Breads, Rolls + Donuts Breakfast Holidays

Homemade Mini Cinnamon Rolls

mini cinnamon rolls on pink plates
mini cinnamon rolls in a pan

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.

cutting mini cinnamon rolls
using a scissor to cut mini cinnamon rolls
pan of mini cinnamon rolls, unbaked
pan of mini cinnamon rolls with lots of icing
mini cinnamon rolls on pink plates

More Cinnamon Roll Recipes:

pan of mini cinnamon rolls with lots of icing

Soft and Gooey Mini Cinnamon Rolls

Servings: 36 rolls
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Thirty-six mini cinnamon rolls 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. Generously finished with a cream cheese icing while they're warm.
Sarah Kieffer
5 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate

Ingredients

Filling

  • 3/4 cup [150 g] brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 2 tablespoons [29 g] unsalted butter, melted and cooled

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 cup [120 g] confectioners' sugar

Instructions

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. 

Notes

*I found the 10 by 15 in [25 by 38] jelly roll pan to be a great size for making these buns – they had a little room between them to expand and baked up beautifully. A 9 by 13 in [23 by 33 cm] pan will also work, but the buns are pressed together and they will bake up a little smaller, and take more time to bake (add 3 to 7 more minutes to the bake time). 
*Halfway through baking, peek at the buns. If they have any centers that are popped out (which sometimes happens when baking cinnamon rolls) you can use the back of a spoon to gently push down on the centers and press them into place. 
*** Throughout my recipes posted on this website, 1 cup of flour equals 142 grams. Please note that 1 cup of flour can range anywhere from 120 to 142 grams, 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. 
  • Reply
    Anne
    Monday, December 25, 2023 at 3:32 pm

    5 stars
    I had never made cinnamon rolls in my life before (age 63), but I made these for Christmas breakfast today. They were absolutely amazing and every bit as promised. Thank you so much for this excellent recipe! Merry Christmas.

  • Reply
    Corinne
    Friday, December 22, 2023 at 1:33 pm

    Hi! I’ve been making your larger ones the last few years. Could I make these in a standard half sheet pan?

  • Reply
    Corinne Moore
    Friday, December 22, 2023 at 11:53 am

    Could I make these in a sheet pan? 18×13?

  • Reply
    Kathleen
    Monday, December 11, 2023 at 10:19 am

    5 stars
    These worked wonderfully for me and were vary delicious! I made two pans for a large brunch yesterday, and they were wonderful. I made the sweet dough on Saturday morning, then refrigerated and shaped the rolls Saturday evening, and baked the next morning after letting the rolls sit at room temperature for about 90 minutes. It worked very nicely. One word of warning is that I did have one of the pans overflow melted sugar/butter in my oven, which burned and smoked. So, it’s a good idea to set the pan inside a larger cookie sheet if possible – I did that right away and will definitely do that next time. Thank you for the great recipe and all of the detailed notes!

  • Reply
    Chris
    Saturday, November 25, 2023 at 9:16 am

    Wondering how they would turn out baked in a mini muffin pan? (Which is 36)

    • Reply
      Kathleen
      Monday, December 11, 2023 at 10:24 am

      I think it would work, but I’d be super careful to not let them get too brown, and butter the pan like crazy so that the rolls release okay. And then I would try to get them out of the pan fairly promptly and add lots of frosting to help them be soft and not to crunchy on the sides. They would probably be pretty adorable! I will say that I bought a couple of 10×15 inch pans at Home Good for about $7 each for this recipe, and it was totally worth it – the size was perfect. If I didn’t have those pans, I’d probably use a 9×13 pan, and put ~28 rolls in that pan, and then put the other 8 rolls into a small baking dish or a few ramekins, or something like that.

  • Reply
    Tati
    Thursday, November 23, 2023 at 11:25 pm

    Would I be able to make the dough using a hand mixer? If so, should I use dough hooks or are the whisk hooks ok to use? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Kathleen
      Monday, December 11, 2023 at 10:25 am

      If you have a good hand mixer with a dough hook, that might work! My very weak hand mixer would definitely not be able to handle it. And I would not try a whisk with this dough – it would just become a gooey mess. I think the dough would not be too difficult to make by hand, since it’s not as stiff as a regular bread dough and you don’t need to knead it a bunch.

      • Reply
        Chris
        Monday, December 25, 2023 at 11:00 am

        I just made these by hand using a wooden spoon and a deep bowl and it worked fine. Make sure the butter is definitely room temp and add it a little slower to ensure it’s incorporated. Other than that, dough turned out great.

  • Reply
    Christi
    Thursday, November 23, 2023 at 10:05 am

    5 stars
    Our new favorite version! I’ve made Sarah cinnamon rolls before and loved them but making them into minis is just genius. They were perfect to make ahead for thanksgiving breakfast. I made the dough on Monday and kept it refrigerated until Wednesday evening, when I shaped the rolls. Back into the fridge for the overnight rise. Then on Thanksgiving morning, I let the rolls come to room temperature while the oven preheated, just as Sarah recommended. They were perfect. A huge hit. My in-laws exclaimed, “these are the best cinnamon rolls we’ve ever had!” Make these rolls to easily impress a crowd or enjoy for yourself on a cozy morning.

    • Reply
      Sarah Kieffer
      Thursday, November 23, 2023 at 10:47 am

      yay! so glad you enjoyed them! thank you for making the recipe.

  • Reply
    Jen
    Monday, November 20, 2023 at 12:36 pm

    So thrilled to try this recipe for Thanksgiving; your OG cinnamon roll recipe is legend. The horror of seeing a toddler ruing a full cinnamon roll, but not eating the whole thing is something I’m happy to leave in the past.

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