Easy Cinnamon Rolls

Easy Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls Wide

Years ago, it was The Pioneer Woman who inspired me to start Making Life Delicious. I loved her photos and recipes, but most of all, I loved the easy way that she cooked. A dash of this, a pinch of that, a package of something else, these were often her measurements. I like this because the fact is that most recipes, even when baking, have a lot of flexibility.

Case in point, the Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls. I have made her sweet roll recipe more times than I can count and they always turn out great. Also, I have found after reading and rereading her recipe that there are several inconsistencies in her directions. What is the exact temperature of the oven? Just how much baking powder, soda and cinnamon are you supposed to use? The fact that she is vague on these points is fine because, as I said, they always turn out, but for you dear reader I decided to be a bit more precise.

This recipe makes A LOT of rolls. I usually end up with about 60 rolls of various sizes spread amongst 7-8 pans. This makes this a great recipe for gifting something sweet to your neighbors on a random Sunday morning, which is what I did.

Lots of Cinnamon Rolls w Watermark

One more thing, PLAN AHEAD. These rolls are very easy, with only about 35-40 minutes of active baking time, but there are several points where you need to let things rest and grow. I usually make the dough the night before which takes about 2.5 hours, only 10 minutes of which involves me doing anything. The next morning, assembly, resting and baking  takes another 1 and 15 minutes, 25-30 minutes to assemble the rolls and make the icings, the rest is all waiting.

Easy Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman


  • 1 quart (4 cups) Whole Milk
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Sugar (7 ounces)
  • 2 packages (1/2 ounce aka 4 teaspoons total) Active Dry Yeast
  • 9 cups All-purpose Flour, divided (45 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt


  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces)  of Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 cups Sugar (14 ounces)
  • scant 1/2 cup of Cinnamon

– You decide if you want maple or lemon or some pans with maple and some with lemon


  • 2 lbs Powdered Sugar
  • 4-5 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 5-6 Tablespoons Whole Milk
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons Brewed Coffee
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt


  • 6 cups Powdered Sugar
  • zest of 1 Lemon
  • 6 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 6 Tablespoons Whole Milk or Cream
  • large pinch of Kosher Salt


For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. How can you tell that milk is just about to boil? It is very hot and as you stir the pot the milk becomes foamy. Like this.

Foamy Milk w Watermark

If you push it all the way to simmering, no worries, just shut off the heat right away and set aside the pot of milk and cool to warm, about one hour. It is very important to wait until the milk mixture is just warm, NOT HOT because you don’t want to kill the yeast when you add it. Speaking of which, it is time to sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 3-4 minutes.

Add 8 cups (40 ounces) of the flour. Stir until just combined. It will be very wet, like this.

Wet Dough w Watermark

Cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the remaining cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt.

Adding Last Flour w Watermark

Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away, or just cover the pot and refrigerate for up to 2 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the pot. I usually make the dough the night before.


Pay attention now, because you will be doing the next set of steps twice, once for each half of the dough

1. Remove HALF the dough from the pan/bowl and pat into a rough rectangle.


Ready to Roll Cinnamon Rolls w Watermark
2. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. It doesn’t have to be exactly this size. The dough should be rolled to about 1/4 – 1/3 of an inch.
3. Pour 3/4 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use a pastry brush or your fingers to spread the butter evenly.
Adding Butter w Watermark
4. Generously sprinkle 1 cup of the sugar over the butter then scant (a little less than) 1/4 cup cinnamon. Spread evenly.


Adding Cinnamon w Watermark5. Now, beginning at the long side farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you forming a long rope-like log. Use both hands and work slowly. Keep the roll tight. Pinch the ends. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with a log of dough longer than the dough was when you started. Each of my dough logs was around 38 inches long.


Dough Log w Watermark
6. Cut the log into pieces that are a little over an inch thick. The amount and size of the rolls will vary depending on human variation, but this is A-OK.


Cutting Cinnamon Rolls w Watermark
7. Pour a generous teaspoon of melted butter into your pans. Pioneer woman recommends disposable cake pans, I happen to have hundreds of pie pans lying around, so I tend to use those. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd because the rolls will expand before you are done. (Each pan will hold 7 to 9 rolls.)


Lots of Rolls Ready to Bake Watermark
Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel (or not, sometimes I don’t) and set aside to rise on the countertop for about 20-30 minutes before baking. If they sit there a bit longer, that’s fine. They will slowly expand to fill the pans, but it is not necessary to let them rise until the pans are completely filled because they will expand again in the oven.

Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. They may also start to separate just a bit at the points where there the layers come together. You can also take one roll out of the center of one pan to look at the bottom. You want the consistency of light bread, not wet dough. Overcooking the rolls makes them a little hard and dry and you have come so far…who wants that?


Baked Cinnamon Rolls w Watermark
In a large bowl, whisk together all the icing ingredients. You can choose the maple or the lemon or both or something else all together. The icing should be somewhat thick but still very pourable. If your icing is too thick, add a little milk until it is the consistency you want.
Frosting for Cinnamon Rolls w Watermark
Drizzle icing over the warm rolls. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing’s moisture and flavor.EATRoll Closeup Cinnamon Rolls w WatermarkSo that’s my favorite easy breakfast roll. Of course, there are ways you could shake easily shake this up. You could roll in raisins or nuts or you could top these with some kind of crumb before you bake them (that’s my next thing to try ).