Joy the Baker

Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls

March 8, 2012


‘Big Picture’ life thoughts:

Be kind.  Be kinder than you think yourself possible.  Be passionate.  Live fully, wholly, and unapologetically. Apologize when you’re a bonehead… for real.  Show gratitude.  Express joy.  Feel pain.  Empathize… with eye contact.  Slow down, breathe deeply.  Love hard… always.  Celebrate big and small.  Gather and  share.  Be brave.  Show praise.

‘Small Picture’ thoughts:

Where the heck are my car keys?  Why does this sweater look stupid?  Do I really need a set of matching towels in my bathroom, or are these hand-me-downs cool?  Wait… did I pay that bill?   I know you’re scared, Joy… do it anyway.  Don’t forget to feed the cat.  Don’t forget to write that email.  Don’t forget to write that other email, and send that picture, and write up that recipe.  Don’t forget to try and write it all down on that long list of other things you’re trying to forget. Don’t forget to sleep some.  Set your TV recorder?  Can’t.  Hopeless. Wait… slow down.  Chill out.  Try to think more ‘big picture’ life thoughts.  Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.

‘Big picture and Small picture’ thought:

How many more things can I make with biscuit dough… like, now!


I’ve been caught up in the day to day stress-bits lately.  It’s hard to see big when small tasks are so present and demanding.

Butter.  Biscuit dough.  Buttermilk.  These are all worry-tamers in my book.


Shaggy and cold dough will be formed into a loose, lightly floured disk.

It’s the beginning of very good things.


This is how you’d roll biscuits.  Big and thick.

For biscuit cinnamon rolls, we’ll roll the dough much thinner.



Dough is topped with melted butter and cinnamon sugar filling.

Come on… you know this is when things get bonkers.


Rolled and sliced.

Cinnamon rolls.  Extra butter.  No rise time.


I will never not love this sort of image.

Never not.

IMG_3968 - Version 2

Let’s talk about these little darlings.

Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls are like no other cinnamon roll I’ve ever had.  There’s hardly any kneading.  There’s no rise time.  There is warm, tender-centered, cinnamon flavored dough bites.  These pastries bake up with biscuit flakiness and rich cinnamon swirl.  They’re a bit more dense than your standard cinnamon roll… because they’re biscuits.

I think these rolls are best served warm, the day they’re made.  I quite like them with extra butter (duh) and a bit of strawberry jam.

Think of the ‘big picture’.  Think of the ‘grand scheme’.  Think of how much better those two would be with these rolls in them.

aaaand…. I love you.

Know what else is bonkers!?

Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread.  aaaaand Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls.

Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls

makes 8 or 9 rolls

Print this Recipe!

For the Biscuits:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cold and cut into cubes (if you don’t have shortening you can certainly substitute unsalted butter)

1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup buttermilk, cold

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg (optional)

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus a bit more for topping the biscuits before baking

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.  Grease a 8×8-inch square baking pan with butter and set aside.

In a small bowl, make the filling by mixing together sugars, spices, and salt.  Set aside.  Set melted butter aside as well.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut in shortening and butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Use your hands to break the fat cutes into the dry ingredients.  Some of the fat bits will be the size of peas and some fat bits will be the size of oat flakes.    In another bowl, combine egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat lightly with a fork.  Add the liquid to flour mixture all at once, stirring enough to make a soft dough.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead about 15 times.  If the butter has warmed too much in the making of the dough, shape the batter into a dish, wrap in plastic wrap, and let rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.  If the butter is still cool, shape the dough into a disk and, on a well floured surface, roll dough to a little less than 1/2-inch thickness.  My dough was about 12-inches long and 10-inches tall.  The dough will be rolled much thinner than a biscuit dough that you would cut biscuits from.

Brush biscuit dough with melted butter.  Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar filling.  Begin to carefully roll one vertical side into a fairly tight roll.  Continue rolling until you have a biscuit cylinder.  Using a sharp, floured knife, slice into log, about 1-inch thick.  Place rolls, in prepared pan.  Brush the tops with melted butter and bake for 13-15 minutes, until slightly golden brown on top.

These biscuit cinnamon rolls are best served warm the day they’re made.  They’re also good reheated with butter and jam.  

213 Comments Add A Comment

  • I made these tonight.

    Oh. My. God.

    They’re technically for a potluck tomorrow, but I don’t know if they’ll make it till then.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  • made these last week. and then again. and now im obsessed. i cant stop!!!

    ps you owe me a new wardrobe now.

  • Thank you so much for this recipe! I grew up with biscuit cinnamon rolls, not those weird yeasty ones, and I was having a major craving this morning and came across your recipe. Thanks for not letting me down :)

  • Justine Wilson March 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    What a great idea! I’ll be making these with visitors coming in town soon – do you see any issue with making ahead and freezing the rolls before baking?

  • I made these this weekend. They were lovely and I will defiantely make them again!

  • My daughter just made the cinnamon rolls from page 42 of your new book. Truly awesome! I was tempted to eat three right out of the pan. We have pictures but can’t figure out how to post them :(
    Thanks Joy, for making my house smell like cinnamon this morning ;)

  • I originally came to your site to look at the recipes and amazing images for inspiration both in my cooking as well as my photography. However, this post with your “big picture thoughts” is life inspiring. Thank you.

  • Joy, I know the recipe is already super easy but can these still be made the night before and kept in the fridge?

  • Joy-

    You just blew my mind with this recipe. CInnamon rolls are pretty much my favorite food group, but I never make them because I am lazy. But with a biscuit dough? And of course I also love biscuits. Wow. Bravo. I am also usually a skulker and never post comments, so you’ve drawn me out of my shell with this one. Nice! Love your blog and your podcast. Maybe I’ll even be inspired and rate you on iTunes just cause I’m feeling motivated :-)


  • “1/4 cup vegetable, cold and cut into cubes”

    Does it matter which vegetable I choose? :)

    • 1/4 cup is not a vegetable, it’s vegetable shortening. If you look in any grocery store you can find it. Don’t worry-there isn’t a specific type of vegetable that you need to find for the shortening.

  • Thx… needed a big reminder about the big picture…

  • I made these yesterday morning (and added some chopped pecans to the cinnamon-sugar mix before rolling) and they were FANTASTIC!! Thanks for such a great idea!

  • I made these on the weekend for a family get-together – they were a huge hit! Thanks!

  • Thought you’d appreciate this:
    My bootcamp trainer has a bottle of cinnamon and sugar that he put together in his pantry…and he labels it “Unicorn Farts”

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