Cinnamon Raisin Rolls

A pan of cinnamon raisin rolls with icing.

If you’ve ever wondered how to make cinnamon raisin rolls from scratch or thought it would be too difficult to bother, these easy cinnamon buns are a great starting point. This straightforward morning buns recipe uses a simple yeast dough, quick cinnamon raisin walnut filling and gooey icing. It’s a breakfast treat your family will love!

Generally, I only make breakfast buns when hosting a crowd or for special occasions (because I want to avoid devouring a whole pan of sweets myself). Over the years, I have developed a few morning bun recipes that people clamor for, including these Mixed Berry Sweet Buns, Cardamom Orange Rolls and Apricot Almond Fruit Pastries.

In my experience, a morning that starts out with gooey cinnamon rolls is a good one indeed, and this classic sweet rolls recipe is a tried and true family favorite.

These cinnamon raisin rolls are soft, yeasty, and well-spiced with sweet, chewy raisins and crunchy toasted walnuts. The hands-on time is only about 20 minutes (when you use a stand mixer) and the recipe makes a dozen cinnamon morning buns.

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The kneaded dough in a greased bowl to rise.

Why you’ll love this sweet rolls recipe:

  • The yeast dough for this sweet roll recipe is easy to work with. 
  • They can be mostly assembled the night before and then refrigerated and baked off the next morning after a second rise.
  • The plush soft dough, gooey cinnamon raisin and walnut filling and oozy icing are like a jackhammer to the pleasure center in your brain.
  • A stand-mixer makes assembling the dough a breeze.
  • It’s perfect for special occasion like Christmas morning or Easter brunch.


  • All Purpose Flour – I use King Arthur Unbleached flour.
  • Instant Yeast – (not Active dry yeast – and you won’t use the whole package)
  • Granulated Sugar – for a slight sweetness to the dough.
  • Nonfat Dry Milk – this has a higher protein content than liquid milk and helps th dough to rise. It also has a slightly more sweet and caramelized flavor, which also enhances the flavor of the dough.
  • Salt – Use plain iodized salt in baking (not Kosher salt).
  • Egg – An egg will make the dough light and fluffy.
  • Water – since we’re using nonfat dry milk, the water, and egg will be the primary moisture in this morning buns recipe.
  • Vanilla Extract – for flavoring. I use Penzey’s double-strength vanilla extract.
  • Butter – preferably unsalted butter. Different brands will have varying levels of salt added. It’s better to be safe with unsalted butter so you can better control the flavor of the cinnamon raisin rolls.
  • Brown Sugar – I like to use brown sugar for the cinnamon raisin filling in the morning buns to add a deeper more caramelized flavor, however you can use granulated white sugar in a pinch.
  • Cinnamon – It’s important to spice the filling and cinnamon is the dominant spice for this sweet rolls recipe.
  • Cloves – this is a very potent spice and only requires a small amount to do its job.
  • Nutmeg – I buy whole nutmeg and grate it fresh, only because spices can lose their potency in the pantry, and I don’t use nutmeg all that often. This way, it stays fresh for whenever I need it. If you’re the same, buy it whole.
  • Raisins – I prefer golden raisins (from white grapes), but you can also use dark raisins.
  • Walnuts – If you love a crunchy texture in your cinnamon raisin rolls, don’t forget the nuts. I used walnuts (it was what I had on hand, but pecans are excellent in these cinnamon rolls, too.
  • Confectioners Sugar – This is for the oozy sweet glaze.
  • Heavy Cream – A small amount will blend instantly with the powdered sugar to create a thick icing. I prefer heavy cream to milk for the glaze because it has more viscosity and gives the icing a heavier drape, but you can use milk or half and half; just start with 2 tablespoons and add more only if needed.
The dough after proving the first time.

Step by step instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the ingredients for the dough, and using the dough hook, mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Increase the speed by one notch and knead until the dough is soft and smooth.
  2. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl when it is blended.
  3. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and put it in a draft-free place to rise for about 1½ hours or until doubled in bulk.
  4. While the dough proves, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg in a small bowl.
  5. Toast the walnuts on a sheet pan for 15 minutes at 300° until golden and fragrant. Let them cool, then chop.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to an 11″ x 20″ rectangle (use a ruler to be sure).
  7. Using a spatula or your clean fingers, spread the dough with softened butter, spread the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the dough and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts and raisins.
  8. With the long side of the cinnamon roll rectangle closest to you, begin to roll it into a log.
  9. Use a sharp serrated knife or pastry cutter to halve the log, then cut each half into 6 equal portions.
  10. Transfer the cinnamon raisin rolls to a prepared pan (I use a 13×9″ pan) or baking dish, lightly cover with a towel and set aside to prove until they’re very puffy, about 45 minutes to 1¼ hours.
  11. Bake the cinnamon raisin buns in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden. Let them coll for about 10 minutes in the pan.
  12. While the rolls cool, mix the powdered sugar and cream in a small bowl until smooth. Spoon the glaze over the still warm sweet rolls.


  • It’s important to roll the dough into a rectangle that measures 11 x 20 inches to have evenly sized cinnamon rolls. Use a ruler.
  • I don’t know about you, but I can never seem to remember what the dough looked like before it started to prove. To remedy this, snap a quick photo with your phone just before you cover the dough and again when covering the cinnamon raisin rolls to rise. This will give you a gauge of how much they have risen and whether or not it has “doubled” in size or puffed to a good degree.
  • Leave a half-inch border around the edge of the dough so it can be sealed when you roll it up — if you butter it to the edge, the dough won’t stick together at the seam.
  • If you’re making the cinnamon raisin rolls the night before, the second rise will take slightly longer the next morning because the dough is cold. Plan on letting the morning buns rise for 2 hours before baking.
Rolling the cinnamon raisin rolls into a cylinder.


  • You can substitute granulated sugar or dark brown sugar in the cinnamon mixture for a softer or deeper flavor.
  • Swap the confectioner’s sugar glaze for a richer cream cheese frosting.
  • If you don’t like nuts, you can leave them out of the cinnamon raisin rolls or substitute other toasted nuts, like chopped almonds or hazelnuts.


You can keep leftover cinnamon raisin rolls at room temperature for up to a day in an airtight container on the counter. For longer, wrap the breakfast buns and refrigerate for 2-3 days.

To get back the gooey cinnamon rolls vibe, microwave the buns in 20-second bursts until warmed and pliable.


To make the cinnamon rolls ahead, bake them off and cool them to room temperature, but don’t frost them yet.

Wrap them well in freezer paper and freeze for up to 2 months. To serve, thaw the rolls completely and warm them for about 10 minutes in tin foil in a 300° oven. Remove the foil and frost liberally with icing to serve.

The baked morning buns before icing.

Helpful Tools:

  • Kitchen Ruler – For measuring out equal-sized cinnamon raisin rolls, also handy for measuring the thickness of dough and pastry.
  • Pastry Mat for rolling dough – this also has measurements on it and is good for helping to shape dough to proper size or shape.
  • Pastry Cutter – better than the see-saw action of a knife for cutting dough. It has a wide blade that makes quick, even cuts.
The iced sweet rolls recipe in a baking pan.

Even if you’ve never been a big baker, making cinnamon rolls from scratch is pretty easy when you break it down into small, manageable steps.

In my experience, no one can resist a warm, gooey morning bun with a sweet glaze. I guarantee these easy cinnamon rolls won’t last long if you serve them for breakfast or brunch.

Icing oozing over the gooey cinnamon rolls.

More breakfast buns & sweets: 

A serving platter of fresh cinnamon raisin rolls.
Print Pin
5 from 9 votes

Cinnamon Raisin Rolls

These sweet cinnamon raisin rolls are outstanding—a soft, fluffy pastry wrapped around a spiced raisin walnut filling and topped with a creamy, sweet glaze. Perfect for special breakfast and brunch occasions.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword breakfast buns, sweet rolls
Dietary Restrictions Vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings 12



  • 3 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour I like King Arthur’s
  • 2 teaspoons Instant Yeast (not active dry — and not the whole package)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 large egg mixed with enough water to make one cup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter at room temperature


  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts or pecans chopped
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter softened


  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar



  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with your hands), combine 3 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour, 2 teaspoons Instant Yeast, 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk, 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, 1 large egg mixed with enough water to make one cup, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons butter. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together, then increase speed one notch until the dough is soft and smooth.  
  • Lightly coat a bowl with vegetable oil, to prevent the dough from sticking.  Form the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 1½ hours or until about doubled in size.
  • While the dough is proofing, Preheat the oven to 300° and toast the ½ cup toasted walnuts or pecans on a sheet pan for about 15 minutes or until fragrant and toasted. Let the nuts cool, then chop them and set aside.
  • Take ¼ cup unsalted butter out to soften. In a small bowl, combine ¾ cup light brown sugar 1 tablespoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and whisk to combine. Set aside.


  • Lightly spray a 13 x 9″ pan with vegetable spray. Line the the pan with a piece of parchment paper cut to the size of the bottom of the pan and spray again with vegetable spray. Set aside.
  • Lightly grease a work surface and place the dough in the center. Roll out the dough to a rectangle measuring 11 x 20 inches. Spread a thin layer of soft butter over the dough, leaving about 1″ uncovered on the long side furthest from you.
  • Sprinkle the butter slathered dough evenly with the brown sugar mixture, then top with chopped walnuts and ¾ cup golden raisins.
  • Starting with the long side (covered with filling), roll the dough into a log. Use a sharp serrated knife or a pastry cutter to divide the dough into two equal logs. Cut each log into 6 equal portions.
  • Place the rolls into the prepared pan, pressing down slightly. Cover the rolls and let them rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1¼ hours to rise and become very puffy.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the buns in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and let the rolls cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning them out of the pan. When the rolls are just slightly warm, glaze them.


  • Combine 1 cup confectioners sugar and 3 tablespoons heavy cream in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon the glaze over slightly warm buns and serve.


Want to make these sweet buns ahead of time?

  1. Assemble the buns up to the point where you fill them with the cinnamon filling, roll and cut (step 9 in the recipe card).
  2. Cover the pan of sweet rolls and refrigerate them overnight.
  3. The next morning, take the pan out of the oven and let them rest and rise for two hours. Then bake and continue with the rest of the recipe.


Calories: 374.81kcal | Carbohydrates: 64.32g | Protein: 6.46g | Fat: 11.06g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.41g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3.79g | Trans Fat: 0.23g | Cholesterol: 35.17mg | Sodium: 278.52mg | Potassium: 198.69mg | Fiber: 2.67g | Sugar: 32.6g | Vitamin A: 286.51IU | Vitamin C: 0.48mg | Calcium: 54.84mg | Iron: 2.26mg

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  1. Hi. Can I use whipping cream for the glaze? Thank you

  2. 5 stars
    I found this recipe near a strata recipe of yours (that was fabulous) that said more do ahead recipes. But I don’t see directions of how/ when to do ahead? After you form them? Prior to baking? Tx!

    1. I’ve included the instructions! Thanks for the catch!

  3. Brittany Bly says:

    5 stars
    These turned out so gorgeous!

  4. Oh yum! Will make these for our next brunch!

  5. 5 stars
    OMGoodness! These homemade sweet rolls are making me drool. I could eat these every day for breakfast.

  6. 5 stars
    Looks so yummy and so perfect for the upcoming holidays! Will be trying for sure!

  7. 5 stars
    This cinnamon roll is what dreams are made of! So so delicious and decadent.

  8. Marlynn | Urban Bliss Life says:

    5 stars
    We love cinnamon rolls in my house and these are amazing!! Love the extra flavor this recipe has.

  9. Raia Todd says:

    5 stars
    Ooooh…. these look like delicious fluffy perfection! Haha. I love the raisins and walnuts in there!

  10. 5 stars
    These are the best! Cinnamon rolls with a little extra something. So great!