Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

December 12, 2010.   3 Comments.   Categories Breakfast / Brunch, By Holiday, Christmas, Comfort Food, Desserts, Easter.   Tags , , , , , , .

If there is a more comforting scent than freshly baked cinnamon rolls during the holidays I’ve not yet discovered it.  This recipe makes about 45-50 individual rolls.  In my opinion they are the perfect size.. not massive and gooey like those “buns” you get at the mall.

Although this isn’t her recipe, I like to follow Nancy Silverton’s baking tip from her La Brea Bakery Cookbook and use disposable pie tins to bake the rolls.  One batch will fill about 7 tins. The square brownie tins would work too but I like the “wreath-like” shape of a pie tin.  You can freeze them and whip them out to serve on Christmas morning or bring a tin to friends as a gift during the holidays. However you choose to enjoy these… I promise that you will absolutely love their heavenly aroma and bakery quality flavors.  You can also use these to make a variety of sticky buns… more recipes variations with those possibilities will be added soon!

Update (12/13/10):  Apparently I’ve been living under a rock (or a pile of flour) and missed a very similar recipe that Pioneer Woman has mastered. Our dough almost identical except I’m a believer in a brown sugar/white sugar combo in the cinnamon filling and I don’t use as much salt.  She also gives them as gifts in the pie tins.  You know the old saying… There is no such thing as a new idea.  Ree claims her recipe is the best of the best so I will try it soon to see who has the better rolls.  Are you ready for a throwdown, Ree?  Her famous rolls were even featured on The Today Show last week.  She has an interesting frosting using maple flavoring and coffee that sounds remarkable so I may be headed for a throwdown defeat.


  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 8 cups (+ 1 cup) all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 (heaping) tsp baking powder
  • just under 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup melted unsalted butter (possibly more if needed)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • LOTS of cinnamon (about 1/4-1/3 cup..ish-make sure it’s fresh)
  • 6 or 7 aluminum disposable pie tins


(per pie tin)

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3+ tsp water (or more if needed) or juice from meyer lemon or orange (experiment w/ amount for consistency and citrus flavor.  You can also use milk but I prefer water/meyer lemon

To make the dough, mix whole milk, oil and sugar in a large soup or stock pan.  Heat to scald just before boiling.  Remove from heat and allow to cool in the pan for about an hour.  Once it’s lukewarm, add both packages of yeast and allow to sit for a few minutes.  Then add 8 cups of flour.  Gently stir until just blended and allow to rise for at least an hour.

After rising for an hour, add the additional 1 cup of flour, baking powder and soda and the salt.  Gently fold mixture together until just blended.

To make the rolls, generously sprinkle flour to your rolling surface. Using half the dough, shape it into a rectangle and roll into a long rectangular shape that is approximately 7 inches wide.  Pour about 1/2 cup of melted butter on the dough and use a pastry brush to spread it fairly evenly all over the surface.  Blend both sugars in a bowl and sprinkle evenly about 1 cup of the mixture on top of the butter.  Then sprinkle evenly with lots of cinnamon. (Now I like my rolls simple but at this stage you could also vary the recipe by adding finely chopped nuts like pecans or raisins.)

dough for cinnamon rolls

Using the same pastry brush, add a light layer of butter to the bottom of each pie tin.

Starting at one end, carefully roll the dough tightly until it resembles a snake or a long line of dough.  Try and keep it tight and once complete, pinch the end so it doesn’t become loose or fall apart. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut 1 inch think rolls.

Lay each roll into the pie tins. I find that 7 fit perfectly in the tin so they aren’t too crowded.  Allow the rolls to rise for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.  (Or, you may wrap the tins tightly in saran wrap and cover with foil and freeze before dough rises.)

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until the rolls are lightly golden brown.

There are lots of options with the frosting.  I like a simple powdered sugar glaze.  To make it just add a little bit of water (about a tsp at a time) and blend until it is thick but still pours. Drizzle on the rolls when they are warm.

You can flavor the frosting with a touch of vanilla or maple extract, a bit of lemon or orange zest or orange juice in lieu of water ….. or just leave it plain.


  1. Hi Laura,
    Can you freeze the dough? If so, at what point would I freeze the rolls and how would you recommend finishing the them?

    Thank you!

  2. Huh… you’re right Shirley – I happened to pick the photo that showed the pan with 8 – most had 7 – but I’ll correct the text. Thank you!

  3. you have 8 in the pan not 7 like you say…

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