Looking for an easy, sourdough cinnamon rolls recipe that can be made with your sourdough discard? This is it! No stand mixer or complicated steps needed with this recipe. We guide you through the process step-by-step.
You guys, this is seriously the easiest sourdough cinnamon roll you will ever find. And an amazingly delicious one at that!
Now that you've got your sourdough starter going, it's a great time to start experimenting with other sourdough baked goods.
The best part about this recipe is that you can use your sourdough starter discard to make them instead of it going to waste.
The dough is mixed by hand and allowed to ferment on the counter overnight. When you wake up, add the leavening agents, roll out the dough and bake right away.
There's no need for a second rise. This is truly a beginner's recipe!
Sample baking schedule
Before we get into the details, let's go over the basic steps with this sample baking schedule.
- 8PM - Mix the butter, flour, sourdough starter discard, buttermilk, honey and salt in a bowl. Cover and let rest overnight.
- 8AM - Sprinkle the baking powder and baking soda over the dough and mix in with your hands.
- Roll the dough onto a floured surface and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top and roll the dough into a log shape. Cut the log into 12 equal portions and place them in a buttered cast iron skillet.
- Bake in a 375°F (190°C) preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove the sourdough cinnamon rolls from the oven and glaze.
That's it in a nutshell!
Tips for success
There's a few steps that need a little more explaining.
- Cutting butter into flour (easy method)
- Leavening agents
- Rolling out the dough
- Adjustments for high humidity and warm climates
- Choosing a baking dish
- cinnamon roll glaze
So let's go over these areas one at a time!
Cutting Butter into Flour
Most recipes for sourdough cinnamon rolls call for the use of a stand mixer to mix the butter into the dough. However, a stand mixer is not needed here!
The first step in this recipe is to cut the butter into the flour, which you will do by hand.
- Using the large holes of a cheese grater, grate the butter into a mixing bowl. Add the flour to the bowl and toss with a fork to coat the butter.
- Use a bench scraper to "cut" the butter into the flour. Use a chopping motion to break the pieces of butter up until they form very small crumbs with the flour.
If you do not have a bench scraper, use a pastry cutter or a fork for this step.
Addition of baking soda and baking powder as leavening agents
Place the baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl and mix with a fork before adding them to the dough. Work them in with your hands until thoroughly combined.
TIP - Active sourdough starter can be used if desired in this recipe. (Omit the baking soda and baking powder the next morning as they will not be needed for leavening.) After cutting the cinnamon rolls out, let rise in the skillet for 1 to 1 ½ hours at room temperature before baking.
Rolling Out the Dough
Let's take a look at how to roll and cut sourdough cinnamon rolls.
Generously flour your work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Flour the top of the dough. Don't be afraid to use too much flour in this step!
Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a rectangle with a ¼" thickness. (about 12" x 24")
- Brush the melted butter onto the surface of the dough using a pastry brush.
- Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the top, leaving a ½ inch around the edges.
- Starting on one side of a long edge, roll the dough into the shape of a log.
- Use a bench-scraper or a knife to cut the log into 12 equal portions. (About 1.5 inch pieces)
TIP - If the dough is sticking to the surface as you are rolling the dough into a log shape, use a bench scraper to gently loosen and lift it and continue to roll.
Adjustments for high humidity and warm climates
If you live in a very warm and/or an area with high humidity, sometimes sourdough can be challenging to work with and adjustments are needed.
- Reduce the milk by 50 grams in the initial mix. If the dough seems too stiff, slowly add the remaining milk until you achieve the correct hydration level.
- You can try using granulated sugar in place of honey to help reduce the hydration.
- You may need to add a few more minutes onto the baking time.
We've made some small tweaks to the recipe to address the dough being sticky. See the recipe card below for details.
Choosing a Baking Dish
I love to use my 12" cast iron skillet for baking these rolls. It's the perfect size for this recipe and it creates an even distribution of heat. Other baking vessels you can use:
- 10" spring-form pan
- 9" x 13" baking dish (If using glass dish, allow more baking time versus metal dishes.)
- baking sheet lined with parchment paper
Make sure that the cinnamon rolls have space to expand between each other while baking.
TIP -If you'd like to assemble them and bake them at a later time, place the unbaked rolls in a baking dish, cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Remove from fridge and let sit at room temperature while the oven is preheating.
Cinnamon roll glaze recipe
How do you like your cinnamon roll glaze, thick and sweet or barely there? This is an area of great debate!
I've got mixed feelings on this one. Sometimes I LOVE it thick and gooey. The kind so messy, you need to lick it right off your fingers because paper towels just won't do!
If you're craving that kind of sweetness, try the sourdough cinnamon roll glaze in the recipe card. It's a full throttle, hold on to your pants, delicious glaze that will have everyone begging for more!
For a lighter cinnamon roll glaze, mix 1 cup of powdered sugar with a teaspoon of milk. Give it a stir and add a little more milk at a time until you get the consistency you're looking for.
Make sure you glaze the rolls while they're hot and remove them from the pan. If they cool in the pan, the sugar on the bottom of the rolls will start to harden up making them difficult to remove from the cast iron skillet.
Check out this article from Lodge on how to properly clean cast iron.
How to store and freeze
- Store the cinnamon rolls at room temperature for a 2-3 days, loosely covered.
- To freeze the baked, unfrosted rolls, cover them tightly with both plastic wrap and aluminum foil. When ready to serve, let them thaw and reheat in the oven at 350°F until heated through, and then glaze while they are warm.
- You can freeze unbaked cinnamon rolls, in a disposable baking pan. Arrange them in the pan, cover them tightly with both plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Then you’ll just need to remove them, allow them to thaw, and continue the baking and icing process.
More easy breakfast recipes
Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
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- 12" Cast Iron Skillet
- Mixing Bowls
- Cheese Grater
- Pastry Brush
- 8 tablespoons (113 g) butter (cold)
- 2 ¾ cups (345 g) all-purpose flour (see notes)
- ½ cup (100 g) sourdough starter discard (see notes for active starter)
- ¾ cup (180 g) buttermilk (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) honey (or granulated sugar)
- ¾ teaspoon (4 g) fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (hold back in initial mix)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda (hold back in initial mix)
- ¾ cup (150 g) light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons (56 g) butter (melted)
Cinnamon Roll Glaze
- 1 cup (120 g) powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon (14 g) butter (melted)
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) milk
The night before
- Mix the dough: Use a cheese grater to grate the cold butter into a mixing bowl. Add the flour and use a bench scraper or pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. Add the sourdough starter discard, buttermilk, honey and salt. Mix with a spatula until the ingredients are well incorporated. Cover the bowl and let rest on the counter for 10-12 hours. (DO NOT add the baking soda or baking powder. This will be added right before rolling out the dough)
The next morning
- Make cinnamon sugar filling and glaze: Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the glaze ingredients and set aside. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and butter a 12" cast iron skillet.
- Add leavening agents: Mix the baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl with a fork until there are no visible lumps. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the dough and mix it in with your hands.
- Roll out the dough: Generously flour your work surface and turn the dough onto it. Flour the top of the dough. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 12" x 22" rectangle.
- Cut out rolls: Use a pastry brush to coat the top of the dough with melted butter and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the surface, leaving a half inch bare along the edges. Starting on one side, roll the dough into a log shape. Use the bench-scraper to cut the log into 12 pieces (approximately 1.5 inches). Arrange the portions in the cast iron skillet, leaving space in between each piece to expand.
- Bake: Bake the cinnamon rolls for 35-40 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and glaze while hot.
- This recipe has been EDITED on 12-7-20 from the original, with the following changes:
- Buttermilk: reduced from original 1 cup (240g) to ¾ cup (180g) of milk.
- Flour: increased from original 2 ½ cups (300g) to 2 ¾ cups (345g) flour.
- Salt: added to the initial mixing of the dough instead of with leavening agents before rolling out.
- Use the scoop and level technique to measure your flour if you do not have a kitchen scale. To do this, use a spoon to fluff up the flour in the bag. Use a spoon to scoop the flour into a measuring cup until it is heaped on top. Take a butterknife and level off the top. This should give you the most accurate measurement for flour.
- For a lighter cinnamon roll glaze, mix 1 cup of powdered sugar with a teaspoon of milk. Give it a stir and add a little more milk at a time until you get the consistency you're looking for.
- A baking sheet or spring-form pan can be used in place of a cast iron skillet.
- Active sourdough starter can be used if desired. Add the salt to the initial mix and skip adding the baking soda and baking powder to the dough. After cutting the cinnamon rolls out, let rise in the skillet for 1-1.5 hours at room temperature before baking.