Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls with Ginger Cinnamon Filling

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I have always been a huge fan of baked goods, but it has been quite some time since I got in the kitchen and tried my hand at cinnamon rolls.

I actually fell in love with this dough recipe and realized that it is the perfect base for countless bread based delicacies. I have already used it to create beignets, pull apart bread, and monkey bread rolls, and I have a few more ideas on the horizon too.

Today, however, we are going all in on cinnamon rolls.

This is a fun twist on the classic rolls we’ve all fallen in love with and, I’d like to think that these give the famous mall version a run for their money. They’re soft, fluffy, and perfectly sweetened with generous layers of gooey ginger-cinnamon filling. I topped these with a decadent cream cheese frosting that’s creamy, tangy, and just sweet enough to complete the perfect indulgence.

If you’re ready to give cinnamon rolls a go, gather your ingredients and get started with these helpful tips.

best cinnamon rolls recipe

5 Tips for Creating the Best Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Pay close attention to temperature. When working with yeast, temperature truly matters. You need to ensure that your ingredients are neither too hot nor too cold. Either option will result in yeast that doesn’t rise appropriately. Aim for 120° to 130° when using RapidRise yeast as is called for in this recipe. If you’re uncertain, I recommend you use a thermometer to ensure your yeast activates. The key to cinnamon roll greatness is a moist, light, dough that is double risen for perfect fluffiness and yeast that isn’t activated will prevent this from happening.
  2. Don’t overwork your dough. I recommend using your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment installed to get your dough kneaded perfectly. You should allow about ten minutes with your machine on low speed to get the dough to the perfect smooth and elastic texture you need to achieve cinnamon roll greatness. Over kneading your dough will result in a dense, tough roll that is the exact opposite of the airy light ones you’re hoping to enjoy.
  3. Have a little fun with your filling. While many go for the traditional filling of cinnamon and sugar, I decided to kick this one up a notch by adding some sweet potato puree to the mix. The flavor of the sweet potato enhanced with the ginger and cinnamon makes for an interesting combination that works perfectly between the folds of sweet dough. It also provides the perfect amount of gooeyness when you get to the center.
  4. Carefully cut your dough. Because your cinnamon roll dough is delicate, I recommend using dental floss to create clean cuts that don’t squish your dough. To cut your dough using dental floss, first, slide a long piece of floss, at least 12”, under the dough roll where you want to make your cut. Bring the ends of the floss up, crossing them over the top of the roll. Then, pull the ends in opposite directions in a gentle but firm manner, slicing cleanly through the dough without squishing it.
  5. Frost while warm. You want your baked rolls to cool slightly before applying the frosting, but you don’t want them to be completely cool. Frosting them warm allows the frosting to melt a bit and seep perfectly into the nooks and crannies of your dough. Plus, there’s nothing quite like eating warm cinnamon rolls.
cinnamon rolls recipe

Common Problems With Baking Cinnamon Rolls

Dough Doesn’t Rise At All

We’ve often heard from readers that their main struggle when dealing with yeast breads is that their dough didn’t rise enough or at all.

There are a number of things that could prevent your dough from rising. Here are a few to consider:

  1. Old yeast. If you don’t use yeast often, it’s best to start your yeast based recipes with yeast you’ve purchased recently. You can also check your yeast to see if it’s still active before proceeding with the recipe. To do so, measure out the liquid (water or milk) you will be using for your recipe. Warm it and add the yeast with a pinch of sugar. Let it sit for ten minutes. If it’s not foamy when you check it then your yeast probably isn’t safe to use.
  2. The liquid was too hot. Using liquid that is too hot can scorch your yeast and make it unusable.
  3. The liquid wasn’t hot enough. Yeast requires warmth to activate and when your liquid isn’t warm enough it won’t do so. Try using a thermometer to ensure your liquid is at the correct temperature for activation.

Cinnamon Rolls Aren’t Fluffy

Countless things could be impacting the fluffiness of your cinnamon rolls, but the most common issue is that you didn’t allow your dough enough time to rise. This recipe calls for two separate rising periods where your dough is to double in size. Allow ample time and warmth for your dough to do so.

Pro tip: take a photo of your dough before it begins rising so you can more accurately determine if it has doubled in size.

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Glaze

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Glaze

Fluffy sweet potato cinnamon rolls with ginger cinnamon filling and Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Glaze

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 packet rapid rise dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
  • 1½ teaspoons table salt
  • 1¼ cups whole milk
  • 6 tbsps unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch & room temp
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato puree, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, beaten, room temperature
  • Vegetable oil, for the bowl
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup sweet potato puree, room temperature
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Set aside. 

In a microwave safe bowl or 4-cup Pyrex cup combine the milk, butter and sweet potato puree for 30 - 45 seconds until warm (not hot!) and the butter is not completely melted. Stir until butter is melted. 

Pour the milk/butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add the egg. Place bowl on the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. On low speed, add 1 cup of the remaining flour. After incorporated, gradually add the last cup of flour. Mix until combined. Change to the dough hook attachment and knead on low speed for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. 

Transfer the dough to a very lightly oiled metal bowl. Turn the dough to coat in the oil, then cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

While the dough rises, make the filling. Mix the softened butter and sweet potato puree until smooth. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt together in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Once the dough has risen, roll it out into a long rectangle about 18 x 12 inches on a well floured surface.

Spread the sweet potato butter mixture all the way to the edge of the dough. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the butter, pressing it down to stick to the butter.

From the long end, roll the dough away from you into a tight roll, sealing the bottom edge down by pinching the dough together.

Use unflavored dental floss to cut the roll into 12 equal portions to ensure clean cuts without squishing the dough. Slide a long piece of floss, at least 12”, under the dough roll where you want to make your cut. Bring the ends of the floss up, crossing them over the top of the roll. Then, pull the ends in opposite directions in a gentle but firm manner. Place the rolls in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Cover loosely with a dish cloth and allow to rise for another hour until doubled in size and puffed up.

Bake the cinnamon rolls at 350°F for 30 minutes or until they are golden brown and no longer doughy. Do not overbake! Allow to cool.

While the rolls cool, make the cream cheese frosting. In a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment combine the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, milk, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed, gradually increasing to high until light and fluffy. Spread the icing evenly over the 12 rolls while they’re slightly warm.  

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