Rich & Fluffy Chocolate Sweet Rolls

These outrageously rich and indulgent chocolate sweet rolls come together with a buttery soft fresh homemade dough and brown sugar chocolate filling. They’re shaped like cinnamon rolls, but taste like flaky chocolate babka. Drizzle the warm rolls with espresso glaze or choose another topping from the suggestions below.

chocolate rolls with espresso glaze

Melty chocolate, fresh dough, and espresso glaze. What’s not to love about this trio?

Tell Me About These Chocolate Sweet Rolls

  • Flavor: I often use softened butter in softer bread doughs, but opted for melted butter here. I find melted butter adds more, well, buttery flavor. This dough is sweet and so buttery– in fact, it would be fantastic completely plain. But plain’s not in our language today and we’re filling it with brown sugar, cocoa powder, a bit of cinnamon, vanilla, and lots of real chocolate. Don’t limit them to the morning hours because these chocolate sweet rolls definitely taste like dessert.
  • Texture: Because there’s fat in the dough from the whole milk, eggs, and butter, the bread is extra soft, rich, and flaky. Though all-purpose flour is fine, bread flour promises extra bread-like chewiness. These textures work perfectly with the gooey chocolate swirls and smooth espresso glaze. Each bite has different twists, flakes, and pockets of melty chocolate– similar to the texture of apple cinnamon babka. They’re like warm chocolate babka rolls.
  • Ease: It goes without saying that homemade bread takes time and effort. Consider these chocolate sweet rolls a fun afternoon or weekend baking project. The dough requires 2 rises, but otherwise is pretty straightforward. You can even get started the night before by following the overnight instructions. Take your time and have all of your ingredients ready. If you’re new to baking with yeast, review our Baking with Yeast Guide.

chocolate cinnamon roll

Use a Rich Dough for Chocolate Rolls

Before I show you how to make chocolate rolls, let’s talk about the dough. This is a rich dough, which means that it’s prepared with fat like milk, butter, and eggs. Rich doughs make soft breads such as dinner rolls, pull apart bread, and glazed doughnuts. Lean doughs, on the other hand, are made without much fat and produce crusty bread like bagels, artisan bread, and pizza dough. There are so many ways to bake bread and if you want to expand your bread skills, here are all of our yeast bread recipes. (This cheese bread is a reader and team favorite!)

  • Instant Yeast or Active-Dry? You can use instant yeast or active-dry yeast in the chocolate rolls. I usually use instant yeast and still take the time to quickly proof the yeast in step 1. Proofing the yeast means mixing it with a little sugar and the warm liquid to prove that it’s active– the mixture will look foamy on top, see photo below. But this step is not usually required when using instant yeast. Still, it doesn’t hurt and takes 5 minutes and you can prep your other dough ingredients as you wait.

This rich dough is supposed to be very soft, so don’t add more flour than absolutely needed. Embrace the softness and a sticky work surface because if you don’t mind the mess, you’ll be rewarded with the richest, flakiest chocolate rolls. I heard chocolate croissants were borderline jealous of all these flakes.

Do These Taste Like Cinnamon Rolls?

As far as the process goes, we’re essentially making cinnamon rolls but with a chocolate filling. Make the dough, let it rise, punch it down, roll it out, add the chocolate filling, roll up jelly roll style, cut into rolls, let them rise until puffy, then bake. If you’ve made homemade cinnamon rolls before, this process isn’t anything new. We do use cinnamon in the filling, but it’s really just a background flavor behind all the chocolate and brown sugar. They certainly resemble cinnamon rolls, but they taste like homemade bread swirled with gooey melted chocolate.

Step-By-Step Photos

Proofing the yeast:

yeast milk and sugar mixture proofing in glass bowl

Here is the soft dough before and after the 1st rise:

rich dough before and after rising

rolled out dough with chocolate filling on top

rolled out dough with chocolate filling on top

rolling up the chocolate rolls dough

dough log cut into 12 pieces

Here are the rolls before and after the 2nd rise. See how puffy they get?

two photos showing chocolate rolls before and after rising

I don’t want to stand in your way of chocolate bliss, so I promise I’m almost done. 😉

Espresso Glaze & Other Topping Options

I couldn’t decide on a topping that would be legendary enough for these extraordinary rolls, but espresso glaze comes pretty close. The bitter espresso powder helps offset the sweet confectioners’ sugar and all the sweetness in the rolls themselves. Other topping options include salted caramel, vanilla icing, the maple icing from maple bacon doughnuts, or cream cheese icing from cinnamon rolls. For something simple, a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar would be beautiful. Peanut butter frosting would be over-the-top and I’m certain all your sweet teeth would be satisfied for weeks. Ha!

And, again, these rolls are RICH so you could easily skip the icing on top.

two side-by-side photos showing espresso glaze

chocolate sweet rolls in pan

Chocolate Sweet Rolls Video

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chocolate sweet rolls in pan

Chocolate Sweet Rolls

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 28 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes (includes rise times)
  • Yield: 12 rolls
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


These rich and fluffy chocolate sweet rolls come together with a buttery soft fresh homemade dough and brown sugar chocolate filling. They’re shaped like cinnamon rolls, but taste like flaky chocolate babka. You can make the chocolate rolls within a few hours or get started the night before using the overnight preparation option.


  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, warmed to about 100°F (38°C)
  • 6 Tablespoons (75g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon (9g) active dry or instant yeast
  • 5 Tablespoons (72g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups (530g) bread flour (spoon & leveled), plus more as needed for hands/work surface

Chocolate Filling

  • 6 Tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100gpacked light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (10g) unsweetened natural or dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (135g) semi-sweet chocolate chips or a 4 ounce semi-sweet chocolate bar, finely chopped*

Espresso Icing

  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream*
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder*
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted (sift after measuring)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Prepare the dough: Whisk the warm milk, 2 Tablespoons sugar, and the yeast together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment. Cover and allow mixture to sit for about 5 minutes or until foamy on top. *If you do not own a mixer, you can do this in a large mixing bowl and in the next step, mix the dough together with a large wooden spoon/rubber spatula. It will take a bit of arm muscle. A hand mixer works, but the sticky dough repeatedly gets stuck in the beaters. Mixing by hand with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula is a better choice.*
  2. Add the remaining sugar, the butter, eggs, salt, and 1 cup (about 130g) of flour and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add 3 cups (about 400g) flour, switch the mixer down to low speed, and beat until a soft dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Dough will be very soft, but not overly sticky. Beat in 2-3 more Tablespoons of flour if dough seems very sticky. Avoid adding more flour than you need.
  3. Knead the dough: Keep the dough in the mixer and beat on low speed for an additional 3 minutes or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 3 minutes.
  4. 1st Rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or use nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 2 hours or until double in size. (I always let it rise on the counter and it takes about 2 hours. For a tiny reduction in rise time, see my answer to Where Should Dough Rise? in my Baking with Yeast Guide.)
  5. Grease the bottom and sides of a metal or glass 9×13 inch baking dish or line with parchment paper.
  6. Roll out the dough: Punch down the dough to release the air. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 10×16 inch rectangle. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick. If the dough keeps shrinking as you roll it out, stop what you’re doing, cover it lightly, and let it rest for 10 minutes to relax the gluten. When you return to the dough, it should stretch out much easier.
  7. For the filling: Mix all of the filling ingredients together except for the chopped chocolate/chocolate chips. The softer the butter is, the easier it is to mix. (Microwave it for a few seconds to soften if needed.) Spread mixture all over the dough. Sprinkle chopped chocolate/chocolate chips evenly on top. Tightly roll up the dough to form a 16-inch-long log. If some filling spills out, sprinkle it on top of the roll. With an extra sharp knife, cut into 12 even rolls, between 1-1.5 inches each. Arrange in the prepared baking pan.
  8. 2nd Rise: Cover the rolls tightly and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Or use the overnight option below.)
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Bake rolls for about 25-28 minutes or until they are lightly browned on top. After about 15 minutes, tent a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pan to prevent the tops from browning too quickly and baking unevenly. Remove pan from the oven and place pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes as you make the icing.
  10. Make the icing: Warm the cream on the stove until barely simmering or warm it in the microwave for 15-30 seconds. Whisk espresso powder into the warm cream, then whisk in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract until combined. Drizzle the icing over the warm rolls and serve immediately.
  11. Cover leftover frosted or unfrosted rolls tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions – Overnight: To prepare the night before serving, prepare the rolls through step 7. Cover the rolls tightly and refrigerate for 8-12 hours. (16 hours max. 8-12 hours is best, but 16 hours is OK if absolutely needed. Do not exceed 16 hours.) The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise on the counter for 1-2 hours before continuing with step 9.
  2. Make Ahead Instructions – Freezing: Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up before enjoying. You can also freeze the unbaked rolls and here’s how: bake the rolls in step 9 for only about 10 minutes. Cool completely, then cover tightly and freeze. To serve, take the rolls out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Once thawed, finish baking them for about 20 minutes.
  3. Milk: Use whole milk for the best, richest tasting dough. You could also use buttermilk. 2%, 1%, or nondairy milk work in a pinch. Do not use nonfat milk.
  4. Yeast: Make sure you use 1 Tablespoon of yeast, which is a little more than 1 standard packet. You can use active dry or instant yeast in this recipe. Follow all of the same instructions. If using active dry yeast, the rise times are usually *slightly* longer, but not much. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
  5. Best Flour to Use: For best texture, I recommend bread flour. The same amount of all-purpose flour works and the rolls will still be wonderfully rich and soft. The rolls are a little more chewy and flaky when using bread flour.
  6. Chocolate: I usually use and recommend one 4 ounce (113g) baking chocolate bar, such as Ghirardelli or Bakers 4 ounce bars sold in the baking aisle. Chopped fine, this is about 3/4 cup. You can use semi-sweet or bittersweet. Avoid white chocolate or milk chocolate because the rolls will be overly sweet. You can use about 3/4 cup of chocolate chips, mini or regular size, instead. Chocolate chips weigh a little more, so use 135g if you are using a scale.
  7. Heavy Cream & Espresso Powder: In first part of the icing recipe, we are essentially making a creamy and very strong espresso liquid by mixing warm cream with espresso powder. Feel free to use 3 Tablespoons of very strong brewed espresso or black coffee instead. Mix icing ingredients together, then add 1 more Tablespoon brewed espresso or black coffee to thin out if needed/desired.
  8. Half Batch: You can halve this recipe by halving all of the ingredients and using an 8 or 9 inch square or round pan. The 1st dough rise time may be a bit shorter. Roll the dough out to (approximately) a 7×10 inch rectangle. Roll up into a 10 inch log, then cut into 6 rolls. 2nd dough rise time will be about the same. Bake time is a few minutes shorter.

Keywords: chocolate sweet rolls

How to Join the May Sally's Baking Challenge

Make the chocolate sweet rolls. Feel free to leave plain or use your desired glaze/topping. If you aren’t into this recipe, here is the alternate baking challenge recipe:

  1. any previous challenge recipe you haven’t made yet OR
  2. One Giant Sugar Cookie. We thought this would be a fun recipe for Mother’s Day, even if you just make it for yourself!

After you make the chocolate rolls or the alternate recipe, email us your recipe photo. For a bonus entry, leave a review on the recipe below.

By emailing your recipe photo to us, you are automatically entered in the baking challenge. 1 winner receives a $250 Amazon Gift Card. The challenge is open to the whole world. Challenge ends on May 31st at 5pm eastern. The winner will be selected at random, emailed their prize, and posted in the June Baking Challenge blog post on June 1st 2021.

Visit the Sally’s Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions about Sally’s Baking Challenge. Sign up for Sally’s Baking Challenge emails so you’re alerted as soon as new challenge post is published!


  1. These were delicious! We made them with the vanilla glaze. Perfect amount of chocolate and not too sweet. Next time, I would bake them for less time (or maybe lower temperature) the edges of ours got a little dark.

  2. Catherine Davis says:

    This recipe turned out so good it belongs in a bakery! I did good and only ate one and set the rest to the Detectives with hubby. They’re all raving about them.

  3. What a fun twist on a cinnamon roll! We aren’t big breakfast eaters, so I made them for dessert and they were delicious! I think I’ll even have a leftover one warmed with my coffee in the morning!

    They went together easily (even though I mis-read and accidentally mixed the chocolate into the filling) and tasted really good too!

  4. Janelle Liss says:

    While I was reading this recipe, it occurred to me that it sounded like something I could make in my bread machine. So I gave it a shot and I was not disappointed! I heated up the milk and butter to 100° and put it in the bread machine pan, poured in 4 cups of bread flour, made two separate wells, I beat the eggs and put it in one well, and the sugar and yeast in the other well. I put the salt off to the side. Set it to regular dough mode, and it came out perfect! Then I finished the recipe as followed and topped them with vanilla glaze. I’ll definitely be doing this again!

  5. Made these and they looked picture perfect. I used oat milk and they still turned out great.

  6. I was wondering, if I want to make these in the same recipe amount but mini ones so there would be more, could I cut the dough in half horizontally before rolling so they bake up as big? (I hope that made sense)
    If so, how long would it bake for?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Oke, we imagine that should work okay — bake time should be about the same if using the same pan size, but keep a close eye on them. Let us know how it works!

  7. This was such an easy yeast dough recipe! My dough rose in 1 hr 30 min for the first rise with dry active yeast. My family loved these and I will be making them again. The only thing I would change would be to halve the amount of cinnamon in the filling. Thanks again for a great recipe!

  8. Christin Harrison says:

    These were delicious. I made them in smaller pans so that I could share them with a friend who had just adopted a sweet little toddler! Easy to make…all you need is a little time at home. Wonderful!

  9. These were very easy to make and they turned out beautifully! The smell is intoxicating! I went with the espresso glaze and I love the hint of coffee. Delicious! I’ll be keeping this recipe and making it again!

  10. These are amazing! I used AP flour and 2% milk because it’s what I had, and they still are great. The dough is so soft yet chewy and it has just the right sweetness. My husband said it’s one of the best things I have ever baked and my kids devoured them as well.

  11. These Chocolate Sweet Rolls were absolutely delicious. I made half of the recipe per the instructions and used almond milk for the dairy. I also used double strength brewed instant coffee for the glaze in place of cream and espresso powder. They came out perfect! One thing I really appreciated about this recipe is that they are not too sweet. I was hesitant to use the glaze as I don’t like overly sweet desserts but the balance was just right. Thank you!

  12. Excellent! Espresso icing is spot on for flavor profile. Rolls had perfect texture. Highly recommend!

  13. A wonderful recipe! I used the overnight method and the rolls came out beautiful and so delicious this morning. Loved them 🙂

    Have a good and relaxing weekend, Sally!
    I have the feeling right now, even if there are some things improving pandemic-wise, this times still are pretty stressful – at least I experience them as such. So, I wanted to send good vibes your way. Also, I want to thank you for providing wonderful recipes like this one which help me spend restful times kneading dough and sitting down at breakfast with my family over freshly baked rolls.
    All the best to you and your lovely family!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sina! Thank you so much for the thoughtful note. We appreciate your participation and loyal readership — happy baking to you!

  14. Carrie Fox says:

    Made these and used the overnight method to make it easy in the morning. In both rises, the dough really puffed up a lot. It was the fluffiest bread/roll I have ever made! I had to use two different dishes, and iced only the larger group. They were delicious and exceptionally tasty, especially since my toddler wanted more (which I wasn’t willing to oblige as she didn’t need more chocolate). Great, straightforward recipe. Thank you for the video too!

  15. I followed the recipe exactly and these turned out amazing! This dough is so easy to work with, and I am going to use this as a base for all my sweet rolls. Super flaky, rich, and melts in your mouth!

  16. Love this recipe! I love cinnamon scrolls, so couldn’t wait to taste the chocolate version – and it was delicious! Especially when warm…thanks for another great recipe Sally!

  17. Made these for mothers day brunch but used a vanilla cream cheese glaze. Tried one ahead of time and they were amazing!

  18. Ally Pickett says:

    I just made these as a pre-mother’s day gift to my mother. Halved the recipe and added toasted pecans and topped with the salted caramel sauce. She and I both really enjoyed them! Would definitely make again!

  19. Jenny Wittenauer says:

    Delicious and Decadent! These rolls were so easy and taste oh so good! I did half a batch and they turned out fantastic, even got 8 rolls instead of 6. Love all of your recipes, so easy to follow and always yields scrumptious results. I always get so many compliments of anything I bake of yours, and always refer people to your website. Thanks for continuing to create and bake wonderful desserts!

  20. These are dangerously good. Thanks for another great recipe. My family absolutely loved them. We used a caramel frosting which we loved on them. Would easily make them again.

  21. Sally & Gang,

    These were the best! We knew when we rolled out the dough they were going to be fantastic! It took no time at all to roll the dough out. The recipe was perfect. Not messing aound, just perfect. Soft, fluffy dough. Love working with this dough!

    As Always, Thank you!

  22. These are delicious! And pretty easy too. Made them a day ahead and reheated in the morning. A delightful gooey chocolatey treat!

  23. Diane Schmidtke says:

    These sweet rolls were so easy to make. I did the overnight version and had a delightful Mother’s Day breakfast. I will definitely be making these again. Thanks Sally for another show stopping recipe

  24. Hi Sally,
    This sweet roll is very easy to make and very delicious.I enjoyed this with my family.Thank you so much for sharing those recipes with us.❤️

  25. Scrumptious. Fun to make, and the dough was pillow soft! Half for my mom and half for my family for Mother’s day!!
    Happiest of Mother’s days to you!

  26. katherine demaray says:

    These just came out of the oven! I split the dough to make minis and needed a few extra minutes in the oven to get the center ones up to temperature… went with the espresso glaze and boy, are they delicious!

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