Last Updated on July 14, 2021 by laurenpacek
Celebrate Fat Tuesday, starting with breakfast!
These King Cake Cinnamon Rolls are the perfect way to kick off Fat Tuesday! What's better than hot, delicious cinnamon rolls first thing in the morning?
It's that time of year again
Mardi Gras is upon us! Time to get a little decadent and enjoy all things King Cake.
I love a traditional King Cake. I mean, who doesn't? It's good good stuff.
A King Cake is basically a giant cinnamon roll, right?
They're both made of yeasted dough, a cinnamon-y filling, and have frosting. So... same thing. Ish. Right?
I figured I'd change things up a little bit this year by making 12 smaller King Cakes instead of 1 big King Cake.
I took the recipe for Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls (which can be made the same day, not just ahead of time), and added some additional spices and lemon zest (common to King Cakes), as well as sprinkles, and boom. King Cake Cinnamon Rolls.
How do these cinnamon rolls come together?
I'll be the first to admit, homemade cinnamon rolls are a bit of a labor of love. It's a multi-stage process that requires a bit of free time. But it's totally worth it in the end.
You'll start by making a warmly spiced yeasted dough and letting it rise. Next, you'll roll that dough out into a rectangle, generously spread a cinnamon-sugar filling + chopped nuts all over, and roll that dough up into a tube.
Slice the rolls, let 'em rise again, and bake 'em off until they're golden brown and bubbling.
Last, you'll slather the rolls with sweet frosting and dust them liberally with festive sprinkles.
Note: You can also hide a tiny plastic baby somewhere in these rolls, if you want. I don't, because I think it's a choking hazard.
Looking for related recipes?
Check out my Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls if you're in the mood for a more standard cinnamon roll experience.
For the dough
- 1 cup 2% milk, lukewarm
- 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
For the filling
- 8 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 3 tbs ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp cocoa powder
- 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
For the icing
- 6 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt
- Purple, gold, and green sprinkles
To make the dough
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. The yeast should start to froth and bubble a bit.
- Add the sugar, butter, kosher salt, eggs, flour, lemon zest, and spices to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until well incorporated.
- Pour the milk and yeast mixture over the flour mixture. Using the dough hook, mix until everything is well incorporated.
- Spray a large bowl with cooking spray (or lightly coat it with vegetable oil). Place the dough into the bowl, cover with cling wrap, and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
To make the filling
- Combine the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder in a medium-sized bowl.
- Mash everything into a paste. Set aside along with the chopped pecans.
To make the cinnamon rolls
- Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray or butter.
- Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is approximately 16 inches long and 12 inches wide. The dough will be approximately ¼-inch thick.
- Spread the filling evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly over the filling.
- Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge.
- Cut the dough into 1 ½-inch slices, and place in the prepared baking pan. Cover the baking pan tightly with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise for another 30 minutes.
To bake the cinnamon rolls
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until they golden brown.
To make the icing
- While the cinnamon rolls are baking, with an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and kosher salt together in a medium-sized bowl.
- Once the cinnamon rolls come out of the oven, slather the hot rolls with icing.
- Sprinkle the purple, gold, and green sprinkles over the frosting.
You can also hide a tiny plastic baby somewhere in these rolls, if you want. I don't, because I think it's a choking hazard.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 571Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 262mgCarbohydrates: 74gFiber: 4gSugar: 39gProtein: 8g
What gear should I have in order to make these cinnamon rolls?
- A 9x13-inch baking pan
- Purple, green, and gold sprinkles
- A stand mixer makes making this recipe much easier