Cinnamon Roll Muffins

Story and photos by Karyl Henry,

I’ve gone through a lot of different Thanksgiving evolutions in my life. Growing up, we celebrated at the home of a family friend—a huge dinner with probably 50 people. As an adult, Thanksgiving was sometimes with family, sometimes with friends, and a couple of times we went out for Chinese food rather than cook! Since moving to Oklahoma in 2007, I usually stay home and cook a small meal, especially when OSU has a home football game that Saturday.

No matter how big or small the celebration, Thanksgiving means food. And lots of it. People plan weeks in advance, and many people begin the initial prep at least 3 days ahead.

Of course, Thanksgiving dinner is the highlight of the day. Depending on the family, dinner can be as early as 1 p.m. or as late as 5 p.m. But people wake up earlier than that. And they’re hungry earlier that! I wanted to create a recipe that’s easy to make, portable, and won’t create a huge mess in the kitchen. I’ve done all of that and more with my Cinnamon Roll Muffins

Oh, these Cinnamon Roll Muffins are fabulous. The beautiful, warm flavors of cinnamon and vanilla are topped with a simple cream cheese drizzle.


Just like my drama with the Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie, I failed a couple of times before I got it right with these Cinnamon Roll Muffins

  • Don’t use melted butter, because the batter doesn’t cream properly, and the result is a cakey muffin that crumbles when you eat it.
  • Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl, and the wet ingredients in another.
  • Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring constantly. You want a smooth consistency that is thicker than pancake batter but still mixes easily.
  • Combine well, but don’t over-mix or the Cinnamon Roll Muffins will be dense.


  • Pour 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup.
  • Add a dollop of the cinnamon sugar filling to each muffin cup, and create a swirl pattern using a toothpick. Don’t worry about spending too much time on looks, because nobody’s going to see it! 
  • Spread the remaining batter evenly across the muffin cups
  • Finish with another dollop of the cinnamon sugar filling. I used a fork to lightly swirl the filling.
  • The cinnamon filling mixture is super simple: ground cinnamon, dark brown sugar, and melted butter. It doesn’t get any easier than that!


Is a cinnamon roll really a cinnamon roll without the cream cheese frosting? Of course not! And neither are Cinnamon Roll Muffins. The best part is, it takes 4 ingredients and about 30 seconds to create heaven.

  • Use the block cream cheese; full fat or low fat is up to personal preference. Make sure that the cream cheese is at room temperature, so that it mixes easily.
  • Powdered sugar, milk, and a dash of vanilla extract are the other ingredients.
  • Whisk everything together until it creates a smooth consistency.
  • Allow the Cinnamon Roll Muffins to cool slightly before adding the frosting, or the frosting will kind of melt into the muffin topping.
  • You can be as generous or as light as you want with the frosting.

Yes you can make the batter a couple of days ahead! Store in an air-tight container in the fridge, and return the batter to room temperature before filling the muffin tin. You may need to mix it a little bit more, but just remember not to over-do it.

You could make the cream cheese frosting one day ahead, but it comes together so quickly I just do it while the muffins bake. Do not make the cinnamon filling until you’re ready to bake, or you’ll be constantly re-melting it and that’s just a pain. 

The great thing about making the batter ahead is that you can make Cinnamon Roll Muffins as needed. And when you’re ready, the muffins are ready in about 18 minutes.

Cinnamon Roll Muffins are perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas morning, weekend brunch, or any time that you want an indulgent treat!


Cinnamon Roll Muffins from

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 18 mins

Total Time: 28 mins

Servings:  12 muffins



  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, large
  • 1 cup milk


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter


  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • dash of vanilla


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. If using paper muffin cups, place them inside a 12-cup muffin pan. If not, generously grease muffin pan cups.
  2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients and whisk well. Pour wet ingredients into dry, and mix until combined and batter is smooth. DO NOT OVERMIX!
  3. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup. When done, you’ll have 1/4 of the mixture left in the bowl
  4. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter in a bowl, and stir briskly to combine well. It should look like a thick syrup. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar mixture into each cup. Take a toothpick and swirl mixture into batter. 
  5. Distribute remaining batter equally among all muffins.
  6. If the remaining sugar mixture is clumpy, reheat in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Use a spoon to drizzle mixture evenly across all muffins. I like to use a swirl pattern.
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until an inserted toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Remove muffins from muffin pan, and set on wire rack to cool
  8. In a bowl, add cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Whisk well until smooth. Spoon frosting into a piping bag or plastic bag. Carefully cut a very small piece off the end of the bag. Put one hand around the top of the bag, squeezing out the air; carefully hold the bottom of the bag, and drizzle frosting on muffins.


  1. Make batter, and store it in an airtight container in fridge. I usually do it 1-2 days ahead, at most. 
  2. When you are ready to make the muffins, return the batter to room temperature before filling muffin cups. 
  3. Do not make sugar mixture until you are ready to bake.