Christmas Morning Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

It’s not Christmas morning without GINGERBREAD CINNAMON ROLLS for breakfast! Soft, fluffy, and covered in molasses cream cheese frosting… these are so good with a big cup of holiday cheer.

You can save time by making most of this recipe in advance: roll the dough, cut into 12 rolls, pop them into 1 9 x 13 baking dish, and pop in the fridge overnight. Then wake up and bake!

Gingerbread Cinnamon Roll Recipe

It’s the most wonderful time of year! There’s so much to look forward to during the holidays… but the one thing I look forward to the most?

CHRISTMAS BRUNCH! There’s literally an entire chapter dedicated to brunch in my cookbook… and honestly, I could write an entire book on the subject and still have ideas left over.

Before my mom passed away, we would spend HOURS on the phone planning our epic holiday brunch extravaganzas. And I honor her memory by carrying on that tradition year after year.

And this year… we’ve got a new menu item: gingerbread cinnamon rolls, baby! Very similar to my overnight cinnamon rolls… but with a festive twist!

These fluffy lightly browned buns are loaded with brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and they’re truly what dreams are made of. It’s almost impossible to stop at just one!

Gingerbread Cinnamon Roll Ingredients:

  • Active Dry Yeast: Be sure your yeast isn’t expired! And that you use active dry yeast, not quick or rapid rise yeast.
  • Water: You’ll want it warm, but not super hot. Between 115 and 120 degrees (F) works best.
  • All Purpose Flour: Do not, I repeat, do not, sub any other variety of flour here, especially nut or coconut flours! I also don’t suggest replacing a few cups of flour with cups of wheat flour, as the rolls will come out much drier.
  • Sugar: Both granulated sugar and brown sugar are used in this recipe, and play their own important roles. Do not sub one for the other.
  • Milk: Whole cow’s milk works best. For best results, I don’t suggest subbing in a plant-based milk.
  • Butter: Unsalted butter works best here, but salted will work in a pinch. If using salted butter, omit the salt called for in the recipe. You’ll want your butter softened for the filling and you’ll use melted butter for the dough.
  • Vanilla Extract: As always, I suggest using real vanilla. Or simply omit if you don’t have it, which in my opinion is better than using artificial vanilla.
  • Eggs: Be sure to bring them to room temperature before use! You’ll need one whole egg and one egg yolk. You may save the egg white for another use or discard!
  • Orange Zest: Use a fine grater to freshly grate this off a fresh orange. Do not grate the white pith, which is extremely bitter.
  • Spices and Seasonings: Cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and salt create our gingerbread spice! While you can certainly play around with these spices, I suggest trying the recipe as written first, then increasing or decreasing the spices as desired the next time you bake them.
  • Cream Cheese: Be sure to use full-fat brick style cream cheese and bring it to room temperature before use.
  • Molasses: In my opinion, you can’t call something gingerbread if it doesn’t have molasses in it! So this recipe calls for molasses in the cream cheese frosting, which makes it so unique, flavorful, and delicious. I suggest using regular mild molasses; not the blackstrap variety which is very strong.
  • Confectioners’ Sugar: Aka powdered sugar. Be sure to sift this ingredient before use, to ensure a smooth, creamy, lump free frosting.

Let’s Make Cinnamon Rolls!

  • Step 1: Make the dough! You’ll do this in the bowl of a stand mixer. Be sure you have the dough hook on and not the paddle attachment. Once it’s assembled, you’ll cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour, or until it’s puffed up and doubled in size.
  • Step 2: Make the Filling! Which is as easy as mixing together the brown sugar, spices, and orange zest. You’ll sprinkle it on top of the butter later.
  • Step 3: Assemble! On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle. Spread on the spiced butter mixture, then roll into a jelly roll, and cut into 12 pieces.
  • Step 4: Bake! Preheat your oven to 350. Then arrange the rolls in a lightly greased 9×13 baking pan, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise for an hour, or until they’re crowding the pan. Then you’ll remove the wrap, and bake for about 30 minutes.
  • Step 5: Frost! Make the frosting in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer. Then slowly spread it on top of the warm rolls… letting it melt into the rolls as it sits. Serve warm! Or at room temperature.

If you want to make these gingerbread cinnamon buns even more delicious, try topping them with sugared cranberries!

More Gingerbread Recipes:

Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

Ashley Manila

It’s not Christmas morning without GINGERBREAD CINNAMON ROLLS for breakfast! Soft, fluffy, and covered in molasses cream cheese frosting… these are so good with a big cup of holiday cheer.

Prep Time 40 my s

Cook Time 30 my s

Inactive Time: 1 Sir 35 my s

Total Time 2 hrs 45 my s

Course Breakfast, Breakfast/Dessert, Brunch

Cuisine American


For the Cinnamon Rolls:

  • 2 0.25 ounce packages (14g) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup (113ml) warm water about 115 degrees (F)
  • 5 cups (600g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (53g) light brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (227ml) whole milk
  • 10 Tablespoon (141g) unsalted butter melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk room temperature

For the Filling:

  • 1 cup (213g) dark brown sugar packed
  • 1 Tablespoon orange zest finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter room temperature

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (113g) full-fat cream cheese room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoon (28g) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoon (28ml) molasses
  • 2 Tablespoon (28ml) whole milk room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (170g) confectioners’ sugar sifted


For the Cinnamon Rolls:

  • Lightly grease the sides and bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan with nonstick baking spray or butter and set aside until needed.

  • Sprinkle the active dry yeast over the warm water and set aside for 10 minutes, or until the yeast has bubbled up.

  • In the meantime, in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the flour, both sugars, salt, and cinnamon and whisk well to combine (use a hand whisk here).

  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter, vanilla extract, egg, and egg yolk, beating until well combined.

  • Add the wet ingredients, and the active yeast mixture, to the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, stir together to form a shaggy dough.

  • Place the bowl on the stand mixer and attach the dough hook. Turn the mixer to medium-speed and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or the dough is still soft, silky, and pulling away from the edges of the bowl.

  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour, or until it’s puffed up and doubled in size.

For the Filling:

  • In a medium bowl, add the brown sugar, orange zest, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, nutmeg, ground cardamom, and salt and mix well to combine evenly.

  • Cut the butter into small cubes and set aside until needed.

For Assembly & Baking:

  • Dust the counter lightly with flour. Scrape the dough out onto the counter and sprinkle the top of the dough with a little more flour. Gently, roll the dough into a rectangle about 22×16-inches wide.

  • Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border around the edge. Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar mixture.

  • Starting from the long edge closest to you, roll the dough into a log, jelly roll style, keeping it as tight as possible while rolling. (Note: The tighter the roll, the less filling that will leak out during baking.)

  • Score the dough lightly into 12 equal pieces. Cut the dough at the score marks. The easiest way to do this is to slide a long piece of unflavored dental floss under the dough. Wrap it up around the score mark, and then pull the two sides tightly in opposite directions to pull the floss through the roll. Repeat for all rolls.

  • Carefully arrange the rolls in the prepared pan, making four rows of three cinnamon rolls. Tightly cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for about 1 hour, or until the rolls have puffed up and are crowding the pan.

  • 30 minutes before you plan on baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).

  • Remove the plastic wrap and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until puffed up, golden brown, and cooked through in the center (if the dough looks raw, keep baking for a few more minutes.).

  • Remove the rolls from the oven and set aside to cool slightly as you make your cream cheese frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth.

  • Add the molasses, vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Once the ingredients are incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute, or until smooth and creamy.

  • Slowly spread the warm rolls with the molasses cream cheese frosting.

Keyword Gingerbread, Gingerbread Recipes, Cinnamon Rolls

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