cinnamon rolls with cream cheese glaze.

I know, I know.

Is this real life??

Yes, it is.

That was the reaction that one of my friends had when he saw a tray of gooey homemade cinnamon rolls sitting on the counter first thing in the AM.

I was boy-sitting Mr. Peaches and two of his study buddies over the weekend, and thought these cinnamon rolls would be the perfect breakfast treat for them to reheat and enjoy all week long while I was away.

Despite the long list of steps, these cinnamon rolls are actually quite simple, as they can be made entirely by hand.

No stand mixer, hand mixer, or food processor needed.

The end product is fat, fluffy, and oh-so-delicious.

Exactly the kind of thing I need right before bikini season. 😉

Make it easy on yourself and make the dough the night before, then assemble and bake in the morning.

And if you’re a really super organized Type-A brunch enthusiast, you can prep these rolls, cover in greased plastic, and freeze for up to one month.


peaches & cake

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman and Cook’s Illustrated: The Best Make Ahead Recipes
Makes 20 cinnamon rolls. Can easily be doubled.

Time: 1.5 hour prep time the night before + overnight to chill + 1 hour in the morning
*Steps 1-3 can be done up to 3 days ahead of time.
*Steps 1-9 can be done up to 1 month ahead of time and frozen. See note about freezing below.

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  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 packet or 2 ¼ tsp. active dry yeast
  • 4 cups  + another ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour, separated, plus more for counter
  • ½ teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (scant) baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter, plus extra for greasing the baking dish
  • Generous sprinkling of ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup brown sugar


  • 3 Tbsp. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 Tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups of confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1. Heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Transfer mixture to a medium mixing bowl and let cool to warm, about 110-115°F (you can put the bowl in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process.) Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for about 2 minutes.

2. Add 4 cups of flour. Stir until just combined, then cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour.

3. Mix the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining ½ cup flour in a small bowl. Set aside.

4. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining ½ cup flour. Stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon to combine. You will end up with a shaggy dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: you can also make the rolls right away, but it is much easier to work with chilled dough.)

5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease two large or three medium-size glass or metal baking dishes with softened butter; set aside. (I used one 9×13” and one 15×12” baking dish. Don’t use dark or non-stick dishes or the bottom of the rolls will burn.)

6. To assemble the rolls, generously sprinkle a clean surface with flour. Take the dough and use your hands to form a rough rectangle. Roll out very thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. The rectangle should increase in both width and length as you roll it out. The final product will be about 16 x 12-inches. (If your baking surface is small, you can roll the dough out in 2 separate batches.)

7. Brush 2 Tbsp. melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly. Generously sprinkle the ground cinnamon and ¾ cup of the brown sugar over the butter. Press the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture into the dough with your fingers.

8. Beginning at the end farthest from you, use both hands to slowly roll the dough towards you into a neat, tight cylinder. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Some of the sugar mixture may ooze out, but that’s okay. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together with your fingers and flip the roll so that the seam side down. Gently stretch the cylinder until it is about even in diameter. When you’re finished, you’ll end up with one long log.

9. With a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1-inch slices. One log will produce about 20 rolls. Place the sliced rolls in the prepared pans, being careful not to overcrowd.

10. Cover the pans with a clean kitchen towel and set aside to rise again for 20-25 minutes before baking.

11. Remove the towel and bake for 24 to 26 minutes, until lightly golden brown and puffed. Keep an eye on them – don’t let the rolls become overly brown.

12. While the rolls are baking, make the cream cheese glaze: Soften the cream cheese in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Whisk the cream cheese and milk together by hand in a large bowl until thick and smooth. Sift the confectioners’ sugar over the mixture and whisk until smooth.

13. Using the whisk or a large spoon, immediately drizzle the icing over the top of the warm rolls. As they sit, the rolls will absorb the icing’s moisture and flavor. (If desired, transfer the rolls to a wire rack with a metal spatula and frost individually, then transfer to cake stand or serving platter.)


After arranging the rolls in prepared baking dish, cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the rolls have doubled in size and are pressed against one another, about 20 minutes. Wrap the dishes tightly with greased plastic wrap, without pressing on the rolls, and freeze for up to one month. To bake, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap the dishes and wrap tightly with foil. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake until golden and puffed, about 15 minutes longer.  Ice the rolls as directed in steps 12 and 13.

 Ohhh yeahhh…..

2 responses to “cinnamon rolls with cream cheese glaze.

  1. kat

    girl, i hope those boys realize how lucky they have it! amazing!
    you should have them bake for you sometime (if you dare)


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