cinnamon bun cookies

What's better than a cinnamon bun? Cinnamon bun cookies! Soft, tender, and packed with cinnamon flavour.

cinnamon bun cookies

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but this is the first time I’ve ever made a pinwheel cookie. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever even eaten one before! But every time I see a picture of one online or in one of my cookbooks, I just think “oooh, how pretty!” And even after reading recipes and techniques (and yes, I even watched a couple YouTube videos before attempting), I had this idea that they must be so complicated to make. Nope. If you can roll out dough, you can make a pinwheel cookie. 

cinnamon bun cookies

This cookie caught my eye the first time I paged through this cookbook, so I flagged it with a post-it and it’s been in the back of my mind ever since. But if you look at my cookbook shelf, you’ll see a lot of little flags sticking out of the pages. So many cookies, so little time… *sigh*

Unfortunately, this is yet another recipe where the picture in the book and the instructions don’t quite jive. According to the recipe, the dough is to be rolled out to approximately 12″ square. Mine was pretty close to that, maybe even a little larger, and you can see I only got a few spirals in the finished cookie. The photo in the book, however, has several spirals, and the dough layer is much thinner than mine. Next time I make these (oh yes, there will be a next time), I’ll roll it thinner – maybe even twice as much. Flavour-wise, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this cookie, but I think it would look much prettier with more spirals. That is, in fact, what drew me to this cookie in the first place.

cinnamon bun cookies

This dough is great to work with. Not sticky at all, but soft and pliable. It rolled out really easily, so getting it thinner should be absolutely no problem.

The cinnamon mixture turned out a bit thick and tough to work with, but I’m going to blame that on how cold it was in my kitchen – in a warmer kitchen, the butter would be softer and easier to spread. It probably would have worked out better if I’d softened it a bit in the microwave rather than simply counting on the room temperature to do it.

cinnamon bun cookies

The cookie spreads slightly in the oven, and flattens out a tiny bit, but overall holds its shape well. But the cinnamon layer bubbles up and oozes out of the spiral, making it look even more like a cinnamon bun. So pretty.

Using the proportions in the recipe, the glaze was much too thick for me to brush on – I could have maybe spread it on with a knife, but that’s not the effect we’re going for here. I thinned it with a bit more water and it was fine. Although I ran out for the last few and had to whip up a bit more. It seemed like a lot of glaze at first, but when they say to brush on a “thin layer” they really mean “thin”. Oops.

cinnamon bun cookies

Prior to adding the glaze, the cookie has a more subtle flavour. It’s okay, but in my opinion, the glaze adds a touch of extra sweetness that the cookie needs. It doesn’t overpower the cinnamon, but makes the cookie taste more like its namesake. The cookie has a bit of crunch, but is overall soft and tender. One of my coworkers declared this cookie “life-changing”. I think he may have been exaggerating slightly, but he’s adamant that I make more. I tried just one of these immediately after I made them, and yes, it was a good cookie, but I couldn’t figure out why he thought they were so great. And then I had another. OMG, I don’t know if my tastebuds just weren’t picking up on it the first time or these cookies needed a day or two for the flavour to mature, but this is a good cookie.

This is only the second recipe I’ve tried from this cookbook, and they’ve both landed among my all-time favourites. I have very high hopes for the rest of this book!

cinnamon bun cookies

cinnamon bun cookies

<h2>cinnamon bun cookies</h2>

Adapted from Cookies at Home with The Culinary Institute of America by Todd Knaster. If you roll your dough out exactly 12", and slice your cookies exactly 1/4", you'll get 48 cookies out of this recipe. I wasn't quite that precise, and got 43 cookies. Close enough.


1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1/3 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

for the cinnamon smear

5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for the glaze

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon water

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugars, salt, zest, and vanilla together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg, beating well to incorporate.

Turn the mixer down to low and add the flour, mixing until just barely combined.

On a sheet of wax or parchment paper (whatever your preference), roll the dough out to approximately 12" square (or more if you want to get more spirals – see my comment above). When it comes time to roll into a log, the paper makes it easier to lift the edge and handle the dough.

making the roll

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all of the cinnamon smear ingredients and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 or 3 minutes.

Spread the cinnamon mixture on top of the rolled out cookie dough.

Roll the dough into a log shape. Once you get an edge started rolling by just folding it over slightly, you can simply lift the paper edge and use it to guide the dough to continue rolling. There's a video here that shows what I mean about lifting the paper edge to create the roll. The ends of the log will likely be a bit gappy, so you can just smoosh them in to form a flat edge. The first slice from each end will not have the pretty spiral, but there won't be any wasted dough.

Wrap the log in plastic wrap or the parchment paper you used to roll it out and gently squeeze the log to ensure there are no air pockets inside. You can then roll the log a few times to smooth it back out if necessary.

Transfer the dough to the freezer for at least 15-20 minutes, until firm.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Remove the dough log from the freezer and using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/4" slices. Give the log a quarter roll after each cut so it doesn't develop a flat edge from constantly pressing on the same side.

Transfer the cut slices to your prepared cookie sheets and bake for about 12-14 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until they’re lightly golden around the edges. Allow to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before removing the cookies from the pan and allowing them to cool completely.

glazing the cookies

Combine all the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl and whisk together. Add additional water if it seems too thick. Using a pastry brush, apply a thin coat to the top of each cookie. Allow to sit at room temperature to dry completely.

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Comments: 45

  1. […] .Ingredients:1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature1/3 cup granulated sugar3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar1/2 teaspoon salt1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract1 large egg2-1/4 cups all-purpose flourFOR THE CINNAMON SMEAR5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened1/4 cup packed light brown sugar1-1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup1 tablespoon ground cinnamon2 tablespoons all-purpose flour1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extractFOR THE GLAZE1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar2 tablespoons light corn syrup1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract1 teaspoon waterDirections:  […]

  2. Nadine Paron April 29, 2014 at 8:58 am Reply

    cinnabon cookies whatttttt lol

  3. Rula Sabbah November 13, 2014 at 1:12 am Reply

    OMG these look so delicious! I am definitely going to try them this weekend but I am wondering for how long do they last before expiring? I want to give them as gifts on Christmas and I want them to last for about a week!

    • laurel @ wannacomewith November 13, 2014 at 9:14 am Reply

      Hi Rula! These will be fantastic Christmas cookies. When I made them, they were all eaten within just a few days, but they were absolutely fine on the last day. I’m sure they’d still be good after a week. Enjoy!

      • Rula Sabbah November 14, 2014 at 4:05 am Reply

        Ok great! Thank you! I already baked them and everybody just loved them. They say they taste much better than the original vanilla and chocolate pinwheel cookies. Can’t wait to try other recipes from your blog. 🙂

        • laurel @ wannacomewith November 20, 2014 at 9:11 am Reply

          Hi Rula! I’m so glad to hear they worked out for you and people loved them! This was one of the most popular cookies I’ve made. I’ve been seriously happy with all the recipes that I’ve tried from this book so far. Do you like lime? You should check out these too… 🙂

  4. Rula Sabbah November 20, 2014 at 10:43 pm Reply

    Yes I like lime and I would love to try them. Thank you 🙂

  5. Alison April 27, 2015 at 12:29 pm Reply

    Do wish you’d tell us bakers in Europe the ingredients in lbs / oz or grams. A cup of butter for instance: how do you get it in the cup? What size cup – mine are all different sizes? I have conversion charts, but they don’t give the same conversion rates either!!! I am really upset at seeing yummy recipes I cannot use!

    • laurel @wannacomewith April 27, 2015 at 12:59 pm Reply

      Hi Alison! Thanks for your feedback on this. It’s something I’ve been wondering whether I should do. I’m in Canada and our measurements are in metric, but most of my cookbooks are printed in the US and are in cups, so I’m used to converting things on-the-fly. And I usually use weight for things like butter, too (fyi, I use 226g for 1 cup of butter). So would you prefer to see ALL measurements in weight? Or do you use metric volume for some things too?

      I just end up using conversion charts myself, and you’re right, they’re not consistent. But I find they’re different by such a small amount that I don’t worry about it.

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  7. Julie June 15, 2015 at 10:12 am Reply

    Do you think these could be frozen? How would you do it?

    • laurel @wannacomewith June 18, 2015 at 5:54 pm Reply

      Hi Julie – sorry for the late reply! Yes, you can absolutely freeze these cookies. If you freeze them after baking, they’ll lose some of their texture. I would recommend you freeze the dough and then bake them when you want some (you can just bake a few at a time, if you like). There’s a great article here at the Kitchn explaining how to freeze different types of cookie dough, including slice & bakes like these. If you want to freeze the already baked cookies, here’s another article (also from the Kitchn because they’re awesome) explaining the best way to do that. Hope you like these 🙂

  8. Mona Mirmortazavi July 2, 2015 at 1:27 am Reply

    Is there any alternative to the corn syrup? Could I just omit it?

    • laurel @wannacomewith July 2, 2015 at 8:58 am Reply

      Hi Mona! I wouldn’t recommend just skipping the corn syrup – the recipe needs some sort of liquid for the filling and the topping. The big benefit of using corn syrup, especially for the topping, is that it will stay smooth and won’t crystallize. You could try substituting a simple syrup (melt together 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of water, then allow to cool before using).

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  11. Christina August 6, 2015 at 8:40 am Reply

    can you recomend a substitute for the corn syrup? In Denmark our goverment considders it too unhealthy to be allowed in our country

    • laurel @wannacomewith August 6, 2015 at 10:10 am Reply

      Hmmm, I’d read that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is banned in many European countries, but it’s totally not the same as regular “corn syrup”. This is basically just a glucose syrup, so if you can find that, it’s essentially the same thing! I would think “golden syrup” would work as well. 🙂

  12. Donna August 19, 2015 at 11:31 pm Reply

    Hi there! I love your blog
    I recently made these but a vegan version.

    Would it be ok to post my adapted recipe on my blog? I would of course link back to you for the original
    Many thanks

  13. Donna September 13, 2015 at 11:16 am Reply

    Hi Laurel 🙂

    Thanks for your reply…

    They turned out amazing, I haven’t had chance to make them again yet so that I can take some pictures.

    I got over excited when I first made them 😀

    Thank you so much for letting me post my modified version.
    Planning on making them next weekend.


  14. claire December 8, 2015 at 2:54 pm Reply

    Hi, when you mention waiting a couple of days, are you talking about letting the dough sit or the cookie after it’s cooked?

    • laurel @wannacomewith December 8, 2015 at 5:08 pm Reply

      Do you mean where I said “these cookies needed a day or two for the flavour to mature”? I found that after baking, the flavour seemed to improve after a couple of days. Just an observation, not an instruction to wait before eating!

  15. Tara F December 10, 2015 at 11:17 am Reply

    Do you think Agave syrup would work as a substitute for corn syrup?

    • laurel @wannacomewith December 10, 2015 at 6:23 pm Reply

      Hi Tara! I’m afraid I can’t say for sure as I’ve never personally baked with agave syrup, but it might. David Lebovitz talks about substituting other sweeteners in place of corn syrup here if you’d like to look into it. It sounds like it would probably be okay for the glaze, but I’m not sure about the cookie itself. Please let me know if you try – other people might be interested in the answer too. Good luck!

  16. […] Laurel / Via […]

  17. candy December 16, 2015 at 4:00 pm Reply

    awesome recipe!!! so easy to follow with all the detailed instructions.
    I have been told by my 6 year old on many occasions over the years to stop baking because I’m not good at it! LOL, funny but OUCH!

    He loved these and I have officially redeemed myself in the baking department thanx to you.

    Your a rockstar in my books!!!

    • laurel @wannacomewith December 16, 2015 at 4:04 pm Reply

      Oh my gosh, Candy, I’m so glad to hear that!! And welcome aboard the baking train. We all have to start somewhere, right? I know my first cookies were less than perfect, and I certainly didn’t attempt anything this complex. 😉

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  23. Deb December 19, 2015 at 8:58 am Reply

    Not sure what happend to mine…while baking the cookie part separated from the swirl/smear, leaving a pretty big gap. They still taste delicious, they just don’t have the beautiful tight swirl they should.

    • laurel @wannacomewith December 20, 2015 at 12:57 pm Reply

      Oh I’m sorry to hear that, Deb. The only thing I can think is maybe when you rolled the log it wasn’t quite tight enough? But as long as they taste good, that still counts as a win right??

  24. Danielle January 10, 2016 at 3:57 pm Reply

    Just want to let you know I followed your recipe exactly except I substituted my pillsbury multi purpose gluten free flour blend for regular flour and they came out amazing! If anyone asks you if it’s possible to make these GF, I had great success!

    • laurel @wannacomewith January 19, 2016 at 1:44 pm Reply

      Hi Danielle

      That’s great news! I’m updating the recipe to include a note about gluten free flour – I’m sure other people will be happy to hear this too. 😀

  25. Teresa January 23, 2016 at 12:21 pm Reply

    In the freezer now, can’t wait to bake!

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  27. Amber April 21, 2016 at 3:05 am Reply

    My daughter and I made these for an early morning bake sale. We followed your recipe to the letter (apart from bake time – my convection oven bakes a little faster, so 10 min was just right) and they turned out picture-perfect, delicious, and sold out in a matter of minutes. Thanks for a great recipe with clear, concise instructions!

  28. Halliegal21 April 30, 2016 at 6:25 pm Reply

    I made these for an evening party
    So delish but how do you get the swirls so perfect. Mine end up as squiggly lines in the cookie. Also my cookies end up square

    • laurel @wannacomewith April 30, 2016 at 7:55 pm Reply

      Haha! I have no idea how mine worked out so well. Beginner’s luck? This was honestly the first pinwheel-style cookie I’ve made. Did you watch the video I had linked in the instructions? There’s also some good instructions here that show how to get round rolls instead of square. I’m glad they tasted good though! 🙂

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