10 Canned Cinnamon Roll Hacks

You're in for a treat. Today I'm sharing my best canned cinnamon roll hacks and improvements for turning store-bought cinnamon rolls, like the Pillsbury Grands ones or even the store brand, into something special. 

Dry cinnamon rolls? No thank you. They need to be OOEY and GOOEY. That's just Cinnamon Roll 101.

All of these ideas make Pillsbury canned cinnamon rolls company-worthy and delicious. These are also great for taking homemade cinnamon rolls up a notch, but what a pain that is. With these better-than-homemade canned cinnamon roll hacks, you'll never bother to bake them from scratch again.

Test out some of these ideas tomorrow. Won't it be nice to dig into a mouthwatering cinnamon roll for breakfast? You can't get a better start to your day than that.

Canned Cinnamon Roll Hacks

Actually, make that 11 easy ways to improve store-bought cinnamon rolls: you can top them with homemade coffee whipped cream. Yum!

canned cinnamon roll hacks

Hack #1: Always cover your pan.

For some reason, the directions almost never say to bake your cinnamon rolls covered. This is the secret to soft, doughy rolls like at Cinnabon! You're not baking bread. If your favorite pan doesn't have a lid, foil will suffice. 

You'll need to extend the time in the oven (about 15 extra minutes for a lid, 7 for foil), but the end result is worth it. Don't be impatient or your cinnamon rolls will still be doughy. If this happens, just give them another minute in the oven or pop them into the microwave using 10 second intervals, testing for doneness.

Hack #2: Don't use a pan that's too large.

Cinnamon rolls need to touch. It's just like having your cinnamon rolls covered, but for the sides.

Hack #3: The bottom can become the top.

Before adding your cinnamon rolls to the pan, dot the bottom generously with pats of butter and sliced bananas. Sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice - yum) and brown sugar, stir, and pop the pan into the oven while it preheats to bake the cinnamon rolls. A cast iron pan is perfect for this. When everything is nice and melty, add your cinnamon rolls to the pan and bake. Caramelized bananas underneath my cinnamon rolls are always a welcome surprise.

Hack #4: Fruit means it's healthy. (Right?)

Before baking your cinnamon rolls, top them will dollops of canned pie filling, such as apple or cherry. Pumpkin butter (nod to Trader Joe's here - so yummy) is also a fabulous addition. 

At this point, you can keep the icing packet that came with your canned cinnamon rolls (it's an indulgent treat in your morning coffee, BTW) or you can drizzle it over the top of your already-decadent rolls. If you go with the latter (you sugar baby, you), be sure to wait for the cinnamon rolls to cool down, otherwise the icing just melts and disappears. It's still tasty, but not nearly as pretty.

Pillsbury cinnamon roll hacks
Cinnamon Roll Tip #4.5 - If you're going to photograph your creations to share on your blog, you might consider using a clean pan instead of one with years of baked on deliciousness. Whoops!

Hack #5: Chocolate chips are overrated.

This is the only time you will ever see me pair "chocolate" and "overrated" here on my blog, I promise.

It always sounds like a great idea to throw in a handful of chocolate chips with your cinnamon rolls, even pressing them between each roll for an unexpected chocolatey bite, but unless you eat them while they're still molten (not recommended), they just turn back into hard little rocks on your otherwise billowy puff of deliciousness. Instead, melt chocolate and drizzle it over the top, in addition to or instead of the icing.

Hack #6: Remember Tip #5? Raisins are another story.

Love cinnamon raisin bread? (If you said no here, I really think you're missing out on one of the greatest pleasures of life. I'm looking at you, Sexy Nerd.) Soak raisins in water so they're juicy and plump, drain, and press into the sides of your cinnamon rolls before baking. An overnight soak is ideal, but 5 minutes in the Instant Pot works too if you didn't plan ahead. 

You could technically soak the raisins in brandy or rum for cinnamon rolls with an alcoholic twist, but you didn't hear that from me.

Hack #7: Cinnamon rolls are not restricted to a certain time.

Who says cinnamon rolls are just for breakfast? Serve these as a dessert with vanilla ice cream, drizzling the icing packet over the roll and ice cream. You can increase the "oooh" factor by also drizzling both with honey and sprinkling with food-grade lavender.

Hack #8: We're makin' bacon.

Top your canned cinnamon rolls with crumbled, heavenly bits of candied bacon. It's easy to make - simply cook your bacon in the oven with a generous layer of brown sugar on top of each strip. Further proving they are meant to be together, you can bake both at the same time.

cinnamon rolls with bacon
Everything is better with bacon - even cinnamon rolls!

Hack #9: Cinnamon roll cobbler, anyone?

When it's just me and my husband (or should that be my husband and I? I can never remember. My husband and me?), we scarf down our cinnamon rolls right out of the pan. When company comes over though, we mind our manners. When presentation is important, thinly slice an apple and place the rounds in the bottom of a heavily buttered pan. Add 2 tablespoons of water and sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar, then top the apple slices with the canned cinnamon roll dough.

apple cinnamon rolls
These apple slices are ready to create the prettiest cinnamon rolls you've ever seen.

Hack #10: Plain icing is exactly that. Plain.

Store-bought cinnamon rolls can easily make the jump from casual to gourmet by tweaking the icing packet with a favorite ingredient, like cardamom, candied ginger, or sea salt. There's no need to make a mess mixing these together - just sprinkle on top while the icing is still wet.

Not afraid of a little mess? Mix the icing packet with cocoa to create chocolate icing. You can also mix your icing with instant coffee for a grown-up variation.

close up photo of cinnamon roll additions
I'm writing this blog post while on the treadmill. These photos are reeeally not helping my healthy lifestyle resolve.