Soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls topped with chai-spiced icing is the indulgent festive breakfast, dessert or snack of your dreams.
There are few things as indulgently delicious as a cinnamon roll. A giant swirl of dough filled with cinnamon sugar, baked until golden brown then smothered in cream cheese frosting? Uh, yes please! It’s the perfect recipe for the holidays because it’s the only time of the year when it’s completely fine to eat something like a cinnamon roll for breakfast. These rolls are elevated by the addition of warming chai spices in the icing. Served warm and gooey, these are the ideal Christmas morning treat served with coffee.
How to make cinnamon rolls
- The dough: The dough used for these rolls is an enriched yeast dough. I prefer using my stand mixer to knead the dough but you can make it by hand too. Once the egg and butter are added to the dough, knead for a few minutes and the dough should come away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will be slightly sticky but shouldn’t be wet and very sticky. If it is, add a few tablespoons of flour, one at a time and knead in. Allow the dough to rest, covered in a greased bowl in the fridge overnight. This slow fermentation will develop flavor and makes it a lot easier to make these rolls for breakfast or brunch.
- The filling: Mix together softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is approximately half a centimeter thick. Spread the butter mixture over the dough then roll into a tight roll. Cut rolls of approximately 5cm/2 inches. Place the rolls into a baking dish lined with parchment paper. Space them 1-2cm apart as they will expand during their second rise.
- Baking: Bake the rolls in a preheated oven until they are golden brown and cooked through, approximately 25 minutes.
How to make cinnamon roll icing
- Mix together room temperature cream cheese with powdered sugar/icing sugar and room temperature butter until smooth. It’s important that the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature otherwise they won’t combine into a smooth icing. Add cinnamon, ground cardamom, ginger, all spice and salt and mix well.
- When the cinnamon rolls come out of the oven, top with the icing so that it can melt into all the nooks and crannies then allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Freezing and making ahead
- Make ahead: The rolls can be made and kept, un-baked, covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. Baked rolls will last for a day but are best reheated before serving. To reheat, place in the microwave oven for 20-30 seconds.
- Freezing: Unbaked rolls can be frozen until solid then transferred to a freezer bag. To bake, place the frozen rolls on a parchment lined sheet. bake for 30-45 minutes until baked through.
Christmas breakfast recipes
- Breakfast pancake board
- Cheesy bacon potato breakfast casserole
- Easy breakfast board
- Roasted cheesy breakfast potatoes
Cinnamon rolls with chai icing
For the dough
- 1 cup warm milk
- 10 g (2tsp) instant yeast
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 extra-large egg
- 2 tbsp softened butter
For the filling
- ¾ cup softened butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp Cinnamon
For the chai icing
- 1 cup powdered / icing sugar
- ½ cup cream cheese room temperature
- ½ cup butter room temperature
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp ginger
- 1/8 tsp all spice
- pinch of salt
- Whisk the milk, sugar and yeast together. Allow to stand for 5 minutes until frothy.
- Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl then mix until combined.
- Add the egg and butter.
- Knead for 5 minutes until the dough starts coming away from the side of the bowl.
- If the dough is too sticky, add 1-2 tbsp flour and knead in.
- Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and cover with plastic.
- Place in the fridge and allow to rise overnight.
- Remove the dough and allow to come to room temperature for 1 hour.
- Combine all the ingredients for the filling and set aside.
- Roll the dough into a large rectangle approximately ½cm thick, on a floured surface.
- Spread the cinnamon sugar mix onto the dough then roll tightly into a long roll.
- Slice into 5cm thick rolls then place in a baking dish lined with parchment paper.
- Allow to rise for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°.
- Place the rolls into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown.
- To make the icing, whisk together all the ingredients (you can do this step in a food processor too) until smooth and combined.
- When the rolls come out of the oven, cover with the icing then allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.