My copycat Cinnabon Cinnamon Sticks Recipe is the most popular treat I make at home, hands down. There’s just something about them that stops you in your tracks — the buttery, cinnamony scent of the topping, the soft and chewy texture of the breadsticks… Served with that rich cream cheese dipping sauce, it’s like heaven on a plate!!
Cinnamon Sticks Recipe
Cinnamon desserts just have that wholesome, homemade atmosphere about them.
There’s always that rich and buttery aspect to them, with a texture so fluffy it’s like biting into a cloud!
Plus they’re almost always paired with a vanilla or cream cheese topping that guarantees messy faces and big smiles!
That’s why I have a copycat of the original Cinnabon cinnamon rolls too.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
- Warm Milk – Temperature is important! Keep the milk at 110° to 120° to feed the yeast but not kill it.
- Granulated Sugar – White or brown sugar are both fine to use!
Brown sugar makes the batter more chewy and moist, while white is closer to the classic cinnamon sticks recipe.
- Unsalted Butter – We’ll need a whopping 3 ½ sticks of butter — 2 frozen, 1 melted, and ½ softened for the cinnamon breadsticks batter, topping, and Cinnabon cream cheese frosting sauce, respectively.
- Lemon Juice – Did you expect to see this in a cream cheese frosting recipe??
As it turns out, it’s just what you need to cut the sweetness and make it perfectly tangy!
- Cinnamon – You can’t underestimate the value of good-quality cinnamon!
I recommend Indonesian cassia — it’s delicate and sweet, so it’s perfect for desserts! And, as luck would have it, it’s one of the most common cinnamons out there.
Tips for Totally Tasty Cinnamon Breadsticks
- In a rush? Take a shortcut!
If you need these now, then substitute puff pastry for the homemade dough! That’ll shave at least 10 to 15 minutes off the prep time.
It goes without saying that the texture and flavor won’t be exactly like the original, but the topping and Cinnabon cream cheese frosting sauce will be perfect!
- Butter — three different ways.
This might be the trickiest part of our cinnamon sticks recipe, because it’s one you really need to prepare for.
You’ll need it frozen for the batter, melted for the topping, and softened for the dipping sauce.
Now it takes hours (up to 7!) for it to freeze completely, so stick it in the freezer the night before. And it takes 30 minutes to an hour for it to soften at room temperature.
- Make flavored toppings and dipping sauces!
It’s super easy to add just one extra ingredient to make the topping (or dipping sauce) whatever flavor you’d like!
My first recommendation would be something nutty like almond or peanut — which might sound a little strange, but I really recommend trying it!
As for the dipping sauce, it’s already lemon flavored. Subbing in orange juice would be a piece of cake! Any fruit flavor is good, actually.
Make it a seasonal cinnamon sticks recipe by making the dippers pumpkin spice or apple flavored!
Storing Leftover Cinnabon Cream Cheese Frosting & Breadsticks
Keep any leftovers in an airtight container — I usually just go with a freezer bag! Store them at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to a week.
I find that these reheat best in the microwave. Do so in really short bursts, just 15 seconds or so.
The cream cheese sauce will last for up to 4 days in the fridge. Microwave in 15-second rounds and stir in between!
Kitchen Tools You Will Need
- Kitchenaid Mixer – A good stand mixer makes this recipe easy!
But if you have to make your copycat Cinnabon cinnamon sticks by hand, check out the recipe card — I have some tips to make it super easy.
- Baking Sheets lined with parchment paper – Used for anything from cookies to roasting, a good baking pan will last for years.
- Candy Thermometer to make sure the milk isn’t too hot or too cold.
Cinnamon Sticks Recipe FAQ
It’s the milk and eggs in the dough! Both have protein, which translates to more gluten, which means super soft, decadent, chewy cinnasticks.
Something else to notice is the tacky, sticky nature of the dough! Any dough that’s too dry while you’re working it will end up dry and coarse when baked.
Yes, with one key difference — the sticks have a much more potent flavor than the ground version.
That’s because pre-ground spices lose their vibrancy day by day, whereas those you grind fresh at home are at peak freshness.
They don’t have to be, but they can be! You’ll add 3 or 4 days to their shelf-life by doing so.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Copycat Cinnabon Cinnamon Sticks Recipe
- 8 ounces warm milk , (110° to 120°)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast, 1 packet
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks, frozen
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1 stick, melted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon good cinnamon
- pinch kosher salt
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer* fitted with a dough hook add sugar and milk. Sprinkle yeast over top and swirl with spoon or fingers to combine. Allow mixture to sit for about 5-10 minutes while the yeast blooms and becomes aromatic.
- While the yeast blooms; place a cheese grater on a cool plate (run it under cold water and dry it if it is warm) and shred butter on the side with the largest holes. Place shredded butter into refrigerator until needed.
- With the stand mixer on low add egg, salt and 2 cups of flour. Once flour is mostly absorbed add 1 cup flour. Turn mixer to medium and knead for 2-3 minutes.
- With stand mixer on medium begin adding the butter, a handful at a time as the mixer kneads it in. (be quick as you do not want the butter to melt, chunks of butter help with the flakey dough). Once you are done adding butter, remove dough hook and allow dough to rest. It will be a sticky heap of dough at this point.
- Prepare a clean countertop with plenty of flour to prevent your dough from sticking. (Don’t worry, it will all get worked in). Place dough onto floured countertop and sprinkle flour over top. Flip dough and quickly form into a floured ball of dough. Try to touch the dough as little as possible to keep the butter from melting. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 hour (or refrigerator for 4 hours to overnight).
- Place bread on a clean floured countertop and smack down a bit with your rolling pin. Roll dough out to a 3:1 rectangle. The length should be about 3 times the height. Throughout the preparation process, if the butter peeks through, lightly dust the spot and continue.
- Fold dough into 1/3’s like a letter. Fold left side over, then right side. You should have 3 layers of dough. We are creating the flaky layers of the pastry by repeating this step.
- Dust the top of dough with flour and flip over.
- Roll dough out into a 3:1 rectangle again. Fold dough into 1/3’s like a letter. Fold left side over, then right side. You should have 3 layers of dough again. Repeat again so you have done this 3 times total (note if you used the ‘by hand’ method in the cook’s notes, this will only be done 1 time after it comes out of the freezer).
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator while you prepare the topping ingredients.
- In a small bowl combine cooled melted butter and vanilla. Whisk to combine well. Set aside. In another small bowl, combine cinnamon, sugar and salt. Set aside.
- Remove dough from fridge and place on a lightly dusted countertop. Roll out to a 10”x12” rectangle. Lightly dust with flour and flip dough.
- Brush 1/2 of butter mixture over the top of the dough, sprinkle 1/2 of the cinnamon sugar over the top of the dough. Spread cinnamon sugar over the tops using finger tips. Flip dough and brush the second side with remaining butter mixture and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar over top. Using a pastry cutter, bench scraper or butter knife cut dough into strips.
- Cut dough in half long ways to make two 5”x12” pieces, then cut each piece into twelve 1”x5” strips.
- Place strips onto a baking sheet giving them 3 twists as you place them on the sheet. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes for best results, but if you can’t wait… Pop them in the oven.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until the dough is flaky and golden brown.
- In the meantime prepare frosting; add cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Serve and enjoy!
BY HAND METHOD
If you do not have a stand mixer you can: Add sugar and milk to a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over top and swirl with spoon or fingers to combine. Allow to sit for about 5-10 minutes while the yeast bloom and become aromatic.
While the yeast blooms; place a cheese grater on a plate and shred butter with the largest holes. Place shredded butter into refrigerator until needed.
Add whisked egg and salt to yeast mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon. Add flour 1 cup at a time until you are no longer able to mix with a spoon. Total of 3 cups will need to be added.
Roll dough out to a 3:1 rectangle. The length should be about 3 times the height. Sprinkle the shredded butter over dough, gently press butter into dough and fold dough into 1/3’s like a letter. Fold left side over, then right side. You should have 3 layers of dough.
Dust the top of dough with flour and flip over. Roll dough out into a 3:1 rectangle again. Fold dough into 1/3’s like a letter. Fold left side over, then right side. You should have 3 layers of dough again. Wrap in plastic wrap and allow dough to chill in the freezer for 1 hour. Continue with the remaining recipe.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published May 2014, updated and republished September 2023
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