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Use this secret ingredient for the ooey-gooiest cinnamon rolls ever

For perfectly pillowy cinnamon rolls, add this secret ingredient before baking them.
Take your cinnamon rolls to a whole other level with the addition of one simple ingredient.
Take your cinnamon rolls to a whole other level with the addition of one simple ingredient.TODAY Illustration / Terri Peters
/ Source: TODAY

Whether you make homemade cinnamon rolls or use the canned variety, there's a simple way to give the sweet breakfast treat a little extra gooeyness — and it's found in the dairy aisle.

Home cook Margaret Pacheco says she has a great homemade cinnamon roll recipe, but even when she picks up a store-bought can of the sweet pastries for a simple breakfast, she always adds a secret ingredient — heavy whipping cream — before baking.

"I got the idea from my mom," Pacheco told TODAY Food. "She called me one day excited that she found out how I got my cinnamon rolls to taste so good, saying she put heavy cream on her homemade cinnamon rolls and they turned out fantastic."

"I had to laugh because I'd never heard that before," she continued. "When I asked where she thought of that, she said she saw it on the internet. Of course, I had to try it and have been making them like that ever since."

For store-bought rolls, Pacheco says she pours about 1/3 cup of cold heavy whipping cream over her cinnamon rolls before baking them. For homemade, she advises using warm cream if your cinnamon roll dough is warm so as not to affect the baking process.

Pacheco recently shared her cinnamon roll hack in The Aldi Nerd Facebook group, saying, "If you love a gooey cinnamon roll or even a nice moist one, it's a great way to do that."

I tried Pacheco's hack for adding a bit more gooeyness to cinnamon rolls and was blown away at the way adding a bit of heavy whipping cream took store-bought canned rolls to the next level. Like Pacheco, I added about 1/3 cup of cream to the cinnamon rolls in their pan, then baked.

Pacheco warned me that adding cream to the pan does increase the baking time, and she was right. While the canned rolls I used suggested an 18 to 20 minute bake time, I ended up baking mine for about 30 minutes until they were cooked through.

The result was a next-level cinnamon roll, sweet and gooey with a lighter texture my daughter described as "softer" than your average canned cinnamon rolls.

My son went back for seconds, proclaiming, "These taste just like Cinnabon cinnamon rolls."

In fact, copycat recipes exist online that speculate a bit of cream is the ingredient that gives Cinnabon rolls their pull-apart gooeyness. On the Tastes of Lizzy T blog, they suggest adding cream to their copycat Cinnabon recipe.

"Can you make the cinnamon rolls without heavy cream?" they ask. "Yes. Will they be good? Yes. Will they be as gooey? No."

I spoke with Jennifer Holwill, vice president of culinary and executive chef at Cinnabon about the theory.

When it comes to Cinnabon rolls, Holwill says the theory is a bit of an internet urban legend.

"It's true," Holwill said. "Pouring heavy whipping cream over your cinnamon rolls prior to baking is one trick that can help get that pillow-y soft, gooey roll. While this method isn’t the secret behind the delicious cinnamon rolls you can enjoy at Cinnabon, we have other top-secret tips that help keep our cinnamon rolls soft, moist and deliver that ooey-gooey center of the roll our fans love."

Whether the hack is Cinnabon-approved or not, it's definitely one that will become a permanent trick in my own kitchen. After all, who doesn't love a perfectly pillowy cinnamon roll?