Filed under: Breads / Rolls
December 7, 2022

Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls

Perfectly plush chocolate cinnamon rolls made with chocolate, cocoa and ground cinnamon and covered in a cream cheese icing. 

5 from 5 votes
Yield: 12 large rolls
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This one came about as a result of my 6yo’s request for chocolate cinnamon rolls for christmas; it’s such a perfectly christmas ask I couldn’t say no. 


There are different ways to incorporate chocolate into a cinnamon roll, a lot of recipes use cocoa in the filling or they’ll sprinkle some chocolate chips on the sugar before rolling. A few tests showed me I liked neither of these; the cocoa makes it all rather dry on it’s own, the chocolate chips offer a confusing texture in what should be an ooey gooey filling. So I instead used a similar filling I use for my milk bread babka


Combined with my buttermilk cinnamon roll dough and a vanilla bean cream cheese glaze, the result is fantastic: a perfectly soft & tender cinnamon roll with the added bonus of chocolate, without it dominating; the cinnamon is still quite prominent. 


Key Recipe Ingredients 


Bread flour: You can also use all purpose here, personally I like the chewier sturdier texture of bread flour which has a higher protein content. 


Milk or buttermilk powder: this is dehydrated buttermilk or milk (non-fat dry milk powder is often what you’ll see on the label). 


Cocoa: dutch process cocoa for that deeper richer chocolaty taste. 


Chocolate: I usually go for 70-72% cocoa solids but you can go as low as 45% if you like it sweeter. The filling will likely be thinner (nothing wrong with that!). 


Yeast: instant yeast, but you can also use active dry, just add an additional ¼ tsp. 



How to make Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls 

If you’ve made any of my cinnamon rolls you know that the first thing you’ll do is make the tangzhong, a chinese technique lifted from japanese milk bread. This is a simple as cooking some of the liquid and some of the flour together until thick. 

Proof the yeast: add it with the water and a pinch of sugar to a bowl and wait 5 minutes until it turns foamy

Then you’ll toss everything into the mixer and knead until it comes together in a rough ball 

The first rise & shaping

This is done when the dough is almost, but not fully, doubled in size. 

The filling: you’ll combine melted butter and chocolate with some cocoa and powdered sugar. 

Shaping: As you would any other cinnamon roll, roll it out into a rectangle, spread the filling then roll it up into a log and slice. When you arrange them in the pan, leave enough space for them to rise up and out. 

The Second Rise & Baking

In a very warm kitchen I wouldn’t expect this to last more than 45 minutes. In a cold kitchen you’re probably looking at just over an hour. 

The cream: learned this trick from Lizzy, it makes the rolls quite gooey. It’s optional! 

Baking: bread is done baking at 190 F but rolls are fairly easy to judge by looking at them, they should be on the darker side of golden. 

Glaze: either while the rolls are warm (the glaze will melt onto the rolls and make them gooyier) or wait for them to cool and spread a thicker layer of glaze on them. 


Make ahead chocolate cinnamon rolls 

You have two options to make this ahead so it’s ready to bake in the morning: do the first rise in the fridge, which will put you able to eat them about 2-3 hours after you start working on filling, slicing and baking them in the am. 

Or you can make them to the point of arranging them in the pan then give them some time at room temp in the am to fully rise, then bake, which puts you able to eat them 1.5 hours after taking them out of the fridge. 

The most important thing when working with dough is to not necessarily pay attention to the times instructed below but to pay attention to how your dough is behaving: if it’s tight and cold, it’s not ready to bake. If it’s come to room temp and bounces back quickly when pressed, it’s still not ready. If it leaves an indentation but bounces back slowly, it’s ready.  If it’s gotten all puffy and bubbly, it’s probably overproofed.


Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls

Tender & plush chocolate cinnamon rolls made with chocolate, cocoa and ground cinnamon and covered in a cream cheese icing.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Rest Time: 3 hours
Yields: 12 large rolls
5 from 5 votes


  • 40g or ⅓ cup bread flour
  • 240g or 1 cup water
  • 7g or 1 packet instant yeast
  • 60g or ¼ cup warm water
  • 100g or ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 500g or 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 60g or ¼ cup canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons milk powder or buttermilk powder
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  • 85g or 6 tablespoons butter unsalted
  • 85g chocolate chopped
  • 40g or ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • 35g or ⅓ cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • ½ cup heavy cream to pour over (optional)


  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean
  • Pinch salt
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa optional


  • In a small pot, whisk together the flour and water for the roux. Cook over medium heat until thickened (it will be gloopy). Let cool just slightly.
  • Mix together the yeast and quarter cup of warm water, sprinkle a pinch of sugar on top and set aside for a couple minutes to foam.
  • Spoon the flour over the yeast mixture. Add the eggs, sugar, oil, powder and salt, vanilla and the roux. Knead on medium speed until the dough mostly comes together, about 5 minutes, it will be a shapeless sticky ball. Set in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 2 hours at room temperature or until it has doubled in size.

When the dough is close to being done rising, make the chocolate cinnamon filling:

  • In a pot, start to melt the butter then add the chocolate and stir until smooth. Turn off the heat and add the cinnamon, salt, vanilla, cocoa and powdered sugar and mix to combine. If it’s thick you can heat it up a bit again or add a bit of milk. You don’t want it runny, just spreadable.
  • Grease a 13x9” cake pan. On a floured countertop, set the dough and roll it out to a large rectangle, about 13x20”. Spread the filling over the dough, then roll up from the shorter side (so you have a long log).
  • Using a bread knife or unwaxed dental floss, slice the log into 1” rounds. Place on the prepared cake pan. Arrange so the rolls have enough space to both rise and rise again later when they bake (I find placing them like this: 2,1,2,1,2..etc works best).
  • Cover with a tea towel and let rise for another 45-60 minutes, until you can press the dough and it slowly bounces back but leaves an indentation. (If it bounces back immediately, it’s not ready to be baked). Alternatively, leave the rolls in the fridge overnight, they might not fully rise and you can do the remaining rise at room temp while the oven preheats.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Pour the heavy cream over the rolls and bake for about 35 minutes, until they are golden (bake time will vary based on your oven and pan, check them at 25 minutes).
  • Whisk all the glaze ingredients together. If you are adding cocoa you might need a bit more milk to thin it out.
  • You can glaze immediately for a thin runny/gooey roll or you can wait until they cool, pour the glaze or spread over the rolls.
  • Serve warm! The rolls will keep overnight in an airtight container, microwave them for 30 seconds to warm them up.

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Recipe Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I made these today and they r my new favorite cinnamon rolls! I made them with brown sugar instead of white by accident but they still turned out amazing. They were so chocolatey and pillowy. I’m obsessed.

  2. 5 stars
    Made these morning…perfect. Just perfect! The tangzhong helped to keep the yeast blooming and makes for a super light, fluffy roll. The filling is just right between choc and cinnamon flavors. I put a few chopped walnuts on half and both with and without the nuts are excellent. Wish I could post a picture, they look just like the ones in the instructions (possibly fluffier!). Great recipe and not at all complicated.

  3. Do we mix all of the flour to make the roux at the beginning and if not, then when do we add the roux to the dough?