Sourdough Discard Cinnamon Rolls

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Pillowy soft and ooey gooey - filled with swirls of cinnamon sugar and topped with creamy icing. You're going to love these sourdough discard cinnamon rolls. Use up that sourdough discard from your fridge and make something delicious.

If you know me, you know I love cinnamon rolls. I’ve been baking my favorite original recipe for many years for special Thanksgivings, Christmases, selling them at our little cottage bakery – you name it! And I’ve been baking these 100% sourdough cinnamon rolls for my family over the last year – it’s my new go-to! I figured it was about time to combine both of these amazing recipes and bake up the most ooey, gooey, glorious cinnamon rolls made with sourdough discard!

Why You’ll Love Sourdough Discard Cinnamon Rolls

Sourdough discard cinnamon rolls come together quickly. They are easy to mix, raise quickly due to the instant yeast and use up a whole lot of sourdough discard. The perfect cinnamon rolls when you want something sourdough without planning ahead for the long rise of traditional sourdough leavening. Soft, tender and all the cinnamony goodness of a cinnamon roll, these sourdough discard cinnamon rolls will become your new family favorite!

Important Ingredients

  • Sourdough Discard: Use 100% hydration sourdough discard.
  • Whole Milk: Whole milk gives these rolls rich flavor. Substitute 2% milk if desired.
  • Unsalted Butter: I always bake with unsalted butter so I can adjust the salt content
  • Instant Yeast: This recipe uses instant yeast to raise the dough. It does not use the leavening capabilities of the discard.
  • Granulated Sugar: Sugar gives the dough a little bit of sweetness.
  • Egg: Egg enriches the dough and enhances the dough’s soft texture.
  • Salt: Salt tempers the yeast and adds flavor to the dough.
  • Bread Flour: This recipe is made and tested with bread flour. Bread flour keeps the rolls chewy and helps them rise tall. If you want to substitute all-purpose flour instead, add a little vital wheat gluten for best results.
  • Cinnamon Roll Filling: A mixture of brown sugar, softened unsalted butter, cinnamon and a little flour are mixed together for the filling.
  • Cinnamon Roll Icing: Unsalted butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract, maple extract and salt are whipped together to form a silky smooth, creamy icing.

How to Make Sourdough Discard Cinnamon Rolls

Mix the Dough

Use a stand mixer to mix this dough. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use your hands and add about 5 minutes to the kneading time. Add all the dough ingredients to the mixer and fit it with a dough hook. Reserve a little bit of the flour to add toward the end of mixing the dough as needed. Weight measurements are always more accurate than volume, but I always like to reserve a bit of flour (about a half cup) so I don’t over-flour my dough. Varieties of flour and weight of eggs can impact the amount of flour added to dough, so I play it safe. Knead the dough on low speed for about 3-5 minutes. Add the reserved flour as needed. The dough should be tacky, not overly sticky. Continue kneading about 5 more minutes until smooth, elastic and it passes the windowpane test. Place in a container and cover to rise.

Rise and Shape Discard Cinnamon Rolls

Let the dough rise for about 1-2 hours. I like using a dough warming mat to keep the dough warm and speed up the process a little bit, but a warm appliance or oven with the light on works too. While the dough rises, prepare the cinnamon roll filling.

Cinnamon Roll Filling: Mix together softened butter with brown sugar, cinnamon, flour. The flour helps keep the filling from oozing out too much. Set aside.

Once the dough has doubled in size, dump it out on the counter. Pat the dough out or use a rolling pin to roll the dough to a 16 by 12 square. Spread the cinnamon sugar filling all over the roll dough, up to the edges. Roll the dough up, starting with the dough closest to you and rolling tightly until you get to the end. Take the far edge and pull it up and over the top of the dough tightly, pinching the seam together. Flip the log of dough over and use a sharp knife or bench knife to cut the log into 8 equal-sized pieces. Place cut dough in an 8 or 9 inch round baking pan.

Proof and Bake Sourdough Discard Cinnamon Rolls

Place the pan of cinnamon rolls in a warm place to rise. The rolls will puff up and just about double in size. They will feel light, airy and not at all dense. If they feel dense, do not bake them yet! Let them continue rising. Take a finger and gently press into the side of the roll. If it springs back right away, you need to let the dough rise longer. If it stays indented with just a little bit of spring, they are ready to bake. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF and bake for about 30 minutes until baked all the way through.

The Best Cinnamon Roll Icing

The icing on these sourdough discard cinnamon rolls is amazing. There’s no other way to describe it. The perfect ratio of butter and cream cheese – I also highly recommend adding in the maple flavoring that really gives a unique taste to the entire cinnamon roll. It is just divine! Whip the frosting until it is thick and creamy. Let the cinnamon rolls cool about 5 minutes before spreading a large dollop on each roll. Enjoy!

Amy’s Recipe Tip

  • Even though this dough doesn’t use sourdough discard to rise, cold discard can slow down the fermentation of the dough if you use it straight from the fridge. To help counteract this, use warm water to mix your dough.
  • This cinnamon roll dough can be made the night before, refrigerated after the first rise and then shaped and baked the morning you want the cinnamon rolls.

Substitutions

  • Sourdough Discard: If you want to make cinnamon rolls that are 100% sourdough instead of discard plus commercial yeast, use this recipe.
  • Whole Milk: Substitute for 2% milk or a dairy-free alternative.
  • Bread Flour: If you don’t have bread flour, you can make these rolls with all-purpose flour. You may need a little extra all-purpose flour in your dough.
  • Raisins and Nuts: Add pecans and or raisins if desired on top of the cinnamon filling.

How to Store Leftovers

Leftover sourdough discard cinnamon rolls can be stored for a few hours at room temperature. After that I like to freeze them in an airtight container. When you want a cinnamon roll, pull it out, defrost it and warm it up just a little bit in the microwave. Enjoy!

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Frequently Asked Questions

This cinnamon roll dough took a long time to rise. Why?

The amount of rise and how quickly it will rise depends on the temperature of your dough. Warmer dough will rise faster.

Can I make these cinnamon rolls smaller?

Yes. This recipe could easily make 12-16 smaller rolls instead of the 8 larger ones. Roll the dough a little longer and slice into more rolls. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet or a 9 by 13 pan.

Why do you add discard to cinnamon rolls?

I like to find creative uses for my sourdough discard. These discard cinnamon rolls are no exception. I try not to waste my discard, so I like to put it in baked goods. It is not active, so I don’t use it to raise bread, but it can provide moisture, flavor and nutrition.

Can I freeze these sourdough cinnamon rolls ahead of time?

Yes. Check out my guide for how to freeze cinnamon roll dough here.

Sourdough Discard Cinnamon Rolls

Amy
Pillowy soft and ooey gooey – filled with swirls of cinnamon sugar and topped with creamy icing. You're going to love these sourdough discard cinnamon rolls. Use up that sourdough discard from your fridge and make something delicious.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Rise Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 8 rolls

Ingredients
  

Sourdough Discard Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • 100 grams whole milk, warmed 2% milk also works, about 3/4 cup
  • 57 grams unsalted butter melted, 4 Tablespoons
  • 200 grams sourdough discard 100% hydration, see recipe notes
  • 7 grams instant yeast about 2 teaspoons
  • 60 grams granulated sugar about 1/3 cup
  • 1 large egg about 50 grams
  • 7 grams salt about 1 teaspoon
  • 375 grams bread flour about 3-4 cups

Cinnamon Roll Filling

  • 56 grams unsalted butter very soft or melted, 1/4 cup
  • 100 grams brown sugar about 1/2 cup, packed
  • 4 grams ground cinnamon about 1/2 Tablespoon
  • 5 grams all-purpose flour about 1/2 Tablespoon

Cinnamon Roll Frosting

  • 56 grams unsalted butter softened, 1/4 cup
  • 30 grams cream cheese about 2 Tablespoons
  • 125 grams powdered sugar about 1 cup
  • 15 grams heavy cream about 1 Tablespoon
  • 4 grams vanilla extract about 1 teaspoon
  • 1 gram maple extract about 1/2 teaspoon
  • pinch of salt to taste

Instructions
 

Sourdough Discard Cinnamon Rolls

  • Mix Dough: Warm the milk in the microwave (about 1 1/2 minutes full power) or on the stove. To the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the warmed milk and melted butter. Add sourdough discard and mix together lightly. The mixture should be warm so it can activate the instant yeast but NOT hot. Sprinkle the instant yeast on top of the mixture. Look for the yeasty smell that tells you the yeast is activating (should happen within 10-20 seconds) and then continue adding ingredients.
    If the sourdough discard is straight from the refrigerator, it can bring down the temperature of the dough making the dough take longer to rise – use warmer milk if this is the case.
  • Add the granulated sugar, egg, salt and most of the bread flour. Reserve about 60 grams (half a cup) of flour for adding in while the dough mixes so you don't over-flour the dough. Turn on the dough hook and knead for a few minutes. Add the remainder of the bread flour as needed. The dough should be tacky, not overly sticky and should all cling to one side of the bowl (or away from the edges depending on your mixer). Knead for a total of 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth.
  • First Rise: Move dough to a large bowl or container and cover. Set in a warm place to rise for about 1-2 hours. How fast the dough rises will depend on how warm the dough is. I like using a dough warming mat or my oven with the light on to keep the dough warm.
  • Cinnamon Roll Filling: While the dough rises, make the cinnamon filling. To a small bowl, add the softened or melted butter. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and flour. Mix together until fully combined and set aside.
  • Assemble Rolls: Prepare an 8 or 9 inch round pan with parchment paper. Once the dough has doubled in size, dump it out on the counter. Pat the dough out into an approximate 16 by 12 rectangle. Spread the cinnamon filling all over the dough with your fingers, making sure to cover up to the edges of the cinnamon roll. Starting with the dough closest to you, roll up the cinnamon roll and pinch together the seam. Flip the cinnamon roll over, seam side down. Cut the long log of cinnamon roll dough into 8 equal pieces. Place into the pan.
  • Proof: Cover the rolls and let rise for about an hour until doubled in size, touching and proofed. The amount of time this takes will depend on how warm the dough is.
  • Cinnamon Roll Frosting: Whip together the butter and cream cheese until fully mixed and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract, maple extract and salt. Whip together using a mixer until light and fluffy. Set aside.
  • Bake: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Once the rolls have puffed up and almost doubled in size, they are ready for the oven. If you want an extra gooey cinnamon roll, warm up some heavy cream and drizzle it over the top of the cinnamon roll before sticking in the oven. Bake the cinnamon rolls for about 30 minutes until baked all the way through. Check the middle of a few of the cinnamon rolls by using a knife to pry up a bit of the roll and make sure it is baked to your liking (the center will tell you if it needs more time or is perfectly baked). Let the rolls cool for 5 minutes before covering with frosting and Enjoy!

Notes

Sourdough Discard: I use 100% hydration sourdough discard in this recipe. You can also substitute bubbly sourdough starter in this recipe. Use straight out of the fridge and mix dough with warm water.
Instant Yeast: This recipe calls for Instant yeast. If you use dry active yeast, make sure to activate the yeast before adding to the mixer.
 
 
Keyword cinnamon rolls with sourdough discard, sourdough discard cinnamon roll recipe, sourdough discard cinnamon rolls
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12 Comments

    1. You can do this. Sometimes they leak liquid if you do this, but it should work. They may need to rise a little bit after the fridge proof but it’s possible they will continue to rise in the fridge thanks to the instant yeast.

  1. You might want to check your metric measurements. 1/3 c of sugar is about 67g not 650g. 650g is almost 1.5 lb of sugar! So a heaping 1/3 c might be 75g. If 4g of vanilla equals 1 tsp, then 1g of maple extract would be 1/4 t not 1/2 t.

    1. Thanks Leslie. I go by the weight measurements and weigh everything out on my scale. The smaller numbers can be a little more difficult with weights. With the maple extract some brands can be a little overpowering – and sometimes it measures out 1 and sometimes 2 on the scale so I went with the lower number of grams. I’m not sure exactly where you are getting the 650 gram number from. The recipe calls for 60 grams of sugar which is about 1/3 cup (probably not heaping – I’ll remove that). The issue with volume measurements is that everyone weighs them a little bit differently depending on the way the person scoops, so the weight measurements are always going to be more accurate.

      1. Thanks for your reply. Here is a copy and paste from your site which I took late last week showing the sugar amount and why I mentioned it:
        Dough
        100 g whole/2% milk, warmed about 3/4 c 57 g unsalted butter melted 4 T
        200 g sourdough discard 100% hydration, see recipe notes
        650 g granulated sugar heaping 1/3 c 1 lg egg about 50 g
        7 g salt about 1 t 375 g bread flour about 3-4 c
        7 g instant yeast about 2 t
        Cinnamon Roll Filling

        Like you, I use weight vs measurement for bread type recipes. I will amend the sugar amount on my copy.

      2. Interesting. I’m not finding that. It is possible it was a typo that I changed shortly after posting the recipe -that sometimes happens but I honestly cannot remember if that happened with this recipe or not. Sorry for the confusion. It should be 60 grams.

  2. 5 stars
    These might be the best cinnamon rolls I’ve had. Plus they use up my discard which is AMAZING

  3. 5 stars
    These are perfect. I’ve had a hard time finding soft discard cinnamon rolls, but these are it. I’ll be saving this one. We cooked them in cast iron, perfectly delicious.