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5 from 5 votes

Grandma's Cinnamon Rolls

An easy recipe and tutorial on how to make my family's favorite cinnamon rolls. You can serve these cinnamon rolls with a cream cheese frosting or simple vanilla icing and even prep them ahead of time!
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword homemade cinnamon rolls
Prep Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 55 minutes
Servings 12 cinnamon rolls
Author Danielle

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1/4 cup warm water (110°F-115°F) plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 package (2 and 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 5 tablespoons (62 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (32 grams) shortening
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, scalded*
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 4-5 cups (500-625 grams) all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled

For the filling:

  • 4 tablespoons (60 grams) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 3 ounces brick-style cream cheese softened to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) milk, use more as needed

Instructions

To make the cinnamon rolls:

  • Whisk the warm water with the teaspoon of sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast on top and gently stir it into the water. Set aside for 5-10 minutes until the yeast is foamy.
  • Add the 5 tablespoons of sugar, shortening, and salt to a heat-proof mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Pour the scalded milk on top and whisk until well combined. Set aside and allow to cool until it's warm and no longer hot (about 110°F).
  • Once the scalded milk mixture has cooled, mix in 2 cups (250 grams) of flour by hand or using the dough hook attachment on a stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture and mix until well combined, then mix in the egg.
  • Mix in 2 more cups (250 grams) of flour until fully combined, then mix in 1-2 tablespoons of flour at a time until the dough is easy to handle. Knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured surface or using the dough hook on a stand mixer on low speed for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding a little extra flour if needed.
  • Once the dough is kneaded, form it into a ball and place it into a lightly greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until double in size.
  • Once double in size, punch down the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle. The dough should be about 1/4-inch thick or about a 12x18 inch rectangle.
  • Spread the softened butter all over the dough. Mix the brown sugar and ground cinnamon in a mixing bowl until well combined, then sprinkle on top of the butter and gently press it down.
  • Starting at the 18-inch side, roll the dough up tightly. Cut the roll of dough into 12 equal pieces and place each piece in a greased 9x13 baking pan. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.
  • After about 30 minutes of rising, preheat the oven to 375°F. Once the oven is preheated, place the cinnamon rolls in the oven and bake at 375°F for about 25 minutes or until the cinnamon rolls are cooked through in the center. Cover loosely with foil after about 10-15 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning. Once the cinnamon rolls are done, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

To make the cream cheese frosting:

  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract until fully combined. Then mix in the milk, adding more as needed until it has reached your desired consistency.
  • Once the cinnamon rolls have cooled slightly, frost them, serve and enjoy!

Notes

How to scald milk: Pour the milk into a saucepan and place it over over medium heat stirring often. The milk will start to steam and bubble around the edges. Once the milk starts to bubble right before it comes to a boil, remove it from the heat.
To make ahead of time: Cinnamon rolls may be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature for up to 2 days. Add the cream cheese frosting or icing right before serving.
To prep ahead of time: Once you've cut the cinnamon rolls, cover them tightly, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise for 45 minutes in a warm place, then bake as instructed.
For a vanilla glaze: Whisk together 1 cup (120 grams) of powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons of milk. If the glaze is too thin, add more powdered sugar and if it's too thick add more milk.
For the filling: You may reduce the filling down to 1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar and 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon. I suggest still using 1/4 cup (60 grams) of butter to spread on top of the dough.
Store frosted cinnamon rolls in the refrigerator covered tightly for 3-4 days and reheat in the microwave.