Skip To Recipe
A few weeks ago, my father-in-law asked me “Have you ever made cinnamon rolls?” He’s obviously on to me–he knows if he suggests a baked good, I’ll suddenly feel an overwhelming urge to make it. I’ve never made cinnamon rolls. But I love them. What’s not to love? Warm, soft, sweet, covered in icing…it’s the perfect comfort food for a brisk fall morning (or anytime!). We were having dinner at my in-laws’ house the following week, and I was bringing dessert. Why not give cinnamon rolls a try? I did a little googling for a recipe, and decided to give the Betty Crocker recipe a whirl. I don’t usually go for typical standbys like Betty Crocker, preferring recipes that real people (like me!) have actually used and perfected. But the Betty Crocker recipe looked straightforward and simple enough, and what’s the worst that could happen? Maybe they’ll come out crappy. Who cares? I had a contingency plan in place–I didn’t tell anyone I was bringing cinnamon rolls, and my chocolate chip cookie dough was already in the refrigerator waiting to be baked. If the cinnamon rolls were a disaster, no one would be the wiser (until my husband and son ratted me out!)
Luckily they didn’t come out crappy. They came out awesome. Although the recipe was long, it was actually quite simple. I got nervous about having to roll up the dough – any time I try to make dough that needs to be rolled, it never cooperates. It’s either too sticky, too thin or too thick. But this dough was just the right consistency for rolling.
Since my cinnamon rolls were one of several desserts, I decided to make them miniature sized. The Betty Crocker recipe yields 15 cinnamon rolls. My recipe below yields 28 mini cinnamon rolls. I have this handy Wilton Roll and Cut Mat that I use anytime I need to roll out dough (or fondant, when I went through an experimental phase with fondant). The mat was particularly useful here, because it has a grid pattern with each inch marked off. The Betty Crocker instructions said to roll the dough into a 15” x 10” rectangle (yielding 15 cinnamon rolls). I knew I wanted to miniaturize my cinnamon rolls, so I split my dough in half, and rolled each half into a (not-so-perfect) 15” x 10” rectangle. My goal was to get 30 mini cinnamon rolls, but I ended up with 28. The OCD part of my brain was annoyed by this, but I got over it quickly (a warm, gooey cinnamon roll helped ease the anxiety). If you don’t have a handy mat with measurements for rolling, have no fear. Just eyeball it. This is not an exact science (much to my dismay!) One more tip – I used a serrated bread knife to slice my rolled up dough, and I marked where I was going to cut before I began cutting (in an attempt to yield cinnamon rolls of uniform size…which didn’t exactly happen. But again, I got over it).
Take my advice: read the entire recipe before starting. Even if you don’t want to, do it anyway. The dough has to rise twice, so you need to plan ahead to be sure you have enough time. I managed to make these cinnamon rolls on a rainy Saturday while also attending my son’s baseball tournament and making chocolate chip cookies. You don’t need a whole day to make them – you just have to make sure you have enough time for the dough to rise.
- 3½ to 4 cups all-purpose flour (plus additional flour for rolling dough)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 packages dry yeast (4½ teaspoons)
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg
- cooking spray to grease bowl and pan
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup milk, warmed in the microwave for 20 seconds
For the Rolls and Filling
- In a large bowl, stir 2 cups of the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 packages yeast with a wooden spoon until well mixed.
- In a 1-quart saucepan, heat 1 cup milk over medium heat until very warm but not boiling.
- Add the warm milk, 1/4 cup butter and 1 egg to the flour mixture.
- Beat with an electric mixer on low speed 1 minute until flour mixture is moistened, frequently scraping batter from sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue beating on medium speed 1 minute, frequently scraping bowl.
- With a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough is soft, leaves side of bowl and is easy to handle (dough may be slightly sticky).
- Lightly sprinkle flour on a countertop, large cutting board or mat. Remove dough from bowl and place dough on floured surface.
- Lightly dust your hands with flour, and knead the dough, sprinkling surface and hands with more flour if dough starts to stick. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and springy.
- Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides.
- Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap, then cover bowl with a towel or blanket.
- Let dough rise in a warm place about 1 hour 30 minutes or until dough has doubled in size*. Dough is ready if an indentation remains when you press your fingertips about 1/2 inch into the dough.
- In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar and 2½ teaspoons cinnamon; set aside.
- Spray the bottom and sides of two muffin tins with cooking spray**.
- Lightly sprinkle flour on a countertop, large cutting board or mat.
- Gently push your fist into the dough to deflate it. Gently pull the dough away from the side of the bowl, and split the dough in half***. Place one half on the floured surface, leaving the other half in the bowl for now.
- Place 7 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small mug or microwavable bowl. Microwave on low setting until the butter is partially melted, but still keeps its form. This makes the butter easier to spread on the dough.
- Lightly flour your hands and a rolling pin. Using the rolling pin (or your hands), flatten dough into a 15x10-inch rectangle.
- Spread half of the softened butter (3½ tablespoons) over dough to within 1/2 inch of edges.
- Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 of the sugar-cinnamon mixture, and 1/2 of the raisins and nuts if desired.
- Roll dough tightly lengthwise into a log. Pinch the seam to seal. Using your hands, gently roll the log of dough until it is even, sealed, and approximately 15 inches long.
- Using a knife or toothpick, lightly mark off 1 inch slices on the log of dough prior to slicing into the dough (I got 14 slices out of each log of dough). Using a sharp serrated knife, cut dough into slices where marked.
- Place slices in muffin tin sprayed with cooking spray (1 slice per muffin cup).
- Cover pan loosely with plastic wrap, then with a dish towel.
- Repeat steps 16 through 22 with the remaining half of dough.
- Let dough rise in muffin tins in a warm place about 30 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.
- Remove towels and plastic wrap.
- Preheat oven to 350°F with the oven rack in the middle position. Bake 15 to 25 minutes or until cinnamon rolls are light golden brown. Immediately remove rolls from pan, placing each roll right side up on a cooling rack. Place your cooling racks over a cookie sheet or on top of paper towels, for easy cleanup once you drizzle with glaze. Cool rolls for 5 minutes, while you make the glaze.
For the Glaze
- Pour ¼ cup milk into a mug or small microwavable bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds or until warm (but not boiling).
- In another small bowl, stir 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of the warmed milk. Add additional warmed milk, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until glaze is smooth and thin enough to drizzle (you will probably use 2-4 tablespoons of warmed milk total).
- With the cinnamon rolls on the cooling rack, and the cooling rack placed over a cookie sheet or paper towels, drizzle the glaze over the warm cinnamon rolls, using a spoon or measuring cup to make thin lines of glaze over each cinnamon roll. Don’t worry if your rolls have completely cooled before your glaze is ready--just drizzle glaze onto the cooled rolls.
- Cinnamon rolls can be served warm or at room temperature. If desired, glazed cinnamon rolls can be reheated individually by microwaving each roll for 15–30 seconds, until warm. Store at room temperature once the glaze sets.
*My dough rose for 4 hours. The extra rising time didn’t affect the dough.
**If you don’t have (enough) muffin tins or you want to make larger cinnamon rolls, you can use a 13x9 inch pan. Follow the instructions as stated above, but after cutting the rolled dough into slices, place the slices in a 13x9 inch pan sprayed with cooking spray, so the slices are near each other but not touching. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and a dish towel, and continue following instructions above.
***To make larger cinnamon rolls, don’t split the dough in half. Roll the entire ball of dough into a 15x10 inch rectangle. Your measurements for the filling ingredients remain the same, except you will probably only need 1/4 cup of butter. Follow the instructions as stated above, slicing dough into fifteen 1 inch slices and baking in a 13x9 inch pan as instructed in the above note.
Adapted from Betty Crocker Old-Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls