These banana cinnamon rolls have a rich, brioche banana dough, filled with buttery, brown sugar cinnamon, and are topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting. They combine the classic flavors of banana bread and gooey cinnamon rolls!
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
I mean, what’s not to love about these banana cinnamon rolls! The cinnamon roll dough is made with real bananas for natural flavor, they are light, fluffy, and completely delicious. The cinnamon and bananas are perfectly balanced so each flavor shines without overwhelming each other.
These rolls just need 1 bowl to make, there’s nothing overly complex about this recipe, and I promise they are easier than you think. They make the perfect brunch, holiday breakfast, or just an everyday treat!
You will love how the flavors of banana bread and cinnamon rolls come together in this recipe. Assuming you’re a cinnamon roll lover like me, you’ll also love our chocolate pecan cinnamon rolls and gingerbread cinnamon rolls.
- Yeast. Yeast is what will make this recipe rise, giving it a light, fluffy texture.
- Milk. Milk instead of water makes this banana cinnamon roll richer.
- Sugar. Sugar helps feed the yeast while also giving the dough a lightly sweet flavor and light texture.
- Butter. Butter goes in the dough, filling, and frosting. It makes these cinnamon rolls rich and decadent.
- Bananas. Ripe bananas add moisture and add the banana flavor.
- Eggs. Eggs enrich the dough, making it ideal for cinnamon rolls.
- Vanilla. A little vanilla in the dough and frosting adds amazing flavor.
- Flour. Flour is the base of this cinnamon roll dough, you can use all-purpose or bread flour.
- Brown Sugar. The molasses in the brown sugar plays well with the cinnamon in the filling. You can use light or dark brown sugar.
- Cinnamon. What would cinnamon rolls be without cinnamon in the buttery filling?
- Cream Cheese. Cream cheese adds a nice tang to the frosting that pairs perfectly with banana and cinnamon flavors.
- Powdered Sugar. Powdered sugar sweetens and thickens our frosting in this recipe.
- Salt. Salt enhances the flavors in these banana cinnamon rolls while also helping strengthen the gluten strands in the dough.
How to Make this Recipe
- Activate the yeast. Dissolve yeast with two tablespoons of white sugar and warm milk. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes until foamy.
- Add wet ingredients. In a bowl or stand mixture, mix yeast with remaining sugar. Then add in eggs, butter, salt, vanilla, and mashed bananas.
- Add flour. Add the flour a little at time and mix until a soft sticky dough forms.
- Knead. Knead dough with hands or dough hook until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. If you are unsure if the dough is ready, use the window pane test (see below).
- First Rise. Cover mixing bowl with greased plastic wrap and place in a warm place for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
- Make filling. While dough is rising, make your filling. Mix softened butter with brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Roll out dough. When dough has doubled, roll dough out into a rectangle about 10x15 inches.
- Spread Filling. Spread your cinnamon filling evenly across dough. If you’d like to add any other filling to your banana cinnamon rolls do it now. Optional: try adding chopped nuts, sliced bananas, chopped chocolate, etc.
- Roll. Starting on the long edge of the dough, tightly roll the dough into a tube and pinch the edge together.
- Slice. Using a serrated knife or piece of unflavored floss or thread cut the cinnamon rolls into 12 even slices.
- Second Rise. Place banana cinnamon rolls into a greased pan and let rise again for 10-15 minutes.
- Bake. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
- Make Frosting. While cinnamon rolls are baking, make a frosting. Cream together butter, cream cheese, until smooth. Add in salt, vanilla, and powdered sugar until smooth.
- Frost & Devour. After baking, let the cinnamon rolls cool slightly before frosting.
What is the Window Pane Test
This is generally considered the gold standard of checking if any kind of bread dough is ready. You can use this for pizza crust, cinnamon rolls, bread, etc. You checking for elasticity and gluten development in your dough.
To test if your dough has been kneaded enough, tear off a small chunk of dough and gently stretch it. You should be able to stretch it thin enough that you can see light from a window or even your fingers as they gently pull on the dough behind it.
If it passes the windowpane test then your dough has developed enough gluten to support itself as it bubbles and gasses expand in your dough as it bakes.
Best Way to Cut Cinnamon Rolls
Thread or Floss. Thread or unflavored tooth floss is a great way to cut cinnamon rolls. Slide the thread/floss under the cinnamon roll tube and bring the ends of the thread/floss together so they cross over each other, cleaning slicing through the dough.
Serrated Knife. A serrated knife works better than a regular knife. Use it to gently saw through the dough to create even slices.
Make these Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
To make this recipe into overnight cinnamon rolls follow the instructions to make the dough, roll them out, and slice. Place the cinnamon rolls in a greased dish and cover tightly with greased plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
The next morning, remove from the fridge, and let the rolls rise again in a warm area for 45-60 minutes or until they’ve doubled in size. Then bake normally.
Troubleshooting: My Cinnamon Rolls Aren’t Rising
You Killed the Yeast
When you place your yeast in the milk make sure the milk isn’t too hot. The milk should be warm, but not hot. If it the milk too hot, there’s a chance you killed your yeast. Salt is also a yeast inhibiter. Salt is added into the dough only after the yeast has bloomed. If salt is initially added in with the yeast, milk, and sugar it slows down or completely stops the yeast’s ability to rise.
Your Kitchen is too Cold
The cold is a yeast inhibitor. That’s why you can store your yeast in the freezer for such long periods of time or why you can make cinnamon rolls the night before and stick them in the fridge to stop them from rising.
So, if your kitchen is cold (totally my house in winter!) then your cinnamon rolls won’t want to rise. Stick them somewhere warm and make sure they’re covered so the dough doesn’t develop a dry skin on the outside, which could also stop your cinnamon rolls from rising properly.
My Favorite Trick for Getting Cinnamon Rolls to Rise
Like I said, yeast loves the warmth and your cinnamon roll dough will rise best when they’re in a warm place. So here’s the trick: Turn you oven on as low as it will go, mine is 170 degrees Fahrenheit (some ovens will only go as low as 200 degrees Fahrenheit). Let the oven preheat, then turn the oven off, and pop your covered dough inside to rise!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In some recipes, like banana bread, it is crucial that the bananas are dark brown for a most potent flavor. In this recipe It is not quite as important. I prefer them to be pretty ripe and spotty for maximum banana flavor. They should not be green.
While sometimes used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two. Both cinnamon rolls and cinnamon buns have a rich, yeasted, brioche dough as a base, and stuffed with buttery, cinnamon-sugar, and are rolled up like a scroll.
However, cinnamon rolls are topped with a cream cheese frosting or icing. Cinnamon buns, sometimes called sticky buns, have a caramel and often nuts on the bottom of the pan, with the rolls baked on top. They are then flipped out of the pan so the caramel and nuts are on top.
We use both brown sugar and white sugar in cinnamon rolls. White sugar is better for the cinnamon roll dough, creating a lighter fluffier texture. Brown sugar is better for the gooey, cinnamon filling. Brown sugar contains molasses which adds a smokey flavor that pairs beautifully with the cinnamon and creates a richer, stickier, filling.
If your dough feels tough, it’s usually a sign that you’ve added too much flour or you’ve over kneaded the dough. Too much flour will mess with the hydration levels of the dough and give you dry, tough cinnamon rolls. Overworked dough will make the gluten structure too tight, resulting in hard, dense rolls.
Yes, you should grease the pan you plan on baking the cinnamon rolls in.
Make sure you don’t add too much flour or over bake the cinnamon rolls. Both of these will make your cinnamon rolls dry.
Most bakers will tell you that bread flour is the way to go! Bread flour has a higher protein content which will you a better structure in your cinnamon rolls, giving a fluffier and better texture to your rolls.
In this recipe, I’ve made these banana cinnamon rolls with both bread flour or all-purpose, depending on what I have, and either will still give you a delicious cinnamon roll.
- Make Sure Yeast is Active. If your yeast is old it may not get bubbly when you mix it with sugar and milk. Look to see that your yeast is bubbly or foamy and active before proceeding. I’d hate for you to waste your ingredients on a dough that won’t rise.
- Don’t underheat or overheat milk. If your milk is too hot it can kill the yeast, if it is not warm then the yeast may not activate.
- Spoon and Level Flour. Too much flour can make these rolls dry. Stir the flour up (it compacts) and spoon and level the flour before using. We have a guide on how to measure flour if you need to reference it.
- Use Room Temperature Butter. This is specifically for the filling. I’ve noticed the couple times I have used melted better for my filling that it tended to just leak out of the these banana bread cinnamon rolls. So make sure the butter for your cinnamon filling is room temp!
Flavor Variations for this Recipe
These banana cinnamon rolls are pretty versatile, you can easily add other flavors to the filling or frosting to mix it up.
For the Filling
Here are a few ideas for what you can add to the filling: sliced banana, chopped nuts (pecan or walnuts would be my pick)—this would make it more like a banana nut cinnamon roll or banana bread cinnamon roll, mini chocolate chips, or a pinch of nutmeg.
For the Frosting
Here are few ideas for what you can add to the frosting: a few tablespoons of peanut butter or Nutella, a tablespoon or two of maple syrup, cinnamon, brown the butter before adding it, or top off with a drizzle of caramel or cookie butter!
Storing this Recipe
These cinnamon rolls should be covered tightly with plastic wrap to prevent them drying out. They can be stored in the fridge or at room temperature. I recommend heating them up in them microwave for a few seconds before eating for maximum gooeyness!
Yes, these banana cinnamon rolls can be frozen! Once they are completely cool, wrap them in plastic wrap and place in either an airtight container or a freezer bag before freezing. Use within 3 months. When you’re ready to eat them, thaw completely, then warm up in the microwave for a few seconds to make soft and gooey.
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Banana Cinnamon Rolls
- ¼ ounce package or 2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
- ½ cup milk warm
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ¼ cup butter melted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1-2 medium bananas mashed (¾ cup mashed banana)
- 4 ⅓ cups flour measured correctly
- ⅓ cup butter softened
- 1 ½ tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter softened
- 4 tablespoons cream cheese room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- Dissolve yeast in warm milk with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes until the mixture is foamy.
- In a stand mixer (see notes for doing this without a stand mixer), using either the paddle attachment or dough hook. Mix in the yeast mixture with the remaining sugar. Then add in the eggs, butter, salt, vanilla, and mashed bananas.
- Add in flour and knead into a large ball. The dough will be very soft and sticky, just keep scraping down the sides, and knead for a few minutes.
- Place dough ball in a large greased bowl. Cover bowl in plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, dough should have doubled in size.
Filling & Assembly
- While dough is rising, mix together all filling ingredients until smooth.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When dough is done rising tip dough on to an oiled surface. Oil up your rolling pin and roll out your dough into a rectangle that is 15 inches long and 10 inches wide.
- Spread your filling evenly across the dough and tightly roll your dough into a long tube.
- Slice into 12 even rolls, each slice will be approximately 1 ¾” wide. Place slices into a greased 9x13 inch pan and let rise again for 10-15 minutes.
- After the second rise has finished place pan in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.
- While cinnamon rolls are baking make your frosting. Cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add in your vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar, cream together until smooth.
- I like to let my cinnamon rolls to cool for a few minutes, and then frost them while they’re still a little warm so that the frosting melt into all the little crevices.
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