World’s Best Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Bun vs Cinnamon Roll: What’s the Difference?

Want to know the difference between a cinnamon bun and a cinnamon roll? Read this article to discover what makes a cinnamon bun and roll different! We will lay out all the differences between a cinnamon bun and a cinnamon roll! So, let’s dive in!

The 10lb Cinnamon Roll at Bonnie's Donuts

You woke up this morning craving an ooey-gooey cinnamon roll, and you haven’t been able to think about anything else since.

Your quest to find cinnamon rolls near me led you to a bakery boasting the world’s best cinnamon buns.

Wait, buns?

With spicy cinnamon and sweet icing on the brain, you’re not sure how long you can wait. Should you order a cinnamon bun and hope for the best, or hold out for an elusive cinnamon roll?

If you ask us, the correct answer is always to embrace the confection in front of you—in this case, that choice would pay off! Cinnamon rolls and cinnamon buns are often interchangeable words for the same sweet treat. There may be regional reasons for the name change or subtle differences in the recipe.

As the leading experts on the world’s best cinnamon rolls, we’ve made it our business to sort out the difference once and for all.

Read on to discover all there is to know about the distinction between the two terms, then seek out the best cinnamon rolls near me!

Cinnamon Rolls Versus Cinnamon Buns: Is There a Difference?

decorative tall platter with cinnamon rolls on top

Ah, semantics! In the Western world, if you walk into a supermarket searching for “hot dog buns” or “hot dog rolls,” you’re likely to leave with the same product.

When you walk into a bakery, however, they may have both cinnamon buns and cinnamon rolls on display. Sometimes the terms are interchangeable. Sometimes they describe distinct baked goods made with different ingredients.

First, let’s break down the differences between these two flaky favorites.

What Is a Cinnamon Roll?

cinnamon roll with icing from wheatfields bakery in omaha nebraska

Cinnamon rolls originally came from Denmark and Sweden but became broadly popular once the rest of the world fell in love. Their primary flavors are butter and cinnamon. Famously, bakers cover their finished product with icing or frosting, which may be sugar, cream cheese, or cream-based.

Your average cinnamon roll is soft and fluffy, with a distinctive “rolled” spiral structure. Some bakers bake their rolls, while others fry them.

Most of the sweetness comes from the topping, not the filling. Cinnamon rolls do not traditionally contain nuts or other textured filling or toppings.

What Is a Cinnamon Bun? 

In contrast, cinnamon buns originated in Germany and may have made their way here in the 17th century. As Germany is close to Sweden and Denmark, the bun may be a regional variation on the roll. It’s also possible that buns evolved and changed once immigrants arrived in America and once shared a moniker with their northern cousins.

two large cinnamon rolls on a plate with a napkin

Cinnamon buns are often sweeter, as the filling contains cinnamon and brown sugar. They also tend to have a layer of sugar baked in, which hardens into a sugary shell. Unlike cinnamon rolls, bakers do not add icing or frosting after baking.

Structurally, cinnamon buns share the same spiral shape. They are sometimes thinner and more delicate.

The most significant difference between cinnamon rolls and cinnamon buns is the inclusion of nuts. Cinnamon buns often have pecans, walnuts, or even raisins in the filling. They occasionally have nuts sprinkled on top after baking.

How Are Cinnamon Buns and Rolls Alike?

  • Spiral shaped
  • Buttery pastry base
  • Cinnamon flavor

Cinnamon rolls and cinnamon buns may be distinct, but it’s clear they also have a lot in common. They share a spiral shape, a buttery pastry base, and the flavor of cinnamon. Because of their European origins, buns and rolls are likely variations of the same pastry, evolving as they moved across the sea and around the world.

Canadian Buns and American Rolls

  • Baked vs. fried
  • Lightly glazed or without frosting vs. heaps of frosting
  • Fruits and nuts added vs. frosting only.
  • Loads of cinnamon vs. light cinnamon

There may also be a regional distinction between cinnamon buns and cinnamon rolls. In America, we tend to favor cinnamon rolls. Canadians refer to these sweet treats as cinnamon buns.

The Nutella Cinnamon Roll at Koala Kolache

One of the reasons may be America’s national palate. Cinnamon rolls are often fried, covered in icky-sticky icing, and made with heaps of butter. They are an indulgence, and Americans are not shy about adding sugar and calories if it means enjoying an over-the-top decadent treat.

In Canada, the fare tends to be somewhat lighter. They bake and glaze their buns. Though nuts and dried fruit are not low-calorie foods, they add a little extra nutrition, making the northern variation more satiating.

Some Americans might experience shock upon tasting a Canadian cinnamon bun for the first time. Some Canadian bakers are heavy-handed with the cinnamon and seek to create a finished product that is spicier than it is sweet. These spicy-hot variations are worthy of their own name.

Are Cinnamon Buns and Rolls Always Different?

cinnamon buns

Human beings love to categorize things. This tendency makes it easier to understand the world and simplify challenging concepts. Sometimes, however, a name is just a preference, and that’s sometimes the case with our favorite baked goods.

You might find cinnamon buns that are more like cinnamon rolls. You may discover cinnamon rolls with nuts in the filling. You may find a variation with qualities of each that won’t neatly fit into either category.

If you encounter a confection in the wild and aren’t sure how to classify it, your best bet is to ask. Asking questions is particularly important if you have nut allergies or are sensitive to spices.

Ultimately, a cinnamon bun is a cinnamon roll’s close relative. If you’re craving one, you’ll probably enjoy the other. Take the risk and discover your new favorite baked treat!

Roll or Bun—Why Not One of Each?

Ultimately, the things we love about the classic cinnamon roll are present in your average cinnamon bun. We’re obsessed with that flaky, buttery outer pastry, that sweet and spicy filling, and a decadent dollop of shiny icing. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and a cinnamon roll by any other name is equally delicious!

At World’s Best Cinnamon Rolls, our mission is to uncover the best version of these sticky-sweet confections. Are you ready to dig into the best cinnamon buns near me? Check out our list of past winners and discover your new favorite treat!

Whether you are celebrating National Cinnamon Roll Day on October 4th each year or just have a sweet tooth, be sure to Google Cinnamon Rolls or Cinnamon Buns near me! You’ll quickly be rewarded with endless choices of the best cinnamon rolls in the world!

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