Cinnamon rolls were the first thing I ever learned to bake with my Italian-immigrant grandmother. When I attended baking and pastry school, I knew I needed to learn all the ins and outs of my favorite baked goods, like cinnamon rolls, so I could make my own recipes one day. These strawberry cheesecake cinnamon rolls combine the classic taste of cinnamon rolls with the flavor of strawberry cheesecake. They are perfect for a decadent dessert or a sweet brunch or breakfast treat, especially during the height of strawberry season. They are stuffed with strawberry cinnamon flavor and topped with cream cheese icing and crushed graham cracker crumbs. It's basically like having strawberry cheesecake for breakfast!
These sweet rolls were inspired by my strawberry jam recipe, which serve as the strawberry filling inside these rolls. Of course, you don’t need to make your own homemade strawberry jam. But if you’ve got the time, or you want to take on a baking project, it’s worth the work! Use your favorite brand of store-bought jam otherwise.
Most recently, I used strawberry jam from my friends over at Vargo Brother Ferments that I purchased from Here Here Market, a web-store selling small-batch goods from businesses worth supporting!Jump to Recipe
Make sure to have all the ingredients at room temperature, if possible. The ingredients will incorporate better when they are not ice-cold from the fridge.
- all purpose flour - I love using King Arthur Brand all-purpose flour. It clearly states the protein content on the bag, and bakes consistent results time after time.
- buttermilk - buttermilk gives these strawberry cheesecake cinnamon rolls a nice tang, which plays nice with the tangy cream cheese.
- cream cheese - cream cheese is in both the dough and the frosting of this recipe, giving a double hit of cheesecake flavor.
- lemons - you’ll need lemon zest and fresh lemon juice for this recipe.
- unsalted butter - adding in butter makes this an enriched dough, meaning it is softer and more rich than a regular bread dough. Opt to use unsalted butter to control the salt content.
- granulated sugar - this dough has a slight sweetness to it, but it's not cloying. You can use regular granulated sugar or a natural or organic granulated sugar, but be sure it's not a darker sugar. Some natural sugars may also change the flavor of the dough slightly.
- eggs - you’ll only need one egg for this recipe. The egg helps the dough rise and maintain a nice, even crumb and a golden color. The recipe calls for size large eggs, but you can use a medium egg with no problems.
- yeast - make sure you’re using active dry yeast, not instant yeast. I love to use SAF brand yeast, which is available in many grocery stores, and also online through the King Arthur Flor baking shop.
- cinnamon - just a pinch of cinnamon evokes a warm and classic cinnamon roll flavor. You can leave this out if you prefer.
- kosher salt - as always, I use and recommend Diamond brand kosher salt. If you're using Morton's Brand, you'll want to cut the amount of salt used in half.
- strawberry jam - use your favorite strawberry jam, or make your own! Using a jam helps to keep the filling together more than if you were to use fresh fruit, which would be too watery when baked.
- powdered sugar - powdered sugar is needed for the cream cheese frosting.
See recipe card for quantities.
This strawberry take on traditional cinnamon rolls has three phases to the recipe if you are making your own strawberry jam: dough, jam, and frosting. Otherwise, there are two phases: the dough for the rolls, and the frosting.
Cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. Then, add in the egg and the lemon zest.
Once mixed, add the flour and buttermilk, and mix the dough in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment until the dough forms a smooth ball. The dough will be slightly sticky, but not tacky. It will spring back when you push it.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place in your kitchen for 60 - 90 minutes, or until it is doubled in size. If you’re baking during a colder time of year, it could take longer than 90 minutes for your dough to rise.
Prepare your working surface by sprinkling some all-purpose flour on the countertop, then gently plop your dough on the work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll your dough out into a large rectangle. Aim for roughly 15 inches by 18 inches. If you need help eyeballing the size of the dough rectangle, use your 9 x 13-inch pan to help gauge the size!
In a small bowl, combine your strawberry jam, cinnamon, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix until combined, then spread a layer over the dough. Make sure to leave about an inch on one long side of the dough to use as a seam.
Using unwaxed dental floss, mark your dough to be cut by putting an indent in it. Aim to get 10-12 rolls, depending on how thickly you want to slice your rolls. I usually go for 10! Slice your rolls by wiggling the floss under the roll, and bringing the two ends up and over each other as if you’re going to tie a knot. Alternatively, you can use a sharp or serrated knife.
Arrange the rolls in your baking pan lined with parchment paper. Allow the rolls to rise for 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in size. Bake in the oven at 350º Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes, until the tops of the rolls are lightly browned.
Allow the rolls to cool fully before topping with the cream cheese frosting. You can either spread the frosting on each roll before serving, or pipe the frosting on each roll at the same time. Top the rolls with diced strawberries and crushed graham crackers before serving.
Hint: When you are spreading the jam over the dough, leave about an inch on one long end so you can join the seams without the jam squeezing out. It's easy to add too much filling, if this happens, you can spoon whatever squeezes out back on top of the rolls!
♻️ substitutions & variations
Missing an ingredient? No problem. Check out these tried-and-true substitutions, or comment below with your question. I’m here to help you troubleshoot!
- lemon extract - if you don’t have lemons, you can substitute in lemon extract. Use ½ teaspoon for every one teaspoon of lemon zest.
- regular milk - if you don’t have buttermilk, you can either make your own
Feeling like a rebel?! Feel free to stray from the recipe card using these variations, or leave me a comment with your own!
- jam - no strawberry jam? no problem! use whatever jam you have on hand in this recipe. Raspberry jam would work wonderfully, as would blueberry jam!
- buttercream frosting - omit the cream cheese from the frosting, and up the powdered sugar to 1 cup for buttercream icing instead of cream cheese icing.
- omit cinnamon - leave out the cinnamon to create strawberry cheesecake rolls! I’ve made these a handful of times without cinnamon, and the flavor of the strawberry rolls is delicious!
- plain cheesecake rolls - omit the jam and instead fill the rolls with a mixture of cream cheese, brown sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Spread that mixture on the dough before rolling and slicing for cheesecake rolls!
🧰 equipment needed & storage tips
🧰 tools needed
These tools will make your life, or at least preparing this recipe, a little easier.
- 9 x 13-inch metal pan - a metal pan conducts heat more quickly and evenly than a glass or stone pan. My favorite brand of bakeware comes from USA pan. Using a stoneware or glass pan is sufficient, but keep an eye on the rolls as they bake to make sure they cook evenly.
- parchment paper - these precut sheets of parchment paper are perfect for lining pans.
- stand mixer - you’ll need a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and a dough hook for this recipe. You can make the dough by hand as well, it will just take a little elbow grease.
If you don’t have time to make these all in one day, you can roll and slice the dough and let them rise in the fridge overnight. In the morning, bake the rolls as instructed for a fresh-baked breakfast treat !
Store the baked rolls for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. You can freeze the rolls for longer storage, up to one month. You can store the rolls either frosted or unfrosted. It’s up to you!
🔆 Top tip
If the jam is seeping out fast when you slice the rolls, pop the roll of dough into the fridge (or freezer!) for 30 minutes before slicing. This will help keep the jam from oozing out.
How long does it take to make these cinnamon rolls?
While they look super complex, the recipe is straightforward, and it takes about 3 hours from start to finish to make these rolls. The best part? Most of that time is resting time!
Yes! You can use whatever jam you have or no jam at all! You can mix together 6-8 ounces of cream cheese with ½ cup of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon for a cheesecake filling!
There are a variety of reasons your rolls might be dry. If you overbake the dough, it can be dry.
Keep in mind the bread dough will dry out fairly quickly as time goes on, and your environment (humidity, heat, etc.) can greatly affect this. The rolls will be best consumed fresh, so 1-2 days max after baking.
You can make your own using a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice in one cup of milk. You can also use regular milk in this recipe if you don’t have buttermilk. Powdered buttermilk is also widely available!
Yes, you can prepare the dough and allow it to rise overnight before rolling, filling, and slicing. Alternatively, you can fill, roll, and slice the rolls, then allow them to rise overnight in the fridge before baking the next day.
Do not use fresh berries for this recipe, as they contain too much liquid when fresh. As they bake, water will seep from the berries and prevent the dough from baking properly, which could leave you with a soupy mess.
If you want to use fresh berries, roast them first for about 30 minutes at 350ºF to help bake off some of the excess water within the berries.
If you make this recipe, please leave a review in the comments and a star rating!
I read every single comment! I also love connecting on social media, so snap a pic and hashtag it #myrecipeforfun and tag me on Instagram, TikTok, or pin this recipe on Pinterest!
Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 stand mixer
- 1 9 x 13-inch pan metal
- 1 sheet of parchment paper
- 1 spool of unwaxed dental floss
- 44 grams butter, unsalted 3 TBSP
- 60 grams cream cheese 2 ounces
- 55 grams granulated sugar
- 1 egg large
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest from one medium lemon
- 243 grams buttermilk 1 cup
- 454 grams all-purpose flour
- 6 grams yeast active dry, 1 teaspoon
- 4 grams salt kosher, 1 teaspoon
- 12 ounces strawberry jam store bought or homemade
- 180 grams cream cheese 6 ounces
- 180 grams powdered sugar 1 ½ cups
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt, kosher
- In the bow of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together 44 grams of butter (3 TBSP), 60 grams of cream cheese (2 ounces), and 55 grams of granulated sugar.
- Mix in 1 large egg and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest until incorporated.
- Switch to the dough hook, and add 243 grams of buttermilk (1 cup), 454 grams of all-purpose flour (3 ½ cups), 6 grams of active dry yeast (1 teaspoon), and 4 grams of kosher salt (1 teaspoon). Mix until everything comes together to form a ball. The mixture should be soft but not sticky. It should bounce back when you push gently on it.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Place it in a warm location for 60-90 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with a sheet of parchment paper, leaving at least 1.5 inches of overhang to lift the rolls out of the pan.
- When the dough has risen, lightly flour your work surface and roll the dough out into a rectangle roughly 15 x 18-inches in size. If you need help eyeballing the size, use your baking pan!
- Spread 12 ounces of strawberry jam over the dough, making sure to get it from edge to edge, while leaving a 1 - 2 inch boarder on a long end to use as a seam.
- Roll the dough up into a spiral, making sure to roll towards the long edge you left jam-less.
- Using a piece of unwaxed dental floss, mark your dough by placing a gentle indent to serve as a cutting guide. Aim to get 10 - 12 rolls from the dough.
- To cut the rolls, wiggle the floss underneath the dough and bring the ends of the floss together as if you're tying a knot. Place the rolls in your prepared pan, leaving at least 2 inches between the rolls to allow them to rise.
- Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and place them back in a warm location. Allow them to rise for 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- About 30 minutes before the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes, or until they are golden brown on the tops.
- Allow the rolls to cool completely before icing with the cream cheese frosting. Top with diced strawberries and crushed graham cracker crumbs before serving.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Place 180 grams of room-temperature cream cheese (6 ounces) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip the cream cheese for 1 - 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add 180 grams of powdered sugar (1 ½ cups), 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt to the cream cheese. Whip until combined. Frost the cooled strawberry cheesecake rolls before serving.
- Refrigerate any unused frosting for up to one week.
🧯 food safety
- Make sure to bake the rolls for the recommended time, so they are baked throughout.
- If you are using a smaller pan (such as an 8 x 8-inch or 9 x 9-inch), you may need to cover the pan with aluminum foil if the tops start to brown too much before the insides of the rolls are fully baked. Smooshing more rolls together will also encourage your cinnamon rolls to pop up while baking, so the tops may be extra high!
See more guidelines here.