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Close up of cinnamon rolls covered in vanilla icing, other cinnamon rolls on platter.
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5 from 3 votes

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

If you love homemade cinnamon rolls, then you have to try my version of these fluffy and absolutely delicious and soft cinnamon rolls. What makes this recipe different is that this is a southern recipe that's been in my family for decades. Topped with a light vanilla icing, these are perfect for breakfast or dessert!
Prep Time3 hrs
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time3 hrs 15 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 1078kcal
Author: Amanda Mason

Ingredients

For The Cinnamon Rolls

  • 3 packets yeast (or 2 tablespoons bulk)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • ¾ cup Crisco shortening
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 6 cups bread flour
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For The Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

Instructions

To Make The Cinnamon Rolls

  • Start out by taking 1 cup of water and putting it in a small pot on the stovetop. Turn the burner to low so the water can become slightly warm.
    Expert Tip: You don't want the water to be hot. To test the water temperature, I stick my finger in the water a couple minutes after the burner has been lit to make sure it's warm and not hot.
  • Once the water is warm, take all 3 of the yeast packets and dissolve them in the warm water. Turn your burner off at this point.
    Important Note: The yeast should begin foam when added to the water. The foaming indicates that the yeast is alive. Lightly hand whisk until the yeast is dissolved and the clumps are gone. Set aside.
  • Attach the paddle attachment to the standing mixer. Add ½ cup of sugar, 1.5 teaspoons of salt, and ¾ cups of Crisco shortening to the bowl and mix on medium-low speed until well combined, about 2-3 minutes.
    Expert Tip: Do not melt or soften your shortening. You want it firm at this point.
  • From there, bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a different pot than the one your yeast is in.
  • Once boiling, take the water and pour it into the standing mixing bowl. Mix the contents of the bowl on medium low speed until slightly cooled. Notice that the shortening is starting to melt at this point. (that's a good thing)!
  • Once the mixture has slightly cooled, mix in 2 eggs on medium speed for about 1 to 2 minutes until well combined. Turn off the standing mixer, remove the paddle attachment and securely attach the hook attachment.
  • You are now ready to mix in 3 cups of flour.
    Expert Tip: When making homemade cinnamon rolls, you'll need to add 1 cup of flour at a time and do it slowly. It took about a minute for me to mix in the first cup, then I would let the mixer mix it up for another minute. I'd then repeat this process with another cup of flour. Let the mixer take it's time and mix it together nice and slow. Finally, I add in the 3rd cup...again adding the flour slowly and letting the mixer work the dough.
  • Once the flour has been mixed, slowly add in the yeast that has dissolved in the water. The dough will be very liquidy at this point of the process.
  • With the dough hook still attached and the mixer speed setting on a 2, gradually mix in 3 more cups of flour.
    Important Note: You may not need all 3 cups of flour. What you are looking for here is for the dough to form a ball around the hook and pull away from the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl. What I typically do is slowly add in 1 cup of flour at a time, very slowly. I typically get to about 2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups of flour before my dough is pulling away nicely. But you will have to eyeball this part.
  • While that is mixing, and it takes some time, you need to prepare an area on your counter where you can flour the surface. When the dough has pulled away, you will need to turn the dough out onto the lightly floured board/counter.
  • Take your time here and do this slowly. I always keep my dough in a ball when transporting it off the hook to my counter. Knead in additional flour as needed until the dough is no longer tacky.
  • Place the ball of dough in a large greased bowl, cover with a cloth and place in a warm (NOT HOT) place until the dough doubles in bulk. I use unsalted butter to grease the bowl.
    Expert Tip: I always place my bowl on my stovetop since it's still warm from boiling the water. Make sure the bowl you use won't melt.
  • From there, remove the risen dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured counter top. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large rectangle, approximately 12x18 inches.
  • Melt about 2-3 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a bowl and then lightly baste the top of the rolled dough with the butter until it's completely covered.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together with a whisk or a fork ¾ cups of the packed brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. Using your hand, sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly on top of the dough where you just brushed the butter. Don't spread it out perfectly even; just sprinkle it evenly onto the dough.
  • Next, tightly roll up the dough, in the form of a jelly roll, and pinch the ends together. The length of the dough roll should about 18" long. Using a serrated knife, cut the cinnamon roll dough into 14 or 15 equal slices, approximately 1 ¼ " wide.
  • Using unsalted butter, heavily butter the bottoms and the sides of three 9-inch metal round cake pans. Place the homemade cinnamon roll slices side-by-side in the cake pans, fitting 6-7 rolls in each pan.
  • Allow the cinnamon rolls to rise a bit more, about 45 minutes, until they have doubled in size.
    Expert Tip: There's no need to cover the rolls at this point. Again, I place the pans on the stovetop to rise during this step of the process.
  • Once the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 350°F and bake for 13-15 minutes, checking after 10 minutes. Bake until the tops are golden brown, ensuring the side don't become too dark brown in color.
  • When the rolls are done, pull them out of the oven and place the pans on a cooling rack.

How to Make Cinnamon Roll Icing

  • Using the standing mixer with the wire whisk attached, slowly combine 2 cups of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • Add in just enough milk (typically 1-2 tablespoons of milk) so that the consistency of the glaze starts to liquify, yet slightly thicken.
  • Once the glaze has a nice consistency and is no longer thin, slowly pour the mixture over the cinnamon rolls in each pan.
  • When the glaze has started to set, the cinnamon rolls are ready to eat. Allow them to completely cool before covering each pan with plastic wrap.

Notes

  • It's really important to use yeast that is still alive so that these cinnamon rolls come together as expected. I recommend using yeast within 4 months of purchase.
  • To check and see if your yeast is still alive, you'll need to proof it.
  • I recommend using unsalted butter when greasing the pans and basting the dough so that you can control the level of saltiness.
  • Do you like sticky buns? If so, just add ¾ cups of chopped pecans to the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Sometimes they are also called cinnamon buns because they're made with pecans.
  • If the icing is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add extra milk.
  • These make for the best gifts for the holiday season! I typically make 2 batches and hand deliver them to my kiddos teachers to enjoy over break!

Nutrition

Calories: 1078kcal | Carbohydrates: 176g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 596mg | Potassium: 162mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 83g | Vitamin A: 233IU | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 1mg