Filed under: Breads / Rolls
August 11, 2022

Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls

Perfectly ooey gooey homemade cinnamon rolls made small batch in an 8 square pan. This is an eggless recipe that makes just 9 brown butter cinnamon rolls. Made milk bread style, these stay nice and soft for days. 

4.91 from 11 votes
Yield: 9 rolls
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cinnamon rolls

This recipe comes about using techniques from these brown butter cinnamon rolls (the roux, the browning of the butter, the heavy cream pour) and from these sour cream cinnamon rolls (sour cream really does give the fluffiest rolls!). If you desire a full batch, make one of those.

Ingredients for Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls  

Flour: All-purpose, but if you have it and want to, use bread flour for a loftier chewier bread. 

Milk: Whole or 2% will work fine. 

Sour cream: Full fat. If you’d like to use yogurt choose a full fat greek yogurt; full fat makes for a softer bread. 

Sugar: Fine granulated goes into the dough and brown sugar (I like a dark brown here) is in the filling. 

Butter: Will be browned, salted or unsalted is fine. 

Heavy Cream: This is added right before baking, it makes the rolls more gooey. It’s optional. 

cinnamon rolls

Sam still fusses over a Small Batch of Cinnamon Rolls 

I have a few little fussy steps which you might not see in your usual cinnamon roll recipe: I do a tangzhong with some of the liquid and flour to make a roux (this gelatinizes some of the flour starches and leads to a softer roll – it is a chinese technique learned from making japanese Milk Bread); I brown the butter for my filling, and I pour heavy cream over the dough so that the rolls become gooey. 

You don’t technically have to do any of these things: you can add the milk and flour to the dough as is, you can use ¼ cup melted butter for the filling and you can skip the heavy cream step. If I had to choose one step not to skip it would be the tangzhong because I really do think it makes a difference in giving a softer, pillowy roll. 

How to Make a Small Batch of Cinnamon Rolls 

  1. Make the roux (flour and milk cooked together for a few minutes) 
  2. Mix the dough & knead (for at least 15 minutes, preferably 20) 
  3. First rise (at least two but up to 12 hours) 
  4. Shape and fill the rolls 
  5. Second rise (about 1 hour) 
  6. Bake 
  7. Glaze

How to make these Overnight Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls 

To do this we’ll keep the recipe as is but lower the yeast amount considerably and use cold milk in the dough. The first rise will be done on the counter, at room temperature. I leave mine out for about 12 hours so; mix the dough at 8pm and start shaping them at 8am. The rising time and reduced yeast amount was actually perfect. For reference, my kitchen is about 70 degrees F. 

The obvious question is; will the dough be safe to eat after sitting on the counter so long? I am not 1000% percent sure as I don’t have a degree in food safety, but consider that a lot of waffle recipes sit at room temperature overnight; that there are no eggs in this dough and that in the oven it will bake at a very high temperature. I’ve made them this way and find they taste absolutely no different than a two hour rise. 

Can I do a shorter first rise at room temperature and a longer rise overnight? 

It should work, but in this case I’d set them, filled, shaped and in the pan, in the fridge overnight rather than on the counter, less we over activate the yeast and they overproof. They probably won’t rise much in the fridge so leave them at room temperature when you wake up, until they are ready to bake. 



Small Batch Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls – Variation

If you’re coming here anytime between September and December you may wish to “pumpkin spice” these, here’s a quick and easy way to make a small batch of pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls:

Make the roux as directed. Swap the milk in the dough for 1/2 cup or 113g pumpkin puree and reduce the sour cream to 1/4 cup or 50g. The spices will be mixed with the sugar so before you sprinkle the sugar onto the filling add to it: 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground ginger and a pinch of ground cloves. Spread it over the browned butter and roll it up.

Proceed with everything else as directed below.


Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls

A small batch of supersoft and fluffy cinnamon rolls made without eggs.
cinnamon rolls
Yields: 9 rolls
4.91 from 11 votes



  • 125 g or ½ cup milk
  • 30 g or 3 tablespoon bread flour


  • 75 g or ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon milk warmed to touch (cold if doing an overnight rise)
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast for an overnight rise lower this to ⅛ tsp
  • 85 g or ⅓ cup sour cream
  • 250 g or 2 cups all purpose flour
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 55 g or ¼ cup granulated sugar


  • 113 g or ½ cup butter
  • 55 g or ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup heavy cream optional (makes the rolls gooey)


  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk


  • In a small pot combine the milk and flour for the roux. Cook over medium heat whilst whisking until the mix becomes thick.
  • Combine the milk and yeast together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment and whisk gently. Add the remaining dough ingredients, including the roux from above, and turn the mixer on low then gradually work it up to medium speed. Knead for about 20 minutes, until the dough is cohesive and shiny. Transfer to an oiled bowl and let rise for about 2 hours (or 12 if using the overnight option) until doubled in size.
  • Brown the butter (cook on a frying pan as it melts, then sputters and spits then goes almost silent and you can spot lots of brown bits at the bottom) and let cool.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll into a 13x9” rectangle. Spread a layer of browned butter over the dough, leaving a half inch border. You needn’t use all the butter (it’ll be too much, plus you can use some of it for the glaze) but just enough to give an even layer. Scatter the brown sugar over the butter and sprinkle on the cinnamon.
  • Roll up the dough from the short side so you have a shorter log. Slice into 9 pieces, using a bread knife or using unwaxed dental floss, and place into an 8 or 9” square pan. Cover with a flour towel and let rise again until puffy and the dough doesn’t fully bounce back when gently pressed.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 F. If using the heavy cream, pour it into the empty slots between the rolls and tilt the pan sideways to evenly distribute it. Bake for about 35 minutes, until golden - an instant thermometer will read 190 F to show doneness.
  • Make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, vanilla, salt and milk together. You can add some of the reserved brown butter (especially the dark brown bits) to the glaze. Add more liquid to make it thinner, more powdered sugar for a thicker glaze. Spread over the rolls and serve.
  • Rolls keep well in an airtight container on the counter overnight and can be reheated in the microwave the next morning.

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Recipe Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Loved how easy and delicious and foolproof this dough was. I agree the tangzhong method is worth the extra effort. I used 1 tsp of yeast, 2 hour bulk rise, then shaped the rolls, and put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, I pulled from the fridge, preheated the oven, then added heavy cream right before baking. While they didn’t really rise after being shaped and refrigerated, they still puffed and baked up beautifully and tasted delicious. Thank you!

  2. 5 stars
    Really delicious and easy to pull together! I went with a brown butter cream cheese frosting recipe from one of your other cinnamon roll recipes and it was perfect. Thank you for the recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I made these for Thanksgiving breakfast and they were a big hit. We do a lot of Annie’s canned cinnamon rolls around here for a quick treat for the kids, but both children agreed these were so much better and asked me to make them again. Cinnamon rolls are a guilty pleasure for me and I may have had more than one with my coffee that morning.

  4. 5 stars
    Another huge hit! I made the pumpkin version of these for a fall afternoon get together, and they were such a delight. Fluffy and moist with so much flavor. I put the extra brown butter into the icing (with two ounces of cream cheese), and it was so good that everyone kept sneaking extra tastes from the pan. I found myself singing “I could have died in your arms tonight” to these cinnamon rolls. I have always made cinnamon roll dough in my bread machine and left them overnight so I was a bit nervous about these (and made a backup plum cake), but they were incredibly easy. I will definitely make these again 🙂 Thanks, Sam!

  5. 5 stars
    I normally find this kind of yeasted dough recipe intimidating, but these rolls were incredibly delicious and dead easy to make! First time browning butter and the smell was fantastic. I’ll definitely be making these again.

  6. 5 stars
    AMAZING!!! an absolute hit. I really love the cream truck as it makes them extra gooey and delicious 😛

    One question– did you edit the proportions to a smaller batch recently? When I first made the recipe I swear I remember the measurements being larger

  7. 5 stars
    These look wonderful Sam! At some point I was working on a vegan cinnamon roll out of some weird curiosity I guess. Anyway, it was the first time I used the tangzhong method. It really is amazing how soft and fluffy it makes the rolls in the absence of egg and dairy. Beautiful work my friend!