The Easiest Way to Make Cinnamon Rolls If You Suck at Baking

The Easiest Way to Make Cinnamon Rolls If You Suck at Baking

Cinnamon buns are one of those desserts where there’s not much of an intermediate level. Either you enjoy making a brioche-like dough from scratch and spend hours nurturing it, or you slap a can of Pillsbury onto the cashier conveyor belt and crack open the tube at home. If you’ve ever wanted homemade cinnamon rolls but aren’t much of a bread maker, this is the hack for you. Pick up a bag of pre-made pizza dough, a small carton of heavy cream, and get rollin’.

I’m not about to tell you that pizza dough and enriched doughs are the same thing, they’re definitely different. Lean doughs, like pizza dough, are made with higher gluten flours to make them chewier, and are usually enlisted for savoury dishes. Enriched doughs, like brioche, use a lower percentage of gluten, and higher ratio of fats and sugars, yielding a softer bread. Pizza dough has very little fat in it, and won’t result in a passable cinnamon roll all on its own. Since we can’t mix fat directly into the pre-made dough, we have to bury it in fat so the dough can absorb some of it from the outside and stay hydrated. That’s where the heavy cream comes in.

Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann
Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

You may already be aware of the Cinnabon TikTok “hack” that, as I formerly griped, is rather redundant in the prescribed application. However, it did get me thinking there could be a better use for the same idea. This is it. Once you’ve filled the pizza dough with a buttery, sugary, cinnamon spread, finished rolling, slicing, and arranging it in a casserole dish, you should coat the rolls generously in heavy cream. The butter from the filling and the heavy cream surrounding the buns will absorb into the dough slightly but, more importantly, the sweet filling and the cream will combine to make a flavorful ooze that protects the bread from direct heat, letting it maintain a soft texture instead of becoming chewy. If you’ve ever watched the Great British Baking Show, you can think of this as a self-saucing dessert.

Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann
Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

When they’re finished, simply flip the rolls out of the baking dish upside down onto a plate, and let the sauce run down the sides like you would for a sticky bun. If you’re an icing-type, you can certainly swipe a cream cheese icing or simple powdered sugar glaze over the top. The result is a tasty, gooey, intermediate level, semi-scratch made cinnamon bun that you didn’t have to knead or proof for five hours.

Normally I’d say, “Bake until the top begins to brown slightly,” but in this case you don’t want the buns to take on much colour on top. Since it’s a lean bread, a lot of browning will mean a lot of crunching, so after 30 minutes, give the centre rolls a gentle prod. If they’re sturdy, and the sauce is bubbling, then they’re ready to come out.

Pizza dough cinnamon rolls


  • 16 ounces store-bought pizza dough
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Optional ¼ cup finely chopped pecans
  • ½ cup heavy cream, room temperature


  1. Thoroughly butter a 7 x 11-inch (18 x 28 cm) casserole dish or a 9-inch (22 cm) cake pan. (You can add a strip of parchment paper for extra insurance.)
  2. Roll out the fridge-temperature pizza dough into a roughly 15-inch (38 inch) by 9-inch rectangle. The rectangle I rolled out was somewhere in between a 1/4 and 1/3 (0.5 – 0.8 cm) of an inch thick. Let it rest while you make the filling.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt together until smooth. Roll the dough rectangle back into shape if it sprang back at all. Spread the cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a half-inch empty space on the far, longer side. If using, sprinkle the pecans over the filling. Roll the dough away from you, starting on the long side closest to your body. Leave the roll seam-side down.
  4. Using a piece of floss (or a knife, if you prefer), cut the log into 12 even pieces. Place the rolls next to each other, swirl-end up in the baking dish. They’ll have a little space in between to grow. Using a pastry brush, coat the top and sides of each bun with heavy cream. Drizzle any remaining cream into the pan so the bottom of the dish has a layer of cream. Cover with a plastic bag and let it proof in a warm area for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 175°C.
  5. Uncover the rolls and bake them at 175°C for 30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the centre roll is firm when pressed. Cool the cinnamon buns for 5 minutes, run a knife around the edges to free them, and flip the buns out onto a plate or cutting board. Enjoy as-is, with a drizzle of cream cheese icing or a simple powdered sugar glaze. These buns keep in the fridge, covered, for about four days. Revive them with a 10-15 second stint in the microwave.

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


Leave a Reply