Recipes

Classic, Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls

Dive into the best cinnamon roll recipe ever! These fluffy, soft cinnamon rolls are nostalgia, decadence, and a whole lotta cinnamon all rolled into one. Come see my secret to the perfect soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls every time.

Classic, fluffy cinnamon rolls are in a casserole dish cooling on a dining table.

It’s officially cinnamon roll season. You know, with the kind of weather where you clearly need a coat before stepping foot outside. The fire is going. The hot cocoa is simmering away on the stove. You’re cozied up with the softest socks in the world and have a big throw blanket wrapped halfway around your body. Soft, fluffy cinnamon rolls are the only thing missing… 

You decide that the effort of mixing up a quick dough–waiting for a rise, rolling it out to be sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon before again rolling and then slicing–is not too much to ask for on this perfect winter morning. On days like this, it’s fun to make homemade cinnamon rolls a priority.

That’s why I created the perfect classic cinnamon roll recipe for you today.

I don’t make them often, but winter is prime time for baking and adding cinnamon into just about anything sweet. 

These classic, fluffy cinnamon rolls are perfect for serving on the weekends alongside eggs and fruit for a full breakfast, even when it is just AJ and me. I don’t think either of us minds the leftovers one bit!

And honestly, I love this recipe so much because if I’m craving something other than the traditional cinnamon flavor, it is so easy to make substitutions. Crushed oreos, birthday cake sprinkles, strawberries, orange zest, and more. These really can be turned into any type of cinnamon roll. 

I even use a special method that keeps them light and fluffy. You’ve probably seen the hack before: It keeps them a tiny bit gooey on the inside. 

So, get ready for an over-the-top, rich, fluffy cinnamon roll because I’m about to share the best way to make them. Let’s get into this classic, fluffy cinnamon roll recipe.

Classic, fluffy cinnamon rolls are baked to perfection and served from a ceramic casserole dish.

Classic, Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls

What is a traditional, classic cinnamon roll like?

Well, in case you missed the title, cinnamon rolls should be both soft and fluffy. These fluffy cinnamon rolls are as classic as it gets. High mounds of dough lift even higher as they bake to the slightest golden brown on top. Gooey centers are filled with sugar, cinnamon, and butter. The tops are drenched with icing to add a little more sweetness and moisture. All wrapped up into one individual-sized roll. 

Cinnamon rolls should never be on the flatter side, or too dense, or overcooked if you ask me. I’m not the gatekeeper to all things cinnamon rolls, but I do know how a true cinnamon roll is supposed to be.

How do I make them so light, fluffy, and soft?

Everyone makes cinnamon rolls slightly different. I have found that the trick to super light and fluffy ones has to do with a quick rise and a high hydration dough. This is done by adding in just the right amount of dry and wet ingredients and not using any eggs in the batter. 

Instead, I focus on working the dough just enough to give the perfect rise as it rests. Finally, I use that half and half hack that’s been going around. I add just a bit of half and half or cream to the tops of the cinnamon rolls just before baking. This helps them stay soft and slightly gooey in the center. 

A cinnamon roll is light and fluffy sitting on a red china saucer.

Why you should make Classic, Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls:

  • Much better flavor and texture than store bought 
  • Perfect cold weather food
  • Fun to make with kids
  • Leftovers are the BEST

Tools/Materials You Will Need

Mixing bowls

Rolling pin

Wooden spoon or rubber spatula 

Measuring cups and spoons

Small pot/saucepan 

Whisk

Serrated knife or unflavored floss, for slicing

Large casserole baking dish or pie plates

Pastry brush, optional

Bench scraper, optional

Christmas brunch starts with these homemade cinnamon rolls.

Ingredients | Classic, Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls

For exact measurements, please see the recipe card at the end of this post.

Flour – Use all-purpose flour for the fluffiest cinnamon rolls.

Salt – Salt enhances all the flavors. Sea salt or table salt will work.

Yeast – Use instant yeast to help give a light rise to these classic cinnamon rolls.

Butter – Butter adds richness and flavor to both the cinnamon mixture and the dough.

Sugar – Sugar is used to help feed the yeast as it activates and to slightly sweeten the dough.

Brown sugar – Brown sugar combines perfectly with cinnamon for a sweet center filling.

Cinnamon – Cinnamon adds just enough spice to the center of the cinnamon rolls.

Half and half – I use half and half to keep the cinnamon rolls slightly gooey in the center. Cream could also be used.

Powdered sugar – Powdered sugar creates the sweetest icing on top.

Milk – Milk is used as an enricher for the dough.

Vanilla extract – Vanilla enhances the taste of the sweet icing on top.

Cinnamon rolls are sliced before baking.
Cinnamon roll dough is rolled up and sliced.

How to Make Classic, Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls

In a mixing bowl, combine 4 ½ cups of the flour with the salt. Set aside.

Flour and salt are whisked in a metal bowl for fluffy cinnamon rolls.

On the stovetop, gently warm the milk on low heat just until it warms, somewhere between 105º-115ºF. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar and yeast. Let this sit for about 10 minutes, or until the yeast has activated and begins to bubble.

Yeast has been added to warm milk and sugar in a liquid measuring cup.
Yeast is added to warm milk and sugar in a liquid measuring cup.
Yeast bubbles over a liquid measuring cup.
Yeast bubbles over after activating in warm milk and sugar.

As the yeast activates, melt the butter on low heat on the stove. Set aside.

Next combine all of the wet ingredients (melted butter and warm milk mixture) with the flour and salt, using your hands or a wooden spoon/rubber spatula, until a dough forms. 

Add ½ – 1 cup more of flour to the dough, just until it is not too sticky to handle.

Dough has formed in a bowl after mixing.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

The ball of dough is smooth and elastic after being kneaded on a wood cutting board.

Let dough rise for 30-40 minutes, covered in a greased bowl in a warm area of your home. I recommend placing it in an oven with the pilot light on (no temperature turned on). The dough should double in size during this time.

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead for a minute or so before rolling it out. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Dough is lightly floured before being kneaded.

Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a large rectangle onto a lightly floured surface to about ½-inch thickness. 

Dough is rolled out into a flat rectangle.

Smear or brush the softened butter over the surface of the dough. 

Butter is spread on top of rolled out dough to make fluffy cinnamon rolls.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon together. Then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture over the dough, covering the entire surface.

A cinnamon sugar mixture is sprinkled on top of buttered dough.

Roll the dough up lengthwise into a tight log. You may need to use a bench scraper to help you at some point.

Dough is rolled into a long log, seam side down.
Dough is rolled into a long log, seam side down.

Use either a piece of floss or a serrated knife to slice the long roll into 12 even pieces. Be careful not to flatten them down as you slice. I find it is easiest to first cut the entire roll in half. Then cut the two halves in half. And finally, cut each of the quarters into thirds. This should result in 12 even rolls.

Cinnamon roll dough is all rolled up on a cutting board.
Cinnamon roll dough is sliced into fourths.
Cinnamon roll dough is sliced into 12 pieces.

Nestle the cinnamon rolls together so they are touching in a greased large casserole dish or in pie plates.

Cinnamon rolls, unbaked, are nestled into a casserole dish.

Before placing them into the oven, pour the half and half over the cinnamon rolls until they are all slightly covered. Then cover the cinnamon rolls with foil.

Half and half is poured onto cinnamon rolls before baking.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, removing the foil halfway through. Bake them just until they turn a very light golden brown color and have risen to a decent size. The rolls should spring back when lightly pressed.

Cinnamon rolls are finished baking and sit on a kitchen table next to a rolling pin.

As they bake, begin making the icing. Combine powdered sugar, half and half, and vanilla extract together in a small bowl with a whisk.

Icing is whisked together in a small bowl.

After removing cinnamon rolls from the oven to cool, pour the icing over the warm rolls so it can melt into them, making them even more delicious. 

Classic, fluffy cinnamon rolls are in a casserole dish cooling on a dining table.

Tips for success | Classic, Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls

Be sure to place the dough in a warm area to really help the dough rise properly. If you use the oven light trick like I do, be sure the heat is not yet on.

Don’t overheat the milk before adding the yeast or it could kill it. If you need, cool it down a bit first. Use a thermometer to check the temperature when in doubt.

For perfectly round cinnamon rolls, use floss instead of a knife for slicing into 12 rolls. Slide the floss underneath the log first. Then pull both ends of the floss together toward each other to slice the roll from the log.

Cinnamon rolls are baked and have icing drizzled on top.

More Baking Inspiration

5 Tips for a Perfect Pie Crust  

Apple Cinnamon Crumb Cake  

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones  

Chocolate Fudge Brownies  

The Best Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Classic, Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls

Dive into the best cinnamon roll recipe ever! These fluffy, soft cinnamon rolls are nostalgia, decadence, and a whole lotta cinnamon all rolled into one.
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword best cinnamon rolls, cinnamon rolls recipe, classic cinnamon rolls, fluffy cinnamon rolls
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Resting Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 520kcal

Equipment

  • mixing bowls
  • Rolling Pin
  • wooden spoon or rubber spatula
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • small pot/saucepan
  • whisk
  • serrated knife or unflavored floss, for slicing
  • large casserole baking dish or pie plates
  • pastry brush optional
  • bench scraper optional

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 5 – 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for work surface
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 tsp yeast 2 packets
  • 2 cups warmed whole milk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter 1 stick
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup half and half for pouring on top

For the filling

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature 1 stick
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon

For the icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tbsp half and half
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl, combine 4 ½ cups of the flour with the salt. Set aside.
  • On the stovetop, gently warm the milk on low heat just until it warms, somewhere between 105º-115ºF. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar and yeast. Let this sit for about 10 minutes, or until the yeast has activated and begins to bubble.
  • As the yeast activates, melt the butter on low heat on the stove. Set aside.
  • Next combine all of the wet ingredients (melted butter and warm milk mixture) with the flour and salt, using your hands or a wooden spoon/rubber spatula, until a dough forms.
  • Add ½ – 1 cup more of flour to the dough, just until it is not too sticky to handle.
  • Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Let dough rise for 30-40 minutes, covered in a greased bowl in a warm area of your home. I recommend placing it in an oven with the pilot light on (no temperature turned on). The dough should double in size during this time.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead for a minute or so before rolling it out. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  • Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a large rectangle onto a lightly floured surface to about ½-inch thickness.
  • Smear or brush the softened butter over the surface of the dough.
  • In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon together. Then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture over the dough, covering the entire surface.
  • Roll the dough up lengthwise into a tight log, seam side down. You may need to use a bench scraper to help you at some point.
  • Use either a piece of floss or a serrated knife to slice the long roll into 12 even pieces. Be careful not to flatten them down as you slice. I find it is easiest to first cut the entire roll in half.
  • Then cut the two halves in half. And finally, cut each of the quarters into thirds. This should result in 12 even rolls.
  • Nestle the cinnamon rolls together so they are touching in a greased large casserole dish or in pie plates.
  • Before placing them into the oven, pour the half and half over the cinnamon rolls until they are all slightly covered. Then cover the cinnamon rolls with foil.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, removing the foil halfway through. Bake them just until they turn a very light golden brown color and have risen to a decent size. The rolls should spring back when lightly pressed.
  • As they bake, begin making the icing. Combine powdered sugar, half and half, and vanilla extract together in a small bowl with a whisk.
  • After removing cinnamon rolls from the oven to cool, pour the icing over the warm rolls so it can melt into them, making them even more delicious.

Notes

Be sure to place the dough in a warm area to really help the dough rise properly. If you use the oven light trick like I do, be sure the heat is not yet on.
Don’t overheat the milk before adding the yeast or it could kill it. If you need, cool it down a bit first. Use a thermometer to check the temperature when in doubt.
For perfectly round cinnamon rolls, use floss instead of a knife for slicing into 12 rolls. Slide the floss underneath the log first. Then pull both ends of the floss together toward each other to slice the roll from the log.


4 thoughts on “Classic, Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls

  1. I can confirm that these cinnamon rolls are the best I’ve ever tasted, homemade or commercially. Just perfect!

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