Trust us: you knead these cinnamon buns in your life. They've got the same oversized, indulgent flavor as your food court favorites — but with half the calories of a grab-and-go bakery buns, thanks to tweaks like protein-packed Greek yogurt!
Make and roll the buns the night before, then pop them in the oven the next morning for a warm breakfast treat. Add cream cheese frosting to sweeten the deal or serve them with your favorite nut butter or jam for a new twist — er, roll — on your morning meal.
This recipe comes together in three parts — to start, you’ll make the dough for the cinnamon buns by heating milk in a saucepan on the stove. The warm milk will help the active-dry yeast to activate so that the dough can rise perfectly. Wondering how to tell if the yeast has bloomed? It’ll look foamy and be void of any tiny granular bits of yeast. From here, fold in the Greek yogurt, followed by flour and salt, and mix until the ingredients start to come together. Once the dough is formed, knead it until it’s soft and totally homogenous. As it rises, you’ll make the thing that everyone came for—that irresistible cinnamon streusel filling. It’s a simple combination of dark brown sugar and cinnamon; in a pinch, you can substitute light brown sugar, but we love the deeper, caramelized notes that its darker counterpart brings to the table.
As for the glaze, combine Greek yogurt-based cream cheese with milk and powdered sugar. Feel free to make a little extra if you’re the type of person who loves a lot of frosting (it’s okay — we do too).
Baked, unfrosted cinnamon buns can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; reheat buns in an 300 degree F oven for 5 minutes if desired, or just bring to room temperature.
Technique Tip: To prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl while it rises, spray it with cooking spray to create a nonstick surface.
Swap Option: Substitute dairy-free milk such as almond, coconut or oat milk in place of the milk that’s used in the dough and glaze.
- 1 cup milk (any fat percentage)
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) dry active yeast
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (any fat percentage)
- Nonstick baking spray
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 ounces (1/2 block) Neufchatel cheese or Greek yogurt cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk (any fat percentage)
Prep the buns the night before:1.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan over low heat just until the milk is warm but not steaming or bubbling; it should feel no warmer than comfortable bathwater.2.
Pour the milk into a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over its surface. Let sit for 5 to 8 minutes to activate the yeast.3.
While the yeast rests, add flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.4.
With a silicone spatula, add the activated yeast, milk and yogurt into the flour mixture and stir to combine. Continue to stir until a shaggy but cohesive dough forms, then switch to using your hands to press and knead the dough into a ball.5.
Keep pressing and kneading in the bowl, about 2 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, so it doesn't completely cover the palms of your hands.6.
Spritz a clean bowl with nonstick baking spray and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour in a warm place.7.
While the dough rests, whisk the brown sugar and cinnamon together for the filling.8.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup yogurt and vanilla extract.9.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into a rough 18-by-12-inch rectangle. With a pastry brush, coat the dough generously with the vanilla yogurt. Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar-cinnamon filling all over the dough.10.
Starting with the long (18-inch) end, carefully roll the dough into a log as tightly as you can. Work slowly (the dough will be sticky). Trim the loose edges of the rolled dough to make a log 18-inches long. Slice the log into 6 pieces, each 3-inches long.11.
Place the pieces cut-side up on a lined baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches of space between the buns.12.
Spritz a large piece of plastic wrap with nonstick baking spray and tightly cover the buns. Depending on the size of your baking sheet, you might need to use additional plastic wrap.13.
Refrigerate the buns for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
Bake the buns the next morning:1.
Remove the plastic wrap from the refrigerated buns and let them rest at room temperature while preheating the oven to 325 F.2.
Bake the buns just until the outer edges turn light golden, about 20 minutes — don't overcook or the centers won't be as soft and gooey as you want them to be.3.
Carefully slide the buns, still on the parchment paper, onto a wire rack to cool while you make the frosting.4.
With an electric hand mixer, blend the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and milk together on low speed to make a spreadable frosting. Spread the frosting on the cinnamon buns and serve.