Quick, Easy-Peasy Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

There have been lots of blog posts about cinnamon rolls lately, and it’s easy to understand why. I mean, they’re irresistible! The Pioneer Woman has an incredible yeast cinnamon roll recipe. It’s very popular, for good reason, but like all yeast breads, you need a lot of time to allow things to rise before you can finally enjoy the end product. Sometimes, there just isn’t time to wait. Or sometimes, you just don’t want to wait! Enter the quick and easy peasy cinnamon roll.

From start to finish, these tasty little babies only take 40 minutes. Forty minutes. And the majority of that is baking time! No, they are not the big, fluffy, yeasty mall-like cinnamon rolls that make us drool like maniacs in front of strangers and loved ones alike, but guess what? They’re pretty darn close! Considering that they use a little baking powder and baking soda as leaveners, they are still surprisingly light and fluffy. Although similar in design to a biscuit or scone, these are a lot more “bread-y” and moist. The icing is also simpler than most cinnamon roll icings, producing more of a glaze, but a little bit goes far with this!

Before writing these off as generic wannabes, give them a chance! They’re adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks of all time and they’re wonderful. They may not win your heart over for all time, but they’ll definitely be your new best bud in a time crunch. In fact, they’re so tasty that I rarely find myself bothering with a yeast roll…unless it’s a special occasion. Finally, a homemade cinnamon roll that you don’t have to start the night before or get up at 5am to make!

To get started, brush a nine inch cake pan with a tablespoon of melted butter and set aside. We’re gonna mix up the yummy cinnamon filling first. You’ll need a little salt, ground cloves, cinnamon, melted unsalted butter, sugar, and brown sugar.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl.

Pour the melted butter in and stir with a fork until everything is well mixed and looks like wet sand. Set that aside and let’s get started on the dough.

You only need a few ingredients for these, which is nice, but one of them is buttermilk, which is annoying. As I’ve said before, I never keep buttermilk on hand. Ever. An easy fix? Cultured buttermilk powder. Basically, it’s powdered buttermilk. You can find it in the baking aisle, usually near the corn starch and baking soda. It’s a very simple conversion from powder to liquid too. One tablespoon of powder per one quarter cup of water. The best part is that you can’t tell the difference between this and the “real” thing.

Back to the rolls… you need salt, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, flour, melted unsalted butter, and buttermilk. Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. If you’re using the powdered buttermilk, add the powder in with all of the other dry ingredients (you’ll add the water in a minute).

Whisk two tablespoons of the butter with the buttermilk (or water) and pour the mixture over the dry ingredients. Stir until everything just comes together. The dough will still be wet and lumpy, but that’s ok. Turn the dough onto a well floured surface and knead until smooth, using plenty of flour to keep it from sticking to you or your work area (this will still be pretty soft slightly sticky after kneading, so be gentle with it).

Press the kneaded dough into a rectangle about a foot long and eight or nine inches across, being careful not to press it too thin.

Spread two tablespoons of the melted butter on the dough (I just use my fingers).

Pour all of the filling onto the dough and spread it all over, leaving an inch or so around the edges. Press the mixture down to sort of pack it on top of the dough. It will actually feel like you have too much topping, but it’s just right!

Working from the longer side, gently (it will probably slightly stuck to the counter) fold the side up to start your roll. Press the roll tightly as you go and pinch the seam together before laying the whole roll seam side down. You should have one roll, about 12 inches long. Cut this into eight rolls, laying them flat as you go. Once you have them all cut, gently press them on top to flatten them a little.

Place the rolls in your prepared cake pan, one in the center with the other seven around it. Brush the tops with the remaining melted butter and bake at 425 for 20 to 25 minutes. Don’t worry if they’re not that pretty right now, they will be when they come out of the oven.

While the rolls bake, mix up the frosting. You just need softened butter or cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and buttermilk. You can still use the cultured buttermilk powder here and you won’t be able to tell the difference. This is best with cream cheese in the frosting, but in a pinch, it’s still delicious with butter.

Cream the cream cheese (or butter) in a medium bowl and add the sugar and buttermilk powder, if using. Stir together a bit to get the sugar mixed with the cream cheese a little. Add the buttermilk (or water, if using the powder), and whisk until smooth.

See how pretty they got?! The swirls really bake up beautifully, even if the rolls were a little smooshed looking before they went in the oven! Let these cool in the pan for about 5 minutes.

Transfer all of the rolls to a wire cooling rack set over some parchment paper (if you have any paper that is previously used, this is a good chance to recycle it).

Pour all of the icing over the rolls and let it drizzle everywhere. You can do this in the pan too, but you don’t lose very much icing this way, and it’s easier clean up. The icing melts down into all the nooks and crannies and really sweetens everything up perfectly!

These are so good. They’re sweet and soft without being too gooey or mushy. And, bonus! They’re even better the next day (or 2 days)!! Place any leftovers in an airtight container, pop in the microwave when you’re ready to have them, and they’ll be slightly soggy in such a good way, you never knew soggy could be so good!

Now pour yourself a nice tall glass of cold milk, or a piping hot cup of coffee, and enjoy!

Easy Peasy Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 8


3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (or 5 tablespoons cultured buttermilk powder, plus 1 1/4 cups water)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons cream cheese or unsalted butter, softened (I prefer butter)
2 tablespoons buttermilk, or whole milk (1 1/2 teaspoons powder, plus 2 tablespoons water)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

To make the filling: Combine all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add the melted butter and stir with a fork until the mixture looks like wet sand. Set aside.

To make the dough: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush a 9-inch cake pan with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (and the buttermilk powder, if using). Add the buttermilk (or water, if using buttermilk powder) and 2 tablespoons of the butter and stir until just combined. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth (it will still be very soft and a little sticky, but should be smoother and less lumpy).

Flatten the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches by 8 inches. Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter on and spread around with your fingers. Pour the filling over though dough and spread it evenly over the top, leaving about a 1/2 inch or so border around the outside edge. Press the filling down to sort of pack it on top of the dough.

Starting on the long side of the dough, roll the side up, pressing as you go, to create a tightly rolled log (be gentle, as this will likely stick to the counter a bit). Pinch the seam closed and lay the log seam side down. Cut into 8 even pieces, laying each one flat as you go. Gently press down on the top of each roll, then transfer them to the prepared cake pan. Brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

To make the icing: In a medium bowl, cream the cream cheese and add the sugar. Mix until the sugar and cream cheese start to come together a bit. Add the buttermilk and whisk well, until the mixture is smooth.

Allow the cinnamon rolls to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire cooling rack set over parchment paper. Pour the frosting over the cinnamon rolls. Serve these while they’re still warm.

These will keep in an airtight container for at least 3 days.

adapted from Baking Illustrated

Leave a comment


  1. Steph says

    HOLY CRAP! Those look good!

    I'm making those!!! I love cinnamon rolls!

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! My mouth is watering 🙂 ha ha ha

  2. Sugarbear says

    These are seriously good…I'm not just saying that! I think I love them twice as much because I don't have to devote an entire morning to making them!!

  3. bttrflybabydoll says

    Oh my! I'm eating one of these right now. These are so good! I forgot that I was out of baking soda though so I used another full tsp of baking powder, and they still turned out great. These would be awesome with some apple pieces in them or maybe some raisins. Yum!


  4. dawn says

    Oh my! I found this recipe via Pinterest, and I am so glad! They are absolutely lovely! I will be following your blog from now on 🙂 Thanks!

  5. bevam says

    Finally got around to trying this and they are fantastic! I substituted plain yogurt for the buttermilk and it worked out fine- now I just have to stop myself from eating the entire batch :).

  6. Marissa says

    This recipe comes directly from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. I have it. I checked. If you don’t cite it, you’re basically stealing it.

    • says

      Thank you for the information. As you’ll notice at the end of my post, I have cited Baking Illustrated, which is published by America’s Test Kitchen. I also mention in the third paragraph of the post that they are adapted from a cookbook. I haven’t, in fact, committed an act of theft, and I do appreciate your intent, but it’s important that we take the time to read all of the information presented and check our facts before we make accusations.

      • VAL says

        Absolutely right, Darla, you did mention the correct references… I am going to try this soon, it looks absolutely delumptious, am afraid it will be an addiction…

      • Michael Williams says

        Good for you, Darla! 38 years of professional cooking and I grew so tired of “secret recipes” and intellectual property nonsense(which usually boiled down to an added quarter cup of insignificant milk to claim propriety). In all that time I found absolutely nothing that Escoffier did not already know. Sharing delicious concepts and recipes(regardless of origin), and illustrating an obvious passion for the food, and the process, being discussed is always appreciated and truly next to Godliness. Good writing. Gotta go, hard to type with cinnamon bun glaze all over my fingers.

  7. Mandy says

    Thanks for saving my bacon with this recipe! I saw it on pinterest and am making them for dinner tonight! I ran out of yeast and time, so these are a life saver 🙂

  8. Lars says

    Looks great and I can’t wait to try it. A couple of tips… 1) You can make butter milk by adding a TBS of vinegar to a cup of milk and allow to set for a few minutes (really nice when you want to do spur of the moment baking) 2) To cut the dough into individual rolls, after rolling, carefully slide a length of dental floss under the roll to the desired width, then bring the floss up and around, crossing at the top, pull tight, and it cuts straight through the roll perfectly every time!

  9. says

    I found this on pinterest and I’m making them right now. The only difference is I’m using cream cheese frosting on top. Oh and I don’t keep buttermilk at home so I just used 1 cup of milk and 2 T of lemon juice. That also works with vinegar. Thanks again. Q

  10. Conni says

    I NEVER have buttermilk on hand either but have found that substituting plain yogurt works perfectly. I always have 1 percent yogurt in the fridge…works with everything so far…even buttermilk pancakes!

  11. Alexandra says

    I made these this past weekend as part of a brunch..OMG were they good! I thought they’d be good but they were better than expected. Will definitely be making them again!

  12. Susan says

    Delicious!!! I made these yesterday, replacing the all-purpose flour with whole wheat. They came out perfect! Thanks for sharing.

  13. batamanchuk says

    too much filling for me, but the dough is wonderful! made a second lighter batch and doubled the dough but kept the filling the same. they were perfect! also substituted plain yogurt for the buttermilk (:

  14. Monica says

    My 2y/o daughter keeps begging for these! This is my second time making these, and they are amazing! Even using whole wheat flour 🙂 I also just top them with a simple glaze of buttermilk and icing sugar. I always have buttermilk on hand though… I use it in so many things!! This time I tried adding a little bit of spice to the dough as well. Will definitely repeat.

  15. Mariam says

    Oh my I loove cinnamon rolls! Unfortunately for me we don’t have Cinnabon in Australia (I tried it while overseas this yr and fell in love) and I rarely make cinnamon rolls because its so time consuming! I’ve tried a cinnamon-roll scone recipe but i didn’t overly enjoy it, but i’ll definitely give these a go, they look wonderful… maybe not this weekend though we’ve got a heat-wave and ice-cold smoothies are the only thing you’d want for brekky!

  16. NiCoria says

    I just made these and they are delicious! Crispy on the outside, soft inside. Super quick to make. I added some fresh ground nutmeg to the filling, and nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves to the dough. For the frosting, I used 8oz cream cheese, about 1.5 cups of powdered sugar and enough buttermilk to create the thick consistency I was looking for. I also added a little lemon juice to balance the sweetness of the icing. I’m so glad I found this on pinterest! Thanks for posting.

  17. Tammie says

    Oh these look delish!!!!! I am so happy I found this! Im going to use these instead of hot cross buns this Easter. Thanks!

  18. Valerie Thornhill says

    …..Greasing the work area w/a spray of Pam or marg/butter will take care of the dough sticking to the mat when rolling out….☺

  19. says

    I find that when my grown, unmarried sons come for a visit a Christmas, or any other time, they like to sleep till 11 am. I found that baking these cinnamon rolls and other breakfast goodies, get them up in a hurry. As soon as the smell fills the house, here they come. Who says Mom’s aren’t smart.

  20. says

    These looked good in the picture and when I wrote the recipe down was really surprised their was no yeast. I always see cinnamon roll recipes with yeast and thats what I have always down. I can’t wait to try these maybe today if I get enough time.

  21. Nancy says

    OMG, these are Devine! My new go to cinnamon roll recipe and SO easy! I want to try finely chopping apples to add to the cinnamon mixture too. Thanks for the share. Found you via Pinterest.


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