I’ve been baking professionally for more than half my life, and devouring baked goods like a ravenous hyena for nearly all of it. (Had I been born with a full set of teeth, that first year of my life would have involved a lot more cookies.) This means I’m a certifiable expert on cinnamon rolls, but not so much of a snob that I won’t devour every single one put in front of my face.
When someone told me about a TikTok baking hack that “supposedly” makes canned cinnamon rolls taste more homemade, I was not too snooty to try it for myself (despite my proclivity for “legitimate” cinnamon roll recipes that take hours to make but are also capable of making you see god). Even if the hack didn’t end up matching the hype around it (incredibly, TikTok isn’t always right!), as a professional, I know that there is no way that eating a pan of butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, and cinnamon rolls can be a bad experience. That’s just plain ol’ food science.
How to Make the TikTok Cinnamon Rolls
The basic secret behind this cinnamon roll glow-up involves heavy cream and here’s what to do. Begin by preheating the oven to 400° F. Open a can of large/jumbo-sized ready-to-bake cinnamon rolls (like Pillsbury Grands) and arrange them in a baking pan; for one can of cinnamon rolls, use a square 9-inch pan; for two cans, use a rectangular 9x13-inch pan. Leave some space in between them—they expand as they bake and will fill in all the gaps.
Once the raw cinnamon rolls have been neatly arranged, pour in enough heavy cream to cover the bottom of the pan. Most of the TikTok videos I watched didn’t give a specific amount, nor did they give directions as to how high the cream should come up the sides of the cinnamon rolls. Even though it’s up to personal interpretation, I—being the consummate baking professional I am—measured what I did to make your life easier! For a small square pan, use about ½ cup of heavy cream, and for a large pan, use 1 cup.
Optional: According to TikTok, this extra step will make the cinnamon rolls taste like they’re from Cinnabon, but it’s entirely optional! In a bowl, stir together equal parts melted butter and brown sugar until well mixed (for a small pan, use 1⁄4 cup of each; for a large pan, ½ cup), then add between 1/2 — 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on your personal tastes, and a small pinch of salt. Pour over the cinnamon rolls. Cover the pan with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
When the cinnamon rolls are done, let them cool for at least 3 minutes, then drizzle with the canned icing. Serve warm, or at room temperature.
My Review of the TikTok Cinnamon Rolls
As I expertly predicted, cinnamon rolls + heavy cream + butter + brown sugar = of course it’s freaking good. Even if you accidentally over- or underbake the cinnamon rolls, they’ll still taste great. In fact, I am struggling to think of a way that this recipe can be messed up to the point where it would stop being delicious.
But how do they compare to homemade or Cinnabon? They’re not comparable at all, and that’s not a bad thing. As the cinnamon rolls bake they absorb all the heavy cream in the pan, resulting in a pastry that still holds its shape as a proper looking cinnamon bun, but has the soft, velvety texture of bread pudding. Not a true cinnamon roll, but definitely not a bad thing.
I made this recipe once with the brown sugar topping and once without, and even though I worried it would make things far too sweet, I preferred the cinnamon rolls baked with extra butter and brown sugar, which tasted as decadent as a cinnamon roll deserves to be.
This recipe will never replace my long, pain-in-the-butt cinnamon roll recipe, which I only break out when I feel like being extra serious about cinnamon buns. But will I use it as an easy weeknight dessert, or as a weekend breakfast that I can put together before my coffee kicks in? Probably. This canned cinnamon roll hack might not live up to TikTok’s “homemade” or knock-off Cinnabon claims, but when something tastes this good, does it matter?