This shortcut puff pastry cinnamon rolls recipe is super quick and easy to prepare, topped with a dreamy cream cheese frosting, and irresistibly buttery, flaky and delicious!
Craving cinnamon rolls but don’t feel like making homemade dough?
Grab a package of puff pastry! ♡
I improvised this recipe a few weekends ago when we happened to be craving some Sunday morning cinnamon rolls, but then realized (whoops!) there was no bread yeast in the pantry to be found. So instead of making my usual homemade cinnamon roll dough, I decided to just try rolling up some puff pastry with cinnamon-sugar filling, popped the swirls in the oven, and drizzled them with our favorite cream cheese icing. And sure enough, they were such a hit!
To be sure, the flaky puff pastry here is considerably different than traditional cinnamon rolls, but we really enjoyed how light they were and loved the extra butter flavor that the puff pastry added. Kind of like a cross between an American cinnamon roll and a French pastry! Feel free, of course, to add any extra ingredients that you love in a good cinnamon bun — chopped nuts, orange zest, a hint of cardamon, or even a swirl of Nutella would also be delicious with this recipe. And if you’re not a big fan of cream cheese icing, I’ve also included a simple vanilla icing option here too.
Let’s make a quick batch of cinnamon rolls together!
Puff Pastry Cinnamon Rolls Ingredients
Before we get to the full recipe listed below, here are a few quick notes about the ingredients you will need to make these puff pastry cinnamon rolls:
Puff pastry: You will need two sheets of store-bought puff pastry for this recipe. In the United States, puff pastry is typically sold frozen in packages that contain two sheets. Elsewhere around the world, puff pastry is typically sold in refrigerated packages that contain one sheet. So wherever you are purchasing your puff pastry, just be sure that you have two sheets! :)
Butter: Since puff pastry already contains a ton of butter, we will not need much extra butter to help the cinnamon and sugar filling stick to the pastry. I used a few tablespoons of melted salted butter, but feel free to just add in a pinch of salt if you’re using unsalted butter.
Cinnamon-sugar: My usual cinnamon-sugar filling is made with a mix of both granulated white sugar and light brown sugar, as well as plenty of ground cinnamon.
Cream cheese frosting: I’m partial to cream cheese frosting on cinnamon rolls, which is easy to whip up with softened cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and your choice of milk. But if you would like an even quicker option, you can make basic cinnamon roll icing using just powdered sugar, vanilla extract and your choice of milk (see notes below the recipe).
Tips For Making These Easy Cinnamon Rolls
Detailed instructions are included in the recipe below for how to make puff pastry cinnamon rolls, but here are a few helpful tips to also keep in mind with this recipe:
Use parchment paper. The puff pastry and cinnamon sugar filling will really stick to the pan, even if you grease it first with cooking spray or butter. So I highly recommend using parchment paper. (If you don’t have a baking dish, you can also easily use a baking sheet instead.)
Properly thaw the puff pastry. Here in Europe, puff pastry is typically sold refrigerated in single sheets, so you can roll them out and use it immediately after unwrapping. In United States, puff pastry is most often sold frozen and needs to be thawed before using, so you will need to plan a bit ahead. If you have the time, I highly recommend thawing the puff pastry in the refrigerator overnight, which will help it retain its best puffy texture after baking. But if you’re in a hurry, you can remove frozen puff pastry from its box (leaving on the parchment wrapper), set it on the countertop for around 20-30 minutes, or until it has softened to the point that your thumb will leave a slight indentation if you press the pastry. You do not want to try and unroll the puff pastry while it is still frozen (it will break). Nor do you want to let the puff pastry thaw all the way to room temp. It should be chilled and slightly softened, no longer frozen and hard.
Work quickly. It’s important to work as quickly as possible with the puff pastry so that the butter between its layers does not warm too much and melt, which will cause those layers to stick together and not puff up very well. So move quickly!
Use dental floss to slice. This is my preferred method to cleanly slice (and not squish!) the cinnamon rolls. Simply wrap a piece of dental floss around the puff pastry once it has been rolled up, cross it over and give it a gentle tug to slice the rolls.
Be gentle with the frosting. Finally, since this cinnamon roll dough is made from flaky puff pastry instead of the usual firm dough, it will be quite delicate once the rolls have baked. So I recommend either drizzling or very lightly spread the frosting on top of the rolls. Since they will be warm, the frosting should soften up quickly too and be quite easy to spread.
Optional Recipe Variations
Feel free to play around with this recipe and customize it however you might like! For example, feel free to…
Add nuts: Feel free to sprinkle some finely-chopped slivered almonds or pecans over the cinnamon-sugar mixture, before rolling up the puff pastry.
Add cardamom: I also love adding a teaspoon of ground cardamom to the cinnamon-sugar mixture, to add some extra depth of flavor.
Add Nutella: In place of the softened butter spread on top of the puff pastry, you are welcome to substitute Nutella.
Add orange glaze: To give these rolls extra orange flavor, just sprinkle the zest of an orange over the top of the cinnamon-sugar filling before rolling up the puff pastry. Then use fresh orange juice in place of milk in the icing.
More Favorite Cinnamon Roll Recipes
Looking for more great cinnamon roll recipes to try? Here are a few more of my favorites…
Prep the cinnamon-sugar mixture. In a small bowl, combine the granulated white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Whisk until evenly combined and set aside.
Roll out the puff pastry. Lightly dust your work surface* with flour and unroll one sheet of puff pastry out so that it is in a single layer. Brush the sheet evenly with half of the melted butter. Sprinkle evenly with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture, leaving an empty 1-cm border on the right side of the puff pastry.
Roll and cut the puff pastry. Beginning on the left side, gently roll the puff pastry vertically to the right side. Gently press the border to seal the roll. Using either a bread knife or piece of dental floss*, slice off about 1/2 inch from each end (since the ends are usually fairly uneven). Then cut the roll into 8 evenly-sized rolls and place them in the parchment-lined baking dish.
Repeat. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 with the second sheet of puff pastry and the remaining butter and cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Bake. Immediately transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rolls are lightly golden on top and have puffed up considerably. Transfer the baking dish to a wire cooling rack.
Prep the frosting. Meanwhile, while the rolls are in the oven, whisk all of the frosting ingredients together in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Add milk if needed to thin the frosting out to your desired consistency.
Frost the rolls. While the rolls are still warm, lightly spread or drizzle the frosting generously over the tops of the rolls. Serve warm and enjoy!
Thawing the puff pastry: Here in Europe, puff pastry is typically sold refrigerated in single sheets, so you can roll them out and use it immediately after unwrapping. In United States, puff pastry is most often sold frozen and needs to be thawed before using, so you will need to plan a bit ahead. If you have the time, I highly recommend thawing the puff pastry in the refrigerator overnight, which will help it retain its best puffy texture after baking. But if you’re in a hurry, you can remove frozen puff pastry from its box (leaving on the parchment wrapper), set it on the countertop for around 20-30 minutes, or until it has softened to the point that your thumb will leave a slight indentation if you press the pastry. You do not want to try and unroll the puff pastry while it is still frozen (it will break). Nor do you want to let the puff pastry thaw all the way to room temp. It should be chilled and slightly softened, no longer frozen and hard.
Flouring your work surface: If your puff pastry seems to be sticking to the parchment, it’s best to transfer it to a floured work surface before adding the butter and cinnamon-sugar mixture so that it is easy to roll. But if it seems to peel off of the parchment quite easily, feel free to just do Steps 3 and 4 directly on the parchment paper.
Using dental floss to slice the rolls: Simply break off a piece of floss about 12 inches long. Then carefully slide the floss under the dough to the exact location you want to “cut”. Pull the ends of the floss up and cross over the top of the dough. Then give the floss a gentle tug to cut all the way through the dough.
Traditional Icing Ingredients: If you would like to make a traditional icing (without cream cheese), whisk together 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, and 1-2 tablespoons milk until smooth.