19 Tips for Making the Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls

Updated: Nov. 29, 2023

Whether you're a seasoned pro or a new baker, this list of tips will help you perfect the art of making cinnamon rolls.

1 / 19
Portion of dried Yeast (close-up shot) on wooden background

Don’t Kill Your Yeast

Be kind to your yeast. Keep the milk between 110° and 115°F. Any cooler and the yeast may not activate properly. Any hotter and you may kill the yeast before it has a chance to help the dough rise. Read more about how to proof yeast the right way.

2 / 19
Baking cookies, ingredients for pie

Use Room-Temperature Ingredients

Yeast likes a warm environment, so using eggs and butter at room temperature will keep the dough at the perfect temperature for optimal yeast activity. Plus, room-temperature butter will also mix easier and more evenly into the dough. Don’t worry; it’s safe to leave butter on the counter.

3 / 19
food processor to kneading dough for bread

Mix Just Enough

You don’t want a weak cinnamon roll dough. Of course, you don’t want a tough cinnamon roll either! You’ll know the dough is properly mixed when the dough is pulling away from the sides of the mixing bowl and the dough is tacky, but not sticky, to the touch.

4 / 19
beautiful girl preparing dough in a food processor while standing in a bright kitchen
Kuznetsov Dmitriy/Shutterstock

Go Easy on the Flour

Too much flour and the rolls will be dry and tough. Not enough flour and the rolls won’t have enough structure to rise and will be dense and soggy. Toward the end of mixing, gradually add a tablespoon at a time and check the texture of the dough after each addition. Learn how to measure flour for consistent results.

5 / 19
Yeast dough
Olga Markova/Shutterstock

Let Dough Rise in a Clean, Oiled Bowl

When the dough completes its first rise, take a moment to place the dough in a clean, slightly oiled bowl. This extra step will make the dough easier to remove after proofing and also allow the dough to rise higher since it won’t be working against the bowl.

6 / 19
Bread dough rising in a bowl before oven baking dough process flourish

Use the Ideal Proofing Temperature

When proofing, cover the bowl containing the dough and place in a warm spot in your kitchen. A sunny window or the top of your oven works great. Wherever you place the dough, just make sure its hanging out in a place with a temperature between 75° and 95°F. FYI: This is how to proof when it’s cold out.

7 / 19
Modern kitchen interior. Design concept with new stainless steel appliances.

Let the Dough Rise Overnight

Another option for proofing cinnamon roll dough is letting it rise overnight in the refrigerator. A cold fermentation process means the yeast releases carbon dioxide more slowly, which results in a more complex, robust flavor. You can try this method with our Overnight Cinnamon Rolls.

8 / 19
Female holding bowl of bread dough after 2 hours of proofing

Chill Dough Before Shaping

Even if you let the dough rise in a warm place, it’s best to let it chill before shaping. The benefit is that you’ll find the dough much easier to roll out and shape. This means you’ll have tighter, more uniform rolls after baking.

9 / 19
Making gingerbread cookies for Christmas in kitchen.
Arturs Budkevics/Shutterstock

Flour Your Work Surface

Before you roll out the dough, lightly flour your work surface to prevent sticking. It will save you the frustration of rolling out the dough into a perfect rectangle only to have it stretch, tear and stick to your counter as you roll it up.

10 / 19
Block of freshly made pastry rolled out on a floured work surface with a wooden rolling pin

Roll It to the Perfect Thickness

You may be surprised to hear that a quarter inch is all it takes to make or break your cinnamon rolls. If you’re looking for fluffy, bread-like cinnamon rolls roll out the dough to 3/4-inch thick. If you want gooey, chewy cinnamon rolls, roll out to only 1/4-inch thick.

11 / 19
Piece of butter in paper on white background

Use Softened, Not Melted Butter for Filling

You may find the recipes call for melted butter for the cinnamon roll filling. However, using softened, room-temperature butter mixed with the other filling ingredients will enable you to spread the filling more evenly over the dough and result in less waste as you roll up the dough. Here’s how to soften butter quickly.

12 / 19
Making Delicious Cinnamon Rolls
Collin Quinn Lomax/Shutterstock

Fill the Rolls from Edge to Edge

Cover every square inch of the dough with your delicious cinnamon-sugar filling! Just leave a small section along one edge bare so you’re able to easily pinch and seal the seam closed once the dough is rolled.

13 / 19
Making Delicious Cinnamon Rolls
Collin Quinn Lomax/Shutterstock

Roll It Tightly

When rolling the dough, take care to roll it as tightly as possible. This will not only maximize the number of yummy cinnamon layers, but help the rolls hold their shape while baking and when serving. We especially love all the layers in these Can’t Eat Just One Cinnamon Rolls.

14 / 19
cutting cinnamon rolls with dental floss
Taste of Home

Slice Using Floss

Have you been neglecting your knives? An improperly sharpened knife will squish your rolls and ruin the uniformity of the layers. Instead, opt for a piece of dental floss to loop around the dough and cut through the cinnamon rolls.

15 / 19
Beautiful fresh cinnamon rolls.
Ermolenko Aleksandra/Shutterstock

Give Your Rolls Space

Before baking, the rolls will need to rise a final time. Like teenagers, cinnamon rolls need their space during this critical phase of their development. Place the formed cinnamon rolls on a baking sheet 1-2 inches apart to ensure an even, full rise.

16 / 19
cinnamon rolls are baked in the oven
Polukarova Anna/Shutterstock

Set the Oven to a Proper Baking Temperature

When it comes to baking cinnamon rolls, 375°F is the sweet spot. Because it’s an enriched dough, an oven temperature that’s too hot can cause the rolls to brown too quickly before they’re fully baked. On the other hand, an oven temperature that’s too low may cause the rolls come out too blonde.

Ever wonder why most recipes call for a 350°F baking temperature? We have the scientific answer.

17 / 19
Freshly baked cinnamon rolls buns with cocoa and spices on a metal a baking sheet.

Don’t Overbake

The perfect cinnamon roll is a deep golden brown with an internal temperature between 190° and 200°F. When pressed gently in the center, the cinnamon rolls should also feel firm, not squishy. Just another reason you need a digital thermometer! See what brand our Test Kitchen recommends.

18 / 19
Homemade Cinnamon Roll Pastry with Vanilla Icing
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Let Rolls Cool Before Icing

Let the rolls cool for 5 to 10 minutes before icing. If the rolls are too hot, the icing will tragically ooze right off and into the bottom of the pan. A warm roll, however, will let the icing easily spread over the top and also set in place before serving. Try out this perfect Cream Cheese Frosting or, if it’s available, a pint of the real deal: Cinnabon frosting.

19 / 19
Making Delicious Cinnamon Rolls
Collin Quinn Lomax/Shutterstock

Make a Double Batch

No, this tip isn’t a joke. We’re 100% serious! Consider making a double batch the next time you bake tasty cinnamon rolls. Most dough freezes well once rolled and sliced, meaning it’s possible to have cinnamon rolls on demand any time. We recommend doubling up on a batch of these Apple-Pecan Cinnamon Rolls.