Looking for the perfect cinnamon roll recipe? This is it. These vanilla pudding cinnamon rolls are so soft and the frosting is delicious.

Per the requests I got after my last cinnamon roll post, here is the recipe for my tried-and-true vanilla pudding cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting.

The vanilla pudding is simply added to the dough to make it extremely soft and pliable – and oh, does it ever.

(No surprise, this recipe comes direct from my Aunt Marilyn whose recipes have made a great showing on this blog already.)

I made these last week and it confirmed my feelings: I am in love with these cinnamon rolls.

large frosted cinnamon roll

The dough is so extremely tender and soft, it will blow your mind, and the cream cheese goodness of the frosting is beyond delicious.

The filling is made up of brown sugar and cinnamon and it gives a great richness to the sometimes standard cinnamon and white sugar combo.

Oh my, these really are so good. I’m glad several of you requested the recipe because it gave me a chance to make them and reaffirm my vow to continue making them – it also gave me a great excuse to eat about 13 of them.

Just FYI: after many, many years on my site, these are still a favorite (and judging by the comments, I’m not alone!). In fact, some of you have even made these delectable vanilla pudding cinnamon rolls with homemade pudding as the base, and I can attest, after doing the same, that it is a wise choice. 

This homemade vanilla pudding is a great place to start if you want to do that.

How to make these cinnamon rolls ahead of time

This post on making cinnamon rolls ahead of time applies perfectly to any sweet roll! 

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Vanilla Pudding Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

4.56 stars (314 ratings)



  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast or 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3.5 ounce package instant vanilla pudding (see note)
  • ½ cup (113 g) butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 to 7 cups (852 to 994 g) all-purpose flour


  • 1 cup (227 g) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups (424 g) brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon


  • 8 ounces (227 g) cream cheese
  • ½ cup (113 g) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups (342 g) confectioner’s sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk


  • In a small bowl combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir until dissolved. Set aside.
  • In large bowl, take pudding mix and prepare according to package directions. Add butter, eggs and salt. Mix well. Then add yeast mixture. Blend.
  • Gradually add flour; knead until smooth. Do not overflour the dough! It should be very soft but not sticky. Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled (if using boxed pudding, it will take quite a while to double because of the cold milk – see note above).
  • Roll out the dough on a lightly greased or floured surface to about 34 X 21 inches in size. Take 1 cup soft butter and spread over surface.
  • In bowl, mix 2 cups brown sugar and 4 teaspoons cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top. Roll up very tightly. With knife put a notch every 1 1/2 inches. Cut with thread or serrated knife.
  • Place on lightly greased cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Cover and let rise until double again.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Remove when they start to turn golden (don’t overbake). Frost warm rolls with cream cheese frosting (combine butter and cream cheese and mix well, then add vanilla and sugar and mix again, then add milk for desired consistency).


Homemade Pudding: over the years, many of you (including myself!) have had great success using homemade pudding in place of the boxed variety. If using homemade pudding, you’ll want around 2 1/4 cups for the recipe. It can be slightly warm but make sure it isn’t hot (if it’s been cooked recently). Using warm homemade pudding will speed up the rising process which is notoriously slow in this recipe thanks to the cold pudding (if made from a box).
Rising: you can speed up the rising by preheating your oven to 170, immediately turning it off, letting it cool a few minutes and then placing the bowl of dough in there to rise more quickly (just make sure your oven isn’t too hot!).
Flour Amount: as with all yeast doughs, I never use the flour amount called for in the recipe as a hard fast rule (unless a weight measure is given and then I pull out my kitchen scale). Because humidity, temperature, altitude and a multitude of other factors can impact how much flour you need in your yeast doughs, I always judge when to quit adding flour by the texture and look and feel of the dough rather than how much flour I’ve added compared to the recipe. This tutorial on yeast may help identify how a perfectly floured dough should be.
Freezable Recipe: after shaping the rolls and placing them on the baking sheet, cover with lightly greased saran wrap and a layer of tin foil. Store in the freezer. The night before you want to serve them take out the rolls and put them in the refrigerator. Let them thaw in the refrigerator. Take them out about 8-9 hours after being in the refrigerator and let them rise until doubled. Bake according to the recipe. (If you have less time, you can take the rolls out of the freezer and let them come to room temperature on the counter – about 4 hours, then let rise until doubled).
Make-Ahead: this post details how to make sweet rolls ahead of time.
Serving: 1 Cinnamon Roll, Calories: 438kcal, Carbohydrates: 63g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 67mg, Sodium: 302mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 37g
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Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe