This small-batch cinnamon roll recipe is perfect for a family or pair of individuals, as it makes about 4 large rolls.
We have been craving more of these cinnamon rolls lately. They're packed with cinnamon flavor, gooey in the center, and fluffy. The icing is simple and a delicious complement to the flavors we have going on in every roll.
We love cinnamon rolls around here and recipes like this one are perfect for when we don't want too many rolls sitting around the house (because portion control and resisting sweets are skills we lack).
🍯 Why This Recipe Works
- It's delicious! The filling from these rolls is exactly the same as my Cinnabon Clone Cinnamon Rolls, but the dough is a little easier to make and handle.
- They can be allergen-friendly. Because there are no eggs in this recipe, and dairy can easily be swapped for plant based alternatives, this recipe can be made vegan, and you'll never notice anything missing because these rolls are just too good to resist.
- They're great for any occasion. Serve them up for the holidays, like Christmas morning, or keep them as a nice weekend treat. There's no wrong time to enjoy this small batch of cinnamon rolls.
Flour- You will need All-Purpose Flour or Bread Flour for the gluten structure in the dough. The bread flour may produce softer and tastier results, but all-purpose flour works fine too. Note bread flour needs a little more water than all-purpose.
Active Dry Yeast- This will help the dough to grow and expand more quickly. Make sure it is not old or expired.
Warm Water- You will need water that is about 110F. This will activate the yeast. Water that is too cold will not get the job done, and water that is too hot will kill the yeast.
Butter or Margarine- You can use salted or unsalted butter if desired or any margarine of choice. Plant based margarine will not melt down as easily as butter would, so you don't have to worry about the filling running out of the bottom of the cinnamon rolls as they bake.
Icing- You will need powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk to make a simple icing for these cinnamon rolls.
For specific ingredients and measurements, please see the recipe card below.
🧾 Dairy Free Substitutions
You can use milk based margarine and milk or plant based and still get incredible results every time, so use what you have on hand or keep it allergen friendly.
📖 How to DIY Brown Sugar
Did you know that you can make your own brown sugar? It's true! White sugar is refined from sugar cane, and brown sugar is the white sugar that has molasses added to it. This is different from raw sugar, which is just sugar that has been less refined than white sugar.
- With Molasses: 1 cup granulated white sugar + ½ Tbsp-2 tablespoon molasses (less for light brown sugar and more for dark brown sugar).
- With Honey: 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon honey or agave.
- Maple Syrup: 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup.
- Rum Extract: 1 cup granulated sugar + a few drops of rum extract.
Simply take any of these ratios and mix together in a small bowl before using.
🔪 Instructions for Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls
Step 1: Add your flour, sugar yeast, and salt to a mixing bowl.
Step 2: Whisk together to combine.
Step 4: Make a well in the center and add to it the vegetable oil and water.
Step 5: Stir to combine.
Step 6: Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Step 7: Feed it more flour as needed to get it no longer sticky. You may need about 1 more cup of flour.
Step 8: Place in a bowl and cover.
Step 9: Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour in a warm place.
Step 10: Punch down the dough and transfer to a clean countertop.
Step 11: Roll the dough out into a large rectangle that is about ¼ of an inch thick.
Step 12: Add the butter, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon needed for the filling to a small bowl.
Step 13: Mix well to combine into a paste.
Step 14: Use a butter knife or the back of a spoon to spread the filling over the cinnamon rolls. It sticks better when using a cold metal object than it does with your hands. Rub the filling out to within an inch of the border of the dough.
Step 15: Starting from one long end of the rectangle to the other, roll the cinnamon roll dough into a tight log.
Step 16: Pinch the end seams to hold it together.
Step 17: Slice the ends off and discard them, as these will have very little filling. Slice the remaining log into 4 equal-sized pieces and place them into a greased baking dish. An 8x8 or 2 qt baking dish will work fine.
Step 18: Cover the dish and allow the rolls to rest until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Step 19: Add the icing ingredients to a small bowl.
Step 20: Whisk together the icing until smooth. Set aside until needed.
Step 21: Bake for 15 minutes or until golden on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
Step 22: Drizzle and spread the icing over the top of the cinnamon rolls.
Serve warm, and enjoy.
🍴 Recipe Tips
Making these cinnamon rolls from scratch is both simple and fun because you get to get your hands messy and smell that wonderful aroma of yeast dough and cinnamon in your home for hours.
This cinnamon roll filling is a wet one, meaning that we mix everything together and spread it on at once instead of rubbing butter on the dough and sprinkling cinnamon sugar on top. This works best (in my opinion) to keep the cinnamon in place so that it doesn't run out the bottom of the roll when you bake.
We also use a lot of cinnamon in these rolls so there's a ton of great flavor, unlike other cinnamon roll recipes where the cinnamon is barely a whisper.
⏲️Make Ahead Instructions
You can prepare these cinnamon rolls up to the second rise and cover the top with plastic wrap before placing the rolls into the fridge overnight for a slow 8 hour rise or freezing them for up to three months.
For overnight fridge rises, simply place the pan on the counter for an hour as the oven preheats and bake as directed. Do not let the rolls rise in the fridge for more than 12 hours.
For freezing unbaked rolls, once frozen solid, you can place them into an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge or for several hours in a pan on the counter until doubled. Bake as directed.
With either method, make sure to let the pan of cinnamon rolls sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes to one hour before baking. I like to set my baking dish out as the oven preheats.
This is especially important if you are using a glass baking dish- you don't want it to explode in the oven from going from a cold environment to a hot one too quickly.
🍞 How to Knead Bread Dough
Kneading your dough with an electric mixer using dough hooks is simple and easy, but my favorite method is to do it by hand because you're far less likely to overwork the dough when doing it this way.
Knead the dough by hand by placing it onto a floured surface and using two hands to roll it out into an oval, pull back half, so it's sandwiched together, and repeat.
Smoosh the dough as you roll it back out into an oval, and bring it back. Every few times, rotate the dough about 90 degrees so that you can get all of the dough worked into the process.
When the dough is smooth and elastic, it's finished. This takes about 10 minutes by hand, faster if you're quick, but there are a few good ways to tell when you are finished.
- The dough should not tear easily. This means that if you stretch a chunk of the dough between your fingers, it doesn't tear apart like paper and creates jagged edges.
- The dough should be elastic. You should be able to poke the ball of kneaded dough with your finger and watch the dough quickly try to bounce back and fill in the hole you made.
🥖 How Long to Proof Dough
The time needed to proof dough truly varies from person to person. It depends upon the weather, climate, wind drafts, temperature of ingredients, age of the yeast, and more.
On average, it can take anywhere between 1 hour to 3 hours for the dough to proof properly, but some people can see it happen in as little as 30 minutes.
The goal is not waiting to a specific time but instead looking for a specific response from the dough. We want the dough to be doubled in size, and whether that takes one hour or more, we shouldn't jump straight into the next step before completing this one.
You should expect that it will take about 1 hour for your dough to double in size and proof, but here are some tips for getting it there.
- Cover the bowl of dough with greased plastic wrap. This helps to prevent the dough from drying out and helps to trap the heat. The cooking spray on the plastic wrap helps to prevent it from sticking to the dough.
- Store it in a warm location. I like to preheat my oven to 200 degrees F for 2 minutes and then turn it off. Then I place the bowl in the oven and let it rise until doubled.
Other locations to place your dough include:
- Inside your closed microwave
- Inside a closed oven with just the oven light turned on
- On a hot and sunny day, your kitchen's countertop can work well too
💭 Recipe FAQs
These cinnamon rolls are good for about 3 or 4 days if stored in an airtight container at room temperature. I do not recommend storing them in the fridge after being baked (you could), but the fridge's cold air will cause the cinnamon rolls to dry out.
Yes, you can freeze the dough just before the second rise (right after cutting and placing it in the baking dish). If freezing raw cinnamon rolls, cover well with plastic wrap and foil and place in the freezer for 3 or 4 months.
To thaw and bake, just place them in the fridge overnight and allow them to come to room temperature on the counter the next day (about 30 minutes) while the oven preheats. Then bake as directed.
❤️ More Delicious Bread Recipes
If you tried this Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls, please leave a ⭐️ star rating and share your feedback in the 📝 comments section below. I would truly appreciate it!
Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls
- 2 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour (or Bread Flour) ($0.33)
- 2 ¼ teaspoon Active Dry Yeast (one packet) ($0.38)
- 1 ½ teaspoon Salt ($0.01)
- 1 cup Warm Water (110*F) ($0.00)
- 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil ($0.13)
- 2 Tablespoons Granulated sugar ($0.05)
- 1 cup Brown Sugar ($0.44)
- ⅓ cup Butter/Margarine ($0.66)
- 3 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon ($0.24)
- ¼ teaspoon Salt *only if using unsalted butter/margarine ($0.01)
- 1 cup Powdered Sugar ($0.36)
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract ($0.03)
- 1-2 Tablespoons Milk ($0.01)
- Add your flour, sugar yeast, and salt to a mixing bowl. Whisk together to combine
- Make a well in the center and add to it the vegetable oil and water. Stir to combine.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
- Feed it more flour as needed to get it no longer sticky. You may need about 1 more cup of flour.
- Place in a bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour in a warm place.
- Punch down the dough and transfer to a clean countertop.
- Roll the dough out into a large rectangle that is about ¼ of an inch thick.
- Add the butter, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon needed for the filling to a small bowl. Mix well to combine into a paste.
- Use a butter knife or the back of a spoon to spread the filling over the cinnamon rolls. It sticks better when using a cold metal object than it does with your hands. Rub the filling out to within an inch of the border of the dough.
- Starting from one long end of the rectangle to the other, roll the cinnamon roll dough into a tight log. Pinch the end seams to hold it together.
- Slice the ends off and discard them, as these will have very little filling. Slice the remaining log into 4 equal-sized pieces and place them into a greased baking dish. An 8x8 or 2 qt baking dish will work fine.
- Cover the dish and allow the rolls to rest until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until golden on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Add the icing ingredients to a small bowl. Whisk together the icing until smooth.
- Drizzle and spread the icing over the top of the cinnamon rolls.
- Serve warm, and enjoy.
- Knead the dough until smooth, non-sticky, and it springs back when poked.
- This filling is mixed and spread all at once, preventing cinnamon from running out when baking.
- Use dairy or plant-based margarine and milk for allergen-friendly options.
- For overnight cinnamon rolls, follow the recipe until the second rise, then refrigerate for up to 12 hours before baking. Allow them to come closer to room temperature (about 30 minutes) before baking.
- Store cinnamon rolls in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days; avoid refrigeration as it may dry them out.
- To freeze raw cinnamon rolls, cover with plastic wrap and foil before the second rise and freeze for 3-4 months. Thaw in the fridge and bring to room temperature before baking.