These soft, fluffy Brioche Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing are hard to beat. They're topped with luxurious brown butter cream cheese frosting and the result is next-level perfection for your breakfast.
This recipe uses my enriched brioche dough that forms the base for many delicious recipes. It's soft, and buttery comes together easily and works perfectly to make bread but also french toast, scrolls, rolls, babka, and donuts.
Don't be intimidated by it! In my post, I'll guide you through the process with step-by-step images and plenty of hints and tips. You'll be waking up to a tray of incredible Brioche Cinnamon Rolls before you know it!
The rolls are filled with a sweet brown sugar cinnamon filling, but it's the icing that's special. I've added brown butter to a regular cream cheese icing and the result is sweet, nutty, and totally more-ish. Perfect for these rolls!
🌟 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- I give you plenty of guidance. Is this your first time making bread, or you're a bit rusty? Don't worry, my in-depth post will steer you through the steps needed to make these Brioche Cinnamon Rolls.
- Pantry/fridge staple ingredients. You'll most likely have all the ingredients in your pantry or fridge. If not, they're all easily found at your local grocery store.
- Flavour packed. The brown butter cream cheese icing adds incredible flavour to what is already a delicious, soft, and buttery roll.
- Can make it overnight. Imagine waking up to homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Dreamy right?! I give you instructions to do just that.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
Whilst the list of ingredients is fairly basic and what you'll most likely have at home, there are a few pointers below.
The Brioche Dough
Active dry yeast. There are two types of yeast out there, dry yeast/instant rise yeast or active dry yeast. This recipe calls for active dry yeast, so you must follow the steps to activate it by soaking it as per the instructions. If you don't, you'll have little yeast balls in the dough, and your rolls won't rise.
Also worth mentioning is that if the yeast doesn't bubble, then it means that it's expired.
If using instant rise yeast, then there's no need to mix it with the milk beforehand. Just add it when adding in the flour.
Whole milk and sugar. The milk needs to be warm to the touch when the sugar and active dry yeast are added to it. Once left for 10-15 minutes, the yeast will start to foam, and you'll know it's activated. Too hot milk will kill the yeast.
Flour. Use plain (all-purpose) flour in this recipe. The yeast provides the lift so that we don't need a leavening agent like baking powder found in self-raising flour.
Eggs. Brioche dough wouldn't be enriched without the eggs and butter. Ensure the eggs are at room temperature (placing them for ten minutes in warm water will do the trick).
Butter should be unsalted as I like to control the amount of salt in my recipes. There is lots of lovely butter in this recipe - hence the reputation for being a rich, melt-in-your-mouth dough, so buy the best quality that you can.
Vanilla bean paste. This adds flavour and sweetness. I use the paste as I find the flavour more intense and love seeing the flecks in the dough, but vanilla extract is fine to use too.
Cinnamon Filling and Cream Cheese Icing
Butter. Room-temperature unsalted butter is vital here. You can even use browned butter for even more flavour. I have an in-depth post on How To Brown Butter.
Brown sugar, cinnamon powder and salt. Brown sugar (or light brown if that's all you have) is a must. The molasses in it, when combined with the butter and baked, go all gooey and unctuous at the bottom of the pan. And, of course, cinnamon and salt for maximum taste.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Brown butter. Seriously, doing this one extra step to brown the butter makes all the difference for this glaze. It adds a nutty vibe that is unmatched! If you don't have the time, regular unsalted butter will still make a delicious frosting.
Cream cheese. Yes, to all the cream cheese tangy goodness. In the UK it's sold in tubs whereas in the US it's in block form. Either will do for this recipe.
Powdered icing sugar (Confectioners' sugar). Sift the powdered sugar before adding to limit any lumps, and add salt to balance the sweetness.
I adore this Brioche Cinnamon Roll Recipe as there are quite a few ways of adding in different ingredients to create your own favourite flavour profile.
- Apple cinnamon rolls: peel, core, and finely dice one apple and toss the apple with the brown sugar filling before sprinkling it all over the dough and rolling. You'll have some tasty cinnamon rolls with the perfect fruity addition.
- Pecan sticky cinnamon rolls: Add one cup of chopped pecans and ½ cup brown sugar together and sprinkle across the base of your pan with a few knobs of butter before adding the unbaked scrolls. Continue with the recipe, and once baked, the brown sugar and butter melt to form a sticky layer with the added crunch of the nuts on the bottom of the rolls. Heavenly!
- Chocolate cinnamon rolls: Add finely chopped dark 70% chocolate into the brown sugar filling. Once baked, you'll have little pockets of melted chocolate within the swirls of the dough.
- Orange cinnamon rolls. Add the zest of two oranges into the dough when mixing. Add some orange juice to the cream cheese glaze. You'll add the perfect sweet orangey flavour profile that works so well with cinnamon.
❓Same Day or Overnight Rolls?
With this sweet rolls dough, you get to choose whether you go through the whole process from start to finish on the same day, ideal if you want the rolls in the afternoon.
Alternatively, you can do half the process in one day, proof the dough overnight in the fridge and then bake up in the morning. Perfect if you'd like the Brioche Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast. Imagine waking up to these in Christmas morning!
Here's a snapshot for you to choose which method works best for you.
Same Day Cinnamon Rolls:
- Start in the morning and go through the whole process. Once the rolls are shaped either do the second rise and bake straight away if the timing for serving them warm works.
- Or once the rolls are shaped and in the pan, cover and refrigerate. Then 1.5 hours before serving, take the rolls from the fridge and allow the second rise at room temperature. Egg wash the roots, if you choose, and bake and serve fresh. I love the same-day method if I want a freshly baked treat in the afternoon.
Overnight Brioche Cinnamon Rolls:
If you’d prefer to have freshly baked bread/rolls/babka etc for breakfast, then making them overnight is the way forward.
- Once you've filled your dough and cut the scrolls, then place them into the baking tray. Cover the tray well with plastic wrap so that the dough doesn't dry out and pop it into the fridge overnight. This basically slows down the second rise drastically, plus it enhances the overall taste too.
- The next morning, remove the tray from the fridge and let it come to room temperature for 45 minutes in a warm place to continue its second rise. Once risen, brush with egg wash, if you choose, and bake for the recommended time.
👩🏻🍳 How to Make Brioche Cinnamon Rolls
Have a good read of this section before diving into making this dough. It may seem like a lot of words, but I want to hold your hand through the whole process! If this is your first time making bread, I've got your back!
The process of making these Brioche Cinnamon Rolls goes like this:
- Bloom the yeast
- Make the brioche dough
- Dough first rise
- Punch down and refrigerate the dough (refrigeration optional)
- Make cinnamon filling during the first rise
- Shape dough
- Second rise
- Bake rolls
- Make cream cheese icing whilst the rolls are baking.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
Make The Brioche Dough
I recommend casting your eye over my post for brioche bread as we use the same dough to make these Brioche Cinnamon Rolls With Cream Cheese Icing. That post goes into more detail about making the dough which may prove useful to you.
Note: If making the rolls to be eaten the same day, in the afternoon, then I suggest starting to make the dough at noon. If making the rolls to be enjoyed the next day at breakfast, then start to make the dough late afternoon/early evening.
STEP 1: Activate yeast and mix in dry then wet ingredients (minus the butter). Add the yeast to half the milk and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Leave for 15 minutes until bubbly (Image 1). Add flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough attachment and mix.
Add yeast mixture, eggs, and milk and mix together until a dough forms. If there are dry crumbly bits at the base of the bowl, add an extra tablespoon or two of milk to bring it all together (Image 2).
STEP 2. Add the butter. Whilst beating on medium speed, add the butter, one tablespoon adds a time (Image 3). Beat until well incorporated before adding the next tablespoon. Once fully added, beat for 10-15 minutes until the dough forms a tornado around the dough hook attachment and pulls away from the side of the bowl (Image 4)
You'll know if the dough is ready if it passes the window pane test (see below).
TIP: The window pane test
Roll a small ball of dough and then using oiled fingers and thumbs, stretch the dough apart. If you can see the light through it without it tearing, it's' perfect. If it tears, then carry on kneading in the mixer and try again.
STEP 3: Place in a bowl and set for the first rise. Knead the dough a couple of times on a lightly oiled surface and form into a ball. It should be shiny, elastic, and strong. Place in an oiled bowl (Image 5), cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place for 1.5 hours or until doubled in size (Image 6).
The amount of time will depend on ambient temperature. You can create a warm place by turning the lights on only (not heat) in the oven.
STEP 4: Punch down the dough and refrigerate (optional). Once risen, punch down the dough and form it into a rectangle. You can use the dough right away and make the cinnamon rolls, but it's much easier to shape a cold dough, rather than a warm one. See note below.
TIP: Cold proof
I recommend chilling the dough at this point as it's much easier to shape the chilled dough. Wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for 30 minutes.
At this point, you can also place dough in a bowl and cover, and refrigerate overnight, then shape cut rolls and proof at air temperature for 45 minutes before baking.
Make Cinnamon Sugar Filling
STEP 5: Make filling. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and softened butter and mix well until well combined.
STEP 6. Prepare the pan and roll out the dough. Grease a rectangular 22cm x33cm (9x13-inch) baking dish with butter (alternatively, line the dish with parchment paper so you can lift the rolls out).
STEP 7: Roll out dough and cover in filling. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle. It should measure approximately 30x 48cm (12 x 18 inches). Cover the dough evenly with the cinnamon filling using an offset spatula (Image 9).
STEP 8. Roll the dough and cut. On the long edge, roll the dough up without pulling or stretching the dough (Image 10). Pinch the seam closed all the way along with your fingertips. (This stops the roll from unravelling once you've cut it (Image 11).
Slice the two ends off with a sharp knife. They can be a bit raggedy. Using the knife or using unflavored dental floss, cut the log into 12 equal pieces (Image 12).
TIP: Equal-size rolls
You can measure the log and divide that by 12 to get equal-sized rolls.
Or cut the log in half then each portion in half again. You'll have 4 pieces. Cut each of those into 3. They may not be perfectly equal but close enough!
STEP 9: Place in the pan. Place the cut brioche cinnamon rolls on their sides with the beautiful scrolls facing up into the dish you’ve prepared. If they have become a bit misshapen from cutting, then now is the time to use your fingers to make them round again gently. Ensure there is a little space around all the rolls (Image 13).
NOTE: If going for overnight rolls- then cover the pan well and refrigerate the pan overnight at this point.
STEP 10. The second rise then bake. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the roll rise in a warm place for 45 mins. The dough visually has to expand by at least half its original volume (Image 14).
Note: For overnight rolls- the next morning, remove the pan from the fridge and continue with the method by doing the second rise at room temperature.
Whilst the dough is on its second rise, this is the time to preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Once risen, remove the plastic wrap, and brush the rolls with a simple egg wash (Image 15). Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown (Image 16) Halfway through, tent in aluminium foil if the rolls are browning too quickly.
TIP: Egg wash the rolls
This is an optional step. It gives the rolls a beautiful sheen. I've gotten into the habit of always brushing an egg wash over my buttery brioche dough but if fully covering the rolls with cream cheese then it's not necessary.
Make the egg wash by whisking the egg with a tablespoon of water and brushing over the rolls.
Make Brown Butter Frosting
STEP 11. Brown the butter. Heat the butter on the stovetop until bubbling whilst whisking continuously. As it melts, continue to whisk the butter until a foam appears on the top, and the butter is a rich golden brown, and it smells nutty.
Remove the butter from the heat and pour it into a separate bowl, scraping the browned bits off the bottom, as this is where the flavour lies. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to cool down to room temperature.
STEP 12. Make the frosting. In a separate bowl, using electric hand-held beaters (or a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment), cream the brown butter and cream cheese for about 5 minutes until pale and fluffy (Images 17 & 18).
Mix in the powdered icing sugar, and vanilla, until smooth (Images 19 & 20). Add in an extra tablespoon of milk for a runnier consistency if needed. The brown butter frosting should be a smooth, spreadable consistency.
When the brioche cinnamon rolls are finished baking, let them cool for about 10 minutes. Spoon the frosting over the cinnamon rolls, and spread (Images 21 & 22).
Serve brioche cinnamon rolls warm. The dough will be at its ultimate soft and fluffiest. They are unbelievable when eaten like this!
💭 Recipe Pro Tips
- Refrigerate the dough after the first rise: When it comes to rolling out the dough, sprinkling the sugar filling, re-rolling, and cutting into scrolls - this is so much easier to do with the cooled dough. Trust me!
- Soft butter for the filling. The butter has to be super soft so as not to tear the dough when you spread it out. Don't melt it though otherwise, you'll have a red-hot mess on your hands!
- Cutting neat scrolls. Either use a sharp-bladed knife to cut the long log or use unflavoured dental floss to get the clean edges. (Food stylist's tip!)
- Don't roll up the scrolls too tightly. If you do, you'll find the centres will pop up and out during baking. As the dough expands it has no-where to go but up if it's too tight!
📋 Recipe FAQs
Cinnamon rolls most likely have some form of vanilla or cream cheese frosting on top of the rolls. With sticky buns, they don’t have any frosting and will have a lot of the sugar/butter filling mixture sprinkled into the base of your baking pan to form a gooey, sticky layer once baked. Preppy Kitchen shows perfectly how to make Sticky Buns.
If there is too little flour, then the dough will be sticky and won’t have enough structure to rise, resulting in dense, soggy rolls.
If there is too much flour in the dough, then it will turn out dry and crumbly once baked.
Your best bet is to weigh your ingredients using digital scales for an accurate and reliable way to create this and every recipe!
Absolutely! Once you've cut your scrolls and placed them in your baking pan, ready for their second rise...this is your chance to refrigerate them. Wrap the baking pan tightly in plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge overnight. The next morning, take the dish out of the fridge and let it stand at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour, and then bake as per the recipe instructions. There’s nothing like waking up to warm scrolls for breakfast!
❄️ Storage and Freezer Instructions
To store: Brioche Cinnamon Rolls are definitely best eaten fresh and warm straight out of the oven. If you do need to store them, then place the rolls in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Microwave for 10-20 seconds to freshen them up as they will dry out the longer you keep them.
To freeze: These tasty cinnamon rolls can be frozen. Place in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before serving or reheating.
🍞More Dough/Pastry Recipes
If you tried this Brioche Cinnamon Rolls Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you!
Brioche Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
- 10 g active dry yeast
- 240 ml whole milk, luke-warm
- 65 g granulated sugar
- 540 g plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- 1½ teaspoon fine salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or extract
- 140 g unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (or canola oil), for greasing
Brown Sugar Cinnamon Filling
- 75 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 140 g brown sugar, firmly packed
- 3 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ¼ fine salt
Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 120 g cream cheese, softened
- 180 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar), sifted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Brioche dough (Refer to my Brioche Bread post for detailed instructions, tips and process images)
- Activate yeast and mix in dry and then wet ingredients (minus the butter). Add the yeast, milk, and 1 tablespoon (15 g) of sugar into a small bowl. Set to one side for 15 minutes until foamy. Add flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough attachment and mix. Add yeast mixture, eggs, and vanilla bean paste and mix together on low for 5 minutes until a dough forms.
- Add butter. Whilst the mixer is running at a low speed, add the butter gradually, making sure each spoonful is incorporated before adding in the next. Once incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium speed and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl and have formed a ‘tornado’ around the dough hook. Do the windowpane test on the dough - grab a small piece of dough between your fingers and thumbs and stretch it out. If it tears quickly, the dough requires more kneading. If it stretches thinly and you can see the light through it, then it’s perfect!
- Place in a bowl and set aside for the first rise. Tip the dough onto a greased worktop and pull the corners into the center. Turn over so that the seams are underneath and place the dough ball in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for approximately 1½ hours.
- Punch down the dough and refrigerate (optional). Once doubled in size, gently punch down the dough, form it into a rectangle, and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or freeze for 45 minutes (my preferred option). This step is optional, but chilling the dough now makes it much easier to roll and shape later.
- Prepare the pan. Grease with butter a 23 cm (9-inch) round pie dish or cake pan. Line the dish with parchment paper if you want to lift the rolls out of the dish once baked.
Make Cinnamon Filling
- Add brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and softened butter and mix well until well combined.
Shape the Dough
- Roll out dough and cover in filling. Once the dough is cold, on a lightly floured countertop, roll the dough into a rectangle measuring approximately 30 x 48cm (12 x 18 inches). Cover the dough evenly with the cinnamon filling using an offset spatula.
- Roll the rectangle into a log shape. On the long side of the rectangle, roll the dough tightly into a long log and then pinch the seam closed with your fingers. Using unflavoured dental floss or a sharp knife, cut the ends off the roll as they won’t be as filled as the rest of the log. Cut the log into 12 even pieces.
- Place in the pan. Place the cinnamon rolls on their sides with the scroll facing up in the baking pan. Leave room around each roll.
- The second rise then bake. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes until they have expanded by about half of its original volume. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Remove plastic wrap and bake the cinnamon rolls for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Halfway through, cover with foil so as not to brown too much.
Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- Brown the butter. While the cinnamon rolls are baking, make the browned butter glaze. In a medium saucepan placed over medium heat on your stovetop, heat the butter until bubbling whilst whisking continuously. Continue to whisk and heat the butter until a foam appears on the top, the butter develops from a pale yellow to a rich golden brown, and it smells nutty. At this point, remove the butter from the heat and pour it into a separate bowl, scraping the browned bits off the bottom, as this is where the flavour lies. Set aside for 20-30 minutes to cool down to room temperature.
- Make the frosting. In a separate bowl, using electric hand-held beaters (or a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment), cream together the brown butter and cream cheese for about 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Mix in the powdered icing sugar, vanilla, salt, and 1 tablespoon of milk if needed until smooth. Add in an extra tablespoon of milk for a runnier consistency. The brown butter glaze should be a smooth, spreadable consistency.
- Decorate. When the cinnamon rolls are finished baking, let them cool for about 10 minutes. Spoon the glaze over the cinnamon rolls, using the back of a spoon to spread if desired.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.