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11 Easy Ways to Make Canned Cinnamon Rolls Better, Like Homemade

Wondering how to make canned cinnamon rolls taste homemade? Follow a few easy steps to improve the taste and make the canned rolls gooey and soft.

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A batch of baked cinnamon rolls with fresh cream cheese frosting dripping on the top and down the sides of the rolls.

When you get the craving for ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls, grab the canned version. If you are worried about the taste, don’t be. You can learn how to make canned cinnamon rolls taste homemade with a few easy tricks.

What is the best way to upgrade canned cinnamon rolls to taste better? Improve the taste of canned cinnamon rolls by adding butter, spices, and flavorings to the filling. Drizzle with cream and cover the pan with foil before baking. Then top the warm rolls with jazzed-up icing.

These simple baking techniques transform dry, canned, bland cinnamon rolls into a moist, gooey, flavorful dessert.

You may also be interested in this post on what to serve with cinnamon rolls. It is a comprehensive list that includes the best drinks, toppings, and main dishes served with cinnamon rolls.

STEP 1: Start with the Best Canned Cinnamon Rolls

Canned cinnamon roll brands lined up in a row.

If you want your canned cinnamon rolls to taste homemade, start with a good-tasting brand. We did a mini taste test in our kitchen comparing Pillsbury, Trader Joe’s, Annie’s Organic, and Simple Organic (Kroger store brand).

Overall, we preferred the taste of Simple Organic and Trader Joe’s over the other brands. But Pillsbury cinnamon rolls were the easiest to find.

Here are a few other things to note:

  • Trader Joe’s and Annie’s Organic cinnamon rolls only come in jumbo size.
  • Regular-size Pillsbury cinnamon rolls can’t be unrolled. However, the jumbo size can be.

Doctoring up any of these brands with my tricks will make them taste better. If possible, grab a can of rolls that can be unrolled.

STEP 2: Add Butter to the Rolls

Unrolled cinnamon roll with bowl of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon mixture.

The dough in canned rolls is premade, so there isn’t much you can do to the baseline recipe. However, when you shift your focus to the filling, you can make your cinnamon rolls taste homemade.

Butter is one of the most important ingredients in homemade cinnamon rolls. Butter is in the dough, filling, and icing.

Unfortunately, the fat in canned rolls is palm or soybean oil. Not a trace of butter to be found.

You can’t add butter to the dough of canned cinnamon rolls. However, you can add it when you doctor up the filling.

How do you do it? Start by unwrapping the rolls.

Cinnamon rolls are dough rolled into a log and then cut into segments. It is effortless to unroll the dough into long strips.

Once you have a flat strip of dough, the options are endless.

Note: Not all brands of dough can be unrolled. All the jumbo-sized cinnamon rolls we tested could be unrolled. However, only some of the regular-sized rolls could.

Pillsbury regular-sized rolls couldn’t be unrolled. If you can’t unroll the dough, you can’t add filling to the inside. It just wasn’t as tasty.

What to Do if You Can’t Unroll the Dough

If you can’t unroll the dough (or don’t want to take the time), do this instead. Spread the filling on top of each roll before placing it in the greased baking pan.

STEP 3: Jazz Up Your Filling

Ingredients for a cinnamon filling to spread on unrolled canned cinnamon rolls.

There are many options for cinnamon roll fillings. But to keep things simple, start with a buttery cinnamon-sugar filling.

Make it with cinnamon and brown sugar mixed with softened butter. Spread the filling onto each strip of dough. Then roll each piece up again.

Here are a few options if you want to go beyond a cinnamon-sugar filling. The steps are the same. Unroll the dough. Mix the filling. Spread on the dough strips. Re-roll the dough.

Try these spices with the filling.

A little bit can go a long way, so tread lightly (⅛ to ¼ teaspoon at a time) and taste before adding more spice.

Mix the spices of your choice with softened butter sweetened with white or brown sugar.

  • Ground nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Cardamom
  • Allspice
  • Ground cloves

Sprinkle nuts in the filling.

Spread the butter-sugar-spice mixture on the dough strips first. Then sprinkle on finely chopped nuts before re-rolling them. The strips are thin, so make sure the nuts are in small segments.

Add dried fruit in the filling.

Spread the butter mixture first before sprinkling on the dried fruit.

  • Dried cranberries (craisins)
  • Raisins
  • Dried blueberries or cherries
  • Dried peaches or apricots (chop them in pieces)
  • Candied ginger (ok, not a fruit, but it is chewy like dried fruit)

Try canned fillings for a completely different flavor.

If you are using canned filling, brush the unrolled dough strips with melted butter before spreading on the pie filling.

Use a spread to change up the flavor.

  • Apple butter
  • Pumpkin butter
  • Nutella
  • Cookie butter

All these filling options will blend exceptionally well with the cinnamon and sugar already in the canned rolls. Your additions will simply enhance the flavor.

Time-Saving Tip

If you want to avoid unrolling each cinnamon roll, melt the butter and mix in the sugar and cinnamon. Pour this mixture on top of the rolls (in the baking pan) before baking them.

The butter will seep down into the cracks and crevices. Though the butter sauce coverage won’t be as thorough as if you smeared each dough strip, it will still make the rolls taste much better.

STEP 4: Bake Them in Heavy Cream

Pouring cream on unbaked canned cinnamon rolls in a pan.

Pouring heavy cream over cinnamon buns before they bake is a newish baking trick that is sticking around. It became popular on TikTok, then YouTube, and basically everywhere else.

It is a quick and easy trick to make your store-bought cinnamon rolls soft and gooey.

Start by arranging the cinnamon rolls in a baking dish coated with nonstick spray. Then, pour the heavy cream over the dough until the buns and the bottom of the pan are covered.

You will need about ½ cup of heavy cream for every 8 regular cinnamon buns baked in an 8-inch round cake pan.

As the cinnamon rolls bake, the heavy cream will bubble, rising up into the crevices of the roll. The dough absorbs most of the heavy cream, which adds moisture to the rolls and makes them soft and gooey.

What is left is a sweet, sticky syrup on the bottom of the pan that the cinnamon rolls bake in.

A coffee creamer (flavored or plain) can be used in place of the heavy cream if you prefer a nondairy alternative.

Don’t use milk because it doesn’t have enough fat in it. If you use milk, the rolls can become soggy.

Pan of unbaked canned cinnamon rolls drenched in cream.

Important note: The heavy cream should be warm if you’re using this trick with homemade cinnamon rolls. Homemade dough is usually more temperamental. Temperature changes can disrupt the baking process.

Tasty Tip

For a twist, flavor the heavy cream with vanilla or almond extract. These flavors enhance classic cinnamon rolls. Just a drop or two is enough flavor. We are talking about using less than ⅛ of a teaspoon of extract.

Other delicious extracts to try are orange, maple, or coconut.

STEP 5: Use the Right Pan

Cinnamon rolls in a round cake pan with enough space to not be squooshed when baking.

If you use a too-large pan, the rolls can spread and dry out. If you use a pan that is too small, the rolls have nowhere to expand. They lose their shape and bake unevenly.

Ideally, the cinnamon rolls should bake into one another. Being snug but not crowding each other over the edge of the pan.

  • An 8-inch round cake pan is the best pan to bake 8 regular-sized cinnamon rolls. Don’t give them anywhere to go but into each other. Their close quarters will keep them moist. Buy here.
  • A 10-inch round cake pan can hold 5 jumbo-sized cinnamon rolls. Buy here.

Using a Rectangular Pan

Two rectangular pans each with 10 raw cinnamon rolls fit inside.
Larger rectangular pans don’t fit the canned cinnamon rolls as nicely as a round pan.

Large 9 X 13-inch pans are often used to bake cinnamon rolls. If this is your designated pan, bake two cans of jumbo cinnamon rolls. Or use up to three cans of regular-sized cinnamon rolls.

Keep in mind that jumbo cans come with 5 rolls. Regular-sized rolls come in a package of 8.

If you bake canned cinnamon rolls often, consider buying a round 8 or 10-inch cake pan.

STEP 6: Wrap Your Pan in Cake Baking Strips

Wet cake strips around a cake pan filled with unbaked canned cinnamon rolls.

Cake bakers are familiar with this technique. One trick to keep the outside crust of cakes moist is to cover the exterior side of the cake pan with drenched cake strips. This prevents the outside from baking more quickly than the inside.

The perimeter of the pan will always be hotter than the center. This causes the outside of the cinnamon rolls to bake quicker than the inside. Buy cake strips here.

Don’t worry if you don’t have any cake strips. You can easily make your own.

This trick is easier if you bake the rolls in a round pan. An 8-inch round cake pan is the ideal pan.

Instructions for Wrapping the Pan with Cake Strips

Wet cake strips around the cake pan filled with unbaked cinnamon rolls.
  1. Soak the cake strips in water for 15 minutes.
  1. Remove the excess water.
  1. Wrap the wet strips around the cake pan.
  1. Fasten the strips with a fastener pin.
  1. Bake as directed.

Instructions for Making Your Own Cake Strips

Steps showing how to make homemade cake strips with aluminum foil and paper towels.
  1. Cut a piece of aluminum foil about 3 inches longer than the perimeter of your pan. Cut 11 inches for an 8-inch cake pan. Round pans are much easier to work with than square or rectangular pans.
  1. Cut a paper towel about an inch longer than the perimeter of your cake pan.
  1. Get the paper towel soaked under running water. Gently squeeze out the excess. It should be saturated but not dripping.
  1. Place the paper towel ½ inch from the edge of the aluminum foil. Fold the foil over the paper towel and continue to fold until the foil is the height of the pan.
Closeup of homemade cake strips around a cake pan full of unbaked canned cinnamon rolls.
  1. Wrap the “cake strip” around the pan. Twist it at the ends so it stays securely on the pan.
  1. Bake as directed.

STEP 7: Cover the Rolls While Baking

Foil covering the pan of canned unbaked cinnamon rolls.

Most cinnamon roll package direction don’t list this step in the instructions.

However, one of the secrets to soft, moist cinnamon rolls is to cover them while baking. The water content of the dough will evaporate during baking. Covering the cinnamon rolls will keep the environment humid, preventing the rolls from drying out.

Be prepared to add about 15 more minutes to the baking time (on the package) when baking covered rolls. It will be worth it, though. Bake them until they are about to turn a light golden brown.

STEP 8: Do Not Overbake

Overbaked rolls are dry. And there isn’t much to be done to reverse dry cinnamon rolls.

To prevent the rolls from baking too long, start checking them 5 to 6 minutes before they are supposed to be done. Check them even earlier if your oven runs hot.

You may be interested in this post on how to calibrate your oven. You will learn how to find out your oven’s true temperature and how to adjust it when baking.

Use a fork or knife to pull out a small part of the roll in the center. Look and taste. The rolls should not be doughy. But if they look almost done, pull them out. Especially if the outside rolls look done.

Keep the pan covered, and the residual heat from the pan can finish baking the rolls.

STEP 9: Invert the Cinnamon Rolls to Cool

Baked canned cinnamon rolls inverted and cooling on a wire rack.

Who says the top has to stay on top? The bottom of your cinnamon rolls was baked in the sticky syrup residue made of cream and all the buttery cinnamon filling that melted out. You are going to want that front and center.

When the rolls are done baking, flip them out onto a cooling rack. Then drizzle all the remaining syrupy goodness at the bottom of the pan on top of them.

Don’t worry if it makes the tops look soggy. Give them 5 minutes, and the cinnamon rolls will absorb all the sweet moisture.

STEP 10: Make Your Own Icing or Jazz Up the Provided Icing

A bowl of homemade cream cheese frosting and a packet of the icing that came in the canned cinnamon rolls.

Canned cinnamon rolls NEVER have enough icing. Add to what is already there, or start from scratch to make your own.

If you want to jazz up the premade package, add butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream. Use a hand mixer to combine the ingredients.

Spread the icing on the warm cinnamon rolls. The heat from the rolls will melt the butter in the icing, allowing it to seep into the folds of the rolls. The dough itself will soak up the icing flavors.

Note: You can skip the cream cheese and add only butter if you prefer.

Brulee Sugar on Top Instead of Using Icing

Pan of bruleed cinnamon rolls.

This trick is for you if you like a crunchy, caramelized topping.

When only five minutes remain of baking time, take the cinnamon rolls out of the oven. Remove the foil and sprinkle the top of the rolls with baker’s or raw sugar.

Return the cinnamon rolls to the oven’s top rack and turn the oven to broil. Broil for 2 minutes. Then check the rolls and rotate the pan. Broil for another minute or two until the sugar has melted and formed a hard, golden crust.

Ice the rolls if you want to. You will still be able to taste and feel the texture of the bruleed sugar.

Another brulee option: Frost the baked cinnamon rolls and then sprinkle with raw sugar. Use a kitchen torch to brulee the sugar on top of the icing. Buy kitchen torch here.

STEP 11: Serve the Cinnamon Rolls Warm

Cinnamon roll with icing on a plate and glass of milk in the background.

Warm cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven taste the best. Plan to serve them within minutes of frosting them.

And don’t forget the hot chocolate! You will love this easy way to make hot chocolate with chocolate chips.


How do you make canned cinnamon rolls gooey?

The correct-sized pan is crucial for gooey cinnamon rolls. The pan should fit the rolls close together, but they shouldn’t touch each other. They will expand as they bake into each other.

Pouring cream on top of the rolls and covering them while they bake also contributes to gooey cinnamon rolls. The moisture stays in the pan instead of evaporating in the oven.

How do you make canned cinnamon rolls soft?

To make canned cinnamon rolls soft, do not overbake them. Check them 5 minutes before they are supposed to be done to make sure they baked just right.

Baking them covered in aluminum foil also keeps the rolls soft.

You will love how all these tricks improve canned cinnamon rolls to taste homemade. And you don’t have to follow all the tricks to improve the taste of your store-bought rolls. Even a few tweaks make a difference.

But if you want the ultimate from-scratch taste from canned cinnamon rolls, don’t skip a single step. Before you know it, you will have soft, gooey, buttery cinnamon rolls that taste homemade.

Did you love this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a 5-star review and leave a comment below.

Yield: 8 regular-sized rolls

Doctored Up Canned Cinnamon Rolls with Heavy Cream

A batch of baked cinnamon rolls with fresh cream cheese frosting dripping on the top and down the sides of the rolls.

Follow a few easy steps to improve the taste and make the canned rolls gooey and soft. Adding more filling, baking in heavy cream, and not overbaking are key to almost homemade canned cinnamon rolls.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 1 can of regular-sized cinnamon rolls
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, softened so it is spreadable
  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • ½ tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt (optional)
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • ⅛ teaspoon of almond or vanilla extract (optional)

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 2 tablespoons of butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons of cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of heavy cream


  1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. OPTIONAL: SOAK the cake strips in water for 15 minutes while you prepare the cinnamon rolls. Alternatively, make your own cake strips. (See instructions for making your own cake strips in the body of the blog post.) This step is optional but recommended.
  3. OPEN the package of cinnamon rolls and remove the rolls.
  4. UNROLL each cinnamon roll. (See note 1 if you can't unroll the cinnamon roll.)
  5. MIX 4 tablespoons of softened butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt until it is smooth and easy to spread. (See note 2 for softening butter quickly.)
  6. SPREAD the butter mixture on each strip of unrolled cinnamon roll. Be generous on each piece.
  7. RE-ROLL the cinnamon rolls into their original shape.
  8. SPRAY an 8-inch round cake pan with nonstick baking spray.
  9. PLACE the cinnamon rolls into the sprayed caked pan. They should be close to each other, but still have enough space to expand.
  10. POUR the heavy cream over the cinnamon rolls. It will drip off the rolls and cover the bottom of the pan. Optional: Stir the almond or vanilla extract into the cream before pouring it over the rolls.
  11. OPTIONAL CAKE STRIP INSTRUCTIONS: REMOVE the cake strips from the water and let the excess water drip off the strips. Circle the outside perimeter of the pan with the drenched cake strips (or homemade cake strips) and fasten securely with the pin that came with them.
  12. COVER the top of the pan with aluminum foil.
  13. BAKE in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted the center of the cinnamon roll pulls out dough that is soft but baked. Do not overbake.
  14. REMOVE the pan from the oven and turn the oven off.
  15. COOL the pan of rolls for 2 minutes.
  16. INVERT the cinnamon rolls onto a wire cooling rack. Scrape the cream, butter, and sugar remains at the bottom of the pan onto the rolls.
  17. BEAT 2 tablespoons of softened butter and the cream cheese together in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.
  18. STIR in the heavy cream and mix until the frosting is the consistency you like. You can also add the frosting that came with the cinnamon rolls to this homemade frosting if you want.
  19. SPREAD the frosting onto the warm cinnamon rolls.
  20. SERVE warm with a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of cold milk.

See note 3 for instructions to bake jumbo canned cinnamon rolls.


  1. If you can't unroll the cinnamon roll (Pillsbury regular-sized often can't be unrolled), spread the filling on top of each roll before putting it in the sprayed baking pan.
  2. Soften butter quickly in the microwave. Microwave at 50% power for 10 seconds to soften the butter. Repeat in 5 second intervals at 50% power if needed.
  3. To make jumbo cinnamon rolls, follow the same instructions, but bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

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Nutrition Information



Serving Size

1 roll

Amount Per Serving Calories 253Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 52mgSodium 189mgCarbohydrates 20gFiber 0gSugar 16gProtein 1g

Nutrition information is an estimate only and may vary based on individual ingredients added and cooking methods used.

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