10 Tips for Perfect(ish) Cinnamon Rolls

It’s no secret.  I love to make cinnamon rolls. Learning by example, my mom’s example, I was cranking out pans of these early in my teen years.  Even won Reserve Grand Champion at the county 4-H fair one year!

Although not perfect, I have leaned on a few tips for making pretty and tasty cinnamon rolls.  Here’s my Top 10:

1.  Start with a good recipe. My favorites are Mom’s Cinnamon Rolls and Big Batch Cinnamon Rolls.  If you want over-the-top indulgence, go with Caramel Pecan Cinnamon Rolls.


2.  Proof the yeast. Mix the yeast and a little water and sugar from the recipe, and let it sit for a few minutes.  The yeast should activate and “grow”.  This photo had 1/2 cup of water.  The yeast has already made it past the 1 cup line.


3.  Don’t add cold ingredients to the mix. Yeast likes warmth.  Warm any liquid that will come in contact with the yeast.  I even set my eggs in a cup of warm water before cracking and adding them.  Don’t want to shock the yeast!

4.  Let your dough rise in a CLEAN, oiled bowl. I just take my mixing bowl and give it a little scrub.  Then I swirl about a tablespoon of oil before dropping the kneaded dough in to rise.  Makes getting the dough out so much easier! Also, I have less sticky dried-on dough to pull out of the bowl and probably waste.  And the dough rolls out better with that little bit of oil coating!  (Bonus Tip:  Don’t knead the dough too much.  Just enough to handle it easy.  Overworking your dough makes for tough rolls.)

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5.  Roll out in a thin, even rectangle. Easier said than done, I know.  If you’re prone to rolling out an odd oval shape, try rolling from the middle to the outside corners of the dough.  Then roll along the edges to even it out.

6.  Use butter. Use butter instead of oil or shortening or whatever in the recipe, and spread your rectangle with a generous amount of butter before rolling it up.

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7.  Sprinkle evenly the brown sugar, white sugar, and cinnamon. Don’t skimp on the edges!  Using both sugars adds a yummy gooeyness.

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8.  Squish the roll, then floss your rolls. Once I roll up my rectangle, I squish the ends in.  That makes for a more uniform cut without wimpy, odd-shaped end pieces.  I never use a knife to slice my rolls.  Slicing with dental floss provides a much cleaner cut without squishing the rolls.

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9.  Leave plenty of space for the rolls to rise. The pan in this picture is an 11×15 with 12 cinnamon rolls.  If your rolls are too crowded they won’t rise as pretty, and the texture will be compromised.

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10.  Use a thinner icing and cover thoroughly. The reason I got a blue ribbon instead of a purple ribbon on my regular cinnamon rolls was that there was a small “dry spot” that the icing didn’t cover.  Yes, I do remember that detail 20 years later.  Humph!  😉

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Dry spot front and center. Oops!

Do you like to bake cinnamon rolls?  What’s your favorite tip for pretty and tasty rolls?

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  1. Those look yummy!
    Sometimes I experiment with the shape of my cinnamon/sweet rolls. On Friday, I was feeling too lazy to cut the rolls apart (in the dough stage – and that’s a great idea, by the way, to use dental floss!), so I put the roll in the shape of a circle (or wreath) and then cut slits on the top through the first or second layer. It turned out to be a big, beautiful bread wreath. 🙂 I don’t do that all the time, but when I feel like it.

  2. This is perfect timing. I’m planning to make cinnamon rolls tomorrow for baking day and having these tips in mind will definitely help.

  3. Yay! Thanks so much for posting these great tips! I need to work on my cinnamon roll techniques! 🙂

  4. Those are GREAT tips!!

    • I like to mix equal parts of sugar and cream (using plenty; almost floating) and pour over the top just before baking. Yummy and not the least bit dry.

  5. I LOVE to EAT cinnamon rolls. I’m not so good at baking them yet. My problem (as with many things) is lack of willpower and what else to do with a batch of cinnamon rolls when we’re a family of 3 besides eat and eat and eat. :>) It’s a personal problem, I know . . .

    • Lol you speak my language, they are my krytonite and have a batch in the oven- staying up till midnight to finish making them.

  6. I only eat or serve my rolls warm. Because of that, I frost them individually just before serving. That way, the icing doesn’t “absorb” into the cinnamon roll when reheated. The bonus? Even the sides get pretty frosted- yum!

    And Lenetta? Freeze some! They’re wonderful to find for a later treat. We do that even with our family of 5.

  7. Mmmm…Those look yummy! Never thought of the dental floss idea, great. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Just gained 5 pounds while i looked at the picture! YUM

  9. Thanks for the hints and links to the recipes!!

  10. Great tips for making cinnamon rolls! 😀 We love cinnamon rolls slathered with cream cheese frosting!!

  11. Great tips! I always forget the part about leaving plenty of room, but I have a great recipe!

  12. This is TONS of help! I’ve been wanting to make these for awhile. I pulled the recipe up on Sun. morning but didn’t think I had enough time.
    About how long does it take for them to rise? I’d like to try them tomorrow for Baking Day!

  13. You, my friend, are the cinnamon roll queen 🙂 Thanks for these tips because mine didn’t come out looking as pretty as yours the last time I made them. They were YUMMY though!

  14. I have never made cinnamon rolls, but I really should give it a try. They would be great for a special holiday breakfast!

  15. One day, I will be a real woman and actually BAKE!

    This post makes my leftover Pei Wei noodles – for breakfast – seem woefully inadequate! lol!

  16. YOU ARE KIDDING ME. I’m coming over RIGHT NOW.

  17. These look so yummy that I saved that top pic as my desktop background!!!

  18. I just gained 10 lbs reading this post – thanks! Seriously, great tips. A few things can be applied to my regular bread baking that I do.

  19. At what stage do you freeze these? I really want to make some for Christmas morning,and I’d LOVE to make them sooner rather than later…

    • Hey Gabi… I know it’s been a super long time, but thought I’d reply anyway. You would freeze them right after cutting them. Place them on a cookie sheet (no need to leave much room between them) and stick them in the freezer until frozen. Then transfer to a freezer bag. When you’re ready to bake, pull out how many you want and place them on a lightly greased baking pan. Leave them on the counter overnight, covered with a light towel. Bake as directed above in the morning. 🙂 Hope that helps.

  20. Oh my goodness – they look so good!!! I’m putting them on my list of things to bake…

  21. I could lick the screen!
    I love cinnamon rolls, butI am not much of a baker. Your step-by-step hints might have done the trick. I actually think I should try these. The pictures look so wonderful my mouth is watering! Thanks for teaching me things I would not know without our great post.

  22. Oh, those look soo delicious! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  23. GREAT!!! tips for a GREAT!!! family favorite. THANKS!!!

  24. Look great, a lot of sites have these but these look great!

  25. My mom made cinnamon rolls every Saturday night when I was a kid. There were 11 kids, so no need to freeze the rolls! One thing she did that I loved was to use hot coffee for the liquid when making the glaze or frosting. It gives it a little something extra. Try it, you’ll love it!

  26. First, these look amazing! Question for you – did you let the dough rise between rolling it up and flossing it? It sort of looks like it in the pic, wondering if this is my problem when baking rolls?
    Typically, when I make them, I roll up the goodness, then floss to cut apart – then let the rise. However, almost everytime some of the buttery-sugary goodness flows out the bottom – making it less sweet and harder to get off the pan. any ideas of what is going wrong?


    • No, I do what you do. Roll, floss, then rise. Have you tried buttering your pan before you put the rolls in there? That might help them not stick.

    • I like when rolls come out with thin layers that you can peel apart. Mine seem to be thick . Does that have to do with how I’m rolling the dough or the dough itself? They seem tough instead of flaky

  27. My rolls rise but then fail when it comes time to bake what am I doing wrong? Or I cut them. And put on the greased pan and they don’t rise at all am I rolling the dough too thin? Not kneading enough?? I can make poppyseed” coffee cake just fine cinnamon rolls I have better luck buying th e frozen ones from the store and letting them rise over night

    • Night Owl says:

      Beth, I have had the same problem of my dough falling and when cooking the tops get really dry and dark. I have found that a faster rise works best. After cutting the rolls, I place them in a butter baking dish then into a warm oven, (100* for maybe 45 minutes or less) At the heat they rise faster and higher. I think that maybe I am not putting them in a hot enough place. That seems to work for me. All so the tops of my rolls get really dry and dark with baking so half way I take a peek at the tops and then cover them with aluminum foil. Been happy to give my cinnamon rolls away now!! And eat them all my self! Although they tasted good the looks just didn’t do it for me. Hope this works for you.

      • Night Owl says:

        the dough has to be really soft after kneading it. Kind of like silk. I don’t know if you can over knead or not? My girlfriend makes them all the time and its all about the texture of the dough she told me.

  28. I make vegan cinnamon rolls. My dough was kind of tough the last few times and I stumbled across your site on my search for tips. Probably over kneading…thank you!
    I sometimes make muffins instead of rolls. Beautiful presentation and easier to serve 🙂

  29. Joscelin Cha says:

    Thanks for the tips! These are exactly what I needed for my cinnamon rolles. But here is what I still can’t figure out. My cinnamon rolles taste a little bitter. Can you give me one more tip on this?

  30. One other tip. Put the dough in the fridge over night, the dough becomes very easy to handle after that. You can make a very wet sticky dough, and still be able to roll it! (if your fast enough that is 🙂


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