Fluffy, gooey cinnamon rolls filled with brown butter and cinnamon brown sugar, and smothered with tangy vanilla cream cheese frosting. Bake the rolls the same day, or turn them into overnight brioche cinnamon rolls and bake them off for a hot breakfast treat the next day.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
If you're looking for the best homemade cinnamon rolls, this is the recipe! Perfect for house guests, brunch, and especially for Christmas morning, these brioche cinnamon rolls are gooey, soft, and totally melt in your mouth. This is the same dough used in my orange cranberry rolls!
Buttery brioche dough - the enriched dough is incredibly soft and tender. Made with eggs and melted butter, the yeast dough is rich in color and flavor, and gets better with rising time.
Gooey filling - this cinnamon roll recipe has an amazing filling made with brown butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar that bakes into the rolls for extra gooeyness.
Frosting - a generous amount of vanilla cream cheese icing gets spread on top of the warm rolls after baking.
Make ahead - the recipe can be made and baked within a few hours, or made into overnight brioche cinnamon rolls by assembling them a day ahead, then baking them off the next morning!
- Flour. All-purpose flour is used in this recipe. It's very important to use the correct amount of flour - I suggest using a kitchen scale to measure it. If you only have measuring cups, be sure to use the fluff and scoop method.
- Yeast. The recipe calls for active dry yeast, however, you could also use instant yeast. See the "substitutions" section for instructions on how to make this swap.
- Milk. Warm milk is used to activate the yeast - whole milk should be used here.
- Eggs. These should be at room temperature for best incorporation into the dough. Place the cold eggs (in the shells) in a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes if you forget to take them out of the fridge.
- Butter. Melted butter is used in the brioche dough, and softened butter is used in both the filling and frosting. The butter in the filling is made with brown butter, which then needs to re-solidify into a soft room temperature.
- Sugars. Granulated sugar in the dough, brown sugar in the filling, and powdered sugar in the icing.
- Cinnamon. Ground cinnamon is used in the filling to produce that classic cinnamon roll flavor! Be sure you have enough, it uses quite a bit.
- Cream cheese. Full-fat, brick-style Philadelphia brand cream cheese is hands down the best option for this recipe.
- Heavy cream. The cream is poured over the cinnamon rolls prior to baking. While this is an optional step, I highly suggest doing it. I learned this tidbit from Buttermilk by Sam, and this is how Cinnabon creates their signature rolls.
See recipe card for full ingredients list and quantities.
While I highly suggest making the recipe as written, here are a few approved substitutions.
- Instant yeast in place of active dry yeast - I prefer to use active dry yeast so I can know right away if the yeast is dead or alive. However, you can substitute ¾ tablespoon of instant yeast and just mix all of the classic brioche dough ingredients together in one go. Note that the rise time is typically quicker, so keep an eye on it!
- Normal butter instead of brown butter - I will say the brown butter makes the filling extra delicious, but you can use normal softened butter if you don't want to brown it. Use only ½ cup and omit the extra two tablespoons.
How to Make This Recipe
Start by making the brown butter so it has time to cool and re-solidify. Follow my How to Brown Butter post for instructions on how to do this.
One: Add the warm milk, sugar and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer allow the yeast to activate and get foamy. Then, add the butter, remaining sugar and eggs.
Two: Pour in almost all of the flour and mix with the dough hook on low speed to moisten into a sticky dough. Increase the speed to medium high for five minutes to allow the gluten structure to develop and get smooth.
Three: Add the remaining flour to the dough and mix on medium-high for another minute.
Four: The dough will have cleaned itself from the sides of the bowl. Pulling a piece of dough will be very stretchy and elastic. Grease a medium bowl, transfer the dough into it and cover with plastic wrap to let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
Five: Combine the browned, soft butter with the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and vanilla extract and mix it into a paste.
Six: Punch down the risen dough and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Roll or gently push the dough into a rough 12x20" rectangle.
Seven: Spread the filling into an even layer over the entire surface of the dough using a rubber spatula or offset spatula.
Eight: Roll the dough evenly from the long end into a tight log, keeping it even the whole way across.
Nine: Lightly score the log of dough so there are 12 equal portions, then use a piece of dental floss to cut the rolls and transfer them to a 9x13" baking pan.
Ten: Cover the rolls, let rise in a warm place until puffy and touching, then pour on the heavy cream and bake until golden. Mix up the cream cheese glaze, then spread it on top of the warm brioche cinnamon rolls.
Hot tip! Cut off about 1-inch from either side and discard the ends. Use the rest of the log to score and cut the rolls.
Cinnamon Rolls Three Ways
Bake Right Away
This it the method that is used and followed in the recipe card. You make the dough, let it rise, assemble it into rolls, let the rolls rise, then bake and enjoy. This is a great option for a late morning brunch.
Hot tip! Use unflavored dental floss to wrap around the rolls and cut them in this state. They are very soft and don't stand up well to a serrated knife.
Overnight Option #1
Make the dough and allow it to do the first rise (until doubled) in a warm place. Form the dough into a rectangle, then add the filling and roll it up, slice using the dental floss method, then place into a pan and cover with plastic wrap. Place the cinnamon buns in the fridge overnight. Remove them from the fridge, transfer the rolls to a warm place to rise until puffy and touching, then bake.
Overnight Option #2
Make the dough and allow it to do the first rise (until doubled) in a warm place. Keep it covered in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight. The next morning, roll out the dough using a rolling pin (it will be much more firm), then add the filling and roll it up.
Cut the log into equal pieces using a serrated knife (or dental floss), then transfer to a pan, cover, and allow them to rise in a warm place until puffy and touching, then bake.
Brioche Cinnamon Rolls without a Stand Mixer
This recipe can be made by hand, but I will warn you that it's a messy process. You will want to start the process in a large mixing bowl and bring it together with a wooden spoon, then transfer it to a counter for the kneading process.
To knead, use a bench scraper to get under one side of the dough and quickly lift and slap it down on top of the other half of the dough. Repeat this many times going around the dough. As the gluten begins to develop, the dough will become less sticky, more smooth, and much easier to work with. The process takes about 15 minutes.
Because the dough is quite sticky, you'll want to fight the urge to add more flour than the recipe calls for. While it's a bit of a labor of love, this method will still produce the best brioche cinnamon rolls!
- If the active dry yeast does not foam up on the surface of the liquid, dump it and start again. Check the expiration date on the yeast, and be sure the water temperature is correct. Use a digital thermometer to look for about 110℉.
- Use a kitchen scale to measure the flour, or use the fluff and scoop method. Adding too much flour to the recipe can create dense rolls, rather than fluffy rolls.
- Give the dough time to work and do its thing. You may feel worried about how wet it is at first but trust the process. It will come together into a beautifully smooth dough.
- After rise time, press the dough into a rough rectangle with your hands, then use a rolling pin to even it out. This helps to get a nice rectangular shape.
- Score the rolled log with a knife for even pieces, then use the dental floss method to cut the dough.
- Transfer each roll into the pan after you slice it, otherwise, the pieces on the log can stick together.
- The dough is very soft, so move the rolls into the pan quickly and confidently. A bench scraper can help with this.
- For gooier centers, reduce the bake time by 3-5 minutes.
Brioche dough is an enriched dough, meaning it contains fat such as eggs, butter, and milk. Standard yeast doughs are made with water or milk and the yeast. The fat content is what makes a brioche dough so soft, tender, and flavorful.
This could be for two reasons. First, the dough did not get ample knead time so the gluten structure wasn't as developed. Second, this can happen if too much flour was added. I always recommend using a scale to measure flour for best results.
Store the baked and frosted brioche cinnamon rolls in an airtight container or in the pan covered with foil at room temperature for one day. Refrigerate for an additional 2-3 days, gently reheating individual rolls in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.
To freeze the rolls, assemble the log and cut the slices. Place them onto a cookie sheet and flash freeze them for 30 minutes, then transfer to a zip-top bag and freeze for up to two months. Thaw the roll(s) at room temperature, then allow them to rise in a warm place until puffy. From there, bake as instructed.
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Brioche Cinnamon Rolls
- Stand mixer with dough hook attachment
- Rolling Pin
- Offset spatula or rubber spatula
- Dental floss or serrated knife to cut the rolls
- 1 cup whole milk warmed to 110℉/43℃ (8 fl oz)
- ½ cup granulated sugar divided (100g)
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast 10g
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted (113g)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 5 cups all-purpose flour 600g
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Brown Butter Cinnamon Sugar Filling
- 1½ cups brown sugar light or dark (300g)
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter browned & re-solidified to room temperature (141g)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream 120ml
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 6 ounces cream cheese softened
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened (28g)
- 2 cups powdered sugar 240g
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Start by browning the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, to a deep golden hue, then scrape it into a bowl (get all of the brown bits from the bottom) and allow it to re-solidify to a soft room temperature.
- Add the milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and the yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer and give it a quick stir. Allow it to stand for 5 minutes until the yeast activates and becomes a foamy layer on top.1 cup whole milk, ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- Add the remaining sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla and mix with the dough hook on low speed.½ cup granulated sugar, 2 large eggs, ½ cup unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Add in 4½ cups of the flour (540g) and salt, and mix on low to combine and moisten. The dough will look very loose and wet at this point.
- Scrape any excess flour down from the sides, then mix the dough on medium high speed for five minutes. The dough will be very smooth at this point.
- Add in the remaining ½ cup of flour. Mix on low until the flour is absorbed, then mix on medium high for another minute. The dough will be very elastic. Slowly pulling a quarter-sized piece from the dough will pull for a surprisingly long time.
- Grease a large mixing bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl using your hands or a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel and allow it to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. About one hour.
Filling & Assembly
- Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to mix all of the ingredients together until a smooth paste forms.1½ cups brown sugar, 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, ½ cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, ¼ teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a rectangle. Then, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a 12x20" rectangle. Keep it even between the middle and edges.
- Spread the filling evenly over the dough, spreading the entire way to the edges on both long ends, and leaving a ½" inch border on the short ends. Those pieces will get cut off.
- Starting on one of the long ends, begin rolling the dough as evenly as possible until it meets the end, then place the seam side down onto the counter top.
- Using unflavored dental floss or a serrated knife, remove 1 inch off of both edges. Score the log into 12 pieces, then use a piece of unflavored dental floss or a serrated knife to cut each roll along the perforation.
- Transfer each cinnamon roll to the pan, then cover with plastic wrap or foil and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for another 30 minutes until puffy and touching.
- While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃.
- Once risen, drizzle the heavy cream evenly over top of all of the cinnamon rolls, then bake for 22-26 minutes until lightly golden brown.½ cup heavy whipping cream
Cream Cheese Icing
- While the cinnamon rolls bake, combine the ingredients in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer) and beat until smooth and fluffy.6 ounces cream cheese, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Allow the cinnamon rolls to cool for about five minutes after removing them from the oven, then spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the tops.
- Serve hot or warm.