Weekend Baking: Quick Cinnamon Buns with Buttermilk Glaze


My first attempt at homemade cinnamon buns was a bit of a flop. I wanted to make a traditional recipe – the kind with a yeast dough that rises and produces a wonderfully tender and buttery roll laced with cinnamon — so I found this blue ribbon recipe on Epicurious, originally published in Bon Appetit. After reading over 150 favorable reviews, I had high hopes. I followed the recipe to a tee and the buns came out good, but not great. They also took me forever to make — way longer than the recipe indicated. My dough was painfully slow to rise, despite my best efforts to baby it and keep it warm. (Such is yeast, and why I typically avoid recipes that call for it.) So, much as I enjoyed these little rolls, in my opinion, they were not worth the time and effort involved.

Bon Appetit buns right out of the oven

Back at square one, I went to my trusty resource, Cooks Illustrated, and found a recipe called “Quick Cinnamon Buns.” The rolls were indeed easy to make and, although they lacked the subtle tang that only comes from yeast, they were still very good. My only issue was that they were tooth-achingly sweet and a bit too rich, so the next time I made them I cut back on the sugar and butter. After a few more modifications, I had the perfect cinnamon bun: light and tender on the inside, golden and caramelized on the outside and, best of all, quick to make. My family actually preferred the taste and texture to the more complicated yeast rolls.

Begin by making the filling, which is a combination of brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, cloves, salt and butter.

In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients for the dough. Note that it’s very important to measure the flour using the spoon and level method: spoon it into a measuring cup and level it off with the back edge of a knife. If you scoop it into the measuring cup, you will have too much flour and dry buns.

Add the liquid ingredients — buttermilk and melted butter — and stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed and the dough looks shabby.

Transfer the dough to a work surface dusted with flour. Dust the dough lightly with flour and knead until the dough is smooth.

It will look like this.

Pat the dough into a small rectangle, then roll into a larger 12-inch x 9-inch rectangle.

Brush the dough with melted butter, then sprinkle the brown sugar topping evenly over top.

Press the filling into the dough, then roll into a log.

Pinch the seam.

Then, cut the log into 9 pieces.

Lightly flatten the rolls with your hand to pack the filling in place, then arrange them in a 9-inch cake pan lined with buttered aluminum foil. Brush the rolls lightly with melted butter.

Then bake for about 25 minutes, until the rolls are golden brown. Use the foil overhang to transfer the rolls to a cooling rack. Let them sit about 5 minutes, then pull them apart.

Make the buttermilk glaze by mixing the buttermilk, cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar, then drizzle liberally over the buns.

These buns are best served warm out of the oven, but they can also be stored in an air tight container and reheated with excellent results. Enjoy!

Quick Cinnamon Buns with Buttermilk Glaze

Print Recipe
Servings: Makes 9 Buns


For the Cinnamon Buns

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off with knife, plus more for dusting work surface
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/4 cups low fat buttermilk

For the Glaze

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons low fat buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 9-inch square cake pan with aluminum foil and brush with one tablespoon butter.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, cinnamon, cloves and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Add one tablespoon melted butter and stir with a fork or fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 3 tablespoons of the melted butter and buttermilk to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed (the dough will be sticky and look shaggy), about 30 seconds. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead, lightly dusting more flour as necessary, until just smooth and no longer shaggy, about 30 seconds.
  4. Lightly dust the surface again. Pat the dough into a small rectangle, then roll into a 12-inch x 9-inch rectangle, dusting more flour sparingly if necessary so the dough doesn't stick to the rolling pin. Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Sprinkle the dough evenly with the brown sugar filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Using your hand, press the filling firmly into the dough. Starting at the long side, roll the dough, pressing lightly, to form a tight log. (If the dough sticks to the surface, use a sharp knife or dough scraper to release it.) Pinch the seam to seal. Roll the log seam-side down and, using a serrated knife, cut it evenly into 9 pieces. Turn the pieces over on their flat sides, and slightly flatten each piece with your hand to seal the open edges and keep the filling in place. Place the rolls in prepared pan and brush with remaining tablespoon of butter. Bake until the edges are golden brown, 23-25 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, make the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and buttermilk until thick and smooth (the mixture will look like cottage cheese at first). Add the confectioners' sugar and whisk until smooth glaze forms.
  6. When the buns are done, use the foil overhang to lift them out of the baking pan and onto a wire rack. Let cool for 5 minutes, then carefully separate the buns, using a knife if necessary. Drizzle the glaze evenly over the buns. Serve warm out of the oven, or store in airtight container and reheat.
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  • Mary GW

    These look fabulous and I do love Cooks Illustrated… I can always depend on their recipes and techniques.

  • Jane Palmer

    These sound awesome. I may make them this weekend.

  • Alexxa

    Oh my! My kiddos will absolutely love these. Can’t wait to try them, looks very “doable” with my baking skills :-)

  • All your recipes look amazing, but this one, being the day before the weekend just hits the spot. And without yeast involved, it will probably make it to my favorite recipes binder. Thanks again for taking the time to share with us and shorten our learning curve! Love every week!

  • I LOVE cinnamon buns and these look much easier to make than most homemade recipes. I love Cooks Illustrated, as well :)

  • Pam

    I, too, love cinnamon rolls and have difficulty with the yeast recipes. I can’t wait to try this recipe! It looks almost too good to be true. Thanks!

  • Cindy

    This look delicious. I haven’t made them yet. I was wondering if after the dough’s been cooked, do they taste like biscuits?

    • Erica

      I did not think they tasted like biscuits, more bread-like. They were good!

    • Jenn

      Hey Cindy, Your instincts are right because it is a biscuit-like dough but they don’t taste like biscuits at all. They’re more bread-like than anything. Hope you enjoy!

  • Danita

    These look wonderful. I’m definitely adding this recipe to my weekend todo list.

  • Just made with 14 yr old son– these are AMAZING!!!
    House smells like cinnamon and clove, buns tender and moist! We doubled the glaze because we spread and didnt drizzle. ;-) Thanks again for the late night snack that won’t make it til the morning!!!

    • Jenn

      So glad you liked them as much as we did, Vikki!

      • Thank you for a wonderful Sunday morning breakfast! My boys and I enjoyed these in the back yard this morning. Unfortunately when I went to make the glaze I found out my cream cheese was no longer edible. So I used greek yogurt instead and they still came out tasting wonderful!

  • Erica

    Just made these for my husband’s birthday breakfast! They are really good! A little dense for my liking, but that was maybe user error! Will definitely make again.

    • Jenn

      So glad you liked them, Erica! If you add too much flour during the kneading and rolling process or over-knead the dough, they could become a little dense. Try to add the flour sparingly (it should be just dry enough to work with) and have a light hand when kneading and rolling the dough. Hope that helps and thanks for leaving a comment!

  • Sherry

    I made these this morning and they came out BEYOND perfect. Thank you for another fantastic recipe!

  • Karen

    I made these this morning for my crew and not only were they easy, but they looked amazing, smelled amazing, and tasted heavenly. The dough was light and had a good flavor complimented by the rich sweet filling. Thank you once again for a recipe with an excellent outcome made with ingredients in my pantry and refrigerator.

  • Cynthia

    How delicious do these look! Definitely saving this recipe for sure.

  • Sloan

    Does anybody know if I can make the rolls the night before and then bake them off the next morning??

    • Jenn

      Hi Sloan, I’m not sure you’d get the same rise on the rolls but I honestly can’t say for sure because I haven’t tried it. Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

  • Pam

    Love how great your step by step directions with amazing photo’s make it easy to prepare. Made these over the weekend along with your chai banana bread and both were a huge hit! Will definitely make both recipes again.

  • Lori O.

    I LOVE Cinnamon Rolls.

  • Roxanne

    These look fantastic! Definitely bookmarked for next weekend! (And I love that Cook’s Illustrated was your source… they’ve become the place I turn to first when I’m looking for a recipe I know I can trust.)

  • Selma. Tannenbaum

    Tom. Delicious!

  • carol

    These look interesting. i just made a very laborious recipe form the Baking with Julia book for sticky buns . i need to try something less time consuming.

  • Tina

    Can’t wait to try…haven’t had much luck with non-yeast recipes. LOVE the step-by-step photographs!!

  • Shelly

    review for boos cutting board entry- I really love that these are a quick cinnamon bun, you can make them spur of the moment and u dont have to get up at 5 am to make them for breakfast. I also really like the simple ingredients list, all of the ingredients are pantry staples. My only hesitation is they look more dense than other cinnamon rolls (probably because they dont need time to rise) and I like fluffy flakey cinnamon rolls.

  • I made these cinnamon rolls at the last minute when my family was in town. They were great and came together so easily! I think I should have kneaded them a bit more because it wasn’t a smooth dough (so the texture of the cooked rolls wasn’t very smooth) but the taste was great! I also made 12 smaller rolls in a slightly larger pan (there were 6 of us so I wanted to make sure each person could have up to 2 rolls). My husband and I enjoyed the few leftovers for breakfast the next morning.

  • Schmidty

    Easy to make and tastes sooo good!!

  • Annie

    I had a not so satisfying canned cinnamon roll experience lately and I was just looking for how to make my own – thank you, your pictures are great!

  • Mike Arnts

    sounds good not to have to use yeast… have to try these also

  • Julie

    I have made these twice now. In one week. They are truly amazing and will come out exactly like the photo thanks to Jenn’s easy instructions. The second time I made these, they were Hoovered up by 8 teens at a slumber party within seconds.

  • Ellen

    I’ve always been both intrigued and terrified by the idea of making cinnamon rolls. This post gives me hope. I can’t wait to try it!

  • These look so easy! I cannot wait to make these this weekend.

  • Marcia

    I made these rolls recently and thought they were very quick to put together.

  • Maya

    Can’t wait to try this recipe!!

  • Thank you for the easy rolls. Have been looking for one to make for my children! Thanks again

  • Gayle Snyder

    I love this recipe. I don’t have to go to Cinnabon anymore. It was so easy and a wonderful way to start the day.

  • Shelley Thomas

    just made these and had a little bit of a mess on my hands – literally. My dough would not come together and was very sticky. I added more flour and then a little more and finally was able to get it to a place I could knead it. It was a humid night here and I don’t know if that had any effect on the dough. The finished product was a little dense, which I expected due to the extra flour but the flavor was good so I will try again.

  • Lola Macaulay

    Made this over the weekend. So yummy!

  • Melissa

    Made these rolls over the weekend! They turned out great – flakey, gooey, and delicious. I really enjoyed how you posted pictures at different states of making the dough so I knew what to look for. Definitelly will be making them again. Thanks for posting another go-to recipe!

  • Carissa

    Delicious! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Danita

    Made these this morning. Very easy and good. I think I need to knead them a little bit more next time. They had a slight biscuit texture, but no one was complaining. :)

  • Betsy in CA

    Made these on Sunday (Father’s Day)…they were a huge hit and I wouldn’t change a thing to the recipe. Even fussy husband who loves Grandma’s cinnamon rolls said that these were terrific. And they were easy to put together first thing in the morning (Grandma’s cinnamon rolls have to rise TWICE before baking, but not these).

  • Julie

    Needed to add approx 3/4 cup extra flour as dough was too sticky to work with. Wanted to refrigerate overnight and bake in morning, seemed a little dense. Probably should have given more time to come to room temperature before baking. Any recommendations for overnight refrigeration method? We loved the clove addition to the filling.

  • Kristen

    Try adding cinnamon chips for extra flavor!

  • Linda

    I am always going to try a cinnamon roll recipie…but always end up buying frozen ones and bake…but I am definately going to get up the courage to do this recipie. Thank you so much for what looks to be an easy recipie that I’m sure will be delicious.

  • Gianna

    This looks delicious!

  • Cpp

    Made for dessert for a luncheon. Prepared the night before and overnight in the fridge. Baked after getting back to room temperature and these came out a treat. I put a little extra butter in the filling and it caramelised. I flipped the whole thing over onto a plate before adding the glazing. A gooey, sticky delicious dessert! Thank you :o)

  • These are the perfect cinnamon rolls. The right amount of cinnamon filling – so many cinnamon rolls skimp on the filling.

  • Gia

    I made these twice already!
    They are perfection and your directions were superb.
    Thanks, Thanks, Thanks

  • Gayle Snyder

    My favorite recipe. I doubted that I could make them but they turn out perfectly every time. Sometimes I add lemon zest to icing. A big hit with my grandchildren.

  • betty

    these are great love them without the frosting

  • Kathy

    These are simply delisious. Easy to make and
    perfect for a family treat and better for a brunch for more than an immediate family.
    I especially like them with out nuts!!
    I did leave out the cloves not a favored flavor

  • Aylin

    My family and I absolutely LOVE cinnamon buns, so I had made these the day of Christmas Eve and had them Christmas morning with the in laws. They are amazing! Thank you for every single recipe you post. They are all amazing- elegant but very easy.

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