Sweet, cinnamony, dripping-with-caramel-in-every-crevice rolls are one of my favorite breakfast indulgences.

Cheater Caramel Rolls

As a kid, I became confused whenever I saw a caramel roll from a restaurant or bakery. Um, where’s the caramel?! Almost every time I ordered one, I received a dry brown roll with just a smear of caramel on top.

Cheater Caramel Rolls

To me, any roll without sufficient caramel is just that:

A roll.

I generally don’t order a dinner roll for breakfast. Call me crazy. Dinner rolls are great for dinner (especially if they’re slathered in honey butter Texas Roadhouse-style!), but for breakfast? I want a caramel roll, heavy on the caramel. Preferably one that doesn’t require a magnifying glass to find it.

Cheater Caramel Rolls

The reason restaurant “caramel” rolls confused me as a child is because my mom and grandma were both known for their killer caramel rolls. I was used to the ultimate in caramel rolls–a recipe for homemade bread dough that had been passed down through the generations, sweet cinnamon filling, and, of course, a generous amount of caramel so thick that it ran off the sides of each roll.

Cheater Caramel Rolls

That, my friends, is what a true caramel roll should be, in my humble opinion. :)

The only problem with said caramel roll is that it takes a lot of work. Is it worth it? Totally. But even so, sometimes there just isn’t time. Plus, homemade dough can be finicky. Nothing is more frustrating than spending hours on a batch of homemade dough, only for it to end in failure.

So I make cheater caramel rolls.

Cheater Caramel Rolls

They’re not quite as amazing as completely homemade caramel rolls, but they’re pretty darn close. Truthfully, I make these more often than the real thing, because they’re so much easier and more foolproof, with practically the same results.

What’s the secret?

Frozen dough.

(P.S. I apologize in advance for the nighttime photos you are about to view. I recommend making the rolls the night before you plan to enjoy them, as I did here!)

Rhodes Sweet Dough, frozen and used for caramel rolls

I’m generally not the biggest fan of stuff like this. Boxed cake mix, canned frosting, frozen dinners…not my thing. But this frozen dough is a lifesaver, a time-saver, and the key to the cheater caramel roll.

Instead of slaving away in the kitchen over homemade dough that might not even turn out, I save the slaving for the caramel sauce and use the frozen dough as a shortcut. And the caramel really doesn’t take much slaving away, either.

You still have to plan ahead a bit for these rolls, but the frozen dough saves so much time! I always keep a package in the freezer, and I take it out to defrost in the sink a day before I want my rolls. That night, when the dough is thawed, I whip up a batch of caramel sauce over the stove:

Homemade caramel sauce

I then roll out the dough, smear each third with a little butter to hold the cinnamon in place…

Cheater Caramel Rolls

And sprinkle everything generously with cinnamon-sugar:

Cheater Caramel Rolls

Next, I roll the sugary, cinnamony dough up tightly and slice into rolls.

Cheater Caramel Rolls

I pour the prepared caramel sauce into three 9×13 baking dishes and place the sliced rolls on top.

You should get about 36 rolls total, but if you don’t, it’s not the end of the world. You can use fewer baking dishes if you don’t feel you have enough rolls to fill three of them.

Cheater Caramel Rolls

Finally, I cover the pans with waxed paper and leave them on the counter overnight.

Cheater Caramel Rolls

Simple as that!

The next morning, they’ll hopefully look like this:

Cheater Caramel Rolls

If your rolls don’t get that big, no worries! They’ll still taste great, but if the dough has been in the freezer for months or who-knows-how-long, it is less likely to expand as much. The best way to ensure big rolls is to use relatively fresh dough and make sure it is no longer frozen when you begin rolling it out.

Cheater Caramel Rolls

When you’re ready to eat, preheat the oven, pop your pans in for about 25 minutes, and enjoy your (semi-) homemade, heavy-on-the-caramel rolls!

Cheater Caramel Rolls

Someday I’ll post the full homemade version for those of you who are overachievers, but for now, here’s my much-used, much-loved recipe for Cheater Caramel Rolls. These are a family favorite for Christmas morning, the first day of school, brunch, or any old day that needs a special start to the morning. For me, it was the last one this time. :) Warm up with one of these beauties this week if you need something to look forward to before work or school!

Cheater Caramel Rolls

Cheater Caramel Rolls

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 36 CARAMEL rolls

Serving Size: 1 roll

Cheater Caramel Rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 3-lb. package frozen sweet dough (such as Rhodes), thawed
  • 3 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups PLUS 3 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 6 Tbsp. corn syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar

Instructions

  1. Prepare three 9x13-inch baking pans.
  2. To make the caramel sauce: Combine brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups butter, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until melted.
  3. Boil 3 minutes and remove from heat. Divide among three prepared baking pans, pouring evenly to coat the bottom of each one.
  4. Divide thawed dough into thirds. (Rhodes brand is packaged in thirds already.) Lightly sprinkle flour onto a flat workspace.
  5. For each section of dough, roll onto flour-covered workspace using a rolling pin, forming into a rectangle that is about 1/2-inch thick.
  6. Using a brush or spatula, cover evenly with reserved butter, about a tablespoon on each third of dough.
  7. Combine cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle a third over butter on each third of rolled dough.
  8. Tightly roll each section of dough into a long log. With a knife, slice each log into 12 rolls. Place 12 rolls in each baking dish on top of prepared caramel.
  9. Cover pans with waxed paper and let sit overnight.
  10. The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove waxed paper.
  11. Bake rolls in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
  12. Using oven mitts, tightly hold each baking dish against a large platter and flip rolls upside-down onto platters to serve. Use a spatula to scrape any remaining caramel onto rolls and serve warm.

Notes

Be sure to plan ahead and thaw dough ahead of time! Then, prepare caramel sauce and rolls the night before you want to serve them. The next morning, you'll have fresh caramel rolls, straight from the oven in 30 minutes!

http://www.getsweetsmart.com/cheater-caramel-rolls/

Nutritional Info:

Calories: 255.2
Total Fat: 9.7 g
Cholesterol: 23.2 mg
Sodium: 250.5 mg
Total Carbs: 45.9 g
Dietary Fiber: .6 g
Protein: 2.3 g


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  • Pam Hegel

    I’m thawing bread dough right now to make my cheater’s caramel rolls in the morning. :-) I found your post while searching the internet to find an answer for why my recipe for rolls did not turn out. My dough keeps turning out too dense. The rolls I grew up with are sweet and bready…Not dense. I would love your recipe for your rolls if you are willing to share.

    • Thanks for the comment, Pam! I like sweeter rolls too, but since they can be so tough to perfect I tend to use the “cheater” version more often than not. :) Someday I’ll post a full homemade version once I feel like I’ve really mastered it. Hope you enjoyed the shortcut version for now!

  • Jane

    These rolls are beautiful. Your photos make them extra delicious. These rolls are the perfect find after looking for something quick, easy and delicious for my husband this father’s day. I’m going to go and buy some Rhodes sweet dough tonight and try them out before the big day. Thank you Brianna.

    • Thanks Jane! I hope you and your husband enjoy them!

  • Adina Johnson

    This looks great! How long can they rise in the fridge, max? I’d like to make them tonight and bake them tomorrow afternoon.

    • Thanks for asking, Adina! They don’t need to be refrigerated while they rise, but I think they should be fine if you let them sit out overnight and into the afternoon. I wouldn’t go more than 24 hours, though, just so that they don’t spoil.