15 Creative Ways To Use Canned Cinnamon Rolls

It's hard not to love the flavor and the experience of making cinnamon rolls. And we're not talking about the lengthy process of letting your rolls rise, slathering them with filling, and waiting patiently for them to bake before putting the icing on top. We're talking about just popping open a can of these pre-packed cinnamon rolls from the store's refrigerator section, slapping them in the oven, and returning to the couch for the rest of your favorite show. Why would anyone make cinnamon rolls when the answer to all of your baking woes is in a paper-wrapped can?

Canned cinnamon rolls are often relegated to just simplicity and convenience, although there are ways to upgrade store-bought ones. But perhaps the best way to use your cinnamon rolls is not for their intended purpose at all! When you think about it, cinnamon roll dough is just sweetened and spiced enriched dough. Here are some of our favorite ways to utilize this versatile ingredient. 

Tear them up and use them for monkey bread

Monkey bread is the new-age form of pull-apart bread. Our recipe for cinnamon roll monkey bread comes together with only five ingredients: cinnamon rolls, white sugar, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. You can also add a few handfuls of nuts or chopped apples for more texture.

Start by cubing the cinnamon rolls into small pieces. For a standard-sized Bundt pan, you'll need three cans of regular rolls. Roll the pieces in cinnamon sugar; as the cake bakes, the sugar will transform into an ooey, gooey syrup that will help everything stick together. Layer half of the dough pieces in the Bundt pan before adding melted butter and finishing with the remainder. After pulling it from the oven, you'll need to allow the pan to sit for about 10 minutes. Perhaps the best part of this recipe is when you get to flip it out of the Bundt pan and drizzle it with warmed icing from the cinnamon roll containers. We also recommend substituting the regular cinnamon rolls for the pumpkin variety; it imparts a much more interesting flavor. 

Pop them into your waffle maker

Cinnamon rolls are fun to eat as it is. Unroll one gently, and you'll get a mixture of both dry pieces and a soft, doughy center. But instead of just putting your cinnamon rolls on a baking sheet, try popping them onto a hot, greased waffle iron. Making cinnamon roll waffles is one of the absolute best uses for your waffle iron because it gets the edges perfectly crisp and imparts a fun, funky shape to the cinnamon roll. 

To cook these cinnamon rolls, you'll need to place a single roll in the center of the iron and push it closed (this may require a bit of elbow grease). Cook the roll for about three minutes or until you start to see steam coming out of the iron. Top your waffle with the pre-packaged icing and serve your roll hot. This hack can work for any size cinnamon roll, and you can also try it with flavored varieties like red velvet or pumpkin. 

Use them as a substitute for pie crust

A wholesome apple pie isn't complete without a good pie crust. But instead of going for a pie crust that always seems to fall apart, both literally and figuratively, stick to the container of cinnamon rolls in your fridge. The rolls have a sublime cinnamon flavor, which can spice up your standard apple pie. 

To make a double-layer apple pie crust, you'll need about two cans of rolls. Although this doesn't seem like a lot of rolls, you need to remember that this crust is going to need to be thin so it cooks through in the oven. Start by rolling out each cinnamon roll until it's ⅛ inch thick. Add the rolls to the bottom of your pan and pinch the seams together to ensure that the filling doesn't drip through. Then, do the same for the top layer of the pie, being sure to slice steam holes. 

Substitute them into your cobbler recipe

Fruit cobbler is a great recipe to make at any time of year. You can use up the remainder of your seasonal produce, like apples, berries, and peaches, and get a perfectly crisp topping that complements the sweetness of the fruit. But, instead of making a cobbler topping or using biscuit dough, swap it out with cinnamon rolls. Mix the fruit in the baking dish and cover with the cinnamon rolls, cinnamon side-up. Then, transfer the dish to the oven and bake until the fruit is bubbly and the cinnamon rolls are baked through. 

Once you pull the dish from the oven, you can spread the pre-made icing across the tops of the rolls. We especially love pairing the apple version of this cobbler, spiced with a bit of extra cinnamon and nutmeg, with a cold scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top. The dough cooks similarly to other toppings like biscuits or crescent rolls, which means that the recipe is easily convertible to suit other toppings. 

Add them to bread pudding

Bread pudding is a classic dessert that is deeply underappreciated. Your bread pudding will be the star of the show if you substitute your regular bread for cinnamon rolls. You can make a cinnamon roll bread pudding with canned cinnamon rolls, chopped pecans, and a custard mixture. You'll first want to bake the rolls according to the package directions; this will ensure your bread pudding doesn't come out too doughy. Then, combine your roughly chopped cinnamon rolls with the pecans and place them into the bowl with the custard. 

Once the bread pudding is set and baked, you can top it with your canned icing or a homemade drizzle of powdered sugar and milk for a thin consistency. You can place the bread pudding in the fridge for a few days after baking and enjoy it for breakfasts or desserts — just reserve a bit of extra icing for topping your bake. 

Fry them up for easy homemade donuts

There's a reason why most people go to their local donut joint to pick up a dozen, rather than making them at home. Donuts, particularly fried varieties, can be tricky to make and require you to perfect the dough, fry it for the right amount of time, and cool it well to prevent it from becoming greasy. The easy way to make donuts at home is to use cinnamon rolls. 

Start by popping the can and removing a bit of dough from the center of your cinnamon rolls to create a small hole. Place the rings and the donut holes into a fryer with hot oil, cooking for a few minutes on each side. Then, remove the donuts from the hot oil and allow the oil to drain off onto a paper towel. We recommend warming up the vanilla icing to top your donuts, thinned with milk as needed. You can also bake your cinnamon rolls in a donut tray. Unroll the cinnamon rolls and tuck them into your donut molds. 

Use them as a base for mini dessert pizzas

Most people think of pizzas made with ingredients like tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. But if you're looking for a twist on the traditional pizza pie, try making mini cinnamon roll pizzas. You'll want to start by opening a pack of cinnamon rolls and lightly rolling each out on a flat surface. Bake the rolls based on the package directions and cool down appropriately before decorating your pies. If you want to make a family-sized pizza, you can roll the edges together and bake the pie as a single slab. 

While you can use the canned icing that comes with the cinnamon rolls, you can subdue some of the sweetness by mixing it with a package of cream cheese (we like the whipped variety). Top your pies with sliced fruit, like pineapple, strawberries, and kiwi, or use a confectionary topping like marshmallows and chocolate.

Make sausage roll-ups

Breakfast sausage and cinnamon rolls are must-haves for your special brunch. You can combine the two to make cinnamon-roll-wrapped pigs-in-a-blanket. Start by unrolling each of the cinnamon rolls and slicing them in half to create shorter strips. If you're finding that the dough is tough to handle, you can freeze it so you can easily slice into it without the butter and oil leaking out everywhere. You'll also want to use fully-cooked sausage for this recipe; turkey or pork will both suffice. Then, carefully wrap each sausage with a piece of cinnamon roll dough and secure it with a toothpick. 

From there, you can bake the cinnamon roll sausages until the roll is firm to the touch and slightly golden brown. We recommend making use of the cinnamon roll icing by mixing it with maple syrup. This will complement the sweet-savory dichotomy of the food and elevate the flavors. 

Make your cheesecake extra special

We love, love, love cheesecake. Each slice is filled with a tangy flavor accompanied by the smooth texture of cream cheese. But if you want to take your cheesecake to a new level, you can match it with the delicious flavor of a cinnamon roll. There are multiple ways to match the flavor of your canned rolls to the cheesecake filling. Start by pressing your cinnamon rolls into the bottom of a springform pan before evenly swirling in your cheesecake batter. Once your cheesecake has adequately cooked, you can top it with the icing from the cinnamon roll container. 

A dark, non-stick springform pan works best for this recipe because it ensures that the cinnamon rolls bake correctly. You can also customize your recipe based on your favorite flavors and topping variations, including strawberries. One of our favorite variations on this cheesecake recipe is to use a pumpkin cinnamon roll with a pumpkin cheesecake. 

Wrap up a tray of apple dumplings

Apple dumplings are one of our favorite desserts — and they're even better when they marry the flavor of warm apple with soft cinnamon roll. You can use cinnamon roll dough instead of crescent roll dough for this recipe. Start by unrolling the cinnamon rolls and re-wrapping them around your apple slices. Top each apple dumpling with a mixture of melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Bake the apples until the rolls are golden brown before topping with ice cream or the canned icing. 

If you want to upgrade your apple dumplings, you can also add a splash of bourbon with vanilla extract, cinnamon, and sugar. Our favorite apples to use for this recipe are Granny Smith because they are delightfully tart and bright, and they balance the cinnamon notes in the dough with the sugary spice accent on top. Plus, these apples are firm, so they hold up well to baking. 

Transform them into cookies

The only thing better than a soft, plush cinnamon roll is that same flavor translated into a cookie. And you won't have to worry about the arduous task of creaming your butter and sugar together. Once you unwrap these rolls from the can, you can cut them into thinner rounds and place them onto the baking tray to cook. It's important to note that the thinness of the cookies may alter the baking time, so you'll have to keep an eye on them to prevent burning. 

You can also make a super unique cookie by combining chocolate chip cookie dough with cinnamon rolls. Roll out your cookie dough and place the rolled-out cinnamon roll dough on top. You can also adorn your Franken-cookies with a sprinkle of pecans or a handful of extra chocolate chips. Then, roll the cinnamon rolls back up, cookie dough swirled in, and bake until golden. 

Use them as a base for your ice cream sandwich

We love ice cream sandwiches, so it's no surprise that we're always looking for creative ways to amp up our ice cream sandwich game. Instead of just going for a chocolate chip or an oatmeal cookie for your ice cream sandwich, substitute in a cinnamon roll base. Start by separating your roll of cinnamon roll dough and placing the individual rounds between parchment paper. The key is to flatten these cinnamon rolls as much as possible since you'll want them to complement, rather than upstage, the ice cream filling. 

An easy way to ensure your cinnamon rolls are super thin is to cook them on a waffle iron. You'll also need to cool the cinnamon rolls down in your freezer after baking so that they won't melt the ice cream on contact. Pair your cinnamon roll bases with a scoop of vanilla, horchata, or caramel ice cream. 

Substitute bread for cinnamon rolls in your French toast recipe

French toast is delicious, but using a wet bread that falls apart when it's dipped into custard isn't ideal. Cinnamon rolls are a good replacement for traditional bread in French toast because they hold up better and will impart a better flavor than plain bread. Plus, it's a great way to use up those leftover cinnamon rolls that you forgot to cover on the counter. 

Start with your day-old cinnamon rolls, sliced in half, dipped in a mix of eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Cook on a griddle for a few minutes before carefully flipping and cooking the other side. Once your rolls have been transferred to a plate, you can top them with whipped cream, maple syrup, or use the prepackaged icing from the container. We also love adding cooked apples to the top of the breakfast for a fruity flair and complementary taste. 

Turn them into an ice cream cone

There's absolutely nothing wrong with a perfectly crisp waffle cone. In fact, it might be the best vessel to fill with ice cream. That is, of course, until you try this creative rendition of an ice cream cone. 

You'll need your canned dough, a mold, and aluminum foil to make cinnamon roll ice cream cones. You can use a plain sugar cone or an extra large waffle cone as your base. Wrapping the cone in foil is essential because that ensures the dough won't stick to the mold. From there, unwrap the dough from the cinnamon rolls and re-wrap around the foiled cone so all the sides are touching. This will ensure your ice cream won't escape and your rolls will puff up and bake.

Bake the cones resting on one side, preferably on the seam, to keep them together. Once they're done baking, you can carefully remove the cones from the oven and allow them to cool. Stuff your cinnamon roll cones with your ice cream of choice and dig in.

Make cinnamon-spiced pretzel bites

Think back to the last time you went to a mall. Remember the strange stores, coin-operated kiddie rides, and the best part: Auntie Anne's pretzel stand. If you are a die-hard fan of Auntie Anne's cinnamon sugar pretzels, you'll be happy to know that you can make them at home with just a container of cinnamon rolls. These pretzels are designed to be perfectly sweet and crunchy on the outside and soft and decadent on the inside.

Slice up your cinnamon roll dough into small pieces and pop it in a mixture of baking soda and water. This will develop the characteristic flavor and texture on the outside of the bites. Then, pop the pieces into your air fryer for a few minutes until crispy, before tossing them in a bag with cinnamon sugar. This hack couldn't be easier, and you won't even have to walk to a food court to get yourself a serving dipped in sweet icing.