Milk Bread Cinnamon Rolls

Milk Bread Cinnamon Rolls

Milk bread cinnamon rolls are amazing! They’re pillowy and oh so fluffy! But I’ve cranked it up an extra notch by adding a coffee cream cheese glaze that offers a delicious balance of sweetness and complex flavor! Notes of cinnamon, deep brown sugar, and creamy coffee?! YES PLEASE! These are the BEST cinnamon rolls you’ll ever have and you’re about to find out why!

how prepared milk bread cinnamon rolls look after being frosted with coffee cream cheese frosting.

What You’ll Need


  • Medium saucepan
  • Mixer
  • Large Bowl
  • 9×13 inch baking pan

Ingredients for Milk Bread Cinnamon Rolls

  • All purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Instant yeast
  • Granulated sugar
  • Egg
  • Whole milk
  • Unsalted butter
  • Brown sugar
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Cream cheese
  • Powdered sugar
  • Espresso or strong brewed coffee

Tangzhong Milk bread

We’re talking about the Tangzhong method to making the dough for these milk bread cinnamon rolls! Tangzhong is a roux made with flour and water or milk, and it’s added to the bread dough. It might sound very complicated but it’s an extremely quick and easy step that makes a world of a difference when it comes to soft, bouncy, and fluffy bread! Bread made with tangzhong also has a longer shelf life! It stays soft and moist for a much longer amount of time as compared to regular bread making methods!

Trust me, the tangzhong comes together in mere minutes and all you have to do is add it to your other bread ingredients, and you knead the bread as normal! It’s pretty mind blowing how one simple step can make such a huge difference! But don’t just take my word for it– try it out for yourself!

To make the tangzhong, combine flour and water (some recipes call for milk) in a small saucepan. Whisk together and place over low-medium heat, constantly whisking. In a few minutes, the mixture will start to thicken. Lower the heat and cook until mixture is the consistency of mashed potatoes. Let tangzhong cool slightly in a bowl and then it’s ready to be used!

Milk Bread Cinnamon Roll Dough

For ease and less messy hands, I usually always knead my dough in my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Although, the stand mixer is in no way necessary for this dough to come together! But because we want this dough to be nice and VERY soft, it will be on the slightly tackier side. Sometimes, kneading by hand, we might tend to add too much extra flour into our dough or onto our surface to ease the process.

We’re aiming for a soft, very smooth, and slightly tacky dough here! So when kneading in a stand mixer, we aim to have the dough come off cleanly from the sides of the bowl, while still sticking to the very bottom. After we reach this point, it’s time to add in our softened butter!

We add softened butter about 1 tablespoon at a time while the dough is being kneaded in the mixer. I like adding the butter towards the end of kneading because fat can effect gluten production in the dough if added too early. The more gluten we can create before the butter, the better! You know when you pull a loaf of bread apart and it’s soft but threads of the bread cling to each other and pullllll away at each other? This is typical of breads found in Asian bakeries and it is exactly what we’re aiming for here with these cinnamon rolls!

Other fun weeknight desserts to explore:
1. s’mores chocolate chip cookies
2. espresso banana bread w maple glaze
3. strawberry galette

how the tangzhong milk bread dough looks after first rise.
recipe photo: tangzhong milk bread cinnamon roll, showing soft fluffy texture inside.


1. you will need to knead this dough. my preferred method is with a stand mixer because this dough is supposed to be sticky and a bit wet. it’s beautifully soft and wonderful to work with, but it will make your life a lot easier to use a stand mixer for kneading. if you must knead by hand though, be sure to not be tempted to add too much extra flour to the dough. your rolls will end up a bit drier.

2. i’ve made these rolls with bread flour and with all purpose flour and they’re both WONDERFUL. so use whichever one your heart desires!

3. the most accurate way to measure out ingredients is by using a kitchen SCALE! there are so many amazing and practical ones out there for $10 and under– it’s the best investment i’ve ever made! but if you must using measuring cups, make sure that when measuring flour, you spoon the flour into your measuring cup until you have a mound on top without packing any of it down, then gently using the back of a butter knife, level off the excess flour.

Milk Bread Coffee Cinnamon Rolls

Milk Bread Coffee Cinnamon Rolls

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Milk Bread Coffee Cinnamon Rolls! Tangzhong method recipe for the softest, fluffiest, and most pillowy cinnamon rolls ever!


for the tangzhong

  • 1/4 c (35g) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c (175g) water

for milk bread dough

  • 3 1/2 c (450g) all purpose flour or bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 c (70g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1/2 c + 1 tbsp (135g) whole milk room temperature
  • tangzhong from above instructions
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick, 56g) unsalted butter cubed, softened

for filling

  • 1 c (200g) light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp (100g) unsalted butter softened

for coffee cream cheese frosting

  • 4 oz (half a block) full fat cream cheese room temp
  • 1/2 c (1 stick, 113g) unsalted butter room temp
  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp strong brewed coffee or strong instant coffee, cooled completely


    make the tangzhong

    1. to a small to medium saucepan, combine the flour and water. whisk it until there are no more lumps. set it over medium heat, whisking constantly. as the mixture starts to thicken slightly, lower heat to low and continue whisking until it’s a semi thick paste, resembling mashed potatoes. remove from heat and transfer to heat safe bowl. cover lightly with plastic wrap and let cool slightly.

    make the milk bread dough

    1. to the bowl of your stand mixer, combine flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. give it a quick mix. in a small bowl, combine egg and milk and beat lightly. add milk mixture and tangzhong to the flour mixture. with the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until all the dry flour is incorporated into the dough and a shaggy dough starts to form. then, increase the speed by one. as the dough hook is kneading the dough, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, letting the butter fully incorporate into the dough before adding more. once all the butter is incorporated, let mixer knead the dough for 7-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.*the dough should be slightly sticky and wet but should not be sticking to the sides of the bowl. it SHOULD be sticking to the bottom of the bowl. if dough seems too wet, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time. if dough seems dry, add milk half a tablespoon at a time.
    2. with lightly greased hands, remove dough from mixer bowl and pull the sides of the dough down into the bottom center, creating a smooth and taut round ball on top. place the dough seam side down into a lightly greased large bowl. cover with kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

    make filling

    1. while the dough is rising, prepare the filling. in a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and butter. with the back of a fork, mix until well incorporated.

    assemble rolls

    1. lightly punch down the dough in the bowl to remove excess air. on a well floured surface, roll out dough into a rectangle that is about 14×18 inches. with the long (18 inch) side facing you.
    2. with an offset spatula, dot the filling all around the rolled out dough. then, with the spatula on an angle, carefully spread the filling until the entire dough is covered. starting on the side facing you, closest to you, tightly roll up into a long log. you may want to trim off ends if tapered. cut the log into 12 equal rolls. and place into a 9×13 baking pan. cover with kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes, until rolls have almost doubled in size.
    3. preheat oven to 320 degrees F.


    1. bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are slightly golden brown.

    make frosting

    1. while the rolls are baking, prepare the frosting. beat cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer with a the paddle attachment until smooth and fluffy. add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating on high for 1 minute and scraping down the sides of the bowl before adding more. once all the sugar is well incorporated, on low speed, add vanilla, salt, and coffee. once it’s mixed in, beat on high for 2 minutes, until everything is fluffy smooth.
    2. once you remove the rolls from the oven, dollop the frosting on top of each roll and swirl around the top of the roll to spread. frosting will melt slightly and become beautifully incorporated into the crevices of the warm rolls.
    3. enjoy rolls while warm


  1. For overnight rolls, assemble and cut rolls, and place them into your baking pan evenly spaced out. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight. To bake, bring out of refrigerator, preheat oven, and bake as directed.
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