Sourdough cinnamon buns. Delicate, airy scrolls of decadent sweet dough brimming with swirls of warm cinnamon-sugar. Can you fathom a cozier breakfast (aside from a slice of freshly baked and warm sourdough bread)?!

I must admit, however, I haven’t always been a enthusiast. Traditional cinnamon rolls tended to be overly sweet for my palate, and the thick, sugary icing often left me queasy. Moreover, amidst the plethora of recipes available, I pondered: does the world truly require another cinnamon roll recipe? It appears, indeed, it does.

Jump to Recpe

Why This Recipe Works

  • The efficacy of this method lies in the use of a 9-inch springform pan—a technique I swear by. Its taller sides effectively ensnare moisture, ensuring the rolls emerge soft, airy, and utterly luxurious. During baking, they achieve an impressive height.
  • The lively, active sourdough starter contributes a delightful flavor profile that can truly enchant.
  • Moreover, these rolls can be prepared in advance! I’m thrilled to share foolproof strategies that accommodate any baker’s timetable.

How To Make The Best Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Mix the Dough & Let it Rise

  • This dough is made in a stand mixer. If you don’t have one, don’t worry- it can be done by hand (the texture will be sticky).
  • Start in the evening, let the dough rise overnight at room temperature, and bake the following morning. The dough is ready when it has doubled in size.

Roll the Dough

  • The next morning, lightly coat your countertop with oil and flour—a truly fantastic tip, by the way, ensuring the dough won’t stick! I prefer using an all-natural olive oil spray from Trader Joe’s; it works like magic.
  • Take the dough out of the bowl, gently pat it into a rough rectangle, and allow it to rest to relax the gluten, making it easier to roll out.
  • Sprinkle a light dusting of flour on both the dough and your rolling pin. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 16 x 12 inches in size. For precision, use a tape measure; this will yield about 8 rolls, perfect for fitting into a 9-inch springform pan.

Make the Cinnamon-Sugar Filling

  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a shallow pan or in the microwave; then, set it aside to cool.
  • In a separate small bowl, combine cinnamon, sugar, and flour. Once the butter has cooled down, brush the entire surface of the dough with it.
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Use your hands to smooth it out; you’ll notice the texture transforming from dry and sandy to a nearly moist appearance.

Roll & Cut the Dough

  • Starting with the long side, carefully roll the dough into a log, applying pressure as you go.
  • Take your time with this process; ensuring the log is tightly rolled will preserve the swirls during baking. When you reach the end, ensure the seam of the dough faces downward.
  • Using an oiled knife or bench scraper, cut the log into 8 sections, each approximately 2 inches wide. To achieve uniformity, it’s helpful to lightly “mark” the dough first, ensuring each piece is of similar size before cutting. This technique is particularly useful if estimating sizes isn’t your strong suit.

Second Rise

Place the rolls into a parchment lined pan and let rest for about 1- 2 hours, or until the dough puffs up.

Bake the Cinnamon Rolls

  • Position the dough on the center rack and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the rolls turn a light golden brown. While the rolls are baking, you can prepare the glaze.
  • After baking, allow the cinnamon rolls to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool further.

For the Glaze

  • In a stand mixer, combine softened butter, whipped cream cheese, and sifted powdered sugar. Beat until smooth, adjusting the consistency by adding a small amount of milk if necessary.
  • Alternatively, forgo the glaze and instead sprinkle the cinnamon rolls with powdered sugar.

Time To Eat!

Close your eyes and take a bite… the warm, caramelized cinnamon sugar is absolutely out-of-this-world! And all that fluffy dough? You won’t be able to eat just one!

**Baker’s Schedule**

Overnight Option: Prepare the dough in the evening and allow it to rise overnight. The next morning, roll, cut, and shape the dough. Let it rest for 1-2 hours for the second rise before baking.

Alternatively, after resting for 1 hour, cover the dough and refrigerate until ready to use. Allow the dough to come to room temperature before baking; it should appear plump and puffy.

Make-Ahead Option (Freeze): Arrange the cut and shaped cinnamon rolls in a parchment-lined 9-inch springform pan. Cover with two layers of plastic wrap. Freeze until ready to use. On the night before baking, remove the old plastic wrap and replace it with fresh wrap to prevent condensation from dripping onto the rolls. Defrost overnight at room temperature, approximately 67 degrees Fahrenheit (about 10-12 hours). Bake the following morning as directed.

Soft Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

These soft, overnight sourdough cinnamon rolls are the perfect weekend or holiday treat! Made with a luscious sweet dough and a not-too-sweet cinnamon filing, they are guaranteed to be a huge hit.
Prep Time 15 hours
Cook Time 15 hours 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Equipment

  • oven

Ingredients
  

  • Sweet Dough
  • 160 g 2/3 cup milk, whole or 2%
  • 28 g 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (see notes below for variation)
  • 1 large egg
  • 100 g 1/2 cup bubbly, active sourdough starter
  • 24 g 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 300 g 2½ cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
  • 5 g 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • cooking spray or oil for coating
  • Cinnamon-Sugar Filling
  • 28 g 2 tbsp unsalted butter (see notes below for variation)
  • 100 g 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 level tbsp. flour
  • Glaze
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter softened
  • cup whipped cream cheese room temperature
  • ¼ – 1/2 cup powdered sugar sifted (add more if you like it sweet!)
  • 1 –2 tbsp milk

Notes

Notes, Tips & Variations

  • For a richer dough, increase the butter to 115 (8 tbsp) and use 360 g (3 cups) flour total. The texture is incredible. 
  • Make sure the melted butter and milk mixture has cooled slightly before making the dough. If it’s too hot, the dough will become incredibly sticky like cake batter (I’ve experienced this many times). If this happens to you, don’t worry- wait for the dough to cool down before adding more flour, if needed.
  • Recent recipe update: to prevent the cinnamon sugar filling from leaking while the rolls bake, instead of using 28g (2 tbsp) of melted butter, combine 84 g (6 tbsp) softened butter with the rest of the cinnamon-sugar filling ingredients listed above.

Instructions

Baker’s Schedule 

Overnight Option: Make the dough in the evening and let rise overnight. The following morning, roll, cut and shape the dough. Rest for 1-2 hours (second rise) before baking.
 
 
As an alternative, after resting for 1 hour, cover the dough and chill until ready to use. Rest at room temperature before baking. The dough should be plump and puffy before baking.
Make-Ahead Option (Freeze): Place the cut & shaped cinnamon rolls into a parchment lined 9-inch springform pan. Cover with two layers of plastic wrap. Freeze until ready to use. The night before baking, remove the old plastic wrap and replace with fresh wrap (this prevents any condensation from dripping onto the rolls). Defrost overnight, about 10-12 hrs. at room temperature, approximately 67 F. Bake the following morning as directed.
Make the Dough 
In the evening: Combine the melted butter and milk in a small bowl. Cool slightly before using. 
Add the egg, sourdough starter, and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix to combine. With the machine running, slowly pour in the milk mixture. Add the flour and salt. Continue mixing until a rough, sticky dough forms, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
After the dough has rested, switch to the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed for 6-8 minutes (I use #2 or #3 on my stand mixer). The dough should feel soft, supple and pull away from the sides of the bowl when ready. If it’s too sticky add a small bit of flour.

Bulk Rise

Transfer the dough to a medium-size bowl coated in butter. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise overnight until double in size, about 8-12 + hrs. @ 67-68 F, depending on temperature.
Stretch and Fold the Dough (optional step): about 30 minutes- 1 hr. into the bulk rise stretch and fold the dough: grab a portion of the dough and stretch it upward. Fold it over toward the center of the bowl. Give the bowl a 1/4 turn; stretch and fold the dough again. Continue this technique until you’ve come full circle around the bowl (4 folds total).This optional step will increase the overall volume of the rolls and aerate the dough.

Roll the Dough

In the morning: Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. I like to scrunch the paper into a ball first, open it up, and then line the inside with enough excess to hang over the sides for easy removal. It tends to fit better this way.
Lightly oil and flour your countertop to prevent sticking. Coax the dough out of the bowl. Gently pat into a rough rectangle. Let rest for 10 minutes for easier rolling.
Dust the dough (and your rolling pin) with flour. Roll the dough into a 16 x 12-ish rectangle using a tape measure for accuracy. If the dough resists, let rest for 5-10 minutes and try again. 

Make the Cinnamon-Sugar Filling

If using the softened butter variation (listed in the notes above): add 84 g (6 tbsp) softened butter to a small bowl. Mix with the sugar, cinnamon and flour. With an offset spatula, spread onto the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges.
If using the melted butter version: brush the entire surface of the dough, including the top, bottom and sides with 28 g (2 tbsp) melted butter. Use all of it. Combine the sugar, cinnamon and flour in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixture onto the dough leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Smooth it out with your hands until it looks wet and sandy.

Shape & Cut the Dough

Starting on the long side of the dough (16-inch), roll it into a log pressing down gently as you go. Take your time with this step. The log needs to be tight so the swirls stay in tact. You should end up seam side down. TIP: if the dough starts to get sticky from the heat of your hands, lightly oil or flour your fingertips, take a deep breath and try again.
Cut the dough into 2-inch sections using a oiled knife or bench scraper. I lightly “mark” the dough first to make sure  each piece is roughly the same size.

Second Rise

Place the rolls into the lined pan and let rest for 1- 2 hours, or until the dough puffs up. Alternatively, if you’d like to chill or freeze the rolls, please refer to the “Make-Ahead” option in the Baker’s Schedule at the top of this recipe. 

Bake the Cinnamon Rolls

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake the dough onto the center rack and bake for 35-40 minutes (check at the 30 minute mark). The tops should turn light golden brown when ready.
Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 15 minutes. This helps the butter to absorb back into the dough. Then lift up the rolls, while still on the parchment paper, and transfer to a wire rack. 

Make the Glaze

While the rolls are baking or cooling make the glaze. Add softened butter, whipped cream cheese and sifted powdered sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until smooth, thinning out the consistency with a little milk as needed. The ingredients must be soft and at room temperature for best results.
To serve, top the rolls with some of the glaze or lightly dust with powdered sugar. These rolls are best enjoyed slightly warm on the same day they are baked.
Keyword cinnamon rolls, Soft Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls