How to Make a Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll at Home Slideshow

First, a Little History

Cinnabon representatives declined to offer much help with this story, but it would be remiss not to talk a little bit about their wonderful product before, well, copying it to the best of our (or rather, Devin Alexander's) ability.

Humble Beginnings

The first Cinnabon store opened at Sea Tac Mall in Seattle on Dec. 5, 1985, after three months of concerted effort by a consultant hired by founders Rich and Greg Komen, who set out to make "the world's best cinnamon roll."

Rapid Expansion

The very first franchise location opened in Pennsylvania a year later. In 1992, Cinnabon's 100th location was established in New York City, and by 2001, the total was at 500, with the opening of a franchise store in Japan. Today, there are 943 locations worldwide.


In 2004, Cinnabon became a part of Focus Brands, whose portfolio includes Carvel (the ice cream cake folks), Seattle's Best Coffee, and Schlotzsky's Deli.

What's the Secret?

While The Daily Meal was fed the usual spiel about "proprietary information" and "special equipment," we did manage to wrangle out a couple of decent tips from Cinnabon.

Secret #1: Quality Ingredients


OK, this one is admittedly a no-brainer, but when you're making a cinnamon roll, you have to make sure the cinnamon's damn good. Seriously. Cinnabon's founders scoured the islands of Indonesia to find the highest-quality cinnamon. That's no small feat, since according to the CIA Handbook, there are 17,508 of them.

They even bothered to come up with a name for their special cinnamon, Makara® Cinnamon, that's also a registered trademark, as you can see here.

What to Look for at the Store

So, when you buy cinnamon at the store, what should you look for? Ideally, look for whole sticks, which will have retained more flavor and aroma than their ground counterparts. Opt for "cassia" cinnamon from Indonesia for the closest flavor to Makara®, since it has a more complex, bittersweet flavor than the other variety, "Ceylon," which comes from Sri Lanka. Then, chop it into pieces and grind it at home using a coffee grinder just before using.

Secret #2: Treat Your Ingredients with Respect

Chances are you're not going to use up all of that expensive cinnamon at once. Store the leftovers away from heat, humidity, and light, which can rob spices of their volatile oils over time, taking their potency with them.

Secret #3: Frost Just Before Serving


While Alexander's rolls do transport well, it's hard to beat having them fresh out of the oven. That's the best time to frost them, so that the frosting melts into the buns. 

Useful Equipment

Alexander advises having a plastic dough scraper or brittle plastic spatula to help get all the dough out of the mixing bowl without missing an ounce. (This will make baking in general easier for you.) To that end, we'd also suggest an electric stand mixer with a dough hook.

Neat Trick

When a recipe says something like, "Dust a work surface with flour," how exactly do you do that? While we wouldn't recommend trying this recipe if you're a first-time baker, if you do insist, we would like to offer this one tip.

The writer of this article once had trouble with this very aspect of baking. Then, one day, an instructor at culinary school counseled thus: Take a handful of flour, and pretend you're throwing dice.

Even Steven, every time. A bit messy, but hey, that's baking — you can't be afraid to get your hands dirty.

And Before You Start

Know your oven. Every oven is different. Some ovens run hotter than their stated temperatures, while some run cooler. If you haven't tested yours out before, borrow or buy an oven thermometer and see whether yours runs North or South of the dial. And ovens also have hot spots, too, so you may have to rotate baked goods halfway through their cooking time to ensure even cooking.

If you're really new to all of this or still don't feel quite ready, click here to see Foolproof Baking Tips.

At Last


So, armed with a few basic shopping and baking tips, it's time to delve in.

Click here to see Devin Alexander's Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll Recipe.

Here's Another Fun DIY Project

If you enjoyed this slideshow, click here to see How to Make a White Castle Slider at Home, in which White Castle executives shared tips on how to create their tasty sliders in your own kitchen.