This soft, melt-in-your-mouth Cinnamon Roll Cake has a gooey brown sugar cinnamon swirl–just like the real thing! Skip the rising and rolling and make this quick and easy breakfast cake in less than an hour. Recipe includes a how-to video!
Made without yeast, it still captures the quintessential flavors and textures of a genuine cinnamon roll, but it requires a fraction of the work! It’s dense but so soft, melts in your mouth, has a distinct rich and buttery cinnamon ripple, and the simple vanilla glaze is the perfect finishing touch. What’s not to like?
Sure, this cinnamon roll cake is perfect for weekend mornings and holiday breakfasts, but you could still serve it as an everyday dessert too! It’s quick and simple way to achieve the warm, gooey flavors of a cinnamon roll with none of the fussing over yeast or rolling dough. The hardest part about this recipe is swirling in the filling, and even that is no large task.
I have a feeling you’re really going to like this one, so let’s jump right in!
What You Need
The ingredients for this cinnamon roll cake are about as simple as its preparation. It’s worth reiterating that there’s no yeast in today’s recipe; I know many of you will be relieved to read that! Here’s what you need:
- Cream cheese. My favorite secret ingredient! Like in my bundt cake, this ingredient is key for providing the dense but soft, perfectly textured melt-in-your mouth consistency. It also adds a lovely depth of flavor. You must use brick-style, full-fat cream cheese for best results.
- Butter. Use unsalted since we are adding salt ourselves.
- Sugar. You’ll quite a bit of sugar for this recipe: granulated sugar and brown sugar blend together for the best flavor in the cake. For the swirl, I like to use dark brown sugar because it has a richer flavor, but you can substitute light brown sugar if it’s all you have on hand. Finally, you need powdered sugar for a simple vanilla glaze to top off the cake.
- Eggs. It’s best if your eggs are at room temperature before you add them. If you forget to set yours out ahead of time, just set them in warm water for 10-15 minutes, and they should come to temperature quickly.
- Vanilla. We’ll add a splash to the cake itself and the vanilla glaze.
- Flour. Use all-purpose flour. Make sure you measure your flour properly, or your cake could turn out dry and dense.
- Baking powder. This keeps the cake from being too dense.
- Cornstarch. Another one of my favorite secret ingredients, cornstarch makes this cake soft, plush, and melt-in-your mouth. I use it in my blueberry coffee cake for the same reason!
- Milk. I recommend using whole milk for the cake, and you’ll also need a splash for the glaze too.
- Cinnamon. An essential ingredient for cinnamon roll cake! We’ll be adding a full tablespoon to the filling for that classic taste.
SAM’S TIP: I like using dark brown sugar for a rich, flavorful filling, but you could always use light brown sugar if that’s all you have on hand. Or, you could make your own dark brown sugar using my recipe–it’s so easy!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make a Cinnamon Roll Cake
- Beat together the sugar, cream cheese, and butter until well combined.
- Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth and incorporated.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl before adding ⅓ of the mixture to the wet ingredients. Stir until the mixture is just combined.
- Add about half the milk and stir until just combined. Next, add half of the remaining dry ingredients. Continue alternating one more time so you end with the dry ingredients, stirring until completely combined.
- Spread the batter into a lightly greased 13×9 metal pan. Prepare your filling and evenly dollop it over the cake batter.
- Use a knife to spread the ripple through the cake. Bake for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick test in the cake part comes out with a few moist crumbs.
- Let the cake cool slightly while you prepare your glaze.
- Drizzle the glaze over your warm cake, slice, and enjoy!
SAM’S TIP: When swirling the filling into the cake, make sure you swirl the filling down into the cake batter, not just in the top. The filling will sink into the cake as it bakes and cools (crevices are norma and actually desirable herel!), but we want to help it get there too.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. I know some of you aren’t fans of cream cheese, and that’s okay, because I promise you won’t taste it in this cake! Instead, you’ll notice how incredibly moist it is and that it just melts in your mouth. It’s a must for this recipe!
This is totally normal! We want the filling to be throughout the cake–not just on the top layer–that way every bite has that gooey, cinnamon roll flavor!
I don’t see why not! If you do, I recommend you try my cream cheese frosting recipe–it’s one of my personal favorite frostings.
More Recipes You Might Like
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
Cinnamon Roll Cake
- 8 oz cream cheese softened (use full-fat, brick-style cream cheese) (226g)
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened (113g)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
- ½ cup light brown sugar firmly packed (100g)
- 2 large eggs room temperature preferred
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (312g)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- ¾ teaspoon table salt
- ½ cup whole milk (118ml)
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted but no longer hot to the touch (57g)
- ½ cup light or dark brown sugar firmly packed (100g)
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup powdered sugar (125g)
- 1-2 Tablespoons milk
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13” (23x33cm) metal baking dish (see note if using glass dish).
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together softened cream cheese, softened butter, and sugars until creamy and completely combined.
- Add eggs and vanilla extract and stir until completely combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt.
- Add about a third of the flour mixture and stir (by hand or with mixer on low-speed) until mostly combined. Then add half of the milk and stir until mostly combined. Repeat until all of the flour and milk have been added and batter is smooth and completely combined.
- Spread batter evenly into prepared baking pan and set aside.
- Combine melted (but not too hot) butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon and stir together until smooth. Dollop mixture over the surface of your batter and use a knife to swirl throughout the surface of the batter.
- Transfer to 350F (175C) oven and bake for 28-32 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes back clean or with moist crumbs (not wet batter!). Avoid testing directly in the swirl.
- While cake cools, prepare vanilla glaze. Note that as the cake cools, the ripple layer will sink into the cake causing brown sugar crevices, this is totally normal and expected!
- Whisk together powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk, and vanilla extract, adding additional milk as needed until mixture is smooth and drizzles off the whisk in a ribbon.
- Drizzle over warm cake. You can allow the cake to cool completely and the icing to set or you can serve still warm (it will just be a bit messier this way!).
Baking dishNote that this recipe can also be made in a glass baking dish but will simply take longer to bake. I’ve found it typically takes about 3-5 minutes longer, but watch yours as the time may vary.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.