Tiny Semi-Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

This time of year is a busy time for me. After the new year, the birthdays and anniversaries just start rolling in. It’s all birthday, birthday, anniversary, birthday, birthday, Mother’s Day, birthday, birthday, Father’s Day, anniversary, birthday. Plus, Easter is always in there somewhere. *whew* I’m telling you…busy. And that’s just my immediate family!

Since I am so busy during this time of year, I love quick, easy recipes that I can make for special day breakfasts, dinners, and desserts. This year, just in time for the hubster’s birthday, the always brilliant Jenny of Picky Palate posted these adorable Itty Bitty Cinnamon Rolls. I know what you’re thinking, “Cinnamon rolls are quick and easy?!” Sometimes, they really are. Not always…but sometimes. Plus, being easy doesn’t make them less delicious than the time consuming, yeast versions. This recipe from Jenny is one of the easy ones. In fact, it’s the easiest one.

The cinnamon rolls are made using refrigerated biscuit dough, some butter, and a little brown sugar and cinnamon (not to mention a sweet glaze made with milk and confectioners’ sugar). That’s it. Jenny flattened the biscuits, spread a little butter on each one, then sprinkled them each with a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon before rolling them up and slicing them into tiny half-inch pieces. Easy and yum, huh? I made them for the hubster for his birthday breakfast, and they were perfect! I had them in the oven in less than 15 minutes, and we were sitting down together with them in only about 30 minutes.

I encountered just one problem. My oven can be pretty wonky, so several of my tiny cinnamon rolls came out over done. I set out to tweak the recipe to suit my oven, and shave even more time off of the prep time.

What I came up with aren’t quite itty bitty, but they certainly are still cute, tiny, tasty little cinnamon rolls. I basically made them the same way, but instead of cutting them into half-inch pieces after rolling them, I just cut them in half. By making them slightly bigger, I’d be able to bake them long enough to get them all done inside, without overcooking the outside. Another thing I changed is how they’re baked. In Jenny’s version, after cutting the rolls, you place them about an inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. I decided to place all of mine right up against each other on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. By doing this, they became pull apart rolls, and stayed even softer. Finally, I…okay, okay, the hubster experimented with some chocolate, and W-O-W.

To get started, spread the biscuits out on a lightly floured surface.

Flatten the biscuits gently with your fingers and spread each one with a little butter…maybe half teaspoon or so (the hubster made the ones above and used melted butter…we agreed that it’s better with just softened butter, not melted butter). Next, press about a teaspoon of brown sugar onto each biscuit, then sprinkle each one with about a half teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Additionally, you can add an equal amount of cocoa powder to each one…which I highly recommend. Roll the biscuits up and pinch the ends a bit to help seal them closed, then cut each one in half. By making them this way, I eliminated about five minutes from the prep time…always a good thing for breakfast.

Place the rolls in a cluster, cut side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes. Upon my third foray into making these, I put the rolls into a six inch round cake pan, and baked them the same way…these were by far the best rolls out of any of them. If you have a six inch round cake pan, I highly recommend making them like that, but if not, they are certainly delicious on a sheet pan. I believe the reason they’re better in the cake pan is because the yummy cinnamon-sugar filling doesn’t have anywhere to go, so you keep every ounce of the sweet and spicy goodness. With a sheet pan, you inevitably lose some of that filling when it melts and spreads…which leads me to the reason for no melted butter…

As you can see from this particular batch, using melted butter encouraged the filling to ooze away as it heated in the oven. Another important tip: when you remove your rolls from the oven (sheet pan versions), allow them to cool for only two minutes, then immediately remove them from the pan and place them on a wire cooling rack set over parchment paper. Here’s why: the sugar that comes out of the rolls will harden as the rolls cool on the pan. This becomes a bit hard and chewy and sticks to the bottom of the rolls. If you remove them right away, then you eliminate that problem.

The final touch for these is a super simple glaze, and they’re ready to go. From refrigerator to plates in about 30 minutes, my friends. Thank you so much to Jenny for this amazing recipe! Just since she posted them, I’ve made them three times, and they get easier every time. If you want the fastest, easiest homemade breakfast treat ever, these are for you. Enjoy!

Tiny Semi-Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 20

1 10-count package refrigerated biscuit dough (such as Pillsbury)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
5 teaspoons cinnamon
5 teaspoons cocoa powder (optional)

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the cinnamon rolls: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Evenly space the biscuits on a lightly floured surface. Flatten the biscuits gently with your fingers and spread each one with a little butter, about 1/2 teaspoon each. Press about a teaspoon of brown sugar onto each biscuit, then sprinkle each one with about a half teaspoon of ground cinnamon (and the cocoa powder, if using), and roll the biscuits up. Pinch the ends a bit to help seal them closed, then cut each one in half. Place the rolls in a cluster, cut side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat (or a lightly greased 6-inch round cake pan). Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Allow to cool for two minutes on the sheet, then immediately remove them from the pan and place them on a wire cooling rack set over parchment paper (if using the round cake pan, you can leave them in the pan). Allow to cool for another 5 minutes or so before icing.

To make the icing: Place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and whisk in 2 tablespoons of milk until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract, then add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. The icing should be thin enough to drizzle over the rolls, but not so thin that it is runny. Drizzle the rolls generously with the icing.

recipe adapted from Picky Palate

Leave a comment


  1. Debra says

    These would be the perfect little baking project to do with my two preschool age granddaughters. Milk for them, and these would be great with a cup of coffee for me!

  2. Maria says

    These looked so delicious and easy that I felt I just HAD to make them. …so I did! They cone together in a snap and are sooo good. I made them without the cocoa but I think I’ll try it with next time 🙂

  3. alex says

    Have you tried brushing some egg on them to get a beautiful golden brown color…that seems like it would add more visual appeal to this super easy recipe. Thanks for the recipe!!

  4. Marisol says

    OMG, these were Fantastic! Five stars!!! I set out chocolate chips, mint chips, sugar, cinamon, butter, crystalized ginger, chopped dried fruit, and a variety of nuts and seeds and then let my 12 year old twin boys and a friend of theirs make their own. They had fun, and the results were delicious. Also, I placed each raw roll in a separate muffin tin hole (using muffin tins with holes from tiny to large) so when the yummy, gooky insides escaped during baking, they remained on the bottom of the cinammon roll. Then I popped each roll out of its muffin tin hole and flipped it over, so the bottom became the top, and they looked and tasted great! I have tried to make cinamon rolls entirely from scratch but sadly they never tasted as good as these, which I made using ready-to-bake, refridgerated Immaculate Buttermilk Biscuits. Better results from store bought biscuit dough is a blow to my pride but, wow, they also are so much easier than making the dough from scratch!

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