holiday cinnamon rolls

Sorry that I haven't posted as much last week! I hosted a baby shower for my friend and I couldn't really post much for you guys because she follows me on Instagram (you should too - @themonskerlife) - shameless plug!. The great news is that it was a fun time by all and I was able to cook/bake some of my favorites. Extra bonus - I didn't have to actually eat it all by myself or force feed it to Sakya (who complains but happily eats it all until he feels that he's gained weight - spoiler: he (being a guy), loses it in like 2 days (grrr!)). Now for a baby shower, there was cake and in this case, we kept the shower very small (as in 3 girls plus me) to keep things safe and they all happened to be Indian so I couldn't resist baking the gulab jamun cake that I made awhile back for Diwali. Now, as you can imagine, as beautiful as that cake is on it's own...I had to jazz it up to keep in the baby shower theme. You will see how I did that in a later post which I will devote to all the things that I did for the shower.

Moving on to the highlight of this post...CINNAMON ROLLS! Now, my family does NOT have a tradition of making cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve or even Christmas Day mornings. Why? Simply because if I am not there to bake them, no one would know how or even try to attempt to do it! Since I was living in Japan (and everywhere else) for the last 6+ years, I was usually never there during holidays except via FaceTime. However, I have ALWAYS wanted to because you see that tradition everywhere on social media and I WANT. So this year, it's happening! I wanted to test out what I came up with which is simply a compilation of many recipes that I tried and tweaked to suit my tastes. I wanted the rolls to be super cinnamon-y but not overwhelming...they needed to be soft and chewy but also have those crispy edges that I love. I wanted to make sure that in total they were not sickly sweet and find a balance of not-so-sweet dough paired with a sweet but tangy frosting that melts in your mouth. I think that I found it and if my friend's empty plates were an indication - they thought so too!

One of the things that I used in this recipe is rapid rise yeast. This is a game changer ya'll. It really eliminates the rise time for the dough and you can make these puppies in the morning and enjoy them within a couple of hours. Or you have the flexibility of putting these in the fridge overnight like I did and baking them off in the morning. If given the choice, I would choose the overnight option each time - you pop them in first thing and 30 minutes later (with the house smelling GLORIOUS), you have fresh baked warm cinnamon rolls ready to be slathered in frosting!

The smell factor cannot be stressed enough! It's like walking into a mall and being able to sniff out Cinnabon - irresistible. If you have never made cinnamon rolls from scratch, I really recommend it. It's not that difficult - the steps themselves are very easy and the results are phenomenal! I will say that having a stand mixer makes things a heck of a lot faster and easier but you can definitely make this without it.

I mean...come on!!! Get in my belly now!!!

Holiday Cinnamon Rolls



4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 packet rapid rise yeast

2 Tbsp dark brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup whole milk, warmed in microwave

3 eggs, large (room temperature)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 stick butter, salted (room temperature)

Filling: 1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 Tbsp cinnamon, ground

1 stick butter, salted (room temperature)


1/2 stick butter, salted (room temperature)

2oz cream cheese (room temperature)

1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice


  1. In a bowl of a stand mixer, using the dough hook, combine all the dough ingredients. Mix for about 4 to 5 minutes until the flour is completely incorporated. The dough should be a bit sticky,

  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for an hour - the dough should double in size.

  3. While that is happening, combine the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl for the filling. Line a 9x13" pan with parchment paper.

  4. Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Turn out the dough, punch it down, and with a rolling pin, roll it into a rectangle about 10 x 16 inches. Using a butter knife or offset spatula, spread the softened butter evenly over the dough.

  5. Coat the buttered surface heavily but evenly with the cinnamon sugar, lightly patting the filling into the butter . Starting with the long edge closest to you, carefully roll the dough into a log, keeping it fairly tight as you go. When you reach the edge, pinch along the edge to seal. Using a sharp knife, cut into 12 rolls. Place the rolls into the prepared baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 20-30 minutes. Or if you want to bake the next day, cover and put in the refrigerator for the final rise overnight.

  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the rolls for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

  7. Meanwhile, make the frosting. In your stand mixer with the whisk attachment or in a medium bowl using a hand mixer, beat together the softened butter and cream cheese for about a minute. Sift in the powdered sugar and slowly mix in until incorporated fully. Add in the vanilla and fresh lemon juice and then on a higher speed, whisk everything together until light and fluffy, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.

  8. Spread the frosting onto the warm rolls. Oh, and remember to stand back as people stampede to the rolls!

I feel like this will definitely be a new tradition in our clan starting this year. I am all about the classic cinnamon roll but I can see myself playing around with some of the variations that I have seen online with flavors. It's fun to see what you can come up with that will work even better than the original!

Stay safe this holiday!


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