Basic Sweet Dough – for cinnamon rolls, twists and other sweet breads


There’s something magical about the aroma of freshly baked goods wafting through the air. A basic sweet dough – for cinnamon rolls, twists and other sweet breads is at the heart of many baked delights. Whether you’re a novice baker or a seasoned pro, having a go-to sweet dough recipe in your repertoire opens the door to a world of possibilities.

This recipe is one that my mom used for many years, adapted by her and by me to the version I now have here. It is simple, versatile and skips the step of scalding and cooling milk that many sweet bread recipes call for. This recipe actually contains NO MILK. This recipe makes a large batch of dough, so if you don’t want to end up with 20-24 large cinnamon buns, or an excess of monkey bread etc. I suggest either cutting the recipe in half or alternatively, you could make half into regular sweet dinner rolls and half into something else, like cinnamon twists, cinnamon buns or monkey bread. All of which freeze well. I usually use my standard half sheet which is 18″x13″ but if you prefer you can use 2 9″X13″ pans. You will get large 24 buns and depending on if you want to make a full or half recipe you could get a dozen large cinnamon buns and a dozen large dinner buns. If you are even more energetic, you can make the rolls slightly smaller and get 48 small rolls and bake them on TWO 9″x13″ sheet pans as shown in the photo below. My family prefers the larger rolls (similar size to Cinnabon) so that’s what I usually make, however if I am gifting a bunch, then I opt for the smaller rolls as I find they are plenty big enough for most people.

I use this recipe for cinnamon buns and sweet dinner rolls most often, but it can be used for so many more things. Monkey bread, cinnamon twists, apple.

If you like a cinnamon bun make with milk then try my cinnamon bun recipe.

How to Store Cinnamon Buns so they stay fluffy:

  • Once cool, wrap each roll in plastic wrap and freeze. When you want one or two take them out to thaw on the counter for a couple of hours. They are fresh like they were just baked.
  • Store on the counter in an airtight container for a day or two, warm up before eating.
  • For Cinnamon buns, only Frost the ones you want to eat on the day you make them. Keep some frosting in the refrigerator and frost just before you want to eat them.
  • My cardinal rule is to always HEAT the buns up before eating. There’s nothing like a warm roll, whether it is a cinnamon bun or regular dinner roll. Warm is best.

Basic Sweet Dough

This easy yeast based dough is perfect for cinnamon buns, monkey bread, cinnamon twists or any place you want a sweeter dough. It is even great as a bun, much like Hawaiian sweet buns.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
raising time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Course anytime, Baking, Breads Buns and Rolls, Breakfast, brunch, christmas baking, sweet bread
Cuisine American
Servings 20 buns


  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 18×13 half sheet baking pan


Yeast Mixture

  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp active dry yeast
  • ½ cup lukewarm water

For the Dough

  • 5 lg eggs, well-beaten
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp salt (add to the flour)
  • 2 tbsp baking powder (add to the flour)
  • 10-10½ cups all-purpose flour

For the Filling: if making cinnamon buns

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1.5 cup brown sugar (combine with the cinnamon)
  • 3 tbsp cinnamon


  • In a small bowl, combine the 3 tsp active dry yeast 2 tsp granulated sugar and ½ cup lukewarm water and set aside
  • In a large bowl, add the 5 lg eggs, and beat well.
  • add in the 1 cup granulated sugar a little at a time, beating well
  • Add in the 1 cup vegetable oil and combine
  • Add the 3 cups lukewarm water
  • Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl then slowly add it to the egg, sugar and water mixture creating a soft dough
  • Form the dough into a large ball and cover with plastic wrap lightly sprayed with non stick spray and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

For Basic Sweet Buns

  • Once doubled punch down the dough then form the dough into balls about 3" and place on parchment lined baking sheet 1" apart, let rise 1 hour or until doubled in size
  • Brush with melted butter
  • Bake at 375℉ 20 – 30 minutes until golden

For Cinnamon Buns

  • Once doubled, punch down the dough then divide it into two pieces so you can roll it out more easily. Then roll it out ¼' to ½' thick rectangle around 26-30" wide along the long edge. Keep in mind the more spirals you like in your cinnamon rolls, the thinner you should roll it.
  • Once you have your desired thickness, spread the entire surface with the softened butter then cover it with the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture *see note below for monkey bread
  • Roll like a jelly roll starting along the long edge. Cut into 10 slices and place on parchment lined (or well greased) pans 1" apart. Repeat with second amount of dough for a total of 20 buns on a standard half sheet tray (18"x13") See note *
  • Let rise until the buns have doubled in size, brush with melted butter and bake at 375℉ until dark golden brown about 20-30 minutes depending on your oven.


If you do not have an 18″x13″ half sheet, you can use 2 smaller pans and divide the buns between the two.  You should get a total of 20-24 buns depending on how thick you slice them.  I like bigger cinnamon rolls so I am for 20 large ones.
For monkey bread,  melt the butter completely then pour it over the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture making a paste then make the dough balls and dip them in the paste, place them in your baking pan (bundt pan) and bake as directed.    
Keyword cinnamon twists, easy buns, Easy Cinnamon Buns, monkey bread, sweet buns, sweet Dough
Previous Post Next Post