The Very Best Amish Cinnamon Roll Recipe (my make ahead Christmas tradition)

Everyone thinks they have the top cinnamon roll recipe.  I get this. But this one may well rise to the top of the favorites list.  It’s just amazing.  And I’ve tried them all.

Cinnamon rolls are a tradition for birthdays and Christmas around here.  I also keep extras in the freezer to take them to people for special occasions every once in a while as well.  Who doesn’t love a big ol’ cinnamon roll to showing up on their doorstep?

For a while I made cinnamon rolls that had maple in it, much like the ones The Pioneer Woman makes.  The kids decided they didn’t really like that flavor in the roll.  It’s very specific so I get this (though I think they are delicious).  So I thumbed through my Amish cookbooks to see if I could find a different recipe I liked.

In my opinion cinnamon rolls can’t be too dry.  We like them to be the right combination of done, yet gooey in the middle, with enough butter and cinnamon in the cracks and crevices to capture tasty goodness with every bite.  If we’re going to spend the calories to eat one, it better be perfectly balanced, right?

The Amish are master bread bakers, so they are a great place to begin when looking for recipes.  However, sometimes they use old combinations (like potato flakes or lard).  So after much adapting and kitchen testing, this is a recipe I landed on, and EVERYONE is happy.  The kids absolutely love these, and so do I.

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The Very Best Amish Cinnamon Roll Recipe (my make ahead Christmas tradition)

These Amish-inspired cinnamon rolls are my go-to for birthdays and Christmas.  You can make them ahead of time and put them in the freezer, too, which makes this mama sing for joy!

  • Author: Krista Gilbert
Scale

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk

1 cup half and half

2 cups 2% milk

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 tbsp. yeast

2 tsp. salt

4 eggs

12 cups bread flour

Filling:

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup butter, at room temp.

2 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon

Icing:

8 oz. cream cheese

1/2 cup butter, at room temp.

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 lbs. powdered sugar

2 tbsp. heavy cream (or half and half)

1/4 tsp. salt

Instructions

Dough:

Heat the milk and half and half in a sauce pan until scalded (which means heat until little bubbles form – do not boil).  Turn off the heat and add the butter, sugar, and salt.  Let sit until the temperature cools to lukewarm (you don’t want to kill the yeast).

Pour into a standing mixer bowl.  Add the yeast and eggs and mix with the dough hook.  Let sit for a few minutes until you see the yeast forming a bubbly layer on top (about 3-5 min.).  Slowly add the flour a little bit at a time.  You may need to add a little less or a little more depending on your conditions (altitude, moisture, etc.).  The dough should feel like an ear lobe (I know that’s weird but it’s the best way to describe it).  It should feel smooth, and very slightly sticky (but not too sticky or it will not roll out well).

Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and let rise until doubled in size.

Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and cut in half.  Cover one half of the dough with plastic wrap.  Roll the other half out into a large rectangle.  Spread one cube of butter all over the dough into a thick layer.  Sprinkle half of the the sugars and cinnamon over the butter.  Spread evenly (I use my hands).

Working from one end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder shaped roll.  Using a sharp knife, cut into even pieces.  Place in a greased 9×13 pan or a rimmed baking sheet and let rise again another 30-40 min.  Repeat with the other piece of dough.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 min. Again, ovens vary greatly, so bake until you see that they are just beginning to turn brown.  You want them to cook enough to be done, but not so much that they are dry.  Let cool.

For the icing, mix together the cream cheese and butter until light and creamy.  Add the vanilla, salt, and cream.  Slowly add the powdered sugar a little at a time.  Mix well.

**If you would like the icing to be more of a glaze, just add more liquid and cut out the cream cheese.  We alternate depending on our mood!

Once the rolls are cooled, spread the frosting over the top and watch your family devour these whole!

Notes

A note about freezing:

I double or triple this recipe and make tons at a time.  I find the best results are when I bake the rolls and then freeze them.  They don’t do as well when I freeze the dough, thaw, and then bake.  Their loft isn’t the same.  However, they still taste great, so if you prefer that – go for it!

You may absolutely freeze them with the icing on top and bring them to room temp, but I prefer to keep the icing and rolls separate so that I can re-heat the rolls to warm, then top with the icing without it melting all over in the oven.  The icing does freeze, but I find it keeps best in the refrigerator if that’s possible for your time frame.

Thanks for being a part of the kristagilbert.com family!

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6 comments… add one
  • Deb Strait December 7, 2018, 8:40 pm

    Krista, this recipe is very similar to the recipe I use for crescent rolls, calzone and cinnamon rolls. Scalded milk, eggs and sugar are the key. Try using the dough for rolls and calzone! Bon Appetite!

    • Krista December 11, 2018, 12:46 am

      What an awesome idea! I love that tip. Thank you, Debbie!!!!!

  • Kris December 12, 2018, 12:50 am

    The cinnamon roll recipe looks amazing–can’t wait to try it with my family! I have a few questions:

    * How many rolls does one recipe make with the 12 cups of bread flour?
    * Do you bake 12 rolls to a 9×13 pan?
    * What are you’re reheating instructions when you’ve baked ahead and frozen the rolls — oven temp and
    how long for the best results?
    *Do you freeze the rolls in the pan, or once frozen transfer them to a ziploc?

    Thanks very much!

    • Krista December 17, 2018, 5:36 am

      GREAT questions! Ok – let’s tackle them one by one.

      1. I tend to make my cinnamon rolls big, but on average this makes 20-24. I usually double the recipe so I get twice that 😉

      2. I fill a pan until it is full (again, depending on size of the rolls), and move on to the next pan. I only put 2 or 3 in a row so they have room to rise again. Keep that in mind as you stack them side by side. Leave room for the rise! I use aluminum pans I buy in bulk at the dollar store and I keep plenty on hand. You can put them in prettier pans after they bake if you want if you are serving them at a party or event. Or better yet, transfer to a fun platter and drizzle lots of icing over the top.

      3. For re-heating, I do a low heat, around 160-175 degrees. Just heat until warmed through, then put icing on top.

      4. I freeze the rolls in a pan and cover with plastic wrap first, then aluminum foil. That way they are ready to put in the warming oven as well. You could transfer them though to a ZipLock if you are worried about freezer burn.

      Hope that answers all of your questions! LMK how they turn out for you 🙂

  • Kris Johnson January 7, 2019, 10:34 pm

    I made your cinnamon rolls recipe for a large group yesterday and they were amazing! Everyone loved them! I ended up with 12 rolls from each half of the dough. I used 3 9×13 glass pans with 8 very large rolls per pan to allow them to rise–they filled the pan. I ended up using 2 cups half n half and 2 cups skim milk (since that is what we drink and had on hand). Thank you for sharing the recipe! 🙂

    P.S. I made a note to myself for next time to cut the recipe in half. Since there is so much dough it spiraled up around the top portion of my Kitchenaid stand mixer and was a pain to clean out the dough that got caught inside the “lip” afterwards. Does that happen with your mixer too?

    • Krista January 17, 2019, 9:02 pm

      Hi Kris! I’m so glad everyone liked them 🙂 They’re hard to beat for sure as a crowd pleaser. I have an oversized size mixer, so that’s probably why it doesn’t do that on mine. I’m glad you mentioned that for others who read this recipe. That’s a good plan to cut the recipe in half, or to make it one half at a time in the mixer itself. Thanks for sharing!

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