These homemade mini cinnamon rolls are perfectly soft, light, oozing with a delicious buttery cinnamon filling, and topped with a simple vanilla frosting. This recipe will be your go-to cinnamon roll recipe because it's easy to make and yields lots of delicious, fluffy mini cinnamon rolls.
Why this is the best mini cinnamon roll recipe
These rolls are made with real yeast-based dough which rises to make a light and fluffy cinnamon roll. It stays soft after baking, too.
These cinnamon rolls are just slightly bigger than bite-sized, perfect for eating a couple at a time.
These are the easiest cinnamon rolls you can make with only one rise. They come together start to finish in under ninety minutes!
What you'll need to make mini cinnamon rolls
- Stand mixer with dough hook - In the instructions below, I have shown you how to make the cinnamon roll dough using a wooden spoon and your hands. If you have a stand mixer, it is MUCH easier to put the ingredients into the mixer's bowl and use a dough hook to mix and then knead the dough. Add the yeast mixture and flour to the bowl of a stand mixer in step 3. Turn the mixer on and let the the dough hook do its thing for 5-7 minutes or until the dough is no longer sticky, the proceed with step 5.
- Rolling Pin - You'll need a rolling pin to shape the dough into a rectangle.
- Parchment paper - I like to line my baking sheets with parchment to make clean up easier.
- Baking sheet - You can use a metal or stoneware baking sheet.
See the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page for all measurements and nutritional information.
For the rolls
- Active Dry Yeast - This recipe uses a little bit of yeast which makes the dough get nice and tall without giving it an overly yeasty flavor.
- Warm water - This water needs to be warm to the touch, not hot or cold. Warm water is required to rehydrate the yeast.
- Canola oil
- White sugar - You need sugar in the dough to make it taste more like yummy cinnamon rolls and less like a dinner roll.
- Large egg
- Table salt
- All purpose flour
- Chopped pecans
- Brown sugar
- Ground cinnamon
- Softened butter - This can be salted or unsalted. Typically baking recipes call for unsalted butter, but if you only have salted, that's fine. Salted butter contains less than one teaspoon of salt per pound of butter, so it's really basically nothing. Whichever you use, the butter needs to be at room temperature so that it's soft but not melted.
For the icing
- Softened butter
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla bean paste - I prefer vanilla bean extract which is a thick paste made from ground up vanilla beans. Vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol and then removing the beans. I prefer the paste because it lacks the bitter alcohol flavor and contains actual beans. All that said, you can use an equal amount of vanilla extract and do just fine.
How to make mini cinnamon rolls
For the rolls
- Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Add oil and sugar and let stand 5 minutes. You will know the yeast is working when it forms bubbles and the surface of the water gets a little forthy.
- Add egg and salt to yeast mixture and stir.
- Gradually stir in flour, making a soft dough.
- Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until elastic and smooth. (Approximately 4-5 minutes)
- Place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Turn out on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12x15-inch rectangle.
- Spread dough with 1½ tablespoons softened butter. Fold in half 3 times. Roll into a 12x15-inch rectangle again.
- Spread additional 1½ tablespoons softened butter evenly over all the dough. Top with brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Starting on the long side, roll dough into a long tube.
- Slice tube into approximately 12 rolls using a lightly floured sharp knife. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving space between rolls to allow for rising.
- Top cinnamon rolls with pecans.
- Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle the cinnamon rolls lightly with this cinnamon-sugar.
- Preheat oven to 425ºF. Let rolls rise for 15 minutes.
- Bake rolls 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
- While rolls are baking, follow directions to make the icing.
- Remove rolls from oven and cool for 10 minutes before topping with the icing.
For the icing
- Mix 2 tablespoons softened butter with ½ cup powdered sugar using a fork. Add vanilla and stir until smooth.
- Spread icing evenly on slightly cooled cinnamon rolls.
Chef's tips for the best mini cinnamon rolls
If the humidity is high, more flour may be needed while kneading and rolling out the dough. The dough should be smooth and not sticky. If it's sticky, add a pinch more flour and continue kneading.
To help prevent burning, pinch the bottom of the cinnamon rolls so that only the dough is visible, not the butter or cinnamon (this is shown in the photo below).
Be sure to use WARM water in step 1, or the yeast may not dissolve properly. If the water is too hot, the yeast will die. If it's too cold, the yeast will not eat and make bubbles. The water should be warm like bathwater.
The cinnamon-sugar mixture is great to have around. You might want to make extra and use it to sprinkle on the cinnamon rolls while the frosting is still liquidy.
Frost the cinnamon rolls while they're still warm. I suggest letting them cool for a few minutes, but don't let them cool so long that they're room temperature.
You can replace the cinnamon with pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice. Either is tasty!
You can put some chopped pecans in the filling when you spread it on the dough.
I prefer these cinnamon rolls with plain vanilla frosting. If you prefer cream cheese frosting, feel free to look up a recipe for that to replace my vanilla frosting.
Make ahead cinnamon rolls
You can make these cinnamon rolls, place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and then cover the whole thing with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for up to 24 hours. They won't rise anymore in the fridge.
When it's time to cook the cinnamon rolls, bring them out of the fridge, unwrap, and let them warm up and rise for an hour. Then bake as directed.
You can store leftover cinnamon rolls at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the fridge up to 5 days. In either case, pop them into an airtight container or a zippered plastic bag so that they don't get hard.
Freezing cinnamon rolls
You can freeze unbaked cinnamon rolls for up to 3 months, but you have to pre-bake them for 10 minutes in a 350ºF oven. Remove the cinnamon rolls from the oven, then cool completely. When they are room temperature, place the whole baking sheet in the freezer for 30-60 minutes. Once the rolls are hard, you can remove them from the baking sheet and place in a plastic freezer bag or other airtight container. Because you flash froze them, they won't stick to each other and you'll be able to remove just one or two from the freezer at a time.
To make the cinnamon rolls, remove the desired number from the freezer and thaw in the fridge overnight. Finish baking for 8-10 minutes at 425ºF before frosting and eating.
Why didn't my cinnamon rolls rise?
More than likely, if your cinnamon rolls didn't rise, there was a problem with your yeast. Perhaps it was too old or your water was too hot or too cold. If the yeast doesn't make bubbles before you put the egg in, the cinnamon rolls will not rise.
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