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These soft, fluffy Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls are about to become your favorite cinnamon roll recipe! There's brown butter in the dough, filling, and icing making these my personal favorite cinnamon rolls!
This post is sponsored by Fleischmann’s®Yeast. All opinions are 100% my own. Thanks for continuing to support the brands that help make ‘Mike Bakes NYC’ possible!
Table of contents
- Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls
- Ingredients Needed for Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls
- How to Make Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls
- Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls Recipe Troubleshooting & FAQ
Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls
I know there are already a million cinnamon roll recipes available on the internet and you might be wondering what sets these apart. Two words: brown butter.
These brown butter cinnamon rolls are soft and fluffy, with a sweet cinnamon sugar filling (heavy on the cinnamon) and a cream cheese icing that drips into the rolls. There's brown butter incorporated into the dough, the filling, and the icing and I just KNOW you're going to fall in love with these after one bite.
I used Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast for the brioche dough, which I actually use in most of my yeasted baked goods. It's reliable and it makes the rising time faster without sacrificing any quality; I'm talking a soft and supple dough every single time. It doesn't get much better than that! If the idea of working with yeast is a little scary to you, I highly recommend checking out Fleischmann’s® Yeast's Baking Basics for a ton of helpful tips!
Ingredients Needed for Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls
This brown butter cinnamon rolls recipe doesn't require a ton of ingredients; here's what you'll need:
- Milk: I recommend whole milk, but know that almond milk will also work just fine (I've tried it numerous times!)
- Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast: It's fast-acting, super reliable, and makes the softest dough ever!
- Granulated sugar: This is used to help feed the yeast and sweeten the cinnamon rolls just a tad.
- Butter: The one and only. You'll brown a large quantity of butter at the start and then use it for the dough, the filling, and the icing.
- Eggs: This recipe calls for two eggs for the perfect texture in the dough.
- All-purpose flour: I've experimented with different flours and find that all-purpose consistently leads to the best results; plus, that's what most people have on hand!
- Vanilla bean: Vanilla bean seeds are added straight to the dough for a sweet and fragrant vanilla note. Use one teaspoon of vanilla bean paste if you don't have any beans on hand.
- Brown sugar: I love using dark brown sugar for a more robust flavor, but light brown sugar will work too!
- Cinnamon: These are cinnamon rolls after all...
- Salt: Salt helps to control the yeast, so don't skip it.
- Cream cheese: For the brown butter cream cheese icing, of course.
- Powdered sugar: Also for the icing!
How to Make Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls
To help ensure your success in making these Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls, we are going to walk through the significant steps in the process together! Starting with browning the butter.
1. The Brown Butter
One of the only downsides to these brown butter cinnamon rolls is that they take some minor planning ahead to make. This is because to get the flavor of the brown butter into the rolls, you need the butter to have the consistency of softened butter. This means you'll have to brown all of the butter, pour it into a bowl & freeze it to solidify it, then bring it back to room temperature until it's soft and spreadable for using in the dough, filling, and icing. I recommend browning your butter ahead of time and simply storing the brown butter in a container in the fridge for you to bring to room temperature when you need it!
Please note: The amount of butter called for to make the brown butter is more than the amount of brown butter needed for the recipe. This is because the process of browning butter cooks off moisture from the butter, so it reduces in quantity. I have accounted for this in the recipe, so you will see 1½ cups (345g) of butter called for to make the brown butter, but only 1¼ cups (285g) of brown butter used in the dough, filling, and icing. This is not an error - I just accounted for moisture loss when calculating the initial quantity!
What is Brown Butter?
Before we get into how to make brown butter, let's talk about what brown butter actually is. Brown butter comes from the term beurre noisette which in French actually means "hazelnut butter," and once you make brown butter, you will understand exactly why it has this name.
When butter melts, the butterfat and the milk solids separate. Because the milk solids are heavier than the fat, they sink down to the bottom of the pan and after some time they begin to brown. As the butter browns, it takes on a whole new flavor profile; it becomes nutty and rich and takes on a golden brown hue. You'll begin to smell it very distinctly once the butter is beginning to brown. In fact, I rely heavily on the smell of the butter to know when it is done.
How to Make Brown Butter
Browning butter is an easy process that only takes a couple of minutes to complete. All you need is your unsalted butter, a saucepan, and a utensil to stir the butter as it browns (I like to use a silicone spatula).
- Melt butter in pan. Melt the unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium-low to medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Stir. Once the butter is melted and begins to bubble and foam, stir continuously to ensure none of the milk solids—those little brown bits that appear as the butter melts—burn as they settle on the bottom of the pan.
- Wait for the color change. Lower heat if necessary, and wait for the butter to become a warm shade of golden brown, with an undeniably nutty aroma. Remove from heat immediately.
- Transfer and cool. Transfer the brown butter to a heatproof bowl. Allow the butter to reach room temperature before using. I like to speed this up by placing the butter in the freezer and giving it a stir every 10 minutes or so.
2. The Brioche Dough
This is my go-to brioche dough for just about everything. I mean… the dough is full of little vanilla bean specks and is also incredibly soft and easy to work with. Basically… it's perfect.
To make it, you'll start by adding the flour, salt, sugar, and Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast to a mixing bowl. Add the milk, eggs, vanilla bean seeds (or paste), and brown butter, and stir until just combined. Then you'll knead the dough until a firm, but slightly tacky ball is formed. (Check out Fleischmann’s® Yeast's website for kneading techniques!) You should really only need 4-4¼ cups of flour, so resist the temptation of adding too much! Once the dough is kneaded and smooth, place it in a lightly greased bowl to rest for about 15 minutes before rolling out and spreading the filling on.
3. The Brown Butter Cinnamon Sugar Filling
While the brioche dough is resting, you'll make the brown butter cinnamon sugar filling.
THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO MAKE THE BROWN BUTTER CINNAMON SUGAR FILLING:
- Combine all filling ingredients and then spread onto the dough. For this method, add the brown butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon to a medium-sized bowl and combine with a fork until the mixture is homogenous and forms a paste. Then spread this mixture on the dough with an offset spatula.
- Melt the butter, brush it on the dough and sprinkle dry ingredients on top. For this method, combine the cinnamon and brown sugar in a bowl and mix well. Then, re-melt the brown butter and use a pastry brush to brush it on the rolled out dough. Next, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the melted butter and roll it up.
The second method is easier, however, I prefer the first method because I find the filling doesn't leak out of the cinnamon rolls to the bottom of the pan as much.
4. The Brown Butter Cream Cheese Icing
Honestly, this icing should come with a warning that's how good it is. While the brown butter cinnamon rolls are baking, make your icing. Simply add your softened brown butter to your softened cream cheese and stir to combine. Don't worry if the mixture looks a little curdled, it will smooth out! Add the powdered sugar, vanilla bean paste, and milk and stir until smooth and combined. Then, you're ready to drown your rolls once they're out of the oven!
Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls Recipe Troubleshooting & FAQ
BROWN BUTTER CINNAMON ROLLS: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I use active dry yeast instead?
Technically, yes! But you'll need to add the yeast to the warmed milk and let sit for 5 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. Also, your rolls will require two longer rises instead of just one; one rise will need to be done after kneading the dough and one after slicing the dough log into rolls!
Can I use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour for the dough?
Sure! Just note that using bread flour will yield a slightly chewier cinnamon roll due to the higher protein content! I occasionally like to replace about half of the called for all-purpose flour with bread flour, but feel free to replace all of it if you'd like!
Can I make the cinnamon rolls ahead of time?
Absolutely. There are two different routes you could take!
1) REFRIGERATE ASSEMBLED CINNAMON ROLLS TO BAKE THE NEXT DAY
Tightly wrap the assembled (but not risen) cinnamon rolls with plastic wrap and cover with a damp tea towel or the lid to the baking dish. Refrigerate overnight. In the morning, remove the assembled rolls from the refrigerator. Loosen the plastic wrap and let the cinnamon rolls come to room temperature and complete their second rise covered with loose-fitting plastic wrap and a warm, damp tea towel.
Bake the risen rolls according to the recipe!
2) FREEZE CINNAMON ROLLS TO BAKE AT A LATER DATE
Prepare the cinnamon rolls all the way through their rise. Instead of baking the cinnamon rolls for the entire time, just bake them partway (par-baking) for 10 to 15 minutes. The rolls should be raised and set, but not totally browned. Remove from the oven and let the rolls cool completely in the pan. Wrap the pan in two layers of plastic wrap or place them into a large plastic bag and seal. Freeze for 8 hours or up to 6 weeks. The night before you want to serve the rolls, take them out of the freezer and place them, still wrapped, in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Unwrap the cinnamon rolls the next morning and bake them at 350°F until they are completely done and a light golden brown all over, about 10 to 15 minutes.
BROWN BUTTER CINNAMON ROLLS: TROUBLESHOOTING
Help! My dough isn't rising! What's wrong?
Yeast has a "use by" date. As it moves beyond that time, it loses its oomph. Check the date printed on the package to make sure it's within its usable life.
If your yeast hasn't expired, then you likely accidentally killed it by adding liquids that were too hot. The ideal temperature of the milk is between 120°F (48°C) and 130°F (54°C); I recommend getting an instant-read thermometer to ensure you don't waste your ingredients!
Help! My dough is extremely sticky and difficult to knead! What did I do wrong?
Dough that is too sticky is a very common problem but it is actually really easy to fix! Sticky dough is almost always caused by a dough that is too hydrated. This basically means that you have either added too much milk to your dough or not enough flour. The fix is simply incorporating a little bit more flour (I recommend 1 tablespoon at a time)! The dough should be slightly tacky, but if you touch it with a clean, dry finger, the dough shouldn't come off onto your finger.
Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls
For the Brown Butter:
- 345 g unsalted butter* (see notes)
For the Brioche Dough:
- 500-530 g all-purpose flour
- 7 g Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 240 g milk warm
- 85 g brown butter softened
- 2 large eggs (100g)
- seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the Brown Butter Cinnamon Sugar Filling:
- 120 g brown butter softened
- 220 g dark brown sugar
- 12 g ground cinnamon
For the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Icing:
- 55 g cream cheese softened
- 45 g brown butter softened
- 120 g powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 30 g milk
To Make the Brown Butter:
- Cube the butter and place in a light-colored skillet. (Light colored helps you determine when the butter begins browning.) Melt the butter over medium heat, stirring constantly.345 g unsalted butter*
- Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Keep stirring. After 5-8 minutes, the butter will begin browning; you’ll notice lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan and you'll begin to smell a nutty aroma. Once browned, immediately remove from heat, pour into a heat-proof bowl, and freeze until solidified, about 20 minutes.
To Make the Brioche Dough:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl, combine 4 cups (500g) of the flour, Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast, sugar, and salt. Add the milk, brown butter, eggs, and vanilla bean paste and mix until the ingredients are just barely combined and a shaggy dough forms.500-530 g all-purpose flour, 7 g Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast, 100 g granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, 240 g milk, 85 g brown butter, 2 large eggs, seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- Add the remaining ¼ cup (60g) of flour and, using the hook attachment, beat on low speed until a soft dough forms. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the dough is soft and supple, about 6 minutes longer. *If you do not have a stand mixer with a hook attachment, knead the dough by hand in this step for 8-10 minutes.*
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands for 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. Prepare the filling while the dough rests.
To Make the Brown Butter Cinnamon Sugar Filling and Assemble:
- Add the brown butter, dark brown sugar, and cinnamon to a medium bowl and combine using a fork until a thick paste forms. Set aside until needed.120 g brown butter, 220 g dark brown sugar, 12 g ground cinnamon
- Grease the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish and set aside. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down and, using a rolling pin, roll into a 14×20-inch rectangle. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick.
- Spread the brown butter cinnamon sugar filling all over the dough. Tightly roll up the dough to form a 20-inch-long log and cut into 12 even rolls. Arrange them in the prepared baking pan. Cover the pan and allow the rolls to rise for 50-60 minutes or until nearly doubled in size.
- While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, until the rolls are golden brown. While the rolls are baking, make the icing.
To Make the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Icing:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and brown butter until combined. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla bean paste, and milk and whisk until smooth and combined. If the icing is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar; if it's too thick, add more milk.55 g cream cheese, 45 g brown butter, 120 g powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste, 30 g milk
- Drizzle the icing over the warm cinnamon rolls once you remove them from the oven. Cover leftover frosted or unfrosted rolls tightly and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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Hi Mike, thanks for sharing this awesome recipe. I made these last week and they were just incredible. Was my first time making cinnamon rolls and now I’m hooked.
One issue: my rolls weren’t rising and I ended up proofing them in a 80ish Celsius oven until they looked like your photo. That worked quite well, but what would keep them from rising at room temp? My house is quite cold and I forgot to warm the milk…so guessing this could be the issue, but would appreciate any tips. Yeast not expired.
Hi Elysia! Yup, it just comes down to the overall temperature of your dough. Having a colder dough, as you described, would still rise but over the course of several hours (I usually like to do longer, overnight rises like that in the fridge).