Here's a recipe for deliciously soft and extra tender brioche cinnamon rolls.
They’re fluffy, filled with cinnamon sugar, and iced with a vanilla cream cheese glaze.
A brioche dough makes the best homemade cinnamon rolls (or, these strawberry rolls!) They are so soft and fluffy with a great rich flavor. Brioche dough itself isn’t overly sweet, so it pairs very well with the cinnamon sugar filling and the sticky sweet cream cheese glaze.
What is brioche dough?
Brioche dough is an enriched dough that contains a large amount of butter and eggs. It undergoes multiple proofing times, including a cold refrigeration period which brings extra flavor to the dough.
It’s a trickier dough to work with than regular cinnamon rolls but it makes the best homemade cinnamon rolls. This brioche bread recipe is the base of the brioche cinnamon rolls. The linked brioche dough post takes you through the steps of making the dough and what to look for.
If you're looking for a less rich dough, check out these small-batch sticky buns instead, or make challah bun dough which uses oil instead of butter.
The butter is a key component in buttery brioche dough. There is a lot of it. You can use salted or unsalted butter. If using salted butter, you can reduce the salt in the rest of the recipe to 1 teaspoon.
This recipe works best with flour with around 11% protein. All-purpose flour protein levels can vary between brands, and the name of the flour itself can vary between countries. It’s best to check protein levels rather than just the name of the flour.
The yeast used in this yeast dough can be instant yeast or active dry yeast. Instant yeast will rise faster than active dried yeast. Whichever one you use, it needs to be viable. Usually, the instant yeast sachets are pretty full-proof, but sometimes active dried yeast can lose viability.
To test the viability of yeast before beginning, warm the milk (to around 95-104°F / 35-40°C) and mix in the yeast along with one tablespoon of the sugar. Leave it to sit for 5-10 minutes first. If it becomes foamy, it's good to go.
For optimal flavor and texture, you’ll need to allow enough time for the dough to knead properly, as well as time to undergo multiple rising times. The best cinnamon rolls from brioche dough are overnight brioche cinnamon rolls, made over a period of two days.
- Knead the dough, for around 20 minutes.
- Let it rise for approximately 2 hours at room temperature until doubled in size.
- Refrigerate the dough for 8-12 hours overnight.
- The next morning, roll, shape, and cut the dough
- Let the rolls rise at room temperature until doubled in size
- Bake the brioche cinnamon rolls
A stand mixer - The brioche dough is a very sticky dough, to begin with. There is a large number of eggs and butter present and this extra fat and moisture mean gluten development in the dough is slow.
Use a stand mixer for best results as the dough needs 15-20 minutes of mixing to create the gluten structure that’s necessary for a strong and elastic dough.
Cast-Iron Skillet - This is optional, but a 12inch/30cm cast-iron skillet is a great way to bake the brioche rolls. Use a 9 x 13inch/ 23x33cm baking pan if you don't have a skillet.
Making The Brioche Dough
- Add the warm milk and stir in the yeast and sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. To the yeast mixture, add the eggs, flour, and salt. Turn the mixer on low speed and combine until it forms a thick but slightly sticky dough. Mix this dough for around 5 minutes to begin developing the gluten.
- Add in the soft butter, a little bit at a time. Incorporate each cube before the next addition.
- Turn the mixer on medium speed and keep it mixing until the sticky dough starts to strengthen and come together and pull away cleanly from the sides of the bowl. For the best gluten development and brioche crumb, keep the dough mixing for at least 15 minutes. Proper gluten development will allow you to stretch the dough so thin you can almost see through it. This is called the 'window pane' effect.
Mixing by hand
It is possible to mix this dough by hand, but you need to be prepared to use a lot of elbow grease. For a wet dough like this using a slap and fold method is easiest - slap the dough down hard on the bench and then pull it forward quickly, and repeat. Using quick motions can stop the dough from sticking to your hands too much. It will be very sticky but do not be tempted to add more flour. Use a bench scraper to gather the dough back together if it gets too messy. after a while, you will start to feel strength gather in the dough.
It can be tiring so you can take breaks in between kneading, in fact, the dough will respond well to it. Come back to it with clean and slightly damp hands.
Proofing The Brioche Dough
- Pull the dough out of the large bowl onto a clean work surface and form it into a ball. Place the dough ball into a clean medium bowl. Cover it with a lid, plate, plastic wrap, or a damp tea towel, and let it proof at room temperature for 1.5- 2 hours until doubled in size.
- Deflate the dough gently, and reshape it into a rough ball again. Cover it with a lid or plate, plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and place it in the fridge overnight. This step can be shortened, but a long cold proof of 8-12 hours gives the best flavor.
Rolling and Baking The Cinnamon Rolls
- Pull the proofed dough from the bowl and tip it onto a floured bench. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a 12x18 inch (30x45cm) large rectangle.
- Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Spread softened butter in an even layer over almost the entire surface dough, leaving an inch border on the long side. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the butter. Tightly roll up the dough to form an 18-inch/45cm long tight log, with the long edge facing you. Slice the log into 12 equal pieces using a serrated knife or unflavored dental floss. The unraveling end parts of each roll can be tucked under to keep them tight.
- Grease a 30cm cast-iron skillet or 9x13 inch baking tray or line with parchment paper. Place rolls in the prepared pan or baking dish and cover them with a lightweight slightly dampened tea towel (to stop the tops from drying out). Let the shaped dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Bake the brioche cinnamon rolls for approximately 25 minutes until puffed up and golden brown on the tops. The rolls can be covered with aluminum foil halfway through baking if you find the tops are browning too fast. After baking, let them cool for 10 minutes before glazing.
Cream cheese frosting
- To make the cream cheese icing, beat the cream cheese in a mixer with a paddle attachment until smooth and creamy.
- To the softened cream cheese add powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. Beat it together until creamy. Spread the icing over the still-warm cinnamon rolls and serve the warm rolls immediately.
Leftover brioche cinnamon rolls can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Happy baking!
Looking at what else you can bake using your cast-iron pan? Why not learn to make a sourdough starter and bake your first loaf of sourdough bread with caraway seeds?
This recipe is written using grams as the main measurement.
If you don't have a scale US* cup equivalents are also included, however, using a kitchen scale to measure grams will give the best, and most consistent results. *US cup sizes are smaller than metric cup sizes.
The Softest Brioche Cinnamon Rolls
This recipe for brioche cinnamon rolls makes the softest cinnamon rolls. They’re super fluffy, filled with cinnamon sugar and iced with a vanilla cream cheese glaze.
- 125g (½ cup + ½ Tablespoon) warm milk (95-104°F / 35-40°C)
- 2 ½ teaspoon instant yeast or active dried yeast
- 50g ( ¼ cup) granulated sugar
- 600g (5 cups) all-purpose flour*
- 5 large eggs (approx. 260g-270g excluding shell.)
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 230g (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
- 75g (5 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
- 100g (½ cup) soft brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing
- 60g ( ¼ cup) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 150g (1 ¼ cup) confectioners sugar
- 2 tablespoon milk, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the milk and stir in the yeast and one tablespoon of sugar. Leave it to sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy. Add to it the remaining sugar, eggs, flour and salt. Turn the mixer on low and combine until it forms a thick but slightly sticky dough. Mix this dough for around 5 minutes to begin developing
- Add in the cubed butter, a few pieces at a time. Incorporate each cube before the next addition.
- Turn the mixer on medium and keep it mixing until the sticky dough starts to strengthen and come together and pull away cleanly from the sides of the bowl. For the best gluten development and brioche crumb, keep the dough mixing for at least 15 minutes. Proper gluten development will allow you to stretch the dough so thin you can almost see through it. This is called the 'window pane' effect.
- Pull the dough out of the bowl onto a bench and form it into a ball. Place the dough ball into a clean bowl and cover it with a lid or plate, or a damp tea towel and let it proof at room temperature for 1.5- 2 hours until doubled in size. The rising time will happen fastest with instant yeast and a little slower with active dried yeast.
- Deflate the dough gently, and reshape it into a rough ball again. Cover it lid or plate, or a damp tea towel and place it in the fridge overnight. This step can be shortened, but a long cold proof of 8-12 hours gives the best flavor.
- Pull the proofed dough from the bowl and tip it onto a floured bench. Roll the dough out into a 12x18 inch (30x45cm) rectangle.
Spread softened butter over the dough. In a bowl, mix together the brown sugar and ground cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the butter. Tightly roll up the dough to form an 18-inch/45cm long log. Slice the log into 12 even-sized pieces. The unraveling end parts of each roll can be tucked under to keep them tight.
- Grease a 12inch/30cm cast-iron skillet or 9x13 inch/23x33cm baking dish. Place in the rolls and cover them with a light-weight slightly dampened tea towel (to stop the tops drying out). Let them rise at room temperature puffy and doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C.
- Bake the brioche cinnamon rolls for approximately 25 minutes until puffed up and browned on the tops. The rolls can be covered with aluminum foil halfway through baking if you find the tops are browning too fast. After baking, let them cool for 10 minutes before glazing.
- To make the icing, beat the cream cheese in a mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and milk. Beat it together until creamy. Spread the icing over the still-warm cinnamon rolls and serve immediately.
*The cup sizes are US size which is smaller than metric. For best results, use scales. This recipe works best with flour with around 11% protein. All-purpose flour protein levels can vary between brands, and the name of the flour itself can vary between countries. It’s best to check protein levels rather than just the name of the flour.
Egg sizes and weights vary a lot. It's best to use scales to measure the total egg volume.
See the brioche bread recipe post for more details on making brioche dough.
If you want to test the viability of your yeast before beginning, warm the milk (to around 95-104°F / 35-40°C) and mix in the yeast along with one tablespoon of the sugar. Leave it to sit for 10 minutes first. If it becomes foamy, it's good to go.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 521Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 138mgSodium: 59mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 2gSugar: 25gProtein: 9g
Can I make this recipe and not bake 2 days before and refrigerate and bake Christmas morning.
Hey yes you can refrigerate the dough up to 2 days, but I wouldn’t fill and shape the dough that far in advance. You can refrigerate the bowl of dough, but I’d wait to do the shaping and last rise until the evening before you need them (and then they can rise again slowly overnight in the fridge).
These are the best cinnamon rolls I have ever tasted. I did increase my sugar in the dough to a half a cup and I also increased my butter in the filling to one stick and one cup of brown sugar. I guess I just have a sweet tooth but this dough is amazing.
That's great to hear Lynn! So happy you loved them!
These rolls were delicious. Almost as good as my grandmothers (can anyone beat grammy's baking?) Will absolutely make them again with one change, lower the oven temp. My browned too quickly even though I covered them. Still great and not dried out.
This was such a beautiful dough to work with! Worth every minute and every ounce of butter!
I totally agree! One of my fave doughs to work with. So happy you loved it too!
This is a fantastic dough! The cinnamon rolls were perfect, better than the “chain store”. I’m going to use this dough to make all kinds of goodies! Thanks for the recipe!
So happy you loved it Lori!
I made these rolls last night…the dough came together beautifully and these were hands down the BEST cinnamon rolls I have ever made. Definitely in our recipe rotation!
Michael DiPaola says
Can I freeze this recipe?
The baked rolls can be frozen for up to 3 months 🙂
You have very good recipe!
I did have good laugh though, the part about the weight of the eggs excluding the shell 🙂
About thirty years ago I went to culinary school. During the baking section of the program, I had a classmate that had a hard time following recipes.
When the recipe called for eggs, he would put the entire egg in the mixer.
When it called for bananas, he would put the whole banana in the mixture.
Again, you recipe is a very good recipe!
Thank you for sharing.
I had a couple issues. I think the oven temp was a bit too high for my gas oven. Very brown on top, even when covered, and center not completely baked! The flavour was awesome!! I will make it again with a couple tweaks. I also will add a bit more cream cheese to the icing for a bit more tang!
How long can the iced rolls be left out at room temp? With cream cheese in the frosting, do they HAVE to be refrigerated if not consumed that day? Thanks!
Heya the iced rolls can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days 🙂
I am trying out this recipe for the first time. I was wondering if I can use a glass pan instead of using a cast iron?
Hey yes you definitely can, a 9x13 inch 🙂
Thao Rodriguez says
What kind of milk do you recommend? Whole milk? Or is 2% okay?
Either will work 😊