Whiskey Salted Caramel Cinnamon Rolls

March  7, 2021
5 Ratings
Photo by Posie Harwood
  • Makes one 9-inch round or square pan
Author Notes

Using a wonderful basic recipe from the back of the Domino brown sugar box as my foundation, I've taken classic cinnamon rolls up a notch with a filling of whiskey salted caramel. Ice them or not, depending on how decadent you want to get! —Posie (Harwood) Brien

What You'll Need
  • For the dough:
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
  • For making the filling and assembling the rolls:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup milk or cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  1. For the dough:
  2. Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Add the warm water and yeast. Stir to combine and then refrigerate the mixture for 10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the salt, flour, and sugar. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut the butter until it's in coarse lumps.
  4. Pour the egg and yeast mixture into the flour mixture and stir to combine. Once the dough comes together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth (about 2 minutes).
  5. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel, and let rise until doubled.
  1. For making the filling and assembling the rolls:
  2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, cook 2 tablespoons of sugar until the edges turn amber. Add the rest of the sugar and stir until it all turns amber and melts but doesn't burn.
  3. Take the pan off of the heat and carefully pour in the milk or cream. It will bubble furiously! Just let the bubbles die down, then add the salt whiskey, and 2 tablespoons of the butter and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool and thicken.
  4. Take the risen dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle, about 1/4-inch thick. Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of softened butter over the dough and sprinkle with the cinnamon and brown sugar. Spoon and spread the thickened caramel sauce over the dough.
  5. Starting with the edge nearest you, roll the rectangle lengthwise into a long log. Using a serrated knife or a piece of dental floss, cut the roll into 2 inch-wide slices.
  6. Place the slices carefully into a greased 9-inch round cake pan or a square baking dish. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle the tops of the rolls with granulated sugar (optional) and bake in a preheated 350° F oven for about 24 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool. If you want to frost them, mix together 1 cup confectioners' sugar and 2 tablespoons milk in a bowl (adding more sugar or more milk to get the consistency you want) and spread it over the rolls.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Anna Rushton Olatunbosun
    Anna Rushton Olatunbosun
  • Gibson2011
  • Threemoons
  • Hanna Hussey
    Hanna Hussey
  • Vesna Dalbelo
    Vesna Dalbelo

31 Reviews

Practically E. August 8, 2021
Very messy to make but worth the cleanup.
TWoo February 4, 2019
Should have known better to read the comments first! Read the recipe multiple times but should have spent some time down here! Yup, the caramel seized immediately and not being much of a caramel fan, I didn't have enough experience to foresee that...20 minutes of on/off heat and stirring coaxed it back and wow is it tasty. But I do confess to taking left at "whiskey" and substituting my own flavor. :-)

Also inexperienced with yeast doughs and always fear adding too much additional flour so I tend to leave it a little sticky (hurry hurry, get it in the bowl!) and it looks like it came out fine. Need to work on distributing my innards a bit better, got a little oozy and messy.....Used the bit of remaining caramel to anoint the finished rolls.

I vote for skipping dinner and going right to dessert....Hope they taste as good as they look!
A January 28, 2018
The same happened to me with the caramel! Made it according to the recipe and it solidified immediately and irretrievably. On the second go, put all the ingredients in a pot and cooked on medium low until reduced and thickened, which worked fine.
Christina November 4, 2016
Wow my caramel turned out an absolute disaster! I have made caramel many times before but never this way adding the sugar to the pan with no liquid at first... Like other commenters, my sugar just started clumping up from the beginning, crystallizing into small clumps no matter what I did to break them up. When I finally got a mostly smooth liquid with a small amount of clumps I took it off the heat to add the milk and the entire thing seized up into a rock-solid, completely unusable gooey mess. Tried adding it back on the heat like others suggested and that made it worse. Kind of bummed that this doesn't seem to be working for most of us out here! I will continue using my old standby recipe for caramel and just substitute it into this recipe.
Anna R. March 9, 2016
Tried the caramel three times before I got something usable :( The third time, I finally figured out I could put it all back on the heat and stir until it liquefied again - but taking it off the heat to add the milk, etc. was the kiss of death every time.
Danielle Z. November 10, 2015
Is there a specific type of Whiskey you used?
Gibson2011 November 9, 2015
No idea what happened, but my caramel didn't turn out at all. It completely hardened in the pan and I ended up having to toss it. We had to improvise filling so that the recipe wasn't a total waste. :(
Posie (. November 10, 2015
Ugh, sorry to hear that! Caramel sauce can be a bit finicky -- I will say that I've made this sauce and had it seize up on me, but if you add some liquid and continue to gently heat it, it will usually smooth out so don't lose hope if it hardens at first! Keep at it!
Threemoons November 9, 2015
How many rolls does this make? Trying to gauge which pan to use...
Posie (. November 10, 2015
I'd suggest using a 9-inch round pan -- the recipe makes about 12 rolls, depending on how thickly you slice them.
Threemoons November 10, 2015
Thanks so much! Can't wait to make these!!
Jennifer November 4, 2015
Posie, I make breads many different ways, but I've never seen a recipe call for 'proofing' the active dry yeast in the fridge. What's up with that? Heading to the store Now for my cream. Yummy. These might also rock sans icing, but with a few walnuts or pecans sprinkled on the rolls before baking. The nuts get toasty and beautiful. Thanks, Jen.
Posie (. November 4, 2015
Yeah, that threw me too at first! I think it's because the water with the yeast is warm, but in the next step you use cold butter, so it helps prevent your butter from warming up too much when you mix it all together. It doesn't affect the actual proofing of the yeast. Enjoy! Toasted pecans are such a good idea (also, making some extra salted caramel sauce and drizzling it over the top before the nuts instead of icing would NOT be a bad idea!).
Jennifer November 4, 2015
Thanks. I Didn't read carefully enough. Definitely to keep from messing up the cold butter mixture. Kinda like using ice water when moistening flaky pastry dough. I'll definitely make spare caramel. I use a disgraceful amount of butter and cinnamon sugar when I do traditional cinnamon rolls and man, are they nice. I never tell folks how much. Ignorance is bliss.
Meghan November 4, 2015
About how long does it take to make these, from start to finish?
Posie (. November 4, 2015
Hm, I'd say a minimum of 2 1/2 hours (could take closer to 3 or 3 1/2 depending on how long your dough takes to rise!).
Meghan November 4, 2015
Good to know. Thank you!
Justine November 4, 2015
Please would you advise on actual quantity of yeast? Where I live it comes in 250gram bags, not individual packets. Thank you!
Vesna D. November 4, 2015
1 packet contains 7 g of yeast.
Hanna H. November 3, 2015
These looks awesome! My husband is 3 years sober, can I just omit the whiskey or should I substitute more milk? - Lame duck
Posie (. November 3, 2015
You can just omit the whiskey! It won't affect the texture of the salted caramel sauce (taste the sauce, you could even add more salt if you want a more pronounced flavor).
Vesna D. November 3, 2015
Can the first rise be overnight, in the fridge?
Posie (. November 3, 2015
Yes it could be, but if you do that, I'd recommend giving them a slightly longer second rise as they will need it.
Shaar November 3, 2015
I think these would be great to serve on New Years morning, please can you advise if they can be frozen at any stage to bake or reheat when time or head aren't on your side?
Cody November 3, 2015
Refrigerate or freeze the dough after shaping it into a log would be your best bet. I've done the same with a different cinnamon roll recipe (freezing after rolling into a log) and it let me cut off just enough for one or two at a time and bake them in buttered and sugared ramekins. Just be sure to give it time to defrost and then rise a bit first!
Lisa G. November 2, 2015
Do you dissolve yeast in warm water first or just mix in dry with eggs and water?
Posie (. November 2, 2015
Just mix it in with the eggs and water!
Michael R. November 2, 2015
Wow this looks awesome! Will have to try it. Sorry but being the complete novice that i am, can I assume that in step two of the dough, the butter goes into the the sifted mixture and not saved for later?

Posie (. November 2, 2015
Yep, exactly! You'll add it in the way you would in a biscuit dough (cutting it in into small lumps).
Hollyanne November 2, 2015
About how long is the first rise expected to take? (in step 4 of making the dough)
Posie (. November 2, 2015
It should take about 1 to 2 hours -- it will vary a bit depending on the temperature, so keep an eye on the dough. It should be nearly doubled in size.