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Classic Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite parts of fall. There is just something so comforting about a warm cinnamon roll on a cool, crisp fall day. Since fall marks the start of baking season, name a better way to kick off the season than with a baking project like these Classic Cinnamon Rolls!

I get it, cinnamon rolls and yeasted recipes seem intimidating and a little tricky, so let’s change that with this easy to follow, detailed step-by-step recipe. This recipe gives you all the tools, tricks, and tips to make a fresh batch of warm rolls. And if you aren’t feeling cinnamon rolls today or want something a little easier, consider these Dark Chocolate Espresso Rolls! The recipe has detailed step-by-step instructions as well as little bread science explanations along the way.

This recipe features a Japanese milk bread technique called "tangzhong." Essentially, when applying this technique, you cook about a tenth of your total amount of flour with a 50/50 mix of water and milk until it forms a thick paste. This paste helps keep your dough hydrated and creates the fluffiest and most tender final product. Since this recipe is egg-free, the tangzhong ensures that the rolls stay soft and pillowy.

Happy Baking!

TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 15 minutes (plus proofing) SERVINGS: 12 rolls



30 grams all purpose flour (¼ cup)

75 g milk of choice (⅓ cup)

75 g water (⅓ cup)


75 grams milk (⅓ cup)

1 envelope active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)

1 tablespoons granulated sugar


270 grams all purpose flour or bread flour (2 ¼ cups)

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

60 grams room temperature yogurt (¼ cup)

6 tablespoons softened butter


½ cup softened unsalted butter

2 tablespoons cinnamon

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt


8 oz. softened cream cheese (Philadelphia is best, leave it at room temperature for ~3 hours out of its foil cover, do not use reduced fat)

½ cup softened unsalted butter

1-2 cups powdered sugar (sweeten to taste)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt


  1. Tangzhong: Start by creating your tangzhong. Whisk together your flour, milk, and water allotted for the tangzhong in a small pot. Then place the pot over a medium flame and keep whisking until it forms a paste. This should take about 2 minutes. Once it forms a paste, immediately take it off the heat and set it aside.

  2. Dough: Measure out the flour, sugar, and salt allotted for your dough and mix together in a bowl. Place your tangzhong on top of this dry mixture and let it sit while you prepare your yeast. Do not mix it together.

  3. Yeast: To activate the yeast, we will mix the yeast with some warm milk and sugar. Heat up your milk allotted for the yeast until it is 110°F. It should be lukewarm. If it is too hot, let it cool down until it is warm like bath water. Pour the yeast packed in and 1 tablespoon of sugar and gently stir. Let the mixture sit for 5-7 minutes. The yeast mixture will foam up a little which means that the yeast is activating.

  4. Dough: After your yeast has activated, pour it into your dry ingredients. Using the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer, mix together on medium everything until fully combined. When all of the ingredients are incorporated, the dough should feel pretty sticky.

  5. Add in the room temperature yogurt and let it mix in. Then, slowly add in the butter one tablespoon at a time. Wait for each tablespoon to fully incorporate and disappear before adding the next. After all of the butter is incorporated, continue kneading and mixing for 3-5 minutes until the dough begins to become less sticky. Do not add extra flour.

  6. Proofing: After about 5 minutes of kneading, spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in that bowl. Shape it into a ball, cover, and place it in a warm room (about 70° F) for 60-90 minutes, or until it has doubled in size. Alternatively, place the covered bowl in the fridge for up to 9 hours or until it has doubled in size. You will know your dough is done proofing if it has doubled in size and springs back slowly, leaving a small indent if you gently poke it with your finger.

  7. Filling: Towards the end of the proofing time, prepare the filling. Mix together the softened butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.

  8. Assembly: When your dough is done proofing, place it on a floured surface and roll it out until it forms a 11''x15'' rectangle. Make sure the thickness of the dough is the same all around. Then, spread your filling evenly all over the dough.

  9. Begin rolling from one of the short ends. Make sure to roll the dough tightly into a log all the way across to get mesmerizing swirls.

  10. After rolling the dough into a log, gently roll it back and forth to stretch it out horizontally. You want it to grow about 2 inches.

  11. To cut your rolls you can use a serrated knife or dental floss. If using dental floss, slide the floss under the dough with a piece of string in both hands. Cross your hands over each other and pull until the dough cuts. You should have about 12 rolls. Then place your rolls in a greased 9'' cake pan, 8'' x 8’’ or 10’’ x 7’’ baking dish.

  12. Baking: After placing the rolls into the baking dish, cover the rolls and place them in a warm area for 15-30 minutes to continue proofing.

  13. Then, preheat your oven to 350° F and bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes.

  14. Frosting: While the rolls bake, get started on the frosting. Add your softened butter and softened cream cheese to a bowl or stand mixer and beat for 3-5 minutes until super fluffy. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then add in your sugar and vanilla. Beat until there are no lumps and the frosting looks fluffy and smooth.

  15. Once the rolls are done baking, let them cool for a couple minutes, then frost and serve!


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