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star rating (97) rate this recipe »
Published prior to 2008

With all the arresting talk about cloning in the news these days, it’s refreshing to hear the term applied to baking, rather than animals or humans. There’s something really special about closely duplicating a dish you’ve enjoyed at a restaurant, or a pastry or bread from a bakery; it’s very empowering to think that you, in your regular old home kitchen, can "bake like the pros."
I’m usually most tempted by "store-bought" baked goods on the rare occasions when I find myself in either an airport terminal, or a shopping mall. When you’re traveling, and you’ve just stepped off an airplane where you were treated to a) a very small bag of peanuts, or b) a cold, stiff sandwich, there’s something unbelievably enticing about the smell of hot cinnamon buns wafting through the terminal. Likewise, when you’re shopping at the mall, and you’ve had just about enough of the gum-snapping, shrieking, jostling teenage crowd all around you, isn’t it nice to turn the corner and spot a Cinnabons(r) or Auntie Anne’s Pretzels shop? The smell of warm dough, fresh from the oven, is enough to rejuvenate even the most shopped-out soul.

Now, I live about 65 miles from the nearest mall, and 75 miles from the airport, so I can’t just run out and buy one of those warm, squishy, totally over-the-top Cinnabons whenever I want. Thus my interest was piqued by a recent posting on, where a thread detailing a Cinnabon(r) clone was developing. Author Todd Wilbur has written a series of books in which he clones "top secret" recipes from restaurants and food manufacturers. "Secret" formulae for Oreo(r) cookies, McDonald’s(r) Big Mac(r) burgers, Hostess(r) Twinkies(r) and more are detailed in Wilbur’s books (and on his Web site,; check it out). The following recipe originally came from More Top Secret Recipes, from which it traveled a circuitous route to, then to, where I found it. Here’s what the person posting the recipe wrote:

"This is an absolutely fabulous recipe. It actually came from, where it’s called Clone Of A Cinnabon. It had over 300 five-star ratings :) You can go read them if you like… some add nuts to the cinnamon/sugar as well. I just can't say enough about them :) Have made them several times-especially at holiday time. Love :) sbdeveney"

Later on in the thread, after folks had had time to try the recipe, they expressed universal approval. Wrote Maddie, "I had to report in that these buns were a hit! They were so easy to make and they came out picture perfect. My family loved them; they were devoured. Even my fussy little nephew who doesn't like cinnamon ate them! This recipe is a keeper!"

Without further ado, let’s get to the recipe. These sweet, tender (some would say squishy) cinnamon buns, crowned with a thick dollop of rich cream cheese icing, make a trip to the mall or the airport unnecessary.

Note: There was some discussion on about whether or not these buns should be refrigerated, due to the cream cheese in the icing. We made them in the morning and nibbled at them all day with no ill effects; refrigerate them if you’re worried, although be advised refrigeration will adversely affect their texture. Better you should just eat them warm from the oven...

1 cup (8 ounces) lukewarm milk
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut up
4 3/4 cups (20 ounces) Mellow Pastry Blend OR 4 1/2 cups (19 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 1/4 ounces) brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) ground cinnamon

one 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) glazing or confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Manual/Mixer Method: Combine all of the dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl, stirring till the mixture becomes cohesive. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and knead it for 5 to 8 minutes, till it’s smooth. Or knead it in an electric mixer, using the dough hook, for 4 to 7 minutes at medium speed. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to grease all sides, cover the bowl with a proof cover or plastic wrap, and let it rise for 60 minutes, till it’s nearly doubled in bulk.

Bread Machine Method: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer (usually, liquids first, yeast last). Program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. After about 10 minutes of kneading, check the dough’s consistency; it should be fairly smooth, not too sticky, not dry and "gnarly." Adjust its consistency with additional flour or water, if necessary, and allow the machine to complete its cycle.

Assembly: Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and roll it into a 16 x 21-inch rectangle. Spread the dough with the 1/3 cup butter. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle it evenly over the dough.

Starting with a short end, roll the dough into a log, and cut it into 12 slices. Place the buns in a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Cover the pan with a proof cover or plastic wrap, and let the buns rise until they’re nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake the buns in a preheated 400°F oven until they’re golden brown, about 15 minutes. While the buns are baking, make the icing.

Icing: In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla. Spread the icing on the buns while they’re warm. Yield: 12 big buns.

Nutrition information per serving (1 bun, 146g): 502 cal, 18g fat, 8g protein, 37g complex carbohydrates, 40g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 84mg cholesterol, 364mg sodium, 200mg potassium, 181RE vitamin A, 1mg vitamin C, 4mg iron, 71mg calcium, 101mg phosphorus.

This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XIII, No. 4, Spring 2002 issue.


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  • star rating 04/05/2015
  • Sharon from Dudley, MA
  • I was looking for a recipe I could make ahead. I read the reviews and found several where the rolls were shaped and then put in the fridge overnight. Perfect! The dough was easy to put together, (I weighed everything), it rose beautifully and was easy to roll out. I misread the recipe and mixed the brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter together. It was not so easy to spread it evenly, but I managed. I made two batches, and ended up with 3 pans of buns. Took them out of the fridge about an hour before baking. Just had one warm from the oven. Delicious!! Will definitely make these again. Good thing I'm taking them to a brunch, way to tempting to keep at home.
  • star rating 03/08/2015
  • Lisa FD from SC
  • Made this yesterday. Big hit with my fam! My husband said "when I get to heaven, St Peter is going to greet me at the pearly gates with these cinnamon rolls!" Haha! They are quite good, and ridiculously easy if you have a mixer with a dough hook, I have to say. P.S. I don't normally bake things like this, bread-dough type recipes that require kneading, rising, rolling out. So when I say this is easy, I'm serious! Enjoy!
  • star rating 02/28/2015
  • Deborah from Vermont
  • This morning I baked this recipe. They are fabulous!! It was an easy recipe to follow. They rose beautifully. However, it did take longer than 60 minutes for the first rise. I halved the filling sugar and cinnamon mixture. I love the cream cheese icing. This was the first time I have baked cinnamon buns. I was so pleased with them I took photos. I will baked these again and again. Thank you KAF. I love your recipes and products.
    Deborah, sweet yeasted doughs often take longer time to rise because sugar can slow down the fermenting process of the yeast. Try placing your dough in a warm place or using Saf-Gold yeast, which is more tolerant of sugar. Also, don't worry if the dough does not double in bulk by the end of the hour--let it rise until when you poke it with your finger, the indent stays rather than springing back. It will have a nice oven spring once it meets the heat of baking and rise evenly. Good luck with your cinnamon buns. Happy baking! --Kye@KAF
  • star rating 02/26/2015
  • patnelson51 from KAF Community
  • These are the BEST Cinnamon rolls, bar none. I used KAF's Baker's cinnamon for the filling and kept the butter layer. I weigh my ingredients. I use baking twine looped around roll and pulled through(do not tie in knot) to get picture perfect slices. One of my batches did not rise at room temperature (74*, in FL). I have a proofing setting on my oven,(my backup) I set it, put the dough inside and within 30 minutes the dough had doubled in size. The icing was a little stiffer than I liked, I added about 2 T of heavy cream(what I had on hand) and the result was fantastic. My husband loves them and says they are perfect. He also says the house smells so good with all the baking going on. I am not an experienced baker, but KAF has helped me to become a better baker. These rolls are easy to make and delicious. Thanks KAF.
  • star rating 02/22/2015
  • Christine from SC
  • These are awesome! The hardest part for me was neatly slicing the dough into rolls
  • star rating 02/20/2015
  • Trisha from Syracuse, NY
  • These came out wonderful. I spread the softened butter over the dough and added 2 tsp. of corn starch to the cinnamon mixture.
  • star rating 02/02/2015
  • Alice from Grand Rapids, MI
  • I made the most delicious cinnamon rolls today! This recipe ROCKS!
  • star rating 01/07/2015
  • jlbgolbin from KAF Community
  • Made this Cinnamon buns two days ago.I doubled the recipe,it was a hit! My children liked it so much.I also gave some to the clinic ...the staff liked it so much too ! they asked me if I have a bakery because it taste like the one we buy in a bake shop.The recipe is easy to follow.The bread stays soft even when it is cold.This recipe is definitely a keeper,will make again soon!
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