Breads & Donuts

Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls

As much as I love having dessert leftovers and making use of them, some things are just meant to be eaten fresh the day they’re made. I feel strongly about this in the case of cinnamon rolls; the only problem is that most cinnamon roll recipes make a dozen or more, which is fine if you’re feeding a whole family, but if you live alone or with a partner, it’s just far too much.

Enter, my small batch cinnamon rolls. These babies are so, so, so good. They’re fluffy and gooey and rich and yield just four rolls. The only problem with this recipe? They’re so easy I can make them every day.


These small batch cinnamon rolls don’t require a ton of ingredients; here’s what you’ll need to make them:

  • Milk: I recommend 2% or whole milk, but know that non-dairy/nut milks will also work (I’ve tried it!) If you don’t have any milk, you can also use 5 tablespoons of water instead.
  • Granulated sugar: This is used to help activate the yeast and sweeten the cinnamon rolls.
  • Instant dry yeast: Use quick rise or instant yeast in this recipe to help the cinnamon rolls rise faster. You can also use active dry yeast, but the cinnamon rolls will take slightly longer to rise.
  • Butter: The one and only. You’ll need it for the dough and the filling.
  • All-purpose flour: Only one cup of all-purpose flour is needed! If your dough is too sticky, you can add up to an additional tablespoon of flour, but I wouldn’t recommend adding more than that otherwise you’ll have dry cinnamon rolls.
  • Brown sugar: For those cinnamon swirls; you can use light or dark brown!
  • Cinnamon: YUM.
  • Cloves: DOUBLE YUM. (Also totally optional.)
  • Salt: Cinnamon rolls made without salt taste a little plain. Also, salt helps to control the yeast, so don’t skip it.

The icing is truly unforgettable too! Just cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla bean paste. YES PLEASE.

Wherever you are in the world, I hope you’re safe and sound at home and that these small batch cinnamon rolls bring you some comfort during these uncertain coronavirus times. Let’s get quarantine baking, shall we?


Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe for Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls makes just four cinnamon rolls— perfect for when you want them fresh & without leftovers.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Breads & Donuts, Breakfast, Cinnamon Buns, Cinnamon Rolls
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4 rolls
Calories 421kcal


For the Cinnamon Rolls:

  • 75 g milk warm (110°F)
  • 2 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 15 g granulated sugar
  • 125 g all-purpose flour
  • 45 g unsalted butter melted
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

For the Filling:

  • 30 g unsalted butter melted
  • 45 g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • tsp ground cloves (optional)

For the Frosting:

  • 85 g cream cheese softened
  • 40 g powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
  • splash of milk


  • Make the dough: In a small cup, mix together the yeast with the milk and a pinch of granulated sugar. Let the mixture sit in a warm place until bubbly/foamy, about 10 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, remaining tablespoon of sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Stir the yeast mixture into the flour, followed by the melted butter. Stir until a dough forms and then lightly knead with your hands for about 5 minutes. If your dough is sticky, add up to one additional tablespoon of flour.
  • After lightly kneading, form the dough into a ball and transfer it back to the bowl. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, a paper towel, or aluminum foil and let sit in a warm place for 20-30 minutes.
  • Make the filling: While the rolls are rising, make the filling. Add the melted butter, light brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves to a small bowl and stir until combined. Set aside.
  • Grease the bottom and sides of a rounf 6-inch baking pan or pan of an equivalent size. (Optional: sprinkle up to a tablespoon of brown sugar on the bottom of the pan for rolls with a lightly caramelized bottom.) Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down and, using a rolling pin, roll into an 8×4-inch rectangle. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick.
  • Spread the cinnamon sugar filling all over the dough. Tightly roll up the dough to form an 8-inch-long log and cut into 4 even rolls. Arrange them in the prepared baking pan. Cover the pan and allow the rolls to rise for 15-20 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  • Bake the rolls for 13-15 minutes, until the rolls are lightly golden brown on top and cooked through. Remove pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes as you make the frosting.
  • Make the frosting: In a small bowl, whisk the softened cream cheese until creamy. Add the remaining icing ingredients to the bowl 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. Spread icing over warm rolls. 


Serving: 1roll | Calories: 421kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 228mg | Potassium: 119mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 760IU | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 2mg

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Mike Johnson

View Comments

  • I measured the ingredients with a scale and used instant yeast. Even checked milk temperature and the dough for one was WAY TO GREASY. Had to add more flour than 1 tablespoon! Also they did not rise. Yes my yeast was NOT expired. This recipe is a flop!

    • If you truly followed the recipe using metric measurements, then you should have run into no issues! I can assure you (based on many recipe tests, as well as comments from others who have made this recipe) that the ingredient amounts are accurate. There will be a recipe video added to this post in the near future so people who may run into issues can follow along and troubleshoot. Sorry to hear they didn't turn out for you!

  • I’m new to your site and I’d like to make your small batch cinnamon rolls and add finely chopped pecans to the filling, as well as adding some halved pecans to the syrupy goo in the bottom of the 6” pan. I’d set the pan on a quarter sheet tray to avoid burning if you agree it’s a good idea.
    Do you see any drawbacks to trying that? Are there other modifications You would recommend? Thanks.

    • Adding chopped pecans to the filling would likely work fine, as long as you don't add too much to where the second rise is inhibited. As far as adding pecans to the bottom of the pan, I can't advise whether or not it would work as I've never tried it myself!

  • Both my sister and I made these and they are "the bomb"! She said that they are best cinnamon buns she has ever made! And we are veteran bakers! I thought they were awesome also and have been sharing the link with all the socially distancing couples I know. Thanks for your work on this and for sharing the recipe!

  • I followed this recipe exactly.... they came out underdone and dry. The rolls did not rise whatsoever after cutting them and leaving them in the pan for the prescribed amount of time. All ingredients were fresh... any ideas? They didn’t look anything like the pic... they were pasty and dense, not soft and chewy. ☹️

    • Underdone would suggest they weren't baked long enough (remember every oven is different!), however, the dryness would suggest too much flour used in the dough. I'd recommend weighing the ingredients out if you weren't already! Issues with rising are usually tied to the yeast. Add some of your yeast to a bowl of warm- basically body temp- water and a little sugar & stir; if it doesn't foam up and smell yeasty in a couple of minutes, it's dead and you'll want to get a new package of yeast. Yeast development can also be retarded by too much heat so if the milk was added at too high a temp, that could impact the rise. You might also have rolled them too tight, giving them less room to expand. And one other thing you might consider is that the best way to get a nice “rise” out of your final cinnamon rolls is to place them relatively close together in their final baking pan. That way they nestle against each other and push up and out. If you’re placing them more than an inch or so apart, they may spread out quite a bit – which is still a “rise”, just not upward – and that can be visually misleading.

  • Just want to double check...2 tsp of yeast seems a lot for 1 cup of flour and 4 rolls when compared to 2 1/4 tsp and 4 cups of flour in your Cardamon cinnamon rolls. Is this amount correct or is there typo?

  • I so miss baking but with only two of us I cannot make most of the recipes I have, these were perfect. It is a snowy, cold day and filling the house with the smell of these rolls baking was perfect!! The best part is they taste even better than they small.

  • So excited to try this recipe! I went to the store and got all the ingredients (couldn’t find vanilla bean paste so am hoping extract will work). But here’s my newbie yeast user question: is it okay to have the second rise go longer than 15-20 minutes? Wondering whether I can let them sit out or if I should put them in the fridge...
    Thanks in advance for any advice

  • In what type of pan did you cook the small batch Cinnamon Rolls? thx
    This is perfect to bake for my 97 year old dad!

  • Loved these rolls! I really wanted to make cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning but, since it is just me and my husband this year, I hunted for a small batch recipe. These are perfection! So pillowy and just the right amount of icing. This recipe is a keeper! Will definitely make these again... though they are dangerously easy to make so I'll have to limit myself to how often! BTW... I'm having a lot of fun working my way through your new cookbook. Love that too!!

  • This recipe is perfection! Gonna have to try your other cinnamon roll recipes simply because I want more than four - they are that good!

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