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Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Sourdough cinnamon rolls are a sweet and tangy treat that's are as fun to make as they are to eat. These tender buns are loaded with cinnamon sugar filling and topped with creamy frosting and can be baked same day or rested overnight in the fridge.

This recipe yields a tasty bite that strikes the perfect balance between sweet, cinnamon-spiced filling and a soft, tender dough while featuring the distinct sourdugh flavor a regular yeasted recipe cannot match!

You can choose to bake these mouth-watering rolls either on the same day or let them rest overnight and bake the following day.

Personally, I favor baking them after 2 nights in the fridge! This extra time gives the butter and brown sugar an opportunity to meld together, creating a layer of sweet, buttery richness reminiscent of a sticky bun without being too messy.

This fermented sourdough cinnamon roll recipe is dedicated goodness!

Sourdough cinnamon rolls iced and piled on a plate.
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Key Ingredients

Sourdough starter: For this recipe, you want to use a fed and active sourdough starter. Your starter should have been fed within the last 6-8 hours and has at least doubled in size.This recipe is based on a sourdough starter with 100% hydration (equal amounts of flour and water by weight, not volume.

Cinnamon: Can't have a delicious cinnamon bun without cinnamon! Ensure your cinnamon is fresh and flavorful. Reach for Saigon cinnamon for this recipe - it's got rich, spicy notes we're looking for in a recipe like this.

Cream cheese: Is it a cinnamon roll without cream cheese?! These sourdough cinnamon buns are glazed with a simple, 2 ingredient cream cheese icing.

Ingredients for sourdough starter cinnamon rolls.

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How To Make Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Prepare The Dough

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon instant yeast. Stir together to combine.
  2. Add 1 cup active sourdough starter, 3/4 cups warm milk (80-90f), 1 whole egg, and 4 tablespoons oil and mix with the paddle attachment until completely combined, being cautious to not over-mix.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside to rest for 30 minutes. This short fermentolyse allows us to reduce the amount of mixing by activating the gluten structure and softens the dough.
  4. After 30 minutes, uncover the mixing bowl, and with the dough hook attachment, knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until the dough is soft, the dough will still be slightly tacky at this stage. Recover the bowl.

Stretch + Fold:

  1. For the next 2 1/2 hours, every 45 minutes or so, perform a stretch and fold on the dough. To stretch and fold, gently pull the dough and fold it across itself. Then turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat 3 more times. Recover the bowl after each stretch and fold. This is called bulk fermentation.
  2. After the final rest, grease a 9 x 13" baking pan and set it aside. I usually use margarine, but butter also works!

Make The Rolls:

  1. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and press the dough as flat as possible with your hands, then let it rest for a couple of minutes and then roll dough into a large rectangle about 18 x 14 inches. Pressing out the dough and allowing it to rest makes the rolling much easier as this dough has some back spring!
  2. Brush the surface of the dough with 2-3 tablespoons of softened butter, leaving a 1/2" gap on one long edge to help stick it shut. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of brown sugar on top of the butter in an even layer and pat down. Then sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cinnamon across the top of the brown sugar.
  3. Roll the dough log, from the long side to the edge that has no filling. When you get to the end, pull the raw edge over the roll to seal it shut. It should be snug, but not overly tight.
  4. Slice the roll into 1 1/2" rounds and place them into the prepared baking pan leaving a gap between.
  5. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap.

Bake Today Or Tomorrow?

Because these tangy sourdough cinnamon buns can be baked the same day or rested overnight, you've got some deciding to do!

Baking today gives a yummy bun, no question. But giving them an overnight nap in the fridge makes them even better in my opinion. The brown sugar butter layer releases some juices making a caramel that'll have you licking out of the baking dish! Beyond that, the buns have more flavor due to the long cold proof in the fridge.

If you're really brave, you might opt to wait one extra night. I have been experimenting, and the cinnamon rolls that have been rested in the fridge for 2 nights have an even more tender crumb, and amazing sour flavor. I find they don't even need cream cheese icing, because the tang we associate with cream cheese is already present in the rolls themselves.

Same Day Bake:

  1. Allow to rise in a warm spot for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until roughly doubled in size. I like to pop them in my microwave with the light on.
  2. Once the buns have nearly doubled, preheat the oven to 400f.
  3. Bake them at 400f for 18-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

Overnight Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls:

  1. Once the rolls have placed into the baking dish and covered, transfer them to the fridge overnight - > 12-16 hours.
  2. When ready to bake, remove the buns and allow them to come to room temperature for approximately 20 minutes while the oven preheats to 400f.
  3. Bake them at 400f for 18-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

Frost The Cinnamon Rolls

A cinnamon roll isn't a cinnamon roll without a smear of cream cheese frosting. Those are just the rules!

Make The Icing:

My favorite way to make cream cheese icing is to use the whisk on my stand mixer and beat the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar until it's completely smooth and seems light and fluffy. This may take a couple of minutes and require a bowl scrape or two!

Combine the 1/2 cup or 4 ounces cream cheese and 3/4 cup of powdered sugar (icing sugar) in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until a creamy, smooth, icing forms.

I prefer to ice my cinnamon buns once they've cooled to barely over room temperature. This is a personal preference, but I like the way the icing stays opaque, and stays put.

Icing the sourdough cinnamon buns with cream cheese frosting.

Tips + Tricks

No. 1 --> Need a sourdough starter and quick? I got you covered with my 24 hour sourdough starter!

No. 2 -->Many people use thread, dental floss, or even a bench scraper to slice their cinnamon buns, but I prefer to use a serrated pairing knife. I always get beautiful clean cuts this way.

No. 3 --> There's more math in baking than just fractions! I actually use a ruler for this recipe to ensure my rolled-out rectangle is large enough and to mark the log at 1 1/2" intervals! 18" divided by 12 rolls = 1 1/2" slices.

No. 4 --> Knock the air bubbles out of your starter before scooping into the measuring cup. We want only starter!

Pulling a cinnamon bun out of the baking dish.

Batch + Storage Information

Batch:

This sourdough cinnamon bun recipe gives 12 good sized buns. It can easily be doubled or more if you live in a house with cinnamon bun monsters like me!

Storage:

Store your cinnamon rolls at room temperature for up to 3 days in an airtight container to avoid smearing the icing. If they are not iced, they can be kept in a ziplock bag.

If you've got too many buns to enjoy in a short time, leave the buns you plan to store un-iced. Allow them to cool to room temperature before wrapping in a layer of plastic wrap and storing in an airtight freezer bag or container for 2-3 months.

As an added bonus, the icing can also be stored in the freezer! I like to put mine in snack-sized ziplock bags, enough for a couple of buns, then lay it flat to remove the air before sealing. Store your icing in the same bag or container as the buns and you'll have both ready next time you've got a hankering for cinnamon buns!

Allow the cinnamon rolls to thaw at room temperature for 1-2 hours before enjoying.

A sourdough cinnamon roll cut in half showing the airy crumb.

More Sourdough Recipes To Try

Variations + Substitutions

  • Add some cardamom! Cardamom + cinnamon = amazing. Just like my cardamom cranberry bread!
  • Add raisins! Soak 1/3 - 1/2 cup raisins in boiling water for 5 or so minutes, then drain and allow to cool slightly before spreading them out on the brown sugar layer.
  • Feeling nutty? Toss a scant 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans in with the brown sugar.
  • Don't have cooking oil handy? Use unsalted butter in the dough.
  • Hate cream cheese icing? Make a simple glaze like Cooking With Karli!

Flavored Sourdough Bread Recipes:

📖 Printable Recipe

Sourdough cinnamon rolls iced and piled on a plate.
Yield: 12

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 5 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes

Sourdough cinnamon rolls are probably the best cinnamon rolls you'll ever make! These easy (though somewhat time-intensive) cinnamon treats are packed with flavor, a delicate texture and a tangy cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, measured using the scoop and level method (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 cup active, fed sourdough starter
  • 3/4 cup warm milk, between 80 - 90 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons neutral cooking oil, I used vegetable

for the filling:

  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened - plus extra for greasing pan
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

for the cream cheese glaze:

  • 1 /2 cup cream cheese, (1/2 8 oz package) softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon instant yeast. Stir together to combine.
  2. Add 1 cup active sourdough starter, 3/4 cups warm milk (80-90f), 1 whole egg, and 4 tablespoons oil and mix with the paddle attachment until completely combined, being cautious to not over-mix.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside to rest for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, uncover the mixing bowl, and with the dough hook, knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until the dough is soft, the dough will still be slightly tacky at this stage. Recover the bowl.
  5. For the next 2 1/2 hours, every 45 minutes or so, perform a stretch and fold on the dough. (see note)
  6. After the final rest, grease a 9 x 13 baking pan and set it aside.
  7. Then turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll the dough into a large rectangle. About 18 x 14 inches.
  8. Brush the surface of the dough with 2-3 tablespoons of softened butter, leaving a 1/2" gap on one long edge to help stick it shut. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of brown sugar on top of the butter in an even layer and pat down. Then sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cinnamon across the top of the brown sugar.
  9. Roll the dough log, from the long side to the edge that has no filling. When you get to the end, pull the raw edge over the roll to seal it shut.
  10. Slice the roll into 1 1/2" rounds and place them into the prepared baking pan leaving a gap between. Cover the baking dish.
  11. See baking instructions below!


Bake today:

  1. Once the buns have roughly doubled in size, (about 1 1/2 - 2 hours) preheat oven to 400f.
  2. Bake the cinnamon rolls in the oven uncovered for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown on top.


Bake tomorrow:

  1. Once the buns have sliced and placed into the baking dish, transfer them to the fridge and store the covered cinnamon rolls in the fridge overnight - up to 16 hours.
  2. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400f and remove the cinnamon rolls from the fridge, place the covered baking dish on the counter and allow them to come to room temperature for 15-20 minutes while preheating the oven.
  3. Bake the cinnamon rolls, uncovered, at 400 f for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.


Make the icing:

  1. While the buns are baking, combine the 1/2 cup of cream cheese and 3/4 cup of powdered sugar (icing sugar) in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until a creamy, smooth, icing forms.
  2. Allow your sourdough cinnamon rolls to cool to room temperature before liberally applying icing.

Notes

Scoop and level: Stir the flour in your container, then using a spoon or another measuring cup scoop the flour into your desired measuring cup, then level off the cup with a spoon handle or the back of a knife.

Batch:

This sourdough cinnamon bun recipe gives 12 good-sized buns. It can easily be doubled or halved.

Storage:

Store your cinnamon rolls at room temperature for up to 3 days in an airtight container to avoid mucking up the icing. If they are not iced, they can be kept in a ziplock bag.

To freeze the cinnamon rolls, allow them to cool to room temperature. Do not frost them. Wrap in each bun in a layer of plastic wrap, then store them in an airtight freezer bag or container. The icing can also be stored in the freezer. Spoon cream cheese frosting into snack-sized ziplock bags then lay it flat to remove the air before sealing. Store the icing in the same bag or container as the buns.

Allow the cinnamon rolls to thaw at room temperature for 1-2 hours before icing and enjoying.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 441Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 386mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 2gSugar: 24gProtein: 7g

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Share Your Thoughts

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Crystal

Friday 21st of April 2023

Does this recipe fit in one baking pan? Making this weekend!

Ally

Friday 21st of April 2023

Yes! All my cinnamon rolls fit in one 9x13 :)

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