I love cinnamon rolls. My family loves them too. Maybe you can relate? The sweet dough and the gooey, cinnamon-y filling and the creamy icing…. My mouth is watering!
But here’s the problem with traditional cinnamon rolls – they take FOR. EV. ER. to make. They take so much planning and time calculations that, frankly, I know no busy mom has time for. So we don’t make them, except on special occasions. Well, I’m here to tell you, no more!
Over the past 6 or so months I’ve experimented with various recipes, all based off my previous go-to overnight cinnamon roll recipe. While I loved the texture of those rolls, it’s a pain to make these in the hour before heading off to bed. By then I’ve already cleaned up the kitchen and it was such a chore to prep and clean so late at night. Sure, the fresh, hot cinnamon rolls in the morning were great. But, I would tend to think about making these at like 11pm, and that’s no time to be mixing and measuring.
So, after several trials (and a few icky fails), I’ve come up with what I think is a recipe you’ll love. If you’ve got 90-minutes, you’ve got hot, fresh cinnamon rolls! It’s the same basic ingredients, so you likely have all this on hand. And I have the recipe down to a manageable size because I know not everyone wants to make 24 large cinnamon rolls.
90 Minute Cinnamon Rolls
Prep Time: About 35 minutes (plus rising time)
Cook Time: 13-17 minutes
1 3/4 cups Warm Water (aprox. 110° F)
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup Canola Oil (any neutral oil will work)
3 Tablespoons Active Dry Yeast (if you’re using the packets it’s aprox 4)
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
5 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
4oz Cream Cheese, softened
1 teaspoon Vanilla (or more to taste)
2-3 Tablespoons Milk
3-3.5 cups Confectioners (Powdered) Sugar
I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer for these. I’ve never made them any other way. I use the dough hook only, instead of switching out from the paddle to the hook.
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Step 1: Bloom the yeast
Add the warm water to your mixing bowl. Temperature is important because you don’t want it too hot or you’ll kill the yeast or too cold because the yeast won’t bloom. If you don’t have a thermometer, the water should be warm to the touch but not hot.
Pour in your Canola Oil (or other neutral oil) and add the sugar, then stir gently to help the sugar start to dissolve. Once it’s mixed, sprinkle in your Active Dry Yeast. I know it’s a lot of yeast, but we’re on the clock and need these bad boys to work fast. I do a quick stir at this point to get the yeast into the sugar/oil/water mixture. Now, let it sit for 15 minutes! It will “bloom”, which means it will get all foamy and bubbly.
Step 2: Add the Eggs
Once the yeast is all, well, yeasty, add the eggs one at a time. If you’re using a stand mixer, turn it to “Stir” or “2” and incorporate your eggs.
Step 3: Add the flour mixture
It’s really important NOT to add the salt first. Salt will kill your yeast and that won’t make for tasty cinnamon rolls. I usually dump in about 1/2 the flour and get that mixing for a minute or two. Then I’ll add the salt to the last 1/2 of the flour, give it a quick mix and dump the rest of the flour in and let the mixer run for about 10 minutes.
Step 3: Rest the dough
Allow the dough to rest in the mixer for about 10 minutes. This is a critical step to allow the dough to let the gluten relax so you don’t end up with a gummy mess.
Step 4: Prepare the Filling (if you haven’t already done so)
While the dough is resting, get the ingredients ready for the filling. Melt the butter, and let it cool. In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. It doesn’t matter if you use dark or light brown sugar it will still taste great!
Step 5: Roll out the dough
Oil your countertop first! I just pour a little oil (about a teaspoon or two) onto the countertop and wipe it like I’m wiping up a spill. Only my goal is to leave it there for now. Once your countertop is oiled (don’t use flour and don’t skip that step or you’ll end up with dough stuck to the countertop), dump the dough onto the counter and shape into a rectangle. You’re looking for about an 18 x 12 rectangle, or thereabouts. I use my hands to flatten out the dough but you can use a rolling pin.
Step 6: Add the filling and roll
Now that you’ve got your dough rectangle, brush the entire thing with the melted butter but leave about 1/2-inch at the top (the long side away from you) so the dough will close up when you roll it. Once the dough is glistening with the melted butter, dump the cinnamon-sugar mixture and spread it from edge to edge, again avoiding that top 1/2-inch where you didn’t put any butter. I use my hands to spread the mixture (clean hands are one of the best kitchen tools!) but you can use a spatula if you prefer.
Once your dough is nice and cinnamon-y it’s time to roll it up into a log. Start at the long side closest to you and begin rolling toward the opposite side. This takes a bit of patience because you don’t want to get askew if you can help it. Once you have it all rolled up, pinch the seam to seal that edge. This will help to keep it from opening up when it’s baking.
Step 7: Cutting into rolls
You want to cut these into 12 uniform cinnamon rolls. Often I will cut a little off each end to make them prettier, but I usually just put the non-cut side down for the two end pieces. These will be 12 large rolls. I think it’s best to cut the roll in half and then cut each into 6 pieces rather than trying to figure out the spacing to get 12 rolls. You can also use a knife and make small indentations on the roll to help you keep them even. I actually use dental floss to cut cinnamon rolls. I learned to that about 20 years ago because back then I had laminate countertops that would get damaged if I used a knife and so it’s just how I do it. Of course, you can use a knife to cut your cinnamon rolls, but be careful with your countertop. It’s best to use a sharp bread (serrated) knife and not put a lot of pressure as you cut because you don’t want to squish the rolls.
Step 8: Short Rise then Bake
Place your cinnamon rolls in a sheet pan lined with parchment (or a silicone mat). I don’t use a high sided pan because I don’t think the edges get cooked very well. You have to use a pan with sides or you’ll end up with sticky cinnamon-sugar in your oven. Space the rolls evenly with an inch or so between them and place them so the seam-end is facing inward. I do this so as they rise and bake the ends, if they come undone, don’t get all crispy and dried out. Allow the rolls to rest and rise about 15 minutes.
Place the pan of cinnamon rolls in the pre-heated oven for 13 – 17 minutes. The time to bake them will vary based on your oven. I watch them at about 10 minutes to make sure one area isn’t browning more than others. If that happens, turn the pan. To goal is for them to be a nice golden brown without being too well done.
Step 9: Prepare Icing while they bake
Some call it icing, others frosting. I call it delicious! The measurements aren’t as exact for this because it will depend on how soft your cream cheese is or if you sift or don’t sift your powdered sugar. I don’t add salt because the cream cheese has enough to bring out the sweetness of the icing.
With your hand mixer, beat the softened cream cheese until it’s smooth. Add about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and mix until combined. I do this step to keep the sugar from getting on everything. Then add about 2 Tablespoons of milk and the vanilla and mix to combine. Add more sugar, a little at a time until it’s all combined. Add the last Tablespoon of milk a little at a time to thin the frosting until you’re happy with the consistency. Some people like to pour it, while others like to spread it over the cinnamon rolls right when they come out of the oven. If you spread the icing on when the rolls are hot you’ll want the icing to be stiffer because the heat from the rolls will melt the icing (which is a good thing!). If your icing is too thin it will melt into a mess.
If you’re using a stand mixer add the cream cheese, 2 T of milk and vanilla and mix to combine. Add in about 3 cups of powdered sugar and combine. If you need to thin it out add the last Tablespoon of milk a little at a time to thin the frosting until you’re happy with the consistency. Some people like to pour it, while others like to spread it over the cinnamon rolls right when they come out of the oven. If you spread the icing on when the rolls are hot you’ll want the icing to be stiffer because the heat from the rolls will melt the icing (which is a good thing!). If your icing is too thin it will melt into a mess.
Step 10: Frost the Cinnamon Rolls and Enjoy!
It’s up to you at this point whether you’re going to frost the entire pan then serve or serve then frost. I’ve done it both ways and it’s good either way. If I know we’re not going to eat them all before refrigerating them, I won’t frost them. I’ve found that reheating them with the frosting melts the frosting too much to my liking.
Reheating Directions: If you do need to reheat them, use the “defrost” setting or set your microwave to 50% power. I start with 1-minute then check to see if it’s OK for me. The temperature on the reheat is different for everyone but you don’t want to nuke it too hot or it’ll dry out and be a non-tasty ball of ick. Don’t reheat on full power or you risk the cinnamon roll getting gummy.
Go forth and bake! I hope you enjoy these. Feel free to share this with your friends, add it to your Pinterest or just make a whole bunch and love that you can make fresh homemade cinnamon rolls in 90 minutes or less! And when you’ve made these 86 times and decide your family might like some variety in the cinnamon rolls you make, check out my friend Christi at Love From The Oven who can pretty much cinnamon rolls suitable for any meal.