Cake Batter Cinnamon Rolls

Soft & fluffy Cake Batter Cinnamon Buns from scratch. They taste like cupcakes! 

cake batter cinnamon roll topped with icing and sprinkles

I’m not sure you’re ready for this. I mean it’s only Monday. But a little sprinkle and funfetti to my mundane Mondays never hurt anyone, right?!

I made cake batter cinnamon rolls over the weekend and I didn’t even have to touch the box of cake mix I have in the pantry. That’s right! It’s possible to make these without cake mix. I found the inspiration for today’s recipe from my Mini (no yeast) Cake Batter Cinnamon Buns. I made those rolls last summer before I began baking with yeast and before I began using less cake mix in my homemade recipes. For a shortcut AND a mini version, try those instead.

The dough recipe I used for these rolls is the same dough recipe I used for my Raspberry Swirl Sweet Rolls. And it’s really quite easy! If you are afraid of yeast, please do not be intimidated; there is hardly any “work time” involved, just some “wait time” as the yeast does its job. Again, if you are fearful of using yeast, do not let that stop you from making these. It is a simple and straightforward recipe.

I chose to use this particular dough recipe as the base for today’s colorful rolls because I love how fluffy the end result is. The rolls are soft, tender, buttery, and sweet and truly make a wonderful “starter” dough recipe for any sort of filling. And I figured their fluffy, pillow-y texture and buttery taste would make the perfect base for a funfetti center. Swirls of sprinkles and sweet dough – how can you go wrong? For the yeast, I used Red Star Platinum. I highly suggest this yeast as it significantly cuts down on waiting/rising time. And no, I am not compensated to say it – I swear by Red Star Platinum yeast for ultimate fluffiness!

Baking with Yeast Guide

Reference this Baking with Yeast Guide whenever you work with baker’s yeast. I include practical answers to all of your common yeast questions.

3 images of cake batter cinnamon rolls

I wrote a lengthy post about each and every step making this dough in my Raspberry Swirl Sweet Rolls post. **I highly suggest you read that before making these rolls because there are extra notes to know beforehand, especially if this is your first time baking with yeast.**

While the dough ingredients and prep methods are the same, I obviously used a different filling and I altered the glaze recipe a bit as well. Let’s start with the filling. The crème de la crème of today’s rolls. How did I achieve the cake batter flavor without cake mix? Well, I began thinking about the texture and taste of actual cake mix.  Creamy, buttery, powdery smooth, vanilla-y, and sweet. I took those 5 main attributes and brainstormed ways to get them without using a box mix. For a creamy texture, I used dry milk powder. I had a box of dry milk powder in the pantry from when I made DIY hot cocoa mix a few weeks ago. You may find it in the coffee section of most grocery stores where the dry coffee creamer is. And in fact, you could also use dry coffee creamer instead of the dry nonfat milk powder. For the buttery flavor, I used cold butter. For the powdery smoothness, I used all-purpose flour. For the vanilla taste, I used vanilla extract. And for the sweetness, I used sugar. A cake batter filling without any cake mix.

Pulse it all in a food processor a few times with some salt to reach a crumbly texture. Stir in 1/2 cup of sprinkles – do not use nonpareils (the little balls) in your homemade cake batter mix. The butter will melt in the oven and the colors of the nonpareils will bleed. You may use nonpareils to decorate the rolls with the glaze before serving.

The recipe for the homemade cake batter crumbles makes a bit more than you will use in today’s recipe. Any extras may be tossed or used to make my Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats or Mini (no yeast) Cake Batter Cinnamon Buns **I do not suggest using this homemade mix to make my Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies or Cake Batter Blondies – the texture and ratios will be off without a leavening agent present in the mix.**

bowl of homemade cake batter cinnamon roll filling

Sprinkle the homemade cake batter crumbles on top of the rolled out dough along with some cinnamon and softened butter. The butter will allow the cake batter crumbles to stick and the cinnamon is just necessary for cinnamon rolls, right?! I do not suggest leaving out the cinnamon as there may not be enough flavor without it. Plus, cake batter + cinnamon rolls are a killer combination! Just look at them – this one INSANE breakfast pastry.

When the rolls are finished in the oven and ready to serve, glaze them with the easiest vanilla glaze in the entire world. Heavy cream, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. Feel free to use half-and-half or milk in lieu of heavy cream. With either half-and-half or milk, keep in mind it you may need more sugar than I used to get the glaze to be as thick and creamy.

Shower the rolls with the sweet glaze and top with more sprinkles. The more sprinkles, the better.

2 images of cake batter cinnamon rolls topped with icing and sprinkles

I love the pops of color inside the coiled, fluffy dough – gorgeous tie-dye breakfast confections. And look how puffy and soft that dough is – this is truly the fluffiest, most tender yeast roll I’ve ever had. You will love this recipe! Serve the rolls warm and glaze right before serving. Any extra rolls may be frozen for up to two months, without the glaze. My birthday is only 2 short months away and you better believe this will be breakfast. Breakfast in bed, please (Kevin are you reading?).

There is nothing like a homemade sweet roll. Especially one with so much happy sprinkles. 😉

cake batter cinnamon rolls topped with vanilla glaze and sprinkles on a white plate with a fork

**I highly suggest you read this detailed post before making these rolls because there are extra notes to know about the dough beforehand, especially if this is your first time baking with yeast.**

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

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cake batter cinnamon roll topped with icing and sprinkles

Cake Batter Cinnamon Rolls

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 15 rolls
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Soft & fluffy cake batter cinnamon buns from scratch. They taste like cupcakes! 



  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast (2 standard size packets)*
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for dusting/rolling


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 2 Tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder (or dry coffee creamer – do *not* omit)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold & cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles (not nonpareils)
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon


  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Make the dough: In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until lukewarm (no need to use a thermometer, but to be precise: about 95°F (35°C)). Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and manually stir in the sugar and yeast. Cover with a towel and let stand until the yeast is foamy, about 5-10 minutes. Add the softened butter, eggs, and salt. Scrape down the sides and manually stir as needed. Chunks of butter will remain. Gradually add the flour and beat at medium speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is soft and supple, about 6 minutes longer. *If you do not have a stand-mixer with a hook attachment, knead the dough by hand in this step.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands for about 2 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Line the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving room on the sides. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using a rolling in, roll into a 10×24 inch rectangle. I used a ruler for accuracy. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick, even at the corners.
  4. Make the filling: In a food processor, combine the sugar, flour, milk powder, and salt. Process for 10 seconds. Add the pieces of butter and pulse for 10 more seconds. Add the vanilla over the top and pulse until the mixture is crumbly, about 10 more seconds. Toss in the sprinkles with a fork.
  5. Spread dough with 6 Tablespoons of softened butter and top with cinnamon. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the cake mix filling overtop. There will be some leftover. See below for suggested uses. Tightly roll up the dough to form a 24-inch-long log. Cut into 15 even rolls (about 1.5 inches in width each). Arrange them in the prepared baking pan, cut sides up. Cover the rolls and let them rise in a warm place until they are puffy, about 2 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Cover the rolls with aluminum foil and bake for about 25 minutes, until they are golden. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for about 15 minutes.
  7. Make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk the confectioner’s sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla until smooth. Add more sugar or cream, depending how thick you want the glaze. Pour glaze over the rolls and serve warm.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The recipe can be prepared through Step 5. Cover the rolls and let sit overnight at room temperature before baking in step 6. Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2 months and warmed up to enjoy at a later date. Glaze right before serving.
  2. Yeast: I suggest using Red Star Platinum yeast. This will cut the rising time down significantly. About 1 hour for the first rise and 1 hour for the second rise.
  3. Shortcut: Omit first 6 ingredients from filling recipe and use 3/4 cup yellow cake mix instead.
  4. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.

Keywords: cake batter cinnamon rolls

PS: The homemade cake batter filling recipe makes a little bit more than what you will use for today’s cinnamon rolls. I suggest using the extras to make my Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats. You could also use the extra cake batter filling to make my Mini (no yeast) Cake Batter Cinnamon Rolls.


Comments are closed.

  1. Regina @ SpecialtyCakeCreations says:

    Cinnamon rolls and sprinkles would definitely make for a happy morning for me 🙂

  2. Erin @ Texanerin Baking says:

    Yaaaay! Thank you again for making non cake mix goodies! 🙂 It means that anyone can make it. Yay!

    These cinnamon rolls look so fluffy and perfect and happy. The sprinkles. They’re just so… happy-making! 🙂

  3. Omg you are a Goddess!!! And not just cz we hv the same name AND we both are desserties 😉 but you ROCK

    Love from Denmark

    1. Hi Sally! Love “meeting” new Sallys across the world. You rock too!

  4. Dru @ Teenage Cakeland says:

    Oh my gosh. These look amazing. I love how the recipe doesn’t require any cake mix, because I never want to open a box just to have a tiny bit left over! And yes, I am very afraid of yeast, but I think these may help me overcome my fear 🙂

    1. Hi Dru! I was trying to simplify this recipe as much as possible and I know readers across the world don’t always have access to cake mix. Plus, it gets rid of the annoying half box of cake mix leftover, like you said.

  5. Hi there! I love you page so much I have it bookmarked! In the section with the filling it says to use a food processor I do not have a food processor on hand so I was wondering what I could in place of it? A pastry cutter maybe? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!


    1. Hey Regina! A food processor or blender are best. to really get the ingredients broken down and dispersed evenly with one another. A pastry cutter *could* be used, although not preferred. Let me know how they turn out.

  6. Angela Hutchins says:

    I have a question.. every time I attempt to make dough whether it be pizza, bread (anything with yeast involved) taste yeasty.. 🙁 I follow the recipes to a T and have made it time and time again with the same issue…the dough looks perfect until its son says that it looks and smells delicious but the taste is awful!! I heard allowing it to rise to long could be the issue .. is that true? because there are times I make the dough right before I go to bed and make my cinnamon rolls the following morning.. I have no luck with putting it in the fridge.. I’m not really sure to be honest how that even works..cold dough and I don’t get along! 😛 your advice is appreciated 🙂 -Angie

    1. Hi Angie – I’ve only worked with a few doughs that may be refrigerated overnight. This dough is not one of them. Try leaving it at room temperature as the recipes suggests overnight. And allow for extra rise time. Thank you and good luck!

      1. Lynn Bradshaw says:

        I just wanted to let you know that yes if a dough gets over risen it will taste yeasty. so dont let it rise too much and yes leave it out at room temperture like the recipe says for only the amount of time. in other words no sleeping in the next morning or hitting snooze!!!
        hope that helped a bit.
        i have just finished 3 quarters of pastry arts classes so we did a whole month on breads.

  7. These are wonderful! I made them on Tuesday and froze them to eat today while company was here; everyone loved them, especially my 5 year old daughter! I also want to thank you for your clear directions and tips – this was one of the best doughs I’ve ever worked with and I truly believe it’s because you made it so clear to follow. I’m hooked and now I want to try the raspberry sweet rolls!! 🙂 Thank you!

    1. Hey Amanda! Wow, what a nice thing to read today. I am so so happy that you and your family loved this recipe. And I agree, one of the best doughs I’ve ever worked with as well. Truly, one of my favorite recipes. You must try the Raspberry Swirl Sweet Rolls. One of the most popular recipes on my website. 🙂

  8. Jennifer MacKenzie says:

    I am just wondering if I can do the dough jn my bread maker instead? I dont’t have a stand mixer and hate kneading by hand lol. These cinnamon rolls look so delish I have got to make them!

  9. These are so colourful Sally, I’m very curious as to how they taste. This looks like another recipe that will be set aside to make at some point.

  10. I made these yesterday for Mother’s Day and my mom and sister loved them! Thanks for much for the great recipe!

    1. Hi Hillary! I am so glad to hear it. Thanks!

  11. I love all your recipes! They look so yummy! Have you tried using a gluten free all purpose flour with recipes similar to this one? I was wondering if it would come out. Just thought I would ask before using it.

    1. Hi Karen! I actually have not experience with gluten free flours. I’ve never had to since no one in my family has a gluten intolerance. Without any experience, I can’t make any GF recommendations for you. If you try it, let me know!

  12. How can we make the cake batter without a food processor?

    1. Hi Bethany – unfortunately you can’t. You need to pulse the butter with the other ingredients and there is no other way to do it.

  13. I can’t wait to make these!!! Who doesn’t love sprinkles?! Quick question for you… I’ve never baked with yeast other than like pizza dough. Could I premade them and refrigerate overnight and bake in the morning or would that not work?

    1. Hi Niki! Make ahead instructions are in the recipe: Make ahead: The recipe can be prepared through Step 5. Cover the rolls and let sit overnight at room temperature before baking in step 6. Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2 months and warmed up to enjoy at a later date. Glaze right before serving.

  14. Lauren Siegel says:

    Until the berries are bubbling? Wait what? Lol. Very nice recipe! As a pastry chef I am extremely impressed that you are self taught.

    1. Hahaha I just reformatted a ton of my recipes and that sentence was from my raspberry sweet rolls recipe. Just fixed it. Thanks Lauren!

  15. Julie @ This Gal Cooks says:

    These little cinnamon rolls are full of fun! I love that there isn’t any cake mix involved. Great recipe, Sally!

  16. Okay, okay, I give!!! Confession: I’ve been a bit jealous of you, because I can bake (and I never fail to please!) and have been told my whole life that I should go into business–which, of course, I never have and am now in my forties. Nonetheless, when I found your site I thought to myself, “Who is this young woman who thinks she can just start up a baking blog??” Well, you are an AMAZING woman with AMAZING recipes that so far, I’ve found to come out perfectly every time!!! And I adore your fun, down to the very last rainbow sprinkle!! Keep up the good work, and I’ll stay in my little slice of the world using your recipes and taking the compliments where I can get them….with YOU as my secret ingredient!

    1. Thanks so much Vanessa! What a sweet comment. I really appreciate it! So happy you enjoy making my recipes too 🙂

  17. Just made these for breakfast and I am SPEECHLESS!! After testing multiple cinnamon roll recipes online, this takes the “cake” by far 😉 I allowed them to rise overnight and the dough practically tripled in size! Everything about them is pure perfection- the flavor, the dough, the appearance. Thank you for the wonderful recipe, as well as all the others which are proving to be flawless every time.

  18. If I could I would give you a standing ovation. I see TONS of recipes that look super nice, but they en up being extremely disappointing because part of the “ingredients” are box mixes. I can’t recall seeing a cake batter ______ recipe that was homemade. Those packed mixes are probably full of chemicals and to me, they really are not an ingredient and they don’t produce “made from scratch” results just because you add milk and eggs. You are honoring real, hardworking bakers and pastry chefs, you’re my hero!

    1. Thanks Luli! What a sweet compliment. I love these rolls, and especially because they are made 100% from scratch.

      1. I can’t wait to try this recipe 😀

  19. Hi
    Just had a question. I just made these, and wow OMG soooo good. I was doing a trial run as I’m planning to make them for my sister’s bridal shower. When I made the glaze, mine turned brown because of the vanilla extract. Has anyone had this problem? Does anyone know how to stop this? I like extract instead of essence, I think it tastes better and is better for you but it turned brown, not attractive at all really.
    Though I did substitute milk for the cream as we don’t use cream and I didn’t want to buy a whole tub for a few tablespoons.

    1. Hi Amanda – thick heavy cream usually offsets the brown vanilla extract. You could try finding clear vanilla extract if you’d like to, or reduce the amount of vanilla.

  20. Hi Sally,

    I was wondering if you could use this same type of dough to make donuts? Because i do not have a donut pan. Or what would you recommend

    1. Jolie, I’m really not sure about this dough for donuts. Do you have a muffin pan? You can make my funfetti donuts recipe:

      In a muffin pan and bake them for around 18 minutes.

  21. Can this be made with cake flour instead of AP flour?

    1. Cake flour is used more for cakes and cupcakes, not for yeasted cinnamon rolls. You want a higher protein flour such as all-purpose.

  22. Omg Sally! It’s my birthday tomorrow and as somebody who loves cake batter and sprinkles (possibly even more than you, dare I say) I just had to bake these for myself. As I impatiently waited all day for them, they finally just finished cooking, I glazed them and ate one… I’m in HEAVEN. Seriously so, so good. The perfect birthday treat for myself! I made the same glaze you mentioned in the recipe, but I added a little over a tablespoon of the remaining cake batter filling to it. It turned out fantastic! A little extra cake flavour definitely does no harm! I live in Canada and we don’t have red star yeast here, so I use Fleischmanns. I’ve never had any issues when using that. Anyways, thanks again for making my birthday complete with the perfect birthday treat! ☺ 

    1. Perfect. Happy birthday!

  23. Hello, im really interested in making these goodies. Can you replace yellow mix for a gluten-free version on cake mix

  24. Lisa Rhein says:

    Hi Sally!
    This recipe looks amazing! Have you ever substituted oil for the margarine anywhere in the recipe? I am sure it can be done in the dough, but what about the filling?
    Looking forward to hearing back from you 🙂
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Lisa, I do no suggest using oil in either the dough or the filling. I recommend using real butter in both!

      1. What sprinkles do you suggest to you in your mixture inside your roll? You say what not to use but what do you recommend ?


  25. Cierra Collum says:

    Hi Sally!
    If I use the filling shortcut, do I just sprinkle the box cake mix on top of the butter-spread dough? Or should I mix the box cake mix with the cold butter to form a crumb like it would in the original recipe?
    Can’t wait to try this!

  26. We have been making this recipe for 7 YEARS! It is our go to recipe for birthdays and celebrations. I’m here again because, of course, my kids request it for St. Valentine’s Day. I have made it many times, and not always exactly followed the instructions, but its always turned out wonderful! Thank You Sally, I will be back!

  27. Excellent recipe! Very tender and delicious bread recipe. I followed the recipe exactly except I used all the sprinkle filling instead of only 3/4. thank you 🙂

  28. A friend’s daughter is celebrating her first birthday in the coronavirus quarantine so thank you for instructions on how to make ahead. I was able to make and assemble these, drop them off for them to enjoy the morning of her birthday!

    Also, the recipe is easy to follow!

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