Cinnamon Roll Bake
This Cinnamon Roll Casserole combines the shortcut of Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls with the simplicity of a casserole to create a breakfast everyone will be jumping out of bed for. It’s the ideal breakfast or brunch for every special occasion or holiday because it's easy to make, divinely delicious, can be prepped in minutes or prepped ahead and baked the next morning. Just grab your tubes of refrigerated cinnamon rolls, a few pantry staples and a few minutes and you’ll be sinking your teeth into soft, gooey, sweet, rich Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole complete with icing and optional crunchy brown sugar pecan topping - SO good! P.S. Your house will smell heavenly.
Servings 12 servings
- 1-2 tablespoons butter, softened for buttering the dish
- 2 12.4 oz. tubes refrigerated cinnamon rolls, (16 cinnamon rolls) cut into 4 pieces per roll (I always use Pillsbury brand)
- 4 large eggs
- 2/3 cup half and half
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- icing from the cinnamon roll tubes
BROWN SUGAR PECAN TOPPING (SEE VARIATIONS)
- 1 ½ cups pecans, chopped
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar (1/2 cup for less sweet)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Whisk together the pecans, flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl until evenly combined. Pour in the melted butter and stir with a spatula to combine, breaking up any large pieces. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator while you prepare the casserole.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Evenly butter a 9×13 baking dish. Line the cut cinnamon rolls in a single layer over the bottom of the dish so they are not overlapping; set aside. In a large liquid measuring glass or mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until completely combined. Pour egg mixture over the cinnamon rolls. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the casserole overnight or proceed to bake:
Bake the casserole for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F. Remove the dish from the oven and evenly cover with the topping, breaking up any large pieces as you go (the cinnamon rolls will be "floating" in the custard at this point). Bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until the top of the casserole is evenly puffed and the center is baked through (a total baking time of 25-30 minutes). Don't overbake or it won't be as tender/moist.
Cool the casserole for 10 minutes then remove the covers from the icing and microwave on at 50% power (Level 5 out of 10) for 10 to 15 seconds or until thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle with desired amount of icing and dig in!
Make this breakfast casserole your own!
- Swap the half and half: Use eggnog or any flavor coffee creamer such as caramel, sweet cream, original, cinnamon or vanilla. You can also use whole milk, but decrease the amount to 1/2 cup. It won’t taste as rich and creamy, but still tasty.
- Add citrus: Add lemon zest or orange zest to the egg custard.
- Add chocolate chips: Sprinkle 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips over the cinnamon rolls before adding the custard. You can also experiment with different types of chips.
- Add fruit: Add a pint of blueberries, raspberries or blackberries or ½ cup chopped dried apricots for raisins.
- Add bacon: Sprinkle 3/4 cup crispy chopped thick-cut bacon over the cinnamon rolls before adding the custard.
- Add sausage: Add a layer of cooked and crumbled maple sausage for a sweet and savory combo.
- Add sprinkles: Add any color sprinkles for a festive occasion such as birthdays, Christmas, etc.
- Add nuts: Instead of adding the nut topping, you can add chopped pecans almonds or walnuts in with the cinnamon rolls.
- Gluten free: Use gluten free cinnamon rolls like Annie's Organic Cinnamon Rolls and gluten free flour like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour. You may need to adjust the baking time.
I LOVE the Pecan Crumble Topping - it’s reminiscent of the cinnamon brown sugar filling of cinnamon rolls with a tantalizing crunch. It’s just SO GOOD and belongs in every bite. If you have a nut allergy, here are some options as well as icing variations:
- Make the streusel less sweet: Decrease the brown sugar to ½ cup.
- Add maple instead of the streusel: Instead of the pecan crumble, drizzle ¼ cup of pure maple syrup over the cinnamon rolls after adding the custard.
- Amp up the cream cheese icing: Mix the pre-packaged cinnamon roll icing with 2 ounces softened cream cheese and about 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, or more to taste.
- Make your own icing: Mix 4 ounces cream cheese, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and milk as needed.
- Add peanut butter to the icing: Mix a couple tablespoons into the icing and thin with milk as needed.
- Add a sauce. Skip the topping and drizzle the Cinnamon Roll Bake with caramel sauce, ganache, strawberry sauce, blueberry sauce, berry syrup or apple syrup.
- Add fruit topping: Top the breakfast bake with fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, etc.
Make ahead and storage
- Make Ahead: Assemble the casserole (don’t add the pecan topping), cover and refrigerate overnight. Refrigerate the pecan topping separately. The following morning, let the casserole sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes so it bakes more evenly (keep the topping refrigerated until ready to use). Bake the casserole for 15 minutes initially (instead of 10) before adding the topping. If you feel like the topping is browning too quickly, cover with foil.
- Storage: Tightly cover leftover Cinnamon Roll Casserole or transfer to an airtight container; store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat individual servings in the microwave for 20-30 seconds or reheat covered in the oven at 325 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through.
- To freeze: Allow the breakfast casserole to cool completely. Tightly wrap in plastic wrap a couple times followed by foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw the casserole in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat per above directions.