Cinnamon Rolls {Made With Sourdough Starter!}

filed under: Bread · Breakfast on March 27, 2020

Fill your house with the smell of freshly baked Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls, full of lots of cinnamon flavor and topped with a homemade whipped cream cheese frosting. Made with my sourdough starter, these rolls will melt in your mouth and you will want to make another batch immediately! For another delicious breakfast (or anytime) roll, try my Raspberry Cream Cheese Sweet Rolls.

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls have to be one of my favorite sweet rolls of all time. With just the right amount of cinnamon flavor and the perfect amount of frosting, I can’t pass them up anytime they are around or at my local cafe. The rolls are the perfect lazy morning treat to have with your coffee or tea. Adding the sourdough starter to these cinnamon rolls gives each bite just a little extra ‘zip’, or tangy flavor that I love with sourdough bread.

Sourdough Cinnamon Roll on White Plate with Fork

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

There are three main parts to this recipe–the dough, the cinnamon filling, and the whipped cream cheese frosting.

Dough Ingredients (full recipe below)

Filling Ingredients

  • Butter
  • Brown sugar
  • Cinnamon

Frosting Ingredients

  • Cream cheese
  • Butter
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls Dough

It all starts with the dough for these Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls. So, get out your stand mixer with the hook attachment, and mix all the dough ingredients together for about 5 minutes. Make sure the dough is moist and sticky, but not too sticky. You can always add a little flour to the dough, but you don’t want it to be dry. Place the dough into a greased medium-sized bowl, cover it with a towel, and let it sit in a warm spot for 3-5 hours.

Adding Butter and then Cinnamon Sugar to Raw Dough

How to Make Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

After the 3 hours, place the dough onto a floured work surface. Flatten out the dough into a rectangle. (You shouldn’t even need a rolling pin for this step.) If you want 9 cinnamon rolls, roll the dough a little thinner. For thicker cinnamon rolls, keep the dough to about 1/2-inch thickness.

This cinnamon filling is going to be what is spread out and rolled up inside these yummy rolls. Start by melting 3 tablespoons of butter and letting it cool. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon with a fork. Pour the butter all over the dough, making sure to cover as much of the surface as possible. Next, spread the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture on top of the butter. Again, spread it out as much as you can. You want that sweet cinnamon taste in every bite of these rolls! Tightly roll the dough into a log using the bottom long edge as a starting point.  Using a very sharp knife, cut the rolls into your 9 or 6 pieces.  Place each roll into a greased 8×8-inch pan and let them rise for about 2 hours. Then, bake the rolls for about 25 minutes at 350°F. Remove them from the oven and let them sit on the counter for about 5 minutes while you prepare the cream cheese frosting.

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls After They Have Risen

How to Make the Cream Cheese Frosting

It only takes a few minutes to whip together this cream cheese frosting for the Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls. So, while the rolls are still baking, or even cooling, put the cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, start on low to get all the ingredients combined. Then, mix on high for 4-5 minutes, or until the frosting is light and fluffy. You can spread this all over the warm rolls that are still in the pan. Or, another option would be to flip over the rolls onto a serving plate and add the frosting then. Either way you ‘roll’ (get it?), these will be a hit!

Pan of Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls with One Missing

Can I Freeze Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls?

Yes! You can freeze them before they rise and bake by covering them with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Just take them out of the freezer when you are ready to bake them and let them thaw and rise before completing the rest of the steps. You can also freeze them after baking the rolls, but before adding the frosting. In addition, you can freeze them with no problem after you have frosted the baked rolls. Again, cover them with plastic and aluminum foil. But, be sure to let them cool before freezing them.

One Sourdough Cinnamon Roll on White Plate with Fork

Looking for More Sweet Roll Recipes?

Lemon Blueberry Sweet Rolls

Orange Sweet Rolls

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Quick Cinnamon Rolls (Bakes up FAST!)

4.94 from 16 votes
Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
5 hrs
Total Time
5 hrs 45 mins

Use your extra sourdough starter to make these melt in your mouth Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls!

Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls, Sourdough starter
Servings: 9
Calories: 359 kcal
Author: Amanda
  • ½ cup (123g) whole milk, room temperature
  • cup (219g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup sourdough starter, discard or fed
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • cup (67g) brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup (57g or 1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • cup (188g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  1. Add all the dough ingredients to stand mixer. Using the dough hook attachment, knead ingredients for about 5 minutes. The dough should be moist and sticky, not dry and in a ball. If it is too sticky, you can add up to 1/4 cup more flour so that you can easily move it to the bowl.

  2. After all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is smooth, place into a medium-sized bowl that has been greased. Cover with a towel and place in a warm spot for about 3 hours. (Can sit for up to 5 hours.)
  3. After the dough has risen, prepare a solid surface countertop with a light dusting of flour.
  4. Pour dough out onto the counter and press it flat. This dough is so soft and pliable you should not even need a rolling pin. Press the dough out (being sure it is not sticking to the counter) into a rectangle shape. If you want 9 rolls, make the rectangle thinner and larger, if you want 6 rolls it can be a bit thicker, like 1/2 inch thick.
  1. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon with a fork.
  2. Pour 3 tablespoons butter over the dough so that it covers the entire surface.
  3. Spread brown sugar and spice mixture over dough making sure it covers the entire surface.
  1. Roll the dough up, pinching with your fingers to keep it tightly rolled. Press the seam to seal before positioning the log seam side down.

  2. Using a very sharp knife, cut the dough into 6 or 9 pieces (depending on the thickness of dough). Place in a greased 8x8-inch baking pan.

  3. Place the rolls in a warm dry space and allow them to rise for about 2 hours.

  1. Bake at 350°F for about 25 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

  1. When rolls are almost done baking, put cream cheese, butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla, and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

  2. Mix on low to just combine. Once ingredients are all incorporated turn mixer on high and leave it for 4-5 minutes. Frosting should be light and fluffy.
  3. Place cream cheese frosting on rolls right in the pan OR invert rolls onto serving plate and then top with frosting.

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  • Jane Omar says:

    Hi Amanda
    I am wondering what the weight you use for fed or discard. Once measured into a cup,they weight totally different (fed is more bubbles therefore takes more space in the cup). Does it matter the weight or is it for taste?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Jane! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. Go by weight for the sourdough starter; 1 cup of sourdough starter = about 227 grams. I hope this helps, and have a great day!

  • Sam says:

    I have tried this recipe twice. Both times the dough was so wet and difficult to work with it was virtually impossible to roll without sticking to my (liberally floured) worktop and equally difficult to slice. I am making it again today and I have managed to roll it, but I’m not going to attempt slicing ot into scrolls. I’ve just coiled the roll up into one giant scroll.
    What am I doing wrong?!

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      Hi Sam! So sorry there has been any issues. You may have a starter with a hydration ratio that is high. You could use a bit more flour to reach the desired consistency.

  • Anne Monzo says:

    Loved the result I had using your recipe for the starter, so easy! Other ones I tried always used milk. I am now going to try to use the discard for other things than pancakes. This bread doesn’t bring my blood sugars up like other breads do.

  • Raine says:

    Hi! I was so excited to find this recipe. I’ve been wanting a straightforward sourdough cinnamon roll recipe. However, I’m having some issues. I’ve had to throw out two batches in one day. 🙁 Neither batch rose…just flattened out and sort of…melted into the bottom of the bowl. At first, I thought it was because I used the bowl’s lid instead of a towel and perhaps it trapped too much moisture. I still followed through and cut them and let them sit uncovered for two hours…nothing happened. But I baked them anyhow. They were…unpleasant. LOL Not airy and light but doughy and thin. Threw them out. Second round, used a towel and they still didn’t rise even a little in over 4 hours. The dough “melted” into the bottom of the bowl again. I’m not sure I want to waste the filling ingredients and try to bake the second batch since it looks the same as the first round. The first round, I used discard, the second round was with fed and doubled starter. My starter is the consistency of a thick pancake batter. The house is 80F. Just can’t figure out why it isn’t rising. Any suggestions? I’d welcome them! (I really want this recipe to work out–they look gorgeous…and my mouth is watering. LOL) Thank you!

  • Raine says:

    P.S. In reference to my first comment. I ended up throwing the second batch out before baking. With only a towel covering the dough, it formed a very dry “skin” that I couldn’t incorporate into the dough. Argh. So, Raine 0, dough 2. LOL I’m definitely riding the struggle bus with this one–and my tastebuds remain unfulfilled. 🙂

  • Carol says:

    My dough came out very wet as well. I went ahead and struggled with rolling it up. I figure to go all in. They are currently rising and I will try to bake them. We’ll see what happens.

  • Sam T says:

    This worked out great! I didn’t have any milk on hand, so I used cream and almond milk until the dough was just a bit tacky but not too loose. I ended up baking them closer to 35-40 minutes until a cake tester came out clean. I didn’t have cream cheese on hand either, but a simple confectioners’ sugar icing was a fine substitute, especially with the sourdough starter adding a nice tang in lieu of cream cheese.

    This recipe alone got through almost all the discard I was fretting over, so I’m definitely making this again soon!

  • Tim R from St. Louis says:

    Great recipe. I will try this a second time as well. Oh, the waist line.

    Regarding other comments, my dough rose perfectly.

    My notes:
    Use 227 grams of starter either fed or unfed, rather than by volume. That makes up for whether starter is airy or not. That’s probably a good bit of discard for you, so you can go ahead and feed it or just overdo the prior feeding. My dough was a bit too wet, so I added about 20 grams (1/4 cup) additional flour. This recipe worked excellently with almond milk.

    I made 1.5x the filling, with about 2x more cinnamon than called for, and used it all, reserving a small amount for the top after rolls were placed in the pan.

    After first rise, filling and cutting, placed in 8×8 pan (9 rolls) and I put in refrigerator overnight. Pulled out in morning, to complete the second rise, I placed in microwave with bowl of hot water from tap while oven was preheating.

    I baked 22 min and they were nicely moist inside. Stick came out clean. Might have cooked another minute, but not much more.

  • Tim R says:

    Tip: stretch the dough out on floured parchment paper. Use the parchment to help you roll the tube up tightly. Don’t squeeze it, just let the parchment help with a consistent roll

  • Dean Harrington says:

    As more and more Internet sites about FOOD pop up, I find myself in the wonderful position of having to critique them :0|

    The recipe is outstanding.

    The presentation of the recipe on this page is not.

    When I want to cook and need a recipe, 9 times out of ten, -I’m in a hurry!
    And that’s when I discover that, most people posting recipes on the Internet, -wannabe writers :0|

    But this page is more than that. Maybe it’s because I’m new to the whole “cooking thang,” or maybe it’s because I’m an admitted idiot, but having to go back up to the beginning of the page to see & make sure how the “dry teim” (yes, there is an “i” in my “teim”), is put together, and then go back down to the bottom of the page to continue this fantastic kitchen creation,…

    You -are- hoping people come back to look up other recipes, right?

    The competition is 2 by 4 -Stiff. If you want to compete in it, then here’s a couple tips that are sure to keep people coming back, and will also get people recommending this site to their [guy] friends:

    =resist the urge to live vicariously in your second life as a writer. People are here for a recipe. If they wanted to read a cook book, they would’ve went out and bought one. You’re making it all to easy to just throw on some Alton Brown “Good Eats” and get the 411 directly from the expert.

    -make it super easy to navigate and create this great recipe. It’s bad enough that we have to wade through an onslaught of non-strategically placed “annoyances” (Ads), [but I understand the the Ads bring in the revenue], but then people go and add a duckload of pictures…

    “this is the picture of me mixing the dry teim,…”

    “this is a picture of my hardly-believable immaculate kitchen,…”


    These are the kinds of fires that bring us to your sites 😀

    Evolve accordingly.

    Thanx :*

  • Daniel says:

    OK – I have been baking with sourdough for 8 years. This is the *BEST* Fool Proof – without fail – recipe that I have baked.

    These are the most amazing cinnamon rolls. They are so good that we just eat them plain – no icing.

  • Cheryl says:

    I’m not a beginner baker. I had a LOT of starter that needed to be used so I doubled the recipe. It seemed really wet and I added 3/4c more flour. It still seemed wet, but I went ahead and put it in an oiled bowl and I let it rise for about 4 hours. I could hardly work with it. I’m thinking that a step is missing and that you need to knead it with more flour to get a nice non-sticky dough to then pat out. I told my fiance we will have some sort of cinnamon thing when I bake it in 2 hours. Help if there is a step missing.

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      Hi Cheryl-
      Sounds like the liquidity of your starter resulted in a wet dough. For the record, the dough is very loose, but not wet. But you were right to use more flour to account for that. I haven’t doubled the recipe so do not have an exact amount of flour to add to account for that. Hopefully, you still were able to make them and they tasted delish!

  • Sjs says:

    Will not raise. There is no yeast in the recipe. I have worked with bread / cinnamon roll dough for twenty years.

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      This recipe uses sourdough starter… which is the natural rising agent. Did you not add starter?

  • Melissa says:

    These were very nice. I’m confused as to why the recipe allows for either active or discard starter–I would think that the rolls would barely rise with discarded starter. I used very active starter (about 175g), an extra 20-40g of flour, oil instead of butter in the dough, and let them rise for about 3-4 hours (I think it would also be helpful for the recipe to identify how much rise to look for–I moved on to the rolling stage about about a 40% rise).

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      Discard is still active, it is simply the extra starter being removed. 🙂

  • Tina K says:

    Hi! Can you make this without sourdough and yeast instead?

  • Anonymous says:

    I made this recipe using sourdough discard and it came out so good!!! I’m about to go make some more.

  • Rachael says:

    I made these today because the recipe looked easy to follow and really yummy. Did not disappoint! Definitely will be making these again.

  • Angela says:

    Amazing recipe! Thank you! I have tried several sourdough cinnamon roll recipes, and this is by far the best! I even forgot about my dough during the 2-5 hour rise (left it for 12 hours!), and it still worked beautifully. Maybe even better! Thank you again.

  • Eric says:

    Tried this recipe twice. Worked wonderfully both times. I doubled the recipe twice – we eat a lot. I used 1/2 discard and 1/2 fresh bubbly starter. Super amazing both times. Thank you for sharing!

  • Kelsey says:

    Can you freezer this recipe?

  • Libby Black says:

    Only change I made was to add 1 tsp of instant yeast. I also let it rise overnight in the refrigerator for the first rise. Otherwise they turned out perfect! Light and fluffy! A winner recipe! I will be making again with my bread starter.