Getty / Margarita Almpanezou
There might be no more comforting food to pull out on a weekend morning than cinnamon rolls. These spiraled sweets fill the house with that spicy scent, and breakfast or brunch are just taken to a special place when these pastries are involved. But we don't always have the time to bake them from scratch. So, are any of the store-bought versions worth the purchase for those weekends when the cravings are there but time is at a premium? I tested grocery store cinnamon rolls to see if there was a shortcut version that was worth the effort.
I tested five different brands, some with two different icing options, and both frozen bake and eat and raw tube-style versions.
Did any of the rolls I tested replace the quality of either homemade rolls or bought fresh at your local bakery? Nope. Frankly, not even close. But that doesn't mean there aren't rolls worth buying when you want a convenient pick-me-up or something the kids can make easily. Here 3 grocery store cinnamon rolls worth buying (and 2 you should pass on).
Winner overall: Kroger Ready-to-Bake Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing
The clear winner for overall ease and eating experience was this Kroger tube of cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting. From the satisfying tube pop to the nicely spiced swirl, to a decent icing, these are your best bet for a decent last-minute cinnamon roll experience with minimal muss and fuss.
Buy it: Kroger Ready-to-Bake Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing ($1.50), kroger.com
Best roll flavor: Annie's Organic Cinnamon Rolls with Icing
This was a very close second place! I liked the roll itself a teeny bit better than the others, but the icing is pretty weak and the rolls do not separate easily: Four out of five in the tube unrolled while trying to get them apart and had to be rerolled before baking, which is messy and annoying.
Buy it: Annie's Organic Cinnamon Rolls with Icing ($4.99), target.com
Best icing: Rhodes Bake-N-Serv AnyTime! Cinnamon Rolls
Of the frozen take and bake style, Rhodes Anytime cinnamon rolls go right from freezer to oven and give you a satisfying experience. The cream cheese icing is the best of all the ones I tasted. Just be sure to rotate a few times in the oven and really check for doneness, as they seemed to bake unevenly leaving a couple with some rawness in the middle.
Buy it: Rhodes Bake-N-Serv AnyTime! Cinnamon Rolls (price varies), rhodesbakenserve.com
Surprising disappointment: Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls
I have to say, despite their ubiquity in refrigerator cases and wide variety of styles, Pillsbury cinnamon rolls did not pass the taste test. They lacked the swirl you want in a cinnamon roll and tasted more like crescent roll dough with pockets of cinnamon than any kind of real cinnamon roll. Sorry, Pillsbury Doughboy!
Courtesy Sister Schubert's
Not worth it: Sister Schubert's Cinnamon Rolls
Finally, I confess I had high hopes for this brand, as I love their dinner rolls. Alas, these ready-to-bake pan of rolls did not have nearly enough cinnamon in them and by the time the rolls in the center of the pan were fully cooked, the ones on the outer edge were hard and dry.