Croissant cinnamon rolls are the perfect blend of two perfect baked goods. Flaky, golden croissant dough is stuffed with a buttery cinnamon filling, apple, nuts, and raisins. It’s the ultimate treat for a chilly weekend when you have plenty of time to sit back, relax, and let your dough do its thing. These sweet treats are truly delectable, and they’re worth every bit of effort they require.
These croissant-dough cinnamon rolls are a true labor of love, but they aren’t difficult to make. With a good rolling pin and some patience, you’ll be a pro at making these perfectly flaky homemade cinnamon buns. But if making homemade croissant dough is too daunting of a task, no worries – you can make some seriously delicious cinnamon buns with store-bought crescent roll dough as well.
These perfectly flaky cinnamon rolls are the perfect centerpiece for any special occasion breakfast or brunch, and you can serve them alongside whatever you like. Keep it simple with scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and a hot cup of coffee. Or, go all out and make some breakfast egg puffs, persimmon smoothies, breakfast fondue, and a DIY mimosa bar for a breakfast spread your guests will never forget.
Why You’ll Love Croissant Cinnamon Rolls
- Flaky, buttery perfection: These croissant cinnamon rolls are the perfect buttery and flaky treat. The layers of pastry combined with apples, cinnamon, and brown sugar are absolutely heavenly.
- A unique take on a classic: Homemade cinnamon rolls are already one of life’s greatest pleasures, but making croissant cinnamon rolls from scratch is
Ingredients for Croissant Cinnamon Rolls
- Butter – For the best results, use good high-quality butter. The goal with croissant-making is similar to making pie dough or biscuits – you want to keep the butter as cold as possible to get the flakiest and most perfect layers.
- Dry yeast – Dry active yeast takes longer to work than instant yeast. Because homemade croissant dough rests in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before you can use it, dry active yeast works better than instant.
- Milk – Using whole milk along with eggs gives the dough richness and tenderness.
- Pecans, raisins, and apples – You can use all of these toppings or just pick one or two. They add flavor and texture to the cinnamon rolls, but they aren’t necessary.
- Pantry ingredients – Flour, eggs, sugar, salt, vegetable oil
- Glaze ingredients – Cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, milk, pecans
How to Make Croissant Cinnamon Rolls
Step 1: Make the croissant dough.
In a small pot, mix together some flour and the milk, and whisk together until the flour is dissolved. Then, place the pot over medium heat and whisk constantly as the mixture thickens into a paste. Set this aside.
Combine yeast and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer, along with a pinch of sugar, and allow the yeast to bloom. Once it’s frothy, add the rest of the flour, eggs, vegetable oil, salt, and the flour and milk paste. Using the dough hook attachment, knead the dough until it is a cohesive, smooth ball with a sticky surface.
Place the dough ball into a large, greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it is doubled in size.
Step 2: Make the butter block.
Place the butter between two large sheets of parchment paper– it should be as cold as possible, taken straight from the refrigerator. Use a rolling pin to roll it into a large rectangle. Place the butter onto a baking sheet and chill it in the fridge until ready to use.
You can do this step right after you make the dough or about 30 minutes before the dough is finished rising– the important thing is that the butter is fully chilled and solid before you move on to step 3.
Step 3: Laminate the dough.
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down a couple of times to deflate, then turn it out onto a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it into a large rectangle roughly double the size of the butter block.
Peel one sheet of parchment paper off of the butter block, and place the block (butter side down) onto one half of the dough rectangle. Leave a 1-inch border of dough around three sides of the butter. Gently peel the second sheet of parchment paper off the butter. You can use a spatula if you’re struggling with keeping the butter in an even layer.
Fold the dough in half like a book so that the butter is sandwiched between two layers of dough. Pinch the edges of the dough so the butter is sealed in the middle. Then, fold the dough into thirds (like a letter) by folding the bottom third upwards and then the top third downward.
Fold the dough in half horizontally like a book once again. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge to keep the butter cold and prevent it from squishing out of the dough.
Finally, roll the dough out into a big rectangle. Do one more letter fold, this time folding in the right and left sides of the rectangle. Then, make one more book fold by bringing the bottom edge to meet the top edge. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill.
Step 4: Shape the cinnamon buns.
Roll out the dough once again into a large rectangle. Brush the surface with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. Then, sprinkle over the cinnamon.
Optionally, you can sprinkle on some small diced apples, raisins, and chopped walnuts or pecans (or any combination of those).
Starting at one of the long ends of the rectangle, roll the dough into a tight log. Use a sharp chef’s knife to slice the log into 12 even pieces. The best way to get even slices is to slice the log in half, then in half again, and slice each ¼ of the log into three pieces.
Place the rounds into your baking dish and cover with plastic wrap, then place it into the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
Step 5: Make the glaze and bake the buns.
You’re finally ready to bake the buns!
Remove the pan from the fridge and leave it at room temperature for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350F. After 30 minutes, place the buns into the oven. Bake the buns until golden brown.
While the buns bake, make the glaze. Place the cream cheese in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and mix until light and fluffy Add the vanilla extract and milk and mix until well combined
Bake the buns until they have puffed up and are golden brown on top. Allow them to cool slightly, then spread the glaze onto the buns.
If desired, sprinkle the chopped pecans on top and enjoy.
Substitutions for Croissant Cinnamon Rolls
Homemade croissant dough – You can make this recipe with a few cans of store-bought crescent roll dough.
Butter – Unfortunately, there’s no substitute for real butter in a homemade croissant. Shortening and margarine just don’t behave the same way, so I recommend using Pillsbury dough from the store or making a traditional cinnamon roll if you can’t enjoy dairy.
- You can absolutely make this recipe with store-bought crescent roll dough. I recommend buying the dough that already comes in 1 big sheet so you don’t have to spend time closing up all of the perforations on a can of crescent rolls.
- Croissants are very hard to make gluten-free because the gluten helps form the flaky layers. If you still want to make these cinnamon rolls, I recommend following this recipe for gluten-free crescent rolls for the best results.
Tips for Making Perfect Croissant Cinnamon Rolls
- If you are dairy-free or vegan, good news! Pillsbury Crescent Rolls are vegan. They don’t contain any butter and instead are made with palm oil. Using a dairy-free butter spread or margarine, you can make crescent cinnamon rolls for anyone who is vegan or allergic to milk.
- You can make homemade croissant dough up to three days in advance. Once it’s laminated and ready to chill, you can keep it refrigerated (covered in plastic wrap) for three days. You can also freeze it for up to two months – I recommend storing it in a freezer bag for best results.
These cinnamon rolls are the perfect breakfast for a holiday or other special occasion.
They make a wonderful treat to share with loved ones, and they even make a great dessert.
Either way, serve them with a cup of tea or coffee.
At room temperature – Your cinnamon rolls will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
In the refrigerator – Keep leftover cinnamon rolls in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life. They’ll last up to five days in an airtight container.
How to reheat – Heat up leftover cinnamon rolls in the oven or toaster oven set to 300°.
12 hours is the minimum time you should allow your croissant dough to rest. It’s the best way to get the perfect flavor and texture. If you’re in a rush, use a store-bought crescent dough to make your cinnamon rolls – it’s not the same thing, but they’re still really tasty.
I like apples, pecans, and raisins, but you can really put anything you’d like inside your cinnamon rolls. You could use other dried fruit like dried apples or cranberries or any nuts you prefer. You could also put in sprinkles, orange zest, or other spices like nutmeg or cloves to change up the flavor profile.
Other Cinnamon Roll Recipes to Try
Croissant Cinnamon Buns
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 7 g active dry yeast not instant
- ¼ cup warm water
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ½ tsp salt
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter melted
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup diced apple optional
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans optional
- 1/3 cup raisins optional
- 250 g cream cheese room temperature
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ cup chopped pecans optional
Make the dough:
- Place 1/3 cup flour and the milk into a small pot and whisk together until fully combined.
- Set the heat to medium and whisk continuously until it thickens into a paste. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Pour the warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast on top, add a pinch of sugar and allow it to develop for about 5-10 minutes, until frothy.
- Add the flour, granulated sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, salt and the flour paste from Step 2. Attach the dough hook attachment and knead on medium speed for about 7 minutes until the dough forms a smooth, sticky ball.
- Grease a large bowl with oil and place the dough in the bowl. Rotate the dough once so that all sides are covered in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, place it in a warm area and allow it to rise until doubled in size. This can take 2-4 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is.
- To make the butter block, place the butter between two large sheets of parchment paper. Use a rolling in to roll it into a 9×12” rectangle. Place it on a baking sheet and chill it in the fridge until ready to use. You can do this right after you make the dough, or about 30 minutes before the dough is finished rising.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it a couple times to deflate, then turn it out onto a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it into a 13×18” rectangle.
- Gently peel one sheet of parchment paper off of the butter block. Invert the butter block onto one half of the dough rectangle. Leave a 1 inch border of dough around the 3 sides of the butter. Gently peel the second sheet of parchment paper off the butter. You can use a spatula if you’re struggling with keeping the butter in an even layer.
- Fold the dough in half like a book, so that the butter is sandwiched between two layers of dough. Pinch the edges of the dough so that the butter is sealed in the middle. Then fold the dough in 3 like a letter, by folding the bottom third upwards, then the top third downwards.
- Fold the dough in half horizontally like a book. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. This will keep the butter cold and prevent it from squishing out of the dough.
- Roll the dough out again to a 13×18” rectangle. Fold it in thirds like a letter horizontally, by folding the left third into the middle, then the right third on top, which will create a long rectangle of dough.
- Fold the dough in half vertically, bringing the bottom half up to meet the top. Wrap in plastic wrap again and chill for 45 minutes.
Make the buns:
- Butter a 9×13” baking pan. Set aside.
- Roll the dough out to a 13×18” rectangle. Brush the entire surface of the dough with the melted butter.
- Add the brown sugar to the remaining melted butter, mix well, then brush it onto the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon on top. If desired, scatter the apples, pecans and raisins evenly on top.
- Starting at one long end, roll the dough into a log. Use a sharp knife to slice the log into 1” rounds. Place the buns into the baking pan, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 12 hours.
- Remove the pan from the fridge and leave at room temperature for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350F.
- Bake the buns for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.
Make the glaze and decorate:
- Place the cream cheese in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and mix until light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla extract and milk and mix until well combined.
- Once the buns have cooled slightly, spread the glaze onto the buns. If desired, sprinkle the chopped pecans on top and enjoy!