Master Sweet Dough Recipe

Use this master sweet dough recipe to make all kinds of different desserts like cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, doughnuts and more!
sweet dough recipe

This is my master sweet dough recipe that can be made into so many different things

This master sweet dough recipe is all you need to make tons of different desserts like cinnamon rolls, sticky buns and monkey bread. This recipe makes a LOT of dough because if I’m going to go through the trouble of making my own bread, you know I’m gonna make a lot!

sweet dough recipe

I like to divide my sweet dough recipe in half and make two different things. This is great for the holidays because you can prep a lot of dough and then make multiple desserts. 

What is sweet dough?

Sweet dough is an enriched dough which means it has things like eggs, butter and sugar added. These ingredients make the dough very soft and moist! It also means that it can take longer to rise. So plan ahead so you have enough time. 

sweet dough ingredients flour, sugar, salt, butter, milk, eggs and yeast

Does this sweet dough take a long time to make?

I almost always make my sweet dough recipe the day before I want to bake up my dessert. By the time I make the dough, proof it, and shape it into the dessert I want, the day is half gone.

After you shape the dough you can cover it with plastic wrap and place it into the fridge. The cold will slow down the second proof. Take the sweet dough out of the fridge about 1 hour before you need to bake or until it’s doubled in size. Then bake according to the recipe! 

closeup of sweet dough rising in a bowl

How do you make the best sweet dough recipe?

Mixing bread is not difficult but the added butter and eggs can get in the way of the yeast consuming the flour, resulting in a very slow rise. Follow these steps to ensure your sweet dough rises as quick as possible. 

You can also substitute active dry yeast for instant yeast which rises much faster. Follow the directions on the package for substitutions. 

  1. Warm your milk to 110ºF and combine with 1 Tablespoon sugar and your yeast to activate your yeast
  2. Put your flour in the mixing bowl with the milk/yeast mixture and stir until combined with the dough hook
  3. Add in your eggs one at a time, then the sugar, salt and butter and mix until combined
  4. Mix on medium speed for 5-10 minutes until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and the dough bounces back when you touch it. 
  5. Proof in a warm area for 90 minutes or until dough doubles in size
  6. Shape dough according to the recipe you are following
  7. Proof for another 60 minutes or cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight until you need to bake the bread. 

How do you know when the sweet dough is kneaded enough?

The dough needs time to develop the gluten. But how can you tell when it’d developed? You can do a few tests along the way. 

When your ingredients first start mixing, notice the texture of the dough is rough and tearing a lot. It might be sticking to the sides of the bowl too. 

After a few minutes, the dough will clean the sides of the bowl. Touch the dough, does it feel really soft. When you press your finger into it, does it make an indent that does not spring back? If you pick the dough up does it ooze between your fingers? This means there isn’t enough gluten yet. Keep mixing on medium speed. 

You can also take a small piece of dough and stretch it between your fingers to make a “window”. If you can make the dough very thin, almost to the point you can see through it (like a window) then you know enough gluten has been developed and you can now place your dough into the bowl to rise. 

the window test to see if enough gluten has developed in dough

***optional warm oven technique** I pre-heat my oven to 170ºF for five minutes then TURN THE OVEN OFF. It should be barely warm inside. Place a bowl of warm water in the back of the oven and your covered bowl of dough into the oven and shut the door. This creates a nice warm/moist environment for the dough to rise. But don’t forget about it and turn on your oven! High heat will kill your yeast. 

How do you know your sweet dough has proofed long enough?

Press two fingers down into the top of the dough to make a hole. Does the dough bounce back right away or does it slowly move? If it’s moving slowly but mostly holds its shape then you’re good to go.

If it’s been 90 minutes and your dough has not doubled in size it could be for a couple of reasons. Your yeast is not active anymore. You’ll have to toss the dough and try again with fresh yeast. Your kitchen could be too cold in which case you need to turn up the heat or try my warm oven technique I mention above.  

homemade dinner rolls on a blue sheet pan rising
Cover and let your bread proof (rise) until it’s doubled in size or when you poke one side with your finger, it leaves an indentation

Can you over-knead the dough?

Yes, you can definitely over-knead the sweet dough using a mixer. If your dough becomes so tight that it starts tearing and feels very stiff and hard, it’s probably over-mixed. There isn’t much you can do to fix this. The bread will probably taste fine. Just not rise quite as much. 

Can you make sweet dough by hand?

You can definitely make sweet dough by hand, it just takes some elbow grease. After your ingredients are combined, take the dough to the workbench and knead with your hands until a smooth elastic ball forms. Kneading dough by hand takes about 15 minutes. 

Sweet Dough Recipes

Cinnamon Rolls
Sticky Buns
Monkey Bread
Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!
sweet dough recipe

Master Sweet Dough Recipe

Use this master sweet dough recipe to make all kinds of different desserts like cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, doughnuts and more!
5 from 27 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Proofing: 2 hrs 30 mins
Serves: 50 ounces
Calories: 101kcal


  • 8 ounces (227 g) milk 110ºF
  • 10 grams dried instant yeast (3 teaspoons)
  • 25 ounces (709 g) all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 8 ounces (227 g) butter softened
  • 4 ounces (113 g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs room temperature


  • Stand mixer with dough hook


  • Warm milk to 110ºF. Add in 1 Tablespoon of your sugar and then the yeast and whisk to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  • Add your flour to your mixing bowl and then add in your milk/yeast mixture. Stir on low to combine
  • While mixing on low, add in your sugar, eggs, butter and salt until combined
  • Increase the speed to medium and let mix until the dough cleans the sides of the bowls and feels elastic and smooth. The dough should bounce back when you touch it with your finger. This can take 8 - 12 minutes *do the window test - see blog post for details*
  • Shape the dough into a smooth ball and then place it into a greased bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for 90 minutes in a warm place
    ***optional***(I pre-heat my oven to 170ºF for five minutes then TURN THE OVEN OFF. It should be barely warm inside. Place a bowl of warm water in the back of the oven and your covered bowl of dough into the oven and shut the door)
  • You can now shape the dough into rolls, make cinnamon rolls, sticky buns etc. See the blog post above for links to other recipes.


Serving: 4ounces | Calories: 101kcal (5%) | Carbohydrates: 13g (4%) | Protein: 2g (4%) | Fat: 4g (6%) | Saturated Fat: 3g (15%) | Cholesterol: 23mg (8%) | Sodium: 86mg (4%) | Potassium: 27mg (1%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 3g (3%) | Vitamin A: 139IU (3%) | Calcium: 10mg (1%) | Iron: 1mg (6%)
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50 comments on “Master Sweet Dough Recipe

  1. I am going to try this recipe. I will let you know if I am successful. 67and have never had yeast dough work for me.

  2. Hi i have instant yeast so can i just put it all together instead of making the beginning stage?

  3. Are you using the dough attachment or regular beater?

  4. Hi Liz,
    What kind of mixer do you use? I am looking for something other than a KA that can actually handle hefty bread dough 🙂

  5. I’m making this right now and we’re going to make cinnamon rolls with it. In a dough eater though, so I’ve tasted it raw and it’s amazing! lol I’m sure it’ll be just as amazing with the rolls! Thanks for the recipe.

  6. I have a nut roll in the oven – the dough had a wonderful consistency- If this works well, my Polish in-laws will have something wonderful at Easter

  7. Will regular yeast work? I dont have instant…

  8. 5 stars
    Made a batch this week. I had to add about 1-1 1/2 cups of extra flour to get it to come 2gthr but it was fabulous. Make cinnamon rolls with half the dough and the butter rolls with other. I topped them with honey butter. Amazing!! Thank you for sharing this recipe. Best cinnamon rolls ever.

  9. After proofing the yeast. Can you combine eggs, butter (melted and cooled), mix and then add all dry ingredients together, mix & knead (in mixer)?

    1. Sometimes butter gets in the way of the yeast attaching to the flour so ideally, you would add the yeast mixture to the flour first

  10. Can this be used to make a loaf (or more) of ‘loaf’ bread?

  11. How would you make chocolate sweet bread? I would like to make chocolate doughnuts with this sweet bread recipe.

  12. When you say milk…… it whole milk or can you use 2% milk too? Thank you

  13. 5 stars
    Best cinnamon rolls I have ever tasted!!! And I am a cinnamon roll fanatic!! I like lots of cinnamon so I halved the dough and used the whole filling recipe. Perfect!

    Question-can you freeze the dough after first proof to use later?

    Great website! I am becoming a SugarGeek aficionado! Thanks for all your work!!!

  14. Use this all the time! Excellent recipe soft delicious bread base for so many things!

  15. Can you I use a food processor, instead of a mixer? My mixer bounces when I make yeast dough. I need to adjust it properly.

  16. 5 stars
    I tried this recipe and it is the best dough recipe.

  17. It’s confusing when a recipe reads 8 ounces (227 grams) of milk because people assume you mean 8 liquid ounces of milk (1 cup), but then you have grams which is weight, not liquid measure. An 8 ounce cup of milk weighs 8.6 ounces (244 grams). So if 227 grams is correct then you’re talking about 8 weighed ounces of milk or a half pound of milk and 8 weighed ounces of milk is only 7.4 liquid ounces. Do you get it? If I use a cup of milk that is 244 grams but if I use 227 grams of milk, that’s less than a cup.

    1. I think you might be over-thinking some things. All my measurements are by weight. No volume measurements. I use grams for yeast because its such a small amount. Use a scale and all will be well 🙂

  18. I am in the middle of making this but what I do not see is the cooking tmp or the time of the bake???

  19. 5 stars
    Hi! This is the most beautiful sweet dough I’ve worked with 🙂 Usually sweet doughs are notoriously sticky but this dough took very little additional flour while kneading and the total flour used was under 5 cups. The dough tasted so good! We made cinnamon rolls with caramel sauce!!

    Thanks so much!

  20. 5 stars
    Just used this to make a batch of cranberry cinnamon rolls. They turned out fantastic, making 12 rolls on an 11×17 baking sheet. I think I have found my new “go-to” sweet bread recipe. Thanks much!

  21. To make chocolate dough, substitute 1/4 cup of the flour for 1/4 cup of cocoa powder in the recipe.

  22. So, if I’m making cinnamon buns for Saturday and I’m making it all in Friday, do I roll it out, add the cinnamon concoction I premade, and roll it and wrap it? Or do I do the previously mentioned and cut it into rolls?
    Or leave everything separate until I’m ready to bake it?
    Thank you.

    1. You make all the rolls, put them in the pan and then cover them in plastic wrap. Take them out and bake when you are ready the next day.

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