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Quick Cinnamon Buns with Buttermilk Glaze

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When you don’t have time to wait for a slow-rising yeast dough, these crave-worthy cinnamon buns are the answer.

Cinnamon buns with buttermilk glaze on a wired rack.

I love traditional sticky buns, but they require advanced planning and several hours of time for the dough to rise. I don’t know about your family, but when my kids request cinnamon buns for breakfast, they want them five minutes ago, not later this afternoon! That’s where this quick and easy cinnamon bun recipe comes in. Tweaked a bit from Cook’s Illustrated, the recipe relies on a quick buttermilk biscuit dough leavened with baking powder rather than a yeast dough, so there’s no need to let the dough rise. These cinnamon buns are tender on the inside, golden and caramelized on the outside and, best of all, very quick and easy to make!

What You’ll Need To Make Cinnamon Buns

ingredients for cinnamon buns

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1: Make the Filling

filling ingredients in bowl

Combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of melted butter and mix until the mixture resembles wet sand. Set aside.

Bowl of mixed filling.Step 2: Make the Dough

whisked dry ingredients in mixing bowl

In a large 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 cinnamon buns.

adding buttermilk and butter to dry ingredientsAdd the buttermilk and melted butter and stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed and the dough looks shaggy.

Shaggy dough in a bowl with a wooden spoon.

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

kneaded dough ball

Step 3: Roll the Dough

rolling the dough

Pat the dough into a small rectangle, then roll into a larger 12-inch x 9-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter, and then sprinkle the brown sugar topping evenly over top. Press the filling firmly into the dough.

filling spread on dough

Starting at the long end, roll the dough into a log and pinch the seam. Then cut the log into nine even pieces.

cutting the rolls

Lightly flatten the rolls with your hand to pack the filling in place.

flattening the cinnamon rollsArrange the rolls in a 9-inch cake pan lined with buttered aluminum foil, then brush the rolls with the remaining melted butter.

brushing cinnamon buns with butter

Step 4: Bake

Bake the cinnamon buns for about 25 minutes, until the rolls are golden brown.

baked cinnamon buns

Use the foil overhang to transfer the rolls to a cooling rack. Let them sit about 5 minutes, then pull them apart.

pulled apart cinnamon buns

Step 5: Glaze

Make the buttermilk glaze by whisking the buttermilk, cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar together in a small bowl.

whisking the buttermilk glaze

Drizzle the glaze liberally over the buns and enjoy warm. (These cinnamon buns are best fresh out of the oven, but they can also be stored in an air tight container and reheated with excellent results.)

Note: As mentioned, this recipe is tweaked from Cook’s Illustrated. I found their recipe to be good but tooth-achingly sweet, so I reduced the sugar significantly. I also increased the salt to balance things out a bit. This version also calls for a bit more flour than the original, making the dough easier to work with.

Cinnamon buns with buttermilk glaze on a wired rack.

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Quick Cinnamon Buns with Buttermilk Glaze

When you don’t have time to wait for a slow-rising yeast dough, these crave-worthy cinnamon buns are the answer.

Servings: Makes 9 buns
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 55 Minutes


For the Cinnamon Buns

For the Brown Sugar Filling

  • ⅔ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

For the dough

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off with knife, plus more for dusting work surface
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cups low fat buttermilk
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided

For the Glaze

  • 1½ tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • ¾ cup confectioners' sugar


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. 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 ⅛ teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Add one tablespoon of the 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 tablespoon granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the buttermilk and 3 tablespoons of the melted butter to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed; the dough will be sticky and shaggy. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead, lightly dusting more flour as necessary, until just smooth and no longer shaggy, about 1 minute.
  4. Lightly dust the surface again. Pat the dough into a small rectangle, then roll into a 12x9-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 the melted butter. Sprinkle the dough evenly with the brown sugar filling, leaving a ½-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 sharp 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 the prepared pan and brush with the remaining butter. Bake until the edges are golden brown, 23 to 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. If you find the buns are sticking a bit to the foil, transfer them to a wire rack. Drizzle the glaze evenly over the buns. The buns are best served warm; leftovers may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (9 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 bun
  • Calories: 389
  • Fat: 12 g
  • Saturated fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 66 g
  • Sugar: 33 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 6 g
  • Sodium: 296 mg
  • Cholesterol: 31 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • I am a huge fan of Ince Upon a Chef, and this is the first recipe that didn’t work for me. I didn’t have buttermilk on hand so I used milk with lemon juice. The dough was very sticky and difficult to roll so the buns fell apart after cutting. I tried adding more flour during the kneading before spreading the sugar. Didn’t help.
    I’m sure I made a mistake somewhere as these recipes are always so reliable. I think it would really help if you reorganized the ingredients section into two sections, one for cinnamon mixture and one for the dough, then the butter for brushing over the buns before cooking. It got confusing for me that the full amounts were listed for the whole recipe and I then had to find the amount needed in written instructions. The buns turned out messy but still yummy. I like that they weren’t as sweet as others. I made a cream cheese icing for them. Not sure I’d make this recipe. again, I have a similar recipe elsewhere that worked better.

    • — Sandra on January 26, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Sandra, I’m sorry to hear these didn’t work out for you! Thanks for the suggestion about separating out the ingredients – I think I will update the recipe to reflect that.

      • — Jenn on January 26, 2024
      • Reply
  • These were very dense and the buttermilk flavor in the icing was very noticeable, unfortunately won’t make again

    • — Lily on July 30, 2023
    • Reply
  • I am a huge Once Upon A Chef fan; however, these didn’t hit the mark for me. They were dry and dense. I followed the recipe but if I were to make again, I’d add more buttermilk.

    I saw someone else had a similar experience. Any suggestions

    • — Dawn on March 12, 2023
    • Reply
    • Dawn, Sorry you didn’t enjoy these! You can add more buttermilk but keep in mind that because these are a quick version and don’t contain yeast, they will naturally be more dense.

      • — Jenn on March 15, 2023
      • Reply
  • These are easy to make but wondering if there is a way to make them ahead and refrigerate or freeze before putting them in the oven?

    • — Maria on November 12, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Maria, You could freeze them before baking, but not refrigerate (they won’t rise properly).

      • — Jenn on November 12, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn,
        I’ve made them as suggested and they are great, so I made another batch and have frozen them before baking. How long do you suggest baking them from frozen ?

        Thank you,

        • — Suzanne Bradley on December 23, 2023
        • Reply
        • Hi Suzanne, Hard to say exactly but I’m guessing you’ll need to add about 5 min. Enjoy!

          • — Jenn on December 24, 2023
          • Reply
  • Really really good!! I’m just wondering though, if I might be able to substitute something else for the buttermilk in the icing? I love the consistency of the icing, but I’m not crazy about the flavor the buttermilk gives it. Could I use Half & Half instead? Thank you so much Jenn!!

    • — Sonja on October 5, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Sonja, So glad you like them! Sure, 1/2 and 1/2 should work in the icing (but stick wth buttermilk in the buns).

      • — Jenn on October 7, 2022
      • Reply
  • You always seem to know what I need! Cinnamon rolls that don’t take all day to make, yes please! These were delicious. You’d never known they weren’t yeasted. Thank you!

    • — Adrienne on May 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • I always come to Jenn for all my go to recipes! Family knows I like to bake and requested cinnamon buns. I mentioned I was trying out a couple recipes I had found, Jenn’s being on the top of the list and everyone insisted on being guinea pigs.
    First off, cinnamon buns are extremely intimidating to me. Everyone’s expectation of a cinnamon bun is different but light and fluffy are what I seem to hear as a consensus for “C-buns”. These were heavy and thick. They did not feel or taste like the typical “cinnamony” fluffy buns I dream of (think Ikea buns or pillsbury).
    Well….. Made these and took them to a family gathering and was embarrassed after I ate one. Everyone said they were pretty good but I told them I had to try again next time to redeem myself. I’m sure I must have done something wrong because I don’t come across recipes that don’t work on here very often. I did everything on the recipe obsessively as written. Baking is a science after all, very very very little wiggle room. And they still failed. Guess it’s back to the drawing board for some light fluffy c-buns.
    So, all in all, if you like thick, toasty, caramelized c-buns, then you’ll like them. If not, find a yeast recipe. Longer prep but worth it for some that are light and fluffy.
    Sorry Jenn! This one was a no go for me ☹️.

  • Once Upon a Chef is changing my life, one recipe at a time. I have had bad experiences with cinnamon roll recipes before and, not wanting to waste more days of my life baking stuff that won’t turn out, I’ve been afraid to try them again. I figured this recipe looked so easy, that even if they didn’t turn out, it wouldn’t be a ton of time lost. They were delicious!!!! There is definitely a buttermilk taste, and next time I might try to do a sugar cream frosting with no buttermilk, but they were a yummy treat on Christmas morning and I will definitely make them again!

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