What Are Cinnamon Twists?

Donna Tinus

Cinnamon twists are a variation on cinnamon rolls. A dough is prepared, to which cinnamon and sugar is added, and each dough strip is twisted and either fried or baked, depending on the recipe. The end result is a sweet, long stick of dough with swirls of cinnamon that resembles a brown-striped barber's pole. Some cinnamon twists are light and crunchy, such as the Mexican variation, while others are more dense and soft, such as the Danish variation. Either way, cinnamon twists can be eaten any time of the day, as a dessert, breakfast dish, or snack.

Cinnamon twists are sweet rolls flavored with cinnamon and sugar.
Cinnamon twists are sweet rolls flavored with cinnamon and sugar.

Most cinnamon twists start with a sweet dough that is rolled out on a hard surface, such as the kitchen counter. The dough is then topped with butter and a sugar-cinnamon mixture. Using a sharp knife, the sweet dough is then cut into individual strips that are usually about 1-inch (2.54 cm) wide by about 4-inches (10.16 cm) long. Each piece of dough is then twisted several times, and cooked in some manner, generally baked in the oven.

The Italian version of cinnamon twists often feature pecans.
The Italian version of cinnamon twists often feature pecans.

Several global cuisines have their own version of cinnamon twists. The Danish version is a slightly wide, soft, and baked cinnamon dessert. This treat is enjoyed warm, right out of the oven, or at room temperature. An Italian version is prepared with traditional pizza dough, brown sugar, and chopped, toasted pecans and is often served with a glaze of some sort. A version served at a popular Mexican restaurant is affectionately referred to as angel wings and consists of a light, crispy corn dough with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on it.

Norwegians call their cinnamon twists kanelvriding. Made with yeast, flour, and sour cream, kanelcriding is a soft, almost break-like cinnamon biscuit that is made with less sugar than some of its counterparts. The dough is rolled out, cut, twisted and folded over to form a short danish with a twist. Powdered sugar is sprinkled on after the dough is baked in the oven.

In America, one can often find a doughnut-like version of cinnamon twists. These treats are made with yeast and flour, which forms a self-rising dough that includes cinnamon and sugar. The dough is left to rise a few times, creating a dense dough that is twisted and fried. Usually topped with a white glaze, this sweet cinnamon twist is similar to the traditional cinnamon bun, only in a different form.

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Discussion Comments


Danish cinnamon twists are definitely different than American cinnamon twists. Firs of all, they look like most Danish pastries and do not have a crunch. I think most Danish bakers use the same sweet dough to make the variety of pastries like the fruit danish, doughnuts, cinnamon twists and kringles. So they all look fairly similar with just the fillings, toppings and shapes varying.


@ysmina-- Have you tried Mexican cinnamon twists? I've actually only had them at a chain restaurant, so I'm not sure how close they are to the real thing. But they taste very good, a slightly crispier, puffier version of regular cinnamon twists. I know they're not very healthy though, since they are fried. So I try not to have them very often.

I really ought to find a recipe and bake them at home instead of frying them. That will cut down on the calories and I won't feel so guilty about them and can have them more often. But I guess they won't be puffy when they're baked.


I love cinnamon twists. My favorite coffee shop has them and I always order some when I'm having coffee there. I think it's the best afternoon snack and goes great with coffee. I don't use sugar in my coffee so I feel like the cinnamon twists counter the bitterness of the coffee perfectly. These cinnamon twists don't have glaze so they're not terribly sweet either, which is good.

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