I don’t know why I shy away from yeast recipes.  I see the word “yeast” in an ingredient list and my heart begins to palpitate, I break out in a cold sweat and disregard the recipe completely.  Ok, I am exaggerating my reaction a bit, but for some reason yeast breads really do intimidate me.  I think I am afraid that I will spend hours and hours waiting for the dough to raise and then what if I spend all of that time and effort and it still doesn’t turn out?

That is the reason I have never attempted homemade caramel or cinnamon rolls.  I always thought that making rolls looked like so much effort.  Not only do you need to wait for dough to raise, but then you have to roll the dough out and fill it, cut it, let it raise again, bake the rolls and make the frosting or caramel!!!

I don’t know what caused me to get over this irrational fear and make my first batch of cinnamon rolls, but I am so glad that I did!  The effort really was minimal and the result was so incredibly, mouthwateringly delicious, I will be making these rolls for special occasions for many years to come!

I think I was partially inspired by my new love for the Pioneer Woman.  Yes, I know, “new love”, you ask??  Yes, I mean it.  I had no idea how wonderfully down-to-earth and funny Ree Drummond was until a few months ago!  Now I record her show every week and stalk her blog for hours at a time.  If you haven’t met Ree yet, I encourage you to head over to The Pioneer Woman blog and take a peek.  If nothing else, I bet you will find it impossible not to fall in love with her adorable dog Charlie.

The Pioneer Woman is famous for her cinnamon rolls, among many other things.  This recipe is adapted from her recipe and one of the main differences is that I used a traditional cream cheese frosting where Ree uses a maple icing.  These rolls are soft, tender and flakey and smothered in thick, creamy frosting:  everything you could want in a cinnamon roll.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting (Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
Tender and flakey cinnamon rolls slathered with thick cream cheese frosting
  • For the rolls:
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup sugar, plus ½ cup
  • 1¼ tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 cups, plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, plus ¼ cup
  • ¼ tsp baking powder, heaping
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • For the frosting:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp milk or cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  1. For the rolls:
  2. In a small saucepan, combine milk, oil and ¼ cup sugar. Heat over medium heat until just before boiling (bubbles form around the edge of the pan).
  3. Remove from heat and pour mixture into a large mixing bowl. Set aside for 30 minutes to cool slightly.
  4. Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture and allow the yeast to set for 2 minutes.
  5. Add 2 cups, plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour and mix to combine (you can do this with the dough hook of an electric mixer or with a spatula). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place into the oven with the oven light on for 1 hour (DO NOT turn the oven on, just the light. The warmth of the oven light will facilitate the dough raising).
  6. While the dough raises, grease a 9X13 pan.
  7. Dough will have nearly doubled in size at this point.
  8. Add remaining ¼ cup flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix well to combine.
  9. Generously flour a countertop and pour the dough out onto the floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a large rectangle. Dough should be about twice as long as it is wide.
  10. Melt the ½ cup of butter in the microwave and pour the melted butter onto the rectangle of dough and spread evenly.
  11. Sprinkle brown sugar, ½ cup white sugar and cinnamon over butter.
  12. Begin rolling the top long edge of the rectangle toward you keeping it relatively tight until you have formed a long log.
  13. Using a bench scraper, or large knife, cut the log in half and cut the two pieces in half again. You will know have 4 equal pieces. Cut each piece into 3 equal pieces and this will make 12 rolls.
  14. Place rolls cut side down into the prepared pan.
  15. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  16. Let the rolls raise again for 30 minutes and then bake for 16-18 minutes or until rolls are lightly browned.
  17. For the frosting:
  18. Combine cream cheese, milk and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add powdered sugar. Spread frosting onto rolls while they are still warm out of the oven.
  19. *NOTE*
  20. To make rolls the day ahead, follow steps up until baking (place the rolls into the prepared pan). Cover unbaked rolls with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, again turn oven light on (DO NOT TURN OVEN ON) and place the rolls into the oven for an hour to raise. Remove plastic wrap, then bake as directed.
  21. Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman

combine milk, oil and 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan

heat until just before boiling, pour into a large mixing bowl and let cool

sprinkle yeast over warm milk mixture

add 2 cups, plus 2 Tbsp flour and mix

cover and allow to raise for one hour

add remaining flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix well

pour dough out onto a floured surface

use a rolling pin to roll dough into a large rectangle

pour melted butter over dough and spread evenly

sprinkle sugars and cinnamon evenly over buttered dough

roll top edge of dough toward you to form a long log

cut into 12 equal pieces

place rolls into greased pan

allow rolls to raise one more time


make frosting and frost rolls while they are still warm from the oven

Want more cinnamon breakfast treats?

Extra Crumb Coffee Cake

Monkey Bubble Bread

Triple Berry Streusel Muffins

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26 Comments ( Reply )

  1. Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 9:14 am

    Those. Look. INCREDIBLE. Cinnamon rolls are one of those foods I simply cannot resist. So ooey, gooey and perfectly spicy yet sweet. Like little pillows of brown sugary heaven and these are no exception! I, too, have an irrational fear of yeast but if it produces big, fat, fluffy rolls like these, I’m going to face my fear and bake away. Looks awesome, Mercedes!


    • Mercedes
      Aug 14, 2012 @ 10:04 am

      I agree Hayley, if you put a cinnamon roll in front of me, I will devour it! I’m glad to hear that someone else has an irrational fear of yeast, like I do! But, I promise, these will be a success for you also!


  2. sally @ sallys baking addiction
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 11:04 am

    WOWOWOW!!!! Mercedes, I have a real soft spot for cinnamon rolls. Yours look like true perection. The perfect amount of cinnamon, a generous spread of cream cheese frosting… i love it all!


    • Mercedes
      Aug 14, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

      Thank you Sally! I haven’t met too many people that can turn down an ooey gooey cinnamon roll! Glad to know I am in good company :)!


  3. Jessica@AKitchenAddiction
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

    These look amazing! I love fresh from the oven cinnamon rolls! Yum!


    • Mercedes
      Aug 14, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

      Thanks Jessica! The smell out of the oven from Cinnamon rolls is so intoxicating, there is nothing like it!


  4. Cassie
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

    These are wonderful! I have made her cinnamon rolls before and they are top-notch. I adore cinnamon rolls, they are one of the most nostalgic things that I can eat!


    • Mercedes
      Aug 14, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

      Did you make her maple icing or traditional cream cheese frosting when you made them?


      • Cassie
        Aug 14, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

        I just did traditional – cream and powdered sugar. I love maple but I want simple icing on my cinnamon rolls!


  5. Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

    Homemade cinnamon rolls are the best, these look so delicious! Glad you conquered your fear of yeast :).


    • Mercedes
      Aug 14, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

      I am glad that I conquered my irrational fear of yeast too Laura, thanks!


  6. emily (a nutritionist eats)
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

    I have heard great things about her cinnamon rolls!
    They are one of my dad’s favorite treats – except he always leaves off the frosting – the best part!!


    • Mercedes
      Aug 14, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

      These would probably be good without the frosting because the rolls themselves are so good!


  7. Trisha
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

    LOVE IT!


    • Mercedes
      Aug 15, 2012 @ 7:59 pm

      Thanks Trish!


  8. Anna @ hiddenponies
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

    Cinnamon rolls are definitely one of my top favourite foods of all time, and my sister has these exact rolls freshly made at her house waaay too often…YUM! I like the elimination of the maple frosting, I would go the same way 🙂


  9. Averie @ Averie Cooks
    Nov 23, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

    Ive wanted to make her rolls so many times but the batch size is ginormous and love your pared down version and also I think I’m more of a traditional cream cheese frosting girl BUT I have always been intrigued by her maple icing, too! You did a great job!


  10. Gigi
    Jan 06, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

    These are in my oven as I type. I have never been afraid of anything in the kitchen but yeast was something I have stayed away from. I cooked and conquered!!Thanks for posting this!


    • Mercedes
      Jan 07, 2013 @ 8:37 am

      I am so happy that you have conquered your fear of yeast and made these rolls Gigi! I hope you liked them and that it will inspire you to continue experimenting! I have a great Cinnamon-Swirl Bread that I just made and will be posting soon that is another great recipe to try with yeast because it was very easy and the bread was so great!


  11. Heather Guymon
    Jun 19, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

    What temp do you bake these at???


    • Mercedes
      Jun 19, 2013 @ 9:28 pm

      400 degrees! Thanks for catching that!


  12. carol
    Dec 09, 2014 @ 5:30 pm

    I have dying to make these. I am have out of town guests this weekend. So I am doing a test bake tomorrow. Wish me luck.


    • Mercedes
      Dec 09, 2014 @ 7:30 pm

      Good luck Carol, they are great rolls and easy to make! Enjoy your company!


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