Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

by Shumaila

Even before you are in front of a Cinnabon outlet in a mall, you know its near you with the cinnamon aroma hovering all around it. When that cinnamon air hits you, there is no looking back. You are already opening your wallet, taking your credit card or cash out, and in a trance, walking towards the origin of the smell of cinnamon mixed with yeasty goodness.

Now, Cinnabon did not come to India till a little over two years back. Had it not been for my friend the Pious Hippie from college I would not have been introduced to Cinnabon’s cinnamon rolls for a long time. I would have for long still been unaware of their ooey, gooey, incredible cinnamon buns with the most addictive smothering of frosting.

Once I was hooked, there was no return. Since there was no place in India then, where we could get cinnabon style cinnamon rolls, I took to making them at home. This was more than 4 years back. I think I found a recipe on Not sure though, because I just noted down the recipe in my diary; back then The Novice Housewife did not exist, it was just a diary with recipes scribbled in it.

My first attempt at cinnamon rolls was disastrous. They were ultra huge, a little burnt too, and were too doughy for my taste. Still, they got over very quickly. The frosting and the filling kind of made sure that they did.

I knew the recipe was good enough. It was my first time making bread, and working with yeast, so I knew something was wrong with my rolling, and rising. I knew I hadn’t rolled the dough out too thin. I changed that the next time. Also, I added a little cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in the dough, to make the bread part of the cinnamon rolls flavorful as well.

I researched a little more, about the frosting, about the filling, searching for the perfect version, and finally I got to something I was really happy with. Since the cinnabon cinnamon rolls were no longer with me to compare, and I only had my memory to rely on, to me these seemed really, really close! And I saved the recipe. And made them again and again.

One does need some time on hand to make these. But the rewards of making them at home are so totally worth all the effort. (although by now, I don’t find rolling and kneading any effort, with only the waiting being a little troublesome)

If you thought the Cinnabon outlets in the malls smelled like absolute heaven, then you will be doubly happy with what happens when you pop these beauties into the oven. The aroma of cinnamon and the baking bread will drift through your entire house, making you wait in salivating anticipation.

And even better than the whole house smelling like Cinnabon, is the pleasure of having these warm, buttery, gooey, fluffy cinnamony buns one-minute-old from the oven, smothered with the cream-cheesey, lemony & vanilla-ey frosting.

And when you reach the last bite, the absolutely sinful middle part that is oozing out with the brown sugar cinnamon filling, you will know it was ALL worth it!


Makes 12-15 large buns, but I made them smaller, so I got more

Source: I would like to say, but I am not sure


For the dough:

  • 1 cup warm milk (110 F, 45 C)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup margarine
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

For the filling:

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 (or 3 tbsp) ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup margarine, softened (I accidentally melted it, and such are the pictures, but softened margarine would do just fine)

For the frosting:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup softened margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice


For the dough:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, pour in the warm milk, yeast and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar. Stir and proof 5 minutes, till it becomes bubbly and frothy.
  2. Add sugar, margarine salt, eggs, and 2 cups of all purpose flour and the whole of bread flour, mix well. Start kneading on lowest speed.
  3. Sprinkle flour in by 1/4 cup increments until dough cleans the sides and bottom of the bowl. Dough should be sticky but not sticky enough to stick to your hands when touched. Once it has reached this stage, turn mixer on and knead for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove dough from the bowl, grease and place it back in the same “almost clean” mixing bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.


For the filling:

  1. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  2. Make sure the margarine is softened. ( I accidentally melted mine, but softened margarine would do)

Making the cinnamon rolls:

  1. Punch down dough. On liberally floured large clean surface, roll the dough into a 20 inch  by 30 inch rectangle (or as close you can to those dimensions). It should be approx 1/4 inch thick or thinner, if you like the bread part to be really thin. Keep moving the dough around to make sure it’s not sticking to the work surface. (Lightly flour dough as well if required, but do not overdo with the flour)
  2. Spread the softened margarine over the surface of the dough.
  3. Dump the brown sugar and cinnamon mix in the middle of the dough, spreading evenly over the surface with your hands, leaving about 1″ untouched around edges. Lightly press the sugar mixture into the margarine using a rolling pin.
  4. Gently roll into a fairly tight roll, trying to keep the filling inside, finishing with the plain dough on the bottom to seal the entire thing together. Cut off the uneven ends to even out the log..
  5. With a sharp knife, slice into 12 (or 15 slightly smaller)pieces.
  6. Place into parchment lined baking tray about 2″ apart, cover with plastic wrap or lint free dish cloth, and let rise for another hour, till they have almost doubled.
  7. Bake in 400 degree on rack just above centre, for about 10 minutes, or until light golden brown. Watch them carefully!! I kind of burnt this batch! So be careful!

For the filling:

  1. While the rolls are baking, whip cream cheese and margarine together. Stir in vanilla, and lemon juice. Scrape sides and mix again.
  2. Pour in powdered sugar and stir slowly until it starts to incorporate.
  3. Then mix on high for 5 minutes or until frosting starts to lighten in color. Scrape sides and mix again briefly.
  4. Once rolls have been removed from the oven, immediately frost using half the amount made.
  5. Then after they have cooled a few more minutes, frost again with remaining frosting. The first frosting will melt down into the rolls and the second layer should stay put. Serve warm.

Notes to keep in mind

  1. Be very careful as to not burn the bottom. Remove the buns when the tops become golden. Decrease temperature to 350F if you think the bottom is burning.
  2. Roll the dough out it thin, if you do not want it too bready. Personally I like it as thin as possible.
  3. The original recipe does not ask you to, but I generally add a little cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in the bread dough as well, so that bread is also flavorful.
  4. You could replace the margarine with butter, but the results would differ slightly
  5. For smaller rolls, after rolling the dough out, I divided the dough into two 10 inch by 30 inch rolled out dough. And after making two logs, I cut each log every 1 1/2 inches.