Filed Under: Bread | Breakfast | Chocolate | Christmas

Gooey Chocolate Rolls

Recipe By Tessa Arias
December 10th, 2019
4.75 from 4 votes
4.75 from 4 votes

Gooey Chocolate Rolls are what happens when you take fluffy cinnamon buns and fill them with an ooey chocolate filling then top them with a rich cocoa icing. Absolute chocolate decadence!

Yield: 12 rolls

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook: 22 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Rich with sweet cocoa!
Texture: The dough is ultra soft and fluffy while the filling and icing are crazy gooey.
Ease: Not difficult necessarily, but this is definitely more of a weekend baking project.
Pros: Amazingly mouthwatering.
Cons: Messy and time consuming, but you can prepare the day before and bake off the next morning!
Would I make this again? Oh yes.

You know when you take a bite of something that’s so decadent, so over the top, and so mouthwatering that you wish you could just pause time to savor it?

That’s the exact experience this recipe will spark.

Chocolate cinnamon rolls in baking pan ready for icing

Every bite is so soft, fluffy, tender, gooey, and rich with chocolate. You’ll wish you could re-experience that first bite anytime you think of them.

Gooey chocolate swirl rolls in baking pan with cocoa icing flooded on top

In fact, that first bite reminds me of the sheer joy of Christmas morning.

So much so that I think these rolls would be the perfect Christmas morning treat!

Chocolate cinnamon roll on a plate with a bite taken out

And that’s exactly what they are… a treat. You may not be able to finish an entire roll yourself. Make these for your friends and family this year and you’ll be their favorite person!

How to Make Soft & Gooey Chocolate Rolls

Sticky bun dough rolled out for assembling gooey chocolate rolls

Can I knead this dough by hand?

Yes! You can knead this dough by hand without a stand mixer & dough hook. It may take some more time and upper body strength! Check out my full tutorial on how to knead dough by hand here.

How to make FLUFFY rolls:

The key is to ONLY add as much flour as needed to handle the dough. It’s better for the dough to be sticky at the start. If you add in too much flour you’ll wind up with dense rolls instead of light and fluffy ones. This is true of any yeast recipe.

Depending on your kitchen environment and the brand of flour you’re using, you may not need all of the flour the recipe calls for! Likewise, you may need more. You’re looking for a dough that’s very soft, smooth, pliable, and doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl.

Also be sure your dough passes the windowpane test after kneading. Refer to my kneading tutorial here if you don’t know what that means.

How long does this dough take to rise?

This dough is an enriched dough. It has ingredients including milk, butter, sour cream, sugar, and eggs to make it ultra rich, tender, and soft once baked. But those ingredients can also increase rising time. For me the dough took 2 hours for the first rise, and 90 minutes for the second rise.

Rising times will depend on the warmth and humidity of your kitchen so keep that in mind. If your kitchen is particularly cold, heat your oven to the lowest temperature setting for a few minutes then turn it off. You want it to be no warmer than 90°F in the oven. Place your dough inside and allow to rise. This will speed things up!

How to tell when the dough is risen?

The dough should double in volume for the first rise. I always like to use a glass mixing bowl to rise my dough in so I can see how much it’s risen more easily.

The best way to tell if the dough is risen enough to shape is to perform the ripe test. Press two fingers in the risen dough up to the second knuckle and then take them out. If the indentations remain the dough is “ripe” and ready for punch down. If not, cover and let the dough rise until the indentations do remain.

Now the dough is ready to be rolled out and shaped into rolls! Allow the shaped rolls to rise again until a gentle indentation from your finger remains.

How to make chocolate cinnamon roll filling

We’re basically replacing the cinnamon with cocoa powder in the filling for this recipe! Beat the butter, brown sugar, cocoa powder, and pinch of salt in an electric mixer until extremely well combined and fluffy. Whipping the filling is an extra step and will dirty more dishes, but it really creates such a gooey filling.

Brown sugar makes for a more gooey and flavorful filling than white sugar.

How to Shape Perfect Chocolate Roll Spirals

As you roll the dough up into a log, stretch it towards you and over so it stays tight instead of floppy. Finish off the spiral with the seam side down to seal in the filling. Push the ends into the center slightly then cut off the ends so it’s even.

How to Slice Chocolate Spiral Roll Dough

It’s important to slice the log of dough without squashing it if you want pretty spirals. The best tool for that is a very sharp chef’s knife that you use sweeping motions, not sawing motions. If you don’t have a super sharp knife you can also use a serrated knife and sweeping motions. Or you can use dental floss to slice the dough, but be sure it’s unflavored.

To get evenly sized pieces cut the log directly in half so you have two logs. Then cut each log in half again. Cut each remaining piece into 3 pieces for a total of 12.

How to Make Cocoa Icing

While the rolls bake, combine the icing ingredients in a small mixing bowl until a smooth pourable icing forms. Make sure to sift your powdered sugar and cocoa powder first so the glaze is nice and smooth. This is actually fairly similar to donut glaze! You can flood the rolls with the glaze, or just lightly drizzle it over if you prefer.

How to Make Gooey Chocolate Rolls Ahead of Time

These rolls are best served fresh and warm. Right out of the oven if possible! They absolutely taste best the day they’re baked and unfortunately don’t store very well. Luckily you can make the dough ahead of time.

Refrigerate the shaped but unbaked rolls in the pans you plan to bake them in. I like to let them rise at room temperature for about 30 minutes before refrigerating to give them a jump start on rising, especially in the winter when it takes longer. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. The dough should continue to rise slowly in the fridge. You can also freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost overnight.

When getting ready to bake, loosen the plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size. This will depend entirely on how much they rose in the fridge and how warm / humid your kitchen is. It may take just 20 to 30 minutes or it may take over an hour. Proceed with baking as the recipe is written.

Gooey chocolate bun on a plate with a fork

More Sweet Roll Recipes

4.75 from 4 votes

How to make
Gooey Chocolate Rolls

Yield: 12 rolls
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Rising time 4 hours
Gooey Chocolate Rolls are what happens when you take fluffy cinnamon buns and fill them with an ooey chocolate filling then top them with a rich cocoa icing. Absolute chocolate decadence!



  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 to 4 1/4 cups (508 to 540 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt


  • 10 tablespoons (142 grams) unsalted butter, completely softened to room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (133 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (28 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt


  • 1 1/2 cups (188 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup (21 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Make the dough:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter until the butter melts. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream until smooth. Let cool until lukewarm (about 110°F).
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, use a spatula to combine the milk mixture with the yeast, sugar, egg, egg yolks, and vanilla until well combined. Add in half of the flour and the salt and stir with the spatula until combined. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and gradually add the remaining flour until a dough begins to form. Only add as much flour as you need to form the dough. Knead at medium speed until the dough is very soft, smooth, pliable, and doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl, about 8 to 10 minutes. If the dough is unbearably sticky add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. Only add as much flour as needed to create a smooth dough.
  3. Lightly grease a large bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Make the filling:

  1. While the dough rises, add filling ingredients to a medium mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high until very well combined, about 3 minutes.

Shape the dough:

  1. Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to shape the dough into a 16x12-inch rectangle, long side facing you.
  2. Spread the filling mixture all over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the far edge. Brush the border with water to help seal.
  3. Roll the dough up, pulling with your hands to keep it tightly rolled until it’s an even log shape. Press the border to seal. Trim the edges. Lightly flour the roll.
  4. Grease a 13x9-inch baking dish or two 9-inch pie pans. Cut the roll into 12 equal pieces using a sharp serrated knife or unflavored dental floss. Place the rolls cut side up in the prepared baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  5. MAKE AHEAD: Allow the shaped rolls to rise until they’ve grown in size by about a quarter. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Allow to come completely to room temperature and continue to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours, before baking as directed below.

  6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls until lightly golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes.

Make the icing:

  1. While the rolls bake, combine the icing ingredients in a small mixing bowl until a smooth pourable icing forms.
  2. Spread over hot rolls immediately after they come out of the oven. Serve warm the day they’re baked.
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: christmas
Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    Trudy — October 28, 2021 at 6:03 pm

    So I made these rolls, and I got 28 rolls instead of 12 what have I done wrong?
    They look to be the size of the ones in the picture .

    • #
      Haley Wehner — October 29, 2021 at 1:51 pm

      Did you roll your log too tight or cut each individual roll too small? To get evenly sized pieces, cut the log directly in half so you have two logs. Then cut each log in half again. Cut each remaining piece into 3 pieces for a total of 12. Hopefully that helps!

  2. #
    Meagan — April 4, 2021 at 10:01 am

    I made your chocolate rolls for Easter and OH. MY. WORD! They are perfect!!! I prepped them yesterday and baked them today. The dough was so easy to work with and baked up amazingly! They are soft but not too gooey and most importantly, they aren’t too sweet!!! We will have these every year now! Thank you for such a fantastic recipe! I weighed everything specified. I used gold medal flour and Ghirardelli Dutch processed cocoa for the glaze and a mixture of hersheys cocoa and the Ghirardelli Dutch for the filling.

    • #
      Tessa — April 5, 2021 at 10:36 am

      Hooray!! I love new traditions 🙂 So happy to hear you enjoyed these chocolate rolls!

  3. #
    Kaitlin — December 19, 2020 at 4:41 am

    I want to make this recipe, however I am short on cocoa powder. Is there any way I can sub semi sweet chocolate in either the icing or filling to make up the difference?

  4. #
    Rose — June 5, 2020 at 6:00 am

    Hi I have two questions.
    I really want to make these rolls but I’m wondering: do you use a fan forced oven or just conventional? Also, the only dish I have is a glass pie dish, can I make the rolls in that? If so, how would you suggest I adjust cooking time?
    Thank you so much

  5. #
    Rose — May 4, 2020 at 2:33 am

    Hi, how would I go about making this recipe with active dry yeast? I am not able to get instant yeast where I am

    Thank you!

  6. #
    Lenore — January 8, 2020 at 8:20 pm

    Disappointed in myself…for not taking a picture! Made a double batch. Proofed them overnight in the refrigerator & removed an hour before baking. Did have to bake them for 35 minutes (was on convection bake at 325). Took hot out of oven, covered, & straight to work for our Wednesday meeting. Didn’t frost them, but had it available for people to put on themselves. Everyone loved them & appreciated they were still hot….well except for those who are dieting…lol. Definitely a recipe will use again!

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