Skip to Content

Old-Fashioned Gooey Caramel Roll Recipe

No one could make soft and tender cinnamon rolls like grandma and this old-fashioned gooey caramel roll recipe was her masterpiece!

Nothing says love more clearly than the moment you pull these beautiful Caramel Rolls in all of their gooey butter glory out of the oven and present them to your family. Each sweet, melt-in-your-mouth bite reminds family and friends that you took the time to make them the most decadent, comforting treat possible.

This post was updated from 2015 to improve our readers’ experience. No changes were made to the recipe.

Side view of soft and tender baked caramel rolls sitting on a cooling rack - Hostess At Heart
Let’s make some homemade caramel rolls!

Every bite of these rolls is caramel and sweet dough baked together to perfection. The bottom has that sweet buttery layer of pure caramel, and a cinnamon filling is wrapped into every swirl of the roll.

Why you’ll love these Caramel Cinnamon Rolls

  • Soft and tender dough. These gorgeous carmel rolls are just like Grandma made. The soft and fluffy kind that ooze gooey butter. Nothing hard, tough, or too crusty!
  • Large Batch. This caramel roll recipe makes three dozen rolls as a minimum and can actually make up to forty large fluffy rolls.
  • Make it ahead. Not only can you make and refrigerate the rolls without baking them, you can also make and freeze the rolls without baking them. So you will always be prepared to serve your family this treat on busy special occasions.
  • Give the gift of love in a pan. Homemade caramel rolls can be baked in any baking dish and make a heartfelt gift for friends, neighbors, and family.

Ingredients you’ll need for this recipe

The ingredients used to make soft caramel rolls recipe include flour, shortening, egg, brown sugar, cinnamon, yeast, and sugar.
Caramel Roll Ingredients

Hostess At Heart participates in affiliate programs. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Please refer to my disclosure page for more information about these affiliate programs.

Ingredients for the Caramel Roll Dough

Cinnamon Filling Ingredients

  • Unsalted Butter.
  • Brown Sugar.
  • Cinnamon.

Ingredients for the Caramel

  • Unsalted Butter.
  • Dark Brown Sugar.
  • Karo Corn Syrup.

How to make Caramel Rolls

Please note, that the recipe card has more complete instructions. This is intended as an overview.

Step One. Heat the milk.

Vegetable Roll Shortening melting in a Saucepan - Hostess At Heart

My recipe for caramel rolls is straightforward, and the results are stellar. First, in a saucepan over medium heat, you will heat milk with sugar and shortening to 180ºF. Do not overheat this mixture because it will kill the yeast.

Step Two: Combine the remaining ingredients.

Add the flour to a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer and then combine it with all of the remaining ingredients. Then combine both mixtures together in the large bowl. The dough will be smooth and elastic. Avoid overmixing the dough.

Step Three: Rise in a warm, draft-free area.

This dough has three rising times before baking as follows:

  1. 1 to 1 hour 45 minutes or until doubled in size after the initial mixing of dough in a large greased bowl.
  2. The dough is then punched down and quickly reformed into a bowl and allowed to rise again for approximately 45 minutes.
  3. The dough is rolled out, filled, cut out, put into pans, and then allowed to rise for a final 30 minutes before baking.

Step Four: Roll out the dough and make rolls.

Top down view of rolled dough covered with cinnamon and brown sugar filling - Hostess At Heart

Once the dough is rolled out carefully on a lightly floured surface, you can add the sugar and cinnamon filling, roll it from the long side, and slice it to form the rolls.

Unbaked rolls filled with cinnamon sitting on a pan over a layer or caramel. Hostess At Heart

Step Four: Cook the Caramel.

Once the caramel is cooked carefully on the stovetop, it is placed in the baking dish first and then topped with the prepared rolls, cut side down.

Step Five: Bake the Caramel Rolls.

Place the baking pans in a preheated oven and bake until golden brown. It only takes 20 minutes at 350ºF!

Frequently asked questions

What is the best flour to use for caramel rolls?

Bread flour! Bread flour makes these rolls soft and fluffy. You can substitute with all-purpose flour, but I don’t recommend it. The density of these rolls will come out heavier.

Why are my caramel rolls not fluffy?

Make sure you allow the dough to rise according to the recipe instructions. If you don’t, the rolls will not be fluffy. It’s also important that your yeast be fresh.

Do you roll caramel rolls tight or loose?

Roll the dough gently but not loosely, and then pinch the seam to seal closed. You want it tight enough that when you slice the rolls, they don’t unroll but loose enough that they have room to rise.

If the rolls are rolled too tight, the centers can pop up and over the roll while baking.

Top down view of cinnamon-filled carmel rolls on a cooling rack. - Hostess At Heart

How to reheat and store the Caramel Rolls Recipe

Best way to store Caramel Rolls

Store in an airtight container for up to a week at room temperature for best results.

Can I freeze Caramel Cinnamon Rolls?

Yes. The cooked carmel rolls can be frozen for up to three months in an airtight container and thawed in the microwave or at room temperature to serve.

Unbaked rolls can be frozen after they’re sliced and before the final rise. Thaw unbaked rolls in the refrigerator overnight in the pan you choose to bake them in. Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and allow the rolls to rise until light and fluffy. 30 minutes to 1 hour.

How to reheat Carmel Rolls?

Place your room-temperature caramel roll in the microwave for ten to fifteen seconds until it is soft and heated through. Add five-second increments if the first set does not heat it well enough.

If the roll is frozen, it will take a little longer in the microwave but start with thirty seconds because frozen bread doesn’t take as long as you might think.

Top down view of Cinnamon Caramel Rolls sitting on a cooling rack. - Hostess At Heart

Cinnamon Roll recipe substitutions, additions, and variations

To make caramel pecan rolls, add 1/2 cup of chopped nuts to the filling and add 1 cup of chopped nuts to the caramel before placing the rolls in the pan.

Garnish with additional crushed nuts.

Tips for the perfect Caramel Roll

  • Use room temperature ingredients. You can bring the egg to room temperature by putting it in a bowl of room-temperature water for 5 minutes. You don’t need to leave it out on the work surface.
  • Make sure that you dust your working surface and rolling pin, so the caramel roll dough doesn’t stick.
  • Don’t overheat the milk. Doing so will kill the yeast. I use a candy thermometer.
  • Don’t add more flour than you need. The dough should be slightly sticky. Too much flour can make rolls tough.
  • Rolls can be baked in any sized container that’s oven safe. I’ve used round cake pans, pie plates, and even a large lasagna pan. Foil pie tins are perfect for freezing or gifting the rolls.
  • Don’t heat the caramel ingredients at too high of a heat. It will harden and be unusable. Melt the ingredients together over medium heat until smooth, stirring with a silicone or wooden spoon.
  • Remove the rolls from the pan after they’ve cooled for 5 minutes. They’ll be more difficult to remove if the rolls have cooled completely in the pan.
Angled view of baked rolls covered with caramel on a cooling rack - Hostess At Heart

If you tried this delicious recipe, don’t forget to rate it and leave me a comment telling me what you think. I love hearing from you!

Angled view of soft gooey caramel rolls cooling on a baking rack. - Hostess At Heart

Old-Fashioned Caramel Roll Recipe

Author: Hostess At Heart
Soft, gooey, buttery caramel rolls right out of the oven will have everyone drooling. This easy-to-make old-fashioned recipe for caramel rolls is just like Grandma made.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 2 hrs 45 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 5 mins
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Keyword: Caramel Rolls, Cinnamon and Caramel Rolls, Cinnamon Rolls
Servings: 36

Ingredients
 
 

DOUGH

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 8-9 cups bread flour total
  • 2 tbsp instant yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs

Cinnamon Filling

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 stick, softened
  • 3 cups brown sugar I used close to 3 cups. You may use more or less.
  • 1/3 cup cinnamon sprinkled 1/4 – 1/2 cup over rolled-out dough. Coverage is your preference

CARAMEL

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 stick
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons karo syrup

Instructions
 

  • In a saucepan, heat milk to 180 °F. Add sugar and shortening and continue heating until shortening is melted. Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Over heating will kill the yeast and prevent your dough from rising.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine only 4 cups of the bread flour and the remaining dough ingredients. Combine with warm milk mixture. Mix well.
    Add 4 eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
    Add additional flour one cup at a time until the dough is sticky but manageable (additional 4-5 cups). You don't want it dry and tough.
    Cover and allow the dough to rise in a warm non-drafty area for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until double in size.
    Punch down and form it back into a ball. Allow the dough to rise again, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • On a floured surface, roll the dough out until it measures 12 to 14 inches wide, 3 feet long, and 1/2 inch thick. Brush the rolled dough with melted butter. Sprinkle the dough with the brown sugar and cinnamon covering the dough completely.
    Create a roll by turning the dough toward you. You want the roll tight enough to hold together when you slice it but not so tight that it won't allow the dough to rise. Pinch the seam together.
    Cut the roll into 1/2-inch slices with a sharp knife or dental floss.

Caramel

  • Melt caramel ingredients together in a medium-sized saucepan stirring until smooth and combined.
    Pour the caramel into the bottom of the baking pans. I used 3 9×13 pans, 12 rolls per pan. Fill with 12 rolls per 9 x 13 pan.
    Allow the rolls to rise for another 30 minutes in the baking pans.
  • Bake at 350 °F for 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
    Turn rolls out of their pan onto a piece of tin foil or serving platter. Spoon any remaining caramel over the rolls.

Notes

To make caramel pecan rolls, add 1/2 cup of chopped nuts to the filling and sprinkle the tops of the rolls with 1 cup of chopped nuts before baking.
Store in an airtight container for up to a week at room temperature, or place in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 36gCalories: 343kcalCarbohydrates: 54gProtein: 5gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 156mgPotassium: 121mgFiber: 2gSugar: 32gVitamin A: 235IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 84mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. My calculations are intended as a guide only.

Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

One word of caution about these rolls is that once you share, people aren’t shy about putting in their orders for future rolls. This recipe isn’t difficult, and it makes up to 40 good sized rolls. Enough to share or put in the freezer for another day.

If you enjoyed this recipe, check these out!

Pin this amazing recipe!

A cooling rack filled with soft carmel rolls. - Hostess At Heart
Recipe Rating




Debi

Wednesday 25th of January 2023

These look like a great dessert treat. Perfect with coffee.

Julie Menghini

Friday 27th of January 2023

That's my favorite way to enjoy them. Thank you, Debi!

Lynn

Tuesday 24th of January 2023

Yessss! The perfect amount of gooey! Thanks for the recipe :)

Julie Menghini

Friday 27th of January 2023

Thank you, Lynn! I'm a gooey lover too.

Sheila Thigpen

Tuesday 24th of January 2023

OMG! These rolls practically melt in your mouth! Thanks for all the tips and wonderful recipe.

Julie Menghini

Tuesday 24th of January 2023

Thank you! Having a supply of these in the freezer is like money in the bank in my house.

Kathleen

Saturday 21st of January 2023

Love how many this made. I froze some of the dough to make other batches in the future. Can't wait to share with our small group at church tomorrow!

Julie Menghini

Sunday 22nd of January 2023

Thank you, Kathleen! I make them in smaller pans and freeze them too.

Nikki

Friday 20th of January 2023

These are so gooey and delicious! Your tips made my first batch a complete success!

Julie Menghini

Saturday 21st of January 2023

Thank you, Nikki!