homemade sourdough cinnamon rolls being iced

Delicious Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Sourdough cinnamon rolls are THE BEST thing ever! Seriously once you make these for the first time there is no going back, you’ll be hooked on these fluffy rolls. These overnight rolls are very easy to make, and the best part is you can make them ahead of time and freeze them until you are ready. Making them a great option to stock your freezer for later with homemade foods.

I was looking for a good way to use up some extra sourdough starter when I discovered the idea of sourdough cinnamon rolls. And I was hooked! These babies are so soft, perfectly sweet, and easily the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever made. This recipe is now the one we turn to when we have family coming into town, or friends arriving for brunch- or even when we get snowed in and craving a little treat. This recipe is so easy to make and absolutely fabulous!

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homemade sourdough cinnamon rolls from scratch in a blue pan iced in cream cheese and powdered sugar

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Making Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

What Is The Difference Between Cinnamon Rolls And Buns?

The main difference between a Cinnamon Bun and a Cinnamon Roll is the shape. A cinnamon rolls is a roll of dough that has been filled with cinnamon and sugar, cut and baked. They are often iced with cream cheese and topped with powdered sugar. Cinnamon rolls originated from Denmark and Sweden and became famous across Europe and North America.

A Cinnamon bun is another form of a cinnamon roll, however they are not as widely known as their sister. A Cinnamon bun is a type of dessert that is quite famous in western countries. Cinnamon buns are very soft and delicious and in the shape of a bun. Cinnamon buns were brought to America for the first time by Germans immigrants in the 17th century.

Are Cinnamon Rolls Breakfast or Dessert?

Well the simple answer to that is yes! Cinnamon rolls can be served as breakfast or dessert- why quibble? Whenever you decide

When Did Cinnamon Rolls Gain Popularity?

The cinnamon roll or “kanelbulle” was first created after the First World War however the ingredients were expensive and hard to find so it didn’t rise to it’s popular status in America until the 1950’s.

What Are The Benefits Of Sourdough?

Some form of sourdough has been around for many years, but what sets sourdough apart from other types of bread? Sourdough (such as the recipe for sourdough cinnamon rolls) is made by fermenting flour and water instead of adding a leaven (yeast). The fermentation process helps to unlock B vitamins in the bread, which help with energy metabolism.

The fermentation process for sourdough bread can lead to an increased number of prebiotic and probiotic-like properties, which help improve gut health.

A study out of the University of Eastern Finland found that sourdough bread made with rye flour increased the number of good gut bacteria compared to white bread with rye flour. Sourdough also has a lower glycemic index and glycemic load than white bread and even whole-wheat bread that is not fermented.

Even though sourdough bread is not gluten free, one study published in 2011 found that regular sourdough consumption might help improve the digestion of gluten. The fermentation process for sourdough alters the enzymes in the wheat and might potentially help counteract adverse reactions to gluten. *Make sure you talk to your doctor before trying this if you have celiac.

Other studies published by NIH have found that the lactic-acid bacteria in sourdough might even help moderate allergic responses, inflammation and auto-immune diseases. 

Whole-wheat sourdough is higher in fiber, which can additionally lower the strain it puts on your blood glucose. 

A study published in 2019 in the Aging Clinical & Experimental Research by Antonio Capurso & Cristiano Capurso found that habitual consumption of whole-wheat sourdough bread contributed to lower risk of heart diseases, diabetes and cancer for older adults in the Southern Mediterranean.

Can I Use Sourdough Starter Right Out Of The Fridge?

When you need to use your sourdough starter, you can use it straight from the fridge- or let it come to room temp first if you want. If you use it straight from the fridge, it will extra time to your dough’s proofing time. Make sure that your sourdough starter is fed and active before you use it.

How Soon After Feeding Sourdough Starter Can I Use It?

This will really depend on your starter, each one is unique and will very depending on the conditions in your home. As a general rule you should be able to use your sourdough starter between 4 and 12 hours after feeding it. The best time to use your sourdough starter will be when there are lots of bubbles at its surface and it has has physically risen to its peak level, just before deflating back down again.

What You Need To Make Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

To make these sourdough cinnamon rolls you will need:

Why This Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls Recipe Works

I’ve always been a fan of cinnamon rolls, but these sourdough cinnamon rolls are my absolute favorite! This recipe produces fluffy delicious cinnamon rolls every time because:

  1. Bubbly active sourdough starter- for this sourdough cinnamon rolls recipe you need a fed and active starter. This produces the lift you need for delicious cinnamon rolls.
  2. These sourdough cinnamon rolls are baked in two 6-inch springform pan. This is the most important part of this recipe. The higher sides of the pan traps in more moisture which keeps the rolls soft and light and helps them to rise higher as they bake.
  3. These beauties can be made ahead of time and frozen to enjoy later! Which means they will fit any bakers schedule, and it’s a great thing to make ahead and stock your freezer with for a healthier alternative to store bought cinnamon rolls.

Tips For Making Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

  • For a richer dough, use 8 tablespoons of softened butter and 3 cups of flour total. This makes the dough absolutely incredible!
  • Make sure that you let the melted butter and milk mixture has cooled slightly before making the dough. Do not get impatient and just rush ahead, If it is too hot when you pour it in, the dough will become incredibly sticky like cake batter (If this happens to you- wait for the dough to cool down before adding more flour, if needed).
  • If you are having trouble with the filling leaking out while they are baking, trade the 2 tablespoons of melted butter, for 6 tablespoons softened butter with the rest of the cinnamon-sugar filling ingredients listed in the recipe.

Why Are My Cinnamon Rolls So Hard?

Too much flour, or overworking the dough can make your sourdough cinnamon rolls dry and tough. As you get toward the end of mixing, gradually add a tablespoon at a time and check the texture of the dough after each addition.

Why Aren’t My Cinnamon Rolls Not Gooey?

You may not have had enough filling in your sourdough cinnamon rolls, try using softened butter in the filling instead of melted.

How Do You Know If Your Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls Are Proofed?

There are a couple of things you should look for when proofing sourdough cinnamon rolls:

  • The dough’s volume has increased
  • The dough is no longer dense
  • Large bubbles can be seen at the top of the dough or sides of the bowl

You can also try doing a poke test to see if it’s finished:

This poke test for sourdough can be done once the dough has had some time to ferment. Poke a finger into the dough about a half inch deep. Does the dough ‘recover’ by popping back out? or does it stay where it is? If:

The dough pops back out quickly – This means its under-proofed.
The dough stays where it is – This means its over-proofed.
The dough pops back out slowly and leaves a slight indentation – Perfect, your dough is ready!

What Happens If Sourdough Is Over Proofed?

Similar to the symptoms of over proofed dough, an over proofed loaf will be very flat, without much rise or retention of shaping. Over proofing destroys the structural integrity of the bread, so loaves that have gone over are unable to hold their shape in the oven.

How Do You Know When Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls Are Ready For Shaping?

You will know that the sourdough cinnamon rolls dough is ready to be shaped when it has risen about 30% and you see little air bubbles throughout.

Do Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls Have To Rise Twice?

A 24-hour rise time will produce much more sour bread than a 4-hour rise time. If using a shorter rise period, 4-12 hours, a second rise is optional. If desired, punch dough down, reshape, and proof a second time.

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

In the evening: Melt the butter in a small pan. Once the butter is melted combine the butter and milk in a small bowl. Allow it to cool slightly before using.

Next 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 to the mixture. Continue mixing for about 1 minute or until a rough, sticky dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, or dough scraper. Cover with a damp towel and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

After the dough has rested, switch to the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed for 6-8 minutes. 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 For Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

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+ hours at 67-68 F (how long your sourdough cinnamon rolls take to complete the bulk rise will depend on temperature of the room)

Stretch and Fold the Dough (optional step):

About 30 minutes to 1 hour into the bulk rise stretch and fold the dough. Take 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, making 4 folds total. You don’t HAVE to do this step, but it does help to increase the overall volume of the rolls and aerate the dough.

Roll the Dough

The next morning line a 6-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Line the inside with enough excess to hang over the sides of the pan for easy removal.

Lightly oil and flour your countertop this will help to prevent sticking. Gently remove the dough from the bowl, and gently form into a rough rectangle. Allow your dough to rest for 10 minutes. This will make it easier to roll out.

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 as you attempt to roll it out, let rest for 5-10 minutes and try again.

Make the Cinnamon-Sugar Filling

Place 6 tablespoons of softened butter to a small bowl. Mix with the sugar, cinnamon and flour. With an spatula, spread onto the sourdough cinnamon rolls dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges.

Shape & Cut the Dough

Starting on the long side of the sourdough cinnamon rolls dough (the 16-inch side), 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. If the dough starts to get sticky from the heat of your hands, lightly oil or flour your fingertips..

Cut the dough into 2-inch sections using a oiled knife or bench scraper. We 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 sourdough cinnamon dough puffs up. If you are making these ahead of time place the cut & shaped cinnamon rolls into a parchment lined 9-inch springform pan. Cover the pan with two layers of plastic wrap and place into your freeze until ready to use.

The night before baking, remove the old plastic wrap and replace with fresh wrap (this will prevent any condensation from dripping onto the rolls as the thaw). Defrost the sourdough cinnamon rolls overnight (about 10-12 hours) at room temperature, (approximately 67 F). Bake the following morning as directed.

Bake the Cinnamon Rolls

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Place the sourdough cinnamon rolls onto the center rack and bake for 35-40 minutes (check at the 30 minute mark). The tops should turn light golden brown when they are ready.

Remove from the oven when done, 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 these cinnamon rolls with some of the glaze or lightly dust with powdered sugar. These sourdough cinnamon rolls are best enjoyed slightly warm on the same day they are baked.

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

  • Dough:
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup bubbly, active sourdough starter
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar
  • 2½ cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine Himalayan sea salt
  • oil, for coating
  • Cinnamon-Sugar Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 level tablespoon flour
  • Glaze:
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup whipped cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¼– 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1–2 tbsp milk

Instructions

In the evening: Melt the butter in a small pan. Once the butter is melted combine the butter and milk in a small bowl. Allow it to cool slightly before using.

Next 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 to the mixture. Continue mixing for about 1 minute or until a rough, sticky dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, or dough scraper. Cover with a damp towel and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

After the dough has rested, switch to the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed for 6-8 minutes. 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 For Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

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+ hours at 67-68 F (how long your sourdough cinnamon rolls take to complete the bulk rise will depend on temperature of the room)

Stretch and Fold the Dough (optional step):

About 30 minutes to 1 hour into the bulk rise stretch and fold the dough. Take 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, making 4 folds total. You don’t HAVE to do this step, but it does help to increase the overall volume of the rolls and aerate the dough.

Roll the Dough

The next morning line a 6-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Line the inside with enough excess to hang over the sides of the pan for easy removal.

Lightly oil and flour your countertop this will help to prevent sticking. Gently remove the dough from the bowl, and gently form into a rough rectangle. Allow your dough to rest for 10 minutes. This will make it easier to roll out.

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 as you attempt to roll it out, let rest for 5-10 minutes and try again.

Make the Cinnamon-Sugar Filling

Place 6 tablespoons of softened butter to a small bowl. Mix with the sugar, cinnamon and flour. With an spatula, spread onto the sourdough cinnamon rolls dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges.

Shape & Cut the Dough

Starting on the long side of the sourdough cinnamon rolls dough (the 16-inch side), 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. If the dough starts to get sticky from the heat of your hands, lightly oil or flour your fingertips..

Cut the dough into 2-inch sections using a oiled knife or bench scraper. We 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 sourdough cinnamon dough puffs up. If you are making these ahead of time place the cut & shaped cinnamon rolls into a parchment lined 9-inch springform pan. Cover the pan with two layers of plastic wrap and place into your freeze until ready to use.

The night before baking, remove the old plastic wrap and replace with fresh wrap (this will prevent any condensation from dripping onto the rolls as the thaw). Defrost the sourdough cinnamon rolls overnight (about 10-12 hours) at room temperature, (approximately 67 F). Bake the following morning as directed.

Bake the Cinnamon Rolls

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Place the sourdough cinnamon rolls onto the center rack and bake for 35-40 minutes (check at the 30 minute mark). The tops should turn light golden brown when they are ready.

Remove from the oven when done, 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 these cinnamon rolls with some of the glaze or lightly dust with powdered sugar. These sourdough cinnamon rolls are best enjoyed slightly warm on the same day they are baked.

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