I Tried Our 5 Most Popular Cinnamon Roll Recipes and Fell in Love With the Easiest One
Delicious and fast? My heart be still.
Cinnamon rolls hold a special place in my heart. As a mostly savory breakfast person who always craves a little something sweet, I know I can count on a cinnamon roll to satisfy that need. In fact, whenever my sisters and I go out to brunch, there’s an unspoken understanding that we’ll order a cinnamon roll for the table. That way, we can each dig into our own savory entrees and still get that satisfying bite of warm, sugary goodness.
But in addition to getting my sweet brunch-date fix, I’ve also tried to bake them from scratch, looking for the perfect recipe. I’ve tried store-bought shortcuts, new techniques, and surprising mix-ins, but no single recipe has won my heart. Which is why I couldn’t wait to test Allrecipes’ top-rated cinnamon roll recipes to look for a winning go-to. Here’s what I found.
What Makes a Perfect Cinnamon Roll?
A perfect cinnamon roll should be fluffy and tender, with plenty of sticky filling swirled through every bite. The dough should be soft, buttery, flavorful (salt is a must!), and easy to roll and slice. The icing, for its part, needs to be swooshy and spreadable, with a tangy taste to offset the sweet rolls. Finally, the very best cinnamon rolls should remain soft for several days, because unless you’re feeding a lot of friends, you’re also likely to have a few rolls left over.
Which Cinnamon Roll Recipes Did I Test?
I tested the five most popular cinnamon roll recipes from Allrecipes. One started with frozen bread dough; one baked in a muffin tin; one featured a dark brown sugar swirl; one could be prepped the night before; and one that I loved the most. To keep things fair, I tested each recipe with the same brands of flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon, milk, and eggs. Here are the sweet results.
Best for Donut Lovers: Cinnamon Rolls From Frozen Bread Dough
Fast Facts: Developed by J Jones, has 60 reviews with a 4.7-star rating
If you keep frozen bread dough on hand, you’re just steps away from a warm batch of cinnamon rolls. Treat the thawed dough just like you would homemade: Roll it up with cinnamon sugar (and in this case, chopped walnuts), slice into rolls, arrange in the pan, then let rise until doubled in size.
But the bread dough isn’t the only pleasant surprise here. Before you send the buns to the oven, you’ll pour heavy cream over top (just like the viral TikTok technique!), which makes the rolls soft and fluffy on the inside and a little crispy on the outside. This texture, combined with a glaze rather than a frosting, gives these rolls a donut-like quality that kept me coming back for more. The recipe yields two round pans, meaning you can keep one for yourself and bring the second to a friend.
Get the recipe: Cinnamon Rolls From Frozen Bread Dough
Best for Feeding a Crowd: Cinnamon Rolls II
Fast Facts: Developed by PAT MYERS, has 585 reviews with a 4.5-star rating
This big-batch recipe yields 24 very large rolls—perfect for hosting houseguests or attending a breakfast potluck. They smell incredible as they bake and look just as enticing when they emerge, and the dark brown sugar in the filling contributes a rich, molasses flavor. If you prefer to work ahead, you can let the rolls rise overnight in the fridge.
I would have personally preferred a tangier frosting (there’s only three ounces of cream cheese split between the two pans), but if you like a sweeter, milder flavor, this is the frosting for you.
Get the recipe: Cinnamon Rolls II
Best for Grab-and-Go: Ninety-Minute Cinnamon Rolls
Fast Facts: Developed by GOOFYDEBBIE, has 1,928 reviews with a 4.7-star rating
If you grew up on Little Debbie Pecan Spinwheels, this recipe will hit you with a big dose of nostalgia. Instead of biting right in, unravel the rolls as you go, leaving the soft and sticky center as the best and final bite.
Because they’re baked in a muffin tin (and aren’t topped with any icing), these rolls are a lot less messy than a classic cinnamon roll. Grab them on busy mornings when you’re rushing out the door, or pile them into bread baskets as part of a larger breakfast spread. If you’re craving a little extra sweetness, warm them up and enjoy with butter and jam.
Get the recipe: Ninety-Minute Cinnamon Rolls
Most Classic: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Fast Facts: Developed by newyorkbaker<3, has 12 reviews with a 4.6-star rating
If you’re craving a jumbo-sized, bakery case-worthy cinnamon roll, this is the recipe to use. The plush, yeasted dough was incredibly easy to work with, resulting in picture-perfect swirls with an ideal dough-to-filling ratio. Plus, the thick layer of tangy cream cheese frosting kept the rolls moist for days after baking. I was very close to crowning these rolls the winner.
The recipe itself is thorough and well-written, though I did need to add quite a bit of extra flour to help the dough come together. Because they require a minimum of nine hours of rising, I highly recommend assembling them the night before. In the morning, all you have to do is bake, frost, and serve. Trust me when I say your guests will be impressed.
Get the recipe: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Best Overall: Quick Cinnamon Rolls
Fast Facts: Developed by shaunawillman, has 406 reviews with a 4.0-star rating
This recipe would have won on taste alone. But considering the fact that it comes together in under an hour, is made up entirely of pantry ingredients, and doesn’t require a stand mixer, it couldn’t not win this battle.
Out of all five recipes, these were the rolls that my friends and I grabbed seconds of. They’re moist, fluffy, and supremely flavorful, thanks to a good dose of salt in the dough and plenty of cinnamon in the filling. The creamy, tangy frosting was also my favorite of the bunch, thanks to the large amount of cream cheese and a dash of vanilla extract. Plus, you’ll spread it on while the cinnamon rolls are hot, which means it melts into all the nooks and crannies, prevents the rolls from getting stale, and crackles as it cools.
This recipe also dirties minimal dishes. Instead of melting the butter and milk on the stovetop, you’ll work the softened butter into the flour mixture with your hands. (The resulting dough is very delicate, so be sure to add more flour until it’s sturdy enough to roll). Before baking, you’ll also sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar directly into the baking dish, contributing a sticky bun-like quality to the baked buns.
Looks-wise, these rolls won’t win any prizes. In fact, smushing 18 rolls into a 9x9” pan was not a pretty sight, and next time, I’ll just make 16. But consider the fact that you could be enjoying this in 40 minutes, and I think you’ll get past their appearance.
Get the recipe: Quick Cinnamon Rolls