The World's Best Cinnamon Roll

best cinnamon roll recipe

By: Linda Edson

This is the world's best cinnamon roll recipe and this recipe is my prized possession. As a teacher, time management is a driving factor when choosing recipes to use in class. I am fortunate to work in a school with block scheduling, which means 90 minute class periods. Unfortunately, it also means I only see my students every other day, and recipes need to be accommodating. I inherited this recipe from my coordinating teacher from my student teaching experience, and I value it not only for its appropriateness for a crazy school schedule, but also for its unbeatable texture and flavor. 

This is a big batch of dough. Go with it. When I make this at home, I make half of it into cinnamon rolls, and the other half into crescent rolls or some other dinner roll. The whole batch will make two dozen cinnamon rolls. The dough is a “cold-rise”, so my students tackle the dough one day, and make it into rolls the next class period. At home, I make the dough the night before I plan to use it. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.

This recipe is a legend at the high school where I teach, and I believe it is one of the reasons my classes are over-full every semester. I reserve it for my second-level culinary students, so the beginners have something to aspire to. My classroom is open and centrally located, so the whole building knows when it is cinnamon roll day! Last semester, one group had a whole pan of rolls left and it was the end of the day. They asked what they should do with the rolls. I told them to leave them there and they would not last long once the bell had rung. True to form, there was a stampede of teachers after the final bell, and those rolls did not last more than twenty minutes!

My students are often put off by the idea of putting potato flakes into dough that will eventually turn into cinnamon rolls, but they are sold on the results. The added starch of the potato gives the dough a velvety softness that is unlike anything you crack open from a refrigerated tube. I nearly have this recipe memorized.

The World's Best Cinnamon Roll Recipe Ingredients:

  • 1 cup “hot” water
  • 1 cup instant mashed potatoes
  • 4 ½ tsp. yeast (2 packages)
  • 1 ½ cups warm water (105⁰ to 115⁰)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup oil (or soft shortening like Crisco)
  • 2 eggs
  • 7 to 7 ½ cups flour, divided

1. Using a large batter bowl, heat 1 cup water in microwave for one minute. Add mashed potato flakes and set aside.

2. Measure 1 ½ cups water into glass measuring cup. Microwave until temperature reaches between 105⁰ and 115⁰. The amount of time will depend on your microwave, but I usually microwave for 30 seconds and start checking the temperature. If you go over 115⁰, it is best to start over. Add yeast and stir to dissolve.

3. Pour yeast mixture into extra-large bowl. Add sugar, salt, oil, and eggs. Using an electric mixer, beat until blended. Add mashed potatoes and beat again.

4. Add 3 cups of flour to yeast mixture and beat on medium speed. Scrape sides of bowl every now and then to blend all ingredients. Beat until smooth.

5. Using a sturdy wooden spoon, add one cup of flour at a time, not adding more than 3 to 4 ½ cups. (The total amount will depend on humidity conditions.) Too much flour will make the dough too stiff. Scrape the sides of the bowl as you go. Mix by pulling wooden spoon towards you, not stirring, and the dough will begin to form a ball and not stick to the sides of the bowl.

6.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes).

7.  Add 1 tsp of oil to a clean large bowl or bucket. Place smooth side of dough down into oiled bowl. Now turn over so smooth, oiled side of dough is on top. 

8. Place tight fitting lid on bowl and “burp” the air out. Place in refrigerator. It will keep up to five days.

Final steps: Remove from refrigerator two hours before beginning and let it rise in a warm place until double in size. Punch down dough and let it rest 10 minutes before shaping. Use half of the dough at a time! Turn onto a lightly floured surface and shape into rolls as desired.

Baking rolls: Place shaped rolls on greased pan, muffin tin, etc., cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30-45 minutes. Just before baking, remove plastic wrap. Dinner rolls may be brushed with an egg wash (one egg lightly beaten and thinned with 1 tsp. of water), and sprinkled with sesame seed, poppy seed, etc.. Alternately, rolls may be brushed with melted butter right after removing from oven. Bake in a pre-heated 375⁰ oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. 

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls: Roll half of the dough into an 8” by 15” rectangle. Brush generously with melted butter (1/4 to ½ cup). Sprinkle with sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. May add chopped nuts or finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate if desired. Gently roll from the long side to a 15-inch long roll of dough. Cut rolls 1 1/2 “ wide. Place in greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 375⁰ for 20-25 minutes.  Remove to wire rack to cool.

Cinnamon Roll Icing: 

  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla

Stir in milk for desired drizzling consistency. Drizzle on top of rolls.

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Linda Edson has spent three decades honing her culinary skills as a mother of five.  She enjoys sharing her passion for good food with her students as a high school culinary instructor.  She draws inspiration from her family, local farmer’s markets, a vast collection of cookbooks, and a cultural heritage that includes French, Danish, and Menominee Indian.