Deliciously Ooey-Gooey Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

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I still remember waking up on Christmas morning as a child and being so full of excitement and joy.

Not only were there presents to be opened, but the mouthwatering sweet and spicy aroma of homemade cinnamon rolls made their way into every nook and cranny of our house.

Vertical image of a cinnamon bun on a small white plate atop a red cloth spread out on a brown tabletop, surrounded by several scattered cinnamon sticks, with a dish of more cinnamon buns to the left and a glass of orange juice to the right.

Tempting us out of our beds and into the kitchen, everyone answered the irresistible call of the cinnamon rolls.

Being the food lover that I am, I’m not entirely sure which excited me more as a child, cinnamon rolls or presents. As an adult, hands down, the prize would go to the cinnamon rolls.

A hand holds a cinnamon bun with a bite taken out of it close to the camera to show the inside, with a red cloth spread out on a brown table with cinnamon sticks and a white plate on top of it, a glass of orange juice, and a white round baking dish of cinnamon buns in shallow focus in the background.

In fact, I probably ate my weight in these delicious pastries when I was pregnant with my son. Thank goodness I also craved spinach salads. You know, so I didn’t feel guilty about eating all the sweet confections…

Enchiladas were a staple in my diet, too. The things you crave during pregnancy!

Vertical image of a cloth napkin-lined basket of homemade cinnamon buns topped with cream cheese glaze, with one bun on a small white plate to the right, on a brown wooden table topped with a red cloth, with scattered cinnamon sticks.

Regardless of the occasion, these cinnamon rolls are the perfect touch to brighten any day. Declared “as good as Cinnabon” by several who have sampled them, they’re adapted from a recipe by Molly Wizenberg, author of Orangette.

Ready to start baking?

The Recipe

Closeup square image of a cinnamon bun topped with white cream cheese glaze on a small white plate, with a whole cinnamon stick to the right, on a red cloth spread out on a brown wooden table.
Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze
Votes: 3
Rating: 5
You: 5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Love cinnamon rolls? These delicious confections are simple to make and oh-so-amazing. Experience the sugary goodness yourself at home.
Servings Prep Time
18 buns 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 2 hours, 45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
18 buns 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 2 hours, 45 minutes
Closeup square image of a cinnamon bun topped with white cream cheese glaze on a small white plate, with a whole cinnamon stick to the right, on a red cloth spread out on a brown wooden table.
Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze
Votes: 3
Rating: 5
You: 5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Love cinnamon rolls? These delicious confections are simple to make and oh-so-amazing. Experience the sugary goodness yourself at home.
Servings Prep Time
18 buns 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 2 hours, 45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
18 buns 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 2 hours, 45 minutes
Ingredients
For the Dough:
  • 1 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour divided (or more)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (2 envelopes)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
For the Filling:
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature (1/2 stick)
For the Glaze:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature (1/2 stick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or orange, plus 1/2 teaspoon orange zest)
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans or raisins (optional)
Servings: buns
Units:
Instructions
  1. Combine milk and butter in a glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and the mixture is just warmed to 120-130°F, 30 to 45 seconds.
  2. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed for 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of the bowl.
  3. Add 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and the dough is sticky, scraping down sides of the bowl. If the dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into a ball.
  5. Lightly oil a large bowl with nonstick spray, turning it to coat thoroughly. Transfer dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap, then a kitchen towel. Let dough rise in a warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  6. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl, for the filling.
  7. Punch down dough. Transfer to a floured work surface. Roll out into a 15x11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the butter.
  8. Starting at one long side, roll dough into a log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With the seam side down, cut dough crosswise with a thin, sharp knife into 18 equal slices, each about 1/2 to 3/4-inch wide.
  9. Spray two 9-inch round ceramic or 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, then a kitchen towel. Let dough rise in a warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.
  10. Position rack in center of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool for 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.
  11. Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  12. Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Sprinkle with nuts or raisins if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Bon Appetit.

Nutritional Info*

Nutrition Facts
Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze
Amount Per Serving
Calories 427 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 23%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 39mg 13%
Sodium 144mg 6%
Potassium 99mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 64g 21%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 30g
Protein 8g 16%
Vitamin A 7%
Vitamin C 0.3%
Calcium 4%
Iron 15%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Mise en Place

Gather and prep all ingredients for the dough.

Measure out your unbleached all-purpose flour. Place 1 cup in one bowl, and 2 cups in another.

Use a glass liquid measuring cup to measure out 1 cup whole milk, and slice 3 tablespoons of butter. Measure your sugar and salt.

Spray a large mixing bowl with oil, being sure to coat it entirely and evenly to keep the dough from sticking later on. Set aside.

Step 2 – Make Your Dough

Add the sliced butter to the glass measuring cup of milk. Place in the microwave and heat for about 30-45 seconds. Stir and check to see if the butter has melted.

I needed an additional 15 seconds here since my butter was very cold when I began. Some microwaves are stronger than others, which may affect this timing as well. The butter should be melted, but the milk should not be too hot.

You want to avoid bringing the milk to a boil and scalding it. A temperature of 120-130°F is what you are aiming for.

Set up your stand mixer with a paddle attachment and add the milk/butter mixture, 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg, and 2 envelopes of yeast to the large mixing bowl.

Closeup of the white paddle attachment of a stand mixer, raised above a stainless steel bowl with a sticky beige dough at the bottom.

Turn your mixer on low and mix for about 3 minutes. Pause and scrape down the sides and the paddle attachment a few times to make sure everything is mixed thoroughly.

Mix in your remaining flour on low and watch as your dough forms.

When the dough starts pulling away from the sides, and a mass (i.e. a ball) develops, it is ready to be taken out of the mixer.

If you notice the dough is still sticky at this point or it is not pulling away from the edges, slowly add 1 extra tablespoon of flour at a time until the appropriate consistency is achieved.

Step 3 – Knead and Proof

Flour a pastry mat or sterilized countertop and place the dough on your work surface.

Begin kneading on the floured surface, taking notice of the texture. It should not be sticky at all. If you find that it is, add a little more flour to your surface and work it into the dough.

Kneading the dough is essential. It strengthens the gluten, which is the substance that gives bread its structure and texture. Kneading tightens these proteins, causing them to line up and lending stability to your bread.

Not sure how to tell when you are done kneading? Look for a smooth texture, a dough that will hold its shape/form, and when poked, the indentation will bounce back and fill quickly.

A ball of cinnamon roll dough in a greased stainless steel bowl.

Once your dough is ready, form it into a ball and place it in the greased mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel.

Be sure to place the bowl in a warm place so the yeast will be active and the dough will rise. My house tends to be drafty, so I like to turn on my gas logs and place the bowl off to the side to use the radiant heat to warm the area around the bowl. This ensures my dough will be ready in the appropriate time allotment.

Give the dough 2 hours to rise. It should double in size in this time. When there is one hour left, take out 1 stick of butter and 4 ounces of cream cheese from the refrigerator and set them aside so they can come to room temperature.

About 10 minutes out, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

Step 4 – Roll, Fill, and Cut

Lightly flour your pastry mat and place the dough ball on top. Punch down the dough, working some of the air out of it.

Roll dough into a 15-by-11-inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick.

Spread the butter evenly over the dough, being careful to stay away from the edges.

Top view of a portion of dough rolled into a rectangle, and topped with a mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar to make cinnamon rolls.

Sprinkle the brown sugar/ cinnamon mixture evenly over the top of the butter and roll the dough up, being careful to keep the roll tight. A loose roll can allow the filling to fall out, and no one wants that!

Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into ½-inch slices. You should get about 18 rolls.

Grease two 9-inch round ceramic or glass baking dishes and place the pinwheels inside. Don’t be afraid to let these touch – there shouldn’t be any excess room in the pan. This helps the treats keep their shape.

If you don’t have ceramic dishes, metal cake pans should work. But keep in mind that this will affect the bake time.

A round fluted white ceramic baking dish filled with dough rolled and cut to form the shape of cinnamon buns, read to go in the oven, on a brown tabletop covered partially with a red cloth.

Cover with plastic wrap, then cover with a towel, and place them back in the warm area to rise for about 45 minutes. They should double in size again.

Preheat your oven to 375°F after about 30 minutes.

Step 5 – Bake and Glaze

Once your pastries have risen, remove the plastic wrap and towels.

Place in the preheated oven and bake on the center rack for 20 minutes. The tops should be golden brown and a toothpick, when inserted, should be clean when removed.

Remove from the oven and immediately place the inverted pans on a wire rack so the confections can cool. This will aid in stopping the cooking process, since ceramic and glass both retain heat fairly well. We want to avoid burning our treats.

A stainless steel bowlful of cream cheese glaze for topping cinnamon rolls, with a white rubber spatula stuck into the icing, an a blue hand mixer with beaters coated in the mixture propped up to the right of the bowl on a brown wooden table.

While they are cooling, combine the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, butter, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Using your electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy.

A delicious option for the glaze is also orange zest, so get out the microplane if you have some citrus on hand. This really brightens the icing and adds a tremendous burst of flavor. Substitute orange extract for vanilla extract and add about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh orange zest if choosing this option.

When cool, flip the cinnamon buns right side up. We aren’t going for room temperature here – they should still be a little warm.

With a small flexible spatula, spread the glaze on the pastry. Feel free to garnish with raw pecan pieces, raisins, or any other topping of choice.

A close up of a cinnamon roll on a white ceramic plate on a red table cloth. A stick of cinnamon is in the diffused background.

You can serve these warm from the oven or at room temperature. Warming them in the microwave for 8-10 seconds seems to reheat them perfectly to achieve that fresh from the oven taste.

Breakfast Is Served

For a more balanced and complete meal, serve alongside fruit or a protein like my favorite homemade crustless quiche. I enjoy raw berries in the morning and a delicious cup of hot steaming coffee.

Whatever your breakfast plans are for the weekend, it’s time to change them:

Vertical image of a partially eaten cinnamon roll on a small white plate, with a gray cloth-lined basket of more cinnamon rolls and a glass of orange juice in the background.

You want to make these cinnamon rolls – trust me. With a little work, a little patience, and a little trust, you’ll find these doughy pastries completely worthy of your efforts, and everyone you give them to will, too.

So give them a shot. And tell us: what was the best praise you received after making these treats? Share your story in the comments below!

A white ceramic saucer with a cinnamon roll with white baking dish full of additional rolls in the background.

And if you’re looking for another cinnamon roll recipe after you’ve tried these, you have to check out this decadent brioche version, and this fall-flavored pumpkin variety. Yum!


Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of photos showing different views of a homemade cinnamon roll recipe with cream cheese frosting.

Photos by Leslie Morrison, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on September 12th, 2008. Last updated: July 11, 2018 at 16:40 pm.

*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Leslie Morrison

Leslie is a food photographer and writer. She enjoys spending time in her kitchen and behind the lens of her camera and working on her food blog, Deliciously Plated (deliciouslyplated.com). When she isn’t working, she is spending time with her son and her husband.

19 thoughts on “Deliciously Ooey-Gooey Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze”

  1. well, you fooled me! and i think that forgetting stuff in the oven is just what we are supposed to do sometimes 😉 these rolls look amazing!

  2. Rae: Did you make them? Let me know what you think!

    Amy: LOL, yeah, it was pretty embarrassing to throw six BLACK cookies in the trash, but I guess it happens. Thanks for making me feel a little better.

    Jacqui: HA! My thoughts exactly! You can’t go wrong with homemade cinnamon rolls. YUM.

  3. These look fantastic!

    Now I have a silly question I’m sure, but I am definately not a baker. How do you make these for breakfast when it takes almost three hours from start to finish? Do you have a very late breakfast, get up really early, or do some prep the night before?

  4. Heidi: As it turns out, your question is not silly at all. You are right; the rolls take a while, but the time is really much more siting-and-waiting time than working time. That’s why I’d (personally) only do these on a weekend morning. Start when I get up, then let them do their thing while I go get ready, do errands, etc. Do a little more something with them, then go do something else, then come back. Maybe I should take back the “breakfast” term and call them brunch, yes? 🙂

  5. i have always been nervous about taking on cinnamon rolls. but this recipe makes it look easy! i’ll probably try it out this upcoming weekend and see how it goes!! it helps that my boyfriend doesn’t wake up till 12-1 and i wake up 8-9 🙂 i have a built in time period for rising! thanks so much!

  6. these look so great! next time my office has a breakfast thing, i just might have to make these!
    when i call my grandmother up for her recipes, i think she thinks i’m starving. sometimes she’ll cry and lament that she’s not nearby to cook for me and i have to fend for myself. nevermind that i’m 30 and i’ve always been quite ok in the kitchen. it’s both exasperating and amusing at the same time. my stepmother used to bake cakes/cater and when i mention that i’m baking a cake for a friend, they pretty much like to remind me that she’s the “real” baker in the family. it’s awesome. they just don’t know. 🙂

  7. so i made these this weekend. SO easy! i loved it. my bff loved it. her boyfriend loved it. and so did the rest of her house guests. it was a hit. i kept it in there for the alotted 20 minutes but i think next time i’ll yank them out at around 17 minutes.

  8. These llok super yummy!

    Two questions:

    1. How many rolls does this recipe yield?
    2. Can you make the dough overnight or leave it in the cold oven covered like you did with the pumpkin rolls? That way it could be eaten for breakfast instead of for a brunch.

  9. lan: Yeah! Success! 😉

    Memoria: They ARE yummy! I’m going to be of little help in regards to your questions. I cannot remember how many rolls they made for me, and I do suspect it will vary based upon how you place them and how long you let them rise, etc. Also, you’re right: I’d say you could leave them overnight, but since I haven’t tried it, I’ll have to wait to see if someone else does. If you give it a go, let me know, OK?

  10. memoria —
    i left the dough overnight when i made them in charlotte. i rolled them, cut them etc and then left them in the oven overnight… popped them out to warm oven and then popped them back in to bake. easy peasy.

    i’m making them again tonight and i just have the dough hanging out. i’ll roll them out and cut them in the morning, jump in the shower and half get ready. about 20 before i’m fully done, i’ll pop them in the oven to bake. i don’t think i’ll be a problem!

  11. Shanna you know I am a true fan, I really miss these wonderful treats that are often left in the kitchen @ work for everyone to eat. You are an amazing @ what you do so well. Keep the oven going GIRLFRIEND!!!!! Your biggest fan……..

  12. I absolutely love them! I’m happy and thankful to report my recent discovery of your blog! The cinnamon rolls were the first thing I tackled, but there’s so many more things I want to try. Your stories accompanying the recipes are delightful. Thank you for sharing your world with us!
    Rhonda

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