Make these cinnamon rolls dubbed King Arthur Baking’s Recipe of the Year (2024)

2020 was filled with baking and comfort food. Now, as home cooks kick off 2021, a tried-and-true, sweet and easy-to-make confection has been hailed the top recipe for the new year.

King Arthur Baking Company unveiled these perfectly pillowy cinnamon rolls as the recipe of the year and shared the full details on how to make them with "Good Morning America."

The test kitchen team told "GMA" it specifically created this sweet treat "to ensure it checks all the boxes of a 5-star Recipe of the Year: easy to find ingredients, fun to make, looks beautiful and, of course, incredibly delicious."

"After a year that’s felt tough and dreary, something sweet and comforting like cinnamon rolls seemed to be in order. These rolls are super tender and soft; if baked goods give hugs, these definitely would give you a squeeze," a spokesperson for King Arthur Baking said. "Cinnamon rolls are enough of a project to make you feel proud of the final results without requiring a full day of attention."

Perfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Rolls

Prep: 30 mins

Bake: 15 to 18 mins

Total: 2 hrs 50 mins

Yield: 8 large rolls



1/2 cup (113g) whole milk

3 tablespoons (23g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour


2/3 cup (151g) whole milk, cold

2 1/2 cups (300g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour

1 teaspoon (6g) salt

2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar

2 teaspoons instant yeast

4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, softened


1 tablespoon (14g) butter, melted

1/2 cup (107g) light brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons (15g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour

3 to 4 teaspoons (8g to 10g) cinnamon*

1/16 teaspoon (pinch) salt

*Use the lesser amount for stronger cinnamons, like Vietnamese (Saigon); the larger amount for milder cinnamons, like Indonesian/Ceylon.


3 tablespoons (42g) butter, melted, divided

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/16 teaspoon (pinch) salt

1 1/2 cups (170g) confectioners' sugar, sifted

1 to 2 tablespoons (14g to 28g) milk, cream or buttermilk; enough to thin to desired consistency


To make the tangzhong:

Combine both the ingredients in a small saucepan, and whisk until no lumps remain.
Tangzhong is a yeast bread technique popularized across Asia by Chinese cookbook author Yvonne Chen that involves cooking some of a bread recipe’s flour in liquid prior to adding it to the remaining dough ingredients to help make it softer.

Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook the mixture, stirring regularly, until thickened and paste-like and the spoon or spatula leaves lines on the bottom of the pan. This should take 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the strength of your burner.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl, the bowl of a stand mixer or the bucket of a bread machine (whatever you plan to knead the dough in).

To make the dough:

Add the ingredients to the mixing bowl in the order listed; the heat from the tangzhong will help to warm the cold milk.

Mix -- by hand, on low speed of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment or in a bread machine set to the dough cycle -- to bring the dough together. Next, knead the dough until it’s smooth, elastic and tacky. This will take up to 15 minutes by hand, 10 to 12 minutes on medium-low speed of a mixer or the length of the dough cycle in a bread machine.

Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a reusable cover.

Let the dough rise until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 60 to 90 minutes (depending on the warmth of your kitchen).

To make the filling:

While the dough is rising, put the melted butter into a medium bowl and add the remaining ingredients, stirring until the mixture is the texture of damp sand. Set aside.

Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper.

To assemble the rolls:

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and press it into a 10 x 12-inch rectangle that’s about 1/2-inch thick. For evenly shaped rolls, try to pat the dough into an actual rectangle (with corners), rather than an oval.

Sprinkle the filling over the dough, covering all but a 1/2-inch strip along one long side.

Starting with the filling-covered long side, roll the dough into a log.

Score the dough lightly into eight equal 1 1/2-inch to 2-inch pieces; this will make large, saucer-sized cinnamon rolls -- their generous size is part of their charm. Cut the dough at the score marks, using dental floss for the cleanest cut. If you don’t have dental floss, a bench knife or sharp knife will work.

Place the rolls onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them so there’s at least 2 inches between each one and they’re 2 inches away from the edges of the pan. A 3-2-3 arrangement works well. To prevent them from unraveling while they rise and bake, tuck the ends of the spirals underneath the rolls so that they’re held in place.

Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap or a reusable cover, and let them rise for 30 to 60 minutes (depending on the warmth of your kitchen). The rolls should be puffy, and the dough shouldn’t bounce back immediately when gently pressed.

About 20 minutes before you’re ready to bake, position a rack in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Bake the rolls for 14 to 18 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown and a digital thermometer inserted into the center of one roll reads 190 degrees. Bake for the lesser amount of time for extra-soft rolls, and the longer amount of time for rolls with a bit more color and slightly firmer texture.

Remove the rolls from the oven, place the pan on a rack and brush the hot rolls with 1 1/2 tablespoons (21g) of the melted butter. Let the rolls cool for 10 to 15 minutes before icing.

To make the icing:

Combine the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons (21g) melted butter with the remaining icing ingredients in a medium bowl, mixing with a spatula until smooth. Milk makes a lovely frosting; using cream in place of milk creates an extra layer of richness, while substituting buttermilk adds subtle tang, a nice counterpoint to the icing's overall sweetness.

Ice the rolls, and serve immediately. If you’re planning to serve the rolls later, wait to ice them until just before serving. Store icing at room temperature, tightly covered, until you’re ready to use it.

Store completely cooled rolls, un-iced and well-wrapped, for a couple of days at room temperature, or freeze for up to 1 month.

Click here for more tips from the King Arthur test kitchen bakers.

Recipe reprinted with permission courtesy of King Arthur Baking Test Kitchen.

Make these cinnamon rolls dubbed King Arthur Baking’s Recipe of the Year (2024)


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