My favorite memory from Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings, when I was little, is the mouthwatering scent of sugary cinnamon rolls baking in the warm oven. The kitchen was steamy with the aroma and my mouth watered for those gems to finish baking.
Even as a child I think I loved the fun and delicious traditions our family had more than any decorations or presents, and when I became a mom I wanted to start traditions with my own kids. I began making my mom’s recipe for mini cinnamon rolls for my kids when Lily was three and Jasper was one. It was 2010, the last fall and winter we had with my mom and the five of us, my mom, Greg, Lily, Jasper and I made them together in the kitchen.
Since that first time making them with my munchkins, we have continued the holiday tradition. Many Christmases, they open one or two gifts and want to move on to the cinnamon rolls. Food! They are definitely my kids. Lately we make them more often, especially on chilly, weekend mornings.
Lily and I have our special recipes we make together, but this one definitely belongs to Jasper and me. It is so much fun to bake with one kid at a time and Jasper prides himself, now, on being an expert at making these cinnamon rolls. Plus he loves to eat the leftover brown sugar!
Jasper is six, so maybe that will give you an idea how easy these are. The secret is you don’t have to make any dough. You just use rolls of Pillsbury Crescent Dough, usually found near the butter and cookie doughs in the refrigerator section of the grocery store. I almost feel like I’m cheating by not making dough from scratch, but you know what, they taste just as good.
I often don’t even measure the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon; I just eyeball it. You can even add raisins if you like. If making cinnamon rolls from scratch has ever intimidated you, try these warm, gooey, super easy morsels of love and enjoy some baking time with your kiddos.
- 1 roll Pillsbury Crescent Dough
- 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened so you can easily spread it on the dough
- 3-4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- Flour for dusting
- Cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 375° F. Spray an 8 x 8 inch cake pan or round pie dish or any similar size oven-safe pan with cooking spray.
- Dust a large cutting board or countertop with a light layer of flour so dough will not stick. Carefully roll out the dough and separate into four rectangles. You will see perforations to separate further into triangles, but you don’t want triangles. Instead, pinch those sections together so that your rectangles will not fall apart.
- Spread lots of butter onto each rectangle using a spatula, or, if you’re like my 6-yr-old, the utensil of your choice. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of brown sugar onto each rectangle. Then carefully sprinkle cinnamon on top of the brown sugar, about 1/2-1 teaspoon per rectangle.
- Roll up each rectangle, starting from the short side. You may need to pinch the the end seam closed to keep the roll together. Cut into about 4 equal pieces per rectangle. Sometimes we end up with a few more because Jasper likes to be creative, but usually you will have about 16 cinnamon rolls.
- Place the cinnamon rolls, cut side up, into the prepared pan. Bake for 17-19 minutes until golden brown. Let cool for about 10 minutes before drizzling with icing.
- To make the icing, mix roughly 1/4 cup powdered sugar with 1-2 teaspoons water and drizzle over cinnamon rolls. It’s really easy to add too much water to the powdered sugar quickly, so I usually begin with 1 teaspoon water and add a tiny bit more if I need it. You want it to drizzle easily off the spoon. If you make it too runny, just add another spoonful of powdered sugar until you get the consistency you want.