Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls — This ultra chocolaty twist on classic cinnamon rolls is made with doctored up chocolate cake mix and oodles of chocolate frosting!! Soft, tender, fluffy, and EASY!! Calling all chocaholics, these are for YOU!!
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Double Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls
These chocolate sweet rolls are soft, tender, and are for true chocolate lovers! I used a box of devil’s food cake chocolate cake mix as a shortcut. It really adds the perfect amount of chocolate flavor.
Combined with creamy chocolate frosting on top, you’re in for a real treat with these ultra chocolaty cinnamon rolls!
Chocolate cinnamon rolls are a wonderful treat for holiday mornings, special brunches, or make them for a decadent weekend breakfast.
Ingredients in Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls
For these easy peasy cinnamon rolls, you’ll need to have:
- Dry active yeast
- Granulated sugar
- Devil’s food chocolate cake mix
- Vegetable or canola oil
- All-purpose flour
- Vanilla extract
- Light brown sugar
- Ground nutmeg
- Chocolate frosting
Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.
How to Make Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls
These chocolate rolls use box cake mix in the dough, but they also use yeast so plan accordingly and leave time for the dough to rise. Here’s an overview of how the cinnamon rolls are made:
Make the Dough
- Begin by combining the water, dry active yeast, and granulated sugar and waiting for about 5 minutes while the yeast blooms. (If nothing happens, and you don’t see any bubbles, frothing, or basically there’s no action, your yeast is dead. Start over with fresh yeast.)
- Add the bloomed yeast mixture to a stand mixer along with the cake mix, oil, flour, and beat with the dough hook for about 2 minutes. If the dough is very sticky and tacky and just isn’t coming together, add a bit of additional flour as I outlined in the recipe section below.
- After the dough has come together, shape it into a ball, place it back into the mixing bowl, and allow it to rise (proof) for 1 hour.
Roll and Shape the Dough
- Punch it down, and transfer it to a lightly floured counter top before rolling it out flat with a rolling pin.
- Brush it with a melted butter and vanilla extract mixture, sprinkle with brown sugar and nutmeg, before rolling it into a tight cylinder shape, or log as I like to call it.
- Slice the log into 12 even pieces, then place them in a greased 9×13-inch pan.
Second Rise and Then Bake
- Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and allow the rolls to rise for 30 minutes before baking them off.
- After baking, frost the soft cake mix cinnamon rolls with chocolate frosting and then get ready to dig in!
Chocolate Frosting Recommendations
For these rolls, I used a 16-ounce tub of store bought chocolate frosting in a shelf-stable tub. No one will ever know, I promise!
I also have this scratch chocolate buttercream frosting recipe that is excellent.
Feel free to research Google and make another scratch chocolate frosting if you’re so inclined. However, for these chocolate cinnamon rolls, since I was already using a box of cake mix as a shortcut, I followed suit and used store-bought frosting to save time. Life is about shortcuts, especially if you’re making these for a holiday breakfast or special brunch.
You can add a pinch of cinnamon to whatever chocolate frosting for even more flavor!
Do not use instant yeast with this recipe and instead use active dry yeast, no exceptions.
I haven’t tried preparing these cinnamon rolls made with cake mix in advance, such as the night before. If you do try it, I would refrigerate them at the point where they are in the pan and are going to have their 30 minute rise, in step 12 in the recipe. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight, before baking them off the next morning.
Again, I haven’t personally tried to see how that will work, but that is my best educated guess as to where you’re stopping-to-refrigerate-overnight point would be.
Any chocolate cake mix can be used for this recipe, it doesn’t have to be devil’s food cake, that’s just what I used. There are so many varieties of chocolate cake mix including devil’s food cake, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, triple chocolate, and more. I am partial to Duncan Hines boxed cake mixes overall because that’s why my mom always used but use what you know you like.
If you live in an area where cake mix isn’t common, I am sorry that I don’t know what to suggest in place of it. My recommendation is to search online for the best looking 100% scratch chocolate cinnamon roll recipe and go with that.
Additionally, check below for my favorite cinnamon roll recipes, most of which are from scratch. These Overnight Cinnamon Rolls are some of my favorites because they taste better than a Cinnabon!
It can be a little tricky to tell when baking anything that’s chocolate if it’s done or not due to the inherent dark color, but look closely and make sure the chocolate rolls appear set.
However, I prefer to under bake rather than over bake to avoid them from becoming dry. Whether it’s cookies or cinnamon rolls, I’d rather have my baked goods slightly under baked and a little gooey than over baked and drier, but to each their own.
Recipe Variations to Try
There are a few fun spin-offs of this chocolate rolls recipe that we love making!
- For hot chocolate rolls: Add dehydrated marshmallow bits to the filling and on top of the frosting.
- For Mexican chocolate cinnamon rolls: For those of you who are heat seekers and a little adventurous, you can add ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder to the filling mixture if you want things spicy. This is a spin on what is known as ‘Mexican chocolate’, which traditionally is just a blend of chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Although in recent years it is more commonly associated with heat, hence the pinch of cayenne.
- For triple chocolate cinnamon rolls: Add a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips to the filling before rolling the dough into a log and slicing it.
Pin This Recipe
- 1¼ cup water (between 110 and 115 degrees F)
- 2¼ teaspoons dry active yeast, (1 packet)
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- one 16.5-ounce box devil’s food cake mix, dry
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 2¼ - 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- ¼ cup butter, melted (unsalted or salted, depending on your preference)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 16 ounces chocolate frosting* (store bought or homemade, see Notes below)
- To a 2-cup glass measuring cup or medium bowl, add the water, yeast, sugar, and allow the yeast to bloom for 5 minutes.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer* (see Notes below) fitted with a dough hook attachment, add the Devil's food cake mix, 2 cups of the flour, the yeast mixture, the oil, and mix together for about 2 minutes. If the dough appears to be too soft and is not pulling away from the sides of the bowl, add an additional ¼ cup of flour and mix for an additional minute. Tip - The dough can dry out easily if you add too much flour, so I do not recommend adding any more than the 2½ cups the recipe calls for. If the dough is still slightly tacky after adding the extra ¼ cup, coat your hands with non-stick spray to better handle the dough and use a rubber spatula to scrape it out of the bowl. However, it should be pretty well combined.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and shape it into a ball in your hands; it helps if they're lightly sprayed with nonstick spray so it doesn't stick as much.
- Spray down the mixing bowl (the same one you used to mix up the dough is fine or another large mixing bowl) with non-stick spray and place the dough ball back in it. Cover with plastic wrap and proof (allow the dough to rise) for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, punch the dough down, and reshape into along ball/cylinder shape and place on a lightly floured surface such as your countertop.
- Roll the dough out into a rectangle about ¼-inch thick.
- Melt butter and add in the vanilla. Use a pastry brush to brush the dough with the butter, leaving a border of about ½-inch on the edges of the 2 shorter sides.
- Sprinkle the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg over the top of the butter.
- Begin rolling the dough up from one of the long sides as tightly as possible.
- Use your hands to gently press the ends of the dough back in towards the middle so they aren’t as tapered.
- Use a very sharp knife or unflavored waxed dental floss (the best method!) to cut the large cylinder log into 12 rolls, about 1- inch thick. If you want, you can cut off and discard the very end bits from each end of the log for more uniform rolls.
- Place them in a 9x13-inch baking pan sprayed very well with cooking spray or greased, cover with plastic wrap, and proof for an additional 30 minutes. While the rolls are proofing, preheat your oven to 375F.
- Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until cooked through. It can be a little tricky to tell when baking anything chocolate if it's done or not due to the dark color, but look closely and make sure the rolls appear set. However, I prefer to under bake rather than over bake to avoid them from becoming dry; I'd rather have them slightly under baked and a little gooey than over baked and drier, but to each their own.
- Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before topping with chocolate frosting. Use either a 16-ounce tub of store bought chocolate frosting in a shelf stable tub. I also have this scratch chocolate buttercream frosting recipe that is excellent. Feel free to research Google and make another scratch chocolate frosting if you're so inclined.
Make the Rolls:
Make the Filling:
Make the Frosting:
*If you have a stand mixer, this is the time to use it. If you don't and all you have is a handheld electric mixer, I do not recommend using a handheld mixer. It will likely not be powerful enough to effectively mix up the dough. Instead, I recommend using a wooden spoon and good old-fashioned elbow grease.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 644Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 424mgCarbohydrates: 120gFiber: 3gSugar: 56gProtein: 8g
More Easy Sweet Roll Recipes:
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls — These overnight cinnamon rolls are ultra soft and fluffy thanks to the buttermilk in the dough. They remind me of Cinnabon! Top them with homemade cream cheese frosting and enjoy!
Overnight Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls – The SOFTEST and FLUFFIEST cinnamon rolls with an overnight MAKE-AHEAD option and eggnog frosting adds the perfect touch!! If you like Cinnabon rolls, you’ll LOVE THESE!!
One-Hour Homemade Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting – It’s possible to make soft, light, fluffy cinnamon rolls from scratch in 1 hour!
The Best Glazed Orange Sweet Rolls — These homemade orange rolls are filled with a buttery orange filling and are topped with a simple orange glaze. They can be prepped the night before, if needed.
The BEST Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls — The glaze soaks into the nooks and crannies and adds even more moisture and softness. Total gooey, cinnamon-and-sugary, juicy perfection.
Nutella Cinnamon Rolls with Vanilla Glaze — A can of crescent rolls never tasted so good as when they’re stuffed with Nutella and rolled up. Ready from start to finish in 15 minutes, no joke
Birthday Cake Cinnamon Rolls — The softest, fluffiest, most tender cinnamon rolls stuffed with cinnamon-and-sugar and rainbow sprinkles! Topped with tangy cream cheese frosting and more sprinkles! The recipe is EASY to follow even if you’ve never made cinnamon rolls and there’s a MAKE AHEAD overnight option!