These caramel rolls are a Christmas morning tradition in our family. Mom’s Ultra Soft and Tender Caramel Rolls, my favorite rolls in all the world!

a caramel roll on a white plate with fresh berries and a cup of coffee

Food traditions are such a big part of who I am. And these time honored recipes have a way of stacking up during the holidays. I would love to make each and every recipe every single year, but it gets hard to find the time to make all of them, much less the freezer space to store them and the tummy space to eat them.

I’ve listed some of the recipes that I would call Christmas traditions in my family. Some have been gracing our family since before I was born; others are fairly new to the scene, recipes that we now simply don’t want to be without this time of year.

Doesn’t that list just make you want to get in the kitchen and make somethin’? I hope so!

While we can’t possibly make all these treats every year, there is one recipe that is extremely special, that I hope to never be without. Each Christmas morning, Mom gifts our family with a couple pans of her famous and amazing caramel rolls. It’s tradition at its finest. Mom’s Ultra Soft and Tender Caramel Rolls.

Caramel Rolls in a pan before going into the oven

There’s something so satisfying about creating a sweet, soft bread dough, waiting for it to rise, and then placing its cut swirls of melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar into a pan. Although I’ve had Mom’s recipe for many years, it’s not one that I’ve taken the time to know intimately. Because those caramel rolls just taste better when made by Mom. It’s the simple undeniable truth. ;)

a pan of baked rolls without caramel sauce

But I figured it was high time that I got this recipe perfected myself, so that I am able to pass this Christmas tradition down to our own daughters. I had quite a few conversations with Mom before I dug in, adding notes to the recipe where I had questions. I wanted to make sure I got them just right.

Caramel Rolls on a wood serving tray

Normally, when Mom bakes these, she serves them straight from the pan, with the caramel on the bottom. But for special occasions, the rolls can be flipped out onto a platter with the caramel on top. The caramel will be somewhat clear in color, with a loose consistency, when hot from the oven. But when left to sit for awhile, as I recommend you do, it thickens and has a cloudy appearance. This caramel is not sticky or chewy or tough. Once it is set, it is lusciously soft and creamy. I absolutely love it.

a Caramel Roll on a white plate

These rolls are a Christmas morning tradition for our family, but it’s not the only time of year we enjoy them. They are welcome at any time, for any occasion. The recipe makes two pans of rolls, perfect for so many kinds of gatherings.

a Caramel Roll sliced in half

Mom’s caramel rolls are the softest, most tender rolls I’ve ever met. Their pillowy sweet goodness will always be ranked #1 in my book of caramel rolls. They are pure comfort, with longtime tradition.

A caramel roll on a white plate with a piece cut out, a fork to its left, and strawberries to the right.

Caramel Rolls

Yield: 24 caramel rolls
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

Sweet and pillowy Caramel Rolls make any morning special! A soft yeasted dough is stuffed with a cinnamon-infused filling and finished with homemade caramel sauce.



  • 4 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packets @ .25 ounce each)
  • ½ cup warm water (110° to 115° F, which is nice and warm, but not hot)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ¾ cup shortening
  • 1 cup cold water
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Morton kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 7 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon vegetable oil
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon


  • 2 ¼ cups light brown sugar
  • 2 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons white corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


For the Rolls

  1. Place the warm water (110° to 115° F) in a small bowl or measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and set aside for 5 minutes, or until it becomes frothy on top and smells "yeasty". Very lightly butter the insides of two 9″ x 13″ pans, then set aside - Mom always prefers light-colored aluminum baking pans for this recipe.
  2. In a small pan over medium heat, melt shortening in 1 cup of hot water. Remove from heat and add 1 cup cold water.
  3. Add the water and shortening mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer, and then add the ¾ cup sugar, salt, and eggs, followed by the activated yeast mixture. With a dough hook attachment, mix these ingredients just until combined.
  4. Then add the flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing it in almost entirely each time before adding the next cup. When all flour has been incorporated, you will have a very soft dough that is easy to handle. At this point you can either use the dough right away or store the dough in the refrigerator for up to a week to make the rolls at a later time (see Notes section for details).
  5. Cover the inside of a large bowl with a very light coating of oil. Place dough in the oiled bowl, turning it over to get some oil on all sides, so the top of the dough stays soft. Cover top of bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set in a warm place. Let dough rise to about double the original amount. This can take at least an hour, depending on the warmth of your surroundings, etc.

For the Caramel

  1. While the dough is rising, prepare the caramel. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together brown sugar, cream, butter, corn syrup, and water until melted and combined. Bring to a boil, then boil for just 30 seconds. It will have a cloudy appearance and will stay soft once the rolls are cooked. Divide the caramel between the two 9″ x 13″ pans, then set the pans aside to let the caramel cool while the dough continues to rise.

To Assemble

  1. Once the dough has doubled, score it in half. With a rolling pin, roll out each dough half into a large rectangle shape, about 14″ x 8″. Brush half of the melted butter over one dough rectangle. In a small bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the melted butter on the dough rectangle. Starting with the wide side of the dough rectangle, roll the dough up tightly, and finish by pinching the seam to seal it. Cut the dough roll into 12 equal slices, using a piece of dental floss or thread. Place dough slices, cut-sides facing up, in one of the 9″ x 13″ pans with caramel in the bottom. Repeat with the other half of the dough, to create a second pan of rolls.
  2. Cover each pan with a clean kitchen towel and let dough rise again in a warm place, until dough has doubled in size. This can take at least an hour, depending on the warmth of your surroundings.
  3. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place pans in oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until nicely browned. If you want to turn the rolls out onto a platter, let the rolls rest for 5-10 minutes after removing them from the oven before doing so. We usually just serve the rolls straight from the pan. If the rolls are at room temperature, I highly suggest warming them up just a bit, so they're warm and super tender!


To prepare the dough and make the rolls at a later date: Once you've completed Step 4, place the dough in a large airtight container that has a bit of oil in it to coat the dough. Spray one side of a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick spray and place it directly on top of the dough (so it doesn’t stick to the dough). Put a lid on the bowl and place the bowl in the refrigerator. The dough will still rise while in the refrigerator, just at a much slower rate. When ready to make rolls, take the chilled dough out of therefrigerator and let come to room temperature before shaping it into rolls. Start by preparing the caramel in Step 6, and proceed with the remainder of the recipe. Note that when the dough is cold, it will take longer to rise in the pan.

To bake the rolls and freeze: Bake the rolls per the recipe instructions. Freeze. Then remove from freezer the night before you want to eat them, and place them in the fridge. Reheat in a 250° F oven for 15-30 minutes before serving.

Recipe from Mom's recipe box, adapted a bit from her friend Dorie's caramel rolls recipe.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 485Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 75mgCarbohydrates: 60gFiber: 1gSugar: 30gProtein: 6g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

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a Soft and Tender Caramel Roll