Quick “no-yeast” Cinnamon Rolls

I believe that there is a saying that refers to “joy being in the process”; that’s baking for me. I enjoy adding the ingredients together & watching them transform into the final product, it’s almost magical. I’m also VERY picky about the taste/texture/appearance of everything that I bake – however, aside from taste-testing which I also really enjoy, I’m not really one for eating what I bake. I bake for others. This is probably why I typically baked mostly at Christmas, for pot-lucks or my children’s birthday parties. Now, I bake for this blog and to challenge myself with new techniques.

So, what does all this have to do with these Cinnamon Rolls? They were SO delicious that even I couldn’t just take one taste, or one bite… thank goodness my family devoured them before I ate the whole pan.

confession: I’m not completely innocent tho’, because I put the empty pan back in the oven to soften up the buttery/sugar/cinnamony goo stuck on the bottom & I scraped it all off an ate it! YES I DID and I’d do it again (just maybe not this week, maybe?)

In fact, these rolls were so good that no one wanted to be responsible for eating more than one. Weird, because it’s typically “survival of the fastest around here” (think 8 cinnamon rolls, 6 family members) Sheepishly, wontonly… several family members each asked me if they could have 1 more; as if eating another one without asking would cause them unbearable guilt. Sinfully good??  Obviously, they would have to share, but the point is everyone wanted MORE!! Next time, I’ll try making 6 slightly larger rolls. I served them hot from the oven, but the remaining rolls were very good cold & several hours old. The best part about this recipe is it doesn’t require much advanced planning. There have been days when I was craving a homemade cinnamon roll, however, after waiting through the rising process… I’d pretty much moved on to my next craving. Not a problem with these rolls; NO yeast = NO waiting .

Of course, there is something to be said about “Good Things Coming to Those Who Wait”.  Therefore, I am not completely abandoning yeast-based cinnamon rolls, but these my friends, are at the top of their class – yeast or no-yeast.

I made a slight mistake with the topping - I mixed the milk & sugar together first, then added it to the cream cheese sooo... Don't Do That! - follow the directions below 😉

Previously, I’ve shared my love of cookbooks and shared a few titles in Baking 101. Speaking of cookbooks – it’s no surprise that these rolls are so yummy, since this recipe came from Baking Illustrated by the chefs of America’s Test Kitchen. They did all the research & work so we wouldn’t have too.  I would have to bake almost every day for a year, to get through the 350 recipes in this book!! I’m going to be sad next week when the library emails me the reminder that the book is due to be returned *sigh~

Quick Cinnamon Rolls – 8 servings (they can be made bigger or smaller)

 Filling ~

¾ cup packed dark brown sugar (light is ok, dark provides a richer/deeper flavor)

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves (YUM-this is key to the over-the-top flavor)

1/8 tsp salt

1 tbl spoon melted un-salted butter

Dough ~

2 ½ cups (or 12 ½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tbl granulated sugar

1 ¼ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 ¼ cups buttermilk (not regular milk; it will affect how the rolls rise – see “replies” for substitutions)

6 tbl (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled / separated

Icing ~

2 tbl cream cheese softened

2 tbl buttermilk

1 cup (4 ounces) powdered sugar

  1. Adjust the oven-rack to the middle upper position (keeps cinnamon goo from burning on the bottom by raising it up a little from the heat element) – Preheat Oven to 425 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 9 inch pan. Grease or spray a cooling rack with oil.
  2. Filling – Combine the sugar, spice, & salt, then add the melted butter until it resembles “wet sand”
  3. Dough – Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk and 2 TBL of the butter, then using a wooden spoon add to the dry ingredients above until the liquid is absorbed (30 seconds). Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth (this takes a little work). The dough is sticky & it’s ok to add a little flour, just don’t add a lot!
  4. Pat the dough into a 12 by 9 inch rectangle, then brush with 2 TBL melted butter and sprinkle with the “FILLING” that you made above. Leave a ½ inch border and press the filling firmly into the dough (opposed to just sprinkling it on top).
  5. Starting at the long (12 inch edge), roll the dough, while applying light pressure, to form a log. Pinch the seam together. Hint: use a dough scraper/spatula to help “unstick” the dough as you work.
  6. Place the roll is seam side down and use the scraper or a knife to cut the roll into 8 pieces. Flatten each individual roll to seal the open edges and place in the greased pan. Brush the tops with the reaming 2 TBL of butter.
  7. Bake until the edges of the rolls are golden brown approx. 23-25 minutes. I would check at 20. Wearing oven mitts, place a large plate over the pan, inverting the rolls onto the plate. Place the “greased” cooling rack on top of the inverted rolls & invert the rolls onto the rack. Place the rack on top of a piece of parchment paper. Cool for 5 minutes.
  8. While the rolls are cooling – whisk the cream cheese and buttermilk in a large non-reactive bowl. The mixture will look “curdled” at first, but keep mixing until thick and smooth. Then sift the powdered sugar over the mixture and whisk until smooth forming a glaze. Pour the glaze over the rolls & serve. YUM!!


  1. I received this question via FB and it’s worth sharing….
    Q: Can the no-yeast cinnamon rolls be done with regular milk or is there a chemical reaction from the buttermilk that’s needed to replace the yeast?

    A: Buttermilk has more acid than regular milk so the balance of the alkali to acid ratio would be off & affect how the dough rises. (I think it’s time for me to write a little bit about buttermilk so it’s doesn’t sound so technical.) However, there are substitutions for the buttermilk~
    ‎1 cup buttermilk=
    *1 cup milk plus 1 3/4 tsp cream of tartar (hand stuff!)
    *1 cup milk plus 1 TBL vinegar (white) or lemon juice – let stand for 10 minutes before adding.
    *1 cup yogurt
    (Basically you want to add an acid)

  2. Another comment from Facebook~
    So I finally got around to making these and one other of your recipes. These were totally RAVED about, though I am new to kneading the dough. One little tip I learned was instead of flouring the counter, put a little safflower oil on it; this was really helpful!!!

    The one caution I’d offer to your readers is not to use an aluminum pan because they tend to burn easier; I also made the mistake of spraying the pan with Pam making them more apt to burn. I will use glass next time…

    These we really liked because they were not over the top sweet but the dark brown sugar and cloves added a whole new depth to the flavors!!! 😉

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