

How To Prep Ahead

Cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting are a delicious treat, and we have some handy tips to make the preparation process even simpler. Take a look at our favorite prep-ahead strategies for this recipe:

  • Dough: You can prepare the dough for the cinnamon rolls ahead of time. After kneading, let it rise until doubled in bulk, then punch it down and roll it out. At this point, you can cover the dough and refrigerate it overnight. When you’re ready to bake, simply bring the dough to room temperature, add the cinnamon filling, and proceed with the recipe.
  • Cream Cheese Frosting: The cream cheese frosting can be made entirely ahead of time. Prepare the icing as instructed, then transfer to a small bowl, cover it, and refrigerate until needed. This can be done up to 7 days in advance. Just be sure to give it a good stir before using it to ensure it’s smooth and spreadable.
  • Freeze Unbaked Rolls: If you’re looking to prep it weeks in advance, even that’s possible! Simply prepare the dough and roll it according to the recipe instructions with the filling. Cover it with plastic wrap and freeze for up to one month. When you want to enjoy your rolls, allow them to thaw and rise before baking as instructed. 
Closeup shot of freshly baked cinnamon rolls without icing.

Commonly Asked Questions

What type of yeast is best for this cinnamon rolls recipe?

We recommend using instant yeast for this recipe. It is easy to use and doesn’t require proofing, which makes the process quicker and simpler.

Can I use unsalted butter instead of salted butter?

Yes, you can use unsalted butter in this recipe. If you do, just add an extra pinch of salt to the dough to balance out the flavors.

Why do we need to add flour in increments?

Adding flour in increments is crucial to achieving the right dough texture. It helps to guarantee that the dough is soft, pliable, and smooth, and not overly sticky or dry.

Can I omit the corn syrup in the cream cheese frosting?

Yes, you can omit the corn syrup in the frosting. However, keep in mind that it contributes to the rich, delicious texture of the frosting. Without it, the frosting may be slightly thinner.

Can I prepare the cinnamon rolls the night before?

Absolutely! This recipe is perfect for preparing the night before. Just let the unbaked rolls rise for about half an hour in the morning before baking.

How long do cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting keep?

These cinnamon rolls are best enjoyed fresh and warm. However, if you have leftovers, they can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Can I freeze the unbaked cinnamon rolls?

Yes, you can freeze the unbaked cinnamon rolls. Just make sure to let them thaw and rise before baking. This process can take a few hours, so plan accordingly.

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

Freshly baked cinnamon rolls without icing.

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

4.74 from 15 ratings
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting beats store-bought cinnamon rolls, hands down. These are soft, fluffy, and irresistible.
Prep Time: 5 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 12
Author: Amy Dong

Ingredients  

For Dough

  • ½ cup milk
  • 8 TB salted butter, 1 stick
  • ½ cup warm water, 110F
  • 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 4 – 4.5 cups unbleached all purpose flour

For Cinnamon Filling

For Cream Cheese Frosting

Instructions

  • For the icing (can be made ahead of time): Combine all frosting ingredients and blend together at low speed in standing mixer for 1 minute.  Increase speed to high and mix until frosting is smooth and free of lumps, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to small bowl and cover.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Cinnamon filling: Mix together the three filling ingredients in small bowl and set aside until ready to use.
  • Make the dough: Heat milk and butter in microwave or saucepan until about 100F.  In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle, mix water, yeast, sugar, egg, yolks at low speed until mixed through.  Add salt, warm milk mixture, and 2 cups flour.  Mix at medium until blended, about 1 minute. 
  • Switch to dough hook, add 2 more cups of flour, and knead at medium until dough is smooth and clears sides of bowl, adding 1 TB flour at a time (up to 1/4 cup), only as needed.  Do not add too much; just until dough comes together and is smooth and soft. 
  • Knead 10 minutes.  Shape dough into a ball and place in lightly oiled large bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in warm, draft free place until doubled in bulk.  About 2 hours, but depends on room temp.
  • After dough has doubled, press/punch it down and place on lightly floured surface.  Roll out to a rectangle, roughly 16×12, with the lengthier side facing you.  Sprinkle cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a half inch border at the far edge. 
  • Roll the dough, starting with the long edge closest to you.  Roll tightly but carefully until you reach the far edge.  Moisten far edge with water and seal the roll well.  Press on roll gently if needed, to make a uniform cylinder.
  • Grease a 13×9 baking dish and an 8×8 baking dish.  Cut roll into 12 equal pieces using sharp knife, lightly oiled if needed.  Place rolls evenly in baking dishes.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap.
  • If baking the same day: Place rolls in warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, approx. 2 hours, depending on room temperature.
    If baking the next morning: Place rolls in fridge to sit overnight – bottom of rolls may grow a bit wet, which is ok.
    The next morning, place rolls, still covered, in cool oven. With oven off, place a large pan of boiling water on the rack below.  Let rolls gradually rise for about 30 minutes or until they look fluffy and almost doubled.  Take rolls and pan of water out of oven.  Preheat oven to 350F while rolls finish rising on the counter.
  • Bake at 350F for 20-25 min or just until golden brown on top.  Watch carefully to be sure they don't over-bake.  When done, invert rolls onto wire rack and cool 5-10 min. 
  • Transfer to serving plate and spread on thin layer of icing or drizzle on with piping bag – I use a Ziploc bag with tiny hole cut at end. You can also spread icing on with a rubber spatula.  Serve immediately, while still warm.

Notes

  • Warm your milk and butter together until it’s about 100F – this helps activate the yeast and ensures your dough rises properly.
  • When mixing your dough, add the flour gradually – this is crucial for achieving that perfect soft and pliable texture we’re after.
  • Let your dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it’s doubled in size, which creates fluffier cinnamon rolls!
  • Roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface to prevent sticking, and roll it tightly from the long edge for a neat cinnamon swirl.
  • Cut your rolls with a sharp knife to get clean slices – if the knife sticks, a little oil can help it glide through the dough.
  • If you’re planning ahead, you can refrigerate your shaped rolls overnight; just remember to let them rise until fluffy before baking.
  • Bake your cinnamon rolls until they’re just golden brown – keep an eye on them so they don’t over-bake and lose their softness.
  • Spread the cream cheese frosting on while the rolls are still warm so it melts into every delicious crevice.
If you tried this recipe and loved it, please come back and give it a rating. We ❤️ hearing from you! 
 
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Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 432kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 76mg | Sodium: 350mg | Potassium: 142mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 590IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Breakfast, brunch
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegetarian
Method: Bake

More To Bake And Eat

  • Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake – Craving cinnamon rolls but crunched for time? This cinnamon roll coffee cake hits the spot. Simple to whip up, tasty, and ideal for a leisurely weekend morning meal.
  • Sweet Potato Cinnamon Coffee Cake – This sweet potato cinnamon coffee cake is soft and absolutely delicious. It features a healthy twist by using plenty of sweet potato puree in the batter, and the cream cheese frosting on top takes it to the next level.
  • Chewy Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing – If you’re looking for some delicious cookies this fall, you have to try this recipe! They’re perfectly chewy and packed with pumpkin flavor with cream cheese icing on top.
  • Cinnamon Apple Baked Donuts – These cinnamon apple baked donuts are absolutely delicious. They’re packed with fall flavors and feature fresh apples and warm autumn spices that complement each other perfectly.

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Recipe Rating




29 comments

    • galleykitchengal

    WOW. These look divine! Can’t wait to try them — they look perfect for a Sunday brunch (and by “brunch,” I mean “my newspaper and I having a date with coffee in bed”).

    • myhealthyohana

    Any child or adult would be thrilled to have these on the first day of school, your kids are very lucky 🙂 Hope they had a great first day!!

      • chewoutloud

      thank you, myhealthyohana! the first days have been fantastic so far, and i’m already feeling better with it 🙂

    • epicureantease

    Love it!! Love the story and the cinnamon rolls look fabulous!! Your kids will remember these special moments forever! My mom did special things like this for my siblings and I and thinking about those times always make me smile! 🙂 Thank you for the trip down memory lane!

      • chewoutloud

      what a sweet mom of yours, to create such memories that you enjoy even now 🙂

    • cupKaykes

    These look amazing! Will be trying them out this weekend 🙂

      • chewoutloud

      you’ll be having a yummy weekend 🙂

        • cupKaykes

        I made them and they were a hit!!

        http://cupkaykes.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/healthyish-cinnamon-scrolls-with-cream-cheese-drizzle/

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