Cake Mix Cinnamon Rolls – A Great Mother’s Day Breakfast Idea

I love cinnamon rolls.

I always have.  Ever since I was a kid and my great grandmother would make great big batches of them.   The smell of them baking is one of life’s simple pleasures.   There is just something so amazing about a good cinnamon roll.

A few years ago, in an attempt to conquer my fear of working with yeast, I started making cinnamon rolls.  My recipe of choice was The Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls.   I’ve made hundreds of them.  Heck, possibly hundreds of pans of them.  They are GOOD.    But I was kind of longing for a change – something that was a bit simpler to make (not that Ree’s are hard, because they are not, I’m just looking for saving a step or two) and something that I could easily do in a smaller batch.   I think I found just that…

These are AMAZING.   Three out of four people in our household voted these to be the best cinnamon rolls they’ve had.  The fourth member of the household was too busy throwing a tantrum to try her cinnamon roll, so we won’t really worry about her take on them.    I mean who cries when instead they could have a cinnamon roll???  My two year old, that’s who.  Anyways…

The secret ingredient in these…. Cake mix!   Who knew?  Well, clearly many people did, but I’m just now showing up to the cake mix party.   These are very simple to make and require very few basic ingredients.     And in place of the cup of oil and quart of whole milk that the other recipe I use calls for, this one calls for water.  That lightens up the fat, calories and cost quite a bit.    They are flavorful, chewy and delicious.

I used the Frosting Creations Cinnamon Roll Frosting Flavor Mix to frost these.  For years I was a pretty die hard cream cheese frosting fan, but after trying the amazing maple frosting that The Pioneer Woman uses, I started to branch out in my frosting flavors.   Cinnamon roll frosting on cinnamon rolls is divine.

This recipe makes two 9×13″ pans of rolls (so 24 cinnamon rolls) but you can easily half the recipe to make a single pan.   What a great Mother’s Day breakfast this would be!   And it’s easy enough that I’m fairly confident that my nine year old daughter and my husband could make them.  :)    Even if it means Mom makes them the night before, the kids, Dad, the dog – someone could warm one up in a microwave and there you have it – breakfast!

Complete recipe and step by step directions can be found below, as well as a printable version of the recipe.   FYI – I actually made a half batch of this recipe, so that is why you may see smaller amounts than the recipe calls for.

Start by dissolving your yeast into your warm water.

Then add the yeast and water mixture to your flour, cake mix and salt.  Add in vanilla.

Mix well.  I did have to use my hands to work all of the ingredients together.

Once combined, cover and let sit for an hour.

After an hour punch down and let rise again.   Now it’s time to roll out your dough.

Roll dough into a rectangular shape (mine is usually more of an oblong blob type shape, but it still works).    Top with your softened butter.

Brush butter over dough.

Sprinkle on your brown sugar and cinnamon.

Time to roll up that dough.  I found this dough very easy to work with – no sticking or tearing.

Cut into even size rolls.

Place into a greased 9×13 pan.

I cover my rolls and let them sit on the stovetop while my oven preheats.  This gives them time to rise and a bit of warmth from the oven.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-25 minutes, or until golden brown.  Golden brown in my oven was about 22 minutes in.  I am a bit burn phobic, so I tend to bake on the lighter side of golden brown.

Allow to cool a bit and then frost.   I did a very thin layer of frosting when they were still quite warm.  This melts into the rolls and helps keep them moist.

Once cool I added a bit more frosting.

And now you get to enjoy.


I think this would make an awesome Mother’s Day Breakfast.

If you are a cinnamon roll fan, you must check out the Cinnamon Roll Bites From Other Blogs recipe collection – from cinnamon rolls to cinnamon roll pancakes to cinnamon roll cupcakes to cinnamon roll ice cream – it’s a cinnamon roll party.

Cake Mix Cinnamon Rolls With Frosting Creations Cinnamon Roll Frosting
adapted from Cinnamon Rolls at Duncan Hines



Cinnamon Rolls
1 box of Duncan Hines white or yellow cake mix (this would be great with a spice mix as well)
2 packages of dry yeast
2 1/2 cups of warm water
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
5 cups flour

2 cups brown sugar
1/2-1 cup butter, softened

1 can Duncan Hines Frosting Creations Frosting Starter
1 packet Duncan Hines Frosting Creations Cinnamon Roll Flavor Mix


1.  Mix yeast and warm water until dissolved.

2.  Combine cake mix, salt and flour in a large bowl.

3.  Add warm water/yeast mixture and vanilla to cake mix, salt and flour mixture.   Mix well.  This may require kneading with your hands a bit to completely combine ingredients.

4.  Cover tightly.   Let rise for one hour.  Punch down and let rise again for another 30-60 minutes.

5.  On a floured surface, roll dough into a rectangle shape, approx 1/4″ thick.

6.  Once dough is rolled out, brush with softened butter.   I found that one stick was adequate for this recipe, but you could use more (or less) if desired.

7.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.   Sprinkle with cinnamon – use as little or as much as you like.

8.  Starting at end opposite from you, roll the dough towards you until all dough is rolled into one long piece.

9.  Slice dough into 24 equal sized pieces.

10.  Place rolls in two greased 9×13 pans.   Cover and let rise until doubled in size.  I usually sit my rolls on my stovetop while my oven preheats to 350 degrees.   This allows them time to rise and provides a bit of warmth from the oven warming.

11.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-25 minutes or until golden brown.  My rolls took approx 22 minutes.  This will depend on your stove and your preference for how brown you like your cinnamon rolls.

12.   Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

13.  Prepare your Frosting Creations Cinnamon Roll frosting.   If you prefer your frosting to melt into your rolls, frost after rolls have cooled for 10-15 minutes.  If you prefer your frosting to stay on top of your rolls, wait until rolls have cooled until frosting.

14.  Enjoy!


  1. says

    These look a,axing. Could you make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate it over night, then bake them in the morning? Thanks for sharing! I love your blog!

    • says

      Kate, I’ve done that a number of times with other cinnamon roll recipes, so I don’t see why you couldn’t. I’d probably go ahead and cut them and put them in the pan, cover well and put in the fridge. Just make sure you give ample time in the AM before baking for them to sit out and rise (I’ve rushed that part before and had less than stellar results). I think 30-60 minutes on the counter before baking and you’d be good.

  2. says

    I adore you for this post. Sure I may have to bake my own Mother’s Day treats, but of its this easy I don’t care!
    I love this so much, I blogged about it.

    Have a great Mother’s Day. I’m now positive at least I will.

  3. says

    These look so good and simple! I’ve never seen anyone use cake mix and yeast! I’ve seen those DH frosting creations recently, there are some neat flavors!

  4. Caitlin says

    This recipe looks fantastic and I love the use of cake mix! My boyfriend recently commented how awesome it would be to have a chocolate cinnamon roll. Do you think the recipe would be ok with a chocolate cake mix instead of yellow or white?

    • says

      Caitlin – funny you should mention this – I was totally thinking about this today. I’m not sure that the chocolate from the cake mix would be enough in relation to the amount of flour in the recipe. I think it would be a bit too watered down (so to speak). In the name of research, I might have to try something out for you. I think there will need to be cocoa in the recipe, I’m just not sure on the amount. I will put this on the to do list for the week’s recipes. :)

  5. says

    These looks so good. I never made cinnamon rolls, I guess I’ve always been a bit scared to attempt them. You made it look so painless though. I’m going to have to give them a try!

  6. Dana S. says

    I made these today–with Funfetti cake mix! They were pretty good. Of all things, i thought they needed more salt!

    Dana in IN

  7. Suzanne says

    Hey I am excited to try these. I had a question though concerning the yeast. I live in South America and do not have the same things available as I do when I am in the states. Could you tell me if the yeast is fast acting…and how much each pack should be? Thanks for your help. Can not wait to try them

    • says

      Suzanne, I did not use a fast acting variety of yeast, and I believe one packet of yeast is equal to 2 1/4 teaspoons. Hope that helps!

  8. adrienne says

    These were to die for! I made them over the weekend as a ‘welcome home’ gift for my husband who was away on a business trip. After the rolls were in the pan, I let them rise again, then covered them and put in the fridge overnight. In the morning, I took them out for about 45 mins before they baked. Oh, and since I only ended up using about a 1/2 stick of butter in the rolls, I decided to spread the other half on top before they baked. It seemed to work out fine. I have always been a little timid about yeast-dough recipes – but this was easy!

  9. Missmay says

    I make these but, I changed it up a little. I didn’t use the whole cake mix because it tasted like store bought rolls. Use one cup of the cake mix and it works great…

  10. Mandi W. says

    I’m curious about the frosting. I’ve never seen that in any of the local stores (S.E. Michigan). What other frosting/icing would you recommend?

    • says

      Phelpsvj – the recipe itself and ingredients are totally different (no milk and oil like PW, water and cake mix…). Assembling cinnamon rolls is pretty much always going to be done the same way, just like my great grandma did many years ago and just like Pioneer Woman does now. :)

  11. crfox says

    Made a 1/2 recipe of these last night and (I guess) made a huge mistake by letting them sit in the cold oven overnight to rise. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but I baked them this morning and they were a disaster. Tough, dense, rolls with a really off taste. I used French Vanilla cake mix (Betty Crocker) brand. Maybe that’s why? What a bummer!

    • says

      Crfox – hmm, I’ve left dough in a fridge overnight wrapped with plastic wrap, but never anywhere else (I’m a paranoid never leave food sit out at all type). I never leave my dough out for more than ninety minutes – if I need more time, in the fridge it goes. Knowing how dough tends to toughen up and almost form a crust when it’s rising, I think that would absolutely explain the toughness in the rolls. Honestly I think the overnight rise is probably a huge factor in the taste and texture.

  12. Jenny says

    I noticed you used brown sugar (which looked delicious) instead of white sugar. Is there a reason for this? Taste?

    • says

      Jenny – in the past I’ve always used white sugar, but due to making a mistake in reading a recipe once, I used brown sugar. Turned out to be a great mistake as we all ended up loving it. It’s a bit messier, but it has a greater depth of flavor. Honestly after that “mistake” I will probably stick to either brown sugar or maybe a combo. Love the caramely richness it brought to it.

  13. Tatiana A says

    These look awesome! I’m allergic to cinnamon but plan on doing these over the weekends for the moms in my life. Question: I’m not new to baking but I don’t bake as much so was wondering, if I follow the steps until I place the rolls on the pan…can I preheat the oven place them on top (not sure how long for them to rise) then place them in the refrigerator overnight so that I can bake them in the morning so they could be fresh? Would they still come out good? any additional tips for this process? I plan on taking them to 3 different houses so I would like them as fresh as possible. Also, how long do I leave it out before I place them to bake in the morning? Thank you, Christi! Glad I found your blog, you’ve earned another fan :)

    • says

      Hi Tatiana, what I would do is follow the directions through cutting and putting the rolls into the pan. Then cover (plastic wrap or foil) and put in the fridge. DO NOT let them rise before the fridge. In the morning, let them sit out for probably a good 30-45 minutes (so maybe at 30 minutes turn the oven on and once it’s heated, you are good). I have done that many times with great success. You can even freeze them, but you need to give ample time to thaw – I’ve rushed that step and ended up with rolls that never really rose. Hope that all makes sense! So make them, slice them, put in the pan, put in the fridge. When ready to bake, take them out – let sit for 30 minutes, turn on the oven and once it’s preheated, bake as directed. :) Good luck!

  14. Cathy says

    Amazing recipe – just wondering how much yeast to use if you bought the jar instead of the packages.

    • says

      Cathy – does your jar have a conversion chart on it – I think most do. I believe off the top of my head a packet is a little over 2 teaspoons, like 2 1/4 maybe.

  15. Tatiana A says

    Hi christy…thank you for the tips. I’m gonna make these rolls tonight…was wondering if you had any other suggestions for icing the rolls other than the cinnamon roll flavored frosting? I’m thinking using that one would be an overload of cinnamon. What’s your take? :) first recipe in a long time I’m excited to get done!!! Woot woot

    • says

      Tatiana, really any flavor frosting you like will work. For me frosting is more of a “suits your tastes” than “recipe says” type of thing. And I’ve yet to find anything in life that didn’t taste better with vanilla frosting on top. :)

  16. Tatiana A says

    Hi Christi,
    Just wanted to let you know that the Cinnamon Rolls were a total Success! It really was such an easy recipe once I got use to it. I had to improvise in a few areas like using foil instead of saran wrap when covering the dough tightly the first hour. Also, it was hard for me to try and roll out a rectangle as much as I tried so it was a lil’ difficult to cut 24 pieces but on the second batch I cut about 20 so it went well. Also I didn’t know the amount to put of Cinnamon but I just made sure I covered well w/ brown sugar and did big stripes of cinnamon.
    EVERYONE loved the recipe. It really was a completely success! Thank you so much, you have a total loyal fan and I just can’t wait for the next recipe that inspires me :) Have a great week!
    TO Everyone that reads this: BEST and EASIEST RECIPE EVER!!!! :)

    • says

      Tatiana, so glad that they worked out! Cinnamon rolls can be such a fickle thing, it’s fun to find a recipe that keeps it pretty simple and tastes great. Thanks for sharing that it was a success, love to hear that! :)

  17. Veronica Miller says

    I have always been frightened of yeast…seems so complicated but your recipe sounded too good to pass up. I made these this weekend for my family Mother’s Day brunch and they were such a hit! Thank you for helping me get over my fears (I used the Caramel Frosting Creations and it was sooo good!)

  18. says

    I JUST made cinnamon rolls for the first time ever! I’m usually terrified of any recipes that call for yeast, but decided to take the plunge. I think they came out a little too tough for some reason, but might have to give this recipe a try the second time around. Thanks for sharing!

  19. says

    Ok this post and the 3 out of 4 people comment pretty much answers my question of were these better than the truly from-scratch variety. Sounds like affirmative. Best cinn rolls ever is a HIGH claim and that seals the deal!

    • says

      Averie, for me I think these still fall into the “real” variety as there is still the whole yeast and rise thing going on (I just can’t seem to love a cinnamon roll recipe that doesn’t have those steps – you can put cinnamon on a canned biscuit, but sorry – still a biscuit!). I actually REALLY like these, and that’s after making about 49087 pans of Ree’s. Ree’s call for a lot of whole milk and a lot of oil. These only call for water as their liquid. I would NEVER guess from tasting them that there is such a vast difference in the amount of fats from the liquids involved. I just can’t bring myself to use that much whole milk and oil if I can use water and really not notice a difference. I love Ree’s, don’t get me wrong, but since I’ve started making these I probably won’t make Ree’s as often. Of course now I feel like we need to find other recipes to try! :)

  20. Ari says

    Well I made this cinnamon rolls recipe and for me It was not that easy, the dough was to sticky and hard to handle. I might have done something wrong. The flavor was ok but not extraordinary. I will try again.

  21. says

    These are seriously amazing! We had such a great day making them with the kids, and sharing them with extended family when they heard what was in the oven. Just perfect and enough to share at school the next day too x

  22. Kristina says

    Awesome recipe! As everyone else said, I was a little nervous on my first experience with yeast. Turned out great! Also, I was worried about them rising well enough because I made the rolls and put them in the fridge two days before I was to bake them in the oven. They still turned out great! Thanks for the new addition to my special occasion recipes!!

  23. lee5888 says

    I’d forgotten about this recipe. Made these for years when my kids were young. It’s a terrific recipe. Thanks for it.

  24. Regina says

    I really don’t mean to sound negative, but I’m a little confused on the benefits of using a box of cake mix if I still have to measure out yeast, salt, flour, and 5 other ingredients. Wouldn’t it be just as easy to make this from scratch?

    • says

      Regina, it really isn’t much of a short cut recipe, more just one to add variety. I know my family really likes the cake mix version, and it certainly opens up a lot of other flavor options. I’ve also found that some readers who are in intimidated in making a batch completely from scratch like this version, sort of a baby steps cinnamon rolls. recipe.

  25. Hayley Evans says

    I’m a “from-scratch cinnamon roll virgin” and I’ve been looking for a simple recipe to make for Thanksgiving brunch this year. These are definitely going on the menu! Thanks for sharing!

  26. says

    I’m saving this recipe because I plan to try it with a spice cake mix and the seasonal Pumpkin Spice Frosting Creations I picked up at Walmart recently. What better recipe to use them for than that?

  27. Brittney says

    So I made these rolls yesterday. I’m faily new to attempting to be an adequate baker. I feel I followed the recipe very closely and there was no sitting out overnight or anything. I feel like my rolls are dense and dry, not at all what they look like! I also had a problem with my brown sugar and cinnamon melting out the bottom of my rolls and creating a pool of cinnamon and brownsugar at the bottom of the pan that hardened. What am I doing wrong?!

    • says

      Brittney – the brown sugar and cinnamon does that (in almost any roll I’ve ever made), and I think if you use a lot, it’s more likely to happen, as it is if you use melted butter. Hmm, don’t know on dense or dry, I find things like the freshness of the yeast, the temperatures in the house, all kinds of things can have an impact. Sometimes I’ll make the same recipe a twice and get different results each time, while doing the same things.

  28. says

    I made these yesterday and they are awesome! I have had a fear of yeast for a long time and now I feel more comfortable. These were such a hit that I made another batch today using yellow cake mix. I hope they freeze well. Thanks fo sharing the recipe and the pics. Happy Holidays!!

  29. says

    Was sent this way by Sandra of Sweet Sensations. These rolls look and sound wonderful. I’m putting a cake mix on my grocery list! Thanks for sharing :)

  30. Tina says

    I just made these!! Made the house smell so good! The hubby gives them two BIG thumbs up!! Thanks for the recipe! 😀

  31. Chelsea says

    Do you think I could use chocolate cake mix and fill with cox it, pecans and Carmel then top with a different frosting and get a similar result?

  32. marlen says

    hola yo estoy en mexico y me gustaría saber que cantidad de levadura(dry yeast) llevan es que no creo conseguir esa marca aquí!!

    • says

      Emily, I haven’t frozen this particular cinnamon roll, so I really can’t say. I’ve done so with other recipes and frozen them after cutting them and placing them into pans. Those have done fine as long as adequate time was provided for thawing and rising.

  33. Anonymous says

    Just to note, your recipe says to dissolve the yeast in 2 1/2 cups of water. But in your picture you are clearly using only 1 1/2. Did I miss something because I know have a bowl full of sticky wasted ingredients and no time to make something else.

    • says

      Anonymous, it is 2 and 1/2 cups – if you look closely my measuring cup only goes to 2 cups, so I have to measure and pour twice. :) You can even check back to the original recipe from Duncan Hines that I adapted it from (it’s linked up) and you’ll see it’s 2 and 1/2 there as well. Hopefully everything came together for you, with yeast the dough goes from sticky to a nice rising ball of dough with some time.

  34. says

    i have a couple of questions, first one do you use self rising flour or plain? Second, I purchased the fast active yeast. Can I still use it?

    • says

      Teresa, I always use regular (or white whole wheat) flour, never self rising. And yes, I’m a big fan of fast active yeast! You can probably cut down your rise times if you go that route. :)

  35. Cynthia M says

    i have been making cinnamon rolls for years with many different recipies. I found the original cin. roll with yeast and flour always came out to dry and not scrumptious like we like them. It didn’t matter if I baked them less, lower temp, less rise they just didn’t do the trick. So, about 20 years ago I was given a recipe from a friends mother who uses frozen bread dough, let it thaw, roll it out put on the filling let them rise, and bingo I had the cinnamon roll I’d been looking for. Soft oozy, gooey rolls with a perfect center and did not dry out. Now this new recipe has me really intrigued . I am going to try them with the spice cake mix. They sound delicious. I mean if they are gooey and soft, how great is that!
    Well., time to get baking!!!


  1. […] enough! I saw these little beauties all over the place, but I love (no pun intended) this one from LOVE FROM THE OVEN. While her recipe looks fabulous, I made some changes. (surprise, surprise). Plus, I wanted to […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>