I'm sure I've eaten hundreds of my Mom's Cinnamon Rolls over the years.
For as long as I can remember, my mom has been baking loads of deliciousness. Every week she was making cinnamon rolls, coffee cakes, pies and other delicious treats for the teacher's lounge at school, for church gatherings and luckily, for us, too!
Note: this post was updated July 22, 2020 to improve your cinnamon roll experience!
One of my fondest memories in the kitchen is baking alongside my mom in the kitchen.
I had my own set of baking tools - a mini roll pan and miniature pie pans, a plastic rolling pin and mat. She gave me her pie scraps, extra dough and fillings so I could make my own creations.
Was the dough overworked by the time I finally finished rolling it out? You bet? But did my creations taste so sweet to me? You betcha!
While I'm sure I never made anything as good as my Mom's Cinnamon Rolls, I enjoyed that extra time with her then and the warm fuzzies I having thinking about it to this day.
Detailed instructions to make Mom's Cinnamon Rolls.
Before we dive in, let's talk about yeast.
Here's the thing when you're working with yeast...
You can't let it scare you.
That's right. Yeast is a growing, living thing, so it's easy to feel a bit intimidated.
Don't let the yeast know you're scared and everything will be fine.
Or, just use a thermometer to make sure your water isn't too hot (it will kill the yeast) or too cold (it won't activate the yeast). For active dry yeast, the water temperature should be between 105 and 115 °F for proofing.
To make the dough - In a small saucepan, heat milk to a simmer without boiling. When milk just starts to simmer, turn the heat off and add your butter. The heat from the milk will melt it.
Alternatively, you can microwave the milk and add the butter.
Set the milk and butter mixture aside to let it cool to lukewarm.
Next up, let's start our yeast.
In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water (remember, between 105 and 115 degrees F) and add 1 teaspoon of sugar. The yeast is either two packets or if you have loose yeast, it's 4.5 teaspoons.
Let the mixture stand until bubbly - those bubbles are actually the yeast eating the sugar!
Strange but true.
When your yeast is ready it will look like this.
Add the sugar, salt & lukewarm milk and butter combo.
Then add the beaten eggs, and half of flour on low so it doesn't fly everywhere! Beat until smooth.
Mix in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead it in a mixer until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Note: The actual amount of flour you use will vary. When there's enough flour it will have absorbed everything in your mixing bowl and the dough will "hug" the dough hook.
It will also have a bit of a sheen to it.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl - I like to spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Flip the dough ones to grease both surfaces or sides of the dough to prevent sticking.
Cover with plastic wrap or a clean and damp dish towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
While the dough is proofing (growing larger) it needs to be in a warmish environment. In the wintertime our kitchen can run a little cold for proofing. I usually help the dough out a bit by keeping it near the oven while I'm cooking something.
In the summertime, I have memories of the dough hanging out on top of the lawn mower in our garage.
Don't worry, it was a very clean garage and the dough was covered...
What is it they say? Necessity is the mother of invention? Or something. Anyway, it did the job.
Once the dough has doubled, you'll punch it down. This totally sounds like a thing Amelia Bedelia would do, but you can literlly punch the dough (gently) or give it a strong tap on top and the dough will deflate a bit.
This is not a chance to let all your aggressions out, just a one-two punch should do the trick.
Then, turn the dough out onto a floured surface. You may have to use your hands to coax it out of the bowl. Cover the dough with your towel or plastic wrap and let it hang out for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, mix sugar and cinnamon. Grease your pan. You can use a two round pans, two 8 or 9" square pans, or a 9x13 pan.
Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle using a rolling pin.
Brush dough with almost but not quite melted butter. Note: Don't skimp on the butter because the cinnamon sugar mixture needs something to adhere to.
I used to melt the butter completely, but I've found the cinnamon sugar "clings" to the dough better when it's not in liquid form.
When it comes time to butter the dough and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, don't be shy.
Think of the butter as the glue. You'll need to add enough so the sugar has something to stick to. And there is LOTS of cinnamon sugar mixture so be generous with the butter, too!
Sprinkle all the dough with the cinnamon mixture making sure to get it all the way to the sides. Roll up, jelly-roll fashion, starting at the narrow end and rolling until you reach the other end.
This will make a shorter, rather than long, tube of cinnamon rolls to be cut.
From scratch cinnamon rolls
To make symetrical rolls, which will keep your family from fighting over who gets what roll, here's how we'll cut them.
Make a cut in the center of the dough roll.
Now, cut each half into another half.
Now we have quarters.
Cut each quarter into 3 rolls.
I didn't learn much in math, but I can tackle this kind of math!
You can use waxed dental floss to cut the rolls by inserting underneath and then criss crossing the floss at the top, pulling quickly to cut.
My new and improved way is to use a large chef's knife dusted with flour.
I make precise, straight down cuts (as in no sawing back and forth) at each 1 ½ inch interval.
Transfer the rolls, cut sides up, in the prepared pan so that the spiral shows.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Sidenote: That right there is 100% the reason why I make these Cinnamon Rolls for Christmas breakfast.
I don't have to dirty a single licking pan and I can drink my coffee in peace while these babies cook and make the whole house smell GLORIOUS!
BUT, if you want or need these right away, you can let them rise for 20-30 minutes and make them without refrigerating overnight.
To cook these, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Let the rolls stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
Then you'll make the glaze which is so not difficult it's crazy.
I like to lightly drizzle the glaze on the rolls when they have slightly cooled. (It sinks into the nooks and crannies this way). Let the rolls completely cool, then spread the remaining icing.
Mmmmm, cinnamon rolls - warm and yeasty, with just a little crunch from a butter/cinnamon/sugar blend, these are simple to make and oh so good!
Give my Mom's Cinnamon Rolls a try, and here's an extra tip...this one is a game changer, folks and one of the primary reasons I felt compelleted to update this post.
You can make these rolls and then freeze them before baking!
Think of the possibilities here - you can pull them out and bake them for a Tuesday morning breakfast. You can make them weeks in advance. You can give them to new moms or people like - say - me!!!
Total game changer, right?
I am NOT a baker by nature. My mom's the baker, I'm the cook.
Well, she's an awesome cook too but I digress. My point is, these cinnamon rolls are so easy to make even I can do it.
And if I can do it, it means YOU can do it.
Make them, and then tag me on social media @thisfarmgirlcooks and #thisfarmgirlcooks so I can ooooh and ahhhh over your tasty creation!
Other recipes you'll love:
- 11 kid friendly make ahead breakfasts
- Cinnamon Roll Muffins
- Mom's Apple Slab Pie
- Homemade Hawaiian Rolls
Mom's Best Cinnamon Rolls
For the dough
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 packages dry active yeast
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup warm water 105-115 degrees
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 eggs beaten
- 4 ½ cup flour approximately
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoon cinnamon
- 6 tablespoon butter softened but not melted
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 3-4 tablespoon milk or water
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract optional
To make the dough
- To make the dough - In a small saucepan, heat milk to a simmer taking care not to boil. When milk comes to a simmer, turn off the heat and add the butter to melt. Cool to lukewarm.
- In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water and add 1 tsp. sugar. Let stand until bubbly, about 5 minutes. Stir in milk mixture, ½ cup sugar, salt, beaten eggs, and half of flour. Beat until smooth.
- Mix in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth and elastic.
- Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning over once to grease surfaces. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down and turn out onto a floured surface. Cover, let rest 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, mix sugar and cinnamon. Grease your pan with cooking spray or butter.
- Roll dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle. Brush dough with melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon mixture. Roll up, jelly-roll fashion, starting at the narrow end.
- Cut rolls at 1 ½ inch intervals. See note for further instructions.
- Put rolls, cut sides up, in prepared pan so that the spiral shows. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight OR set aside to rise for 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Let the rolls stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes if they have been refrigerated.
- When oven is preheated, bake 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Drizzle with glaze.
To Make the Glaze
- In a medium bowl, combine sugar and optional vanilla. Slowly add milk or water, mixing until the desired consistency is achieved.
- If you have "block" or "bulk" yeast, 4.5 teaspoons equals two packets of active dry yeast.
- Super duper important note: You can make these rolls and then freeze them before baking! Simply thaw, let rise and bake!
- I like to lightly drizzle the glaze on the rolls when they have slightly cooled. (It sinks into the nooks and crannies this way). Let the rolls completely cool, then spread the remaining icing.
- Make a cut in the center of the dough roll.
- Now, cut each half into another half
- Now we have quarters
- Cut each quarter into 3 rolls.