Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon RollsOh. Man. I CANNOT wait to tell you about these Christmas morning cinnamon rolls! I am so excited that we will, in fact, be having these Christmas morning! It’s like a present to me. I’ll have to remember to write myself a thank you card…

Cinnamon RollsThis is our first Christmas as a family of 3 and Travis and I decided this year we needed to start some traditions of our own. First of all, we are traveling A LOT over the holidays. Or at least it feels like that. I’m pretty sure it just seems like we’re traveling more than we are because we need to pack a truckload of stuff with us now that we have a little one. Either way, we made it a point to actually be at HOME for Christmas day. I don’t think we’ve ever actually been home for Christmas day as a couple so this will be fun!

Another new tradition is apparently shopping online because we have no time to shop anymore. I’m starting to feel old because I know I’m totally late to this online shopping thing. BUT, with a baby, online shopping is the best thing since sliced bread.

Cinnamon RollsHowever, as Travis and I discussed traditions we pretty much focused most of our attention on food. Doesn’t it always go that direction?? Isn’t it wonderful?? As I thought about past family holidays, I remember the decorations and presents and snow and fun that we had. None of that was lost to me, but what I remember most is gathering around the table with family and enjoying a meal full of love and traditions. So this was like a BIG deal to come up with our own family traditions.

Cinnamon RollsSome of my most cherished holiday memories come back to baking with my grandmas, mom, and sister. Luckily, my family will be doing a little baking when we visit them so that tradition lives on! I still needed to do a little baking of my own though! That’s where these rolls come in. These cinnamon rolls are actually my grandma’s yeast dough recipe (passed down to her from her mom) that we usually would use to make bobalki (another amazing concoction for another day) and poppy seed rolls (like cinnamon rolls, but with poppy seed filling).

All you Slovak or Polish folks know what I’m talking about when I refer to poppy seed in terms of sweet treats. Most people think of the gross dry poppy seeds they find on bagels. No. Just no. This poppy seed filling I refer to is sticky and sweet and delicious. I think they take the poppy seed and engulf it in a tub of sugar and corn syrup and it comes out magical. So when you make these cinnamon rolls, I dare you to replace the filling with just a can of Solo poppy seed filling. I’m salivating thinking about it. *Warning, it may take some time to fully enjoy the amazing goodness of poppy seed filling if you haven’t grown up with it. Travis is not quite there yet…My brother-in-law is finally in love with it, but he has a few years on Travis in the poppy seed tradition.

Cinnamon RollsTravis agreed that we can make poppy seed rolls as part of our usual tradition on Christmas. However, since we were just figuring things out we landed on the cinnamon roll version for this year. And it’s hard to complain when you land on something so delicious. So I’ll share some of my poppy seed creations later. But for now, enjoy these cinnamon rolls! They will surely help make my Christmas morning so, so wonderful!

*Update: After making these again for Christmas, I changed the baking temperature to 350 F from 375 F. This slightly increases the baking time, but I think it helps them to cook more evenly instead of browning too quickly on top. Oh, and I might have doubled the icing recipe…because you can’t have enough 🙂

Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls
Yields 24
Gooey and sweet cinnamon roll treat perfect for special occasions!
Prep Time
3 hr 20 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
3 hr 45 min
Prep Time
3 hr 20 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
3 hr 45 min
Yeast Dough
  1. 1 1/2 cups milk
  2. 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  3. 2/3 cup white sugar
  4. 2 teaspoons salt
  5. 2 packets regular yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
  6. 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 6 1/2 cups flour
  1. 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  2. 1/4 cup cinnamon (4 tablespoons)
  3. 1/4 cup butter, melted
  1. 2 cups powdered sugar
  2. 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  3. 4-5 tablespoons water
  1. Scald the milk in a sauce pan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the vegetable shortening until melted. Stir in the sugar and salt. Set aside to cool to lukewarm (about 10 minutes).
  2. While the milk mixture is cooling, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water in a large bowl. Let the yeast sit about 5-10 minutes (until the milk mixture is cooled).
  3. Add the milk mixture and eggs to the yeast mixture. Add in 3 1/2 cups of the flour and mix well. Add the remaining 3 cups of flour and knead until the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes.
  4. Cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.
  5. Grease two 9" round cake pans.
  6. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling.
  7. Divide the dough into 2 and roll one of the halves out on a well floured surface until it is 12x18 inches. Brush a thin layer of melted butter over the dough and sprinkle on half of the filling.
  8. Roll the dough, so you end up with a log 18 inches long. Cut into 12 pieces. Place pieces in cake pan, with a little space around each roll so it can rise again.
  9. Repeat with the second batch.
  10. Let the rolls rise about another hour.
  11. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  12. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  13. Combine icing ingredients. Once the rolls are slightly cooled (about 15 minutes), you can drizzle the icing on the rolls.
  1. To help the dough rise (especially when it's cold), I turn my oven on to the lowest temperature for about 5 minutes then turn the oven off. Then I put my dough in the oven to rise. Make sure to take it out before you preheat the oven to bake!!
  2. You can freeze the rolls once they are cooled but before you put the icing on. To do this, remove the rolls from the pan after they are cooled and wrap in plastic wrap (I also wrap with aluminum foil after the plastic). To serve, defrost in the refrigerator and top with icing. If you want them warm, you can reheat them in the microwave or in the oven prior to topping with icing.
  3. Rolls are best eaten fresh, but can last a couple of days (but they really won't make it that long!).
Flavor From Scratch