This Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls recipe is one of the best you will ever make! They're soft, fluffy, and incredibly delicious! Serve them warm, frosted with this small-batch cream cheese frosting, and you have yourself the perfect breakfast or brunch treat!
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Let's Talk Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls
My love for single layer cakes and small batch cupcakes is strong, but today I'm sharing with you an easy small batch breakfast sweets recipe that yields just 6 cinnamon rolls. And my God are they ever good!
They're golden brown on the outside with a buttery, cinnamon sugar filling inside that's so soft and fluffy. You can easily enjoy these just as they are or you can top each one with a generous slathering of this small batch cream cheese frosting! Either way, they are absolutely fantastic!
They can be made using a cute and tiny Nordic Ware ⅛ sheet pan
Here's What You'll Need
To make these small batch cinnamon rolls, you'll need:
- Buttermilk. Helps give the cinnamon rolls their fluffy texture! This will need to be warm to the touch before mixing it with the instant dry yeast. You can also use warm to the touch whole milk in place of buttermilk.
- Instant Dry Yeast. Using the instant dry yeast cuts down a little on the rest time for the dough. You can use active dry yeast if you prefer, but expect to add on some time for the dough to rest.
- All-Purpose Flour. Helps to give the cinnamon rolls their light and fluffy texture!
- Granulated Sugar. Helps to get that yeast going as well as give the rolls a little bit of added sweetness.
- Salt. A necessary ingredient to make these small batch rolls taste good!
- Unsalted Butter. Only 2 tablespoons are needed, but make sure it's melted first before adding it to the dough.
- Eggs. You will need two total. One for the dough and one for an egg wash that gets brushed on right before you bake them.
For the cinnamon sugar filling you will need softened unsalted butter for spreading onto the rolled-out dough, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, and ground cinnamon which get mixed together and spread over top! YUM!
For the small batch cream cheese frosting you will need softened unsalted butter and cream cheese, vanilla extract, and sifted powdered sugar. It's a small amount so using your hand mixer will work really well here. Just add it all to a small mixing bowl and mix away!
Essential Baking Tools
Below are my recommend baking tools for making these small batch cinnamon rolls!
Nordic Ware ⅛ Sheet Pan. The ⅛ sheet pan is super cute and perfect for this recipe. I also like to use it for transporting condiments to the kitchen table for dinner or reheating leftovers in the oven. You can also use a 6-inch round baking pan or a 6-inch square baking pan.
If you're planning to use either 6-inch pan, you might have to bake your cinnamon rolls for a few minutes longer than the recommended 20-25 minutes.
Stand Mixer and Dough Hook Attachment. The easiest way to make these cinnamon rolls is with a stand mixer and dough hook attachment! You can, of course, knead it by hand with a danish dough whisk.
Small Saucepan or Heat Proof Measuring Glass. Either will work for warming your buttermilk.
Mixing Bowl. Good for letting the dough rest. The same mixing bowl that you used for kneading the dough can be used for letting it rise. Just make sure you grease it before adding the ball of dough back in!
Oven Thermometer. This is a must for any recipe, whether it is for baking or cooking! They're cheap and they can easily hang right on your oven rack!
What Do I Need to Know Before Starting?
Check your butter. For the dough, it needs to be melted. For the cinnamon sugar filling and small batch cream cheese frosting, it needs to be softened.
Don't overheat the milk. Whether you warm the buttermilk in a saucepan or in the microwave, be mindful that you don't overheat it! If you have a kitchen thermometer, I recommend using it. You want the temperature to be no hotter than 115ºF.
Soften your cream cheese. This one is only for the frosting, but it will help prevent lumps when mixing your frosting together.
Sift your powdered sugar. Another tip for the frosting! It will keep your frosting looking nice and smooth!
Use a ruler. I like to break out my ruler to mark where I'll be cutting my rolls. This way they all end up being cut to the same size.
Cut the rolls with a sharp knife. A really sharp knife will work well for cutting these small batch cinnamon rolls. You can also use dental floss, but I recommend using unflavored.
I will say though, with either option, if your cinnamon rolls still come out a little wonky after cutting them, this is totally fine! They will still taste good!
Cinnamon Rolls FAQs and Troubleshooting
They can be made using a Nordic Ware ⅛ sheet pan (what I used), or you can use a 6-inch round or 6-inch square baking pan (either 2- or 3-inch tall sides). If you're planning to use either 6-inch pan, you might have to bake your cinnamon rolls for a few minutes longer.
This could be caused by a few things: 1. The yeast could have expired or it was killed off from the buttermilk being too hot. Your best bet is to start over with fresh yeast. 2. Too much flour was added. You want the dough to be sticky or tacky in texture, but not too sticky that it's sticking to literally everything. 3. The dough was placed in a cold or drafty area of your kitchen. You can let the dough rise in the oven (see recipe notes) or sometimes I'll preheat the oven and just let the bowl sit on top of the stove, which sometimes does the trick.
The buttermilk needs to only be warm to the touch. A good rule of thumb: if it's too hot for your fingers, then it will probably kill off the dough. Let it cool down a little first before you add it to the yeast.
Yes, absolutely. Keep in mind that you will have a slightly longer first rise and longer 2nd rise compared to using instant dry yeast.
More Beyond the Butter Breakfast Sweets!
Small Batch Cinnamon RollsAuthor:
- ½ cup Warm Buttermilk (warm to the touch)
- 1 ½ teaspoon Instant Yeast
- 1 ¾ cup All-Purpose Flour (up to ¼ cup can be added, if needed)
- 2 tablespoon Granulated Sugar
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 2 tablespoon Unsalted Butter (melted)
- 1 Large Egg (lightly beaten)
Cinnamon Sugar Filling
- 2 tablespoon Light Brown Sugar (lightly packed)
- 2 tablespoon Granulated Sugar
- ½ tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
- 3 tablespoon Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
Cream Cheese Icing
- 2 tablespoon Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
- 2 oz Cream Cheese, (softened to room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- ¾ cup Sifted Powdered Sugar
- 1 Large Egg + 1 tablespoon Water (for egg wash)
For the rolls
- In a small saucepan, warm the buttermilk over low-medium heat until warm to the touch. You can also microwave this in a heat-proof glass measuring cup for 15 seconds at a time until the buttermilk is warm. Set to the side.
- In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the instant yeast, all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Add in warm buttermilk, lightly beaten egg, and melted butter, stirring briefly with a spatula until the dough just begins to form.½ cup Warm Buttermilk, 1 ½ teaspoon Instant Yeast, 1 ¾ cup All-Purpose Flour, 2 tablespoon Granulated Sugar, ½ teaspoon Salt, 1 Large Egg, 2 tablespoon Unsalted Butter
- Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook and knead at a low speed for 7-8 minutes or until the dough has come together. The dough should be soft and a little sticky that pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. If it’s still very sticky, you can add in the additional ¼ cup of all-purpose flour, one (1) tablespoon at a time. You can also choose to stir the dough by hand with a danish dough whisk instead of using the mixing bowl and dough hook.
- Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, kneading it with your hands into a soft and smooth ball. Then transfer it to a lightly greased medium bowl. I use Baker's Joy to coat the bowl, but you can also use an olive oil spray. Cover with plastic wrap and/or a clean tea towel and place it in a warm area of your kitchen to allow the dough to rest and double in size (about 1 hour).If you plan to let the dough rest in your oven (see notes below) do not use plastic wrap!
For the cinnamon sugar filling
- In a small mixing bowl, mix together the light brown sugar, granulated sugar, and ground cinnamon. Set to the side. The softened butter will be used as a spread when we assemble the cinnamon rolls.2 tablespoon Light Brown Sugar, 2 tablespoon Granulated Sugar, ½ tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
Assembling the rolls
- Lightly spray a ⅛ sheet pan or a 6-inch round (or square) baking pan with a flour-based baking spray and set to the side.
- Once the dough has doubled, punch it down using your fist, then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Make sure to lightly flour your rolling pin too. Roll the dough out to about a 6” x 12” rectangle. Spread the softened butter onto the dough with an offset spatula leaving about a ½-inch border, then top with the cinnamon sugar filling.3 tablespoon Unsalted Butter
- Starting at the longest end of the dough, roll up tightly to form a log.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the dough log into 6 equal rolls then place onto the prepared baking sheet or into the prepared baking pan, cut side down. I like to use a ruler to help evenly mark my cinnamon rolls.
- Cover again with either plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm spot of your kitchen. Allow them to rise for an additional 30-35 minutes or until they have doubled in size. Meanwhile, adjust your oven rack to the 2nd level position (just above center) and preheat your oven to 350ºF.
- If making overnight small batch cinnamon rolls cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. Let sit at room temperature for it's second rise 1 hour before baking. Don't forget the egg wash too.
- In a small bowl lightly beat the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water, then brush onto the rolls. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350ºF or until the rolls are a light golden brown in color. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes before adding the cream cheese frosting.1 Large Egg + 1 tablespoon Water
For the cream cheese frosting
- In a small bowl, mix together the unsalted butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar using your hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. The amount of frosting is small though so a hand mixer will work best here.This frosting can be made a day or two in advance of making the cinnamon rolls. Keep it stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature 20-25 minutes before using.2 tablespoon Unsalted Butter, 2 oz Cream Cheese,, 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract, ¾ cup Sifted Powdered Sugar
- Slightly beat your egg before adding it into the dough mixture.
- If additional ¼ cup all-purpose flour is needed add the flour 1 tablespoon at a time. For reference, ¼ cup equals 4 tablespoons.
- To let your dough rest in a warm oven, adjust the oven rack to the middle or center position. Preheat your oven to lowest temperature, then turn off the oven once it is preheated. Place your bowl of dough in the oven with a medium-size bowl of boiling water on the rack below with the door closed. After 1 hour, open the door and remove the dough (and the bowl of water).
- When slicing the dough into rolls, use a ruler to mark where you will be cutting so each roll is roughly the same height.