How to Make the Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever
Here’s how to make the best homemade cinnamon rolls ever! These are a family tradition for Christmas morning or day.
My grown children, beg me to make them and they are a hit with the grandchildren as well.
December 2021 Update: I have promised to make these cinnamon rolls tomorrow for Christmas Eve. My grown children are in their 30’s and still crave this taste of their childhood.
Making them helps me feel connected with my own mom and grandmother who made them throughout my childhood. These never get old! There is absolutely none out there that you can buy that are as delicious!
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Some Bread!
If making bread or rolls is something that has confused or intimidated you, then this post is for YOU. I’m going to walk you through the entire process.
I was intimidated for years, until my mom insisted I learn how to do these myself. So, I practiced until I had it down. Then I decided to teach others.
Since I first put this post up, women have written to me with questions about the process. I in turn, have worked my answers into this post.
Hopefully, I have answered all your questions ahead of time!
Included in the post are detailed instructions, pictures, and a troubleshooting guide. Many readers have left comments with questions too. For the most part though, I have tried to also answer those questions here in this post as they come up.
On a funny note, I would always watch the comments and my email on the eve of the holidays since that was when most of the questions come up. So, let’s all give some thanks to the readers that tried this recipe out and let us know where the problems could come up!
The Best Cinnamon Rolls
I promise, these rolls are so much better than any cinnamon rolls you will ever buy!
For over 50 years they have been a much-anticipated part of our family holidays and dinners. It is the most sentimental of all the recipes that I make.
In theory, they aren’t difficult. However, there are some things you have to do to make sure they turn out right.
I’m going to share all my tricks, tips, and hints that will ensure that every batch turns out great.
Since this post came out a year ago, I’ve received questions and emails as readers made the recipe. I’ve created a FAQ and trouble-shooting guide that is included at the bottom of the post.
My adult children and my grandchildren LOVE them!
This dough recipe has been handed down in our family for generations. My dad’s mom (my Grandmother) taught it to my mom and she has passed it down to her children and grandchildren.
You can also use this dough to make the BEST HOMEMADE DINNER ROLLS. Because of this recipe, my daughter and I started a blog called Granny’s in the Kitchen to preserve all our favorite and traditional recipes.
As a child, this was my favorite thing my mom ever made! It wasn’t something she did often, but she did make them for holidays, Christmas and always for Easter. It was an eagerly awaited contribution to any bake sale!
For years, I was afraid to make these rolls, thinking that they were too complicated or hard to do.
Finally, my mom had, had enough, and insisted that I learn to make them myself. She wouldn’t take no for an answer!
Once I mastered how to make the dough, I realized she was right, they weren’t that hard, but you had to allow enough time and make sure the dough was put together correctly.
My adult children LOVE these cinnamon rolls and it was for them that I decided to make them as a gift.
As you read the instructions, you’ll understand that it really is a gift of love when you make the best homemade cinnamon rolls ever.
Before You Start Making Cinnamon Rolls
Gather all the ingredients for the recipe. There are no optional ingredients in this recipe.
Also, if you get stuck in the middle of this recipe–email me or check out FAQs at the bottom of post!
I can’t promise I’ll be on right that moment, but I might be and I’d be happy to answer a question for you. Sara@mythinkbiglife.com
Each ingredient is essential to the outcome.This dough recipe uses common ingredients that most of us have on hand and even if you have to buy them, they are really inexpensive.
Read through the directions. You have to do things in order and have things at the right temperature.
Allow enough TIME, these take about five hours total. However, you aren’t working the entire time.
There are two periods of time, where the dough has to rise. I’ve provided approximate times but the temperature in your kitchen, your elevation, or even the humidity can all affect rising times.
Have the right equipment. You’ll need a large bowl, , a couple of small bowls, a medium sauce pan, and a hand-mixer.
In addition, you’ll need a heavy wooden spoon or spatula, measuring cups and spoons, and rolling pin (or in my case a wine bottle.
The Ingredient List
- 2 packages of regular dry yeast (or 4 1/2 teaspoons)
- ¼ cup of warm water
- I stick of butter, melted + 1 stick to melt later (2 sticks at least)
- ½ cup of sugar for dough + 2 cups for inside the rolls
- 1 cup of milk, warmed + 2 TB for icing
- 1 tsp salt. Less if you use salted butter
- 1 cup of cold water
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 7 cups of flour (may be a little more or less)
- 2-3 TB light olive oil or melted butter or ghee
- 1/4 cup or more of ground cinnamon
- Confectioners sugar (have a pound or two ready)
You’ll see from the ingredients that some things are warm and cool. You want the whole thing ending up as a little bit warm to get the yeast going, but not hot enough to kill it. It’s better to err on being too cool as too hot.
Dead yeast will keep your rolls from rising and being fluffy. If everything is too cool, it will simply take longer to get the dough risen but eventually it will get where it needs to be.
Instructions for Making Cinnamon Rolls
I just use one bowl, usually the biggest bowl I have on hand. I prefer my big old yellow Pyrex bowl but today I had to use a stainless-steel bowl.
In a small glass bowl, I combine the yeast with the ¼ cup of warm water and set aside.
In big bowl, I add the melted butter and sugar, and salt. Then I add the beaten eggs, warmed milk, and 1 cup of water.
To this I add the yeast and water. With my hand-mixer on low, I gently combine all these ingredients.
Adding the Flour
The recipe calls for about 7 cups of flour. I add about 3 or 4 cups of flour to the wet ingredients. I mix, on low, the flour into the wet ingredients until it is smooth and sticky.
Don’t add so much your mixer starts making sounds like it is struggling. You want it to mix fairly easily.
When it is very smooth and a little shiny, you can put your mixer aside.
Now you’ll add the rest of the flour by hand. I usually add the next two cups, a cup at a time. I mix them with a sturdy spoon until they are worked in.
Then I start adding flour by ½ cups. The dough will start forming a ball but will be rough.
At some point, you are going to have to use your hands. I put the dough on a smooth surface and start working flour in, a little at a time. Put your bowl in the sink and run some water in it.
Your dough will stick some to your hands, but it shouldn’t be a gloppy mess. Add flour, until the dough holds together, and you can form a fairly smooth ball.
Now, go rinse out your bowl and dry it. Add a few tablespoons of light olive oil or some melted better or ghee. Take your ball of dough and put it into the bowl, turning it over and around until it is coated with oil.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and set aside.
After the dough is doubled in size, you push in down with your hands and make it a smaller ball again. At this point, I divide the dough in half to work with.
I just roll my dough on my counter top–well cleaned of course. I found myself without a rolling pin and used a full wine bottle and it worked great. Even better than a rolling pin!
Once the dough is rolled out to a rectangle, about 12 X 16, I pour melted butter all over. You want it all over but not too heavy.
Then I sprinkle about 1 cup of sugar all over. On top of that, I sprinkle lots of cinnamon. It looks like a LOT at this point, but once they rise and bake, you’ll be glad you used plenty.
Now it’s time to roll the dough. Gently life the dough along the long side facing you and roll it up into a long roll.
Once you have the dough in long rolls, you can cut it with a sharp knife into individual rolls about an inch and a half wide.
I like to use, 8-inch cake pans and put six or seven in each pan. You need to leave plenty of room between the rolls because they are going to get bigger.
Let the rolls, sit out covered with plastic wrap for another hour and a half. If they are rising faster, the time might be less. If they are slow, give them more time.
Once they have filled out and up, it’s time to bake. Preheat oven to 375.
Bake until the rolls are light brown–like the picture. That’s about 20 minutes.
As soon as they are out of the oven, you have to whip up the icing. It’s super easy.
Melt a little butter in a pan. Then pour in a couple of cups of confectioners sugar. Add milk just a couple of tablespoons at a time as you whisk it.
When it is smooth and pourable, drizzle it all over the cinnamon rolls. I like to cover every single bit of roll and down any crevices.
That’s all there is to it!
A mere five hours and you have the most amazing cinnamon rolls ever! Grammy made and grandkid approved! (Create GREAT memories so they will never forget you–How to Be an Unforgettable Grandparent)
FAQs and Trouble-Shooting
Here are the common questions that I receive about making these rolls.
How many cinnamon rolls does the recipe make?
This recipe makes about 24 cinnamon rolls. If you halve the recipe it makes 12. The rolls can be frozen once they are done.
Can you use this recipe for dinner rolls?
Actually no one has ever asked me this! But I’ve included this for any of you that made it here. This recipe makes the most delicious dinner rolls ever!
I have wonderful memories of my grandmother bringing big, beautiful cloverleaf rolls to family dinners. My grown kids still beg me to make them for holiday dinners!
Can you halve the recipe?
Yes, you can. In fact, I was talking to my mom recently and she had just read the post. She told me that the original recipe was half of what I had posted. She had doubled the original recipe to get the one you see here.
Can you freeze the rolls?
Absolutely. That is one of the great things about making the entire recipe. It’s a lot of work. But when the rolls are completely cooled, you can freeze them! Wrap the cooled rolls in plastic wrap and then tuck them into a freezer bag.
Can you put the rising dough in the refrigerator?
Yes, you have two times when you can refrigerate the dough. This allows you to make the dough ahead of time, such as the evening before and then complete the process the next morning.
Great for having hot cinnamon rolls for breakfast!
The first way you can prepare ahead of time, is completely the recipe until you get the big ball of dough. You can put the dough ball in the refrigerator overnight and then complete the rest the next day.
You can also put the dough, once it’s been make into the rolls and put in pans into the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, take the pans out and let the rolls rise then bake.
Large Mixing Bowl — This has a non-slip bottom and something to hold onto.
Hand Mixer — Love my one that has a storage case with it. No more losing the beaters!
Rolling Pin — I loved how my full wine bottle worked, that I thought ceramic might get the same effect.
Keep showing up my friends,
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Hi, I'm Sara Garska and I'm so happy you're here! My Think Big Life began shortly after I turned 50. Big changes can happen with a small start, an adjustment of thought, or a simple process. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having. As a certified life coach, I can help you create a life you love. Click here to schedule a free 50-minute coaching session.