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.
I love traditional yeasted 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
Step 1: Make the Filling
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.
Step 2: Make the Dough
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.
Add the buttermilk and melted butter and stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed and the dough looks shaggy.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Dust the dough lightly with flour and knead until the dough is almost smooth.
Step 3: Roll 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.
Starting at the long end, roll the dough into a log and pinch the seam. Then cut the log into nine even pieces.
Lightly flatten the rolls with your hand to pack the filling in place.
Arrange the rolls in a 9-inch cake pan lined with buttered aluminum foil, then brush the rolls with the remaining melted butter.
Step 4: Bake
Bake the cinnamon buns 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.
Step 5: Glaze
Make the buttermilk glaze by whisking the buttermilk, cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar together in a small bowl.
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.
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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.
For the Cinnamon Buns
- ⅔ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off with knife, plus more for dusting work surface
- 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1¼ cups low fat buttermilk
For the Glaze
- 1½ tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- ¾ cup confectioners' sugar
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 buttermilk 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Can you prepare these the night before and bake them in the morning?
Hi Christa, I wouldn’t recommend it. The leavening agents may lose their “oomph” if not baked right away. I’d suggest using a yeast-based recipe for overnight cinnamon rolls. Sorry!
I have reread the recipe and only see the direction calling for using a total of 8 tablespoons of butter (3tbsp for the flour mixture, 1 tbsp for the pan, 1tbsp for the brown sugar mixture and 1 tbsp for the rolled out dough) not sure what to do with the remaining 2 tbsp.
Hi Kerry, the remaining butter gets brushed over the rolls once you put them in the pan. Hope that helps!
These have become a favorite in our home — especially when the weather turns chilly and the kids are looking for something warm and comforting on a Sunday morning! Does it work to freeze the completed roll? We would love to enjoy these on our Thanksgiving trip to the beach but don’t want to bake in a beach kitchen!
Hi Kirsten, I think you could definitely freeze these. Ideally, I would add the glaze after defrosting and warming them up, but if you don’t mind having them at room temperature you could freeze the glazed rolls. Hope that helps and have a wonderful trip!
These buns have become a favorite in our home — especially when there is a chill in the air! I was wondering — would it work to freeze the dough when everything is assembled in the log form before baking? We would love to enjoy them on our annual Thanksgiving beach trip, but don’t want to do the prep work in a “beach kitchen”!
Hi Kristen, glad you like these! Yes, I think freezing them as a log should work. Enjoy your time at the beach!
These are delicious! Made them on Sunday morning; couldn’t get buttermilk so used kefir instead which worked beautifully. We had two of them, glazed, for breakfast and froze the rest. We’ve been sharing one for dessert since and they’re as good as they were the first day. We prefer them without the glaze. My husband says that they’re better than the cinnamon buns we get from the baker at the local farmers market – high praise indeed!
Can I prepare them the night before and bake them in the morning?
Hi Helen, I wouldn’t recommend it. I think the leavening agents may lose their “oomph” if not baked right away. I’d suggest using a yeast-based recipe for overnight cinnamon rolls. Sorry!
They look yummy Jenn. Could I sprinkle some raisins over the brown sugar filling?
Love all your recipes.
Glad you like the recipes! And I haven’t done it, but I think adding some raisins to the filling would work. Please LMK how they turn out!
We make these almost every weekend! So easy and delicious!! I highly recommend sprinkling a tablespoon or two of the brown sugar mixture in the pan after you butter it – adds a nice crunch to the bottom of the rolls. Thanks for the wonderful recipe – I’m so excited for your new book!! My family loves all of your recipes!
Sunday morning heaven!
Just finished making them. Perfect recipe and much quicker than the yeast version that needs to rise a time or two. Excellent!!
Absolutely amazing! I’m shocked at how these turned out. They are the best cinnamon buns I’ve ever had. The texture is crispy on top, soft inside yet kind of dense, and the bottom is the best part because the butter runs down the buns and under them, making a carmelized crispy crust. The only change I made was that I didn’t use the cloves because my husband doesn’t like them. These are outstanding!
OMG these cinnamon buns are to die for. I love the fact that you can make them in the morning and have them for brunch. I had to leave the kitchen to keep myself from eating them all. I would have never thought to use cream cheese in the icing. Super yummy!!
I was looking for a cinnamon roll recipe without yeast and this was perfect. They were easy and delicious! Not too sweet; just perfect. I did have one issue that was a little weird. I melted a stick of butter (8 tablespoons) and used a standard tablespoon measure to measure the butter for the pan, the filling, the dough and to spread on the dough. I should have had 2 tablespoons left but had over 3. I added more butter to the filling and everything worked out but am now wondering if I should have used a small liquid measure instead of measuring spoons.
Theres only two of us so i might want to freeze them in the future so would like to have instructions for that. I assume it’s better to freeze them without the frosting.
Thanks again for another wonderful recipe. I have made more of your recipes than any other during all of my pandemic cooking & baking.
These are SO delicious and you can bake them up in time for afternoon coffee. I love cinnamon buns and am always looking for just the right one. This recipe is it. I often add some chopped pecans onto the filling before rolling. This adds a little crunch when baked. I aim hopeless with yeast doughs so this is the perfect recipe. I share with neighbours, they love them too.
Made these last Saturday morning. Oh my goodness! They were Delicious!! Thank you, Jen, for providing an easy cinnamon roll recipe that I was able to make in very little time.
These were amazing, my whole family loved them. Quick and easy to make. They are now my go-to recipe for cinnamon buns!
Hi Jenn, do you have a recipe for a thick cream cheese frosting that we can spread or pipe on top of the buns instead? Thanks!
Hi Fiona, You could use this one.
These look delicious! I think I would like to include them in my bake table for a craft fair coming up in November. Can I make them the day before and butter and bake them the next morning? I want them to be fresh but will be lacking time the morning of the fair.
Hi Nancy, These can’t be prepared ahead of time because they won’t rise properly. Sorry!
Minus 1 star for not being smothered in icing. Minus another star for calling them “buns”.
We really enjoyed these, and they were still good the next day, warmed slightly in the microwave.
You do need to work carefully with the dough when rolling up and cutting into individual buns. I found that using a metal spatula to loosen from the countertop and transfer buns to pan really helped.
Thanks for a yummy recipe…we will be making again over the holidays.
Made these and although I found the sticky dough quite difficult to work with, it was definitely worth the effort for the end taste! Just like they’re fresh from the shop.
Thank you x
I tried them and they are the best
Whipped up a batch before work, much to the delight of my coworkers. Easy to follow recipe and the end result was absolutely delicious. Left out the glaze as I found them to be sweet and moist enough already. Will definitely be making these again – with a bit more practice, I hope they will one day look like the ones in the picture as mine definitely turned out a little messy… but they were gone in a flash so nobody even noticed 😉
Made these today, and like so many of your recipes that I’ve tried, I was happy with the results. One suggestion I have, however, is that the ingredients list could be modified to indicate that, like the salt, both the butter and the sugar quantities have a divided use. The division of the melted butter became clear after I read through the recipe, but even after reading the recipe, I missed the fact that, although 1/4 cup of sugar was listed, only 3 tablespoons of that quantity was used with the brown sugar. The remaining 1 tablespoon had to be added to the flour mixture. Other than that, the recipe worked well. Warning…you’ll be tempted to eat two of these. Don’t do it!
Good point, Pat — I just updated the recipe to indicate that. And glad to hear you enjoyed them! 🙂
Fabulous recipe! Easy to follow and all ingredients were in my kitchen. I was a little concerned about the amount of sugar but the taste was just right. Bravo!
Jenn…you are my new superhero! From a woman who struggles with making anything decent using yeast, your recipe is perfect because it is quick and simple (and requires no yeast to mess up). My picky family devoured these and commented how amazing they thought I was. Thank you for making me look good 🙂 I LOVE your recipes. They are for real people with real families.
Great cinnamon buns! Easy to make and not too sweet! Love them. Monika
5 stars for taste, 3 stars for appearance / ease of recipe, so averages to 4 stars. I measured the ingredients by weight and the dough looked just like the picture. I was very careful about not overworking the dough and dusted the surface with about the same amount as in the photos. But when it came time to rolling these into spirals, the dough was wet and there was a lot of filling. It tore and stuck to itself and the filling spilled out. I cobbled them into roundish shapes and they baked up kind of misshapen, not pretty like the photo.
That said, these tasted wonderful. The biscuit dough bakes up very tender, as good as the yeasted rolls in my opinion, and a lot less work! I also added some orange zest and juice to the icing. Next time I will use less filling and be a bit more generous on the flour to try to prevent sticking.
Hello! I live in Australia and we don’t have buttermilk readily available. Is there a substitute you could reccommend for this recipe? Hope your loved ones are happy and healthy during this tricky time.
Hi Viv, If you have milk and lemon juice or vinegar, you can make your own buttermilk. See how here. Hope you’re well too! 🙂
Hi Viv, I live in Australia also. Check in Woolies or Coles in the milk section. Paul’s and Dairy Farmers both makes decent versions that I regularly use. I believe it can be frozen also so if supply is irregular pick some extra up and freeze.
Hi Jen, I love all your recipes and always recommend your blog and cookbook to friends. I have sourdough starter and was wondering if I can omit the baking soda and powder and replace with the sourdough starter in the cinnamon rolls recipe?
So glad you like the recipes Eileen! I don’t know enough about sourdough starter to say confidently whether or not it would work here – I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful!
So delicious. Family loves them. Clear and easy instructions. Will make again for sure
Hi Jennifer, first of all my mom and I have been making your recipes for years and haven’t found a four star recipe yet! Thank you for sharing them! Regarding this recipe, I’m not sure what I did wrong, but I’ve made it twice and both times when it came time to knead the dough, the dough was so wet I had to add almost an extra half cup of flour, just to get it to come together. Then once the rolls were finished baking, the dough seemed tough, not soft and melt-in-your-mouth. Do you have any ideas as to what I might be doing wrong? Would over kneading make the dough tough?
Hi Jessica, sorry you’ve had a problem with these! What brand of flour are you using? Sometimes with all other things equal, the flour can make a difference. And, yes, overkneading would have contributed to the tough texture of the finished buns.
These were delicious and easy! I love yeasty cinnamon rolls, so I was surprised at how little I missed the yeast. I didn’t use all the sugar filling, seemed like too much to fit inside. The clove was a nice subtle touch, and the cream cheese frosting was wonderful. Loved by all.
Made these today, and like so many of your recipes that I’ve tried, I was happy with the results. One suggestion I have, however, is that the ingredients list could be modified to indicate that like the salt, both the butter and the sugar quantities have a divided use. The division of the melted butter became clear after I read through the recipe, but even after reading the recipe, I missed the fact that, although 1/4 cup of sugar was listed, only 3 tablespoons of that quantity was used with the brown sugar. The remaining 1 tablespoon had to be added to the flour mixture. Other than that, the recipe worked well. Warning…you’ll be tempted to eat two of these. Don’t do it!
Great point – I just updated the recipe (so glad you enjoyed them)!
Like the rest of the world, we are spending a lot of time baking these days (something I’ve just never had much patience for). Made these this morning and they were so easy and so delicious – will make anyone a superstar of their house. Followed recipe exactly – try them!
Dear Jenn, can I replace unbleached all-purpose flour with regular all-purpose flour?
I love your recipes, many of them are my family favorites (for example, Banana pancakes, Amish-style bake oatmeal, Chicken Marbella, Homemade naan, Pumpkin bread and many more). Thank you for the fabulous work!:)
So glad you like the recipes! And yes, it’s perfectly fine to use regular all-purpose flour in these. 🙂
Hi Jenn – love your cookbook! I don’t have buttermilk on hand, can I use the milk and vinegar trick? Thanks!
Definitely – and glad you like the cookbook! 🙂
Hello – do you have a weight measurement for dry ingredients (or a conversion table you prefer)? TY
Hi Marcy, If you look in the top right corner of the recipe, you’ll see a button that allows you to toggle between metric and cup measures. Hope that helps!
Should I bake these first and then freeze them? Or can I freeze before baking? Thanks!
Hi Elizabeth, I’d bake them first and then freeze. Hope you enjoy!
Delicious – my 14 yr old son made these today. The glaze turned out a bit clumpy b/c of the cream cheese. He said it was soft – so I’m wondering if you know what he should do differentlynext time. Thanks!
Glad you enjoyed them, Jen. Next time, try warming the cream cheese in the microwave for 5 to 10 seconds — that should do the trick.
I made these a couple of years ago and thought they were dry. Today (winter dreary) I found I had 1 cup of buttermilk that I didn’t have a plan for SO I said, “I’ll give this recipe a try again”. I am glad I did! Tender, moist and not TOO sweet PLUS super easy to make. By time yoga practice in the living room was done, so were these little yummies were ready in the kitchen. I think that last time I might have over worked the dough, much like I would with yeast dough. This time I just worked dough until it just “clung” together and then rolled out. Turned out great!
These were delicious although they didn’t turn out perfect. I think I didn’t wrap them tightly enough because the brown sugar mix leaked out of the bottom of the buns quite a bit. They were a little dense (per my husband)- is it possible that I overdid it on the kneading? Despite these hiccups they were so good and I’m looking forward to making them again. 5 stars because I think this has the potential to be excellent (if you don’t make the same mistakes I did). Oh btw I didn’t have cloves (& refused to purchase a $10 spice that I never use) so I ended up using allspice instead-seemed to be a good swap.
Side note- I liked the glaze but felt there wasn’t enough. Maybe that’s just my sweet tooth talking or the fact that I lost some of that brown sugar gooey goodness to the bottom of the pan. Either way I might add a bit more cream cheese and buttermilk next time to increase the amount of glaze (possibly a couple of tbsp extra confectioners sugar too).
Hi Susie, Glad you enjoy them! Yes, overworking the dough can cause the rolls to be a little dense. Although keep in mind that these are not as light and airy as yeasted cinnamon rolls.
Made these for the second time yesterday as a Christmas breakfast. They were amazing. I also loved that the glaze wasn’t gritty which is a problem that I usually have. Thank you!
Thank you for brightening our Christmas morning – these were perfect!!!!
We made them with the kids today and had fun making and eating them. They were good, although a bit too hard for my taste. Are they supposed to be soft? Maybe I should bake them for a shorter period of time or at a lower temperature next time?
Hi Olga, They should be soft; try baking for less time next time.
I am a really big baker. My family loves cinnamon buns. Generally they are time consuming to make. I was shocked at how easy it was to make these yeast free cinnamon buns. They came out amazing.
Our family loved these quick cinnamon buns! We woke up to a surprise spring snow day, so this was a great option to get a yummy breakfast treat in the oven quickly, without waiting for yeasted rolls to rise. This dough was really easy to work with. Will definitely make again!
Hi Jenn from another Jen! I made these today for my daughter. She just got home from school and sampled and loved them. Thank you again for a delicious and easy recipe. I had an 8×8 pan and they fit great.
I don’t have a 9-inch square cake pan can i use 9×3 ?
Hi Fanny, I would just fashion a 9×9 pan by shaping the foil in a smaller square in the 9×13-in pan. Hope that helps!
Hi Jenn I love all of your recipes, but I have a question about this one, can I replace the dark brown sugar with light brown sugar?
Sure, Isabella – that will work. 🙂
Can I make these the day before & bake the next morning?
Hi Yvonne, I worry that the leavening agents will lose their “oomph” if not baked right away. You’re better off using a yeast-based recipe for overnight cinnamon rolls. Sorry!
The best and easiest cinnamon buns I have ever made! Decided these will be our Christmas morning treat!
I may have made these too soon. Wondering if it’s ok to freeze them AFTER I’ve baked them and before I ice them?
Sure, Cindy. Enjoy!
Perfection! My first time making homemade cinnamon rolls and my whole family loved them! Perfect combination of soft and crispy. Followed all your helpful instructions to a T, with the slight detour of making homemade buttermilk with milk and vinegar. We love you, Chef Jenn! My six and three year old kids always look forward to your recipes.
can the icing glaze be made without cream cheese?
Hi Marsha, I think the glaze is best with cream cheese. That said, one reader commented that she used Greek yogurt in place of the cream cheese and was happy with the result. (Please keep in mind that I haven’t tried this myself.) I’d love to hear how they turn out if you try it!
Jenn, is there a way you could add reviews or questions regarding your cookbook recipes? I would love to hear what others think of some of the recipes and sometimes have questions. In this case, I want to make the cinnamon swirl bread but only have two 8×4 loaf pans. I would rather not buy a loaf pan just for the recipe. could I use two 8×4 pans or could you advise on reducing the recipe?
Hi Janet, I’m not sure that we’ll be adding that functionality to the blog, but if you ever have any questions about the cookbook recipes, feel free to email me at email@example.com. Always happy to help! And regarding the cinnamon swirl bread, I think you could probably get away with using two 8 x 4-inch pans and making slightly smaller loaves. They’re likely to take a little less time in the oven, so make sure you keep a close eye on them. Hope you enjoy!
Thank you for your response Jenn, always much appreciated!