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Get ready for a party in your mouth with these soft and fluffy funfetti cinnamon rolls topped with smooth cream cheese frosting or change things up and use my homemade rainbow chip frosting.
AN EASY ONE RISE RAINBOW CINNAMON ROLL RECIPE
Unlike many other yeasted bread recipes, something like homemade cinnamon rolls take far less time from ingredients to oven time. While my yeast rolls recipe, hot cross buns recipe, and white sandwich bread recipe all require two separate rises, the beauty of soft cinnamon rolls is that they only require one rise, right after shaping.
I love sharing homemade cinnamon roll recipes with my readers, because I think they take a lot of the intimidation out of yeast breads.
In fact, consider this 5-star review from reader Brooke, who, prior to making these festive funfetti cinnamon rolls, had never made a yeast bread before:
“These are a labor of love for a lazy baker like me, but when you take that first warm bite, OMG they are worth all the time!“
Let me teach you how to turn classic cinnamon rolls into something special with lots of rainbow sprinkles, beautiful swirls, and a homemade cream cheese frosting (that you can turn into rainbow chip frosting in a snap!) you’ll swoon over with just one bite.
SPRINKLES GO RIGHT INTO THE CINNAMON ROLL DOUGH
Yes, that’s right. We are putting sprinkles right into the dough of these sweet rolls. We’ll start our birthday cinnamon rolls as if we’re making a regular cinnamon roll recipe, but right before we let the dough rest, we’ll add a hefty dose of sprinkles and knead it right into the yeast dough.
We’ll talk about exactly how to do this in a bit, but let’s talk about what you need to make these funfetti cinnamon rolls happen in your kitchen so you’re fully prepared to get the best results.
INGREDIENTS FOR FUNFETTI CINNAMON ROLLS
There are three parts to cinnamon rolls, no matter what flavor they are: the cinnamon roll dough, the cinnamon filling, and the cream cheese frosting. Let’s talk about what you need for each component.
FUNFETTI CINNAMON ROLL DOUGH
You’ll see some of the ingredients from this list are repeated in other parts of the recipe.
For the dough, you will need:
• warm water
• active dry yeast
• warm milk
• granulated sugar
• vanilla extract
• almond extract
• all-purpose flour
• unsalted butter
• sprinkles (we’ll talk about exactly what kind below)
FUNFETTI BUNS FILLING
This is my favorite cinnamon roll filling, and it’s so incredibly buttery.
For the filling, you will need:
• unsalted butter
• granulated sugar
• light brown sugar
• ground cinnamon
THE BEST CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
I love topping my cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting, but you can see that in these photos, I actually rainbow chip-ified my cream cheese frosting.
For classic cream cheese frosting, you will need:
• full fat block cream cheese
• unsalted butter
• powdered sugar
• vanilla extract
If you want to turn that cream cheese frosting into rainbow chip cream cheese frosting, you will need:
• white chocolate
• food coloring
And you will also need this homemade rainbow chip frosting recipe. See notes in the recipe below for how to adjust the recipe to fit your needs.
WHAT TYPE OF SPRINKLES SHOULD I USE TO MAKE FUNFETTI CINNAMON ROLLS?
It’s very important that you choose the right sprinkles for these cinnamon rolls so as not to muddle the color of the dough.
In general, there are 3 types of sprinkles: jimmies/rods, quins, and non-pareils.
The only ones you absolutely do not want to choose are the non-pareils. These are the teeny tiny balls that are coated in color and they will bleed into your dough, turning it beautiful colors at first, but then turning it brown as all of the colors mix.
I like to use a combination of traditional rainbow sprinkles (often called jimmies) and confetti sprinkles (also known as confetti quins). This gives me the best blend of colors (I like “classic” rainbow sprinkles and pastel quins) and textures and makes for a beautiful funfetti roll.
HOW TO MAKE FUNFETTI CINNAMON ROLLS
Let’s break down exactly how to make these rolls.
MAKE THE CINNAMON ROLL DOUGH
Start by spraying a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with non-stick spray and set it aside.
Pour the warm water into a large bowl, then sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Whisk with a fork, wooden spoon, or spatula and allow it to rest and activate for 10 minutes.
Once the yeast mixture is active and bubbly, add the milk, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, almond extract, and eggs and whisk to combine.
Next, we’ll start adding the flour gradually. If you are using a stand mixer, use your dough hook attachment. If you are mixing by hand, continue to use a wooden spoon.
Add 3 cups of the flour, allow the dough to come together, then add the softened butter and continue to blend.
When the butter is mostly incorporated, add the remaining 1 and ½ cups of flour and blend until the dough has mostly come together. It may still be shaggy, but it should pull away from the sides of the bowl fairly easily.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for about 8-10 minutes, adding flour about 1 Tablespoon at a time if the dough is too sticky, until smooth and elastic. Your dough should resemble the surface texture of PlayDoh when it is done.
When you are satisfied with the kneading of your dough, flatten it out slightly, sprinkle the sprinkles over the surface of the dough, then gently knead for another 1-2 minutes to disperse the sprinkles. Lastly, allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.
MAKE THE CINNAMON SUGAR FILLING
In a medium size bowl, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon and whisk or stir until well-blended. Set the filling aside.
Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle approximately 12″ x 18″ in size. Dough will be very elastic, so be patient and keep rolling and know that there is no need to rush this step.
When you have your rectangle appropriately sized, brush the melted butter evenly over the dough, leaving about ½” border around the edges, then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar evenly over the melted butter.
ROLL DOUGH INTO A LOG AND SLICE INDIVIDUAL CINNAMON ROLLS
Starting with one of the long 18″ sides, roll the dough up into a tight log. Use your fingers or palms on either end of the log to gently squeeze the log to “contain” the uneven ends.
Using a sharp serrated knife and taking care to keep the seam side down, cut the log into 12 even slices. Don’t worry if some of the filling spills out.
THE BEST WAY TO CUT BIRTHDAY CINNAMON ROLLS
When cutting a log into 12 equal pieces, I first cut it in half, then cut each half in half, then split each of the 4 pieces into 3 individual rolls.
Some might argue that using dental floss is the best way to cut cinnamon rolls, but I have never had success with that method. I much prefer using a sharp serrated knife, which can give me exact and smooth cuts. If you are familiar with the dental floss method, by all means, use that one!
Place the slices cut side down in the prepared pan, gather any cinnamon-sugar that fell out, sprinkle over the rolls, then press down gently to flatten slightly.
Cover rolls loosely with foil or a kitchen towel and allow to rise for 1 and ½ hours.
BAKE THE FLUFFY FUNFETTI ROLLS
When the cut cinnamon roll dough has risen, bake in a preheated oven for 28-32 minutes or until rolls just start to brown on top.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes while you prepare the cream cheese frosting.
MAKE THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
I will note right here that if you want to turn your cream cheese frosting into rainbow chip frosting, prepare your white chocolate rainbow chips sometime during the rise time for the rolls so that your chip pieces are ready to go when you want to make the frosting, which will only take you about 15 minutes if your chips are ready to go.
In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and beat again.
Turn the mixer speed down to low and add the powdered sugar. Add the salt and continue mixing until smooth.
Spread cream cheese frosting onto warm rolls, top with extra sprinkles or extra rainbow chip pieces and serve rolls immediately.
SUCCESS TIPS FOR PERFECT FUNFETTI ROLLS
Add flour 1 Tablespoon at a time while kneading so that it is easy to handle. It will become smooth and elastic when it is done, signaling it has the perfect amount of flour to build gluten structure.
Use a ruler or measuring tape to make sure your rectangle is actually 12″ x 18″. You will be cutting the 18″ log into 12 equal pieces, and you want to make sure your rolls are nice and tall so they bake up fluffy.
Let the cinnamon rolls cool for about 5-10 minutes, then add the frosting. This will allow it to perfectly melt over your cinnamon rolls.
FUNFETTI CINNAMON ROLL SUBSTITUTIONS
- GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR: while I have not personally tested this recipe with gluten free flour in place of all-purpose flour, 1:1 gluten free flours typically work just fine as a substitute. Just be sure you’re kneading the dough enough to develop some structure, since there won’t be any traditional gluten strands to develop the typical gluten structure of a yeasted gluten bread.
- NON-DAIRY ALTERNATIVES: you can absolutely use vegan or plant-based butter or non-dairy milk for these cinnamon rolls.
- INSTANT YEAST OR RAPID RISE YEAST: if you want to use instant or rapid rise yeast, do not activate the yeast with water (though you will still need the water for the dough). Instead, add it to the flour mixture and work it in with the flour. You may also notice your funfetti rolls don’t need the entire rise time. Keep an eye on your rolls and bake them when they are puffed and touching each other.
- EGGLESS VERSION: if you’d like to make eggless or vegan funfetti cinnamon rolls, you can use any egg substitute you are familiar with, including but not limited to flaxseed eggs, applesauce, non-dairy yogurt, or vinegar + baking soda. Since this is an enriched dough, you will need some structure and will not get the same results simply omitting the eggs.
FUNFETTI CINNAMON ROLLS FAQS
Funfetti Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
- ½ cup (120mL) warm water
- 2 and ¼ teaspoons dry active yeast or one packet
- ½ cup (120mL) warm milk
- ⅓ cup (67g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 large eggs
- 4 and ½ cups (540g) all purpose flour be sure to measure properly
- 6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature and cut into 6-8 pieces
- ½ cup (100g) sprinkles not non-pareils
- ¼ cup (57g) unsalted butter melted
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (100g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 3 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 4 ounces (112g) cream cheese softened to room temperature
- ¼ cup (57g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1 and ½ cups (180g) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Spray a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with non-stick spray. Set aside.
- Place warm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Whisk with a fork, wooden spoon, or spatula and allow to rest and activate for 10 minutes.
- Once the yeast mixture is active and bubbly, add the milk, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, almond extract, and eggs. Whisk to combine.
- Gradually stir in flour. If using a stand mixer, use your dough hook. If mixing by hand, continue to use a wooden spoon. Add 3 cups of flour, allow dough to come together, then add the softened butter and continue to blend. When butter is mostly incorporated, add the remaining 1 and ½ cups of flour and blend until dough has mostly come together. It may still be shaggy, but it should pull away from the sides of the bowl fairly easily.
- Turn out dough on a floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes, adding flour about 1 Tablespoon at a time if the dough is too sticky, until smooth and elastic. Your dough should resemble the surface texture of PlayDoh when it is done.
- When you are satisfied with the kneading of your dough, flatten it out slightly, sprinkle the sprinkles over the surface of the dough, then gently knead for another 1-2 minutes to disperse the sprinkles. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.
- In a medium size bowl, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Whisk or stir until well-blended. Set aside.
- Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle approximately 12" x 18" in size. Dough will be very elastic, so be patient and keep rolling. There is no need to rush this step.
- When you have your rectangle, brush the melted butter evenly over the dough, leaving about ½" border around the edges. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar evenly over the melted butter.
ASSEMBLE AND BAKE THE DOUGH
- Starting with one of the long sides, roll the dough up into a tight 18" log. Use your fingers or palms on either end of the log to gently squeeze the log to "contain" the uneven ends. Using a sharp serrated knife and taking care to keep the seam side down, cut the log into 12 even slices. Don't worry if filling spills out.
- Place the slices cut side down in the prepared pan (4 rows of 3), gather any cinnamon-sugar that fell out, sprinkle over the rolls, then press down gently to flatten slightly. Cover loosely with foil or a kitchen towel. Allow rolls to rise for 1 and ½ hours.
- When cinnamon roll dough has risen, preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC). Bake the rolls for 28-32 minutes or until rolls just start to brown on top. You can cover the rolls with foil to prevent browning, if desired. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes while you prepare the cream cheese frosting.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- Before starting on the cream cheese frosting, I highly recommend turning it into homemade rainbow chip frosting, which is what I did with the batch I photographed for this post. You'll see in that recipe that it makes double the amount of frosting called for in this funfetti cinnamon roll recipe, so you'd only need to use half of it.
- In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and beat again.
- Turn the mixer speed down to low and add the powdered sugar. Add the salt and continue mixing until smooth.
- Spread cream cheese frosting onto slightly cooled rolls, sprinkle with extra sprinkles (if desired), and serve rolls immediately. Leftover rolls stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave for 8-10 seconds before serving.
- Make ahead: this dough can be made the ahead of time through step 1 of the “assemble and bake dough” instructions. Cover rolls with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator overnight or up to 18 hours. In the morning (or when you are ready to bake the rolls), remove them from the refrigerator and allow to rise in a warm environment, about 1 hour. Continue with step 2 in the “assemble and bake dough” instructions.
- To freeze baked rolls: baked rolls freeze well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm before enjoying.
- To freeze unbaked rolls: parbake the rolls in step 2 in “assemble and bake dough” instructions for 10 minutes at 350°F (177ºC). Allow to cool completely, cover tightly, then freeze. Remove the rolls from the freezer and allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Finish baking for the remaining 18-22 minutes before frosting and serving.
All nutritional values are approximate and provided to the reader as a courtesy. Changing ingredients and/or quantities will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.