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Soft Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

How many times have you tried (and failed) to make a gooey soft homemade cinnamon roll? Too many to count, probably. And instead of trying again you went for a can or something frozen and that works, sure. But if you want to try again, I’ve got just the thing you need here–secret ingredient included. 

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Freezer Friendly, Make Ahead, Big Batch

A baking dish of cinnamon rolls with one removed and a spatula inside

I love these things.  They are truly soft homemade cinnamon rolls–in fact, they are so soft that I left the pan sitting out on the stove all night without any plastic wrap on them–I know–I am such a rebel.

And they were still soft in the morning. I’m a rebel or a genius, I’m not sure which. You can decide.

And speaking of genius, let’s talk about what makes this recipe so good.

Don’t pass out.

They have mashed potatoes in them, and a cup of the water you cooked them in.

Now before you start up a protest, let me tell you why this works: it’s the starch in the potatoes that helps keep things moist, not to mention that this is a very wet dough. The wetter you can keep it without adding too much flour, the better off your soft cinnamon rolls will be.

You can use leftover potatoes from dinner the night before as long as they aren’t loaded down in odd stuff like chicken broth, cheese or pepper. I have used leftover ones that had just butter and salt in them and I’ve made them plain-oh-plain just mashed straight from the pot. I couldn’t tell a difference. Try to puree your potatoes very smooth with a mixer. Cook them all the way through and avoid any big lumps. That wouldn’t be too good.

one cinnamon roll on a plate on a red napkin

If for some reason you forget to save the water from your potatoes it’s perfectly fine.  I’ve done that too, and you can just add a cup of regular water, they will be fine.

This recipe makes two 9×13 pans of rolls. It’s a HUGE recipe. If you don’t want to make that many, just cut this recipe in half or freeze the other half before their second rise and you can make them later.

For the icing, you can make something from scratch, but WHY? I use a can of cream cheese cake icing and it’s still awesome. Shortcuts where you can people.

If you’re gonna spend 3 hours making cinnamon rolls, I say make SOMETHING easy. I mean–what do you think I am?  A workaholic bread-baking, farming mom and writer?


Yeah. Gotcha.

Let’s make rolls.

Truly the softest cinnamon rolls you'll ever make or eat. They're a little labor intensive but just right for a special occasion.

Soft Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Always soft and light, these cinnamon rolls are made with mashed potatoes in the dough--but don't worry, you won't ever know it. All you'll taste is yum.
5 from 11 votes
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Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 24 people
Calories: 150kcal
Author: Rachel Ballard


For the dough:

  • 1 cup lump free mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup reserved potato water or plain water is fine
  • 1 cup tap water
  • 12 tablespoons butter or margarine melted and cooled slightly
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 envelopes yeast
  • 1/2 cup WARM water
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 1/2 cups bread flour

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

For the icing

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 4 tablespoons butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk optional


  • Combine the yeast and 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl. Let rest 5 minutes.
  • Combine the potatoes, potato water, butter, sugar, salt and tap water in a very large bowl.
  • Mix well, then add eggs, yeast, and 2 cups of the flour to the potato mixture. Blend well with a wooden spoon. 
  • Add flour, 1 cup at a time until a soft dough forms and all 8 1/2 cups are incorporated. 
  • Once everything is mixed, spray with non stick spray or pat with oil and cover with plastic wrap until doubled in size--2 hours or so. 
  • Once doubled, divide dough in half and gently knead on a floured surface sprinkling with flour as you go just to keep it from sticking, about 5 to 7 minutes until the dough is smoother and more elastic.  Roll one into a 12x18 inch rectangle.
  • Mix the sugars, cinnamon, and vanilla in a bowl. 
  • Spread half the butter on the dough and sprinkle on half the sugar mixture, reserving the rest for the other half of your dough. 
  • Roll from the long side and cut slices about 2 inches thick or use dental floss or string to cut slices. 
  • Place in a greased 9x13 pan.
  • Repeat with other half of dough. (You can freeze rolls at this point if you want to).
  • Cover with greased plastic wrap and rise in a warm place 30-45 minutes until doubled. You can also place the rolls in the refrigerator overnight and bake them in the morning (they will not need any more rising if you have them in the fridge overnight). 
  • Bake in 350 degree oven 30 to 35 minutes. Tent with foil halfway through if they get too dark.
  • Cool 15 minutes and the drizzle with icing.

To make the icing

  • In a large bowl, blend the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth with a hand mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar until incorporated. Thin with milk if the frosting is too thick. Spread over the warm cinnamon rolls so it soaks in. 


Calories: 150kcal
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Recipe Rating


Saturday 12th of December 2020

Hi Rachel--you mention using a "moon whisk" in the recipe. Where can I find this to purchase?

Thank you!

Rachel Ballard

Saturday 12th of December 2020

Here it is Lucie!


Thursday 3rd of December 2020

Hey Rachel, Is it okay to do 1 cup of mashed sweet potatoes instead of reg. Mashed in this reciepe?

Rachel Ballard

Friday 4th of December 2020

Hey Vanz, I've never tested with sweet potatoes though people use them in yeasted breads often. My only thought is that the potatoes are here for their starch--if a sweet potato has a similar amount it should be fine. --Rachel


Friday 27th of November 2020

I would like to make these and freeze them. Do I need to let them rise after I freeze them? Do I need to take the out of the freezer the night before?

Rachel Ballard

Friday 27th of November 2020

Maddy to freeze these cinnamon rolls you'll want to shape them, put them in the pan and then transfer them to the freezer before the second rise. When you're ready to bake, they'll need to come out of the freezer and thaw probably overnight-- it may take even longer than that-- in the refrigerator or on the counter. Just let them warm up to room temp, double in size, and then you can bake.


Thursday 21st of May 2020

Ok i did the water versus milk. There is no difference. It's all delicious. I did make them once and didn't let the dough rise enough and they came out slightly hard on top. My fault. Im keeping this recipe and i found you on YouTube which helped me more. Last thing i have to say is.... Honey this recipe right here!!!....smh. #RaisesHandsToHeaven #ThankYouAllTheWayFromSc Do you have Instagram so i can hashtag a pic so you can see even i bake again?

Rachel Ballard

Thursday 21st of May 2020

Hey Denise, yeah I didn't think the milk would make much difference with a dough the good and I glad you see my ways now! ;) And yes you can find me on Insta @feastandfarm. I'd love to see your creations! --Rachel


Tuesday 5th of May 2020

Is there flavor in the dough?


Wednesday 6th of May 2020

I just recently started and the majority of recipes call for vanilla, however, I made your recipe last night (i halved it) and it is awesome. I'll be honest and say that i switched out tap water for hot milk and it gave me a soft strectchy slightly gooey bite and I LOVE IT!!! I'm in heaven. Also there is a very very similar recipe in link below and after reading all the comments, that's how I decided to try milk. I love ther outcome but i want to compare with water and so I'll strictly follow your recipe in a few days..... of course halved.

Rachel Ballard

Wednesday 6th of May 2020

Hmmm...I'm not sure how to answer this Denise. Have you ever made cinnamon rolls? What kind of flavor do you want in the dough? It's yeast bread so it tastes like that. Let me know what you're worried about and I'll try to help you make sense of things. --Rachel