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Grandma’s Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls with Icing or Caramel Pecan Sauce

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These homemade cinnamon rolls were a family favorite that mom used to bake for most holidays, along with kolache and rolache. (No idea of the proper spelling on that one – same dough as kolache, but rolled up into a crescent, brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with salt and poppy seed). Later she also added Hungarian rolls. Christmas time would have Polish tea rings. I bake less than mom did, but special occasions call for special recipes and family traditions. Sometimes I make these as Caramel-Pecan Cinnamon Rolls, with a caramel sauce baked in the bottom of the pan, but usually I make them with icing because my boys like them better that way.

Homemade cinnamon rolls


This recipe is featured in my book, “Never Buy Bread Again – 20+ Homemade Bread Recipes“, along with many other wonderful baked goods.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons butter, lard or rendered poultry fat, melted
  • 1/2 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour

Filling

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 cups packed brown cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey or GMO free corn syrup
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Icing

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (homemade vanilla extract is great if you have it)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons whipping cream or milk, or more for a thinner glaze

Directions

Preparing the dough:  In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add the eggs, butter (or lard or poultry fat), sugar, salt and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. (You could also use the dough cycle on your bread machine, or mix with something like the Bosch Kitchen Machine or the dough hook on a heavy duty KitchenAid stand mixer.

While the dough is rising, prep your caramel sauce or icing.

For caramel sauce:  Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in brown sugar and corn syrup (or honey). Bring to a boil over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Sprinkle with pecans; set aside.

For icing:  In a small bowl, blend together powdered sugar, butter and vanilla. Add cream or milk to thin as much as you like. Cover bowl with a lid, damp cloth or plastic wrap to keep it from getting crusty while you finish the rolls. If you are using frosting and skipping the caramel sauce, grease a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish and set aside.

To assemble the rolls:  Punch the dough down. Turn onto a floured surface. Roll into a 17-in. x 15-in. rectangle.

rectangle of cinnamon roll dough spread out on counter top

Spread butter to within 1/2 in. of edges. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; inch seams to seal.

Homemade cinnamon roll dough rolled up and ready to cut into individual rolls

Cut into 16 slices. Place cut side down over caramel sauce (or in greased pan).

Homemade cinnamon rolls, sliced and ready to put in pan.

Cover; let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

OR

If you want to prep these the night before to bake fresh in the morning, cover your pan with plastic wrap and place the rolls in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature and finish rising. Don't put a glass pan straight from the refrigerator to the oven!

Pan of cinnamon rolls, risen and ready to go into the oven.

Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Glass pans will take longer to bake, metal pans will go a little faster.

homemade cinnamon rolls on white plate

For caramel rolls, let stand 5 minutes; invert onto a serving platter.   For iced rolls, allow to cool slightly in pan, then pour icing over rolls. The boys couldn't wait, so my icing went on when the rolls were a little too hot.

Yield: 16 rolls.

Print

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Homemade cinnamon rolls

Gram Irene's Homemade Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel-Pecan Sauce or Vanilla Icing. Treat your family with warm, gooey cinnamon rolls, fresh from the oven

  • Author: Laurie Neverman

Ingredients

Scale

Dough

  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons butter, lard or rendered poultry fat, melted
  • 1/2 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour

Filling

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 cups packed brown cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup GMO free corn syrup or honey
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Icing

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (homemade vanilla extract is great if you have it)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons whipping cream or milk, or more for a thinner glaze

Instructions

Preparing the dough

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk.
  2. Add the eggs, butter (or lard or poultry fat), sugar, salt and 3 cups flour.
  3. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
  5. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.
  6. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  7. While the dough is rising, prep your caramel sauce or icing.

For caramel sauce

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan.
  2. Stir in brown sugar and corn syrup (or honey).
  3. Bring to a boil over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle with pecans; set aside.

For icing

  1. In a small bowl, blend together powdered sugar, butter and vanilla.
  2. Add cream or milk to thin as much as you like.
  3. Cover bowl with a lid, damp cloth or plastic wrap to keep it from getting crusty while you finish the rolls.
  4. If you are using frosting and skipping the caramel sauce, grease a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish and set aside.

To assemble the rolls

  1. Punch the dough down. Turn onto a floured surface.
  2. Roll into a 17-in. x 15-in. rectangle.
  3. Spread butter to within 1/2 in. of edges.
  4. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough.
  5. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; inch seams to seal.
  6. Cut into 16 slices. Place cut side down over caramel sauce (or in greased pan).
  7. Cover; let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  8. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Glass pans will take longer to bake, metal pans will go a little faster.
  10. For caramel rolls, let stand 5 minutes; invert onto a serving platter.
  11. For iced rolls, allow to cool slightly in pan, then pour icing over rolls.

Notes

  • If you want to prep these the night before to bake fresh in the morning, cover your pan with plastic wrap and place the rolls in the refrigerator overnight.
  • In the morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature and finish rising.
  • Don’t put a glass pan straight from the refrigerator to the oven!

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You may also enjoy more homestyle recipes, such as:

Love Fresh Baked Goodness?

Do you love homemade cinnamon rolls and other baked goods and the stories that go with them? Check out “Never Buy Bread Again: 20+ Homemade Bread Recipes“.

Never Buy Bread Again features our favorite family recipes for yeast breads, quick breads and special occasion breads. It also provides troubleshooting tips for the most common baking problems, as well as the best ways to store your bread as raw dough, par baked or baked loaves. There are also recipes for leftover bread (waste not, want not), and favorite foods that go with bread. It's now available in print and digital formats. Click here to learn more or buy your copy.

Laurie Neverman

This post is written by Laurie Neverman. Laurie is the creator of Common Sense Home (formerly Common Sense Homesteading). She was raised on a small dairy farm in northwest Wisconsin, and worked in the family catering business (Irene's Custom Cakes and Catering) as her summer job through high school and college. They baked thousands of homemade dinner rolls, and hundreds of pies, cakes and other tasty treats, as well as full course meals for parties of two to several hundred.

In college, Laurie earned her BS in Math and MS in Mechanical Engineering, with an emphasis in Alternative Energy. She and her family now live out in the country in their Green Built certified home on their permaculture oasis in progress homestead. Learn more about Laurie here.

Originally posted in 2013, updated in 2018.

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9 Comments

  1. Thank you for this! The last ‘how they used to do it’ recipe started with a food processor, this however will be on my table this weekend!

  2. Just made these during a blizzard because we needed something cozy…..I cannot even begin to tell you how these are the best cinnamon bus/sticky rolls I have ever had. I made a double batch, one for us and one for the neighbors. SO SO SO GOOD!

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