Cinnamon Roll Pancakes That Will Take Lazy Brunches to the Next Level

published Sep 29, 2021
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Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Two breakfast favorites in one recipe.

Serves4 to 6

Makes10 pancakes

Prep25 minutes

Cook35 minutes

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Three cinnamon roll pancakes on a plate with white icing drizzled over the top, with a fork on the plate to the side
Credit: Laura Rege
Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

What could be better than two breakfast classics — cinnamon rolls and pancakes — in one? Here, we took the flavor and look that we know and love in cinnamon rolls and added that right into pancakes, which are easier and take less time to make.

We started with a straightforward, yet nice-and-fluffy pancake recipe, so you can focus on getting the perfect swirl. A little vanilla in the batter helps evoke that cinnamon roll feel, and rather than using buttermilk we opted for milk in the batter and saved the tang for the irresistible cream cheese frosting (that alone is reason enough to make these!).

Tips for Making Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

There are three easy-to-execute keys to the perfect signature cinnamon roll swirl.

  • First, using a pastry bag (or zip-top bag, if that is more accessible) to make the swirl creates nice, even lines; it’s just much easier and faster than drizzling it off a spoon.
  • To prevent the cinnamon swirl from spilling over the edge, let the pancake puff up and set just a bit on the bottom before swirling to keep the cinnamon in place.
  • Start the swirl about 1/2 inch from the edge to give it enough space — although even if it did spill, these still taste and look great.

Once the pancake is golden on the bottom and the swirls are taken care of, you’ll want to flip the pancake to finish it off. Cook the swirl side until it’s nice and golden and some of the sugar caramelizes a bit. There will be nice crispy sugar bits, which add unexpected but welcomed texture. Don’t skip wiping out the skillet between each batch, as it’s inevitable when you flip that some cinnamon swirl will get into the pan and we want to ensure that the bits don’t burn and stick to the next pancake.

Remove the pancakes cinnamon swirl-side up, so you can admire your work. Place them directly onto a plate or onto a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining pancakes. We like to put the cream cheese frosting into a piping bag (or zip-top bag), just like we did for the cinnamon swirl, but a spoon and drizzle works just fine, too.

Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic
Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

How to Make Fluffy Pancakes

Don’t overmix the batter! Most pancake batters say something like it’s OK if the batter is a bit lumpy, but offer no explanation as to why: This helps the pancakes rise. Measuring everything properly, having the right ratio of dry-to-wet ingredients, and the right amount of leavener can make a difference in the fluff. Here, we use baking powder — too little or too much can both hinder the fluffy texture.

What Does Adding an Egg Do to Pancakes?

Eggs provide structure to the batter, helping to hold everything together and with the rise.

What Can Replace Milk in Pancakes?

The best replacements are non-dairy milks such as coconut, oat, almond, or cashew.

Is it Better to Cook Pancakes with Butter or Oil?

Either works, but the best pancakes don’t use too much. You just want a light coating on the skillet, which is why I like using cooking spray. It coats perfectly in one step. If you prefer butter (make sure it’s melted) or oil (select a neutral flavor oil, like vegetable or grapeseed), just dip a paper towel in and lightly wipe the skillet before each batch. 

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Two breakfast favorites in one recipe.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 35 minutes

Makes 10 pancakes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces

    (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided

  • 2 1/4 cups

    whole milk

  • 4 ounces

    cream cheese

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1/2 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 5 teaspoons

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup

    powdered sugar

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 4 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • Cooking spray

Instructions

  1. Place 1 stick unsalted butter in a medium bowl. Place 2 1/4 cups whole milk, 4 ounces cream cheese, and 2 large eggs on the counter and let sit at room temperature until the butter and cream cheese are softened, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 200°F.

  2. Place the remaining 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. (Alternatively, melt in the stovetop over low heat.) Set aside and let cool slightly.

  3. Add 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, 5 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and a pinch of kosher salt to the bowl of softened butter and stir to combine. If the mixture is hard to mix, transfer to a microwave-safe bowl if needed and microwave on high until the butter is just soft enough to easily incorporate with the other ingredients, just a few seconds. Do not melt the butter.

  4. Scrape the cinnamon sugar mixture into a piping bag or large zip-top bag, pressing the mixture to the bottom of the piping bag or down to one bottom corner of the zip-top bag. Seal the zip-top bag, if using.

  5. Place the cream cheese, 1/4 cup of the milk, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and a pinch of kosher salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. It will look lumpy at first but will smooth out the more you whisk.

  6. Scrape the cream cheese mixture into another piping or ziptop bag. Seal the zip-top bag, if using.

  7. Place 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 4 teaspoons baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. In another large bowl or measuring cup, whisk the Place the eggs, remaining 2 cups milk, 1/4 cup of the melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a second large bowl or measuring cup and whisk until smooth. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until mostly incorporated; a few lumps are okay.

  8. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Coat the skillet with cooking spray. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the batter onto one side of the skillet, spreading into a round. Repeat with another 1/3 cup on the other half of the skillet.

  9. Cook until there are a few bubbles on the surface of the pancakes and the bottoms are beginning to set, about 1 minute. Snip off the tip of the pastry bag (or bottom corner of the zip-top bag) of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Starting 1/2-inch from the edge of each pancake and working toward the center, pipe the cinnamon-sugar mixture into a spiral while the top of the pancake still looks wet. Continue to cook until the bottoms are golden-brown, 1 to 2 minutes more.

  10. Flip the pancakes and cook until the other side is golden-brown and carmelized, about 2 minutes more. Transfer pancakes, cinnamon swirl-side up, to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.

  11. Carefully wipe out the skillet with paper towels -- the sugar in the bottom of the skillet will be hot. Return the pan to medium-low heat and coat again with cooking spray before cooking the remaining batter.

  12. Before serving, pipe any remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture along the cinnamon-sugar grooves in each pancake, for extra gooey-ness and no waste. (It will melt into the warm pancakes in the best way possible). Snip off the tip of the pastry bag (or bottom corner of the zip-top bag) with the cream cheese mixture. Transfer the warm pancakes to plates, then pipe the cream cheese mixture onto the pancakes.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The cream cheese mixture can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Equipment: You can also use a nonstick electric griddle set to 300°F. Most griddles should fit about 5 pancakes at a time, reducing your total cooking time to about 15 minutes.

Storing: Although we recommend serving these right away, the pancakes can be made, cooled, and refrigerated in an airtight containerfor up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat in a 350°F oven on a baking sheet, cinnamon swirl-side up, until heated through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Hold off on the second addition of the cinnamon swirl until after reheating. Wait to drizzle the cream cheese mixture just before serving.

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: Cinnamon Roll Pancakes