Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls

Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls
Credit: Greg Dupree; Food Styling: Jennifer Wendorf, Melissa Gray; Prop Styling: Christina Daley

Recipe Summary

Active: 35 mins Total: 35 mins Yield: Serves 15 (serving size: 1 roll)



  • ¼ cup warm water (90°F to 110°F)
  • 1 (1/4-oz.) envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
  • ½ cup , plus 1 tsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • ½ cup (4 oz.) salted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • ⅓ cup (about 1 oz.) unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 ¾ cups (about 20 1/4 oz.) bread flour, divided, plus more for work surface
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring gel
  • Cooking spray


  • ½ cup (4 oz.) salted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, very soft
  • 2 ¼ cups (about 9 oz.) unsifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk, divided


Instructions Checklist

  • Step 1: Prepare the Dough: Stir together warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar in a small cup or bowl; let stand 5 minutes.
  • Step 2: Beat butter with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, milk, lemon juice, and yeast mixture; beat until combined, about 1 minute. Whisk together cocoa, salt, and 4 1/4 cups of the flour in a medium bowl. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add 1 cup cocoa mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined, about 30 seconds. Add food coloring gel; beat until just blended, about 30 seconds. Gradually add remaining cocoa mixture, beating until well combined, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Step 3: Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the flour onto a work surface. Turn dough out onto flour; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding remaining 1/4 cup flour to dough and working all flour into dough as you knead. Place dough in a large bowl lightly coated with cooking spray, turning dough to grease top. Cover bowl; let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  • Step 4: Punch dough down in bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll into a 16- x 12-inch rectangle.
  • Step 5: Prepare the Filling: Spread dough rectangle with very soft butter, leaving a 1-inch border. Stir together granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl; sprinkle evenly over butter. Sprinkle evenly with pecans. Roll up dough, jelly-roll style, starting at 1 long side. Trim and discard 1/2 inch on each end of dough log (your remaining log should be about 15 inches long). Cut log into 15 (1-inch) rolls.
  • Step 6: Arrange rolls, cut side down, in a 13- x 9-inch baking pan lightly coated with cooking spray (5 rolls lengthwise by 3 rolls crosswise). Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • Step 7: Preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover rolls. Bake in preheated oven until browned and slightly firm to the touch in center, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pan 5 minutes.
  • Step 8: Prepare the Cream Cheese Icing: Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce mixer speed to low; gradually add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating until combined, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk. Add remaining 1 tablespoon milk 1 teaspoon at a time, beating until icing is smooth and creamy. Brush over rolls. Serve warm. 

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