These skillet cinnamon rolls are giant and can be made with an easy make-ahead brioche dough that’s rolled and baked with cinnamon sugar and slathered with cream cheese icing. Can be made as a single giant roll or multiple rolls in your cast-iron skillet.
We aren’t the first to sing the praises of the dutiful cast-iron skillet, although we may croon the loudest when it comes to recommending it for this ingenious skillet cinnamon roll recipe. Tender brioche coils around sugar and spice and a citrus-inflected cream cheese icing seals the deal. The simple, no-knead dough comes together in a cinch and can even hang out in the fridge overnight so you can bake it at your convenience the next morning. Indulge your whimsy with a single giant cinnamon roll or stick to tradition with several more modest-size rolls. The skillet not only creates crisp, golden edges but a stunning and simple oven-to-table presentation. Either way, get ready for a chorus of accolades.–Jenny Howard
What To Do With The Leftover Bread Dough
Another benefit from this recipe, aside from the obvious, is that you’ll end up with more brioche dough (or, if you opt for the variation that follows, white bread dough) than you’ll need for these skillet cinnamon rolls. Lucky you! The superfluous dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days and used for additional batches of cinnamon rolls, baked into bread, or transformed into our off-the-charts gooey monkey bread.
Skillet Cinnamon Rolls
- Quick Glance
- 45 M
- 7 H, 35 M
- Serves 6 to 8
Special Equipment: 8- or 9-inch (20- or 23-cm) cast-iron skillet
- For the brioche dough
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (about 100°F | 38°C)
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 sticks unsalted butter (12 oz), melted
- 7 cups all-purpose flour
- For the skillet cinnamon roll(s)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 oz), melted, plus more for the pan
- 1 pound brioche dough
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup well-packed light or dark brown sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest, preferably organic
- For the cream cheese icing
- 4 ounces cream cheese, preferably Philadelphia brand, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest, preferably organic
- Make the brioche dough
- 1. In a 6-quart (6-liter) bowl or other large container, or in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, stir together the water, yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter.
- 2. Using a spoon and strong biceps, or the paddle attachment of the stand mixer, blend in the flour until combined. If you’re not using a mixer, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled. Don’t try to work with it before refrigerating it.
- 3. Loosely cover the container and let it rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
- 4. Refrigerate the dough until it’s thoroughly chilled, at least 3 hours, and loosely covered for up to 5 days.
- Make the skillet cinnamon roll(s)
- 5. Generously butter an 8- or 9-inch (20- or 23-cm) cast-iron skillet.
- 6. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (455-g) piece. (Return the rest of the dough to the refrigerator and use within 5 days.) Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
- 7. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, roughly 9 inches by 12 inches (23 by 30 cm) and 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick, using just enough flour to prevent it from sticking to the work surface.
- 8. Brush the melted butter over the entire surface of the rolled dough. In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, salt, cinnamon, and orange zest. Evenly sprinkle the mixture over the butter-topped dough.
- 9. For one giant skillet cinnamon roll (pictured), use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough lengthwise into 1 1/2-inch-wide (40-mm-wide) strips. Roll one of the strips into a tight coil. Place the coil on the end of the next strip and roll that strip around the coil, connecting the two ends together. Repeat with the remaining strips of dough until you have a giant coil of dough. At some point, you will have to lay the coil down on the work surface and wind the dough around it, or it will get too large and unwieldy. Use a large spatula to set the entire coil into the buttered cast-iron skillet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 75 minutes.
For several smaller skillet cinnamon rolls, start at the short end and roll the dough into a log. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the log crosswise into 6 equal rolls. Arrange the rolls inside the butteredcast-iron skillet. Space slightly apart for rolls withcrisp edges, if desired, or nestle together for softer rolls. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 75 minutes.
- 10. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- 11. Bake the cinnamon roll(s) until golden brown and set in the middle (to test the latter, you’ll need to probe a little into the center between rolls of dough with the tip of a knife), about 25 minutes. Let the roll(s) cool in the skillet for 10 minutes before icing.
- Make the cream cheese icing
- 12. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix on low speed until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon cream, vanilla, and orange zest and whip until well-combined. If the icing seems too thick to spread, dribble in a little additional cream until the icing is still thick but spreadable.
- 13. Serve the cinnamon roll(s) straight from the skillet or, if desired, first transfer the roll(s) to a serving platter. Slather the cinnamon roll(s) with the cream cheese icing, slice the larger roll into wedges, if desired, and serve.
- Skillet Cinnamon Rolls with Any White Bread Dough
- If you’re seeking something a touch less indulgent (for reasons we won’t question!), you can easily substitute your favorite white bread dough for the brioche. All the same cinnamon loveliness with a little less richness.
- Skillet Cinnamon Rolls with Five-Spice Powder
- Simply swap out Chinese five-spice powder for the cinnamon. The blend of warming spices includes cinnamon, so technically these will still be cinnamon rolls. All the same cinnamon loveliness with a little more robust, more complex, more showstopping warmth from its blend of spices.
Recipe Testers Reviews
A skillet full of cinnamon, buttery, flaky goodness. The addition of orange zest provides a bright zip to the cinnamon sugar and everyone in your house will be smiling.
Not only are these skillet cinnamon rolls delicious and fun to eat, they’re actually quite simple to make. The dough does need some rising and resting time, so it’s best as a make ahead, which is perfect because what could be better than pulling out a showstopper of a massive cinnamon roll for weekend brunch?
The brioche dough was loose and thick like coffee cake batter. I let the dough rest for 2 hours at room temperature and it doubled in size and then I refrigerated it for another 3 hours. The dough was easy to work with and was formed into a ball with just a few turns, as per the directions. It rolled out nice and smoothly. I used a large spatula to move the shaped cinnamon roll into the cast iron skillet. The roll had room to rise and was almost doubled after the 75 minutes. It was done baking after 25 minutes and was a nice golden caramel color.
I made this for an afternoon treat but it could make this a day ahead and left to slowly rise in the fridge overnight to serve for breakfast or brunch.
First thing I'd like to say about this recipe is YUM! I absolutely loved it and it was really easy to make and full of flavor. When I first saw the instructions and that I’d have to make my own dough (I’m not a baker), it seemed a little daunting, but I was pleasantly surprised as to how easy it was to make. The next time I have some friends over for dinner I’m definitely making this for dessert and when it’s done just putting it in the middle of the table and tell people to dig in!
I made the roll twice—one Cinnamon Roll and one Chinese Five Spice Roll—and both times used the brioche dough. In both recipes, I used my 8-inch cast iron pan, light brown sugar and organic oranges however I used two different cream cheeses which did have two different results.
I found the instructions to be pretty precise, however, when it came time to cut the dough to 1 ½ inch strips I wasn’t sure if you did that from the 9 inch side of the rectangle or the 12 inch. When I made the Cinnamon Roll I did the strips from the 12 inch side so they were 9 inches long and that seemed to give me a better looking roll for some reason. When I did the Chinese Five Spice Roll I cut them the other way and I found it a bit difficult to coil because the strips were so long. When making the coil it did get big and hard to keep coiling so I put it in the pan and picked up a strip however the sugar topping just came off so I just stuck with rolling the coil while the strips were on the counter even though it was a bit tricky. The instructions for coiling the dough did make sense but the picture of the recipe also helped (gave me a visual).
During both makings of the rolls the dough did rise while resting for the 75 minutes however the second time (Chinese Five Spice Roll) it didn’t rise as much. I’m not sure if that’s because the dough had been stored in my fridge for three days at that point whereas the Cinnamon Roll was made within hours of the dough being ready to use.
Both times I baked the rolls, the timing of 35 minutes was very accurate as was letting it rest for 10 minutes before I put the icing all over it. The end product looked exactly like the picture except both times I baked the rolls, they didn’t touch the edges of the pan. They were about half an inch to an inch away from the side when finished.
For the icing I used two different cream cheeses. For both icings I used a whisk to create the cream cheese icing and I had a different experience with both cream cheeses. For the Cinnamon Roll I used original Philadelphia brand cream cheese and it was perfect. It had the perfect texture for a cinnamon roll. It was slightly thick and sticky. For the Chinese Five Spice Roll, I used an organic cream cheese (full fat) and it didn’t work out. The icing was way too watery/loose and wasn’t the least bit sticky. Next time I’m making this recipe I will definitely be using Philly as it was the perfect cream cheese to use.
I loved the flavour of both rolls. The orange zest worked really nicely with both the cinnamon and Chinese Five Spice. I can't wait to make this again.
These cinnamon buns were not only delicious, they were incredibly easy to make. I used the white bread recipe, mixed up the dough in just 10 minutes the night before making the rolls, and then needed only 20 minutes of effort the next morning to turn out picture-perfect cinnamon buns. Definitely won the best mom award with my kids for pulling that off on a Saturday morning!
With all the leftover dough I made pull-apart rolls and a couple loaves of white bread.
I used the white bread dough recipe and it came together easily as described. It took about 30 seconds in my stand mixer for the dough to come together. I let it rise in the 5 qt mixer bowl and it did rise above the top, but not by too much.
Crusty golden rolls with a lovely, soft interior. Sweet cinnamon with the citrus zest gave the rolls a wonderful warm flavor. And the icing gave them a super indulgent feel. The brioche turned out beautifully in the rolls with a soft buttery texture and airy layers.
The dough was extremely easy to work with—to make and to roll out and to form into a ball with just a few turns, as per the directions. I used a stand mixer with paddle attachment to mix the dough and it rolled out nice and smoothly and was simple to spread the butter and sugar mixture. I cut it into 6 equal pieces and placed them in a 9-inch inch square baking pan. They had lots of room to rise and were doubled after the 75 minutes. They were done baking after 25 minutes and were a nice golden caramel color. There was lots of space in the 9-inch pan so the edges of the rolls had a nice crusty exterior. If you want softer rolls, a smaller pan would work.
I made the dough one day and then prepped the rolls the following morning. I used the rest of the dough to make monkey bread and a simple loaf. It turned out beautifully with some melted butter and a sprinkle of sea salt on top.
The rising and resting times are ideal as a make-ahead recipe. We served the rolls with coffee and fruit for a simple and decadent brunch.