Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

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Homemade Cinnabons - fresh cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing.  Prep ahead of time and freeze - bake when you're ready.

Sure, these aren’t my usual cakes or cupcakes, but a girl has to eat breakfast, too. We had friends staying with us over Labor Day weekend, and I wanted to serve brunch the morning after they arrived.

Serving breakfast or brunch for a group is one of those things that can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. People often make the make the mistake of planning a complicated meal with things made that morning. For example, trying to make 4 different omelets while frying some bacon and putting bread in the toaster over and over, plus trying to butter the toast before it cools, and then chopping some fruit in there somewhere, is a nightmare. Nothing will be done at the same time, half your food will be cold, and you don’t even want to think about the mess in your kitchen.


  • Yeast dough with cinnamon and brown sugar for fresh cinnamon rolls.
  • Homemade Cinnabons with Extra Icing

So I try to choose things I can make, or at least prepare, ahead of time. In this particular case, I only had 4 people, and everyone seemed to like or dislike different things in their eggs, so I broke my prepare-ahead rule. I made scrambled eggs and then added each person’s preferred ingredients separately. I could do that because everything else was handling itself, but if I were serving more people I would have made a quiche or strata ahead of time instead. Quiche can be cooked and reheated easily, and strata is designed to be prepared the night before. In fact, it has to be.

For breakfast meat, I made bacon. And while bacon fried in a pan is awesome, it’s also messy, easy to burn if you’re distracted, and it’s difficult to make as much as you need in one batch. So for entertaining, I bake my bacon in the oven. Simply lay your bacon out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, put it in the oven at 400 degrees, and bake for 15-18 minutes. I used that fancy new paper that’s parchment on one side and aluminum foil on the other, which keeps the bacon grease from getting on the pan. Sure, you can still burn the bacon this way, but it’s a little more forgiving.


  • Hand kneading yeast dough for cinnamon buns.
  • Dough rising for cinnamon rolls
  • Sprinkling brown sugar and cinnamon over buttered dough for cinnamon rolls.

And now for the biggest hit – homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing. The best part about these, is that I did all the preparation a week in advance. As with any yeast dough, you can freeze them at any point in the process. I completed everything through the second rise, and then put them in the freezer. The night before brunch, I took them out and put them in the cold oven, so they could come defrost and come to room temperature by morning. Then I baked them according to the directions, and whipped up the icing while they were in the oven.

I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and made it with only 2 minor changes. First, I only made half the recipe, since I didn’t need 18 rolls. But I made the whole batch of icing, because who doesn’t want extra cream cheese icing on their cinnamon rolls?


  • Cinnamon bun dough rolled and sliced
  • Hot fresh cinnamon roll on a plate with extra cream cheese frosting

My guests (and husband) spent the weekend raving about the new “Jannabuns,” letting me know in no uncertain terms that they were even better than the Cinnabons at the mall.

Get the original recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

the sweet spoonCinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

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