Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls

Normally when I make cinnamon rolls, I like to make a lot so that I can freeze them or give them away. But some days just call for a small quick batch. This recipe makes about 12-15 cinnamon rolls. Perfect for a family breakfast.



  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter (I use salted butter)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour


  • 6 to 7 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons flour


  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened (I use salted butter)
  • 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar


  1. For the dough, heat the milk in a medium saucepan until the milk is scalded (which is basically heating it until right before it simmers – it will start steaming and little bubbles will form around the edge of the pan; you can also do this in the microwave). Pour the milk into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or you can do this by hand with a large bowl and wooden spoon).
  2. Add the butter, sugar and salt. Mix until the butter is melted and let the mixture cool until warm but not hot. Add the yeast and egg and mix until combined. Allow the yeast to proof in the mixture for 5 minutes.
  3. Gradually add the flour until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. The exact amount will depend on the temperature, humidity and how you measure flour. I usually end up with right around 3 1/2 cups of flour. The dough should be soft and just slightly sticky without leaving a lot of residue on your fingers. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it rise until doubled, about an hour. Roll or pat the dough into about a 14X10-inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter evenly across the top.
  5. Stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon and flour and sprinkle it evenly over the butter. Pat it in slightly with the palms of your hands. Starting with one long end, roll up the cinnamon rolls as tightly as possible without stretching the dough, pinching the seam lightly to seal.
  6. Using a serrated knife, cut the large roll in half. Then cut each half in half again (forming four equal portions). Cut each of the four portions into three rolls for twelve cinnamon rolls total.
  7. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking dish. Place the rolls in the pan (3 across, 4 down), tucking the loose end of the cinnamon roll underneath, if desired. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let the rolls rise until double, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the rolls for about 18-22 minutes until only very slightly golden on top.
  9. While they cool (or before), prepare the icing by adding the cream cheese and butter to a medium bowl. Whip with a handheld (or stand) mixer until creamy. Add a pinch of salt, milk or cream, and vanilla. Mix again. Add the powdered sugar and whip until light and creamy. Spread the slightly warm rolls evenly with the icing. Serve immediately or let cool completely and serve at room temperature (or warm lightly before serving).

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