13 Ways To Upgrade Store-Bought Cinnamon Rolls

Store-bought cinnamon rolls are a fantastic, convenient option to have on hand. You don't have to mix yeast with water, wait hours to let it rise, then begin making the filling and rolling everything together like you do with homemade cinnamon rolls. You can buy the refrigerated ones that require some time in the oven or certain grocery stores have bakery sections where you can purchase ready-to-eat cinnamon rolls. The only qualm with buying rolls in-store is that they can be hit or miss. There's often something lacking, whether it's on the dry side or there's not enough icing. 

Give those store-bought cinnamon rolls an upgrade with some of these tips and hacks. From coffee-infused frosting to fruity jam filling, you can customize your basic cinnamon rolls in ways that completely transform them into a tempting dessert. Perhaps you're looking for a dessert to take to a group function and want to impress guests without spending hours baking something from scratch. Maybe you want to jazz up your rolls with minimal effort by adding candied nuts, coffee frosting, or spice mix. There are plenty of ways to add dimension and creativity to your rolls. No matter how much time you have or what ingredients you have on hand, there's a cinnamon roll hack for you.

Don't forget the maple bacon

Maple bacon donuts are delicious, so you can apply a similar combination to elevate your store-bought cinnamon rolls. Instead of adding regular bacon to your rolls, try maple-cinnamon candied bacon. All you need is your bacon, maple syrup, ground cinnamon, and a hint of black pepper. You could potentially add more spices such as cloves or allspice. The bacon is smoky, crunchy, and satisfying. The cinnamon completely enhances the flavor of the bacon to harmoniously complement your cinnamon rolls. 

The gooeyness of the cinnamon roll paired with the crunchy bacon makes a perfect blend of textures. Make the maple cinnamon candied bacon, coarsely chop, and then add to your rolls. It only takes a few minutes, so it's perfect for when you're in a quick pinch. Plus, it makes the house smell incredible. You can easily top the rolls with the prepared bacon if you have ready-made, store-bought cinnamon rolls. If you have refrigerated cinnamon rolls that need to be baked, you could place a few bacon pieces into the cinnamon rolls as well as on the top. This easy hack will take your cinnamon rolls to the next level.

Make monkey bread instead

Who says you have to make cinnamon rolls? Switch things up and bake sweet and sticky cinnamon roll monkey bread. All you'll need are the cans of cinnamon rolls plus white sugar, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Save the icing to use at the end once everything's all baked. Rather than leaving the rolls in their original form, you'll cut each one into fourths and roll them into miniature dough balls. Once you've created the balls, it's time to roll them in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. 

After it's all coated, you're ready to start assembling your monkey bread in your bundt pan. The baking time takes around 30 to 35 minutes but allow at least 10 minutes for it to cool slightly before adding the icing so it doesn't melt and fall off. This treat is great to share thanks to its bite-size pieces. It's the perfect dessert for gatherings or a family night since it's simple to make and doesn't require making it from scratch. Refrigerate leftovers, if there are any. Warm them up in the microwave or oven when you're ready to finish the rest.

Brûlée the top with extra sugar

Boost the flavor of canned cinnamon rolls by brûléeing the top for extra texture and sugariness. To brûlée means you'll give it a slightly hard layer of burned sugar. You often see this in a crème brûlée where you crack the top of the dessert. Once your rolls are baked, add a sprinkle of extra sugar to the top, and use a cooking torch to brûlée them. I don't have a torch on hand, try broiling them in the oven. Don't take your eyes off of it to ensure it doesn't burn. As you watch it, you can customize the level of caramelization. 

Immediately take out the cinnamon rolls once they reach your desired level, don't leave them in the oven to overcook or burn. This little upgrade heightens both the flavor and the texture of your cinnamon rolls. The brûlée gives the top of your cinnamon rolls a slight crunch, which goes well with the soft gooey center. It's a cohesive balance of soft, chewy, and crunchy that you don't often see in cinnamon rolls.

Add coffee to the frosting

Sprinkle in some instant coffee or coffee extract to give your frosting a boost of flavor and caffeine. It's unexpected, robust, delicious, and aromatic. Feel free to use instant coffee, brewed coffee, coffee extract, brewed or instant espresso, or for an adult version, coffee liqueur. If you don't have instant espresso, there are a bunch of substitutes for instant espresso in baking such as chicory coffee, carob powder, natural cocoa powder, chaga powder, and more. Be sure to note that the type of coffee you use could affect the consistency of your icing. 

A liquid like coffee liqueur or brewed coffee might make it more liquidy, so keep this in mind — try brewing a very strong cup of coffee or brewed espresso. Since the icing packets that come with refrigerated store-bought cinnamon rolls are more on the runny inside, you could use a thick store-bought can of frosting for this to customize the texture. Simply open the icing packet or can into a bowl, mix in the coffee, and stir. Get fancy and pipe the frosting or go the straightforward way and apply it with a spatula or spoon. Effortlessly turn your cinnamon roll into a coffee-infused delight with this upgrade.

Customize the shape with aluminum foil

Aluminum foil to the rescue. Whether your pan is too big and you need to reduce the size or you want to bake your rolls into a heart shape, line your baking pan with aluminum foil to allow for a customizable shape. This aluminum foil hack gives you some flexibility without buying a new pan; you can use it anytime you're baking something not just for cinnamon rolls. Unless you're baking all the time and need access to equipment at a moment's notice, it's not always feasible to purchase new baking tools. 

Sometimes your best bet is to use what you already have. If your current pan is too large, get out your trusty aluminum foil to construct a new pan wall. The aluminum foil reinforcements give you the option to make your pan as small as needed. You could apply the same concept to create different shapes to add razzle dazzle to your cinnamon rolls. This neat technique allows you to have versatility in the kitchen without having to constantly buy new tools, just make sure you have enough aluminum foil to complete the task.

Pour in heavy whipping cream

Dryness tends to be a problem with store-bought cinnamon rolls since you aren't in charge of how much butter and sugar goes into it. Transform your store-bought cinnamon into a moist, soft, decadent dessert with heavy whipping cream. You'll find this viral TikTok hack reposted and recreated so many times because it ultimately turns your cinnamon roll into a rich, gourmet treat. Thanks to the cream, the cinnamon rolls retain their moisture and reach a peak level of richness. It's almost like they're not cinnamon rolls anymore, they're something new like a cinnamon cream roll. You don't even have to whip up the cream. 

Pour the heavy whipping cream as is into your pan with your cinnamon rolls and bake as directed. Once it's ready and slightly cooled, add your frosting, and serve your cinnamon rolls. If you feel like being extra, whip the cream in your standing mixer and then top your rolls with a scoop or two of cream. This is an absolute must-try if your mouth drools at the thought of an ooey-gooey cinnamon roll.

Give cinnamon roll bread pudding a shot

Cinnamon rolls don't always have to be roll-shaped. Cinnamon roll bread pudding transforms your rolls into a moist and dense dessert thanks to the eggs and heavy cream. You'll need a can of refrigerated cinnamon rolls, milk, heavy cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and pecans. You can swap out the pecans for a different nut of your choosing such as walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, or pecans. Add fresh blueberries or strawberries to give it some color. Cook your cinnamon rolls as directed on the packaging then let them cool completely. Cut them into chunks and mix them with the pecans in a bowl. 

Stir the rest of your ingredients in a separate bowl then integrate everything together and pour into a greased baking dish. Allow everything to incorporate and absorb, then bake until set. Decorate your cinnamon roll bread pudding with icing and enjoy a comforting dessert. Eat this as a dessert or serve it for breakfast with a side of eggs, bacon, and orange juice. Bring this custardy, cinnamony treat to a potluck or gathering since it not only tastes divine but looks like an elaborately made dish.

Top with candied nuts

Nuts are often added to cinnamon rolls and baked goods for added bite. Candied pecans act as a garnish but they also complement the pillowy cinnamon rolls with a sweet crunch to levitate your sensory experience. It balances out the pillow, soft nature of a cinnamon roll with a satisfying crunch in each bite. You only need sugar, nuts, and any spices if you'd like such as cinnamon. Candy the nuts in the oven or on the stove. The caveat with the stove method is you really have to keep your eye on it, so the sugar doesn't burn. 

Whether you opt for stove top or oven, they're pretty simple and only take a few minutes to make either way. As with many hacks, you're not obligated to use pecans. Try almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, or your desired nut to candy. If you buy canned cinnamon rolls you can also add the nuts to the inside since they're uncooked and more malleable. Chop your nuts and then place them delicately in the folds of the cinnamon roll prior to baking. This simple addition to store-bought cinnamon rolls is a quick upgrade and a homemade feel.

Boost the flavor with a spice blend

Magnify the aromatics of your cinnamon rolls with additional spices. It's an easy way to boost the flavor of any baked good. To make a fragrant pumpkin pie spice blend, you'll need cassia bark, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ground ginger. The potency may vary based on whether you freshly grind dried spices or if you use pre-ground spices. If you have extra, store it in an airtight container and use it for cookies, cakes, coffees, cocktails, and more. Add a bit of pumpkin pie spice to the top of your cinnamon rolls, or integrate it into the frosting itself to introduce layers of flavor. 

You can lean into the autumn flavors of pumpkin spice or season with what calls to you. Try cinnamon, cardamom, or mace. It doesn't hurt to make your cinnamon rolls more cinnamony, whether you add it to the rolls themselves or to the frosting. Mix and match based on your taste profile or the theme of the event you're going to. The spices provide a bit of warmth and depth to the rolls that will leave you wanting more. It helps that it's one of the easier hacks because you only need to shake the spices on top, you don't have to do any extra baking, cooking, or chopping.

Spread jam for a fruity filling or frosting

Jams, jellies, or preserves can completely transform your cinnamon rolls into something refreshing. Use any jam you have on hand. Integrate it into the icing, spread atop ready-made store-bought rolls, or add a layer on refrigerated canned rolls before baking them. The fruity element gives it a lightness and unexpected taste. 

There are so many flavors to pick from such as strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, grape, fig, apple, apricot, orange marmalade, the list goes on. Opt for a classic strawberry jam or try a tangy lemon curd. Raspberry cinnamon rolls make for a scrumptious breakfast; try them with a fresh cup of coffee, bacon, eggs, and some fruit. Fig cinnamon rolls would be great for brunch or afternoon tea with yogurt or dark chocolate. 

You can revolutionize the cinnamon roll based on the flavor you pick or use whatever you have in the fridge. It's also a fun weekend activity to involve the kids in because they can pick what flavor they want their cinnamon roll to be and add the jam themselves. Experiment with different flavors or versions, customizing based on whether you want the texture of seeds or prefer a smooth jelly.

Line your pan with crushed graham crackers

Switch up the texture of your cinnamon rolls entirely by creating a tasty crust with graham crackers. When you think of jazzing up cinnamon rolls, it usually involves mixing something in or adding something to the top, but the bottom usually gets neglected. Bust out that package of graham crackers from your pantry to create a crusty base for your cinnamon rolls. Crush them gently, so they still have some bite to them. You don't want graham cracker powder, you want graham cracker pieces. Line your pan with the graham cracker pieces, place your cinnamon rolls on top of them, and bake as directed. You could add some pieces to the top of the cinnamon rolls as well, just wait until they're mostly cooked so the graham crackers don't burn. 

To elevate this even more, opt for cinnamon graham crackers for extra cinnamon goodness. You could do a honey graham or chocolate graham or test something out of the box like Goldfish s'mores grahams or Annie's Neapolitan Bunny Grahams. There are lots of graham flavors and shapes out there, but whichever one you end up choosing, a graham cracker base will be completely unexpected.

Bake them in a muffin tin

Try baking your cinnamon rolls in a muffin tin to give it a different look and texture. It's one of the simpler baking tips out there to help switch things up. It's in the same vein as making cupcakes instead of a cake or chocolate chip banana muffins instead of a chocolate chip banana loaf. The muffin tins will crisp up the edges while leaving the cinnamon roll centers soft. They puff up beautifully and are cool to make for breakfast, brunch, or to bring to a gathering. Roll the cinnamon rolls before placing them in the tin to create a uniform and professional appeal or place them in as is for a more DIY look. 

These are perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast or snack since they're a more portable size. If you have novelty-shaped silicone molds like roses, hearts, stars, or skulls, you could bake your rolls in those to create amusing shapes. Try mini muffin tins and cut the cinnamon rolls to size. This is ideal for bite-sized snacks or if you want to make more with less. Nobody said cinnamon rolls have to stay in their standard roll form. Have some fun with it!

Drop in chocolate chips before heating

Whether you heat store-bought rolls in a microwave or need to bake the canned ones in the oven, add some chocolate chips into the mix. It's safe to say there's no shortage of creative ways to upgrade your cinnamon rolls. The chips melt into a gooey, chocolaty goodness that perfectly combines with cinnamon and sugar. Chocolate lovers will devour each bite with joy. Use standard chocolate chips, mini chips, chocolate chunks, or chop up a chocolate bar. Use dark chocolate, milk chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, or any other type of chips on the market, such as butterscotch chips, peanut butter, white chocolate, mint, pumpkin — you name it. 

You can sprinkle them on the top of your cinnamon rolls prior to baking or stuff them into the cinnamon rolls themselves for an added level of chocolate. If you purchased already cooked cinnamon rolls from the bakery section of the grocery store, simply add a few chocolate chips to the top and then reheat briefly in the microwave. Since the chips are small, you don't have to worry about the chocolate overpowering the cinnamon rolls. It only adds to the experience.