On a chilly Sunday morning, is there anything more comforting than the smell of fresh baked cinnamon rolls? Sticky, spicy and covered in delicious icing, I can’t think of a better way to kick off the day.
But on those lazy weekend mornings, I’m not always in the mood to make cinnamon buns from scratch (though maybe I should give one of these five-ingredient breakfasts a try). That’s when I reach for a package of store-bought cinnamon rolls. When I’m grabbing that pop-open can or frozen tray of cinnamon goodness at the store, I want to make sure I’m getting the best. That’s why I put four brands head to head in a cinnamon roll taste test. Along with a handful of tasters, we tested these sweets blindly to find the very best for your next weekend treat.
In this test, we tried Annie’s Organic Cinnamon Rolls, Meijer Cinnamon Rolls, Pillsbury Grands! Cinnamon Rolls and Rhodes Bake-N-Serv AnyTime Frozen Cinnamon Rolls. Find out which was our top pick!
When You Want Sweet, But Not Too Sweet: Pillsbury Grands! Cinnamon Rolls
“It’s a good sweet roll, but the cinnamon flavor is lacking a bit.”
First up in our test was likely the most well known brand in the cinnamon roll game: Pillsbury Grands! These rolls come in that familiar pop-open can along with a small tub of icing.
Baked up, these rolls looked picture-perfect with a beautiful spiral and a glossy glaze. We sliced into a few rolls and found that they had a nice flaky texture and a crispy, caramelized bottom—major points there! Taking our first bites, we found them to be nicely sweet but not as cinnamon-packed as we would have hoped. A few testers remarked on how the buns were tasty if you wanted just a sweet breakfast pastry and not as much cinnamon flavor.
The major drawback to these rolls? Lack of frosting! The small container included in the package was not enough to satisfy our sweet cravings.
Best Quality of Ingredients: Annie’s Organic Cinnamon Rolls
“I love the frosting, but it needs more!”
Taking the third place spot was Annie’s organic option. Testers immediately took note of the defined spiral and dark cinnamon color of these rolls. We all hoped that this was a sign of good things to come!
Well, these rolls definitely had a more pronounced cinnamon flavor which all the testers loved. What’s more: the frosting was delicious. With a slight hint of vanilla (rather than just the plain, sweet taste of Pillsbury), we definitely took notice of the icing. Of course, we wanted more of it, but that seemed to be a theme in this test.
Overall, there were comments about how these cinnamon rolls tasted more “real” than others. Maybe this is due to the lack of preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup and the organic cinnamon and vanilla in the recipe. (Don’t worry, we only peeked at the ingredients after we scored these).
Annie’s did get bumped to a lower ranking, however, due to the product’s texture. The dough was a bit tough and even dry. We felt like we needed a glass of milk to eat an entire roll.
Most Photo-Worthy: Meijer Cinnamon Rolls
“I love how fluffy this one is!”
In second place: Meijer’s store-brand rolls. These cinnamon buns got major points for presentation. One tester commented, “this one wins the beauty contest for sure.” I couldn’t agree more. The light and fluffy rolls looked like something you’d see at your favorite brunch spot.
But it’s more than just looks, right? These rolls had a light texture that we loved and a strong cinnamon taste. However, being dairy-loving Wisconsinites, most of us picked up on an artificial butter flavor. Personally, I couldn’t shake this lingering taste, though if you’re a margarine fan, these would fit the bill nicely.
Oh and the frosting? We thought it was a great effort. Not overly sweet, it coated the buns nicely, but, like always, we wanted more!
Our Top Pick: Rhodes Bake-N-Serv AnyTime Frozen Cinnamon Rolls
“Look at all that frosting!”
Taking the top spot was Rhodes frozen cinnamon rolls, the bake-in-the-pan variety. These buns stood out to my crew of testers immediately. They weren’t the prettiest, but they had the most icing—finally!
The icing was delicious and not just plain, sugar sweet. The frosting that just coated every inch of these cinnamon rolls had hints of vanilla and cream cheese. The icing itself didn’t get flaky as it sat, instead it stayed creamy and gooey—exactly what we were looking for. Big points went to Rhodes on this one.
Underneath all the icing, though, was a really delicious cinnamon bun. The rolls were crispy on the bottom but the inside swirls were irresistibly gooey and filled with authentic cinnamon flavor. Overall we just loved the combination of icing and soft, sticky dough. We kept going back for more and more of these.
Another big bonus for these cinnamon buns: they required no prep at all. The other brands we tested came in that classic pop-open can but these were ready to bake right in their own foil pan. The ultimate lazy day baking.
First, let’s recap our test, starting with our favorite: Rhodes, Meijer, Annie’s and finally Pillsbury Grands!
Icing is critical
I’ll be honest: I didn’t think that icing would play such a major role in this test, but it definitely became a deciding factor. The difference between a good cinnamon roll and a great one is a good icing flavor (a hint of vanilla goes a long way!) and the right icing-to-bun ratio. In our opinions, Rhodes got this one right.
All cinnamon rolls are good cinnamon rolls
While we’d definitely call Rhodes our favorite, every single one of us agreed that we would happily eat any of these brands. Some treats are just good no matter what. Plus any of these buns could be easily topped with more icing, dressed up a bit with a few toppings (orange zest or pecans would be divine!) or even transformed into a whole new sweet treat.