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Warm, tender, moist and absolutely decadent, these Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls are practically begging to be made on Christmas morning. This recipe has the best of both worlds: The warm spicy cinnamon and gooey filling of cinnamon buns, with the indulgent chocolatiness of red velvet cake. We recommend being as delicate as possible with the dough to preserve the shape—instead of using a knife, cut the log with dental floss to get clean lines. 


Credit: Greg Dupree; Food Styling: Jennifer Wendorf, Melissa Gray; Prop Styling: Christina Daley

Recipe Summary

35 mins
35 mins
Serves 15 (serving size: 1 roll)


Cream Cheese Icing


Instructions Checklist
  • Prepare the Dough: Stir together warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar in a small cup or bowl; let stand 5 minutes.

  • Beat butter with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, milk, lemon juice, and yeast mixture; beat until combined, about 1 minute. Whisk together cocoa, salt, and 4 1/4 cups of the flour in a medium bowl. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add 1 cup cocoa mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined, about 30 seconds. Add food coloring gel; beat until just blended, about 30 seconds. Gradually add remaining cocoa mixture, beating until well combined, 2 to 3 minutes.

  • Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the flour onto a work surface. Turn dough out onto flour; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding remaining 1/4 cup flour to dough and working all flour into dough as you knead. Place dough in a large bowl lightly coated with cooking spray, turning dough to grease top. Cover bowl; let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

  • Punch dough down in bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll into a 16- x 12-inch rectangle.

  • Prepare the Filling: Spread dough rectangle with very soft butter, leaving a 1-inch border. Stir together granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl; sprinkle evenly over butter. Sprinkle evenly with pecans. Roll up dough, jelly-roll style, starting at 1 long side. Trim and discard 1/2 inch on each end of dough log (your remaining log should be about 15 inches long). Cut log into 15 (1-inch) rolls.

  • Arrange rolls, cut side down, in a 13- x 9-inch baking pan lightly coated with cooking spray (5 rolls lengthwise by 3 rolls crosswise). Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover rolls. Bake in preheated oven until browned and slightly firm to the touch in center, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pan 5 minutes.

  • Prepare the Cream Cheese Icing: Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce mixer speed to low; gradually add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating until combined, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk. Add remaining 1 tablespoon milk 1 teaspoon at a time, beating until icing is smooth and creamy. Brush over rolls. Serve warm.