Breakfast & Brunch/ Desserts & Treats

Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

December 7, 2023

Ring in the holiday season with homemade Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls! Molasses-infused fluffy cinnamon rolls are filled with sugar and an array of warm, cozy spices then topped with a luscious cream cheese frosting. This sweet treat is perfect for Christmas mornings and dessert time!

gingerbread cinnamon rolls with icing.

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Ring in the holiday season with homemade Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls! Molasses-infused fluffy cinnamon rolls are filled with sugar and an array of warm, cozy spices then topped with a luscious cream cheese frosting. This sweet treat is perfect for Christmas mornings and dessert time!

If you love soft, sticky, sweet cinnamon rolls then you have to learn how to make soft cinnamon rolls with this classic Cinnamon Roll recipe.

gingerbread cinnamon rolls in blue dish with icing.

Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

One of the best parts of Christmas morning is the aroma of freshly baked cinnamon rolls. Unwrap gifts with family while indulging in decadent gingerbread cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting.

The doughy rolls are infused with deep molasses flavour and the icing is sticky sweet and irresistable. You’ll be licking your fingers when it’s long gone!

Here’s Why You’ll Love this Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

  • Perfect Holiday Treat: Gingerbread is a holiday flavour full of warm spices and sweet molasses. It’s rich, comforting, and gets better with each bite. You can grab them and indulge all day long. It’s a delicious winter dessert.
  • Easy to Make: What I love about cinnamon rolls is how easy it is to make with simple ingredients. The list of must-haves is mostly pantry staples. No fancy equipment (like a bread machine) required!
  • Great Make Ahead Recipe: They are easy to make ahead so Christmas day, all you have to do is bake, frost and serve.

What is Gingerbread?

Gingerbread is a flavour that is used when making various foods including cakes, lattes, cookies, bread and cinnamon rolls. It is characterized by a combination of flavours including ginger, molasses, and spices like cloves and nutmeg. It is associated with the holidays, with the most popular form being gingerbread houses.

baked gingerbread rolls.

What does Gingerbread Taste Like?

The inclusion of molasses gives gingerbread its characteristic deep colour and rich, sweet taste, while the spices like ginger, cinnamon and cloves contribute to its warm and aromatic flavour.

What are Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls?

Gingerbread cinnamon rolls are a delicious variation of traditional cinnamon rolls. The warm and spicy flavours of gingerbread are incorporated into the cinnamon roll filling with a medley of spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.

What’s the difference between Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls and Traditional Cinnamon Rolls?

Traditional cinnamon rolls are made with a brown sugar and cinnamon filling. But gingerbread cinnamon rolls are made with a number of spices to capture the festive essence of warm gingerbread, a classic holiday flavour that’s popular from Thanksgiving through New Year’s.

soft gingerbread cinnamon rolls.

What’s Needed to Make This Recipe (Kitchen Tools and Equipment)

  • Mixing Bowls: Use these to combine ingredients at various points throughout the recipe.
  • Whisk: Use to combine ingredients.
  • Large baking dish: This contains the cinnamon rolls as they bake.
  • Spatula, wooden spoon OR stand mixer: Use to combine dry ingredients.
  • Kitchen towel: Use this to cover the rolls as they rise.

Ingredients and Ingredient Notes

Dough

  • Warm Milk: Use whole milk or 2% milk heated to around 110℉ (45°C). You want it warm but not too hot. Yeast thrives in warm water. Milk softens the dough.
  • Salted Butter: Use melted butter.
  • Granulated White Sugar:
  • Active Dry Yeast: Use one standard packet of active dry yeast or instant yeast (aka quick-rise).
  • All-Purpose Flour: spooned and levelled, plus more for dusting
  • Molasses: This is essential to gingerbread flavour. Molasses has a rich, robust, and sweet flavor with a distinct earthy and slightly bitter undertone. Stick to mild molasses and avoid the blackstrap variety because its very strong.
  • Salt: This slows down the growth of yeast so it rises at an even rate. It also contributes to the taste of the pillowy soft dough.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract: This imparts the dough with a warm and sweet flavour.
  • Egg: Whisk room temperature eggs.

Filling

  • Unsalted Butter: softened to room temperature
  • Brown Sugar: This complements the molasses flavour of the dough.
  • Spices: Make a quick gingerbread spice using ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground allspice and ground cloves.

Cream Cheese Icing

  • Full-Fat Block Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese: Softened to room temperature.
  • Salted Butter: Softened to room temperature
  • Confectioners’ Sugar: Powdered sugar thickens and sweetens the frosting, for a luscious cream cheese icing.
  • Milk: This enriches the icing.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract: For vanilla flavour.

How to Make Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

Bloom Yeast & Make Dough

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together warm milk, melted butter, granulated white sugar, active dry yeast and set aside for 10 minutes, or until foamy, bubbly and expanding. Whisk egg in a small bowl, then add to yeast mixture. Add in the vanilla extract and gently whisk once again until ingredients combined.
  2. Gradually stir in the flour and salt with a large spatula or wooden spoon OR use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed and mix until a soft dough forms. Then, transfer to a well floured surface and use your hands to knead the dough for around the 4-5 minutes or until the dough forms into a smooth elastic round ball (if the dough is super soft or sticky, add a little more flour.)
  3. Lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil and transfer the ball of dough to the bowl, turning once to coat in the oil. Cover with a plastic wrap or dish towel and allow dough to rise for 1 hour to 1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size.

Make Gingerbread Spice Mix

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and set aside.

Roll out Dough, Cut & Bake

  1. After dough has doubled in size, punch out air and transfer onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough into a 19-inch x 13–inch rectangle, brush with softened butter, then use your hands to sprinkle the gingerbread spice mixture over the buttered dough.
  2. Begin to tightly roll the dough in a log shape. When at the end, gently pinch the seam down to seal. Trim ends for even slices. Using unflavoured dental floss or a serrated knife, cut dough into 12 to 15 slices. Thickness depends on your preference.
  3. Arrange the rolls in a lightly greased large baking dish. Cover with the damp warm towel and allow to rise for another 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C), while rolls rise. Then remove towel, place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until just slightly golden brown on top and along the edges. You want the centers to remain just a little under baked. Cool slightly before glazing.

Make Cream Cheese Glaze

In a medium mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese then add in confectioner sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Beat until well combined and lump-free. Pour over cinnamon rolls and serve while warm.

Recipe Substitutions and Tips

  • Molasses: I like molasses-infused dough but some gingerbread cinnamon roll recipes add molasses to the dough filling or icing instead.
  • Flavour: If I haven’t convinced you to give gingerbread a try, you can always omit the molasses and additional spices to make classic cinnamon rolls. You can also add pumpkin spice instead to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls.
  • No Cream Cheese: Don’t like the tangy taste of cream cheese? Omit it for a simple vanilla frosting.

Serving Suggestions and Tips

Although I have been guilty of gobbling these up on an empty stomach, gingerbread cinnamon rolls are the perfect companion to a well-balanced breakfast. Serve it up with bacon, eggs and fruit or a classic Jamaican breakfast like Ackee and Saltfish.

Alternatively, enjoy it as a dessert with hot cocoa like Christmas Peppermint White Hot Chocolate or Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. It works with Caribbean Chocolate Tea (Cocoa Tea) too!

Of course, you can always enjoy it as a snack throughout the day.

Recipe Notes and Tips for Success

  • Use room temperature ingredients for easier mixing.
  • Whichever yeast you choose, ensure it’s not expired.
  • Use plain dental floss and not mint flavoured. That residue will get on your rolls and throw off the flavour.
cream cheese icing whipped in bowl.

Can I Make Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls Ahead of Time?

Absolutely! To make overnight gingerbread cinnamon rolls, prepare the dough, roll it out, slice them into 12-15 rolls, add them to a baking dish and then cover it with plastic wrap. Place them in the refrigerator overnight and then you can pop them in the oven the next morning.

Storage Instructions

Store leftover gingerbread cinnamon rolls in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze cinnamon rolls for up to 3 months.

Reheating Instructions

Thaw frozen cinnamon rolls overnight in the fridge. For the best results, reheat gingerbread cinnamon rolls in the oven at 350°F until warmed through (about 5-7 minutes). You can also heat them up individually in the microwave in 30-second intervals.

gingerbread cinnamon rolls with icing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why didn’t my cinnamon rolls rise?

If your rolls don’t rise, your yeast may be expired. Always check the expiration date on the packet and activate it with warm liquid (not cold or hot).

Why put heavy cream in the bottom of cinnamon rolls?

Some cinnamon roll recipes add heavy cream to the pan just before baking to add moisture to the rolls. It’s an optional step.

What’s the difference between a sticky bun and a cinnamon roll?

While both are sweet baked goods made with similar flavour profiles, there are some key differences. Sticky buns have a gooey caramelized topping, often with nuts. Cinnamon rolls, on the other hand, usually have a cinnamon-sugar filling and are commonly finished with frosting.

Which is better for cinnamon rolls white or brown sugar?

Both types of sugar are essential. You can use white sugar to activate the yeast when making the dough. Add brown sugar to the filling for a rich, caramel-like flavour.

Interested in more Dessert Recipes? Check These Out!

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gingerbread cinnamon rolls with icing.

Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

Taneisha Morris
Ring in the holiday season with homemade Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls! Molasses-infused fluffy cinnamon rolls are filled with sugar and an array of warm, cozy spices then topped with a luscious cream cheese frosting. This sweet treat is perfect for Christmas mornings and dessert time!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Course Breakfast & Brunch, Christmas, Desserts & Treats
Servings 12 servings
Calories 412 kcal

Equipment

  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Whisk
  • Large baking dish
  • Spatula, wooden spoon OR stand mixer
  • Kitchen towel

Ingredients
  

Dough

  • 1 cup Warm Milk whole milk or 2% , around 110℉ (45°C)
  • 1/3 cup Salted Butter melted
  • 1/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast or instant (quick-rise) yeast, one standard packet
  • 3 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour spooned and levelled, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 cup Molasses
  • 2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Egg at room temperature, whisked
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 3-4 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Allspice
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Cloves

Filling

  • 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar loosely packed
  • 2 tbsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 3 tsp Ground Ginger

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 1/4 cup Full-Fat Block Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Salted Butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup Confectioners' Sugar icing/powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp Milk
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

Instructions
 

Step 1: Bloom Yeast & Make Dough

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together warm milk, melted butter, brown sugar, active dry yeast and set aside for 10 minutes, or until foamy, bubbly and expanding. Whisk egg in a small bowl, then add to yeast mixture. Add in the molasses,and vanilla extract and gently whisk once again until ingredients combined.
  • Gradually stir in the flour and salt with a large spatula or wooden spoon OR use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed and mix until a soft dough forms. Then, transfer to a well floured surface and use your hands to knead the dough for around the 4-5 minutes or until the dough forms into a smooth elastic round ball (if the dough is super soft or sticky, add a little more flour.)
  • Lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil and transfer the ball of dough to the bowl, turning once to coat in the oil. Cover with a plastic wrap or dish towel and allow dough to rise for 1 hour to 1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size in a warm area.

Make Gingerbread Spice Mix

  • In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and set aside.

Roll out Dough, Cut & Bake

  • After dough has doubled in size, punch out air and transfer onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough into a 19-inch x 13–inch rectangle, brush with softened butter, then use your hands to sprinkle the gingerbread spice mixture over the buttered dough.
  • Begin to tightly roll the dough in a log shape. When at the end, gently pinch the seam down to seal. Trim ends for even slices. Using unflavoured dental floss or a serrated knife, cut dough into 12 to 15 slices. Thickness depends on your preference.
  • Arrange the rolls in a lightly greased large baking dish. Cover with the damp warm towel and allow to rise for another 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C), while rolls rise. Then remove towel, place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until just slightly golden brown on top and along the edges. You want to centers to remain just a little under baked. Cool slightly before glazing.

Make Cream Cheese Glaze

  • In a medium mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese then add in confectioners sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Beat until well combined and lump free. Pour over cinnamon rolls and serve while warm.

Recipe Notes

How to Slice Rolls – Use unflavoured dental floss to cut your rolls. This is the best and neatest way to slice your rolls without tearing, pulling or smooshing your dough.
see detailed notes above for additional tips.

Nutrition

Calories: 412kcalCarbohydrates: 70gProtein: 4gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 181mgPotassium: 209mgFiber: 2gSugar: 39gVitamin A: 403IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 64mgIron: 3mg

Note, the nutritional information is calculated using a nutrition facts calculator. It is a rough estimate and can vary based on products used.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Leave a star rating and a comment below! You can also tag @theseasoned.skillet and use #theseasonedskillet on Instagram!
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