The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls {Gloria’s Famous Recipe}

Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

In short, these cinnamon rolls are pure perfection.

You have to believe me on this one (or just make them yourself; you’ll see).

I couldn’t believe it myself when my Aunt Marilyn insisted I try out this new recipe (after all, it was she who gave me the vanilla pudding cinnamon roll recipe years and years ago) and since then, I fell in love with these buttermilk cinnamon rolls also.

Honestly, how could another cinnamon roll trump those two favorite recipes?

I didn’t have time to try them out myself before Marilyn whipped one out of the freezer (oh yes, just wait until you find out how you can freeze these baked and frosted cinnamon rolls so you can have a piping hot, fresh as fresh can be cinnamon roll in two minutes or less), warmed it up and put it in front of me.

Ok, actually, she put it in front of Brian, but per our usual routine, I ended up grabbing a fork and eating most of it. Amazing. Life changing. Best ever.

Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

Seriously. I’m not just saying those things. Since that pivotal moment, I’ve made them at least half a dozen times and every place I’ve taken them, exclamations of “best cinnamon rolls in the world” and “will you marry me” have abounded.

I can’t even take credit for the praise because as it turns out, these cinnamon rolls are famous already!

Meet Gloria. Isn’t she adorable? On the left she’s holding a picture I’ll explain more about in a second and on the right is me, Gloria and my Aunt Marilyn. Cinnamon roll soul mates for life.
Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

Gloria and her daughter have been making these cinnamon rolls for years. When I finally met her, it felt like I was meeting a celebrity (and seriously, if you live in her area, she is just that; people kill for these rolls).

She was gracious enough to share with us all the trade secrets for perfect cinnamon rolls, let us take a picture with her and let me post the recipe for all of you.

We should all be loving Gloria right this very minute.

Every year on Father’s Day, Gloria and her daughter make cinnamon rolls for all the men at her church congregation. That’s great, right? Maybe that happens all over for all I know, but here’s the kicker: in order to serve the cinnamon rolls at the peak of their awesomeness, she stays up all night so that they are warm from the oven when she takes them to church (in the picture above she’s holding a collage of one of her epic all nighters).

She even packages them in cute little takeout styrofoam containers with a little napkin so the gentlemen can, you know, wipe their mouths after they emerge from the carton.

I kind of almost fell over when she told me that. And then I wanted to somehow plan a random, unannounced visit to all the men at her church and break it to them that they have no idea how good they have it. (And no, I don’t plan on adopting this tradition.)

Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls really are incredible. There’s no other way to put it. To say this recipe is tried-and-true is a huge understatement.

Here are a few things that have changed my way of thinking about cinnamon rolls forever (or at least until the next recipe comes around to rock my world):

1) I’ve worked with a lot of soft, beautiful doughs in my life. But this one takes the cake. The dough is so smooth and easy to work with that you don’t even need a rolling pin to roll out the rectangle. A little patty pat with your hands and you are good to go. I’m sure it has nothing to do with all the milk and butter. No, not at all.

2) I’ve always frosted my cinnamon rolls almost straight out of the oven but Gloria says not to. And I believe her. Thanks to this recipe, I started frosting them after they had cooled a bit (I wait until they are just slightly warm, almost room temperature) and it’s the way to go. Obviously if you warm up the cinnamon roll in the microwave, the frosting is going to seep into all the ooey gooey nooks and crannies (beauty) but I love how the frosting remains smooth and creamy slathering the tops of the cinnamon rolls instead of turning into a glaze.

3) Maple frosting is divine. Granted, I think this was something my Aunt Marilyn adapted from Gloria’s recipe, but even so, I think I will always and forevermore frost cinnamon rolls with a sweet cream cheese frosting hinted with just a touch of maple because the combination is like the best cinnamon roll maple bar ever.

4) Knowing how to freeze these babies has changed my life. I included tips at the bottom of the step-by-step tutorial. It seems like a no brainer (or maybe it seems like it would never work) but I’ve frozen dozens of these over the last month or so and let me tell you, nothing says rock star like serving warm cinnamon rolls to company that popped by unexpectedly without having to do a lick of work.

5) Don’t question Gloria’s wisdom. Thinking I knew better, I tried a couple variations using different amounts of ingredients (just get over the fact that they are cinnamon rolls for Pete’s sake and they have butter and sugar in them) and trying to cut them smaller or put more or less on a pan. No, no. Just don’t do it. Twelve cinnamon rolls per batch. Twelve to a pan. They’re enormous. They’re glorious. They’re perfect. Follow the instructions and you’ll be happy and very popular.

6) Love the tip about tucking the loose end under the roll before it bakes. Maybe you’ve been doing this for years but I haven’t, and it eliminates the dangly cinnamon roll problem that often happens when the ends free themselves and stick out. And we can’t be having dangly cinnamon roll problems when there is a solution so simple and clever.

So there you go! Try them out and let me know what you think.

One Year Ago: Loaded Broccoli Cheese and Bacon Soup
Two Years Ago: Glazed Chocolate Chip Scones {And Halloween Recap}
Three Years Ago: Hearty Turkey and Bean Chili

Perfect Cinnamon Rolls

5
5 / 5 (4 Reviews)
Did you make this recipe?   Leave a review »

Ingredients:

Rolls:

  • 4 cups milk (see note)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 3/4 tablespoons instant yeast (see note)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 11-13 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons maple extract/flavoring
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • Cream or milk for consistency

Directions:

  1. For the dough, heat the milk in a medium saucepan until the milk is scalded (which is basically heating it until right before it simmers – it will start steaming and little bubbles will form around the edge of the pan). Pour the milk into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or you can do this by hand with a large bowl, wooden spoon and lots of elbow grease).
  2. Add the butter, sugar and salt. Mix until the butter is melted and let the mixture cool until warm but not hot.
  3. Add the yeast and eggs and mix until combined.
  4. Gradually add the flour until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. The exact amount will depend on the temperature, humidity and how you measure flour. I usually end up adding just under 13 cups of flour. The dough should be soft and just slightly sticky without leaving a lot of residue on your fingers. Let it knead for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled.
  6. Divide the dough in half. Roll each portion of dough (it’s soft enough to be patted and stretched with your hands) into an 18-inch by 12-inch rectangle. Spread one stick of softened butter over each rectangle.
  7. Stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle half of it over each rectangle. Pat it in slightly with the palms of your hands. Starting with one long end, roll up the cinnamon rolls as tightly as possible, pinching the seam lightly to seal.
  8. Working with one long log of cinnamon roll at a time, using a serrated knife, cut it in half. Then cut each half in half again (forming four equal portions). Cut each of the four portions into three rolls – twelve cinnamon rolls total. Repeat this with the other roll – you’ll have 24 cinnamon rolls total.
  9. Place the rolls evenly spaced on a parchment-lined large, rimmed baking sheet about 11X17-inches (or 12X18-inches). I space the rolls 3 across, 4 down. If the ends have come free, carefully tuck them under the cinnamon roll.
  10. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap and let the rolls rise until double. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  11. Bake the rolls for about 18-22 minutes until only very slightly golden on top. Let the rolls cool almost completely in the pan before frosting.
  12. For the frosting, in a large bowl, whip together the cream cheese and butter. Add the vanilla, maple and salt and mix until combined.
  13. Gradually add the powdered sugar (if you add it all at once, be prepared for a huge snowstorm in your kitchen) and mix until thick and creamy. Add cream or milk a tablespoon at a time until the frosting is smooth and spreadable to your liking.
  14. Spread the cinnamon rolls with frosting.
  15. To freeze, once the cinnamon rolls are completely cooled, use a spatula to carefully transfer a single cinnamon roll to a quart-sized ziploc bag. Seal the bag with as little air inside as possible and freeze for up to a month. To reheat, remove the roll from the bag (it’s easier than it seems – it will pop right out!) and warm on a plate in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Notes:

These rolls turn out far superior when I use whole milk but I’ve also made them with 2% and they’re delicious (just not quite as tender). Also, if you don’t have instant yeast and want to use active dry, up the amount to 2 1/2 tablespoons and dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup water with a pinch of sugar. If doing this, you’ll need to add a bit more flour than if following the recipe using instant yeast.

All images and text ©.

Follow @melskitchencafe on Instagram and show me the recipes you are making from my blog using the hashtag #melskitchencafe. I love seeing all the goodness you are whipping up in your kitchens!

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Gloria C. (after my Aunt Marilyn told me all about them)
Perfect Cinnamon Rolls