World’s Best Cinnamon Rolls

by Jillian

Cinnabon has nothing on these unbelievably soft, fluffy cinnamon rolls oozing with brown sugary cinnamon filling and smothered in sweet cream cheese icing!

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

These were originally going to be called Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls. That is until I sank my teeth into these light and fluffy sugary clouds of doughy goodness. I knew that the title wasn’t even close to describing…the World’s Best Cinnamon Rolls.

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

Now, I know everyone “claims” to have the best cinnamon roll recipe around. But, seriously guys. This is the first time I’ve ever coined one of my recipes as “the world’s best,” let alone “the best,” so hear me out.

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

Slicing into these rolls to get my first piece out was literally like cutting into clouds. These have to be the fluffiest, softest, most pillowy cinnamon rolls I have ever had in my entire life. At that moment, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that these were going to be nothing short of A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. And believe me, I’ve had my fair share of cinnamon rolls.

As opposed to most cinnamon roll recipes, the outer pieces remained just as soft and doughy as the center pieces. In fact, the first piece I tried (more like, mauled) was a side piece, and the outer edge was just as soft and moist as the center of the roll. Black magic, I tell ya!

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

So what are the secrets to making the “World’s Best Cinnamon Rolls”? Well lucky for you, I’m horrible at keeping secrets, so listen closely.

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

Secret #1: Sweet potatoes. I had come across several cinnamon roll recipes that incorporated mashed potatoes into their dough to create that soft, super, moist, and perfectly fluffy roll. I was super intrigued by the idea and figured it had to be true because what could be fluffier than mashed potatoes? Other than these very rolls, of course 😉

To expand on the idea, I decided to go with sweet potatoes since they would add more natural sweetness (obviously) as well as flavor.

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

Secret #2: Greek yogurt. A common ingredient that I noticed in most of the soft cinnamon roll recipes that I researched was buttermilk. I figured I’d change it up slightly by using greek yogurt and adding milk. I read that equal parts greek yogurt and milk are a great substitute for buttermilk, so I decided to give it a try. However, if you’re using regular (non-greek) yogurt which tends to be thinner than greek, you would use 3/4 yogurt to 1/4 milk. 

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

Secret #3: Do NOT over-flour the dough. This is another mistake I notice in sweet roll recipes. We tend to over-flour the dough in order to get that smooth, easy-to-work-with, pliable texture which only makes for drier, tougher, and chewier rolls. If you want to make things easier on yourself, get a silpat. NOTHING sticks to a silpat, making the process of rolling out and rolling up, easy peasy lemon squeezy!

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

Secret #4: Do NOT over-bake the rolls; under-baking is preferred. This is absolutely key. One of the most common mistakes that people make is over-baking the rolls since it’s hard to know whether the dough is fully baked through or not. You don’t want to end up with raw centers, yet you don’t want hard and crunchy exteriors. The magic number for my rolls was 16 minutes, and they were baked in a 375F degree oven. The time may vary between 15 to 17 minutes, based on your oven and the climate you live in. They should be lightly golden on the top (NOT brown) and the centers should look almost doughy. The rolls may jiggle slightly when you shake the pan, but that’s a good sign that you haven’t over-baked them. I was almost afraid that I had under-baked mine as I sliced in to get my first piece since there was barely any resistance as the knife went in. Although despite my worrywart tendencies, this beautiful cloud of perfection was the result.

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

When it came to deciding between instant yeast and active dry yeast, I decided to go with active dry yeast. The main reason being that it requires proofing. Therefore, you’re given extra reassurance in the very beginning that your dough will rise properly, rather than making the entire recipe up to the baking point only to find that your rolls didn’t rise at all due to dead yeast. This is how good yeast should react:

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

As for the sugary goodness spiraled throughout the dough, I went with brown sugar.

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

While most recipes use a mixture of both granulated and brown sugar, the molasses from the brown sugar does a great job of creating that warm caramel flavor as it bakes up with the butter. As the rolls cool, the melty filling thickens to create those perfectly ooey gooey caramel strands that are the number one reason to lick the plate clean. 

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

To finish these pillowy babes off, I smothered them in a generous slather of cream cheese icing.

I repeat, generous

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

I’ve always preferred the tanginess and thickness that cream cheese adds to icings which is why I use a higher ratio of cream cheese to butter, rather than equal parts.

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

The cream cheese icing makes just enough to cover every single nook and cranny of these rolls perfectly, preventing the tops from drying out and becoming hard. Consider this icing extra insurance that your rolls remain soft and moist. It’s like edible tupperware for your cinnamon rolls. Whatever you do, don’t leave this out! Or I’ll have no choice but to sick the sugar police on you.

Just one bite, and you’ll agree that these are, in fact, the best cinnamon rolls you have had in your entire life.

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

The only mistake I made in making these?

The fact that I only made one batch.

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls | A baJillian Recipes

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnabon has nothing on these unbelievably soft, fluffy cinnamon rolls oozing with brown sugary cinnamon filling and smothered in sweet cream cheese icing!
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Rising Time 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours 47 minutes
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 Rolls

Ingredients
  

For the Dough

  • teaspoons active dry yeast (one 1/4-ounce packet)
  • ¼ cup warm water*
  • cup + 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
  • cup mashed sweet potato
  • ¼ cup greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3-3¼ cups all-purpose flour**

For the Filling

  • cup unsalted butter, softened
  • cups brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon

For the Icing

  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions
 

To make the Dough

  • In a glass measuring cup, combine the water, yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar; set aside to foam for about 5 minutes. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the mashed sweet potato, 1/3 cup of sugar, greek yogurt, milk, melted butter, egg, pumpkin spice, and salt.
  • Switch to the dough hook, and add the yeast mixture and 3 cups of the flour. Mix the dough on low and allow it to knead for about 6-7 minutes. If dough is still too soft, add more flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until dough just cleans the bowl, but is very soft. It should still stick to the bottom of the bowl.
  • Coat a large bowl with cooking spray and place dough in bowl. Seal tightly with plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm place and allow dough to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  • In the meantime, line a 9-by-13-inch pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  • After dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Turn dough out onto a floured Silpat or floured countertop. With a rolling pin, roll it out to a 16-by-12-inch rectangle.
  • With a knife (or your fingers), spread butter evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Sprinkle the brown sugar over it, followed by the cinnamon. Lightly pat it down with your fingertips to help sugar adhere to dough. Roll dough tightly into a log, ending with the seam side down. Pinch the ends to seal.
  • Using plain, unwaxed dental floss (or a bench scraper), slice the rolls into 12 evenly-sized rolls. Arrange the rolls cut side down in the prepared baking pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.

*If baking immediately

  • Allow the rolls to rise again in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

*Or...If You Want to Bake the Rolls the Next Day

  • Place covered rolls in the refrigerator for up to 16 hours. Before baking, let the rolls sit at room temperature until they have nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Baking

  • For either version, bake at 375ºF for 15-17 minutes, or until lightly golden on the surface, with melty, bubbly filling. *Do not over-bake your rolls*, or they will be firm and crunchy instead of soft and gooey. Err on the side of under-baking. They will continue to bake a little after you take them out of the oven. While rolls bake, prepare the cream cheese icing.

To Make The Cream Cheese Icing

  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add the corn syrup, vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl, and beat for 1 more minute until light and fluffy.
  • Once rolls have baked, remove from the oven and immediately spread the cream cheese icing over the warm rolls, allowing the icing to melt into every crevice moistening the rolls even more! Serve immediately. Rolls are best eaten fresh, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Reheat leftover rolls for 10-15 seconds in the microwave before serving.

Notes

*Different brands require different water temperatures for the yeast to react with. Make sure to use a food thermometer to get the correct temperature. You don't want the water too hot, or it will kill the yeast; too cold, and the yeast won't react. Mine had to be anywhere between 110ºF-115ºF.
**I ended up using 3¼ cups of flour.
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7 comments

[BLOCKED BY STBV] Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls - A baJillian Recipes March 20, 2023 - 9:02 AM

[…] of various cinnamon roll recipes on my blog. In fact, I even dubbed one of my recipes as the World’s Best Cinnamon Roll. These Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls, however, might steal that […]

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[BLOCKED BY STBV] Cinnamon Roll Cake - A baJillian Recipes September 3, 2022 - 1:04 PM

[…] If you’re still craving the real thing, check out my recipe for what I believe are The World’s Best Cinnamon Rolls. […]

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Talitha November 17, 2015 - 3:35 PM

Oh. My. Word. These look and sound amazing. I love how you incorporated the sweet potatoes and greek yogurt! That was really creative of you. I have decided that it is in my best interest to follow you and all your mouth-watering recipes. Thanks for sharing on the Delicious Dish Tuesday linkup! YUM!

Reply
Jillian November 19, 2015 - 7:09 AM

Thanks Talitha! The sweet potatoes and greek yogurt are definitely key to getting that perfect fluffy doughiness! And bonus, they’re both healthy ingredients, so you don’t have to feel that guilty about downing 3 or 4 of these 😉

Reply
Talitha November 20, 2015 - 10:13 PM

How did you cook your sweet potatoes? Micro, oven, or boil?

Reply
Jillian November 20, 2015 - 11:15 PM

Hi Talitha! I pierced my sweet potato with a fork a few times, then zapped it in the microwave for about 5 minutes. The time might vary depending on the size. Hope that helps!

Reply
Carlee November 17, 2015 - 12:45 PM

Oooooh! Those do look amazing!

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