cream cheese cinnamon rolls

Before the rolls are baked

These cinnamon rolls are nothing short of amazing. There is double the fun of cream cheese– first it is literally folded into the dough, then slathered on top with nuts and spices and rolled all up inside. The result is far better than a stale store-bought roll or an out-of-the-package pillsbury batch. The dough is moist and fluffy and pulls apart oh so easily, while the filling is crammed with creamy cinnamon that oozes out of every nook and cranny. These take time, but make some room for them in your day. You can also let them rise the second time overnight (or a whole day) and just get extra-large rolls!

I had a great rainy Saturday morning watching cartoons and making these cinnamon rolls, and then baked them the following day for friends and housemates (who are now all very, very good friends. These rolls will solidify any friendship). They would be great for a potluck-brunch or feeding a house of growing kids (aka college boys), but beware, you want to share with others or you’ll want to clean out the pan yourself.

I will do my best to describe the process, but if you need help, I’ve included Joy the Baker‘s photo tutorial at the end to help. Thanks to Joy for the adapted recipe! This is shared with Friday Potluck @ Ekats kitchenThe Saturday Evening PotFood on FridaysFoodie FridaysWanderfood Wednesday, and Yeast Spotting.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 10 cinnamon rolls. Active prep time: 30-40 minutes. Rise time: 4 hours. Cook time: 30 minutes. Total time: about 5 hours.

Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • 1 – 1/4oz package active dry yeast (or 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon, plus 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for kneading
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

Cinnamon Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

In a large bowl, combine yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 cup warm water, as warm as you can get it from the tap.  Whisk to combine and let sit until frothy and foamy, about 10 minutes. The add the remaining sugar, milk, light brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk.  Beat with a whisk until well combined.


1. IF YOU HAVE A STAND MIXER. Fit the bowl onto the mixer, fitting with the dough hook attachment.  Add the flour and salt and mix on medium speed until the dough just begins to come together.  Turn the machine on medium-high and knead the dough for 4 minutes. Then add the stick of butter and continue to knead for about 6 minutes.  The dough will the wet and sticky.  Place the dough on a well floured work surface, and knead about 1/3 cup all-purpose flour into the dough. The dough will still be sticky, but that’s ok. Then return to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (aka. anywhere if it’s the summer) for 1 1/2 or 2 hours or until doubled in size.

2. IF YOU LIKE TO USE YOUR HANDS/KEEP YOUR KITCHEN UNCLUTTERED WITH FANCY APPLIANCES. Add the flour and salt and mix with a wooden spoon until sticking together, about 4-5 minutes. Then add the stick of butter, slightly warmed to make it easier to incorporate, and an additional 1/3-2/3 cup flour until it is still sticky but stays together just enough to get your hands in it. Dump it onto a heavily floured surface and knead for an additional five minutes, adding more flour if necessary. It will be sticky, but that’s ok! It just makes for more fun, dough-covered monster hands. If you want to avoid these, just wet your hands before handling. Then return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.

While the dough rises, make the filling.  Combine the cream cheese, sugar, dark brown sugar, pecans, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, salt and cloves in a large bowl.  Stir to combine.  Stir in the maple syrup.  Set aside.

When the dough has doubled in size, dump it from the bowl onto a heavily floured work surface.  Gently knead the dough until it is no longer sticky, adding more flour as needed (if you used a stand mixer, you will probably need to add up to another 1/4 cup). Work the dough for about 1 or 2 minutes.  Once it’s no longer sticky, place a kitchen towel over the dough and let rest for 5 minutes before you roll it out. In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese with a knife until it’s smooth and spreadable.

Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10 x 10-inch square. Spread the cream cheese evenly over the dough square.  Fold the square into thirds like you would fold a letter to fit into an envelope.  Then take the open ends of the rectangle and fold into thirds again, to make a small dough square.

Flip over the dough so that the seam is face down and, using the rolling pin, gently roll it into a 10 x 20-inch rectangle.  You make find that some cream cheese sneaks through.  Be as gently as possible with the dough, but continue to work it until you reach the size you need.

Now we’re going to add the filling. Turn the dough so that the short sides are parallel to you.  You’re going to roll from the short sides of the dough. Pour all of the filling onto the dough.  Spread evenly, leaving a 1-inch boarder at one of the short edges of the dough so the roll can be properly sealed.  Lightly press the filling into the dough.

Using your hands, lift up the bottom edge of the dough and roll it forward into a tight log (the tighter it is, the prettier the spirals of filling!).  Place the log of dough seam side down on a cutting board.  Using a sharp, thin knife, trim off the uneven edges. Then cut the log into 10 equal slices, starting at one end and being careful not to squish all the filling out when cutting. Nestle each slice in a buttered 9 x 13-inch metal baking dish giving them room to expand.  Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let rise for 2 hours.  You may also refrigerate rolls overnight.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Uncover the rolls.  If you refrigerated the rolls, let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before baking.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Joy’s photo tutorial (her filling looks different, but that’s ok, you can pretend):

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Knead the dough on a heavily floured surface, adding more flour so the dough is no longer sticky.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Roll that darling in a 10 x 10-inch circle and cream cheese it!

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Fold it up.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

And again.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Keep folding.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls


Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Now roll again.  This time to 10 x 20-inches.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Time for the good stuff.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

And roll.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Trim the edges and slice into 10 slices.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Into the pan.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

15 Responses to “cream cheese cinnamon rolls”

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