Sticky Caramel Cinnamon Rolls

Sticky caramel Cinnamon rolls - A messy bun kitchen

Um, YUM! Cinnamon rolls are a fall/winter staple around here. I can make this dough in my sleep. Actually, if you’ve been around here much, you might have noticed this dough shows her face around here often. It’s a great brioche-style sweet dough and why mess with a good thing? The flavor is on point. But for the softest squishiest cinnamon rolls, we are going to do some major gluten development. 5 minutes of kneading in a stand mixer on med-low (or 4 on my machine) and then 2 more minutes on 6 (med-high). This method is going to give us the cutest tiny little bubble texture and rolls that are so squish it’s just sexy. I’m infatuated. Speaking of, let’s talk about this caramel for a minute. It’s soft. Sticky. Salty. But not in a bring me some tequila and a lime kind of way. Just right. Apparently, I’m all about texture today so while we’re at it let’s talk about getting that perfect gooey caramel on the bottom of those sticky caramel cinnamon rolls. I was going to try to write something witty but it’s Christmas Eve and getting late so I’m going to skip it and just give you some hopefully helpful problem-solving tips.

Caramel problem-solving tips

  • Caramel Crystalized (is grainy) there are two reasons this might happen. 1) The brown sugar was not completely dissolved when combined with the corn syrup and butter. This problem can be easily fixed by cooking the caramel just a bit longer and stirring to make sure all the sugar is completely dissolved. 2) It’s getting cooked too long and hot while in with the cinnamon rolls. I have this problem with my oven. It’s a 1950 gas heated Ropper with an oven on one side and a broiler on the other. My oven space is teeny-tiny with intense heat from the bottom. There are two ways to fix it. A) Turn the convection setting on for your oven. Or B) if you have an older oven like mine and there’s no magic spinning fan to save the day, you can save the caramel until after the rolls are baked, turn them out of the pan and pour it on like a topping. It’s good. It’s so good. And if you want that caramel baked into the bottom of the rolls (to die for) pour the caramel into the prepared pan just like you normally would but save 2/3rds of it to pour on after the bake. This is my preferred method. You might get a little crystallization but not much as the rolls will soak up most of the caramel and what gets poured on top will be smooth and gooey. It’s the best of both worlds.
  • Caramel is hard as a rock. It was probably cooked too long. Make sure you’re only cooking it on the stovetop long enough to dissolve the sugar. The butter might not even be fully melted at that point. Remove the pan from the heat anyway and stir to finish melting and incorporating the butter. It might also have been cooked too hot. Turn your burner heat down or see above.
  • Other issues? I love writing recipes. And I’m crazy glad you’re here. Mostly, I just want you to feel like you can succeed in the kitchen. So whether you’re trying my recipe and it didn’t work for you, or you’re here looking for the perfect sticky caramel cinnamon rolls because you haven’t found them yet. I want to see you succeed! So drop me a comment and let me know what I can help with.
Sticky caramel Cinnamon rolls - A messy bun kitchen
Sticky caramel Cinnamon rolls - A messy bun kitchen
Sticky caramel Cinnamon rolls - A messy bun kitchen
Sticky caramel Cinnamon rolls - A messy bun kitchen
Sticky caramel Cinnamon rolls - A messy bun kitchen
Sticky caramel Cinnamon rolls - A messy bun kitchen
Sticky caramel Cinnamon rolls - A messy bun kitchen

The filling

So why the complicated filling? I grew up with good old fashioned butter and brown sugar filling. And it’s amazing! But there’s a time and place for everything and this filling is a really good (and tasty!) way to get a super pronounced cinnamon spiral. And while some of the filling will leak out onto the counter and your hands and the bottom of the pan 🙂 the egg whites and almond flour create a nice paste that keeps that cinnamon-maple syrup spiral in tip-top shape.

Sticky Caramel Cinnamon Rolls

Soft cinnamon rolls with a sticky caramel topping

Course Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword christmas, cinnamon, cinnamon roll, fall
Prep Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 16


For the dough

  • 8 oz whole milk ( 1 cup)
  • 4 oz unsalted butter (1 stick, 8 Tbsp.)
  • 1.75 oz sugar (¼ cup)
  • .50 oz active dry yeast (4 tsp.)
  • 1 large egg
  • 16 oz bread flour (2½ cups)
  • .25 oz salt ( 1 heaping tsp.)

For the filling

  • egg white from one large egg
  • 4 oz dark brown sugar (½ cup, packed )
  • 2 oz maple syrup ( scant ¼ cup )
  • .30 oz cinnamon ( 3 tsp.)
  • 3.5 oz powdered almonds, almond flour (¾ cup )

For the caramel

  • 6 oz light corn syrup (½ cup)
  • 4 oz dark brown sugar (½ cup, packed)
  • 2 oz unsalted butter (½ stick, 4 Tbsp)
  • .10 oz pink Himalayan salt (½ tsp.)


  1. Heat butter and milk in a small saucepan until milk is just steaming and butter has just started to melt. Do not let the milk boil. Remove milk from heat and add it to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Test milk temperature before adding yeast. It should be about 110°f or just warm to the touch but not hot.

  2. Add egg, sugar, and yeast. Set mixture aside to rehydrate the yeast. About 5-8 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, and flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.

  4. After the yeast has hydrated, add the milk mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Mix on low speed to incorporate. Turn the mixer speed up to medium-low or a 4 and knead 5 minutes. Dough should be smooth and elastic but still sticking to the sides of the mixing bowl. Turn the mixer speed up to 6 and knead 2 more minutes. At this point, the dough should be one smooth elastic ball that is all sticking to the dough hook and comes off clean from the sides of the bowl.

  5. Remove the mixing bowl from the mixer, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size. About 1 hour.

  6. Prepare the filling by mixing all filling ingredients until fully incorporated.

  7. Prepare a 9×13 cake pan or 2 8" round cake pans by lining them with parchment paper.

  8. Prepare the caramel by adding all ingredients to a small saucepan and cook over low heat until just melted. Remove sauce from heat and pour it evenly into prepared pan(s).

  9. Roll the dough into a 15"x20" rectangle and spread the prepared filling on top. Roll the dough up from the wide end and pinch the seam closed.

  10. Cut the roll into 16 equal pieces and place them spiral side up in the prepared pans (s). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size. About 1 hour.

  11. Preheat oven to 350°f.

  12. Bake the rolls 35-40 minutes until golden brown on the tops and sides and the middle is cooked through.

  13. Let the rolls cool for a few minutes before turning them out of the pan onto a parchment-lined tray. Serve warm, room temp., or reheat for 15-20 seconds in the microwave.

Merry Christmas and thanks for reading! While you’re here you might like to check out this recipe for cinnamon bread. It’s the most popular recipe on here! If you make these sticky caramel cinnamon rolls let me know! You can tag @amessybunkitchen on Instagram. I’d love to see what you created! Mandy


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