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Best Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

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These gooey cinnamon rolls are so very simple, before you know it (with a little patience), you’ll have a sweet, soft bread with buttery, cinnamon, with ooey-gooey centers topped with an amazing, fluffy Cinnabon frosting; a clone of a Cinnabon!

These are my signature rolls, people have been known to request them when we are coming for a breakfast or brunch. Soft, fluffy, stuffed with buttery cinnamon goodness; homemade cinnamon buns with a rich, creamy and easy cream cheese frosting.

If you love breakfast sweets as much as my readers (and my family) then you have to try these recipes; Pumpkin Honeybun Cake, Blueberry Crumble Cake and this simple Fall Breakfast Charcuterie Board; a grazers dream! And don’t forget this equally delicious Chocolate Stuffed Monkey Bread!

ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls in a pan slathered with frosting with a bowl of frosting nearby.

“I can not say enough about this recipe!! I was skeptical. Nothing on Pinterest seems to ever turn out exactly like the pictures. These are absolutely incredible! Turned out EXACTLY like the pictures and recipe showed! My cinnamon rolls always have turned out dense and dry. I genuinely wasn’t hopeful. It was for Christmas morning and I had a back up plan in mind but these were pure perfection! These will now be a Christmas tradition in our family forever. After I cut them for the second rise i put them in the fridge to rise overnight. Set them out while everyone was opening presents. Then baked them while the table was being set for breakfast, coffee was being brewed and frosting was being whipped up. They are out of this world!”

Crystal

Reader

Do you like funny stories? Well I’ve got a whopper for you, this one almost cost me my husband!

Brad and I had been dating about a year and a half and I was hoping and praying that he would soon ask me to marry him. One weekend, Easter weekend as a matter of fact, we had planned on going skiing for closing day at Vail.

The Story Behind Ooey Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

I was all good with that, was all ready to ski when he arrived, except he threw me a curve ball when he asked if I would pack an overnight bag, just in case we got snowed in. Yeah right, in April? Late April? “Wait”, I say with a rather panicked tone to my voice, “tomorrow is Easter, I have to be back tonight to start my cinnamon buns, I always bake cinnamon rolls for my family!”

Cinnamon rolls with ooey cream cheese frosting on a tray with candied bacon and tall glasses of fizzy punch.

He could see the look of terror on my face that he would even ask me this, I stammered and stumbled through the fact that we had to be back home that night, I couldn’t let my family down and not bring my ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls, Easter depended on it! I actually argued with him for awhile, seriously, what was wrong with me, I must not like last minute changes or something!

He naturally suggested we could just buy cinnamon buns the next morning if we did get stuck in the mountains. WHAT!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME, I don’t BUY cinnamon rolls…I could tell he must love me, A LOT! He took my “freaking out” and urged me to get my bag and we’d figure it out as we go.

Keep Reading for Recipe or use the “Jump to” recipe button at the top of the post.

Image of a pan filled with soft, hot cinnamon buns covered in a thick layer of cream cheese cinnabon frosting.

An old-fashioned love story

What I didn’t realize was that my dear, sweet, gentle, kind-hearted, loving and wonderful soon-to-be-husband had called my Dad (in Florida) to ask his permission to marry his 35 year old daughter. AND he had driven all the way to Boulder (an hour) to ask my Mom the same thing. My whole family knew I was getting engaged and I was worried about not bringing cinnamon rolls!! Sheesh!

Pan of hot, soft cinnamon rolls with bowl of cream cheese frosting ready to be frosted.

Cinnamon Buns, An Engagement Story

He had planned to propose to me atop Vail mountain. Enter a freak spring snow storm that closed the mountain due to thunder and lightning. He spent the day trying to secretly rearrange all his plans to accommodate this twist! Our God has a great sense of humor!

That evening, after a lovely dinner, we traipsed through Lionshead. While tromping through heavy wet snow (over a foot) I started hearing the strains of a song being played. Specifically Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You.”  I thought that was so sweet, but things still didn’t click.

Brad and Kathleen day after engagement the story about the cinnamon rolls almost breaking our engagement.

Brad said, how much he loved that song, as do I, it was kind of our song. He then walked me out to the bridge and with half dollar sized snowflakes gently falling, got down on one knee in that heavy, wet snow and said “I want to be your life-long companion — to love and serve the Lord alongside you — and to walk through this world with you…will you marry me?” By this time I had completely forgotten about my must-make cinnamon buns (finally!) and I said “YES!”

We were indeed snowed in as they had closed Vail pass and was I grateful for that change of clothes he insisted I bring. We showed up at my parents house with store bought cinnamon rolls in hand!!

For several years I continued to make my grandmother’s overnight cinnamon rolls (it has become the family joke), but now I’ve learned that you can make them the morning of, no overnight necessary!

Whatever you do, don’t let something as trivial as a favorite recipe or tradition alter your relationship with people, in the end it’s about the people, not the food!

Thanks for hanging with me through that story, I love engagement stories, each one is unique, I’d love to hear yours! But let’s get going on these wonderful ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls.

Holiday Cinnabon Clone cinnamon bun on a plate with sparkly lights behind.

Ingredients for Cinnamon Buns

Cinnabon Dough Recipe

  • WHOLE MILK | You can use other percentages, but I do love using whole milk.
  • BUTTER | no substitutions here
  • SUGAR | I use all-natural cane sugar in almost all of my baking
  • BREAD FLOUR | In a pinch, you can make with all-purpose flour, but bread flour will yield the most chewy, tender homemade cinnamon buns.
  • YEAST | Doesn’t matter if it’s fast acting or regular, package or jarred!
  • EGGS | If you need to bring to room temp, submerge in warm (not hot) water for 5-8 minutes.

Cinnamon Bun Filling

  • BROWN SUGAR | I use light brown sugar, but you could certainly use dark brown too, or a combo of brown sugar and granulated sugar.
  • CINNAMON | well they wouldn’t be cinnamon buns if you didn’t have cinnamon would they!
  • BUTTER | Use the real stuff here, nothing soft coming out of the fridge

Cinnabon Frosting

  • BUTTER | once again, use the real stuff here, not a place to skimp!
  • CREAM CHEESE | I use both regular or Neufchatel is fine (room temperature)
  • POWDERED SUGAR | The heart and sweetness of Cinnabon frosting
  • OTHER STUFF | Vanilla extract (ever make your own, a must try!), Salt (yup, just a pinch) and a little milk if needed.

How to make Ooey-Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

  • Place your milk, room temp butter, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and heat on very low, stirring occasionally.
  • Heating to 120°, careful it gets hot really fast, your butter might not be fully melted, that’s okay. If you get it too hot (greater than 130°), just give it a couple minutes to cool down, you don’t want to scald your yeast.

TFC PRO TIP | Take out 2 additional sticks of butter and your cream cheese to soften while you are making your dough.

Melting butter and scalding milk in saucepan for homemade cinnamon rolls.
  • While your milk, sugar, butter mixture is heating, measure out 2 cups of the flour into the bowl of your mixer, add the yeast and mix gently.
  • Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the flour and yeast mixture, mixing on low. Note my full cup of coffee in the corner and a jar of marshmallow fluff, not sure what that was for! Must have been making Whoopie Pies later!
Pouring warm milk and butter mixture into yeast mixture.
  • Add room temperature eggs*  to the flour and milk mixture and the rest of your flour.
  • Once your dough is mixed thoroughly, replace your paddle attachment with the “J” hook and let it knead the dough for you, about 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  • Don’t have a kneading hook? Place the dough on a floured surface and get your upper body workout in for the morning, kneading the dough for the same amount of time, tossing in a little more flour if it gets too sticky.

BAKING HACK | Forgot to take your eggs out of the fridge the night before, like I always do? No worries, run warm, not hot water into a bowl and place eggs in bowl to bring to room temp, takes about 5-7 minutes.

Cinnamon roll bread dough on J hook in mixer, being kneaded.

Grease a bowl with a teaspoon of oil, using a paper towel spread oil around bowl, plop dough in and turn over covering dough with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for about 15 minutes to rest.

TFC BAKERS TIP | Warm rising spot? Preheat your oven on its lowest setting, then turn off oven. Place the dough in the now warm, but turned off oven. If your oven has a “proofing” setting, place on that setting and let rise for 15 minutes.

Cinnamon bun dough in bowl covered with plastic wrap, rising for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon with a fork and set aside.

Once the dough has rested for about 15 minutes, place on a floured surface and roll out into roughly an 18 x 21 inch rectangle.

Rolling cinnamon bun dough on floured surface for cinnamon rolls.

Next spread the ½ cup softened butter, evenly onto the dough, I like using an offset spatula.

Spreading soft butter onto cinnamon roll dough with offset spatula.

Spread cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the top of the butter within about ½ inch of the edges.

UPDATE | I still make these as shown above, but sometimes, I melt the butter, combine with the cinnamon filling mixture and evenly spread the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture on the dough.

Cinnamon and brown sugar mixture spread evenly over the butter and dough for cinnamon rolls.

Starting with the long edge, roll tightly into a log.

Rolling from long edge into a tight cinnamon roll log.

Using a little water, rub along the edge of the dough and pinch edges together to get a good seal.

Pinching the seems together on cinnamon roll dough log.
  • Slice into 10-16 even rolls, if you want to get all perfectionistic you can measure your log.
  • I usually eyeball it and adjust if needed.
Preslice cinnamon roll log for even slicing.

Place in greased (buttered or non-stick spray) 9×13 pan or line with parchment paper, with space between each roll.

Cinnamon rolls before baking in pretty pan.

Cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and return to that warm place to rise until nearly doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400° (375 if using a dark or glass pan), remove rolls before preheating. They have now doubled in size!

Risen cinnamon rolls ready to be baked.

Bake about 12-15 minutes, don’t over-bake, if anything under-bake slightly until risen and slightly golden.

Pan of baked cinnamon rolls hot out of the oven with frosting nearby.

How to make Cinnabon Frosting

In a large mixing bowl whip together butter, cream cheese until smooth, add powdered sugar, vanilla and pinch of sea salt; beating until smooth and fluffy, if needed add a teaspoon or so of milk or cream.

Smother over the tops of warm rolls, serve immediately. Or spread on rolls individually.

Pin with image of frosted cinnamon roll on red plate with candied bacon and oozing Cinnabon frosting a cream cheese frosting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I start Cinnamon Rolls the night before?

YOU BET! Make the recipe up to the sliced roll stage, cover tightly with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator overnight. They will rise slowly, take out in the morning bringing to room temp and making sure they are doubled, preheat your oven and bake.

What type of flour is best for homemade Cinnamon buns?

Since you are making a sweet bread, bread flour is best! Available at most grocery stores, bread flour will ensure your ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls are soft, fluffy with the perfect rise. These can be made with purpose flour, but take the time to grab some bread flour and if you have leftover, make this amazing Russian Black Bread.

Can I refrigerate unbaked cinnamon roll dough?

Yes, they will continue to rise slowly in the refrigerator. Be sure to cover tightly with plastic wrap and bring to room temperature (at least 30-60 minutes) before baking.

Pan filled with soft, fluffy gooey cinnamon rolls with bowl of frosting close by.

Also great for Easter are these super easy, light and fluffy yeast rolls! Give them a whirl!

Bonus: Candied Bacon Recipe

Want to make a truly decadent treat? Add this simple and amazing Brown Sugar Bacon to your menu.

Candied bacon on pretty clear serving dish.

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a rimmed sheet pan with foil. Set an oven safe cooling rack inside the prepared pan and set aside.

In a shallow dish, place about ¼ cup brown sugar. Dredge thick bacon slices in the brown sugar and arrange the bacon on the rack. Bake in the preheated oven until crisp, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately.

You may also throw in a teaspoon of chili powder or a sprinkle of cayenne into the brown sugar, if you like a little heat.

Looking for more great breakfast treats?

I hope you loved this incredible recipe for Gooey Cinnamon Rolls, it will become your favorite too!

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80 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Such a sweet love story! We prefer a 50/50 brown & white sugar mix, and let them rise overnight. Perfect for a weekend morning treat!

  2. 5 stars
    This was the best love story! Love of cinnamon rolls and love of a sweet husband! You made the right choice by purchasing the rolls but I’m with you and am very serious about my cinnamon rolls! Great story and great recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I’m making these right now! Lol
    I was wondering if I could use gluten free bread flour and they turn out about the same or would I need to add something else??

    1. Good morning Kelsey — I have had fairly good luck using gluten free in some recipes, but I haven’t tried in this recipe, I would definitely use a flour that does not have Xanthan gum in it, which I believe a bread flour would not have. Let me know how it turns out!

  4. 5 stars
    After reading comments, I mixed the filling sugar as half brown and half granulated white and had no problem. I sent some to work with my husband and now his coworkers are begging me to make more so it was a hit!

  5. Not like Cinnabon. These come out much more like between a potato roll and a croissant. They do not end up gooey in the middle like Cinnabon. This is because there is too much flour and the rise is not long enough. Your better off waiting more like 2 hours. And bake at 325 for 15 minutes. When you can put a toothpick in and it still draws dough out bake for 1 minute more. Then remove from over. And let rest for 15 minutes with pan covered with tinfoil to retain the heat and moisture and allow the center to finish cooking. Otherwise it over cooks them and they will not be what you expect.

    A note on the cinnamon. IT IS NOT REGULAR CINNAMON!! Cinnabon uses a cinnamon only from Indonesia called makara. It is unique because unlike regular cinnamon which floats with Water. Makara cinnamon absorbs the water and becomes the thick paste like cinnamon in a Cinnabon.

    This is key if you want to get even close to a Cinnabon taste.

    The frosting is 3 ingredients. Cream cheese, confection sugar and butter. (Margarine is used for the cinnamon filling above). Butter is used for the frosting.

  6. I made these but the brown sugar did not melt, it was like eating sand rolled up in the dough. Are they supposed to be like that or did something go wrong?

    1. Hi Sue, Okay, let’s try and figure out why? It definitely shouldn’t taste like sand in the middle and not sure that has every happened to me.

      Did you spread butter to the inside of the cinnamon rolls or mix your brown sugar with butter?
      Did you use real butter or a blend or replacement?
      Did you use natural brown sugar? I find it is more coarse than regular brown sugar, same with dark brown sugar.

      Those are the only things I can think of, sometimes we have to do a bit of digging to figure out why it didn’t work.

    2. @Kathleen Pope,
      I did use real butter, spread it on the inside and added the cinnamon and brown sugar on top of the butter. Did I do that wrong? I did use light brown sugar, not natural brown sugar. I did not use the dark brown as I don’ t care for the taste. Thank you for getting back to me, as I love cinnamon rolls and the icing is awesome!

      1. I am not positive why that happened to you Sue, my only recommendations would be to pre-mix the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon together and then spread the mixture on the dough. Be sure to let them rise until double and bake until puffy and golden. You might try placing a sheet of foil on them the last 10 minutes or so to help “melt” the brown sugar. But I am stumped as to why it turned out sandy? Let me know if you figure it out!

    1. Hi Kayla,

      I do use salted butter, for about 95% of my recipes and in this one definitely, because it’s what I have on hand. If you are really sensitive to salt though, you might try reducing it, or using unsalted butter and adding a little salt. Thanks for asking.

      Have a lovely day,
      Kathleen

  7. Ok im making this now but i have a question.. For the flour you 4-4 1/4 cups flour… I did do 2 cups and than another 2 cups so total of 4 cups. Is that right..ty

    1. @Kathleen Pope, thank you for getting back to me.. I did only add 4 cups and i was praying i was right. I forgot to take out creamcheese so im letting that set out.. I did try the end peice of the cinnamon bun its very soft and good. I have a amish book that also has a good recipe in it for cinnamon buns buts its pack away.. Thank you for this recipe ill be making it again.i give it a 10 its a must try and not hard to make..

      1. Aww, thank you, you made my month Edith! You can always remove the foil and microwave the cream cheese for a few seconds if you want to rush things along! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Glad my recipe could stand in the place until you find your other one!

        Thanks again, happy baking!
        Kathleen

  8. In your overnight instructions for the Cinnamon Cinnamon Rolls you have prepare up to second rise and cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Then remove from oven( I think you mean refrigerator). This might confuse novice baker’s.

    1. Hi Susan,

      I don’t think that is the case, many people choose to make comments but don’t leave a review or say they made the recipe, I have quite a few from Pinterest who have made the recipe, hopefully my own tips are helpful to you in giving this recipe a stab, then you can come back and make a comment to help others.

      I do hope you will give it a try, it’s a winner for our family and has been for decades. A gal on Pinterest recently said, she let them rise in the fridge overnight AND also made them another time just in the morning and she felt the texture was better on those that rose overnight. Hope that helps!

      Happy baking, Kathleen

  9. I can not say enough about this recipe!! I was skeptical. Nothing on Pinterest seems to ever turn out exactly like the pictures. These are absolutely incredible! Turned out EXACTLY like the pictures and recipe showed! My cinnamon rolls always have turned out dense and dry. I genuinely wasn’t hopeful. It was for Christmas morning and I had a back up plan in mind but these were pure perfection! These will now be a Christmas tradition in our family forever. After I cut them for the second rise i put them in the fridge to rise overnight. Set them out while everyone was opening presents. Then baked them while the table was being set for breakfast, coffee was being brewed and frosting was being whipped up. They are out of this world!

  10. What a beautiful story! I just loved every bit of it. I love these cinnamon rolls too! They’ve become my family’s favorite too. They’re soft, tender, and delicious.

  11. These cinnamon rolls look so mouth-watering and absolutely amazing! Ooey gooey for sure and I bet they make the house smell amazing while they bake.

  12. 5 stars
    I made these this morning for brunch. My, oh my!!! They turned out beautifully and absolutely scrumptious! Everyone loved them, including one of my friends who is receiving chemo treatment at present.Thank you for sharing your recipes! I look forward to trying many more in the future!

  13. Love your engagement story… You argue! Never! The cinnamon rolls look amazing. I can’t wait to make them at our house. Happy Easter!