Growing up, Pilllsbury Cinnamon Rolls were a staple in my house. There was just something extra special about eating a sweet, cinnamony roll covered with icing that started the day off on a happy note! I wish Pillsbury would create a gluten free version of their delicious cinnamon rolls, but until they do, those of us who can’t have gluten anymore are left longing for that sweet breakfast roll we once loved.
Even a trip to the mall stirs up memories of what we’re missing, because let’s face it, Cinnabon’s ovens fill the whole mall with the scent of sweet cinnamony goodness. I think my last trip to the mall is what inspired this recipe. My family was visiting and went to the mall and walked past Cinnabon and everyone commented about how good it smelled and how bad they were now craving cinnamon rolls. This set me on a mission to fulfill my craving, and after a few failed attempts at creating the perfect gluten free alternative, I’ve finally nailed it! Even my hubby said they taste just like Cinnabon!
Perfecting the rolls took some time, so I went to my trusty, never fails, cream cheese icing recipe to top these babies!
Let’s talk gluten free flour…NOT all gluten free flours are created the same. Some contain xanthan gum already and others don’t, so you’ll have to buy some and add it in. Do yourself a favor and buy one that already has the xanthan gum included…my FAVORITE is King Arthur Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Mix. It’s more than just a flour. It’s a versatile baking mix that can be used to make pancakes, cakes, muffins, donuts, AND cinnamon rolls! King Arthur Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour is also great and has xanthan gum, so it will work for this recipe as well.
Working with yeast takes time and patience, so if you’re planning on making these cinnamon rolls, you’ll want to start the process at least two hours before you want to eat them, or you could even make the rolls the night before and bake them the next morning. Start by preheating your oven to 170 degrees. Once it reaches 170 degrees, turn the oven off and keep the door closed. Set out 1 1/2 sticks of butter to soften. Now start the cinnamon roll dough by adding 1/2 cup granulated cane sugar to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. I recommend using a stand mixer for this, but a hand mixer will work (I made this batch with a hand mixer). If you don’t have a mixer at all, you can knead the dough by hand. Add one cup warm milk to the sugar and stir to combine. You’ll want to use warm milk, not hot milk for this because hot milk can kill the yeast whereas warm milk will feed it, and that’s what we want. I heated my milk in the microwave in a ceramic coffee mug for 30 seconds, and it worked perfectly. Once you have the milk and sugar mixed together, sprinkle a packet of rapid-rising yeast over the top and set a timer for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, you should see a film and maybe some foam on top of the milk. That’s when it’s time to add in the rest of the ingredients! When you set the timer, add 1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick, but not the one you have sitting at room temperature) to a microwave-safe dish and heat for 1 minute until melted. Allow it to cool for the next 4 minutes while the yeast goes to work in the mixing bowl.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together two large eggs and add them to the mixture. Cracking your eggs and whisking them in a separate bowl will prevent any shells from getting into the dough mixture. Then add 1 tsp apple cider vinegar. Next comes 2 tsp baking powder. Now it’s time to add in the cool, melted butter. Next, add in 1/4 tsp salt and stir everything together. If you’re using a stand mixer, attach your dough hook. If you’re using a hand mixer, add the dough attachments. If you’re kneading by hand, get ready to put them to work! Measure out 3 1/2 cups of King Arthur All-Purpose Baking Mix and it to the mixing bowl. Mix on low until all ingredients are incorporated and a dough forms. The dough shouldn’t be dry or wet, instead, it should be slightly tacky to the touch but not stick to your hands. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the oven. The oven should not feel hot, but it should be slightly warm so that it creates the perfect environment for the dough to rise. Let it rise in the oven for 1 hour and then turn it out onto a piece of parchment paper and roll it into a large rectangle. You should not need any extra flour for rolling unless the dough starts to stick to your rolling pin. If you’re like me and can’t find your rolling pin, the side of a smooth drinking glass works in a pinch! Once you get the dough smoothed out, you’ll want to make the filling. Place the softened stick of butter in a small mixing bowl and and in 1 cup packed brown sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon. Using the back of a spoon, mash the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together until it’s all incorporated. Then spread the mixture over the dough, leaving about a 2 inch perimeter. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Now it’s time to turn these babies into cinnamon rolls! Using the shorter edge of the rectangle, grab the parchment paper and slowly roll the dough. It should roll easily, but you’ll want to go slowly to prevent cracking. Once you get the dough rolled up, you’ll want to cut it into 10 sections. I prefer to make a cut in the middle and then cut the halves in two and then cut those piece in two until I have 10 pieces total. Place the pieces in a 9×13 greased baking dish and pop them into the oven at 350 degrees for about 18-23 minutes. You want the outer edges to be golden brown while the inside is still a bit undone for the best taste and texture! While the cinnamon rolls bake, make the cream cheese icing.
For the icing, place 1/2 block (4 ounces) cream cheese and 1/2 stick salted butter in a large mixing bowl and using a mixer, cream the two together. Then add 2 tsp vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add in 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing until it’s all incorporated. This cream cheese icing is perfect with the cinnamon rolls and can also be doubled and used to top cakes as well!
You can warm the icing in the microwave for 30 seconds and pour it over the cinnamon rolls, or you can use it as is for a thicker consistency! Both ways taste amazing!
If you’re looking for a healthy cinnamon roll recipe, this is NOT it! There are 2 1/2 sticks of butter in this recipe, including the icing, so these are definitely reserved for treat days. They taste very similar to cinnamon, have a great texture, and will satisfy your craving for cinnamon rolls!
Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls (Cinnabon Copycat)
For the Cinnamon Rolls
- 1/2 cup granulated cane sugar
- 1 cup 2% milk or milk of your choice
- 1 packet rapid-rising dry yeast 2 1/4 tsp
- 2 large eggs whisked
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup salted butter 1 stick, melted and cooled
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix see note about GF flours above
For the Filling
- 1/2 cup salted butter 1 stick, softeneed
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
For the Icing
- 1/4 cup salted butter 1/2 stick, softened
- 4 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese 1/2 block, softened
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees
- Set out 1 1/2 sticks salted butter and 4 ounces of cream cheese to soften
- Add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup warm milk to a mixing bowl (or bowl of stand mixer) and stir to combine. Sprinkle 1 packet yeast over top and let sit for 5 minutes
- When oven reaches 170 degrees, turn it off and keep the door closed
- While yeast is activating, melt 1 stick butter in microwave (approximately 1 minute) and allow to cool
- In a small mixing bowl, add 2 large eggs and whisk to combine
- After 5 minutes, check yeast mixture. There should be a film and maybe some foam on top of the milk/sugar
- Add the whisked eggs, apple cider vinegar, 1/4 tsp salt, and cooled stick of butter to the yeast mixture and stir to combine
- Add in 3 1/2 cups of flour and mix with a dough hook or by hand for about 3-5 minutes until a ball of dough forms. The dough should be slightly tacky but not stick to your skin
- Place the ball of dough in the center of the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place it in the oven (should be slightly warm but not hot) for 1 hour to rise
- After dough has risen, turn it out onto a rectangular piece of parchment paper (about 15×18 inches)
- Roll the dough out into a rectangle shape to mostly cover parchment paper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Make the filling
For the Filling
- Add 1 stick softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon to a small mixing bowl
- Using the back of a spoon, mash ingredients together until they are thoroughly combined
- Smooth filling out evenly over flattened dough, leaving about a 2 inch perimeter
- Using the shorter side of the parchment paper, slowly roll the dough (go slowly so the dough doesn’t crack)
- Cut into 10 equal pieces (start by cutting the roll in half and then cut each new piece in half, repeat until you have 10 pieces total)
- Grease a 9×13 baking dish
- Place cinnamon rolls into baking dish and bake for about 18-23 minutes (the edges should be golden and the center should be slightly gooey when they’re done)
For the Icing
- Add 1/2 stick softened butter and 4 ounces softened cream cheese to a large mixing bowl and cream together (there should be no lumps)
- Add in 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Mix in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until incorporated
- You can warm the icing in the microwave for 30 seconds or use as is to ice the cinnamon rolls
- Once the cinnamon rolls are iced, satisfy your craving by digging in!