Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls With Vanilla Frosting

Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls With Vanilla Frosting

The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

Prep: 45 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Rise: 2 hrs 30 mins
Total: 3 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 14 servings
Yield: 14 cinnamon rolls
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
425 Calories
17g Fat
63g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 14
Amount per serving
Calories 425
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 9g 45%
Cholesterol 43mg 14%
Sodium 156mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 63g 23%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 34g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 56mg 4%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 106mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Cinnamon rolls may look the same from the outside, but they come in a few different varieties. Some have a basic vanilla glaze, while others are topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting. Some have raisins, and others simply prove that butter, cinnamon, and sugar make the perfect filling. Additionally, two cinnamon rolls may have similar ingredients, only to have totally different textures—one gooey, the other crumbly. As long as you start with a solid cinnamon roll recipe, you can alter it to your liking.

This recipe makes a classic and delicious cinnamon roll with vanilla frosting. It's straightforward and the perfect base for trying out new flavors and fillings. Feel free to replace the raisins with any type of chopped nut—you can even do away with the cinnamon filling altogether and use jam, citrus curd, or chocolate. For the perfect autumnal twist, add nutmeg, cloves, and allspice to your filling. No matter how you customize this recipe, your kitchen will smell like your favorite bakery in no time.

Serve the cinnamon rolls with coffee or hot chocolate.

2:10

Click Play to See These Classic Cinnamon Rolls Come Together

"Cinnamon rolls take time to make, but the results are worth it. This recipe is a good introduction if it’s your first attempt. The baked rolls have a nice cinnamon-sugar flavor, and the frosting is perfectly thick. You’ll create a lot of dishes when making the dough, but cleanup during first rise is quick." —Colleen Graham

Cinnamon Roll Vanilla Frosting Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For Rolls:

  • 3 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

  • 1/4 cup warm water, about 105 F

  • 1/2 cup shortening, or unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour, more or less as needed

  • Cooking spray, for greasing

For Filling:

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted, more or less as needed

  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed, more or less as needed

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cinnamon

  • Raisins, optional

For Vanilla Icing:

  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk, or cream

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, these cinnamon rolls are broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and baking.

Make the Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for cinnamon rolls

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  2. In a small bowl, sprinkle the active dry yeast into the warm water and let it sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

    Active dry yeast in water

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  3. Place the shortening in a large heatproof bowl. In a heavy-bottomed pan, scald the milk over medium heat.

    milk in a saucepan

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  4. Pour the scalded milk over the shortening.

    Pour the scalded milk over the shortening

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  5. Stir in the sugar and salt with a wooden spoon, and let the mixture cool for a few minutes.

    shorting mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  6. Stir in the dissolved yeast and the beaten egg.

    add yeast and egg mixture to the shortening mixture in the bowl

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  7. Add the flour cup by cup, mixing thoroughly after each addition. The dough should be soft but firm enough to handle.

    add flour to the mixture in the bowl

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  8. Knead the dough on a lightly floured board or surface until the dough is elastic and smooth. Avoid adding more than a few tablespoons of flour.

    dough ball on a floured surface

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  9. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.

    Cinnamon roll dough in bowl covered with plastic wrap

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

Fill, Roll, and Bake the Rolls

  1. Grease two 9-inch spring form pans or one 9 x 13-inch baking pan with shortening, butter, or nonstick cooking spray.

    greased pans

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  2. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface or board again. Pat or roll out into a 16 x 10-inch rectangle. Brush generously with the melted butter, then cover with brown sugar.

    Dough brushed with butter and covered in brown sugar

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  3. Sprinkle with cinnamon and raisins, if using, in an even layer over the butter and brown sugar.

    Dough sprinkled with cinnamon and raisins
     The Spruce
  4. Starting from one of the long ends, roll the dough into a tight spiral.

    Dough rolled into a log

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  5. Use a sharp knife or dental floss to cut the log into approximately 14 pieces, each 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick.

    Dough sliced into individual cinnamon rolls

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  6. Place the slices in the greased pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for another hour or until rolls have doubled in size. During this second rise, preheat the oven to 350 F.

    Cinnamon rolls rising in a greased pan

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Check on the rolls after 15 minutes; if they are browning too quickly, tent with a piece of foil.

    Baked cinnamon rolls

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  8. Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the rolls to a serving plate before frosting.

    Baked cinnamon rolls on a serving plate

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

Make the Icing

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Frosting ingredients

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  2. Place the confectioner's sugar, butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Stir in milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture has a thick, yogurt-like consistency.

    Vanilla frosting for cinnamon rolls

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

Finish the Rolls

  1. Spread the icing over the warm rolls.

    Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls With Vanilla Frosting

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

Tips

  • Make sure that your milk cools down after scalding. Liquids that are over 110 F will kill the yeast.
  • If you'd like to break up the steps of this recipe over several days, feel free to refrigerate the dough overnight during its first or second rise. This may even enhance the flavor of your cinnamon rolls.
  • It is best to frost the cinnamon rolls while they're still warm. This is a very thick frosting and the heat will allow the icing to spread evenly.
  • For a more forward cinnamon flavor, use 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon (instead of 1) in the filling.

How to Store Cinnamon Rolls

  • Cinnamon rolls tend to dry out, so it is important to store them in an airtight container to keep them soft. They can be kept at room temperature for two to three days and in the refrigerator for about a week.
  • For longer storage, cinnamon rolls can be frozen. It is best to wrap each roll individually in plastic wrap and then place them in a zip-top bag; if you'd prefer to keep them in the pan, you should wrap it in two layers—plastic and then foil—before freezing. The rolls will stay tasty when frozen for about four months.

Why Are My Cinnamon Rolls Tough?

The key to soft homemade cinnamon rolls is to use the right amount of flour. When you add too much flour, the baked rolls will be dry and tough. Be sure to measure the flour for this recipe after sifting (4 cups weigh about 560 grams if you prefer to use a scale). Then, follow the directions and add just enough flour to get a soft dough that you can knead. Finally, just sprinkle the board with enough flour to prevent sticking as you work with the dough.