Impossibly Soft Cinnamon Raisin Rolls

These super squishy, soft Cinnamon Raisin Rolls have a gooey brown sugar filling, juicy raisins, warm spices and a delicious cream cheese icing. A secret trick keeps them fluffy and tender, and prevents them from ever turning out dry!

Cinnamon buns with orange and dried fruit.


These unbelievably soft cinnamon rolls have the tastiest cinnamon sugar filling, that’s plump with juicy dried fruit (like raisins, chopped prunes, or dried cranberries).

With an optional whiff of orange in and warm spices in the dough, they’re perfect for Christmas morning (but also delicious any other time of year).

Generously slather on that cream cheese glaze if you know how to live.

You’ll going to be obsessed with my SECRET TRICK for maximum softness:

  • Pour some extra milk into the bottom of the pan after you place the rolls in.
  • The milk adds moisture, helping to steam the rolls as they bake. The dough absorbs the extra milk, and you’re left with the most pillowy-soft cinnamon buns of your life.

Have you ever tried this hack?

Cutting into a soft cinnamon raisin roll with a fork.

Here’s What You Need for this Cinnamon Raisin Rolls Recipe

Gather your ingredients, get ready for some variations, and make sure you have the right tools for deliciously-spiced orange cinnamon rolls with raisins.

Rolling out cinnamon roll dough.

Impossibly Soft Cinnamon Raisin Rolls Ingredients

Each ingredient plays a vital role in creating these delicious rolls:

For the Dough:

  • All-Purpose Flour: Builds the structure of the rolls.
  • Granulated Sugar: Adds sweetness and aids in yeast fermentation.
  • Instant Yeast: The leavening agent that makes the rolls rise.
  • Kosher Salt: Enhances flavor and regulates yeast activity.
  • Ground Cloves: Adds a warm, holiday spice flavor.
  • Warm Milk: Activates yeast and adds moisture.
  • Unsalted Butter: Adds richness and tender texture.
  • Eggs: Provide structure and richness.
  • Orange Zest: Gives a fresh, citrusy note. Optional, but I love it.
Sprinkling on the brown sugar cinnamon roll filling.

For the Filling:

  • Brown Sugar: Adds a deep, caramel-like sweetness.
  • Ground Cinnamon: The key spice for classic cinnamon roll flavor.
  • Softened Butter: Helps the sugar and cinnamon adhere to the dough.
  • Raisins: Add natural sweetness and texture. I’ll often swap in chopped prunes, which act like extra-moist and juicy raisins in baking.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • Cream Cheese: Creates a rich, tangy base for the frosting.
  • Butter: Adds creaminess and flavor.
  • Powdered Sugar: Sweetens and smooths the frosting.
  • Vanilla Extract: Provides flavor depth.
  • Salt: Balances the sweetness.
Cream Cheese cubes.

Variations and Substitutions

Customize these cinnamon rolls to suit your taste:

  • Different Fruits: Swap raisins with chopped prunes, dried cranberries, or chopped apples.
  • Spice It Up: Add nutmeg or ginger for extra spice.
  • Nutty Twist: Include toasted, chopped pecans or walnuts in the filling.
Baked cinnamon raisin rolls.

Grab these Tools

Make sure you have these tools for smooth baking:

  • Large Mixing Bowl: For preparing the dough. I use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, but you can also knead by hand.
  • Rolling Pin: Essential for rolling out the dough.
  • Baking Pan: A 9×13-inch pan works best.
  • Knife or Dough Cutter: To cut the rolls.
  • Plastic Wrap: For covering the dough during rising.
  • Oven: Necessary for baking the rolls.
  • Mixing Bowl for Frosting: To whip up the cream cheese frosting.

How to Make This Soft Raisin Cinnamon Roll Recipe: An Easy Guide

Creating these impossibly soft warmly-spiced cinnamon rolls is so fun and satisfying. Let me walk you through how to make the best cinnamon rolls:

Preparing the Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • Mix Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, instant yeast, salt, and ground cloves.
  • Combine Wet Ingredients: In a separate bowl, mix warm milk, melted butter, eggs, and orange zest.
  • Combine Wet and Dry: Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Knead until smooth and elastic. Remember, the dough will be sticky.
  • First Rise: Place the dough in a bowl greased with vegetable oil, cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, and let it rest in a warm place for about 30-45 minutes.
Spreading butter on cinnamon roll dough.

Making the Cinnamon Sugar Filling

  • Mix Filling Ingredients: In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
Sprinkling raising on cinnamon roll dough.

Assembling the Rolls

  • Roll the Dough: On a lightly-floured surface, roll the dough into a 12×16-inch rectangle.
  • Apply Filling: Spread softened butter over the dough. Then, sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture and chopped raisins.
  • Roll and Slice: Roll the dough tightly from the long edge. Cut into 8 even slices. This recipe makes big, soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls. You can cut 16-18 for small rolls.
  • Second Rise: Place the slices in a baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rise for about 2 hours.
Slicing the cinnamon roll dough into slices.

Baking the Rolls

  • Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • SECRET TRICK FOR MAX SOFTNESS: Pour some milk into the bottom of the pan after you place the rolls in. This adds moisture, keeping the buns soft and squishy as they bake. The dough slurps up the extra milk, and you’re left with the most pillowy-soft cinnamon buns of your life.
  • Bake: Bake for 30-40 minutes. Cover with foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning.
Cinnamon rolls in baking pan.

Preparing the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Mix Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients: Beat together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. When spread on warm cinnamon buns, it melts a little and becomes more of a cream cheese glaze.
Creaming butter.

Finishing Touches

  • Cool and Frost: Let the rolls cool slightly before spreading the frosting on top.

Follow these simple steps, and you’ll have a batch of wonderfully aromatic and irresistibly soft cinnamon rolls, perfect for a holiday treat.

Make Ahead and Storage

Planning ahead and properly storing your Cinnamon Raisin Rolls will ensure they stay delicious for every occasion.

  • Prep Dough Ahead: You can prepare the dough the night before and let it rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Freeze After Shaping: After cutting the rolls and placing them in the pan, you can freeze them for later use. Just thaw and let them rise before baking.
  • Refrigerating Baked Rolls: Store baked and frosted rolls in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Freezing Baked Rolls: You can also store the baked rolls in the freezer for up to a month. Thaw and reheat in the oven or microwave.
  • Reheating: Warm them in the oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes or microwave for a few seconds to restore their fresh-baked warmth and texture.
Pulling out a cinnamon raisin roll with cream cheese frosting.

How to Make the Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls: Final Notes + Secrets

Unlock the full potential of your Cinnamon Raisin Rolls with these key takeaways:

  • Dough Hydration: Resist the urge to add more flour. A slightly sticky cinnamon roll dough leads to softer, more tender rolls.
  • Slow Rise Option: For more flavor development, let the dough rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight. Let them come to room temperature before baking.
  • Even Rolling: Ensure the dough is evenly rolled out for uniform cinnamon rolls.
  • Tight Rolling: Roll the dough tightly when forming the rolls to keep the filling in place and ensure even baking.
  • Don’t Overbake: Bake just until they are golden brown. I like to pull out my meat thermeter and check for an internal temperature of 190ºF. Overbaking can dry out the rolls.
  • Frosting Temperature: Spread the frosting while the rolls are still warm for a delightful melt-in texture, or wait until cooled for icing swoops that stay put.

This recipe makes big, fluffy cinnamon raisin rolls that you’re going to LOVE. I can’t wait to hear what you think of them!

Unrolling a cinnamon raisin roll.

FAQs about Cinnamon Raisin Rolls

Just skimming through? Here are some quick answers to the commonly-asked questions about Cinnamon Raisin Rolls.

What is the difference between cinnamon buns and cinnamon rolls?
The difference between cinnamon buns and cinnamon rolls often lies in the frosting. Typically, cinnamon rolls are topped with a cream cheese frosting, while cinnamon buns might have a lighter glaze or no frosting at all.

What does adding milk to cinnamon rolls do?
Adding milk to cinnamon rolls enriches the dough, giving it a softer texture and a richer flavor compared to using water.

Where did cinnamon and raisin rolls come from?
Cinnamon and raisin rolls, like many sweet, yeast-leavened breads, have origins in Northern Europe and have evolved in various forms across different cultures.

What’s the difference between a cinnamon roll and a morning bun?
A morning bun is typically flakier and often made with a croissant-like pastry dough, whereas a cinnamon roll is a softer, yeast-leavened bread.

What is another name for a cinnamon bun?
Cinnamon buns are also commonly referred to as cinnamon swirls or cinnamon snails in some parts of the world.

Why are my cinnamon rolls not light and fluffy?
Cinnamon rolls may not turn out light and fluffy if the dough is overworked, the yeast is inactive, or if they are overbaked.

Can I use a different type of yeast for this recipe?
Yes, you can use active dry yeast instead of instant yeast; just be sure to activate it in warm water first.

How do I know when the rolls are done baking?
Cinnamon Raisin Rolls are done when they’re golden brown on top and reach an internal temperature of around 190°F.

Can I make these rolls without raisins?
Absolutely, you can omit the raisins or substitute them with another dried fruit like chopped dates or dried cranberries.

Is it necessary to use unsalted butter?
Using unsalted butter allows you to control the salt content in your rolls, but salted butter can be used in a pinch—just reduce the added salt.

Other Christmas Recipes You’ll Love

If you’re looking for holiday vibes, start with these scrumptious collections of Italian Christmas Dessert recipes and decadent Chocolate Christmas Desserts.

For other Christmas breakfast recipes, check out my Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole and Gingerbread Christmas Pancakes (they’re so soft and delicious).

Cinnamon raisin rolls with cream cheese frosting.

Impossibly Soft Cinnamon Raisin Rolls (So Squishy!)

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 8
Breakfast
American
Keyword Cinnamon Raisin Buns, Cinnamon Raisin Rolls, cream cheese frosting

Ingredients
 
 

For Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup warm milk 110°F – 120ºF
  • ½ cup unsalted butter melted
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp orange zest

For the Filling:

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup raisins

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 oz cream cheese softened
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt

Additional:

  • ¼ cup milk for baking pan

Instructions
 

To Make the Dough:

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, instant yeast, salt and cloves.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the warm milk, melted butter, eggs and orange zest.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and start kneading. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 7-10 minutes by hand (or 3-4 minutes on medium-low speed of a stand mixer). The dough will look sticky; don’t add more flour. It will absorb the liquid as it rests. This is key to moist, tender cinnamon rolls.
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place for about 30-45 minutes to rest and hydrate.

To Make the Filling:

  • In a bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon.

To Assemble:

  • Roll the dough out into a 12×16-inch rectangle on a floured surface.
  • Spread the softened butter over the rolled out dough, and then sprinkle the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture evenly on top. Sprinkle the raisins evenly overtop.
  • Roll the dough tightly, starting from the long edge, and cut into 8 even slices.
  • Cover the slices with plastic wrap and let them rise again for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size (see overnight option in notes).

To Bake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Just before baking, pour the 1/4 cup of milk into the bottom of a greased 9×13-inch baking pan. Place the risen rolls in the pan.
  • Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 30-40 minutes. Cover with foil or parchment after 20 minutes to prevent them getting too dark. Bake until golden brown and they 190ºF internal temperature around the outer parts of the buns (the middle of the pan will continue baking with carryover cooking).

To Make the Frosting:

  • In a bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until smooth.

To Serve:

  • Allow the rolls to cool slightly before spreading the frosting on top.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 891kcalCarbohydrates: 133gProtein: 13gFat: 39gSaturated Fat: 22gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 137mgSodium: 530mgPotassium: 335mgFiber: 11gSugar: 67gVitamin A: 1222IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 178mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Cinnamon Raisin Buns, Cinnamon Raisin Rolls, cream cheese frosting

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Last Updated on December 11, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

5 1 vote
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Anna
Anna
5 days ago

5 stars
I’ve never made cinnamon rolls before, but this recipe was easy to follow. Loved them!

Jessy
Jessy
5 days ago

5 stars
What is the secret trick to keeping the rolls soft? I always struggle with them drying out.

Brenda
Brenda
5 days ago

5 stars
I’m a huge fan of cinnamon raisin bread, so I can’t wait to try making these rolls! 

Mitch
Mitch
5 days ago

5 stars
This recipe mentions using orange zest. Can I substitute it with another citrus, like lemon or lime?

Diane
Diane
5 days ago

5 stars
These cinnamon rolls were heavenly!

Judy Mobley
Judy Mobley
2 months ago

1 star
This recipe prints out blank pages.

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