The only thing better than cinnamon rolls, is one giant cast iron cinnamon roll. This giant cinnamon roll is extra fluffy, has an endless swirl of cinnamon sugar, and is topped with tons of rich cream cheese frosting. Your family is sure to love this extra fun treat.
Without fail, every time I decide to make a pan of cinnamon rolls, my kids plead for one giant cast iron cinnamon roll instead. This recipe is an absolute blast, and can be cut it into slices like a cake or pulled apart and and eaten straight from the pan, just like monkey bread. It’s a delightful treat that brings joy and excitement to our kitchen!
It is also extremely easy to make, making it that much more impressive. But just in case, this recipe includes detailed photo instructions to help you along. Dry active yeast will make quick work of rise times, but if you would prefer to use sourdough starter to leaven this recipe, I have included instructions for how to substitute the yeast with starter in the recipe card notes.
Every ingredient plays an important role! This list explains the role of each ingredient when making this recipe, and also offers possible substitutions. See the recipe card below for a list of the ingredients and their amounts.
The Yeast Ingredients
- Milk, Yeast, and Sugar – Warm milk and sugar will help activate the dry yeast. Ensure that your yeast is fresh and within its expiration date. Expired yeast may not activate properly.
Make it Sourdough: If you’d like to make this giant cast iron cinnamon roll with sourdough starter, simply replace the milk, dry yeast and sugar in this portion of the recipe, with 80g of active sourdough starter instead and increase the milk called for in the main dough ingredients from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup. Keep in mind that using sourdough will significantly alter the rise times in the recipe. To plan accordingly, take a look at the sample bakers timeline in my sourdough cinnamon roll recipe for reference to rise times.
The Sweet Dough
- Sugar – Sugar makes the dough sweet and help the dough to rise. I use raw organic cane sugar when baking, but any sugar will work.
- Egg – Egg plays a crucial role in enriching the dough and providing these rolls with a light and tender texture. For best results, use a room temperature egg when making the dough.
- Milk – Milk helps to enrich the dough, giving height to your roll and making it tender.
- Salt – Salt is added to enhance flavor without making the roll salty. It also acts to strengthen the dough.
- Bread Flour – For this recipe, I used organic bread flour. Bread flour will give this giant cast iron cinnamon roll the best rise and the softest crumb. If using all-purpose flour, you may need to increase the amount of flour called for in the recipe.
- Butter – Butter enriches this dough making these rolls soft and tender. I use unsalted butter when baking, but you can use salted by omitting the salt in this recipe.
The Cinnamon Sugar Filling
- Butter – Use room temperature butter when making the filling for this roll so that it is easy to spread. You can test your butter to make sure it is soft enough by pressing on it. If you can push all the way through without resistance, the butter is ready.
- Brown Sugar – Brown sugar makes the filling for this giant cast iron cinnamon roll extra rich, sweet, and sticky. If you don’t have brown sugar on hand, you can create your own substitute by adding 1/2 teaspoon of molasses to 1/2 cup of regular cane sugar.
- Cinnamon – They wouldn’t be a cinnamon roll without cinnamon! If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, I recommend trying Ceylon cinnamon instead. It’s my personal favorite and adds a more delicate flavor.
The Frosting Ingredients
- Cream Cheese – Cream cheese makes this frosting extra yummy. If you prefer a non-cream cheese based frosting, you can replace it with butter.
- Butter – Butter contributes a rich flavor to the frosting that can’t be achieved with cream cheese alone. Make sure to use unsalted butter at room temperature for the best results.
- Powdered Sugar – When making frosting, I prefer using organic powdered sugar. Keep in mind that organic powdered sugar tends to be lumpier than conventional powdered sugar, so it’s recommended to sift it before use.
- Vanilla – Adding a little vanilla helps to add depth to the flavor of the frosting.
How to Make a Giant Cast Iron Cinnamon Roll
Step 1: Activate the Yeast
In a small bowl, whisk together the warmed milk, active dry yeast, and sugar. Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes, or until the yeast becomes bubbly and activated.
Step 2: Mix the Dough
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the active yeast, cane sugar, room temperature egg, and whole milk until they are thoroughly combined.
Add the bread flour and sea salt to the mixture, stirring just until a shaggy dough forms.
Work in the room temperature butter by hand or with a stand mixer, Once the butter is fully incorporated, knead the dough on medium speed using a dough hook attachment, or knead it by hand, for approximately 5 minutes.
Step 3: First Rise
Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, and cover it with a damp cloth or kitchen towel. Let the dough rise at a temperature of around 72°F (22°C) for approximately one hour, or until it has doubled in size.
Step 4: Make the Cinnamon Roll
Before turning out the dough, lightly dust your work surface with flour. Gently pat the dough into a rectangular shape and use a floured rolling pin to roll it out into a 12″x12″ rectangle.
In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon to make the filling, then set it aside.
Spread the room temperature butter over the sheet of sweet dough. Next, evenly spread the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the butter.
Using a pizza cutter, slice the sheet of dough into eight strips, with each strip approximately 1 1/2″ wide.
Take the first strip of dough and roll it neatly into a spiral. Place this roll at the center of a lightly greased 10″-12″ cast iron skillet.
Working with each strip one at a time, gently wrap it around the existing spiral in the skillet. Take care not to wrap it too tightly, allowing the roll room to expand during second rise.
Step 5: Second Rise
Cover the skillet with a damp cloth or kitchen towel. Allow it to rise at a temperature of around 72°F (21°C) for approximately one hour. During this second rise, the roll will increase in size and become visibly poofy. It’s important to note that rise times can vary based on the temperature in your home, so adjust the time accordingly.
Speed up Second Rise: For a quicker second rise, preheat your oven and place your skillet on top of the stove. The heat the oven gives off will allow your roll to rise much quicker.
Step 6: Bake and Frost
Position your skillet on the center rack of a 350°F (177°C) preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
While the roll is baking, prepare the frosting. Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until you achieve a creamy, lump-free frosting. You can add a little milk to achieve a thinner consistency.
Once out of the oven allow the cast iron cinnamon roll to cool for 15 minutes before frosting. Serve and enjoy!
Giant Cast Iron Cinnamon Roll FAQ
If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, don’t worry. You can still make the giant cast iron cinnamon roll by using either a 10″ cake pan or a 10″ springform pan as an alternative. Both options should work well to create the delicious treat you desire.
To make this giant cast iron cinnamon roll with sourdough starter, simply replace the milk, dry yeast and sugar in the yeast ingredient portion of the recipe, with 80g of active sourdough starter and increase the milk called for in the main dough ingredients from 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup. Keep in mind that using sourdough will significantly alter the rise times in the recipe. To plan accordingly, take a look at the sample bakers timeline in my sourdough cinnamon roll recipe for reference to rise times.
When removed from the oven your giant cinnamon roll will be golden brown in color. To be sure it is fully cooked, gently touch the top of the cinnamon roll with your finger. It should feel firm and spring back when lightly pressed. If it feels soft and doughy, it needs more time to bake.
You can make the dough for the giant cast iron cinnamon roll up the night before you plan to bake. After preparing the dough, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for 8-16 hours. The dough will still rise in the refrigerator, but at a much slower rate. When you are ready to bake simply pull it from the fridge, and proceeding with the rolling and baking process.
To store any leftover cinnamon roll, place it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can reheat leftover your cinnamon roll in individual slices in the microwave, or reheat all the leftovers in a 300°F (150°C) preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until warmed through.