Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls – you heard me right. These certainly rival the ones you can buy at the mall kiosk, and you may even like them more, as nothing tastes as good as something that you make with your own two hands (or, in my case, something made by your husband’s own two hands). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Kramer is the bread master, and believe me, it’s a trait that I encourage. I’d never pass up any form of freshly baked bread, especially cinnamon rolls. Kramer put all of the hard work into making these, and I put a lot of dedication into devouring them. That’s what I call team work! I had already taken many a bite when Kramer told me, however, that the filling used margarine instead of real butter. I was shocked and appalled. How could he? Doesn’t he know that that’s basically food blasphemy? He begged me to allow him to explain and I sat there, cinnamon roll in hand, waiting for him to do so. Butter, he told me, melts into the dough too easily while baking, making the cinnamon rolls soggy and dense. The margarine, however, sits nicely on top of of the dough during the baking process, making for light, fluffy, and utterly delicious cinnamon rolls. Well, he wasn’t wrong there! That is one of the Cinnabon secrets, apparently, and it makes sense, seeing as how Cinnabon is an inexpensive fast food chain and it probably isn’t cost effective to use butter all of the time. I was happy to see that he used real butter in the icing and the dough itself, though. I urge you to rid yourself of any margarine fears and try making your cinnamon rolls this way – you won’t be disappointed, and you’ll save a few bucks to boot. These are some of the fluffiest, most delicate, mouth-watering cinnamon rolls you’ll ever have!

Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns
Your ingredients.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns
Melt your butter.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns
In the bread machine, add in the melted butter, water, milk, and egg, followed by the salt and sugar.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns
Then add in bread flour and wheat gluten. Make a well in the flour, and all the yeast into the well, being sure that the yeast is not touching any of the liquid ingredients. Set the machine on the dough setting.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns
Beautiful, right?

Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns
Place your dough on a floured surface.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns
Roll the dough out.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns
You want to make a 15×24 inch rectangle.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns
Spread your room temperature margarine over the rectangle with a spatula, being careful to leave one edge with 1 inch of space so that you can seal it when you roll it up.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns
Then sprinkle your combined brown sugar and cinnamon over the dough.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns
Tightly roll up your dough.

Cinnabon Cinnamon BunsCinnabon Cinnamon Buns
Mark off every 1 1/2 inches on the dough.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns
Using a knife or twine, whichever you prefer, cut the the dough on each mark.

Cinnabon Cinnamon BunsCinnabon Cinnamon Buns
Place your cinnamon rolls in your preferred (and greased) pan. We used 9-inch cake rounds, with 5 rolls in each pan. You want to be sure that they are touching, but not too close together. Place a clean towel over each pan and allow the cinnamon rolls to proof in a warm, dry area for at least 1 hour, until they about double in size. Bake at 335 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, until just barely golden.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns
While the cinnamon rolls bake, make your frosting by beating together your cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract. If you like, you can use a bit of lemon extract or lemon zest for extra flavor, but it’s not necessary.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns
Drizzle the frosting over the warm cinnamon rolls and serve immediately for the most delicious ooey, gooey texture.

Cinnabon Cinnamon BunsCinnabon Cinnamon Buns

Cinnabon Cinnamon Buns
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup milk (whole milk is best, but we used 1%)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 large egg, room temperature and lightly beaten
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 4½ cups unbleached white bread flour
  • 1 tablespoons vital wheat gluten (this is essential for soft dough - you can find it at any "health food" store, such as Whole Foods)
  • 1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons) of instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup of firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup margarine
Cream Cheese Icing
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh lemon zest (optional)
With Bread Machine
  1. Mix your melted butter together with the milk, egg, vanilla extract, and water. Be sure that everything is at room temperature, as anything too hot or too cold will effect the yeast during the kneading process.
  2. Pour the liquids and the remaining dough ingredients to your breadmaker in the following order: the combined butter, milk, egg, vanilla, and water, followed by the salt and sugar, then the flour, wheat gluten and yeast. You should be sure to make a well in the flour so that none of the yeast is touching the wet ingredients. Set your bread maker to the dough cycle and let it run its course.
  3. While the bread maker is preparing your dough, bring the margarine to room temperature. You may be wondering why evil margarine is used in this recipe in place of butter. Well, margarine is used because while butter would just bleed through the dough and possibly hinder the rising of the dough, margarine will sit on the dough as it is supposed to, allowing for maximum rising capability. I promise, it's worth it! I was a bit taken aback by the idea of margarine at first, but the results sold me on the idea. Combine the cinnamon and brown sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Once your dough is ready, roll it out over a lightly floured surface into a 15-inch by 24-inch rectangle, cutting off any edges to make a perfectly even rectangle. Spread your margarine evenly over the surface of the rectangle as evenly as possible, making sure to leave a 1-inch by 24-inch strip at the end of the dough uncovered so that you can seal the dough when you roll it up. Be careful of this, because the dough will not stick together if isn't clean. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the margarine, being mindful of the 1-inch edge.
  5. Starting with the edge furthest away from you, roll the dough tightly toward you - work at an even pace so that the dough stays as tight as possible.Cut off about 1-inch edge of each side of the dough so that you can see the filling; this makes for prettier cinnamon rolls. Mark your roll in 1½-inch segments using a knife to make shallow cuts - this is to be sure that all of your rolls are equal sizes and, in turn, bake evenly. Using a sharp knife or thin string or twine, cut the rolls into even parts.
  6. Grease your baking pans with butter or non-stick spray; we used 9-inch cake pans and a cast iron pan, so whatever you have should do fine. For the 9-inch pans, we put 5 rolls in each one (four in the corners and one in the middle). Be sure to leave about a 1-inch space between each roll. Cover the rolls with a dry, clean cloth and let sit in a warm, dry spot for 1 hour, or until they have doubled in size. Once the rolls have finished rising (or in this case, proofing), preheat your oven to 335 degrees F and bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden. Drizzle the hot cinnamon rolls with your cream cheese frosting (see below) and serve warm.
Without a bread machine
Kneading by Hand
  1. Whisk together your flour and salt and set aside. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the liquid concoction from step 1 above. Carefully mix in your flour with a dough hook or wooden spoon, about ½ cup at a time, until smooth. The ball will be sticky, but firm enough to form into a ball. Alternatively you can do this in your stand mixer with a dough hook, mix on the second speed until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl.
  2. Lightly flour your hands and your work surface. Place the dough onto the work surface and begin to knead by form the dough into a ball and continuously pulling the dough over itself, like you were trying to work food coloring evenly into the dough. You want to keep stretching the dough and then pushing it back into itself, using your palms as much as possible and work as quickly as possible. Add a small dusting of flour as needed. Knead your dough continuously for 15 minutes.
  3. When your dough is ready, allow it to rise for 1 hour, either in the bread machine or in a bowl covered with a warm, slightly damp cloth.
Cream Cheese Icing
  1. Beat together the cream cheese and butter for at least 1 minute, until creamy. Using your whisk attachment, whisk the frosting for at least another 8 minutes, until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the powdered sugar a little bit at a time, then add in the vanilla and lemon zest, if you like. If you feel it's too stiff, you can add in a little milk, and if you feel it's too runny, add more powdered sugar. Drizzle over the hot cinnamon rolls.


38 Responses

  1. I was just talking about my love of Cinnabon yesterday and my mother in law asked if I could make them at home… your husband did an amazing job and now I want these asap!

    • Sydney says:

      Lauren: Every time we go to the airport, Kramer has to get one (and I always say I don’t want any but end up finding my way into the little take-away box). Maybe you and your mother-in-law can make them together!

  2. mom says:

    I like the cutting technique with the twine. They look nice and fluffy like you said and not overly sweet. Nice job again my son!

  3. These things need a warning label: Dangerously Delicious!
    Kramer, loving the bread recipes. Keep ’em coming!

  4. Hannah says:

    Oooh, these look yummy. I have such an irrational weakness for Cinnabon Cinnamon buns, which is ridiculous because they’re really hard to find in the UK. So I think I may have to give this recipe a go.

  5. Cindy says:

    Oh my, these look delish! Do you like using the cast iron pan? I’ve been thinking about getting one for quite a while!

  6. Aarthi says:

    wow..lovely dish ..bookmarked

  7. Lindsey says:

    these are perfect! nom nom nom nom….

  8. JulieD says:

    Oh my goodness! These look amazing! I love how you served them in a cast iron skillet. I will definitely try these after I get my hands on some vital wheat gluten and will take your advice and use margarine. :)

    • Sydney says:

      @JulieD: I promise it’s worth it! :)

      @Stacy: I live to serve 😉

      @Dana: It’s all Kramer’s doing!

      @Jules: Sounds good, though! I’ll have to look into that recipe.

      @Aathira: Thank you!

  9. Stacy says:

    Oh my…my boys will love you for this recipe! Can’t wait to make them – thanks!

  10. Dana says:

    What a great way to cut cinnamon buns! That is how I cut cake for layer cakes, I would not have thought of using the same technique for this.

  11. Jules says:

    OMG YUM. I have a recipe for cinnamon rolls from Dorie Greenspan, but it’s a bit (scratch that, a lot) too rich to make all the time. But I’ll definitely give this one a shot. And of course, not tell the boyfriend about the margarine :-)

  12. Aathira says:

    Mouth watering … delicious!

    This is one of my favourite breads!

  13. Drooling. Seriously. I’m starving and my coffee’s still too hot to drink… and I’m considering making Kramer’s cinnamon buns to stuff my face with while it cools. They look sooooo good, and I love the little details that make baked goods amazing (like margarine vs. butter) for one reason or another! How very Alton Brown of him :)

    • Sydney says:

      @Christine: Kramer could definitely give Alton a run for his money! 😉

      @Chris: Thank you! I used to be put off by tequila, too, but maybe you should give it another try and see what happens!

      @Rhyelysgranny: A very valid point indeed!

  14. Isabelle says:

    How would I make these without a bread maker? I’m lacking in funds at the moment so a bread maker is out of the question, but these just look SO GOOD!

  15. Sydney says:

    @Isabelle: There are instructions for this within the written recipe. :)

  16. ninu says:

    OK i have searched and searched and there is NO way i can get wheat gluten here…Would it be blasphemous if i made these sans the vtl wheat gluten? Also in this part of the world i ve never seen margarine…is it the same as crisco ??=)

    • Sydney says:

      Ninu: I think you will be okay without the gluten, although they won’t be quite the same. Margarine is basically just imitation butter – Crisco is shortening, which is an entirely different beast – do not use it for this. I hope that helps! You can always just use butter in its place!

  17. Allison says:

    These came out perfect when I made them (: Thank you! It took a lot more work considering I have yet to get a bread machine, but I actually enjoyed kneading the bread for the full 15 minutes haha (:

  18. Sarah says:

    Great post :) I worked at Cinnabon years ago when they still made everything from scratch. I didn’t enjoy the job as much when they started to send them rolls pre-made and then all we had to do was thaw them and let them rise in the proofer. It was a lot of fun rolling the buns, I can still do it to this day even though it’s been 8-9 years since I worked there. You should still be able to buy the Makara cinnamon that Cinnabon uses at their stores.

  19. Trish says:

    Hi –

    I stumbled on this recipe and I’m going to be making them for a dinner party surprise-dessert. I can’t wait! It will be on a Friday – can I make the dough the night before and refrigerate/freeze it and then add in the filling and bake the next day, or will they come out differently? I’m very excited -and a little intimidated- to try a recipe with instant yeast, so I don’t want to mess it up! Thank you – and I love your recipes and writing style. You have a new, dedicated follower!


    • Sydney says:

      I think that, unfortunately, they may deflate. I think your best bet is to parbake them – bake them to about half way, where they have risen but are not yet golden, then freeze them and finish baking them the next day from frozen. Best of luck!

  20. Wesley Witt says:

    It would be great to get this recipe with the ingredients listed by weight.

    • Sydney says:

      I promise that they will turn out wonderfully when measuring them the way you prefer! I’d just have to go back and measure the recipe out again, and with the holidays, I don’t know that I have time. I’ll try to revisit after the New Year!

  21. Sara says:

    Cinnamon buns were requested as Christmas morning breakfast this year, and I’m going to try this recipe. I would like to make them as much the night before as possible, so I will try your parbaking method… it better work out or I’ll get killed for screwing up my very first family Christmas breakfast!! 😉

  22. […] recipe, I got really excited. I’m not usually the type to make yeast breads (that’s Kramer’s department) , but the thought of warm, fluffy banana bread with a gooey cinnamon swirl was […]

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