Red Velvet Cinnamon Roll Recipe: Sweet Swirls for Cake Lovers

We love red velvet so much that we turned it into cinnamon rolls. Make these and start a red roll revolution at your house.

Updated January 3, 2024
Red velvet cinnamon rolls

Calling all red velvet lovers! If you have a soft spot for a moist and sweet red velvet cake, then our red velvet cinnamon roll recipe is just for you. These handmade rolls are guaranteed to make your mornings, brunches, and gatherings extra sweet.

How to Make Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls 

With their sweet spice filling, these cinnamon rolls smell amazing when they're baking. It'll be hard to wait until the icing is on to eat them. This recipe makes one dozen rolls. You can store them at room temperature for about three days or in the freezer for up to six months. 

Dough Ingredients

  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water, 110° to 115°F
  • 1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk, shaken well before opening
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons red food coloring paste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Filling Ingredients

  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients

  • 1 (8-ounce) brick cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Stir the yeast into the warm water and let it stand for about 5 minutes, until bubbles form.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk, cocoa, food coloring paste, vanilla, sugar, egg, melted butter, and salt. Using an electric or stand mixer, beat on low until combined. Pour in the yeast mixture and beat on low for another 30 seconds.
  3. Add 1 cup of flour to the bowl and mix on low speed until mostly combined. Switch from the beaters to a dough hook and continue adding flour in ½ cup increments on low speed until the mix forms a sticky dough that pulls away from the side of the bowl. You can use a little less flour or a little more as needed to achieve that consistency.
  4. Turn the dough onto a floured pastry board and knead it until it's smooth. This takes about 10 minutes.
  5. Form it into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let the dough rise in a warm spot until it doubles in volume, about 90 minutes.
  6. While the dough is rising, combine all the filling ingredients. Mix the brown sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon filling ingredients in a small bowl. Alternate between smashing the mixture together with the back of a spoon and stirring it until the ingredients are combined and have the texture of coarse sand.
  7. Once the dough has doubled, punch it down. Turn it back onto the floured pastry board and rest it, uncovered, for about 12 minutes.
  8. Roll the dough into a 9 x 13-inch rectangle. Brush the surface of the dough with melted butter and sprinkle the filling over it as evenly as possible.
  9. Starting on the long end, carefully roll the dough into a log.
  10. Slice the dough into 12 equal sections to create individual rolls and space them evenly in a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise until doubled in volume, 30-45 minutes.
  11. Once the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the plastic wrap and bake them for approximately 25 minutes. The rolls should feel a little firm but not hard when they're ready to come out of the oven.
  12. While the rolls are baking, combine all the icing ingredients in a small mixing bowl and beat on low speed until smooth.
  13. Once the rolls are baked, let them cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Spread the icing on the rolls and serve them warm.
Helpful Hack

If you'd like to have these ready to go first thing in the morning without getting up at 2 AM, you can make the rolls all the way up to step 10. Cover and put them in the fridge overnight. They'll rise in the fridge. Then, take them out of the fridge in the morning and bring them to room temp before baking and completing the recipe. No need to second rise. 

Sunday Morning Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls 

Wake your loved ones with the smell of freshly baked red velvet cinnamon rolls in the morning. It's all about celebrating the simple and sweet pleasures (like licking cream cheese frosting from the bowl) that make these weekend mornings so special. 

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Red Velvet Cinnamon Roll Recipe: Sweet Swirls for Cake Lovers