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Terrific Tangzhong Cinnamon Rolls from your Bread Machine

Preview: These soft and fluffy Tangzhong Cinnamon Rolls employ the Tangzhong technique and a bread machine to make a sweet roll that stays fresh longer.

Cinnamon rolls are like donuts. They taste best the day you bake them. But sometimes, you want or need to make and bake them ahead of time. 

Making Cinnamon Rolls with the Tangzhong technique (aka Japanese milk bread) and a bread machine is the answer to your dilemma.

No worries if you don’t have a bread machine. See directions in the notes of the recipe for using a stand mixer or mixing by hand.

To be clear. Nothing beats a fresh-out-of-the-oven cinnamon roll. But unless you have ten hungry kids waiting to devour them before the icing sets, these are wonderful for savoring on the weekend.

Why oh-so-soft and moist cinnamon rolls are the BEST:

The shelf-life of these homemade Cinnamon Rolls mixed up in your bread machine is longer than most because the dough is mixed using the Tangzhong technique.

Stay-Fresh Tangzhong Cinnamon Rolls Baked and iced

They are appropriately ooey-gooey with a lighter, flakier, and more buttery texture.  Counterbalance all that sweetness with the spicy but not overpowering flavor of cinnamon with the tiniest pinch of ground cloves.

What’s different about the method of mixing with the Tangzhong technique?


Begin by making a paste mixture using half of the milk and 3 tablespoons flour.

 This variation is called the Tangzhong technique. I use the microwave for cooking the paste because it’s quick. However, if you prefer, heat the milk and flour mixture on the stove.

Tangzhong Cinnamon Rolls  with a single roll pulled out.


The Tangzhong method enables a higher ratio of liquid to flour.

Using the paste mixture made in step #1 results in a dough that needs less flour. I don’t completely understand the science, but it seems to work.

How to mix up cinnamon rolls with a bread machine:

pre-measuring milk and flour
Measure out 1 cup milk and 3 cups flour.
tangzhong method of mixing milk and small amount of flour
Whisk together half of the pre-measured milk and 3 tablespoons flour (taken from previously measured 3 cups of flour) in a microwave-safe glass container.
Cinnamon Rolls That Stay Fresh Longer Than One Day
Cook milk/flour mixture in the microwave for 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds and then again after 15 seconds until mixture turns into a thick pudding-like consistency. Don’t worry if there are a few lumps. Pour into your bread machine pan.
Adding remainder of milk to bread machine
Add remaining 1/2 cup milk to the bread-machine pan.
Cinnamon Rolls That Stay Fresh Longer Than a Day
Add remainder of ingredients. Don’t forget to add the butter you set aside to soften. Select the “Dough” cycle and press Start.
how kneaded dough should like before proofing cycle starts

When the dough cycle is complete, check the dough by testing with two fingers to make sure the dough has risen enough.

Note to new bread machine users:

Open the lid to your bread machine as it mixes, and take a look at the dough. Check to see if the dough has the right consistency. It should stick to the side, then release cleanly. If you want more information about this process, go here to read the secret to making better bread in a bread machine.

At first, the dough will be lumpy with a rough texture. However, after about 20 minutes of kneading, it should begin to look smoother and more elastic.

If too slack, add additional flour one tablespoon at a time. Likewise, if too dry, add more milk or cream, one tablespoon at a time. Allow the dough to absorb one tablespoon of flour or liquid for a couple of minutes. Then, look at the dough again to recheck the appearance of your dough.

Checking on the dough is VERY IMPORTANT to your success with bread in general, but especially with a bread machine.

How to roll out cinnamon rolls:

Nothing new here. This method is the traditional way to roll out cinnamon rolls.

preparing floured surface to roll out dough
Remove dough from your bread maker pan to a floured surface.
Stay-Fresh Cinnamon Rolls
Divide dough into 2 equally-sized dough balls.
Rolling out dough to a rectangle shape.
Roll out one dough ball into a 13 x 10-inch rectangle.
Stay Fresh Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Spread 2 tablespoons softened butter over the top of the dough.
Sprinkling cinnamon-sugar mixture on dough
Sprinkle buttered surface with brown sugar-cinnamon mixture.
Stay-Fresh Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Begin rolling from the long side–as tightly as possible.
Cut Stay-Fresh Cinnamon Roll dough in equal slices. 8 per  8-inch pan
Cut rolled cylinder in half. Then cut each half into 4 evenly-sized slices for 8 slices total.
cut cinnamon rolls ready for second rise.
Arrange in an 8-inch round pan sprayed with Baker’s Joy or a similar flour-oil aerosol.
Stay-Fresh Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Cover loosely with plastic wrap, a cheap shower cap, or a tea towel. Set pans in a “warmish” spot for the dough to rise.
Rolls are risen and ready to bake.
When the dough has almost doubled in size, preheat the oven to 375˚F in preparation for baking. Be careful not to let rolls rise too much, or they will fall when baking.

Baker’s tip for rolling out the dough:

Cleaning after rolling out dough on the counter can be such a mess! Consequently, I use a silicone baking mat. When finished, shake the mat out in the trash or the sink, then throw it in the dishwasher. Yep! That easy.

Just one caveat: If you cut on it as I do, use a light hand so you don’t cut a hole in the mat. I know, I know. Of course, the manufacturer of these mats would not endorse this practice. But, I’ve been doing it for many years, and the process has not harmed a single mat.

FAQ about making cinnamon rolls with a bread machine

Why use a bread machine to make cinnamon rolls?

In my experience, the bread machine is the easiest and most fool-proof way to get the best product. Nothing kneads better than a bread machine. In addition, the DOUGH cycle automates the mixing and kneading so you can walk away and know the machine is kneading the dough to perfection.

No bread machine? See alternate instructions for making these rolls with a stand mixer in the notes of the recipe.

Can I substitute regular yeast for the bread machine or instant yeast? 

es. It no longer needs to be dissolved. Use the same amount listed. Be aware that sometimes it can be a little slower in rising. Be patient.

Can I mix these cinnamon rolls the night before and bake the following day?

Yes. After you make the dough into rolls and have arranged them in the pan, cover and refrigerate. You can also freeze them at this point. Either way, allow extra time for the rolls to come to room temperature and double (almost) in volume before baking them.

Are you wondering if these cinnamon rolls are worth the bit of extra trouble? I think so. To me, Tangzhong cinnamon rolls have a better texture and flavor than most cinnamon rolls. However, we all have different tastes, standards, and priorities. So, if you want a more straightforward recipe, try my original cinnamon roll recipe.

What would you like to read next?

Did you try this recipe and enjoy it? Consider helping other readers (and me) by returning to this post. Please leave a rating on the recipe card itself underneath the picture. No comment required.

If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or email me: Paula at

Thank you for visiting!

Yield: 16 rolls

Cinnamon Roll Recipe using the Tangzhong Technique

Stays Fresh Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls are so soft, flaky, buttery, and ooey-gooey, they probably won't last more than one day. But if you have leftovers, you'll be surprised how yummy they are.

Prep Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 3 hours



  • 1 cup milk, divided (227 gr)
  • 3 cups unbleached flour, divided (360 gr)
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter (57 gr) + 4 tablespoons for the filling (57 gr)
  • 1 egg (50 gr)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream (15 gr) OR 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (12 gr)
  • 1  1/4 teaspoon salt (4 gr)
  • 2 teaspoons bread-machine or instant yeast (6 gr)


  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (160 gr)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (2.6 gr)
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans (optional) (57 gr)


  • 2 cups powdered sugar (227 gr)
  • 2 tablespoons coffee (leftover or instant is good enough) or milk (28 gr)
  • 1 ounce softened cream cheese (28 gr)



  1. Measure out 1 cup milk.
  2. Measure out 3 cups unbleached flour into a small bowl.
  3. Measure out 4 tablespoons butter and cut into small chunks. Set aside to come to room temperature.
  4. Make paste mixture by whisking half of the milk (1/2 cup) and 3 tablespoons of flour (taken from the pre-measured flour) together in a medium-size microwave-safe container. Cook on High for 1 minute, whisking after 30 seconds, then again after 15 seconds. Mixture should be thick as pudding. A few lumps are OK.
  5. Add paste mixture to the bread-machine pan along with the remaining 1/2 cup of milk.
  6. Add egg, sugar, salt, cream or egg yolk, softened butter, remaining pre-measured flour, and yeast to the bread-machine pan and select the dough cycle. Press "Start."
  7. When dough has risen to double its original size, remove from the bread pan, punch down gently and divide dough in half. On a generously floured surface, roll each half into a rectangle size about 13 x 10 inches.
  8. Spread each rectangle with approximately 2 tablespoons of softened butter or heavy cream.


  1. Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves.
  2. Distribute half of this mixture over first rectangle and half over the second. Sprinkle about 1/4 c. chopped, toasted, pecans over the brown-sugar/cinnamon layer.
  3. Roll up dough the long way. Slice into 8 equal pieces. Place cut side down into greased 8-inch pan or glass dish.
  4. Cover and let rise until almost double in a warm, moist place.
  5. About 15 minutes before rolls will be ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Bake rolls for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.


  1. Ice with 2 cups powdered sugar mixed with 1 ounce cream cheese and 2 tablespoons coffee. May need more or less liquid depending on how thick you like your icing.


  1. You only need a pinch of cloves. Don't overdo it 'cause that stuff is powerful. (You can leave it out but then your cinnamon rolls won't be as special. Promise!)
  2. Substitute milk or cream for coffee in the icing if you don't have or like coffee. The coffee taste in unidentifiable, but it sure is GOOD! Makes for a nice caramel color, too.

Directions for making bread with a stand mixer:

  1. Make paste with 1/2 cup and milk 3 tablespoons flour. 
  2. Add remaining ingredients (except the butter) to large mixing bowl. Turn on Low to mix until all ingredients are moistened. Using dough hook, turn speed to 2 or 3 and continue beating/kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue kneading dough until butter disappears. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. Deflate dough gently and shape rolls as indicated in recipe.

Nutrition Information:


16 rolls

Serving Size:

1 roll

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 257Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 219mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 1gSugar: 23gProtein: 5g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Donna Arnold

Thursday 24th of June 2021

Can you use fresh ground wheat with the Tangzhong technique? Would the measurements be the same? Would I use white wheat berries?


Friday 25th of June 2021

Hi Donna, I have never tried it. But if I did, I would start by using only 1 cup of flour made with fresh ground white wheat berries as a substitute for one cup of the white flour. If that goes OK, increase gradually. Using 100% whole wheat would likely result in dense and compact rolls. If you try it, I would love to know what happens.


Saturday 6th of March 2021

Hi Paula, Nice to chat! I've just started using, the cooking by weight method. You said to use 3 cups or 360gr of AP flour. That comes out to 120gr per cup of flour. But I've been using the 140gr for a cup of flour. That's 20gr difference, which would make it 60gr total. That's a big difference in bread making. Cinnamon rolls are my nemesis. HAH! I can make them, they are good, but not the texture I want. I've learned I'm heavy on the flour, weighing has helped tremendously! If you could clear this up for me, that would help bunches! Thanks, Cheryl


Sunday 7th of March 2021

@Paula, Southern Living, The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, first printing 1999. This could explain my dough issues. As I said, I'm new to measures. I'm going to have to go back and adjust several recipes, see I can still learn at 60. Hah! I went through your list of supplies. You didn't have a metric measures guide on there, I'd get one! Thank you for your fast response! Have a great week! Cheryl


Saturday 6th of March 2021

I usually go by the numbers King Arthur uses. They say AP flour and bread flour weigh 120 gr per cup. I find that this agrees with what the package says more often than not. However, if you know the person who wrote the recipe uses a different number, you should go with what the recipe creator uses. I will say I've never heard of anybody using 140 gr as the standard for one cup of flour. In the end, if you check your dough while it's kneading you can make it just right on the fly. Here's the post about that. The Most Important Tip Ever for How To Use a Bread Machine


Thursday 27th of August 2020

This is the third recipe I have tried from your blog since I subscribed on 8/18/20. I bought a bread machine at the beginning of April and really wasn’t a fan. I previously had one that I lost in Hurricane Katrina and never replaced it until this year. I had decided that I didn’t like the bread baked in the new machine and started baking it in my oven, but still wasn’t thrilled with the taste.

Then, I came across your blog, subscribed to your emails and have since become a fan. The brioche is to die delicious, the crusty round bread was a hit and this cinnamon rolls were as well. Can’t wait to try them all. BTW, I wish I would have spent a little more and bought the machine you have. I love the two paddle feature...maybe in the future.


Friday 28th of August 2020


You sure know how to brighten my day. I'm thrilled to hear the recipes were successful for you. Can't wait to hear about more in the future. If you ever run into trouble, don't hesitate to write back.


Saturday 2nd of May 2020

Looking forward to trying this recipe. Was hoping to try it today. How long do I keep the dough to rise after mixing it? And how long do I keep it to rise after shaping it and putting it in pan before I bake it?


Saturday 2nd of May 2020

Let the dough rise until not-quite-double in both cases. If making in a bread machine, just let the dough cycle run. If making in a mixer, set the dough aside to rise. I would allow at least an hour for the first rise and 35-45 minutes for the second rise. But I don't know the temperature in your kitchen, so I can't tell you exactly. I hope the rolls work out for you. Let me know if you have more questions about the instructions.

Elina Springstead

Wednesday 25th of March 2020

Hi Paula..Making cinnamon rolls today :-) I tried KA recipe yesterday and it didnt work out. I am thinking maybe my yeasts werent good so I am trying your recipe today and new yeasts. I have a question about this dough...when it is kneaded in a bread machine...should it stick to the bottom little bit or just form a smooth not sticky ball? Mine is smooth and doesnt stick to the bottom. It was like that yesterday too and I am thinking maybe too much flour and not enough water? Or it should be like that? Yesterday rolls raised very little. Thank you Paula!


Wednesday 25th of March 2020

Hi Elina, Sounds like your dough ball was about perfect. If it didn't rise, it was either too cold in the room where you put it to rise, your yeast was old or got killed by other ingredients that were too hot, or you didn't give the dough enough time to proof. Not enough water affects the texture and moisture of the rolls more than the rise. I hope this helps. Wish I could come to your house and smell those cinnamon rolls baking, and then, help you eat them. ?Write me back if you have any problems. p.s. Are you using instant yeast or bread machine yeast?

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