If I were the poetic sort of home cook, I’d pen a long, meandering ode to the indulgence these biscuit cinnamon rolls bring to even lazy weekend mornings. I’m not a poet, though, so I’m simply going to reassure you that these little lovelies are quick, easy, gooey, sticky, sweet, and certain to please. And they’re relatively instant gratification compared to their more classic yeast-raised counterparts. Do with this information what you will.

david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

Tester Bonnie D. loved that these were “a quick and easy alternative to the traditional cinnamon roll,” while tester Greg C. was delighted that the finished rolls were “soft and chewy” with plenty of crispy, caramelized edges.

What You’ll Need to Make This

  • Buttermilk–The buttermilk in the recipe lends a pleasant tang and also helps to tenderize the dough for softer, fluffier biscuits. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own following the method in the FAQs.
  • Cream cheese–We highly recommend full-fat cream cheese to give you the richest and creamiest frosting possible. Do make sure it’s at room temperature before mixing or you may have difficulty getting a smooth frosting.

How to Make This Recipe

  1. Make the brown sugar filling. Combine the brown sugar and 4 tablespoons granulated sugar with the spices and salt. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon of melted butter and mix to combine.
  2. Make the buttermilk biscuit dough. Combine the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls, then add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, stirring with a wooden spoon to create a shaggy dough.
  3. Knead the biscuit dough just until it comes together. Pat it into a 12-by-9-inch rectangle. Drizzle with the butter, sprinkle the brown sugar filling over the dough, and press it in.
  4. Roll the dough into a log. Cut the dough log into 8 even pieces and slightly flatten each roll.
  5. Bake the biscuits. Place the biscuits in the prepared pan, brush with butter, and bake until golden brown. Cool slightly before removing from the pan.
  6. Make the frosting. Whisk the cream cheese and buttermilk together, then sift in the confectioners’ sugar, whisking until the frosting is smooth. Drizzle over the cinnamon biscuits.

Common Questions

Can I add raisins or nuts to the biscuits?

Certainly. During step 6, when you are sprinkling the dough with the brown sugar-and-cinnamon mixture, add some raisins or chopped toasted nuts along with the brown sugar.

What should I serve with these?

For a lighter meal, serve these cinnamon roll biscuits with fresh fruit and coffee or tea. For a weekend brunch, they’re great alongside fluffy scrambled eggs and crispy bacon.

How do I make homemade buttermilk?

If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand for this recipe, measure 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 1 1/4 cups. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes before using.

Helpful Tips

  • The frosted biscuits are best served the day they’re made but can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for 1 to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a warm oven until heated through.
  • Don’t overwork your dough when kneading. You want it just to come together as smooth dough.
  • Use a serrated knife to slice your biscuit dough. It won’t squish the dough as much as a regular knife.
  • If your dough seems very sticky and soft, try refrigerating it for 20 minutes so it can firm up a bit.
  • For easier cleanup, slip a piece of parchment paper under your cooling rack when glazing the buns.
A cast-iron skillet filled with glazed biscuit cinnamon rolls on a wire rack.

More Great Biscuit Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

These biscuits cinnamon rolls were fabulous. I made them right before a meeting in which everyone was on a diet, and they were gone in seconds. This is the perfect cinnamon roll recipe for people who don’t have time to let them rise, and they’re so good!

A cast-iron skillet filled with glazed biscuit cinnamon rolls on a wire rack.

Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls

5 / 8 votes
These biscuit cinnamon rolls are quick and easy, laced with spice, and lavished with buttermilk cream cheese icing. A shortcut recipe when you want the taste of homemade buns but don’t have the time—or the yeast.
David Leite
Servings8 rolls
Calories455 kcal
Prep Time40 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes


For the biscuit cinnamon rolls

  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, (either low-fat or full-fat)

For the icing

  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar


Make the biscuit cinnamon rolls

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) and adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position. Brush a round 9-inch nonstick cake pan with 1 tablespoon butter. 
  • In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Add 1 tablespoon melted butter and stir with a fork or your fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. 
  • In a measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons butter. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed. The dough will probably look shaggy. No worries. 
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead just until smooth and no longer shaggy, anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Pat the dough with your hands into a 12-by-9-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle the dough evenly with the brown sugar filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Press the filling firmly into the dough. 
  • Using a bench scraper or metal spatula, loosen the dough from the work surface. Starting at a long side, roll the dough, pressing lightly, to form a tight log. Pinch the seam to seal. Roll the log so its seam-side down on your work surface.
  • Cut the log evenly into 8 portions. Turn each portion onto a flat side and use your hand to slightly flatten. This should seal the open edges and keep the filling in place.
  • Place 1 roll in the center of the prepared skillet or pan and then place the remaining 7 rolls around the roll in the center. Brush the rolls with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.
  • Bake until the edges of the rolls are golden brown, 23 to 25 minutes.
  • Transfer the skillet or pan to a wire rack. Let the rolls cool for about 5 minutes before icing. If desired, you can use an offset metal spatula to loosen the buns from the skillet or pan and, wearing oven mitts, place a large plate over the pan and invert the rolls onto the plate. Place the cooling rack on the plate and invert the rolls onto the rack.

Make the icing

  • In a large bowl, whisk the cream cheese and buttermilk until thick and smooth (the mixture may first look like cottage cheese). Sift the confectioners’ sugar over the mixture and whisk until a smooth icing forms, about 30 seconds.

Frost the biscuit cinnamon rolls

  • Spoon the glaze evenly over the biscuit cinnamon rolls. If you removed them from the skillet or pan, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place the rack with the rolls on the baking sheet for ease of cleanup.
  • Devour immediately.


  1. Storage–These are best served the day they’re made but can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for 1 to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a warm oven until heated through.
  2. Easier slicing–Use a serrated knife to slice your biscuit dough.
  3. Adding mix-ins–To add raisins or nuts to the dough, sprinkle them over the dough when you add the brown-sugar filling.
The Quick Recipe by Cook's Illustrated

Adapted From

The Quick Recipe

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Serving: 1 rollCalories: 455 kcalCarbohydrates: 77 gProtein: 6 gFat: 14 gSaturated Fat: 9 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 39 mgSodium: 169 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 46 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2003 Cook’s Illustrated. Photos © 2020 viennetta. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This biscuit cinnamon rolls recipe produced surprisingly good results. I don’t make a lot of cinnamon rolls because they’re always best the first day and, unless you’re getting out of bed at 4 am on a Saturday, how is one really going to make that happen on a weekend? Enter this recipe!

These biscuit cinnamon rolls were easy to put together and produced a nice result. The icing was delicious and had a good balance of sweet and tangy–I think the addition of the cream cheese is a must. It didn’t quite have that soft, spongy texture that cinnamon rolls that have been allowed to rise have, but these are still very good for a 30-minute process.

The process was really easy to follow and, while it’s a minor thing, I really liked that you melt the whole stick of butter and then portion it out over the course of the recipe. I had roughly a third too much filling.

I was skeptical about being able to “whisk” a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese into the buttermilk and powdered sugar, but it all worked out ok. I probably would have used my stand mixer if it hadn’t explicitly said to “whisk,” but it was nice that the whole recipe came together with a bowl and wooden spoon.

There were a couple of these leftover the next day and (in the name of science!) I tried one to see how they’d held up overnight in the fridge. A quick 20 seconds in the microwave and it really came back to life and had a nice texture.

For servings, due to user error (and maybe an inability to count), I ended up with 9 cinnamon rolls, after trimming 1/4 inch off each end to make them more uniform. It did make them fit together a little nicer in my 9-inch cake pan.

A quick and easy alternative to traditional cinnamon rolls—perfect for when you want the taste but don’t have the time. The biscuits were moist and tender, and the filling had just the right combination of cinnamon and cloves for a delightful taste.

I was extremely skeptical that a non-yeast cinnamon roll dough would do justice to this incredible pastry. While it was a bit of a challenge to work with (not that yeast doughs sometimes aren’t), wow, the results were spectacular. I really loved baking them in a round pan because there were lots of edges with that brown, crisp, sweet je ne sais quoi.

A set of biscuit cinnamon rolls cooling on a wire rack.

These cinnamon rolls were soft and chewy, just the way they’re supposed to be.

The icing was really good, but I prefer a more cream-cheesy version. The only trouble I had, and it probably was because the dough was a bit sticky, was that my roll wasn’t very tight, so when the rolls expanded in the oven, there were some gaps, which meant the filling kind of sank to the bottom. But there it caramelized, so it was all good.

A traditionalist, I’m not likely to make this recipe my new go-to cinnamon roll, but it will sure be nice having it in my back pocket for that spur-of-the-moment, “Hey, let’s have cinnamon rolls for breakfast today!”

It took a couple of minutes to get the wet ingredients incorporated into the dry and I needed to sprinkle the dough with a little additional flour. Also, I needed a constant coating of flour on my mat.

I thought flipping onto a plate and then onto a cooling rack would be complicated (fearing the rolls wouldn’t come out of the pan), but it was not at all. The instructions were clear.

I will preface this by saying if you’re wanting a sweet, gooey biscuit that goes together quickly, then this recipe a 10. It’s great warm out of the oven, and the next day it was still quite good, soft, and tasty.

It’s not to be compared with a yeast cinnamon roll. But it’s a good one to add to your recipe box of quick biscuits.

Be sure you don’t put parchment in your pan thinking there will be a quick release of goo on the bottom because if your pan is nonstick, it will plop right out. The oven does need to be 425°F. I did my biscuit cinnamon rolls at closer to 375°F as I didn’t trust that high temperature, but it’s needed to caramelize the butter and sugar filling.

I did the double-plate flip to get it out of the pan and then back onto a nice plate. I drizzled the icing over, and it made a nice presentation. The sugar filling looks like a lot, and it is.

Some might consider them a bit sweet, but it makes you forget you’re eating a soft biscuit. So it’s a good thing. They are big biscuits, and 1/2 is sufficient with a cup of hot coffee with a plate of scrambled eggs and ham.

I loved the taste of these cinnamon rolls. They weren’t the neatest little spirals as depicted in the picture, but I forged ahead and decided to bake them regardless. They were still delicious…my husband ate the entire pan!

I’d do a test run of this recipe before trying it out for company brunch, but the results, even if you run into trouble with the dough, is scrumptious. And right out of the oven…fantastic.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    A tasty, quick version of yeast-raised rolls! I would not, however, recommend my edits: next time, I’ll use only part white whole wheat flour instead of a complete substitution. I’ll also lean toward a wetter dough than a dryer one, and I’ll use only half of the filling next time. I will say that a minimalist icing of plain yogurt, powdered sugar, and salt was a good idea for me – that tang is necessary. I have individually frozen the leftovers for quick treats. Thanks, David and crew!

  2. 5 stars
    Made these (again) for Thanksgiving breakfast because what better way to start off a day of gratitude than by enjoying scrumptious cinnamon rolls that don’t take half a day to make?! Still delicious and still easy. Yes, the dough is tricky to work with but stick to it (no pun intended!) and you’ll be fine. And happy.

    1. That IS the perfect way to start a day of gratitude, Greg! You couldn’t have said it better.

  3. 5 stars
    Biscuit cinnamon rolls! Perfect for people like me, who are ruled by their cravings and therefore don’t always plan ahead and make a yeasted dough the night before.

    During the pat-out and roll-up stages, I was sure I’d messed everything up. The dough was thin and tacky and kept busting open when I was rolling it, leading to cinnamon filling oozes. I ripped off dough from the edges to use as spackle. Next time, I’ll use more flour and not pat out the dough quite so thin. My buns came out a little lopsided and cracked, but still intact! And they taste so good. ?

    I doubled the icing – tantalizingly tangy from cream cheese AND buttermilk – because my beloved loves a gooey, icing-drowned cinnamon roll.

    I will definitely make these again and again to satisfy cinnamon roll cravings!

    1. Fantastic, Leah. We are delighted you were able to satisfy your cravings, and your cinnamon rolls look amazing! Always a great weekend treat.