Brian’s Best-Ever Cinnamon Rolls

Brian’s Best-Ever Cinnamon Rolls in copper dish
Recipe development and photography by Brian Hart Hoffman

Brian’s Best-Ever Cinnamon Rolls are gooey, sticky, and sweet. Just when it seems like this timeless classic couldn’t get any better, our editor-in-chief, Brian Hart Hoffman, has found the secret to pure sweet roll perfection. Prior to baking, the rolls are doused with warm heavy whipping cream, creating the dreamiest, most luscious cinnamon rolls you will ever sink your teeth into. Top them with a silky cream cheese icing for instant cinnamon bun bliss.

3.8 from 4 reviews
Brian’s Best-Ever Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 12 rolls
  • Cinnamon Roll Dough (recipe follows)
  • ¾ cup (165 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup plus 3½ tablespoons (162 grams) unsalted butter, softened and divided
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (8 grams) ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup (120 grams) warm heavy whipping cream (105°F/41°C to 110°F/43°C)
  • ½ cup (112 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • 1½ cups (180 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) whole milk, room temperature
  1. Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Lightly punch down Cinnamon Roll Dough. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and roll into an 18x12-inch rectangle.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (141 grams) butter, and cinnamon. Spread mixture onto dough, leaving a ¾-inch border on one long side. Starting with long side opposite border, roll dough into a log. Trim ends. Using unscented dental floss, score dough into 12 slices (about ½ inches each); place floss under log, lining up with scores, and bring floss together quickly to create an even cut. (Alternatively, using a serrated knife, slice log into 12 rolls [about 1½ inches each].) Tuck ends under rolls, and place rolls, tucked end down, in prepared pan. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed and rolls are touching, 30 to 45 minutes.
  4. Place a sheet of foil on bottom rack of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  5. Pour warm cream over rolls in pan.
  6. Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), about 25 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes.
  7. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and remaining 1½ tablespoons (21 grams) butter at medium speed until creamy, 4 to 5 minutes. With mixer on low speed, gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until fluffy. Stir in milk until combined. Spread icing onto warm rolls.

3.8 from 4 reviews
Cinnamon Roll Dough
Makes dough for 12 rolls
  • 1 cup (240 grams) warm whole milk (105°F/41°C to 110°F /43°C), divided
  • 2¼ teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast
  • ⅓ cup (76 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • ⅓ cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 large egg (50 grams), lightly beaten and room temperature
  • 4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  1. In a medium bowl, combine ¾ cup (180 grams) warm milk and yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat melted butter, sugar, sour cream, egg, and remaining ¼ cup (60 grams) warm milk at low speed just until combined.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together 3⅔ cups (458 grams) flour and salt. Stir half of flour mixture into butter mixture. With mixer on low speed, add yeast mixture, beating just until combined. Beat in remaining flour mixture.
  4. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at medium speed until smooth and elastic, 4 to 8 minutes; add up to remaining ⅓ cup (42 grams) flour, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) at a time, if needed. (Dough should pass the windowpane test; see Note.) Shape dough into a smooth ball.
  5. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Loosely cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch down dough and refrigerate overnight, if desired.
To use the windowpane test to check dough for proper gluten development, lightly flour hands and pinch off (don’t tear) a small piece of dough. Slowly pull the dough out from the center. If the dough is ready, you will be able to stretch it until it’s thin and translucent like a windowpane. If the dough tears, it’s not quite ready. Beat for 1 minute, and test again.



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    • Hi Lorie!

      Thanks for reaching out! We have not tested this recipe substituting a plant-based alternative for dairy, but we have some experience doing so with other yeasted bread recipes and have found the following: 1) Plant-based milks in enriched breads tend to work out well, but the bread may dry out faster over time. 2) The cream used to pour over the rolls before baking really makes this recipe special. In our experience, the plant-based alternatives will not have a high enough fat content, and the fat-sugar-protein ratio is very different for cream vs plant milks. This means that the alternative will likely yield much different results.
      That being said, we love experimenting with baking alternatives and would be very interested to hear how it turns out! Please let us know if you do try, and happy baking 🙂

  1. I’m not clear about “tucking the ends under rolls”. I tried to pinch the bottoms together, it was a sticky mess. I put them in with spiral showing. Please clarify/add a photo.
    thanks – it truly is the best recipe for cinnamon buns I’ve ever made.

    • This means that rather than just letting the end of the strip stop (like a toilet paper roll), you grasp the strip a few inches from the end and take it diagonally down until the end itself is on the underside of the roll. I drew a picture, but Bake does not provide a way for me to attach it.

    • Hi Jackie,

      Thank you for your question!

      You’ll still proceed with the recipe as written, so punch down your dough then allow it to sit covered at room temperature for 5 minutes. The dough gets another opportunity to rise and warm up after it’s been shaped, so it shouldn’t require any extra time to come to room temperature. The only difference you might notice is the rolls might take a little longer on that second rise, but once they are puffed and touching, they’re ready to bake.

      Hope this helps, and happy baking!

  2. I think there is something off with the measurements. I always bake by weight, but the ratio of liquid to dry ingredients as listed produces a very sticky and loose dough, even with the additional 1/3 cup flour – i added a full cup extra flour and still had a sticky mess. I live in a dry climate, so I can’t blame the humidity. I had to throw the whole thing out, was worried I’d have a dense dough with all that extra flour.

    • Hi Emily,

      I’m not sure why that is happening for you. I tested this recipe multiple times before sharing, and make them frequently- using all the weights as listed. Some first thoughts would be about the brand of butter and flour you’re using as that can make a difference.

      Please let me know how I can help if you decide to make them again.



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