The art of baking homemade cinnamon rolls is both an enjoyable experience and a way to create lasting memories with your family. These rolls, characterized by their soft, fluffy texture and rich, sweet filling, are more than just a treat; they’re a celebration of home baking at its finest. The aroma of cinnamon and sugar filling your home is a delightful precursor to the joy these rolls bring. This guide is here to help you navigate through the process, offering valuable insights and expert tips to ensure success, whether you’re a first-time baker or a seasoned pro. From ingredient selection to serving suggestions, we cover it all, ensuring your cinnamon rolls are delicious every single time.

A hand holding a cinnamon roll above the pan of cinnamon rolls.

Ingredient Breakdown & Substitutions

Raw ingredients measured out for cinnamon rolls.

Warm Milk: Milk adds richness and flavor to the dough. It also activates the yeast. For a dairy-free alternative, a plant-based milk substitute can be used. These substitutes still provide the necessary liquid and richness but without the dairy content.

Instant Dry Yeast: Yeast is the leavening agent that helps the dough rise, creating a light, fluffy texture. Active dry yeast can be used as a substitute; just ensure it’s dissolved in warm milk before adding to the other ingredients.

White Granulated Sugar: Sugar feeds the yeast, aiding in fermentation and rise. It also adds sweetness to the dough. For a less sweet dough, you can reduce the sugar by a few tablespoons. Honey or maple syrup can be alternatives, but they might slightly alter the flavor profile.

Salt: Salt enhances flavor and controls yeast fermentation, ensuring the dough doesn’t rise too quickly. If using unsalted butter, increase the salt by a pinch to maintain the flavor balance.

Salted Butter: Butter adds richness, moisture, and flavor to the dough and filling. Unsalted butter can be used in its place; just add an extra pinch of salt to the recipe. For a dairy-free version, use a plant-based butter substitute.

Eggs: Eggs enrich the dough, adding flavor, color, and structure. They also contribute to the dough’s rise and texture. If you need an egg-free version, consider using a flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons water).

All-Purpose Flour: Flour provides structure to the cinnamon rolls. It forms the backbone of the dough. Bread flour or a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour can be used, though this may slightly change the texture.

Brown Sugar (Filling): Brown sugar adds sweetness and moisture to the filling, giving it a rich, caramel-like flavor. You can adjust the amount based on your preference for sweetness.

Ground Cinnamon (Filling): Cinnamon is key for the signature flavor of the rolls. It pairs beautifully with brown sugar to create a warm, spiced filling.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I don’t have a stand mixer?

You can knead it by hand! Start out by stirring with a spoon until you can’t do it anymore, and then knead it by hand. Just keep on kneading until all the flour is incorporated and/or the dough is soft to the touch and only slightly sticky. It’s a bit of a workout, but it’s worth it!

Should I sift the flour?

The flour you buy at the store these days is generally pre-sifted. There is no need to sift your flour. We prefer the scoop and sweep method as it is ultra-convenient. Simply use your measuring cup to scoop out the flour and level off the top. Weighing your flour using a kitchen scale is the only way to ensure complete accuracy. Even then, bread making is both fickle and forgiving, and the actual amount of flour you add can change just due to the humidity in the air. When making this roll recipe, it is best to go by the touch and feel of the dough. 1 cup of flour is approximately 125 grams.

How soft should the butter be? Can I use unsalted butteer?

The butter should be at room temperature and smoosh easily to the touch. If you soften the butter in a microwave, be sure to work in small time increments so you don’t get any melted pools of butter.

This recipe has been tested with both salted and unsalted butter without a huge or notable difference. Either will work.

What should the dough feel like?

The dough should be slightly sticky, but still very soft and pliable. It should just barely not be sticking to the bowl. If you add too much flour and the dough stiffens, your rolls will also get a little stiff. You can definitely feel a soft roll just by touching the dough.

Can I use bread flour?

We have used both all-purpose flour and bread flour without a huge or notable difference. We do not have a preference, so just use whichever is convenient.

Can I use gluten-free flour?

We have not personally tested any variations of gluten free flours. It has been reported in comments that the gluten-free flour mix, Cup for Cup, works in this recipe; we cannot personally vouch for it.

Can I reduce sodium in this recipe?

If you need to reduce sodium for dietary reasons, don’t fret. Reducing salt will not affect the rising. The only thing it will impact is flavor.

How warm should the milk be?

The milk should be warm to the touch, between 100 and 110 degrees. You can use 1% up to whole milk. We never recommend using skim milk for anything.

Can I make these ahead of time?

These cinnamon rolls can easily be made ahead. For best results, choose one of the following two methods:

Overnight Make-Ahead Instructions:
After you’ve rolled and cut your cinnamon rolls and placed them into your lightly greased baking pan, cover with plastic wrap and place in your refrigerator. The next day, remove them from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature (about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the temperature of your house) before baking.

Freezer Make-Ahead Instructions:
Roll and cut your cinnamon rolls and place several inches apart on a baking sheet to freeze rolls individually. Once frozen, transfer to a resealable plastic freezer bag. When ready to bake, place in a lightly greased baking dish and allow to come to room temperature before baking.

Step-By-Step Visual Guide to Cinnamon Rolls

Process shots for making homemade cinnamon rolls.


  • Dough Not Rising: Ensure your milk is warm but not hot; extreme temperatures can kill the yeast.
  • Tough Rolls: Avoid over-kneading the dough, and make sure it’s not too dry.
  • Undercooked Rolls: Remember, cooking time depends on roll size. Ensure a light brown color on top for doneness.

Tips From the Chef

  • For consistent baking, roll the dough to an even thickness.
  • Don’t overfill, too much filling can cause the rolls to unravel or become soggy.
  • Give the dough ample time to rise to ensure the fluffiest rolls.
The best homemade cinnamon roll on a white plate with a fork.

Storage Instructions

  • Room Temperature Storage: Keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  • Refrigeration: Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Freezing: Wrap individual rolls in plastic wrap and freeze. Thaw and reheat in the oven or microwave.

More Sweet Roll Recipes

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.