Sourdough Cinnamon Buns

There are few things that could enhance the flavor and texture of a cinnamon bun, but sourdough is one of them. The added boost in flavor and the subtle chewy texture from a ripe sourdough starter, especially when used without the addition of commercial yeast, takes these soft, buttery, cinnamon sugar-laced buns over the top — with just slightly longer proofing times. Believe us, you’ll be glad you waited!

35 mins
18 to 22 mins
9 hrs 30 mins
1 dozen large buns
Sourdough Cinnamon Buns


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  1. To make the dough: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Mix together all the dough ingredients except the salt (and yeast) until the flour is evenly moistened and the dough has formed a cohesive, sticky mass, 2 to 3 minutes on low speed of a stand mixer.

  2. Add the salt (and yeast) on top of the dough (without mixing it in), then cover and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. This rest is period is known as an autolyse.

  3. After the autolyse, mix in the salt (and yeast) until fully incorporated, about 1 minute on low speed. Turn the mixer up one speed and knead the dough until it’s smooth and supple though still somewhat soft and tacky, about 2 to 3 minutes.

  4. Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm (75°F) place for 4 hours. To develop strength in the dough, stretch and fold it in the bowl three to four times during the rest. You can be fairly flexible in your timing of these. One stretch and fold per hour is ideal. The goal is to end up with a strong dough with good elasticity.

  5. To make the filling: Meanwhile, combine all the filling ingredients in a medium bowl. The texture will be somewhat like wet sand.

  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased or floured work surface and gently deflate it, patting or rolling it into a 14” x 20” rectangle.

  7. Spread the filling evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving 1/2” of exposed dough along one short edge.

  8. Starting with the filling-coated short edge, roll the dough into a log. As you roll, the log will lengthen to around 18".

  9. Cut the log into twelve 1 1/2” slices and place them in a lightly greased 9” x 13” pan. Cover the pan and let the buns rise until they’re puffy, 2 to 3 hours.

  10. At this point, you can let the buns rise for another hour or so and then bake them; or you can place the pan in the refrigerator overnight, covered, and bake the buns the next day (up to 24 hours later).

  11. To bake the same day: Bake the buns in a preheated 400°F oven for 18 to 22 minutes, until golden. A digital thermometer inserted into the center of a middle bun should read 190°F.

  12. To make the icing: While the buns are baking, stir together all the ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth.

  13. Remove the buns from the oven and cool for 5 to 10 minutes before icing. Alternatively, allow the buns to cool to room temperature. Cover the buns and leave them at room temperature overnight, then reheat in a 325°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes before icing and serving.

  14. To bake the buns after being refrigerated overnight: Remove the pan from the refrigerator and leave the buns covered at room temperature while you preheat the oven to 400°F.

  15. Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden. A digital thermometer inserted into the center of a middle bun should read 190°F. Remove the buns from the oven and cool for 5 to 10 minutes before icing.

  16. Wrap the buns in plastic and store at room temperature for a day or so; freeze unfrosted buns for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Don’t have any starter? Here’s a recipe for homemade sourdough starter. If you're making it from scratch, you'll need to feed it for 5 to 7 days before it’s ready for baking. Want a head start? Purchase our classic fresh sourdough starter — it’ll be ready for baking soon after it arrives at your door. Looking for tips, techniques, and all kinds of great information about sourdough baking? Find what you need in our sourdough baking guide.

  • You know your starter is ripe and ready to leaven bread when it doubles or triples in volume within 6 to 8 hours of being fed. If your starter has been refrigerated, you’ll need to give it a series of feedings at room temperature to get it to this state. Depending on the initial health of your starter, this may take just two or three feedings spaced every 12 hours, or up to five to seven days of feeding it every 12 hours.
  • Don't have any whole wheat flour on hand? Substitute unbleached all-purpose flour for the whole wheat; no adjustments to other ingredients are needed.
  • If you don’t want to wait for your starter to be completely ripe (or if you’d like a little added leavening insurance), add the teaspoon of optional yeast to your dough. Note that the rising/proofing times will be shorter with additional yeast, likely just 2 to 2 1/2 hours (with just two to three rounds of stretching and folding the dough) for the first rise, and 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the second.