These incredibly delicious no-knead cinnamon rolls with vanilla frosting may be the easiest you’ll ever bake!
Chilly fall and winter mornings are made for cinnamon rolls, don’t you think? There’s nothing finer on a lazy morning, or more perfect for a special occasion or holiday. And baking them is all part of the fun!
I love rolling out the dough, adding the cinnamon-scented filling, and slicing them into rolls. Of course, the best part is pulling them out of the oven, adding a slather of frosting, and devouring them while they’re still warm.
These cinnamon rolls are my very favorite recipe. They’re soft and tender, sweet and cinnamon-y, and topped with the fluffiest vanilla icing. And best of all, they’re no-knead and so easy to make!
How to Make the Easiest No-Knead Cinnamon Rolls
These no-knead cinnamon rolls are made with the same dough as my mom’s famous no-knead fairy crescent roll recipe. In fact, growing up these are the very cinnamon rolls she’d make.
Here’s the ingredients you’ll need:
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Active-dry yeast (use “quick rise” or “instant” yeast and these rolls will be done in about an hour!)
- Warm water
- Ground cinnamon
No Kneading required!
My favorite thing about this recipe (besides the delicious cinnamon rolls you get to eat at the end, obviously) is that there is no kneading!
You literally add all of the ingredients to a big bowl, give it a good stir until you have a very wet, smooth dough, and that’s it! The whole process takes less than 5 minutes.
Why does this work? To be honest, I don’t really know. Most no-knead recipes are very wet and require a longer rise time, but my mom and I have been making this recipe for 20 years or more and it works every single time. It’s magic!
How to help your dough rise faster
Once the dough is mixed, you can cover it with a towel or plastic wrap and set it on the kitchen counter to rise, and that will work just fine. But usually I’m making cinnamon rolls during the fall or winter when my kitchen tends to be a bit cooler, and that will slow down the rise. To help your dough rise faster, here’s a few warmer suggestions:
- Oven: Heat your oven to its lowest setting for a few minutes, then turn it off. Place the covered dough on the center rack and close the door.
- Microwave: Heat 1 cup of water in your microwave for 2 minutes. Remove water and place the covered dough in the microwave and close the door.
- Other: I’ve also risen bread on top of a warm oven, running dryer machine, and even on a chair set over a heater vent.
How to Shape Cinnamon Rolls
- After the first rise, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface and shape it into a ball.
- Roll it out into a large rectangle about 12 x 17 inches (no need to be exact, this is a very rough estimate). If your dough is resisting and springs back as you’re rolling it, cover it with a towel and walk away for 10 minutes. That gives the gluten time to relax and the dough should be much easier to work with.
- Brush dough with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture, getting all the way to the edges.
- Starting at one long end, roll dough up tightly.
- Use a sharp knife or unscented floss (my preferred method) and trim off uneven edges. Then cut into 12 even rolls. (Here’s a quick video to see how to use floss.)
Once the cinnamon rolls are cut, place them in a 9×13 inch baking pan that you’ve greased or lined with parchment and let them rise for another 20-30 minutes while the oven preheats.
Bake until cinnamon rolls are golden and your house smells amazing!
Turn these into overnight cinnamon rolls
Looking to get a head start on these cinnamon rolls and prep them the night before? It can definitely be done!
After you’ve placed the shaped rolls in the pan, cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for up to about 12 hours. Take them out of the fridge about 1-2 hours before baking. They need to completely come back to room temperature and even rise a little more before baking. So make sure you plan for that.
Top with the best vanilla icing
Cinnamon roll frosting is a little controversial. Some people prefer cream cheese, others just want a basic glaze. And I’ve seen recipes use everything from brown butter to coffee. There’s lots of delicious ways you can do it!
But I decided to keep it simple and used a variation of my favorite whipped vanilla frosting. It’s so light and creamy, and the perfect topping for these no-knead cinnamon rolls.
Add the frosting while the rolls are still hot and it will melt and turn into more of a glaze, and soak into the rolls. If you want a fluffy frosting that sits on top of the rolls, wait to add it until the cinnamon rolls are mostly cool.
Other Sweet Roll Recipes to Try
- Lemon Cinnamon Rolls
- Chocolate Hazelnut Sweet Rolls
- Peanut Butter and Jam Sweet Rolls
- Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
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No-Knead Cinnamon Rolls
For the dough:
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 envelope Active-dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
- 1/2 cup butter , melted and slightly cooled (1 stick, 113 grams)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 4 cups all-purpose flour , measured correctly (480 grams)
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
For the filling:
- 3 tablespoons butter , melted (40 grams)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
For the frosting:
- 5 tablespoons butter , softened to room temperature (70 grams)
- 2 cups powdered sugar , sifted (320 grams)
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
To prepare the dough:
- In a large bowl, combine the water and yeast and allow to sit for five minutes.
- Add butter, sugar, and egg. Stir until combined.
- Add flour and salt and stir until it forms a wet dough. Continue to stir until dough is smooth without any lumps.
- Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Dump out onto a floured surface and shape dough into a ball.
- Roll dough out to a rough 12x17 inch rectangle. No need to be exact.
Add filling and shape:
- Brush dough with melted butter. Combine cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle over the dough.
- Starting at one long end, tightly roll dough into a long log.
- Use a sharp knife or unscented floss to cut into 12 even rolls.
- Place in a greased or lined 9x13 inch pan. Cover and let rise again.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake cinnamon rolls until golden brown, about 30-35 minutes.
- Let cool slightly or completely, per your preference.
Top with frosting:
- Beat butter, powdered sugar, cream, vanilla and salt with an electric mixer until light and creamy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape the bowl down once or twice.
- Spread frosting onto warm or cooled rolls and serve immediately.
- These cinnamon rolls are best the day they are baked but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.
- Use "quick rise" or "instant" yeast to make these cinnamon rolls even more quick and easy.
- To make ahead: Cover shaped rolls with plastic wrap and let rise in the fridge for up to about 12 hours. Take them out of the fridge about 1-2 hours before baking so they have time to come to room temperature and rise a little.