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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.
Prep Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 24 people
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
Tried this recipe?Tag us on Instagram @feastandfarm and hashtag it #feastandfarm
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American

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  1. dear Rachael,
    i want to make these for Christmas, i see you ca freeze them before the second
    rise, but i need to travel 7 hours in a car and wonder if that would thaw them too much? Please advise! LOVE YOUR BREAD RECIPE! I make it all the time and will have my 6 year old granddaughter halp me make a loaf over the holidays!

    1. Hi Joanne,

      If they were frozen when you put them in the car, they should in theory thaw and rise while you drive. It takes several hours (8 to 10) for frozen dough to both thaw and then then warm enough to rise at room temperature. So if you are putting them in your trunk where it’s cooler, the chances they are going to rise much is minimal at best. If they are in the cabin where it’s warmer, they will have a better chance. If you don’t want them to thaw, put them in a cooler. If you do let them thaw while driving, make sure they have very greased plastic wrap on top so they don’t stick.

      I’m glad you all enjoyed the bread as well! Happy Holidays to you! –Rachel

  2. 3 stars
    Hi there!

    Love your recipes but I’m not quite sure where I went wrong with this one. I made a half batch and the dough was very very moist. I had trouble actually cutting it with the floss. My sugar filling ended up kind of dripping out and sticking to the bottom of my pan. Also, I didn’t put any icing and the tops and sides hardened quite a bit. Is this usual? Any tips?

    1. Hey Kat–bread doughs. They are temperamental sometimes. This dough is very soft and requires a gentle hand to manage it. In summer it’s good to know that flour also absorbs humidity making the flour “wetter” than in winter and may need less water than at other times of the year. The video that accompanies this recipe on YouTube may be helpful to watch to show you texture. If the tops and sides got hard sometimes that can be from over handling the dough or adding too much flour during kneading which are both tricky to balance when the dough is wet. The filling dripped out because the dough wasn’t solid enough to hold it in is my guess. Sorry it went bonkers on you. If you ever feel up to doing it again, watch that video first and see if it’s helpful. –Rachel

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About the Author

Rachel Ballard, RN, BSN brings more than 20 years of professional nursing expertise to Feast and Farm. With a love for nutrient dense foods that support wellness, she works to distill complex health information and current trends into recipes that fuel the best version of yourself. Read more about Rachel here.