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. They aren’t difficult but I’m going to share all my tricks and tricks that will ensure that every batch turns out great. Here’s how to make the best cinnamon rolls ever!

How to Make the Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever

Here’s how to make the best homemade cinnamon rolls ever!

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.

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 taught it to my mom and she has passed it down to her children and grandchildren.

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, especially and always for Easter.

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.

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.

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. They aren’t difficult but I’m going to share all my tricks and tricks that will ensure that every batch turns out great. Here’s how to make the best cinnamon rolls ever!

Before You Start

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)

Temperatures

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.

First Steps

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.

First you mix up a wet base for the cinnamon roll dough.
The sugar, butter, salt, water, milk, and yeast are all mixed together.

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.

I mix about half of the flour in with a mixer to create a sticky but smooth dough.

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.

At some point, you will have to mix the last part of the flour in with your hands. It looks messy at first
Mixing the last bit of flour in with your hands, allows you to get it just perfect

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.

Dough ready for the first rising
The dough is ready for the first rising
Here is the dough about about an hour. It is to the top of the bowl.
Here is the dough about about an hour. It is to the top of the bowl.

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.

Roll the dough away from you
Roll the dough away from you. Don’t roll too tight!

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.

Leave plenty of space between the rolls for them to get bigger
Be sure and leave plenty of space for the rolls 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.

They are ready for the oven!
20 minutes later and they are golden brown

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.

Easy Icing
All iced and looking yummy!
Oh my gosh–so good!

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)

Grammy made–Grandkid approved!
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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.

Reader submitted photo! These look amazing

Resource List

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!

Heavy Spoon

Rolling Pin — I loved how my full wine bottle worked, that I thought ceramic might get the same effect.

Keep showing up my friends,

Sara

Sara

Hi, I'm Sara! As a counselor and college advisor/coach, I've helped thousands of people make positive changes in their lives. Join me on the adventure of thinking big and living well!

25 Comments

  1. Cassie on May 29, 2020 at 7:53 pm

    Did you use regular sugar, not brown sugar?

    • Sara on May 31, 2020 at 3:21 pm

      Yes, I have always used white sugar. Brown sugar would probably be tasty in the filling though.

  2. Shelia King on May 23, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    Excellent recipe! Thank you for detailed instructions.

  3. Linda shuster on May 9, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    Hi Sara. As you can see by date this is still partial quarantine time. More important dry packets of yeast are nowhere to be found. Is there anyway of substituting saf-instant yeast for the dry or do I need to wait to try this great sounding recipe. Thanks

    • Sara on May 12, 2020 at 8:40 am

      It sounds like that is similar to rapid-rise yeast? I think that would work fine–just watch the dough, so it looks like it should at the different rising times.

      I couldn’t find any yeast but I would have tried a rapid-rise if I could have found it. I asked family and friends and ended up getting plenty of yeast from people that bake on a regular basis who had a good stockpile of it. Good luck!

  4. Pat on May 8, 2020 at 9:15 pm

    How much is a stick of butter, I buy a full pound of butter???? Would it be 1/4 cup??

    • Sara on May 12, 2020 at 8:42 am

      If you have a full pound of butter–use 1/4 of that total amount.
      Sticks of butter are 1/4 pound.
      However, they are 1/2 CUP of butter.

  5. Nancy on January 22, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    Sorry…. just figured out the answer to the question I just submitted! The recipe makes TWO rolls and EACH roll is sprinkled with one cup of sugar! 😁

    • Sara on January 22, 2020 at 5:17 pm

      I wrote this post for my own kids and grandkids to have and they often complain that the recipes that I pass down are not complete. Sorry for the confusion. Hope you love the rolls. My kids say you can’t use too much butter or sugar! I’ve added my email to the recipe so maybe I can answer a question if someone is in the middle of making them. Thanks for writing!

  6. Nancy on January 22, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    The dough is on my counter rising at this moment and I realize that the recipe calls for 2-1/2 cups of sugar, but directions only account for 1-1/2 cups ( 1/2 cup in the dough and 1 cup sprinkled on top). What is the leftover 1 cup used for? Thank you

  7. Mariah on December 24, 2019 at 9:45 am

    I’ve seen other recipes that you can make ahead and put in the fridge before the second proof. Is this something anyone has tried? I would like to make this evening and back them in the morning

    • Sara on December 25, 2019 at 4:16 pm

      Yes, my mom calls this dough refrigerator dough. I think you can mix it all up the night before and pull it out in the morning but you’ll need longer to let it rise. I’m not sure if you can do it between first and second rising. If you try it, be sure and allow extra time for it to rise–maybe twice as much.

  8. Diana on December 24, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Hello,
    Your cinnamon roll recipe sounds delicious, but I can’t seem to find the actual recipe on this site to make them. I do see your tips & tricks for them, but no ingredient with measurements. Hopefully you can help! 😊
    Thank you, Diana

    • Diana on December 24, 2019 at 9:16 am

      Oh goodness, my apologies… I did locate the recipe! So sorry for the confusion. Thank you for sharing your family recipe with us, can’t wait to try it for my family!
      Diana

      • Sara on December 25, 2019 at 4:17 pm

        Glad you found it! I just realized that I didn’t make a card for this recipe. But when I made it, I really just was documenting it for my family.

  9. Alexis on December 13, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    Hey! I would love to make these over the holidays but need to make then freeze to warm up on Christmas morning. What point would you suggest freezing? Thank you so much!

    • Sara on December 13, 2019 at 5:57 pm

      I’ve done it after they are frosted and cooled. Or you can freeze them before you frost them.

      • Warren on May 9, 2020 at 11:14 am

        This is a wonderful and simple recipe. I enjoy making them as much as my friends in joy eating them. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

        • Sara on May 12, 2020 at 8:41 am

          You’re welcome! Glad everyone is enjoying them.

  10. Jo on December 12, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    What is the yield for this recipe?

    • Sara on December 13, 2019 at 5:58 pm

      About 24

  11. Constance on November 28, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    3 Tablespoons of yeast and 1/4 c warm water makes a sticky paste. I believe your measurements are wrong.
    You say to add salt to the melted butter and sugar, but there’s no salt in the ingredients list.

    • Sara on November 30, 2019 at 11:06 am

      Good catches! Thanks Constance–The original recipe is an old family one and very vague on some points. I’ll get that corrected. Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

      • June on December 24, 2019 at 6:01 pm

        Just made these. Came out awesome. (The recipe is missing bake times, but we were able to approximate. ) definitely adding it to my holiday line up! Thank you!

        • Sara on December 25, 2019 at 4:13 pm

          That’s great! Glad you enjoyed them. Sara

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Sara | MyThinkBigLife.com

Hi, I'm Sara 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.

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