The Best Way to Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Follow our step-by-step guide for the most delicious, pillowy cinnamon buns imaginable.

cinnamon rolls in glass pan with bowl of frosting
Photo: Lennart Weibull

Here's a glorious reason to get up in the morning: our superlative cinnamon rolls. They're made with bread flour for satisfying chewiness and potatoes for puffed-up softness. Just spread on the tangy cream-cheese glaze, and pinch yourself—they're the real deal. Here, we take you through how to make them, step by step, and share our test kitchen team's make-ahead tips. The process takes a while but most of the time is hands off; the yeast dough needs time rise and once you've formed the rolls, they need to be refrigerated for at least 8 hours before baking and then need to rest again at room temp before baking, so we recommend making them the day before you want to eat them or making them further ahead and freezing them (more on that below). We've also got two tasty variations, pull-apart apple buns and Swedish cardamom rolls, for when you're ready to try other irresistible morning buns.

How to Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Grocery List

cinnamon roll dough
Lennart Weibull

1. Make the Dough

Brush a large bowl with room-temperature butter; set aside. Peel potato and cut into 1-inch pieces; place in a small pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook until fork-tender, 10 to 12 minutes; drain. Pass through a ricer or mash with a fork until smooth; let cool slightly.

Heat 1 cup milk until warm to the touch (110 degrees on a thermometer). Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer; add a 1/4-ounce envelope of yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons). Let stand until foamy, 5 minutes.

Stir in 6 tablespoons melted butter, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 2/3 cup mashed potato, 1 egg, 3 1/2 cups bread flour, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt until a ragged dough forms.

Place bowl on mixer fitted with the dough-hook attachment; mix on medium-low speed, scraping sides and removing dough from hook a few times, until soft and pliable, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface; knead into a ball. Transfer to buttered bowl (dough will be very soft) and cover with plastic wrap.

(Dough can be covered and refrigerated at this point up to 2 days.) Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.

rolling dough for cinnamon rolls
Lennart Weibull

2. Sprinkle On Spices

Brush a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with butter. In a bowl, stir together 2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and a large pinch of salt. Punch down dough; transfer to lightly floured work surface. Roll out to a 14-by-18-inch rectangle. Spread evenly with 6 tablespoons room-temperature butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border on far long edge; top with brown-sugar mixture. Starting at the long edge closest to you, roll dough away from you into a tight jelly-roll shape. Transfer, seam-side down, to a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

serrated knife and cinnamon buns log dough
Lennart Weibull

3. Slice and Let Set

Using a serrated knife, trim ends and then cut roll crosswise into twelve 1 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Arrange, cut-sides up, in prepared dish; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, or overnight.

cinnamon rolls in glass pan with bowl of frosting
Lennart Weibull

4. Bake and Glaze

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove rolls from refrigerator and place in a warm spot until almost doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove plastic and bake until browned on top and a thermometer inserted registers about 210 degrees, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in dish on a wire rack, 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together 4 ounces room-temperature cream cheese, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 2 to 3 tablespoons milk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Spread rolls with glaze; let cool 15 to 20 minutes more before serving.

Pro Tip: The hardest part of making these cinnamon rolls might be waiting at least 15-20 minutes after they come out of the oven. We recommend you do this because letting them cool and rest produces cinnamon buns with the fluffiest texture.

Make Ahead: Our rolls can be made, sliced, and frozen up to 3 months ahead. Freeze them in their baking dish, tightly wrapped in plastic, at the end of step 3. When ready to proceed, defrost them in the refrigerator overnight before continuing with step 4.

More Dream Rolls

For more uncontested crowd-pleasers, give these two recipes a whirl.

pecan rolls
Lennart Weibull

Apple-Pecan Pull-Apart Rolls

Use the same cinnamon roll dough to make these pull-apart rolls with a filling of apple butter, currants or raisins, and chopped, toasted pecans. They're formed in 2 x 8-inch cake pans, rather than in a baking dish used for the cinnamon buns, and finished with a drizzle of an easy glaze that's made with light-brown sugar, butter, apple butter, and water.

Get the Apple-Pecan Pull-Apart Rolls Recipe

orange cardamom morning buns on cooling rack topped with sanding sugar
Lennart Weibull

Swedish Cardamom Rolls

Make jumbo cardamom buns using large muffin tins for these rolls. They start with the same dough but instead of the mix of spices used for the cinnamon rolls, a mix of ground cardamom, orange zest, butter, and granulated sugar is spread over the dough. After baking, they're brushed with butter and honey, then sprinkled with sanding sugar.

Get the Swedish Cardamom Rolls Recipe

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