Fluffy-Gooey Genius Cinnamon Rolls (No Yeast Know-How Required)

March 21, 2018

If you can make scones (or muffins or any other quick bread), you can make these sparkly, gloriously poufed cinnamon rolls—with no wait time, and no mastery of yeasted doughs required.

Wait, they don’t require proofing or punching or other know-how about yeast behavior? Anything the airport Cinnabon can do, I can do better? Yep, this is all true.

These beauties are among the most popular treats at the famed London sweet shop Violet Bakery (who—news flash—you'll see making the next royal wedding cake!). But instead of traditional yeast-rising, these buns are made using baking powder, the same speedy leavener that powers our favorite scones, biscuits, and beloved quick breads.

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It’s all because the tiny bakery didn’t have the space to proof yeasted doughs, so founder Claire Ptak had to get crafty. And so, as she writes, “I came up with these yeast-free buns in my home kitchen by looking through the cookbooks of the 1950s, when everything was about how to make things more quickly.” (Incidentally, the Germans have their own version of this swiftly made dough called quark öl teig, or fresh curd cheese and oil dough.)

And quick they are: From mixing to rolling to baking there are only a couple brief pauses to give the dough just enough time to relax (and you enough time to heat the oven and clear some dishes out of the sink). There is one extra handy trick in the process—to make sure the good, gooey cinnamon sugar in the middle doesn’t all seep out the bottom, you’ll tuck the end flap of rolled dough under its bum. Ta-da!

That’s it—you can bust these out the morning of brunch if you’re an early bird, without waiting for yeast to do its thing. Or, better yet (if you’re like the rest of us), you can make them ahead and freeze them in their muffin tin, then bake them straight from the freezer.

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Top Comment:
“The texture isn’t quite the same as the traditional yeast version - less doughy but instead it has more of a buttery cookie texture. It was a hit! Will save this for regular rotation!”
— Rita H.

Don’t expect these buns to precisely recreate the yeasty flavors and pull-apart texture of a slower-risen roll—but they achieve something magical in their own right. And they do a remarkable job of hitting all the other notes of a classic cinnamon roll: the poofy, soft innards and cascading, buttery crust, the sparkle-dusted first bite giving way to sticky-sweet goo. And, maybe most importantly, they nail that whole-house-is-a-sweet-cinnamony-doughy-fairyland aura. Cinnabon will have absolutely nothing on you there.

Photos by Rocky Luten & Bobbi Lin

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]—thank you to genius baking wizard Sarah Jampel for this one!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Rita Ho-Bezzola
    Rita Ho-Bezzola
  • Mary Hayes
    Mary Hayes
  • mrslarkin
  • Carol
  • nbfox61
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Rita H. September 22, 2019
I made these today and they turned out great! I halved the cardamom after reading some reviews but probably will follow the recipe and do two tsp next time. We could hardly taste the cardamom! The texture isn’t quite the same as the traditional yeast version - less doughy but instead it has more of a buttery cookie texture. It was a hit! Will save this for regular rotation!
Mary H. June 2, 2018
After visiting the lovely Violet Bakery in London and trying the fabulous cinnamon buns, the Violet Bakery cookbook was a gift to me. The cinnamon buns are in the oven now and I hope they will be edible as the recipe in the cookbook calls for 1 and 1/2 cups of flour instead of the recipe here that calls for 4 1/2 cups! I did add more flour as the dough was a loose mess. Glad I read this recipe online as I will make a change in the cookbook. How did the cookbook go to print with this major mistake?
Jayne P. December 19, 2018
Haha, because a mistake like that is SO hard to spot. It's not like a spelling mistake - unless the editor was an experienced cook, he or she would be unlikely to spot it. Annoying all the same though. I must admit I was taken aback by the huge quantity of baking powder (I normally use one teaspoon plus a bit of bicarb in scone dough), but then I saw the huge amount of flour. I am going to try these over Christmas - I am sure the smell alone will be enough for me to put on a kilo.
mrslarkin April 3, 2018
These were crazy good!
Carol March 27, 2018
I need to use gluten free flour,and have had great success with King Arthur measure to measure flour.To give these rolls a more stretchie consistency do you think that substituting maybe 1/2 a cup of tapioca flour for the regular might give me the desirable results,or maybe even a whole cup,as it calls for a lot of flour? This recipe sounds so great,but with celiac disease,I really miss the chew in bread and rolls.Thank you.
Kristen M. March 27, 2018
Hi Carol—sounds like a fun experiment, though I don't have any personal experience to advise (do you have Alice Medrich's Flavor Flours? Could be a good source of inspiration). For what it's worth, these rolls aren't as stretchy as yeasted rolls anyway (more like a very fluffy scone), so a good gluten-free flour blend would probably make a very close substitute.
nbfox61 March 24, 2018
Does it matter what type of milk? Whole, low-fat, skin?
Kristen M. March 24, 2018
Whatever kind you have will work but a little extra richness is always welcome if you have a choice (I love baking with whole milk).
nbfox61 March 24, 2018
Thanks! I certainly won't be using skin milk as I typed above!
Kristen M. March 25, 2018
Well, only if you have it on hand ;)
Darla M. December 20, 2018
Lea March 21, 2018
I’ve done this for years when we wanted cinnamon rolls in a snap! Love it!
AntoniaJames March 21, 2018
I've been making Chelsea buns with biscuit dough for years . . . but not in a muffin tin. That's a great idea. ;o)
Anne March 21, 2018
I just made these this morning and they are delicious!
janet T. March 21, 2018
This is very similar to a recipe my mother use to make that she called “cinnamon buns,” although she didn’t bake them in a muffin tin. Nice and quick.
Elisabeth March 21, 2018
I have made these several times from her baking book. They are really delicious. It’s pretty exciting that she is making the wedding cake! I have dreams of going to her bakery some day soon!
Mahadana March 21, 2018
The same Claire Ptak who grew up in the coastal Point Reyes area north of San Francisco and launched her career at Chez Panisse? You go girl!
Kathleen March 21, 2018
Would it be overkill to use buttermilk in place of plain milk? Just curious since this recipe is very similar to my favorite biscuit recipe; and, I’ve wondered if it would make a good cinnamon roll.
Lea March 21, 2018
I use my regular biscuit recipe which calls for buttermilk and they’re awesome!
phyllis H. March 21, 2018
Is there a specific quantity of milk suggested for the yeast free cinnamon rolls recipe?
Safstar March 21, 2018
Hi Phyllis, this recipe requires 300 ml of cold milk
Kristen M. March 21, 2018
Hi phyllis and Safstar, thanks for catching this—I've updated the recipe page and it's 300g (1 1/4 cups) cold milk (which is equivalent to 300ml).