Breads, Rolls + Donuts Breakfast Holidays

Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

buttermilk cinnamon rolls on plates with gold forks
buttermilk cinnamon rolls on plates

I couldn’t leave cinnamon rolls out of my new breakfast book, 100 Morning Treats; they are my go-to for any type of special occasion that may (or may not) involve breakfast. I have a favorite recipe for my Soft and Gooey Cinnamon Rolls that so many of you love, but I decided to change things up with a buttermilk dough and slightly different filling.

I love both versions equally, but these buns are special. They’re made with buttermilk in the dough and a rich cinnamon filling. The rolls bake up soft and fluffy, and are finished with a cream cheese icing.

I like my cinnamon rolls super soft and gooey, so I put a thin layer of the icing over them while they are still warm. The icing melts into the just baked rolls, eliminating any hard corners or edges.

100 Morning Treats by Sarah Kieffer

Corrected Recipe

As with all things in life, nothing is perfect, and in the book , this recipe has a couple of errors that were missed before it went to press. It is always extremely disappointing when this happens, and I feel like I let my readers down when I don’t catch a mistake. But, four books in, I’m here to say it is impossible not to have one.

The recipe below is the corrected version: the butter in the filing should be melted, and the butter in the icing should be room temperature (they got flip flopped).

The filling is also slightly different than the photo below – it uses melted butter and brown sugar, which forms more of a paste. You will spread it on with an offset spatula in a thin layer. I do have a reel posted on Instagram that shows what it looks like!

buttermilk cinnamon roll on plate

For overnight cinnamon rolls:

Assemble the rolls and put them in the prepared pan, but do not let them rise at room temperature. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours or up to overnight to do a slow rise. When ready to bake, preheat the oven and let the rolls sit at room temperature (still covered with plastic) for 30 to 45 minutes. Bake as directed, and proceed with the recipe. 

How To Fold Dough for This Recipe

I’ve included photos of the folding process, which shows how to do it. This little extra step is the secret to the pillowy soft texture of the rolls! This buttermilk dough uses granulated sugar instead of honey (as in my sweet dough recipe), so the dough will not be as fluid as shown below – it will feel a little stiffer. This is okay! The fold will just be less and smaller, and as the dough continues to rise, it will relax.

Why do I fold the dough? Folding the dough helps improve the dough’s structure, ensures gluten will form, and makes it easier to handle.

How to Make Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

How I Measure Flour:

Throughout my recipes posted on this website and books, 1 cup of flour equals 142g. Please note that 1 cup of flour can range anywhere from 120g to 142g, depending on the baker or website. I found that after weighting many cups of flour and averaging the total, mine always ended up around this number. If I am posting a recipe from another cookbook, I will use whatever gram measure of flour used in that book, which is why you may see a few posts with a different cup measurement. 

Different brands of flour have varying levels of protein, ranging from low to high, which can result in very different outcomes when baking. I’ve found Gold Medal all-purpose unbleached flour to be the best option for many of my recipes; I use it in all the baked goods that don’t use yeast. For yeasted doughs that call for all-purpose flour, I like to use King Arthur Brand. 

More Breakfast Roll Recipes:

Soft Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

Servings: 12 rolls
These cinnamon rolls are special, made with buttermilk in the dough and a rich cinnamon filling. They bake up soft and fluffy, and are finished with a cream cheese icing.
Sarah Kieffer
5 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate

Ingredients

Buttermilk Dough

  • 1/2 cup [120 g] buttermilk, warm (100 to 110F [35 to 42C])
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons [444 g] all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 8 tablespoons [1 stick or 113 g] unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature

Filling

  • 6 tablespoons [84 g] unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt

Icing

  • 8 tablespoons [1 stick or 113 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz [113 g] cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/4 cups [150 g] confectioners' sugar

Instructions

For the buttermilk dough

  • Grease a large bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the warm buttermilk and yeast on low speed, and let sit until the yeast has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla, and mix until well combined.
  • Add the flour, mixing on low speed until incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the butter, one piece at a time. When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and beat the butter into the dough, until all the little butter pieces are incorporated, about 1 minute. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl. The dough will be sticky.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 30 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and place your fingers or a spatula underneath the dough to gently pull the dough up and fold it over itself. Give the bowl a quarter turn and fold the dough over again. Repeat six to eight more times, until all the dough has been folded over on itself. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 30 minutes. Repeat this series of folding the dough three more times, every 30 minutes, for a rise time of 2 hours.
  • Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.

For the filling

  • In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt until completely combined into a thick paste.

To assemble and bake

  • Grease a 9 by 13 in [23 by 33 cm] baking pan; if desired, line it with a parchment sling for easier cleanup.
  • Generously flour your work surface. Roll out the dough into a 12 by 16 in [30.5 by 40.5] rectangle. Use an offset spatula to spread the filling evenly over the surface of the dough. Starting at a long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder.
  • Pinch the seam gently to seal it and position the dough seam-side down. Use scissors or a sharp knife to cut the dough into twelve equal pieces. Transfer them to the prepared pan and place them with a spiral side facing up. cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (The rolls can also do a slow rise in the refrigerator overnight, see note.)
  • Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F [180C].
  • Remove the plastic and bake the rolls until light golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through baking, 27 to 32 minutes. Transfer the pan of rolls to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.

For the icing

  • While the rolls are baking, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla and salt and mix on low speed to combine. Add the confectioners' sugar, mixing until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, increase the speed to medium, and beat until the icing is light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • With an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, apply a thin layer of the cream cheese icing on the warm rolls, using half of the mixture (see note). Let the rolls cool for another 15 to 20 minutes. Top with the rest of the icing and serve.
  • Cinnamon rolls are best eaten the same day they are made, but they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Notes

For overnight cinnamon rolls: Assemble the rolls and put them in the prepared pan, but do not let them rise at room temperature. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours or up to overnight to do a slow rise. When ready to bake, preheat the oven and let the rolls sit at room temperature (still covered with plastic) for 30 to 45 minutes. Bake as directed, and proceed with the recipe. 
I like my cinnamon rolls super soft with a gooey center, which is why I put that thin layer of icing over them when they’re still very hot. The icing melts into the warm rolls, eliminating any hard corners or edges. If you prefer a little crispy crunch to your cinnamon rolls, you can wait until they have cooled and then top them with all the icing. 
This filling is very rich and buttery! If you prefer less butter, brush the dough with 2 tablespoon melted butter, and then sprinkle the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture over the top of the dough. 
  • Reply
    Clare
    Sunday, January 7, 2024 at 5:13 pm

    5 stars
    I have a question, are these soposed to go in the fridge no questions asked before baking?

  • Reply
    Sigita
    Tuesday, December 26, 2023 at 7:24 pm

    5 stars
    First time with this recipe for the make buns ahead to rise overnight in the fridge! Dough was lovely consistency and very easy to work with. These buns taste heavenly and the cream cheese frosting is outstanding! I loved the tang buttermilk gives to the buns. Overnight method is easy and works well. Make these!

  • Reply
    Jenny
    Tuesday, December 26, 2023 at 1:44 pm

    5 stars
    These cinnamon rolls are to die for. My friends and family think I’m an amazing baker thanks to Sarah’s recipes. I’ve made these as written and also with 1.5x the filling and it’s perfection either way. The frosting is so perfect – not too sweet but not boring. Always looking for a reason to bake these.

  • Reply
    shirley
    Wednesday, December 20, 2023 at 4:36 pm

    5 stars
    If one member of my family has gluten allergy and can not tolerate it, will King Arthur’s gluten free flour work? I have never used it and since there are 6 of us, I don’t want the cinnamon rolls to not work out on Christmas morning for the rest of the family? Thanks in advance for any help or guidance. In the past, I have used your original recipe to great accolades!

    • Reply
      Sarah Kieffer
      Saturday, December 23, 2023 at 9:05 am

      Hello! These will not work with gluten free flour, sorry.

  • Reply
    Ashley Murray
    Sunday, November 26, 2023 at 4:33 am

    5 stars
    These cinnamon rolls are amazing! I made them for Father’s Day and currently on my first rise for my husband’s birthday. No need to change anything. I follow the recipe exactly! Sarah, thank you for another amazing recipe and book!

  • Reply
    Mary
    Thursday, November 2, 2023 at 10:22 am

    I want to make these in advance, and store them in the freezer. Can I do that with this recipe, and if so, at what step? Thanks

  • Reply
    Thisamericanplate
    Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 11:21 am

    5 stars
    These Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls sound absolutely divine! I adore the use of buttermilk in the dough; it must give it such a tender texture and a delightful tangy hint. The filling seems to strike the perfect balance of sweetness and warmth from the cinnamon, and that cream cheese icing is the ultimate finishing touch.

    It’s also great that you’ve included the possibility of doing an overnight slow rise. It’s always helpful to have options that allow for some of the work to be done in advance, particularly when it comes to breakfast recipes. This way, you can wake up and bake them fresh, filling your home with that irresistible aroma of cinnamon rolls in the morning.

    I’m quite intrigued by your recommendation to apply a layer of icing while the rolls are still warm. I can see how this would create a gooey, ultra-soft center that’s just irresistible. I appreciate this suggestion and the other thoughtful notes you’ve included with the recipe.

    Can’t wait to give these a try for a special breakfast treat. Thank you for sharing such a delightful recipe.

    • Reply
      Sarah Kieffer
      Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 11:54 am

      So glad you enjoyed the cinnamon rolls!

  • Reply
    laurel
    Tuesday, May 9, 2023 at 10:35 pm

    Just to clarify, if I’m using KA flour (120gm/cup) should I still use 444gm flour per your recipe? Thanks

    • Reply
      Sarah Kieffer
      Wednesday, May 10, 2023 at 7:20 am

      Yes, 444 grams. You’ll see in the post how I explain my flour weight measurements.

  • Reply
    Pam Hyett
    Tuesday, May 9, 2023 at 1:34 pm

    Congratulations on the new cookbook! I can’t wait to try this recipe. Do I have to wait the 8 hours or overnight to bake the rolls?

  • Reply
    Amy W
    Tuesday, May 9, 2023 at 12:02 pm

    I so appreciate an overnight option that doesn’t require two hours of sitting out before baking. I want cinnamon rolls for breakfast, not lunch! ? Congrats on the book, can’t wait to dig into it! Morning treats was a great way to go.

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