Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls are a no brainer for holiday breakfast for me. Gingerbread is one of my favorite holiday flavors! So it only makes sense to use it in one of my favorite breakfasts!
My Gingerbread Cinnamon Roll recipe is very similar to my Ooey Gooey Cinnamon Rolls with a couple spice additions and molasses. They still have that “ooey gooey-ness” to them that’s the best!
There’s nothing worse than a dry cinnamon roll. These are made to be light, fluffy and gooey. What all cinnamon roll dreams are made of!
Since gingerbread and eggnog go so well together, I decided to top them with eggnog cream cheese frosting. It’s an explosion of holiday flavor in one pan! Something the whole family will love!
Can I make Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls ahead of time?
Yes and no. You can make the dough and roll them out up to 24 hours ahead of time then store them in the refrigerator. Take the Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls out of the fridge for 45 minutes to let them come to room temp then let them rise in a warm spot for 1 hour while covered.
After than you can bake them as directed. If you leave them in the fridge any longer than 24 hours, I find that the quality tends to drop quickly.
Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls and any other cinnamon roll should be enjoyed fresh out of the oven for the best experience. I keep my cinnamon rolls up to 2 days and warm them slightly in the microwave before eating them. Usually about 10 seconds per roll.
I’m kind of picky about cinnamon rolls. I don’t believe they should be eaten cold and I don’t care for them after they’re several days old. Call me crazy!
Ingredients you’ll need
- Yeast – This is what makes the dough rise and get fluffy
- Brown Sugar – Brown sugar adds that extra molasses flavor for the “gingerbread” effect
- Water – You’ll need to let the yeast activate in water before mixing it with flour to get those nice fluffy cinnamon rolls. Make sure your water is 110°F-115°F, use a thermometer
- Whole Milk – This goes into the dough, I prefer whole milk for basically anything I use milk for
- White Vinegar – I mix this with the milk to make a homemade buttermilk because I rarely have buttermilk on hand. If you have buttermilk feel free to omit the whole milk and vinegar and just use 1/4 cup buttermilk
- Olive Oil – Vegetable oil would work here as well
- Egg – To help make the dough
- Kosher Salt – Salt brings out the flavor in the dough and the sweetness
- All Purpose Flour – Flour is the base of the dough
- Butter – For that delicious filling
- Cinnamon – You can’t have gingerbread flavor without cinnamon
- Vanilla Extract – To give a little extra flavor to the dough
- Molasses- What is gingerbread without molasses?
- Ground Ginger – The star of the show in gingerbread cinnamon rolls
- Nutmeg – This goes well with the other spices and I especially like it with the eggnog frosting
- Cloves – One of my favorite holiday spices
- Allspice – A little extra bump in flavor that works really well with the gingerbread
- Cream Cheese – The base of the frosting
- Powdered Sugar – Used to sweeten the frosting
- Eggnog – Just a touch of eggnog for a light flavor
Equipment you’ll need
- Thermometer – It’s best to temp your water to make sure it falls in between the 110°F-115°F range. If it’s too high it will kill the yeast, if it’s too low the yeast won’t activate. This is what I use
- Rolling Pin – You’ll need to roll out the dough! You can use a classic or marble
- Oven – To bake the cinnamon rolls
- Baking Pan – I prefer to use a rectangular ceramic pan or an oval ceramic pan for my cinnamon rolls
- Electric Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer – This is to make your frosting. Here are the two types I use, hand mixer and stand mixer (although my stand mixer is pink!)
Tips for Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls
- Do not over mix them! Mix just until the dough comes together in a ball
- Make sure to use a thermometer to check the temp of the water otherwise your yeast will not activate then the dough will not rise
- Do not over work the dough when rolling it out
- If you have buttermilk you can substitute 1/4 cup buttermilk for the whole milk and vinegar mixture. I hardly ever have buttermilk at my house so I usually mix vinegar and milk
- Make sure you’re letting your dough rise in a warm place. I like to turn the oven on to 150°F then shut it off and set the dough inside the oven covered with the door shut
- Cover the dough while it’s rising
- Make the Gingerbread Cinnamon Roll dough the night before if you don’t want to wake up early. You can just pull them out for 45 minutes to come to room temp then let them rise 1 hour in a warm spot and bake as directed
- Make the eggnog frosting up to 5 days in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days
How to make Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls
Warm your water to 110°F-115°F and whisk brown sugar in until dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast over the top, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel then set in a warm place for 10 minutes until yeast is frothy.
Meanwhile, stir together the milk and vinegar until thickened slightly then add the oil, egg and salt to the bowl with the milk. Whisk these ingredients together.
Once the yeast is frothy then add in the milk mixture and whisk to combine. Add about 3/4 of the flour to the yeast mixture and begin mixing. I like to use my hands to do this.
Once the flour is about 75% mixed in then add the remaining flour and mix until dough just starts to form a ball.
Place dough ball in a lightly greased bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel then let it rise for 60 minutes in a warm place.
While the dough is rising, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and salt together in a small bowl and set aside. Then you can make the frosting while the dough continues to rise.
Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl with an electric hand mixer or alternatively in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes. The mixture should become light and airy.
Add the vanilla and sifted powdered sugar. Mix together on low until combined then on high for 2 more minutes. Slowly mix in the eggnog until fully combined. Add nutmeg if desired.
After the dough has risen turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough 3-4 times then roll it out into a rectangle that is about 1/8-1/4 inch thick.
Smear the room temp butter all over the dough, sprinkle with the brown sugar spice mix then drizzle with molasses. Starting on a long end, roll the dough tightly into a log.
Cut the dough in half then cut each half into halves. You should have 4 sections of dough at this point. Then cut each section into thirds. This will give you 12 Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls.
Set the rolls in a lightly sprayed dish, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F then bake for 20-25 minutes.
Top the Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls with Eggnog Frosting and serve warm. Enjoy!
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Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls
- Rolling Pin
- ceramic baking dish
- ¾ cup warm water 110°F-115°F
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 1 pkg active yeast 1 pkg = 2¼ tsp
Remaining Dough Ingredients
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 egg
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- 3½ cups all purpose flour plus a little for sprinkling
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temp
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp allspice
- 3 tbsp molasses
- 8 oz cream cheese room temp
- ½ cup butter room temp
- 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3-4 tbsp eggnog
- 1 pinch nutmeg optional
Activating the Yeast
- Warm your water to 110°F-115°F, whisk in the brown sugar until dissolved then sprinkle the yeast mixture over the top
- Cover the yeast mixture, place it in a warm spot and let it sit for 10 minutes until frothy
Mixing the Remaining Dough Ingredients
- Stir together the milk and vinegar until it thickens slightly
- Add the oil, egg and salt. Mix well
- Whisk the milk mixture into the yeast mixture
- Add 75% of the flour into the yeast mixture and start to combine. Add the remaining flour and mix just until the dough starts to form a ball ( I use my hand to mix the dough together)
- Place the dough ball into a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise for 60 minutes in a warm spot
Rolling the Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 3-4 times
- Roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/8-1/4 inch thick
- Smear the butter over the dough
- Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, nutmeg and allspice then sprinkle it evenly over the dough then drizzle with molasses
- Roll the dough tightly starting at a long end into a log
- Cut the dough in half, then cut each section in half. You should have 4 pieces of dough. Cut each one of those into thirds for a total of 12 rolls
- Place the rolls in a baking dish, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm spot for 45-60 minutes
- Making the Eggnog Frosting
- While the dough is rising make the frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl with a hand mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes
- Add the sifted powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix slowly until combined then turn back to medium speed and beat 2 more minutes until light and fluffy
- Slowly mix in the eggnog until completely combined. Add nutmeg if using
Baking the Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes (see notes)
- Smear the eggnog frosting over the top and enjoy while still warm!