Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

CINNAMON ROLLS WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

The ease of twisting open a canister of factory-made cinnamon rolls cannot be denied, but I promise you that these made-from-scratch buns are worth the extra time and effort. The texture both inside and out is perfectly springy and moist, while the cinnamon and sugar swirls have a hint of spicy cloves. Doused in a sweet and tangy cream cheese icing, these cinnamon rolls are nothing short of magnificent. As a bonus, your home will smell like a preservative-free Cinnabon shop for the rest of the day. Score!

For filling

  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

For dough

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For icing

  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Make the buns

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425°F. Generously coat both a 9-inch nonstick round cake pan and a wire cooling rack with nonstick cooking spray.

Melted butter is used in both the filling and the dough. Melt the total amount (7 tablespoons) all at once in a heatproof measuring cup, then use it as needed.

CINNAMON ROLLS WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

For the filling, combine the brown sugar,  granulated sugar, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and the 1 tablespoon melted butter together in a medium bowl until the mixture resembles wet sand.

CINNAMON ROLLS WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

For the dough, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter together. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until absorbed (the dough will look shaggy), about 30 seconds.

CINNAMON ROLLS WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute.

CINNAMON ROLLS WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

Pat the dough with your hands into a 12 by 9-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle the dough evenly with the brown sugar filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Press the filling firmly into the dough.

CINNAMON ROLLS WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

Using a bench scraper or metal spatula, loosen the dough from the work surface. Starting at a long side, roll the dough, pressing lightly, to form a tight log. Pinch the seam to seal. Roll the log seam-side down and cut it evenly into 8 pieces. Turn the pieces over on their flat sides, and with your hand, slightly flatten each piece of dough to seal the open edges and keep the filling in place.

CINNAMON ROLLS WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

Place 1 roll in the center of the prepared pan and then place the remaining 7 rolls around the perimeter of the pan. Brush the rolls with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.

CINNAMON ROLLS WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

Bake until the edges are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

CINNAMON ROLLS WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

Use an offset metal spatula to loosen the buns from the pan. Wearing oven mitts, place a large plate over the pan and invert the buns onto the plate. Place the greased cooling rack over the plate and invert the buns onto the rack. Cool about 5 minutes before glazing.

Make icing and finish buns

CINNAMON ROLLS WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

While the buns are cooling, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (for easy cleanup); set the rack with the buns on the baking sheet. Whisk the cream cheese and buttermilk in a large bowl until thick and smooth (the mixture will look like cottage cheese at first). Sift the confectioners’ sugar over the mixture and whisk until a smooth glaze forms about 30 seconds. Spoon the glaze evenly over the buns; serve immediately.

Recipe from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

[For Printable Recipe Click Here]

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41 Responses to “Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing”


  • Mmmm.. these look good! I recently made some homemade ones with my brother and mom and they turned out well also. (http://teafortwosisters.blogspot.com/2009/02/cinnamon-buns-february-19th-2009.html) The only thing that was missing was the cream cheese icing. Yum!

  • Wow…those look terrific! Now I am starving.

  • Wow, they look gorgeous! No rising time necessary?

  • Valerie - Nope! There’s no yeast in the batter to speak of. Just mix, roll, and bake :-)

  • Homemade cinnamon rolls!? These look freaking amazing! My mother in law makes cinnamon rolls, which is one of the reasons I think I gain weight over the holiday season.

  • Eileen @ Passions to Pastry

    These photos have made me VERY hungry.

  • I am SO making these this weekend!

  • I love this recipe!!! I make it all the time. So easy, so yummy!
    My mom requests this for every sunday brunch!

  • That. Just. Looks. Yum…

  • I just made these yesterday as a project with a little girl that I mentor and they came out so well! This is such a kid-friendly recipe and the pictures are really helpful. Thanks!

  • Just an observation, you say to add the salt to the dough mixture, but under the ingredients, there is no salt listed to put into the dough. I just added a smidge for good measure :)

  • Megan - Thanks so much for pointing that out. I’ve added salt to the dough’s ingredients list.

  • wow definitely a keeper! baked it this morning. at first i was a little bit worried that it might not turn out great because of the absence of yeast, but still they turned out moist and soft. well, this is worth a try anyway! although i’m still sticking up to my original recipe. but if you are a bit in a hurry of baking cinnamon rolls you should try this one because it’s not that time consuming. thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  • I love how much filling you put in your rolls! These look divine.

  • Thanks a bunch as a guy who is new to baking these came out great. My log was longer so i had more smaller rolls , its tricky working with dough. I added a dash of vanilla to the icing. Thanks again!

  • can you prepare the dough and refridgerate over night? these sounds extremely easy and yummy :)

  • Hford - I am not certain if the rolls would turn out as well because the leavening agents (i.e. baking soda and baking powder) may lose some of their mojo in the fridge overnight. I would suggest making a batch and reserving one or two rolls to serve as “testers” rather than sacrificing the whole batch.

  • no yeast, yeah thats awesome.

  • Really like your photos!
    Wow, a buttermilk dough sounds great. I made yeast based cinnamon buns yesterday.

    Mine turned out great but waiting for the dough to rise was a pain. I like how mine are baked in caramel and then inverted so the tops are gooey….I wonder if I could double your dough recipe and sub it in my recipe? What do you think???
    Thanks!

  • Jessica - I think it’s worth a try! You can’t go wrong with cream cheese icing or gooey caramel.

  • These are simply delicious! My boyfriend made me these and now I’m going to have a go. Baking the rolls in a pan makes them even yummier because a bit of melted sugar sits on the bottom when done. Sweet tooths like me like to chow on that when the rolls are gone… Into my belly!

  • Hi!
    the pictures look terrific, but when i tried them today my dough turned out very sticky and i had to knead in almost another whole cup and a half full of flour! And the end result, the roll part turned out too dense :(

  • This recipe looks very interesting since they do not have to rise. I have never used cloves in my cinnamon rolls- I may omit the cloves but I will definately try the recipe since I love cinnamon rolls. Thanks

  • Simply awesome! I had my doubts since every other recipe I searched had yeast and had to rise and all the works…I made them today morning and son and hubby devoured them with some left for the neighbors too. Making it again tomorrow by popular demand! Thank you Cathy!!!! :)

  • these were delectable. eat, now!

  • i cant wait to make these, but do you have nutrional info posted anywhere? Im on a diet and would like to know how much i need to burn off hahaa:)

  • Lina - I hope you’re kidding! I recommend running a mile for every roll you consume ;-)

  • I didn’t care for the cloves in the rolls, but everything else was awesome….especially the buttermilk dough. It’s the best I ever tasted! Thanks

  • I have tried making these twice now, following the recipe perfectly, and my dough is coming out creamy and unmanageable! What am I doing wrong?

  • Stephanie - I’m so bummed to hear that. American Test Kitchen hardly ever lets anyone down. It sounds like your dough got overheated somehow. Perhaps try refrigerating it for 20 minutes or so before rolling it out?

  • My mother made homemade cinnamon rolls my whole life. I’ve been trying to perfect her recipe for years.. but with little success. I’m going to try and use your recipe instead, it looks easy and delicious!
    -Sunny

  • Loved the way they taste :) the only thing I’d emphasise is using a small Marie calendars pie pan to bake, Keep the rolls close during baking
    The first time I used a large pan kept rolls far apart & they didn’t hold shape. Thank you for sharing this recipe. :)

  • This looks delicious! I´ll try it

  • Great recipe. Thanks for sharing. Easier to make then I thought I actually doubled the recipe and they came out fine. Wife and kids love them. I do to. Trying to save some for Christmas morning- had to stash a couple away. Have a blessed Christmas everyone.

  • Can’t wait to try these. I do a ton of baking but always kill the yeast so I am super excited to make these! They look awesome.

  • I followed the recipe just like you said, but my dough was so sticky. What did I do wrong? Is there a trick? Please help.

  • Chelsea - Perhaps try to knead the dough a big longer? The dough starts out unmanageable, but comes together as you knead. Also, try lightly flouring the surface that you’re working on and add additional flour as necessary. Good luck!

  • I made these yesterday. I kind of messed up with the butter, putting 6 tbsp in the dough.It said 7tbsp and since I had already used one tbsp in the filling that I prepared first, I threw the remaining in the dough.They were probably the best cinnamom buns I had ever eaten, maybe 2nd to Cinnabon and that is only a maybe. I will change 2 things the next time. I will make half the frosting, using a little, more cream cheese little less milk to cut down on the sweetness since I found them a little sweet but my family said they weren’t.I will make the rectangle longer since they are a bit big and I found half a roll was enough. I had 8 rolls. I will put the 6 tbsp of butter in the dough since the dough was perfect.

  • We just made these with our Mom and they were soooo delicious!!…we can’t wait for our Dad to get home from work so he can have his!!…we will be making these again real soon!

  • Can you use regular milk well 2% milk instead of buttermilk and will it be the same amount? Making these today for my boyfriend.

  • Kaleigh - Yes, you can use regular milk. Same amount. It will be slightly less tangy than if you used buttermilk.

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