Cannoli Cinnamon Rolls, an easy homemade cinnamon rolls from scratch recipe with a quick cannoli frosting! These fluffy cinnamon rolls are the best for breakfast, brunch, or even dessert!
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You know how much I love cannoli recipes like my super popular Cannoli Cake, Cannoli Cookies, and Cannoli Dip! I’ll admit, I’m a bit obsessed with all things cannoli. Sorry, not sorry. I know, I know. These delicious Cannoli Cinnamon Rolls are another great addition to my long list of other cannoli inspired recipes.
These Cannoli Cinnamon Rolls are perfect for breakfast, brunch, or even dessert! Great for holidays or even Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. I think I’ll be making these for Christmas morning too! Who am I kidding, they’re great anytime.
Even great for celebrating National Cinnamon Roll Day next April 10th! If only National Cinnamon Roll Day was more often, right?
How to Make Cannoli Cinnamon Rolls
(For the full printable recipe with more details, scroll down to the bottom of the post to the recipe card.)
Ok, so these cinnamon rolls from scratch do take some time. They are easy to make but a bit time-consuming. However, don’t worry, I’ll share some time-saving tips.
The recipe makes 24 good size cinnamon rolls, but you can easily cut the recipe in half.
First thing you need to do is make the cinnamon roll dough. I like to mix together the yeast, sugar, and warm milk in a large mixing bowl and let it sit for a little while until it starts to get foamy. It will start to smell like “bread”, and you’ll know it’s ready.
Make sure your milk is warm (like 100-110 degrees F). If it’s too hot, you may kill the yeast, and if not warm enough, the yeast may not help the dough rise enough.
Once your mixture is a bit foamy, mix in about 2 cups of flour and the salt. Stir in the eggs, vegetable oil (or canola oil), vanilla, and orange zest then slowly add more flour until a soft dough forms. The amount of flour you need may vary.
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface until it comes together and becomes elastic.
Place the dough in a lightly greased large mixing bowl. Turn the dough to coat with oil, then cover and let rise in a warm, dark, draft-free place for about 30-45 minutes. I like to put plastic wrap over the top of the bowl and/or a damp towel.
While the dough is rising, make the cinnamon roll filling by mixing together the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. You can add more or less cinnamon depending on your personal preference.
When your dough has doubled in size roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface (or use a silicone mat or wax paper). Make a rectangle with the dough about 15×24-inches. The dough should be quite pliable and easy to roll at this point.
Lightly spread softened butter on top of the dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top. Tightly roll up the dough into a long roll.
You can make these rolls large or smaller in size, but just be sure to change the baking time. They would be great as little mini Cannoli Cinnamon Rolls for a big party. For a mini cinnamon roll version, be sure to make a much longer and less wide rectangle with the dough.
Once your rolls are all sliced, place the individual rolls in two lightly greased 13×9-inch baking dishes. You can use any size pans you want but you may need to adjust the baking time slightly.
Cover, and let the rolls rise again for another 30-45 minutes. Remove the cover and bake in the middle of the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. The rolls should be light and fluffy and just slightly crispy around the edges.
While the rolls are cooling, prepare the cinnamon roll frosting. Beat together the ricotta and mascarpone until smooth. Ricotta can be a little lumpy so this helps smooth it out. Beat in the powdered sugar, vanilla, orange juice, cinnamon, and a dash of salt.
ALSO, please DRAIN your ricotta overnight for best results to prevent the frosting from getting soupy. OR be sure your ricotta is thick and good quality. If you forgot to drain the ricotta, make the rest of the frosting and then beat in a little ricotta at a time at the end until desired consistency.
Instead of vanilla extract, you could try almond extract and/or Fiori di Sicilia. Both would be a great alternative giving the Cannoli Cinnamon Rolls a whole new flavor.
Spread the frosting on the cooled cinnamon rolls and top with the mini chocolate chips. Be sure to store the frosting in the fridge.
After trying this cannoli frosting, you may never want regular cinnamon roll frosting again! Cream cheese frosting for cinnamon rolls is great, but I think the cannoli frosting is the best. Just saying.
If cannolis aren’t quite your thing, you can try a cinnamon roll icing or glaze like this vanilla glaze. Or you might prefer these Cannoli Ricotta Fritters which are another great breakfast or brunch options.
Instead of mini chocolate chips, you could use chopped chocolate or regular sized chocolate chips. You can also use chopped pistachios in addition to, or instead of chocolate chips.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to use vegetable oil?
You can use canola oil, softened butter, or melted butter. Just know that the dough may vary slightly with texture and taste depending on what you use. You could try other butter/oil substitutes but I can’t guarantee what will happen for all of them.
Do I have to use orange zest or orange juice?
The orange zest is optional but does give the cinnamon rolls a subtle orange flavor. You could use more or less of the fresh orange zest depending on your personal preference.
How do I make overnight cinnamon rolls?
To make these rolls the night before, make the dough, let it rise, assemble the rolls, cut, and place in greased pans as directed. Cover the pans and refrigerate overnight for the second rising. For best results let the rolls come to room temperature in the morning, remove the cover, and bake as directed (or may need to bake slightly longer if still cold).
How do I store these cinnamon rolls and frosting?
I think the rolls are best the same day they are made, but if you do need to store, I’d suggest wrapping them tightly and storing in a sealable bag or store in an airtight container. Store the frosting in the refrigerator and top the rolls with the frosting and chocolate chips right before serving.
How do I reheat cinnamon rolls?
To reheat the cinnamon rolls in the oven, I would cover them and reheat at 350 degrees F for about 15-30 minutes or until heated through. For the microwave, I’d cover the rolls with a damp paper towel and heat for about 20-30 seconds (may vary). Do not reheat cinnamon rolls with frosting or chocolate chips on top. The damp paper towel will help keep the cinnamon rolls soft. For best results, frost the cinnamon rolls and add the chocolate chips right before serving.
How do I freeze cinnamon rolls?
If you really want to freeze baked cinnamon rolls, I would suggest wrapping the rolls well and placing in a sealable bag getting out as much air as possible. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then reheat in the oven. You can try par-baking the cinnamon rolls as well. Instead of thoroughly baking the rolls, bake for about half the time, cool, then wrap/bag, and freeze. Thaw and bake them more the next day.
Cannoli Cinnamon Rolls Video
Check out this “how to” video to see how fast these cinnamon rolls come together…
Cannoli Cinnamon Rolls
- Place yeast and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add warm milk. Stir to combine and let sit about 5-10 minutes until it starts to look foamy.
- Stir in about 2 cups of all purpose flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Then stir in eggs, vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and orange zest.
- Stir in more flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms. Place dough on lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until dough comes together and more elastic. Place dough in lightly greased bowl, turn dough to coat, then cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rise for about 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, prepare filling by mixing together 1 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Lightly butter two 13x9-inch baking dishes.
- Roll dough out into a rectangle about 15 inches by 24 inches. Spread softened butter over top of dough and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. Tightly roll dough up at the long end so you're left with a 24-inch roll.
- Slice dough into 24 rolls. Place 12 rolls in each baking dish. Cover and let dough rise for another 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size again.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F while rolls are rising.
- Once rolls have doubled in size, remove cover, and bake cinnamon rolls at 350 degrees F for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- Prepare frosting by placing ricotta and mascarpone in large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, then 1 teaspoon vanilla, orange juice, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and dash of salt until smooth and not lumpy.
- Frost tops of cinnamon rolls with cannoli frosting and sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top.