Secret Ingredient Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing Recipe

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Secret Ingredient Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

Makes 8 Extra-Large Rolls

The surprising secret to these breakfast beauties is sweet potato! Why sweet potato? Aside from adding richness and color to the dough, the sweet potato functions similarly to the potato in potato rolls. It breaks up the gluten network of the flour, resulting in soft and moist rolls permeated with earthy, aromatic cinnamon and topped with a cream cheese frosting that’s not-too-sweet.


  • 1 sweet potato, about 8 ounces
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided use, plus up to 1 cup more
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup ground cinnamon (See Cook’s Tips)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice


  1. Pierce sweet potato all over with a fork. Wrap in parchment paper and microwave on high until soft, about 8 minutes. Remove peel, mash lightly with a fork, and set aside. After peeling, the resulting mash should weigh about 6 ounces.
  2. Pour milk into a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, watching carefully, so that it does not bubble over. Remove from heat. Add diced butter, sugar, and salt. Whisk until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved.
  3. Immediately transfer milk mixture, while still hot, to bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook attached. Add mashed sweet potato and 5 1/2 cups flour. Make a divot in the top of the flour and add yeast.
  4. Mix on low until mixture becomes a shaggy wet dough, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, incorporating each one fully before adding the next. Increase speed to medium and continue to mix 5 to 6 minutes to strengthen the dough. The dough will still be quite sticky.
  5. Turn dough out onto well-floured work surface. Dust the surface of dough and your hands with more flour. Knead by hand, adding 1/2 cup flour or more, a little at a time, until dough is only slightly tacky, 4 to 5 minutes. (See Cook’s Tips). Transfer to a clean, greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proof in refrigerator 4 hours or up to overnight.
  6. When ready to bake, grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  7. Make filling. Place softened butter in a bowl. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, and salt. Beat everything together until well combined. Set aside.
  8. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With your hands, shape dough into a rectangle. Use a rolling pin to roll dough into a 16-inch square.
  9. Spread cinnamon mixture evenly over dough. Starting with the side closest to you, roll up the dough, pulling gently on the log as you roll to keep it tight. Cut into 8 pieces (See Cook’s Tips). Arrange pieces in prepared casserole dish. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and proof 40 to 50 minutes in a warm place until nearly doubled in size.
  10. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Place an empty rimmed baking sheet below the center rack to catch any drips in case the sugar bubbles over.
  11. Once oven is preheated, bake rolls 40 to 50 minutes until golden, bubbly, and a probe thermometer entered into the thickest part of a cinnamon roll reads 190°F.
  12. While the cinnamon rolls are baking, make icing. Combine all icing ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat on low until combined. Increase speed to high and whip until light and fluffy.
  13. Top cinnamon rolls with icing and eat while still warm. These cinnamon rolls are terrific up to 3 days, especially when warmed.
  14. Cook’s Tips:
  15. It’s worth it to use the freshest, highest-quality cinnamon you can find. If the cinnamon in your cabinet is old and no longer fragrant, this is your excuse to pick up a fresh bottle. The wonderful kitchen aroma, while baking, will be your reward.
  16. Taking the extra step to knead the last bit of flour in by hand may seem like a bother. You can certainly complete the process in an electric mixer, but professional pastry chefs suggest a better end result when slowly incorporating the flour by hand in the final stage and feeling for a soft, smooth consistency.
  17. The best way to cut through the delicate dough is with a length of thin string or unscented dental floss. Slide string under dough. Bring both ends up and cross over the top. Pull through to cut. You’ll get cleaner, more even cuts than those made with a knife.


Amount Per Serving (based on 8 servings)
Calories: 1150 undefined
Fat: 55 g
Saturated Fat: 33 g
Trans Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 210 mg
Sodium: 560 mg
Carbohydrates: 151 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sugar: 71 g
Added Sugars: 66 g
Protein: 16 g
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