Turn breakfast into a special occasion with these easy, from-scratch, no-knead cinnamon rolls!
Love the flavor of cardamom? Discover more delicious recipes with cardamom, from donuts to cakes to cookies.
Soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls are always a great way to start the day but what makes these pastries extra special is a tangy and fruity apricot cardamom cream cheese frosting that pairs perfectly with the sweet cinnamon filling.
- About the cinnamon rolls:
- About the frosting:
- Recipe notes and tips:
- How to make the dough:
- How to make the rolls:
- How to make the frosting:
- How to serve the rolls:
- How to store leftovers:
- Can I freeze the dough?
- What if it’s too cold for the dough to rise?
- More delicious breakfast sweets:
- Full Printable Recipe
About the cinnamon rolls:
Cinnamon rolls are a sweet breakfast pastry that is made with a yeast dough. The dough is rolled out into a thin sheet, blanketed with a buttery and sweet cinnamon filling and then rolled into a log. The log is cut into several pieces that are then baked into a cluster of soft and pillowy rolls that easily pull apart.
For the recipe here I used a no-knead challah dough from the (great!) book The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Instead of turning it into a braided challah bread I rolled it out thinly, spread a cinnamon/brown sugar paste on it and rolled it up to make buns.
You can use the dough the same day you prepare it or you can make it up to five days ahead and use it straight out of the fridge on the morning you want to bake the rolls. (The rolls will need to rise for 1 hour before baking, so be sure to plan for that.)
About the frosting:
The frosting is the highlight of this recipe. In addition to the standard cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar I added apricot preserves and ground cardamom and those flavors were a perfect match for the sugary cinnamon filling.
Make these rolls for a special occasion breakfast, like a Holiday brunch, a birthday or simply just because! :)
Recipe notes and tips:
- Any kind of granulated yeast that you can find in the store (such as active dry or rapid rise) will work for this recipe. But make sure it’s not past its expiration date.
- Be sure to let the melted butter for the dough cool before using it so you don’t cook the egg or kill the yeast.
- To get a fluffy cinnamon roll be sure to roll the dough nice and thin.
- Use a serrated knife to cut the cinnamon roll log to avoid squeezing the rolls.
- Don’t use any cream cheese products labeled as low-fat or reduced-fat. Those have a higher moisture content than full-fat cream cheese and that can affect the consistency of the frosting.
How to make the dough:
- Add granulated yeast, kosher salt and honey to a large mixing bowl.
- Whisk in warm water. Let sit for a few minutes until the mix starts to foam.
- Whisk in egg and melted and cooled unsalted butter.
- Mix in all-purpose flour. (I like to use a firm plastic spatula for that but you can also use a large spoon or your hands.)
- Make sure to mix the dough well so that no pockets or clumps of flour remain, then cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for 2 hours.
- Transfer the dough into an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
How to make the rolls:
- Lightly flour a work surface, take the dough out of the fridge and roll it into a thin sheet about 14 inches wide and 10 inches tall. Cut off the sides of the sheet to make it a rectangle.
- Grab a small saucepan, melt unsalted butter in it, then add brown sugar, granulated sugar and ground cinnamon.
- Cook the mix, whisking continuously, until you get a bubbly paste. Let cool a bit.
- Spread the cinnamon filling on the dough, going all the way to the edges.
- Roll the dough up from the long side.
- Cut the log into 8 pieces of roughly equal size.
- Grease a 9-inch pie pan, then set the rolls (spiral up) into the pan, leaving space around each one.
- Loosely cover the rolls with a sheet of plastic wrap, then set them in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour. (The rolls should be touching each other after the rise, if they aren’t, let them rise a little longer.)
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. and bake the rolls until they are starting to brown (25 to 30 min.). Let the rolls cool and make the frosting.
How to make the frosting:
- Add softened cream cheese, softened unsalted butter, ground cardamom and apricot preserves to a small mixing bowl. Whip until smooth.
- Whip in powdered sugar, then transfer the frosting to the fridge and keep it there until you’re ready to use it.
How to serve the rolls:
Once the rolls have cooled to room temperature, top them with frosting, then serve immediately. If you’re planning to store some of the rolls, don’t put the frosting on, instead store the rolls and the frosting separately.
How to store leftovers:
The rolls are best served fresh but you can loosely cover any unfrosted rolls with plastic wrap and keep them at room temperature for up to 1 day. Keep the frosting in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
As for rolls that are already frosted, transfer those into an airtight container and keep them in the fridge. Be sure to let them come back up to room temperature before serving.
Can I freeze the dough?
Yes, after the initial 2-hour rise you can transfer the dough into a freezer bag and freeze it for up to 3 weeks. When you’re ready to use the dough, thaw it in the fridge overnight.
What if it’s too cold for the dough to rise?
The ideal temperature for yeast to grow is around 75 degrees F. and depending on where you live and what time of year it is, it can be difficult to get your kitchen that warm. If your kitchen is too cold for the dough to rise, I suggest you very briefly turn on your oven to get it to 75 degrees, then turn it off and place the bowl with your dough in it. The oven will cool down again, but I find that giving the yeast a “push” like this in the beginning of the rising time is often enough to keep it going.
More delicious breakfast sweets:
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Full Printable Recipe
No-Knead Cinnamon Rolls with Apricot Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting
For the dough:
- ¾ teaspoon granulated yeast (such as active dry or rapid rise)
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 7 tablespoons warm water (around 90 degrees F.)
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled*
- 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
For the filling:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the frosting:
- 3 ounces cream cheese**, softened
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons apricot preserves
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
For the dough:
- Add yeast, kosher salt and honey to a large bowl.
- Pour the water into the bowl and whisk everything together. Let sit for a couple of minutes until the mix starts to foam.
- Whisk the egg and the butter into the mix.
- Add the flour into the bowl and fully mix it in using a firm plastic spatula or a spoon or your hands.
- Cover the bowl, set it in a warm place and let the dough rise for 2 hours.
- Transfer the dough into an airtight container and keep in the fridge until you're ready to bake the rolls.***
For the filling:
- When you're ready to bake the rolls, grease a 9-inch pie pan. Set aside.
- Lightly dust a work surface with all-purpose flour.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out thinly into a 14" by 10" rectangle. Cut off the sides of the sheet to make it a rectangle. Set aside to make the filling.
- Melt the butter in a pan.
- Add both sugars and the cinnamon and whisk until you get a uniform paste. Let the mix cool a bit.
- Using an offset spatula or a rubber spatula, spread the filling onto the dough all the way out to the edges.
- Roll up the dough (from the long end).
- Cut into 8 pieces using a serrated knife.****
- Set the rolls into the pie pan, leaving space in between each of them.
- Cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap, then let them rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bake the rolls until they are starting to brown on the edges (25 to 30 minutes).
For the frosting:
- Whip together the cream cheese, butter, cardamom and apricot preserves until fluffy.
- Whip in the powdered sugar.
- Spread the frosting onto the rolls and serve immediately.