August 5, 2011

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

good morning cream cheese cinnamon roll!

The idea of waking up to a batch of homemade gooey cinnamon rolls baking in the oven is extremely novel isn’t it? It’s straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting! The reality is that it takes time for dough to rise and cinnamon rolls to bake. Since I’m the chief baker in my house, this fantasy isn’t going to happen unless I take the bull by the horns and make my own cream cheese cinnamon rolls. Amidst a busy weekend I carved out a nice chunk of time for this doughy adventure. I let the dough rise, spread cream cheese on it, folded the dough and slathered it with filling then rolled it up and made legit cinnamon rolls. I then put those rolls in the fridge overnight with plans to bake them the moment the sun came up.  Let me tell you; it was a true test of patience.


Early the next morning I could hear a few small little Cooper yawns coming through the baby monitor. It’s time! It was as if I was pregnant and my water broke and I was getting to ready to rush to the hospital. In reality I ran into the kitchen, turned on the oven and took the cinnamon rolls out of the fridge to sit on the counter and rise. Within a half hour I had the cinnamon rolls in the oven. I made my coffee and waited for Casey to wake up to the delicious smell of cinnamon rolls baking away. I waited and waited and then it dawned on me. This wasn’t his fantasy. It was mine. After I glazed the cinnamon rolls, I brought him a bite in bed and within minutes he was up and eating cinnamon rolls with us in the kitchen. If I can get him out of bed on a weekend morning before 8am with one bite of a cinnamon roll, it’s a true testament to how good they are. Now let’s ignore the fact that I ate three of them that morning. OK?

a peak inside

Oh! We can cross off something else from my 31 comes before 32 list! #9. Make cinnamon rolls from scratch= DONE!

And we’re off!

Dough ingredients!

dough stuff

Yeast, sugar & water. Let it foam.

yeast sugar water

Egg+ yolk, vanilla, milk get mixed in.

vanilla milk & eggs

Dry ingredients meet wet! Your dough hook is ready for its closeup!


Mixing happening…


Time to butter it up!

hello butter!

And then you have a lovely dough! Cover it up and let it rest for a bit.


Get your filling ingredients together. Smells like Autumn!

filling stuff

Start rolling out the dough. It’s really nice dough to work with.

roll it out!


cream cheese

Spread it all over and fold it into thirds like a letter that needs to go in an envelope.

fold like a letter

Don’t put this in an envelope. It’s not a letter.


Now fold it in thirds. Left to right.

fold in threes

Roll it out flat! Now add your filling. It ain’t pretty. But it’s tasty!

spread that filling

Roll it up without looking at that bulging vein in my hand.

roll it up

Cut off the ends. Eat them and then cut the dough into 8 pieces.

cut it up

Place them in a buttered baking dish. Here’s where I covered them and put them in the fridge.

in a buttered dish

Here they are the next morning. The fun part is that some of the filling oozed. It makes for a crispy sugary bottom!

next morning

Buttermilk & powdered sugar.




One more shot of those rolls…rising…about to go into the oven!

to the oven



Butter the top of the cinnamon rolls with melted butter and let’s get working on the glazing.


Drizzle drizzle everywhere.

cream cheese cinnamon rolls

You can totally blame me for your 5lb weight gain this weekend! I get it.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 8

(recipe adapted from Saveur Magazine & Joy the Baker)

For the Dough:

  • 1 1/4-oz. package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. plus 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 3/4 cups flour, sifted, plus more for kneading
  • 3/4 tsp. fine salt
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. fine salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the Icing:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

Make the dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a hook, combine yeast, 1/2 tsp. of the sugar, and 1/4 cup water heated to 115°. Stir to combine and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add remaining sugar, milk, light brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Beat on low speed until thoroughly combined, 1 minute. Turn mixer off and add the flour and salt. Mix on medium speed until the dough just comes together. Turn mixer speed to high and knead dough for 4 minutes. Add the butter and continue kneading until dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from the mixer, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place. Let the dough rise for 1 1/2–2 hours, until it has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Combine the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cloves in a large bowl; stir to combine. Stir in the maple syrup. Set filling aside.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a heavily floured surface. Gently knead the dough until it’s no longer sticky, adding more flour as necessary, about 1 minute. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10″ x 10″ square. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese with a rubber spatula until it’s smooth and spreadable. Spread the cream cheese evenly over the dough square; then fold square into thirds as you would fold a letter to fit it into an envelope. Take the open ends of the resulting rectangle and fold into thirds again, to make a smaller dough square. Invert the dough so that the seam is face down and, using the rolling pin, gently roll into a 10″ x 20″ rectangle.

Turn the dough so that the short sides are parallel to you. Brush the top of the dough with half of the melted butter. Drizzle the reserved filling over the dough, leaving a 1″ border at the edge farthest away from you. Lightly press the filling into the dough. Using your hands, lift up the bottom edge of the dough and roll it forward into a tight cylinder. Place dough cylinder, seam side down, on a cutting board and, using a thin, sharp knife, trim off the ends; cut cylinder crosswise into 8 equal-size slices. Nestle the slices, cut sides up and evenly spaced from one another, into a buttered 9″ x 13″ light-colored metal baking pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let rise for 2 hours. (Alternatively, the rolls may be refrigerated overnight.)

Heat oven to 375°. Uncover the rolls. (If refrigerated, let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.) Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the rolls comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Make the icing: While the rolls are baking, whisk together the sugar and buttermilk in a small bowl until smooth.

Transfer the pan of cinnamon rolls to a cooling rack; brush with remaining melted butter. Let cool for 5 minutes. Dip the tines of a fork into the icing and drizzle all over the rolls. Serve immediately.

***Shutterbean Notes***

-I thought these cinnamon rolls were perfect! Casey wished for more filling. He wanted it SLOPPY! If you want it sloppy, increase the filling amount! He also wanted a lot more icing on his cinnamon rolls. There was A LOT leftover so I happily obliged.

-The original recipe calls for raisins & nuts but I decided to omit them. If you want to try them with raisins & nuts, check out the links above.

  • Maria

    These look divine!

  • Jolene Madison

    Your husband and son must be the luckiest boys on the face of the earth. Those look amazing!

  • Sydney

    oh my goodness those look incredible. I haven’t eaten breakfast yet and feel like im torturing myself, those are soooo yummy looking.

  • Wendy

    I’m totes making these right now!

  • Irma

    Let me tell you. This is food porn.

  • Monica

    The last time I made cinnamon rolls, they didn’t turn out very well. I’ll have to give this recipe a try, you sure make it look easy.

  • Megan

    These look AWESOME!! I love how you folded the cream cheese into the dough, genius!

  • Rebecca

    I love the icing heart shaped on the bottom right hand corner roll on the main pic! Was that intentional?

  • cindy

    amazing! i love cinnamon rolls! fresh ones on a weekend morning take dedication…and perseverance, well done 😀

  • stacy

    OMG. Go on with your bad self Tracy! These look so pro! Yum…………..

  • Katrina

    These sound simply scrumptious. Loveee these!

  • Claire

    this is torture. can i come live with you please?

    i don’t have the patience for this sort of cooking. i do have the patience for eating it though. that doesn’t really take patience though does it, not at the rate i eat it.

  • Amanda Barkey

    mmmmm this is our christmas morning in a nutshell. loves it! we like them sloppy too… I always make mine with tons of raisins and a ooey gooey caramel with walnuts or pecans on the bottom of the pan. yup.

  • heather @ chiknpastry

    oh man. i try so hard to be good, but sometimes it’s just too difficult!! maybe i could make some and freeze ’em so then I won’t be eating like ALL of them :). maybe just 3 or 4….

  • Kristine

    what could make cinnamon rolls even better? cream cheese!!!!! you’ve done it again, thank you!!!!

    kristine @ SugarBeams

  • marci

    I am drooling! I love the cream cheese factor – what a great idea. And I want to rest my head on the dough pillow you made – it’s all folded and floury and doughy, like a soft warm blanket. Great pics!

  • A

    I will be making these this weekend, for sure!!!!

  • jenny

    um, hello! fantasy weekend breakfast, right at my fingertips. I’ll be making these tomorrow night for sunday brunch consumption. cannot WAIT.

    just one note–I’m assuming you mean 1 1/4oz package yeast, not 14oz? that would be a whole lotta yeast… 🙂

  • Mandy@Withmilkandflour

    These look incredible! I plan to make these during my weeks holiday off work, cant wait, yum!

  • Sini

    mmm sweet cinnamon rolls! I love baking these, except it’s traditionally for me at winter time 🙂 and the dough, yummy!!

  • Lindsey

    Oh my gosh! I am totally making these next weekend when my parents come to visit my new big city apartment. I can not wait to impress them 😀 Thank you so so much!

  • merry jennifer

    The combination of cinnamon and cream cheese is one of my favorites. The only thing better than making these would be convincing my husband to make them FOR me.

  • Michelle

    I can’t believe I still haven’t made cinnamon rolls from scratch. WHat am I waiting for????

  • brownsugarandbacon

    let me just put on my “eating pants” aka yoga pants and i will be right over!

  • Blanka

    Oh my gosh!
    It looks so delicious!!!
    I must try them.

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  • Daniel

    Hi Tracy

    that’s look great!
    i just couldn’t understand how much yeast to put.
    you see, i’m from Israel and oz. doesn’t mean much to me.
    i did a little search and i think i should put 7 g, but i’m not sure.
    what do you say??


  • Daniel

    you’re a sweetheart 🙂

    i have a feeling this is going to be one of my favorites.
    ohhh…. totally a “yoga pants” situation

  • Hayley

    I made these and they turned out great! But the two places I was a little confused: 1, You add the room temp butter to the dough last… but in the pictures it looks like that is melted butter. Is it supposed to melted butter added to the dough? I did kind of an in between melty and solid and it worked…. but just wondering.
    and 2. You call for 8 tbs. melted butter for the filling but I only see where half of the butter is used to brush the dough before the filling. Where does the other half go??
    Thanks for sharing the recipe though! Despite these questions, they were loved by all!

  • Rachel (De Ma Cuisine)

    I have been drooling over this recipe for about 30 minutes. Husband just came over and I showed him and told him I wanted to make them. He thought that was a good idea. “I don’t have any cream cheese” I said. “I will get you anything you need.” He responded. We must have these rolls. Must.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Kris

    I made these Friday night & baked them Saturday morning for brunch with my visiting in-laws. Soooo great! And not that hard! These got rave reviews and will definitely be repeated! Yet another hit from your site! 🙂

  • Rachel

    These look way too delicious for their own good! I’ve made the pioneer woman’s cinnamon rolls (super delicious), but think that these might have to be my next endeavor!! Beautiful photos too…

  • sara

    I’ve made a number of healthified versions before but hugh’s b-day is coming up and something tells me these would be a bit more of a treat. Lookin’ good, tracy.

  • Beca

    Made these yesterday. Holy deliciousness!! I refrigerated them overnight and even kept one refigerated till this morning and it came out just as well. You made the rolling out and folding with cream cheese look really neat and clean. I had cream cheese squirting out as I rolled. And mine didn’t fold as flat as your letter for an envelope 🙂 Oh well, still came out delicious, everyone agreed.

  • Rachel (De Ma Cuisine)

    I made these yesterday, refrigerated them overnight, and baked this morning. I think they are the best Cinnamon Rolls I’ve ever had! They were so good we shared with friends. They agreed about the goodness. Thanks again!

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  • Daniel

    second time i’m making this.
    one word: Heaven!!!
    Thank you 🙂

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  • bonnie

    I made these for the first tiem this week and they are the BEST! My only concern was the filling- yours looks almost paste-like and spreadable. My filling came out crumbly and not very spreadable the way it looks in your photo. It still tasted delicious, but I wonder what I’m missing?

    • Tracy

      Hmm. Did you put butter on the dough before you topped it with the filling? Maybe you didn’t put enough maple syrup in the filling?

      • bonnie

        I did butter the dough beforehand, and I actually ended up putting extra maple syrup because it was so dry still. The syrup was not quite room temp (it was in the fridge and I didn’t let it sit out for long enough I don’t think) so maybe that had something to do with it. Still tasty though!

  • Emily

    I made your cinnamon buns today Tracy and they were so amazing! Thank you for the recipe! My husband is 100% behind these being our “go-to cinnamon buns”. I made the filling with the “homemade” brown sugar Joy posted about a while ago, and I think all that molasses added some good flavor!


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  • Katie

    I made these cinnamon rolls for a tea party a couple days ago, and they were a hit! The dough was wonderfully soft, the filling was perfectly sweet and cinnamony, and the glaze just tied it all together….ahhh yum.

    Thanks for the recipe! I’m dying for an excuse to make these again!

  • maija

    Had to stop by to say I made these for the second time this weekend. My yeast was about to expire so it just had to be done! One item I really enjoyed checking off the to-do list. These encompass all of my feelings about what a cinnamon roll should be. I brought one to work this morning & my Monday seemed a little easier. Thanks for the great directions/pics on this recipe, it makes it a breeze. Oh and soy milk works fine for the glaze if no buttermilk in the house.

    • Tracy

      Ahhh good to know about the soy milk. So glad you enjoyed this recipe. I wish I could have more cinnamon rolls in my life!

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  • Lauren

    Would it be doable to freeze (in lieu of refrigerating) these so they’ll last a few more days before baking? Just let em sit out longer before baking…I’m mainly concerned about the texture. Love the podcast!

    • Tracy

      hmmm. good question! I would freeze them, thaw them overnight in the fridge and then bake them.

  • Jessie

    Tracy! Thought you should know these have become my go to for Christmas and thanksgiving morning. They’re so good my hubs specifically requested them for this Christmas. SO. GOOD. Also? I’m going to YOLO the crap outta these this Tuesday.

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  • Priscila

    Amazing! Cream cheese is innovation in cinamon rolls.

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