I love cinnamon rolls so much that I once baked nine different recipes in a day to find my all-time favorite. I conducted a blind tasting with my friends and family, and together we found a recipe that is so perfect that I’ve hardly strayed from it over the past five years. The rolls have a pillowy, soft doughy texture and a balanced ratio of dough-to-filling-to-icing.
During the cinnamon roll bake-off, there was a recipe (it took second place) that included a surprising ingredient, and as it turns out, it can take any cinnamon roll recipe—even store-bought and frozen rolls—from great to amazing. I’m always open to tweaks that enhance even my favorite recipes, so I’ve been using this easy one-ingredient upgrade whenever I make cinnamon rolls: heavy cream.
Add This for Rich and Gooey Cinnamon Rolls
The idea behind adding heavy cream to cinnamon rolls comes from Tastes of Lizzy T’s. Julie Clark, the blogger behind the website, notes that after years of research, she discovered that the key to getting perfectly gooey rolls is to “pour heavy cream over the cinnamon buns before baking. THIS is the secret ingredient and what makes the rolls rich and gooey.”
Cinnamon rolls rely on sugar and fat in the dough to keep it plush. Adding a little more fat in the form of heavy cream serves two purposes:
- The heavy cream is a hydrating liquid that will soak into the rolls as they bake and create steam, making them just a little softer and preventing them from drying out.
- The heavy cream absorbs the cinnamon, sugar, and butter that leaks from the insides of the rolls as they bake to create a glorious cinnamon sugar syrup for the bottom of your rolls.
How To Use the Heavy Cream To Upgrade Cinnamon Rolls
Start by preparing the cinnamon rolls, either from scratch or from a tube. Once they are assembled in a pan, risen, and ready to bake, heat half a cup of heavy cream (about 3/4 tablespoon per roll) in the microwave or on the stove just until warm to the touch but not hot.
Because yeast is sensitive to temperature and the rolls have likely been rising in a warm or at least room temperature atmosphere, it’s important that the heavy cream is not cold so it doesn’t inhibit the rolls from continuing to rise as they bake. Never ever add heavy cream that is cold straight from the fridge.
Pour the warmed heavy cream evenly over the top of the rolls. Bake following the recipe or instructions on the packaging, and enjoy! You’ll get the most pillowy and delicious cinnamon rolls.
Can You Use Milk Instead?
Yes, but you won’t get the same results. Heavy cream or whipping cream are ideal for this trick. In a pinch, you can use milk, but since milk is lower in fat the rolls won’t be as rich. Whole milk or any higher-fat milk is the best—I’d avoid using skim milk.
A Bonus Tip for the Gooiest Cinnamon Rolls
If you’re willing to put in just a little more effort for the gooiest cinnamon rolls, take a cue from the restaurant chain KYU. After their cinnamon rolls are baked, they pipe additional filling made with creamed butter and cinnamon sugar into the swirls for a cinnamon roll that explodes with filling goodness.
Watch me talk about my favorite cinnamon rolls HERE.