Best Cinnamon Roll Recipe: a family heirloom

The best thing about my brother running cross country in high school was the cinnamon rolls. Often my mom would make the dough and roll them out the night before, just to pop them in the oven an hour or so before the meet. It made getting up for all those races early on Saturday mornings quite a bit more enjoyable 😉 We also got them for soccer games, Easter mornings, birthdays, and half a dozen other special occasions. We love our cinnamon rolls.

I’ve only made them a handful of times since being married …. but I haven’t messed them up yet (and they get prettier as I get better about cutting them with a string). My one warning about this family recipe I’m sharing today is that it makes A LOT of cinnamon rolls. So, be prepared to indulge for a few days and take a pan or two to your neighbors (or just cut the recipe in half).

Side note: I wish I would have snapped pictures of Lincoln trying his first cinnamon roll when I made these last week. Generally he doesn’t get very many sweets (maybe part of a cookie or a spoon of ice cream a few times a month) so it is always fun to watch him get excited about my favorite things 🙂

*makes 30 large cinnamon rolls
What You’ll Need:
For the Rolls:


  • 3 cups warm wate
  • 1 cup dry milk
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 10 cups flour
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
For the Frosting:
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
  • milk
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese, softened (optional)
What You’ll Do:
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the water and add dry milk, sugar, salt, and oil. Add in 4 cups of flour and mix. Add in eggs.
  2. Continue adding the rest of the flour and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Let the dough rise in the mixing bowl until double in size (1-2 hours).
  4. Punch the dough down and roll out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick (a very large rectangle). Spread with softened butter and pour on cinnamon and brown sugar mixture.
  5. Roll up the dough, starting with the long side of the rectangle. Then, using a piece of string (or a sharp knife if that is easier for you), tie off one inch slices. do this by placing the string under the roll of dough, one inch from the end. Then, bring each side of the string up and above the roll, crossing at the top, and and pulling outwards. Place each piece of dough 2-3 inches apart on a greased pan.
  6. Let the rolls raise for 1 hour before baking at 350 for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Mix the powdered sugar, vanilla, butter, and milk until desired consistency (more milk if you prefer a runnier frosting) and spread on warm rolls.
*I find using a string is much easier than a knife and we use cream cheese for frosting when we have it but they’re delicious with just a regular homemade frosting too (and a bit less rich)
Pin the Recipe for Later:
These soft and fluffy homemade cinnamon rolls taste even better than Cinnabon. This is the best ever recipe I've found for cinnamon rolls and is so easy! These soft and fluffy homemade cinnamon rolls taste even better than Cinnabon. This is the best ever recipe I've found for cinnamon rolls and is so easy!

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  1. Look so good. I wish my daughter never ate sweets. She's 2 and a half and has a major sweet tooth. Plus her grandma gives her sugar A ton. Thank goodness for grandma's that live down the block from us.

    1. Oh I'm sure it will be SO much harder to keep him away from sugar when he's that age. Right now we just don't let him see us eating things that are sweet and if he catches me sneaking an oreo he'll point for it, but he doesn't know what he's missing out on so it isn't hard to redirect him. Once he figures it out though, we'll be done for 🙂

      1. My oldest I was able to restrict more on. This it goes with the oldest:) especially because she barely went to grandmas. So watching her eat her first Oreo was hilarious. I even took pictures. But now she’s 5 and her sister just turned 3 and it’s so hard to avoid. Everywhere we go people offer them suckers!!! Why???? The bank, the gym daycare, etc it’s ridiculous.

        1. RIght?? My biggest struggle now is that Lincoln loves to bake and it is such a fun thing to do together. We do mostly whole wheat muffins (with chocolate chips and plenty of sugar) so I count them as quasi healthy.

          I’ve decided my new approach isn’t so much about limiting the amount of sweets they eat (although I’ll keep trying not to have a lot of junk around that they can eat) but instead focus on making sure they have lots of healthy options. At this point I’d be fine if Linc had a cookie each night before bed if he had lots of fruits and vegetables and protein for his three meals — as it goes right now he doesn’t eat a lot of dessert but probably too much of his fruits and vegetables come from pouches 😛

          But ask me again in a month and I”m sure I’ll be singing a different song – so it goes with parenthood 🙂

    2. Oh my gosh same here!! I would love if my kids got something 1-2 times a month only. And my husband was mostly on board in the beginning. but as he’s stopped going to the gym and started eating crappier, he hasn’t held up his end. His own mom who is awful about keeping junk around or making goodies, has been doing better than he has about restricting the kids.

  2. I’m sure I could guess but how much butter do you melt for the cinnamon and brown sugar layer? Butter was not included in the ingredients for the rolls so no measurement was given at any point. If you could email me back that would be wonderful. I’m not good at checking back at the comments. Or does it automatically notify me?