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About This Recipe
In recent posts, I shared my large bakery-style cinnamon rolls recipes. Today I'm showing you how to make them into half-size (or even smaller) cinnamon rolls. Despite being much smaller than their giant siblings, these mini cinnamon rolls bake up just as soft and gooey with a delicious yeast dough and brown sugar cinnamon filling.
Now that we’re working with such small (and cute) portions, we need an equally cute name. We called these half-size cinnamon rolls our "Cinnamon Roll Halfsies" at Amycakes Bakery. I’ll walk you through exactly how to make mini cinnamon rolls with pictures and a video.
The Bakery Method for Super Soft Cinnamon Roll Dough
There are several keys to making sure your cinnamon roll dough is soft. First, we don't knead any flour into the dough. Instead, we mix up the stretchy and sticky dough in a bowl with a heavy-duty spatula. I talk more about this yeast dough in my large Bakery-Style Cinnamon Roll Recipe.
Second, allow the dough to rise for at least one hour, or until it's doubled in size. This allows for lots of air bubbles that will make your finished rolls light, fluffy and tender. I use instant yeast in these cinnamon rolls because it has more proofing power than active dry yeast. It also cuts down the rise time by half and takes less time to make the dough!
Third, refrigerate your risen yeast dough for at least 4 hours or overnight before rolling it out it. I know—it's an extra step, but it's worth it! This allows the dough to rest and makes it much easier to roll out from cold.
And lastly, you've got to handle the dough gently when you roll it out. Only add flour as needed when the dough sticks to the table or the rolling pin. I go into more detail within the recipe card below, and you can also watch me roll them out within the recipe video.
About the secret bakery ingredient in this recipe
This bakery recipe uses Instant ClearJel, a type of cornstarch that serves as both a thickener and a binder. It’s tasteless and has no artificial ingredients. You can also use Instant Pudding mix (when it's listed in the recipe), which contains Instant Clearjel as the second ingredient!
It’s often used by professional bakers because it produces a smoother and glossier consistency than cornstarch, tapioca, or other starches. Even better, it enhances moisture and texture in cakes and thickens and stabilizes frostings. Here are a few brands I recommend:
*Please make sure the clearjel you purchase is labeled as instant
Although it's not often available in grocery stores, it's sold in a variety of online stores--just make sure whatever you purchase is labeled as INSTANT (cooktype and original clearjel will not work the same). It's also frequently found in Amish Markets. (Learn more about Instant Clearjel in Baking→)
How to Make Mini Cinnamon Rolls (Half-Size)
The 1x batch of this recipe makes 12 mini (half-size) cinnamon rolls, and it has the exact same ratio of ingredients as a 1x batch of my Bakery-Style Cinnamon Rolls that makes 6 large cinnamon rolls. The only difference is how we roll them out.
How to roll out a 1x batch (12 mini cinnamon rolls)
How to roll out a 2x batch (24 mini cinnamon rolls)
If you'd like to make two dozen mini cinnamon rolls, hit the "2x" within the recipe card to double the recipe. Instead of making a double-long skinny roll, which would be hard to do (and take up a lot of counterspace), roll it out into a large rectangle (18"x16"--this is the same size rectangle you would use to make one dozen large cinnamon rolls).
Spread your butter and cinnamon sugar mixture on top of your dough, then cut it in half horizontally before rolling it up. You'll now be rolling up two cinnamon roll logs which make 12 cinnamon rolls each.
How to Roll Out Even Smaller Mini Cinnamon Rolls
You can make even smaller cinnamon rolls with slight variations to the methods described above. I've tested this with 18 mini cinnamon rolls in a 1x batch, and 36 cinnamon rolls in a 2x batch. Please adjust the baking time as needed--smaller cinnamon rolls may not take quite as long to bake.
To get 18 cinnamon rolls from a 1x batch, just roll out your rectangle about 24 inches wide and 6 inches deep, roll up like normal, then score and cut out 18 rolls:
To get 36 mini cinnamon rolls from a 2x batch, roll out your dough to the size described within the recipe for a 2x batch (18"x16"), but cut it horizontally into thirds, and roll up all three into logs--each will make 12 cinnamon rolls, bringing your total to 36 rolls.
Prep your Tools and Ingredients to Save Time
I recommend having all of your ingredients, utensils, equipment, pans, and tools ready before you begin to roll (I describe my prep recommendations within the recipe). One dozen mini cinnamon rolls fit perfectly in a 9x13x2 inch cake pan, and two dozen (a 2x batch) fit in an 11 x15x2 pan (you can also use a 12x18 pan or two 9x13 pans). You'll want to brush your pan generously with melted butter and set it aside while you're getting everything else ready.
These mini cinnamon rolls are the perfect size for brunch! I hope you enjoy them this holiday season!
Thanks for Reading. ❤️
Mini Cinnamon Rolls: a Bakery Recipe
Cinnamon Roll Dough Ingredients
- 400 grams (3 cups) All-Purpose Flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons Instant Clearjel (for a softer dough. It's a bakery ingredient you can use at home, see Notes section)
- 1 Tablespoon(s) Instant Yeast (I use SAF Instant Yeast)
- 1 large Egg(s)
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 37 grams (3 Tablespoons) Sugar
- 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 1 cup(s) Hot Water (around 120 degrees)
Cinnamon Roll Filling Ingredients
- 227 grams (1 cup packed) Light Brown Sugar
- 1 Tablespoons + 1 ½ teaspoon(s) Cinnamon (I use McCormick brand)
- 1 ½ teaspoons Instant Clearjel (for gooier cinnamon rolls. It's a bakery ingredient you can use at home, see Notes section)
- 1 ½ teaspoons All-Purpose Flour
- ½ stick (2 ounces) Salted Butter (softened but not melted)
- 141 grams (1 ¼ cups) Powdered Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons room temperature Water
- ¼ stick (1 ounce) salted butter, melted
- ¼ cup to ½ cup flour, for dusting (only use what you need)
Day One: Make Cinnamon Rolls Dough
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the Flour, Instant Clearjel, and Instant Yeast together until well blended. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, stir the egg(s), salt, sugar, and oil together until well blended.
- Make sure your water is hot, around 120 degrees. If you don't have a culinary thermometer, this temperature should feel uncomfortable to the touch but not painful). Pour the hot water on top of the egg mixture, but don't stir it together yet. (We want to allow our flour and instant yeast to activate when being mixed with the hot water).
- Immediately add the flour mixture on top of the hot water, and use a sturdy spatula to stir all of the ingredients together until a dough is formed and the ingredients are well blended. The dough will get firmer, stickier, and more difficult to stir as it thickens.
- There's no kneading of this dough, as we don't want to incorporate any additional flour, but we want to stir it until it gets stretchy. Leave the dough in the bowl, and continue to scrape the sides and stir the dough with your heavy-duty spatula for around 2-3 minutes, or until the dough is stretchy and uniform. It will be a very sticky dough.
- Allow the dough to rise at room temperature until double in size, around one hour.
- Loosely wrap the bowl in plastic wrap, and place the risen dough in the fridge overnight, for at least 4 hours but no more than 24 hours.
Day One: Prepare Filling Ingredients
- Stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Use your fingers to break apart any large brown sugar pieces, and to make sure the cinnamon is thoroughly mixed in. Wrap this mixture or place it in an air-tight container until Day Two.
- Whisk the Instant Clearjel and Flour together until well blended. Wrap or place in an air-tight container until Day Two.
- If you'd like, you may take your salted butter out of the fridge so that it is softened and ready to roll in the morning.
Day Two: Prepare Pan
- The 1 oz of melted butter for brushing will be used three times. First, brush the cake pan(s) generously with melted butter on the bottom, sides, and inner corners. 12 mini cinnamon rolls fit in a 9x13x2 pan (a 1x batch), and 24 mini cinnamon rolls fit in an 11x15x2 pan (a 2x batch).
Day Two: Roll Out Cinnamon Rolls
- Generously dust your counter with about ¼ cup of flour.
- Scrape the risen refrigerated cinnamon roll dough on top of the dusted flour. Use your fingers to scrape out any stuck to the bowl and add it to the dough. The dough will be sticky. Avoid pressing the dough into itself or turning it into a ball--this will overwork the dough. We want to roll it out with very little shaping of the dough. Instead, just lightly dust any sticky portions of the dough, and press any sticky edges into the floured counter. Lightly press the dough into a rectangular shape before rolling (I recommend watching the recipe video).
- Roll out the dough into an 18 inch horizontal by 8 inch vertical rectangle. (A 1x batch will be short and skinny. A 2x batch will be a large rectangle). Using extra flour only as needed, dust any parts of the dough with flour that sticks to the table or rolling pin.
- If your butter is firm, microwave it for a few seconds until softened but not melted. Mix your softened butter thoroughly with the prepared Instant Clearjel mixture. Immediately spread it onto the rolled-out dough. We mix this right before spreading so that it doesn't have time to thicken before spreading. Spread it evenly all the way to the very edge of the dough.
- Pour the prepared Brown Sugar/Cinnamon mixture on top of the butter and spread it evenly all the way to the very edge of the dough.
- Roll up the cinnamon dough tightly, curving the edges in slightly as you roll (for a 2x batch, cut the large rectangle in half horizontally and roll up two logs, as described in the recipe post). Curving in the outside edges slightly as you roll helps maintain a nice roll on the edges and prevents the cinnamon mixture from escaping. When you are left with one inch of dough, pull it up and pinch it tightly against the rolled dough, creating a pinched seam.
- Dust the seam with flour, and turn your dough so it is seam side down against the floured counter. Shape the roll of dough with your hands if needed so that it is even in thickness. Score the log(s) of dough with a bench scraper, pastry divider, or knife into 12 rolls, then cut the rolls with a bench scraper or sharp knife.
- Place the cinnamon rolls into your prepared pan, with little room between each roll and ½ inch from the edge of the pan. Lightly press down on each roll so that the edges of each roll barely touch each other, and improve their round form if needed. (The cinnamon rolls will rise into whatever shape they are in now. So if you have some oval or misshapen rolls, use your hands to form the edges into a circle before they rise.)
- Brush the cinnamon rolls with melted salted butter, then allow to rise at room temperature until double in size, around one hour.
Bake the Cinnamon Rolls
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake the risen cinnamon rolls in the preheated 350-degree oven on the middle or top rack for 8 minutes, then turn the oven down to 325 degrees. Bake for an additional 6-8 minutes for six cinnamon rolls in a 9x13 pan, or an additional 10-12 minutes for twelve cinnamon rolls in an 11x15 pan. Darker pans and glass pans will take less time in the oven. The cinnamon rolls are done when they are golden brown, and the dough bounces back when you tap it lightly with your finger. Check several areas of the rolls for doneness.
- While the rolls bake, make the glaze. Whisk the powdered sugar and water together until smooth. It should be thin enough that it melts slightly into the hot rolls.
- Brush the cinnamon rolls one last time with melted butter. Using a small whisk, drizzle the glaze lightly onto each hot cinnamon roll.
- These cinnamon rolls are best served warm and have the best soft texture when eaten the same day they are baked. Enjoy!
3 tsp= 1 Tbsp
4 Tbsp= ¼ cup Read the Recipe Post for photos and details on how to make these mini cinnamon rolls, with the option to roll them out even smaller. You can turn these into mini maple pecan cinnamon rolls by using the large Maple Pecan Cinnamon Rolls recipe. Just roll them out and bake them as described within this recipe. Notes about Instant Clearjel: Read my article Instant Clearjel: a Magical Bakery Ingredient to see why I think this ingredient is worth having in your pantry. Instant Clearjel must always be whisked thoroughly with other dry ingredients before being added to wet ingredients to avoid clumping. I have tested this recipe with the following Instant Clearjel brands: Hoosier Hill Farm, Prepared Pantry, and Ingredion (Make sure what you purchase is labeled as “Instant.” Cooktype Clearjel is a different product that does not work the same in baked goods).