Cinnamon Roll Cookie Bars

Cinnamon Roll Cookie Bars ~ Starts with a Cake Mix and is topped with delicious cream cheese frosting!

I have a confession.

I have never made homemade cinnamon rolls.


Like ever.

I am all about popping that can of Grands on a Saturday morning, but the homemade kind with yeast?  Yeah no.


Does that make me a fraud?

Here’s my reasoning…I would rather sit and think about how to successfully stuff a cookie WITH a cinnamon roll than how to make the yeasty bits work in the dough.

I am sure it’s easy, and I’m sure you guys will email me recipes to your “no fail” cinnamon rolls, or send me links to the “EASIEST CINNAMON ROLLS EVER”, but I’ll tell you what’s no fail…it’s called popping open a can and baking for 15 minutes.


I know it’s kinda opposite for me, because I’m all about letting your cookie dough sit overnight and really how annoying is THAT?  But all the yeasty rising and waiting or proofing or whatever you call it bugs me.  Much like making pudding.

I never claimed to make sense.


So instead of making Cinnamon Rolls, let me do me and make Cinnamon Roll Cookie Bars.

Because it makes sense.

Cinnamon Roll Cookie Bars ~ Starts with a Cake Mix and is topped with delicious cream cheese frosting!

These guys start with a cake mix and a box of pudding.  You they’re gonna be good. photo IMG_0947_zps329fa09b.jpgLiterally dump all your ingredients into a bowl and stir.

 photo IMG_0958_zps241f0d86.jpgYou’re gonna need to load up on cinnamon.  Two whole tablespoons.  Don’t be scared.

 photo IMG_0964_zpsb0cded29.jpgSpread your batter into a greased pan and bake.

Seriously, how easy is that?

 photo IMG_0966_zpsefd9f285.jpgThey’ll look like this when they are done…

 photo IMG_0971_zps64992c9e.jpg

While they’re cooling go ahead and make your frosting.

I enjoy my cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting.  Duh. photo IMG_0973_zps0405dad4.jpgPlop that frosting on top of your cooled bars…

 photo IMG_0976_zps5bcb1a28.jpg

And spread it around evenly. photo IMG_0979_zps9967fcc7.jpg

I topped mine with some cinnamon sugar.  I got this handy little grinder from Trader Joe’s, but it’s just as easy to make your own and sprinkle it all up on there.

 photo PicMonkeyCollage_zpsccfd3061.jpgI mean…

Cinnamon Roll Cookie Bars ~ Starts with a Cake Mix and is topped with delicious cream cheese frosting!

Take THAT yeast!Cinnamon Roll Cookie Bars ~ Starts with a Cake Mix and is topped with delicious cream cheese frosting!


Cinnamon Roll Cookie Bars



  • 1 (15.25 oz) box Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 1 (4 serving) box Cook and Serve Vanilla Pudding
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon


  • 1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • *optional ~ Cinnamon Sugar to garnish
  • 3 Tbsp sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Spray 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.
  3. In large bowl combine all ingredients for the bars. Stir until there are no lumps.
  4. Spread into prepared baking dish and bake 20-25 minutes until edges are golden.
  5. Let cool completely before frosting.


  1. In mixing bowl beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar and continue beating for 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
  2. Spread on cooled bars.
  3. If desired sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top for garnish
  4. Cut into squares when ready to serve.


Store chilled because of the frosting.


105 Responses

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who wants this. I know boxed mixes are helpful for some people and they do make things a bit quicker/easier I guess, but I prefer to make things from scratch. The time I might save from not having to mix up 3 ingredients on my own does not cover for the fact that I’m also putting in loads of preservatives and artificial additives I’d rather not have.

      I found this as a sub for the boxed cake mix, but it’s yellow, not vanilla. But I feel it would be just the same in this recipe.

      2 cups all-purpose flour
      1 1/2 cups sugar
      1 tablespoon baking powder
      1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract

      Let me know if it works for you or if you try it!

  1. My son will absolutely LOVE these! He loves cinnamon, actually he uses that same cinnamon and sugar grinder you were using from Trader Joes (love TJ’s btw) on his toast, strawberries and cereal! Yum!

  2. Connie R.

    Looks great but what type of vanilla pudding, instant or cook and serve? Probably instant but It makes a difference. Thanks.

  3. haha, you are too funny! I’m with you though – I’ve yet to make homemade cinnamon rolls. The idea of all the yeast waiting hasn’t appealed enough yet. Waiting for cookies though? Totally! Lol. These bars look awesome and sound super tasty!

  4. Stephanie @ Back for Seconds

    You sure showed yeast! Wow, these look killer! I am kind of obsessed with cinnamon rolls and these are giving me big time cravings. I will be making these for sure. Pinning! 🙂

  5. I just made these to take to work for team snack. I snuck a taste to make sure they weren’t poisonous….HOLY COW, these are amazing!!! I subbed dark brown sugar and browned my butter before adding it both to the cookie batter and cream cheese. These really are so delicious! Thanks for a creative spin on dessert for breakfast.

  6. I only recently made cinnamon rolls for the first time and it’s an epic undertaking. You need to set aside an entire weekend – all that waiting and rolling and cutting and more waiting. They’re delicious but I love me a Grands cinnamon roll too. I’m totally on board with these cookies – the taste of a cinnamon roll in less time and in delicious cookie form? Brilliant!

  7. Dealing with yeast is taxing. I only do it on special occasions. There’s too many variables and chances for things to go wrong. My mom used to make homemade cinnamon rolls with bisquik, and they were amazing. The top sort of forms a crust, so there’s a contrast of textures between the soft gooey bottom, and the biscuity burnt sugar top. It was the best.

  8. I shy away from making cinnamon rolls also since they just never seem to work for my mornings. But instead of popping them from a can I just…don’t make them. Sad. I need these bars to fill up that hole in my life.

  9. Shut the front door!!! I am not a huge cinnamon fan, but I haven’t made cinnamon rolls for my family in forever, so I thought I would give these a go! Oh. My. Gosh!!!!!! These are perfect for a cinnamon roll fix!! Love the texture of the bar, and the flavor was fantastic!! I didn’t have time to make the cream cheese frosting, so I just used a can of vanilla. I can’t even imagine how good these will be with the cream cheese frosting!

    Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  10. Kelly

    so if i only have instant pudding on hand, can i use that instead? what will be different than using the cook and serve?

  11. Sherri

    I used instant pudding and white cake with a splash of vanilla, since that is all I had. Perfect! I also ground some Red Hot’s candies and sprinkled on top with the sugar. Yummy!!!!

  12. Lindsey

    I love baking and I especially love a baking challenge – I once spent the better part of two weeks making french macarons every day trying to perfect them. I about lost my mind but I can now make a macaron even Laduree would be proud of. Despite my love of difficult recipes, I can’t stay far enough away from anything with yeast. It doesn’t make much sense considering the time I’ve dedicated to other recipes, but why would I spend all that time when there are bars like this to make instead? Seriously, these are amazing and perhaps one of the easiest things I’ve ever made. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Elayne Canterbury

    Made these tonight for our Pinterest cooking club & they came out SO good ~ HUGE hit with everyone – thank you for the easy yummy recipe!

  14. Jess

    I found this recipe on interest and made it this past weekend! Thank you for this most delicious concoction! It is amazing!!
    We used Hershey’s white chocolate pudding packet, new brand out.
    Thank you thank you thank you!!! It is so delicious I salivate thinking about it. Brought my leftovers to work (not really leftovers maybe more like control yourself and shareovers!) I gave the recipe out so wanted to thank you!!

  15. Crystal

    You totally crack me up! Hilarious! I promise making homemade cinnamon rolls is worth every bit of effort. Once I started making them I never popped open another can, ever!!!!!! Love your site, thanks for sharing!

  16. Julie Dippold

    These look so good. Can’t wait to make these. I could not find the golden vanilla cake mix. IS there another cake mix to try like French vanilla or plain white?

  17. Stina

    I bookmarked this recipe quite some time ago but didn’t get around to making it. I’ve been trying to decide what to bring to Easter brunch next weekend, remembered these and decided to make a test batch today. OH. MY. GOODNESS. Seriously, I had to take a few minutes to compose myself after eating one (okay, two–don’t judge me). These are so delicious and EASY to make, it’s ridiculous. The family is going to LOOOOOVE these babies! Shelly, thanks so much for sharing!

  18. Shelley

    Is that brown sugar in the picture? Do I need brown sugar? I’m thinking is just the mix, the pudding and the ingredients the cake mix calls for plus the cinnamon. Is that correct? Thanks!


    Yeast and I don’t get along. I’ve tried but I fail, I always want to work it too much, because it’s never quite perfect enough and if you do this or that it would but it’s only tough, bad part is I think I know I’m doing it but CAN’T STOP!

  20. Diana

    Just made these today. Very good but too sweet for me. My husband really liked them though
    I was thinking of maybe trying them in a jelly roll pan to make the a bit thinner and spreading the frosting a bit thinner. Or using less sugar in the frosting. Any opinions or advice on my idea would be welcomed.
    theses are great for somebody with a big sweet tooth.

  21. Diana

    I made these today, they have good flavor but too sweet for me. My husband likes them so they ae a hit 😉
    I was thinking of either halving the sugar int the frosting or making the bars in a jelly roll type pan to make the bars thinner thus speading the frosting a bit thinner. Any comments or advice on this would be appreciated.

  22. Tina

    Wow these look amazing!! Can anyone tell me what the equivalent to the pudding mix is here in the UK?? Seriously want to make these!! xxx

    1. Cristi

      Tina – Birds custard powder would probably work.
      I’d say probably about 3/4 cup of the custard powder.
      I lived in England for the last 7 years.. that was my substitute for vanilla pudding.

      I made these last night.. yum!

  23. Cristi

    Tina – Birds custard powder would probably work.
    I’d say probably about 3/4 cup of the custard powder.
    I lived in England for the last 7 years.. that was my substitute for vanilla pudding.

    I made these last night.. yum!

  24. Debbie

    I made these yesterday. They are SOOOO GOOD. Easy to make and I loved it! I’m thinking of all the different versions you could possibly do with this mix. For example, like a spice bar or pumpkin bar with the same cake but different pudding…. who knows right? If anyone does try another version, please share!

  25. Brandy

    Lmbo, loved the recipe and how you explained it!! Kids loved this and was a great treat at the company picnic.. Thanks for sharing..

  26. Kayleen

    Silly question. I’ve never used cook & serve pudding. Does it have to made ahead of time and then put into the ingredients for the bars? Or do I toss in what’s in the box as-is??

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