This cinnamon roll layer cake is so fluffy, moist, and has amazing cinnamon and brown sugar flavor!
If you love cinnamon rolls, you are going to love this recipe- and the best part is that it’s simple to make. It all starts with a box of yellow cake mix!
How to Make a Cinnamon Roll Layer Cake
You will love this fluffy, flavorful layer cake! You can find the full recipe card further down in this post, but here is a quick rundown of our steps!
- Preheat: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Prepare Cake Pans: Grease and flour three 8×2 round cake pans.
- Combine Dry Ingredients: In the bowl of your mixer, combine dry ingredients: cake flour, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and salt. Whisk for 30 seconds to blend.
- Combine Wet Ingredients: In another bowl, combine sour cream, water, eggs, vegetable oil & vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stop after 1 minute to scrape the sides and bottom of bowl then continue to beat for the second minute.
- Fill the Cake Pans: Pour into prepared pans and bake at 325 degrees….check after 22 minutes- The cakes are done if the middle of the cake springs back when lightly touched, or a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached.
- This recipe makes about 7 cups of batter.
Cinnamon Sugar Glaze
For an extra dose of cinnamon roll flavor, we brushed our cake layers with a simple cinnamon sugar glaze as we assembled the cake.
This quick and easy glaze is a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, powdered sugar, vanilla, and just a bit of hot water.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
We decided to use a creamy, delicious cinnamon cream cheese frosting for this cake.
This is such an easy frosting to make- a combination of butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon! It is so flavorful, simple to make, and tastes amazing with the brown sugar and cinnamon cake layers.
As with any cream cheese frosting, the consistency is on the softer side. For this reason, we often chill our cream cheese frosting just after whipping up a batch. This will firm things up and leave you with a consistency that is easier to work with.
In fact, any time that you notice your cream cheese frosting becoming a little soft, chill your bowl of frosting, piping bag, or even your cake to make life much simpler!
Just pop the “too-soft” frosting in the freezer for about 10 minutes (or maybe 15 minutes in the refrigerator) and you will be all set.
** Because of the cinnamon cream cheese frosting, this cake should be refrigerated until within a couple of hours of serving. If you need a frosting that can sit out longer, you can add a bit of cinnamon to our Classic Vanilla Buttercream!
Assembling the Cake
This cake is very easy to put together. Place the first cake layer on the cake plate or pedestal.
Brush the top with the cinnamon sugar mixture. We like to apply it with a silicone pastry brush.
It should soak in right away. Then, spread on a layer of the cinnamon cream cheese frosting and add the second cake layer.
Brush the second cake layer with the cinnamon sugar mixture, follow with the cream cheese frosting, and top with third layer.
Time to Frost! At this point, I like to fill in any gaps between the cake layers with frosting, and then apply a thin layer of frosting on top of the cake and around the sides. (This is known as the crumb coat- it catches the crumbs!)-
Chilling: I chilled my crumb coated cake in the freezer to firm everything up for about 10-15 minutes before applying the second layer of frosting. (Chilling makes it easier to decorate as the cake layers are less likely to shift.)
Decorate the Cake: Decorate the cake however you like! I smoothed around the sides of the frosted cake with a metal bench scraper (warmed under hot water).
Spiral on Top of the Cake: As an optional step, I piped a spiral of frosting on top. To do this, I added a small amount of frosting to a bowl and mixed in a bit more cinnamon to darken the color. I used a piping bag fitted with a small round piping tip 4 to apply the spiral. I started in the center and then spiraled outward.
Cake Borders: Finally, I added a border to the top and bottom of the cake using a large open star piping tip- 1M. I love an oversized shell border ;0)
More Cinnamon Cakes to Try!
Did you know that we also have a scratch version of Cinnamon Roll Cake? It is delicious too and looks almost identical to this one.
We’ve made many more cakes over the years that are filled with cinnamon goodness! Make sure to put these on your list in addition to today’s cake!
- 1 box yellow cake mix, sifted ( Do not follow directions on the box, use only the ingredients listed below. We used Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Classic Yellow cake mix)
- 1 cup (121g) cake flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (200g) light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon (3g) Ground Cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon (3g) salt
- 1 cup (242g) sour cream or plain yogurt (greek yogurt is fine also)
- 2 Tablespoons (28g) Canola Oil
- 1 cup (240g) water
- 3 whole eggs
- 2 teaspoons (8g) vanilla
Cinnamon and Sugar Glaze to Brush over Cake Layers
- 5 Tablespoons (30g) powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons (28g) light brown sugar, packed
- 1 Tablespoon (8g) ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon (4g) vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons (15g) very hot water (hot water to dissolve the sugar)
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 sticks (or 1 cup/226g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 2 (8oz) packages cream cheese (total weight 452g) I use full fat cream cheese. Using reduced fat or the spreadable cream cheese will cause the frosting to be too soft. Soften very slightly.
- 2 teaspoons (8 g) vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt (2g) optional - it will cut the sweetness, popcorn salt is best to use because it is fine and dissolves faster
- 6 to 6 ½ cups (690g to 747g) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon (3g) cinnamon
For the Cinnamon Roll Cake Layers
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Grease and flour three 8x2 round cake pans.
- In the bowl of your mixer, combine dry ingredients: cake mix, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk for 30 seconds to blend.
- In another bowl, combine sour cream, water, eggs, oil & vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stop after 1 minute to scrape the sides and bottom of bowl then continue to beat for the second minute.
- Pour into prepared pans and bake at 325 degrees....check after 22 minutes- Cakes are done if middle of cake springs back when touched, a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached.
- Makes about 7 cups of batter.
Cinnamon Sugar Glaze to Brush on Cake Layers
- Mix together and set aside. This will be used to brush approximately 2 Tablespoons on the tops of each layer as you stack the cake. This is used as a simple syrup on the layers.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cut the butter into slices and add to the bowl of your mixer. Beat on low to medium speed until the butter is softened and smooth.
- Cut the cold cream cheese into pieces and add to the butter, beating at low to medium speed until incorporated. If you are using a hand mixer you may need to soften the cream cheese a bit more.
- Add the vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar and cinnamon beating on low speed until blended. You may want to cover the bowl with a dish towel to keep down the cloud of powdered sugar.
- Increase mixing speed and beat until fluffy. Don't over mix or it will become too soft. If it becomes too soft, just refrigerate a short while to firm it up a bit.
- **If you are making a dark brown swirl of frosting on top of the cake as we did, reserve ¼ cup of frosting as set aside.
- This frosting will pipe best if used while still chilled. You can make it in advance, refrigerate and when ready to use let it soften slightly (do not microwave) and remix.
- Will frost a 3 layer 8 or 9 inch cake.
Assembly of Cake
Place the first cake layer on a cake plate or pedestal. Brush the top with brown sugar glaze (we use a silicone pastry brush for this. It should soak in very quickly).
Then, spread the top of the layer with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Top with the second cake layer and repeat- (glaze, then add the frosting). Top with the third cake layer and then frost the cake.
*I like to apply a thin (crumb coat) layer of frosting over the cake first. Then I like to chill to firm things up (10-15 minutes in the freezer), and finish with the second layer of frosting. Decorate however you like! I used a bench scraper to smooth the frosting around the sides.
For the spiral on top: I placed a small amount of frosting in a bowl and combined with additional cinnamon to darken, and piped a spiral on top of the cake using a small round piping tip 3. I finished with a large shell border on top and bottom of the cake, piped with a 1M piping tip.