Both of my children have cold weather birthdays, one in the later days of Autumn, and the other very close to Christmas. While in their early years they begged for chocolate cakes covered in sprinkles, middle school brought on new requests for birthday celebrating, in the form of either Maple Oatmeal Scones or Pillowy Soft Cinnamon Rolls (that are also a reader favorite).
But as our family has grown, both with more people and also in size (growing teenagers + grocery shopping = wow), we have discovered that one pan of cinnamon rolls doesn’t cover everyone equally. At our family birthday gatherings, my little nieces eat a couple bites of that giant roll and move on to something else, while uncles and grandpas can eat three giant cinnamon rolls with no problem.
Why You’ll Love Mini Cinnamon Rolls
So mini cinnamon rolls have now entered the picture. Thirty-six small buns all tucked into a pan, their tender base baking into each other to create pillow-like dough, and their cinnamon centers expanding into beautiful golden-brown spirals. Little ones can grab one and be satisfied, and growing teenagers and grandparents can sneak back and take seconds and thirds with plenty to spare.
I still use my Sweet Dough recipe for these smaller buns, and after many tries, found splitting the dough into three pieces, then rolling each piece out into separate logs (which are then cut into twelve pieces each) made for the perfect dough-to-filling ratio.
I still like my cinnamon rolls super soft and gooey, so I put a thin layer of the icing over them while they are warm. The icing melts into the just baked rolls, eliminating any hard corners or edges.
Important Tips for Making Mini Cinnamon Rolls
If you have never used my Sweet Dough recipe before, you can find all of my cinnamon roll tips and tricks in my Pillowy Soft Cinnamon Roll post. I have found these mini buns bake best in a 10 by 15 in [25 by 38 cm] jelly roll pan, but you can see the notes below in the recipe for using a 9 by 13 in [23 by 33 cm] baking pan.
Can I Make These Ahead of Time?
Yes! Prepare the rolls: roll out dough, fill them, roll them up, cut them, and put them in the prepared pan, but do not let rise at room temperature. Instead, cover them loosely with plastic and refrigerate for up to 18 hours.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven and let the rolls sit at room temperature (still covered in plastic) for 30 to 45 minutes. Bake them as directed.
More Cinnamon Roll Recipes:
Soft and Gooey Mini Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 recipe Sweet Dough
- 3/4 cup [150 g] brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch fine salt
- 2 tablespoons [29 g] unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 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 cup [120 g] confectioners' sugar
For the filling
- In a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt until combined.
To assemble and bake
- Grease and line the bottom of a 10 by 15 in [25 by 38 cm] jelly roll pan with parchment paper (see notes for other pan options).
- Generously flour your work surface. Divide the chilled Sweet Dough into 3 equal pieces, about 380 g each. Roll out one pice of the dough into a 8 1/2 by 15 in [22 by 38 cm] rectangle. Brush the dough with a third of the melted butter, then sprinkle one third of the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the top, pressing it lightly into the butter so it adheres. 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. Repeat with the remaining two pieces of dough.
- Use scissors or a sharp knife to cut each log of dough into 12 equal pieces, for a total of 36 pieces. Transfer the pieces to the prepared pan and place them cut side up. (I arrange mine in seven rows of 5 across, with one row including an extra piece.) Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350F [180C]. Remove the plastic and bake 22 to 26 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the rolls are golden brown and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the dough of a cinnamon roll in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
For the icing
- While the rolls are baking, prepare the icing: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla and salt and mix on low to combine. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix on low until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on medium until the icing is light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Using an offset spatula or table knife, apply a thin layer of the cream cheese icing, using about one-third of the mixture. Let the rolls cool for another 15 to 20 minutes. Top with the rest of the icing and serve.