These Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls with cinnamon cream cheese frosting should come wrapped in paper and topped with a bow because they just may be the sweetest part of your Christmas morning.
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Are you a get dressed up or a stay in your pajamas all day type of person for Christmas day?
While I will typically never say no to getting dressed up and going out, Christmas mornings, in my opinion, are MADE for fleece-lined leggings, a fluffy robe, and cozy socks (and a mug of Crockpot Hot Chocolate or Mulled Wine).
I’ll leave the dressing up to the pan of cinnamon rolls I’m serving for Christmas brunch because they’re not your average cinnamon rolls, they’re gingerbread cinnamon rolls with the BEST cinnamon-spiced cream cheese frosting.
They’re festive, sweet, indulgent, and are special enough to be considered a gift on your Christmas breakfast table (although I don’t recommend the aforementioned wrapping paper and bow).
5 Star Review
“They’re excellent! The crumb is soft and chewy and not too sweet. The spices are well balanced.”— Sadie —
How to Make Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls
These soft and tender cinnamon rolls are packed with the rich, warm flavors of your favorite gingerbread cookie. (Love those too? Don’t miss these Chocolate Ginger Molasses Cookies.)
The dough is deeply tinted with molasses, spicy with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and sweetened with brown sugar.
- Flour. I went for a blend of all purpose flour and white whole wheat flour to sneak at least a few health points into this otherwise decadent breakfast treat.
- Ginger. Puts the “ginger” in this gingerbread cinnamon roll recipe.
- Molasses. Lends its iconic robust flavor to the gingerbread-flavored dough.
- Cinnamon + Nutmeg + Cloves. If there was ever a more perfect blend of spices for the holiday it’s news to me because this one has all of my heart.
- Brown Sugar. Brings additional molasses flavor into both the dough and filling.
- Egg. Enriches the dough for moist, tender, and soft cinnamon rolls that melt in your mouth.
- Milk. For enriched doughs, like cinnamon rolls, milk is the preferred liquid over water because it tenderizes and softens the dough.
When baking, always make sure to warm your yeast activation liquid (in this case, milk) to the temperature recommended by the yeast manufacturer. It is usually around 110 degrees F.
- Cream Cheese. Adds a wonderful tang and richness to the cinnamon roll frosting.
- Powdered Sugar. Sweetens and thickens the cream cheese frosting.
You can adjust the amount of powdered sugar in the frosting to suit your tastes. If you like a sweeter frosting, add more. If you want a frosting with more cream cheese tang, use less.
- Vanilla. Enhances both the flavor of the gingerbread cinnamon roll dough and the spiced cream cheese frosting.
- Warm the milk and melt the butter.
- Combine all the dough ingredients, except the all purpose flour, in the bowl of a stand mixer and then pour in the milk and butter.
- Mix on low, then gradually add the all purpose flour until dough begins to form a shaggy ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Knead until smooth and elastic.
You may alternatively knead by hand by turning the dough out onto a floured work surface.
- Let the dough rise.
- Meanwhile, stir together the filling ingredients.
- Roll the dough out into a rectangle. Then, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with the prepared filling.
- Roll up the dough the slice into 12 segments.
Did you know you can use dental floss to slice cinnamon roll dough? Simply take a piece of floss, slide it under the dough, wrap it around the top, and pull tightly in opposite directions to pull the floss through the roll.
Make sure to use PLAIN, not mint-flavored dental floss, or it may make your rolls taste like mint.
- Arrange sliced rolls in a pan and let rise again.
- Bake cinnamon rolls at 350 degrees F for 25 to 35 minutes, until golden.
These gingerbread cinnamon rolls are done baking when they reach an internal temperature of 185 degrees F.
- Mix up the frosting and drizzle over the rolls. ENJOY!
- To Store. Baked gingerbread cinnamon rolls may be stored, covered in an airtight container, for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
- To Freeze. Baked gingerbread cinnamon rolls may be stored in a freezer for up to 3 months. For best results, store unfrosted and wrapped tightly in plastic with an outer layer of foil. Defrost overnight in the fridge before reheating and then topping with frosting.
- To Reheat. Warm cinnamon rolls in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F until heated through. Alternatively, you may also heat individual rolls in the microwave for a few seconds until warm.
These rolls are perfect to make ahead and let rise overnight in the refrigerator.
- Once the rolls are shaped, arrange them in the pan, cover with plastic wrap, then let rise in the refrigerator overnight.
- The next morning, set the pan out at room temperature for a half-hour, then bake as directed.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Stand Mixer. A 7-quart mixer is a must if you’re a regular baker in the kitchen.
- 9×13 Pan. This one will look beautiful on your holiday table.
- Rolling Pin. For rolling out the dough perfectly even.
Now all that remains is to eat these fabulous, fluffy, gingerbread cookie-flavored rolls warm from the oven.
I think I’ll munch mine in fleece leggings and a faux fir vest.
Cozy, cozy, all the way.
Frequently Asked Questions
Halving yeast dough can actually get tricky, so to be honest, I’d recommend making the full amount. You can always leave half unfrosted, freeze the leftovers, and enjoy later!
I’ve only tested the recipe as written, so using a bread machine would be an experiment. If you decide to play around with it, I’d love to hear how it goes!
Several factors can impact the rise of your cinnamon rolls including the age of your yeast, temperature, and humidity. Always check the expiration date of your yeast and make sure to activate it with liquid warmed to the temperature recommended by the yeast’s manufacturer. Finally, if your kitchen is too cold it can cause your dough to rise more slowly. Overproofing can also cause cinnamon rolls to lose some of their fluffiness in the oven once baked.
Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour or substitute all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast 1 standard envelope yeast
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups all purpose flour
- Pour milk into a large glass measuring cup. Add butter and microwave on high, until the mixture is warmed to the temperature directed by the yeast manufacturer (usually between 110 to 125 degrees F). Start with 30 seconds, then microwave in 10-second intervals, until the desired temperature is reached. The butter may not melt completely and the milk should feel warm but not hot.
- Place the white whole wheat flour, brown sugar, egg, molasses, vanilla, yeast, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Pour in the heated milk and butter. Beat on low speed for 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour. Beat on low speed, until the flour is absorbed and the dough is no longer sticky, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. If the dough is extremely sticky, add the remaining 1/2 cup flour one tablespoon at a time, combining after each, just until the dough begins to form a shaggy ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It should still feel fairly tacky but not sticky.
- If using a stand mixer, fit the mixer with a dough hook and knead on medium-low for 6 minutes, until smooth and elastic. If kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Add a little flour, one tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too sticky and clings readily to your hands.
- Lightly oil a large, clean bowl with cooking spray. Form dough into a ball and place it in the bowl, turning once to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. Stir together brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Set aside. Line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray.
- Once the dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12×20-inch rectangle. Brush all over with 3 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle all of the sugar and spice filling over the top.
- Starting at one of the short edges, roll the dough into a tight log, then tightly pinch the seam to seal. Gently stretch and pat the dough log as needed so that it is roughly even in diameter and 18 inches in length. With a serrated knife, gently saw the log into 12 segments (each segment will be 1 1/2 inches wide).
- Arrange the rolls in the prepared pan, cut sides up. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes. Alternatively, you can place the rolls in the refrigerator and let them rise overnight. Let the rolls come to room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
- Place rack in center of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Bake the rolls until golden and the internal temperature reaches 185 degrees F, about 25 to 35 minutes. Check the rolls at the 20-minute mark. If browning too quickly, gently tent with foil and continue baking.
- For the frosting, beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth in a medium bowl. Add 3 tablespoons milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves. Add a little additional milk as needed to reach the desired consistency. Frost the rolls and serve warm.
- TO STORE: Baked gingerbread cinnamon rolls may be stored, covered in an airtight container, for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
- TO FREEZE: Baked gingerbread cinnamon rolls may be stored in a freezer for up to 3 months. For best results, store unfrosted and wrapped tightly in plastic with an outer layer of foil. Defrost overnight in the fridge before reheating and then topping with frosting.
- TO REHEAT: Warm cinnamon rolls in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F until heated through. Alternatively, you may also heat individual rolls in the microwave for a few seconds until warm.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: These rolls are perfect to make ahead and let rise overnight in the refrigerator. Once the rolls are shaped, arrange them in the pan, cover with plastic wrap, then let rise in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, set the pan out at room temperature for 30 minutes, then bake as directed.
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