Cinnamon Buns from Scratch

I like big cinnamon buns and I cannot lie…and I REALLY like the cheap, Pillsbury cinnamon buns.  You know — the ones that give you total anxiety until you break the seal?  Every time I pull the paper back I always feel like Will Ferrell in Elf when he’s testing out the Jack-in-the-Boxes.  I can’t be the only one…

These cinnamon buns are honestly just as good as the Pillsbury kind, contain no nasty preservatives, and you get to feel like such a bad ass because you made your own bread (here’s a fabulous challah recipe if you’re into continuing to feel like a bad ass).  C loves him some cinnamon rolls, too, and after he ate these, he never mentioned the ones in the can were better, so I’m taking that as a total win because…well…toddlers are really honest people.

This recipe takes patience because you’re letting the bread sit for awhile, BUT IT’S NOT HARD!  I repeat — this is not hard!  You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry or fridge, too.  Your little people can help you, too!  And did I mention just how satisfying it is punching dough that has risen?  It’s one of the greatest, hidden joys in life.

Once you get your yeast activated, dough kneaded and risen, you’ll roll it out into a 15 x 9″ rectangle.  I used a knife to cut the access and stuck the leftover in the fridge (to use for what I’m not exactly sure).  But SOMETHING!

Roll ‘er up with the sugar and cinnamon goodness.

Isn’t it pretty?  Make sure you use a sharp knife or kitchen scissors.

The next morning, I stuck them in the oven, made the frosting, and BAM!  We enjoyed them while they were warm.

We like a lot of cream cheese frosting over here…but you can always adjust the cream cheese to confectioner’s sugar to water ratio!

Fresh out of the oven…

They won’t last long.  Enjoy!



  • 1/4-ounce package yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup scalded milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter or shortening
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour


  • 3/4 cup (149g) brown sugar
  • 1 tbs ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly


  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar


For the dough: In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in warm water and set aside. In a large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add in yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes.  Place dough in well-greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

For the filling: In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Melt the butter in a separate, small bowl and let cool slightly.

When the dough is doubled in size, punch down dough. Roll out on a floured surface into a 15 by 9-inch rectangle.  Spread the melted butter all over the dough using a pastry brush.  Sprinkle the filling across the length of dough (you could also sprinkle with walnuts, pecans, etc. if you’d like).  Beginning at the 15-inch side, role up dough and pinch edge together to seal.  Using a sharp knife, cut into about 12 slices.

Grease the bottom of a baking pan or line with parchment paper.  Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan and let rise until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes.**

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.

For the icing: In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, salt, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons water until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and mix until combined.  Add more water if need to reach desired consistency.

**This is where I stuck them in the refrigerator until the next morning.  If you’re doing this, let them sit for about an hour before baking.

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