Surprisingly easy, these chocolate cinnamon rolls are the best of both worlds! Sweet cinnamon rolls filled with chocolate chunks, perfect for fall baking.
Photography by Sophie MacKenzie.
If you’ve never had chocolate cinnamon rolls, you’re in for a treat! It really is the perfect combination – two of the world’s very best foods rolled into one.
These chocolate sweet rolls are genuinely easy to make, even if you’re not familiar with bread making, and might be even easier than regular bread. You just need a bit of patience and the most skilled bit is rolling the dough up into a log.
You can add loads of other fillings to these, especially nice around the holidays (think dried cranberries or candied peel). These make a lovely Christmas treat and are a very good reason to break any New Year diet kind of resolutions.
These are well, well worth the time needed to make them, especially at this time of year! They are a very comforting treat – both to make and to eat – and so delicious.
💖Why You’ll Love This Recipe
✔️ Chocolate and cinnamon are dreamy together, and using chocolate pieces instead of cocoa really ups the wow factor.
✔️ The rolls don’t need eggs but have a perfect soft texture.
✔️ The filling is flexible – why not add some dried fruit, like figs?
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Butter: to make these vegan, use a good vegan butter and plant-based milk, like oat milk, for the dough and filling. There’s no difference in the amounts used and they taste the same either way.
- Yeast: any kind of fresh or dry yeast will work for this recipe, as you’re activating it before mixing. Instant yeast may result in a slightly faster rising time.
- All-purpose (white) flour: light spelt flour can be used in place of the all-purpose if you prefer, but we don’t recommend using a whole wheat flour.
Use the JUMP TO RECIPE button at the top, or scroll to the bottom of the post to see the printable recipe card with full ingredient measurements and complete instructions.
STEP 1: Gently heat the milk, melt the butter, and bloom the yeast in it.
STEP 2: Add the remaining ingredients and knead the dough into a smooth ball.
STEP 3: Set aside to rise until doubled in size.
STEP 4: Roll the dough out into a rectangle using a rolling pin.
STEP 5: Top with the filling ingredients and roll into a tight spiral.
STEP 6: Cut into rounds and place into a greased baking tin.
STEP 7: Set aside to rise again until puffy.
STEP 8: Bake, cool, and top with the orange glaze.
1. Use chopped chocolate, not chips. Chocolate chips contain stabilizers so they don’t melt as easily. You want the chocolate to melt.
2. Leave some larger pieces of chocolate. This makes the buns so much more interesting!
3. Test your yeast. If the mixture isn’t foamy after step 3, your yeast is probably too old and you’ll likely need to buy new.
- You could certainly do an overnight roll here – after placing the individual rolls into the baking tin, cover them tightly and place in the refrigerator to rise overnight. Set them on the counter for about an hour in the morning to come back to room temperature, and then bake as instructed.
- It doesn’t matter if you use instant or traditional yeast. The step of blooming the yeast in the warm milk will activate traditional and won’t hurt instant, so either is good – the dough might just rise a bit faster with instant.
- If you prefer, make a batch of cream cheese frosting to top the rolls in place of the glaze. That being said, the orange in the glaze alongside the cinnamon and chocolate is great.
This is mostly a regional speech pattern – in Canada we usually call them cinnamon buns, but in the US buns typically contain nuts and rolls don’t.
It depends on the type of icing used, but with a glaze as used here, you certainly can while they’re still warm. Cool for a few minutes before icing and serving.
This is usually from adding too much flour during the kneading stage. The dough should be soft to the touch but not too sticky, so avoid adding too much flour instead of kneading until the gluten strands form.
🥐 More Sweet Breads and Rolls
Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls
- Measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale
- 8 inches (20 cm) baking tin
- Small saucepan
- 3 Mixing bowl
- Stand mixer optional
- Wooden spoon
- Tea towel
Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ teaspoons dry yeast
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup dark chocolate, chopped
orange vanilla glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Orange zest
- 1-2 tablespoons orange juice
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or vanilla powder
- Add the milk and sugar to a small saucepan. Bring to a low simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently until the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour the milk into a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk 2 tablespoons of butter into it. Check the temperature. It should be just warm to the touch. If it’s still hot, let it cool until warm.
- Sprinkle the yeast over top of the milk mixture and set it aside to bloom for about 10 minutes. The yeast should be visibly expanded and foamy looking.
- Add the flour and salt to the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon (or the paddle attachment) until a loose dough forms.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, or until a soft, smooth ball of dough forms. You can also use the kneading attachment on your mixer for this.
- Grease a large bowl and set the kneaded dough into it. Cover with a tea towel and set it in a warm, draft free spot to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
- Once the dough has risen, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it out to a rectangle about 12×18 inches (30x45cm) in size.
- For the filling, spread the butter over evenly the dough, then sprinkle the brown sugar, cinnamon, and chocolate over it.
- Roll the dough into a log from the long end, then cut into 9 approximately equal rolls.
- Grease an 8 inches (20 cm) baking tin and set the individual rolls into it. Cover this with a tea towel and set aside to rise again for about an hour. They won't quite double in size.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) while the rolls are rising.
- Bake the cinnamon rolls for 18-22 minutes, or until the tops and sides are lightly golden. Cool for at least 10 minutes before topping with the glaze and serving.
- For the glaze, in a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla until a smooth mixture forms. Spread it evenly over the cinnamon buns and serve.
This post was originally published in September 2014. The original recipe from Laura Wright has been slightly adapted and updated most recently as of September 2022.