Dollywood cinnamon bread: We tested two recipes, this is the best one

Cinnamon bread at Dollywood

The cinnamon bread at Dollywood is a fan favorite at the park (photo by Kim Grayson/TheSmokies.com)

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One of the true delights of going to a theme park is treating yourself to the local, popular dishes. 

Of course, theme park food is usually not healthy. However, it can make for a delicious treat while on vacation. 

For example, Disney offers the famous Dole Whip. Universal Studios Wizarding World of Harry Potter has Butterbeer. And in Pigeon Forge, it is Dollywood’s world-famous cinnamon bread

Dollywood’s cinnamon bread is good in any season. But I find select treats like this one especially enjoyable during the holidays when the air is a little cooler and you need that warm, gooey dose of cinnamon and sugar to help you make it through the day.

Plus, it just feels a bit decadent, like a Christmas-type treat. 

Read Also: Top 7 signs you might be a Dollywood addict

Employees serve cinnamon bread at Dollywood
The friendly hosts at Dollywood help make the cinnamon bread taste a little sweeter (photo by Dr. Candi Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

What is so special about cinnamon bread at Dollywood?

What is it about Dollywood’s cinnamon bread that makes it the best cinnamon bread?

Aren’t there whole chain restaurants that make cinnamon rolls their raison d’etre? 

Is a theme park, even a Golden Ticket Award winner like Dollywood, really the best place to go for the real thing? Aren’t they more worried about roller coasters or singing and dancing?

Some southern eats are delicate, intricate things.

But if you’re the kind of foodie that doubts the famous Dollywood cinnamon bread is going to be good? I don’t know what to do for you other than have Ratatouille secretly whip up a dish so amazing that it teleports you back to childhood and makes you forget any and all standards of food safety preparation. 

Look, I think there’s probably a high floor for cinnamon bread.

You take a cinnamon-sugar mixture, drizzle it in melted butter and bake it into a warm, gooey, ready to tear apart bread.

Even Paula Deen couldn’t mess that up.

That doesn’t mean I think any old confectionary slingin’ cinnamon and sugar is equal to the superior efforts made by the culinary artists at Dollywood. I just think even badly botched cinnamon bread is probably going to be delicious. 

For example, there was a national hotel chain advertising campaign a few years ago. Did they focus on the quality of their rooms? Not really. Their rates? Not exactly. The comfortable beds or even the pool? Might have been mentioned but it wasn’t the focus. 

The focus? Their cinnamon rolls in the complimentary breakfast bar.

These pedestrian cinnamon-sugar concoctions were so good a guest in the hotel danced through the lobby wearing a cinnamon roll mascot outfit singing: “Hot and delicious, hot and delicious, cinnamon rolls, cinnamon rolls.” 

Was the advertising campaign effective? I don’t know. In truth, it didn’t make me want to stay in their hotels any more than before. However, many years later, when someone says the words “cinnamon roll”, a little voice inside my head sings “Hot and delicious, hot and delicious.”

Grist mill at Dollywood
The park’s Grist Mill is a popular spot to grab Dollywood cinnamon bread (photo by Dr. Candi Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Where can you get Dollywood’s cinnamon bread?

You can get warm loaves at the Dollywood Grist Mill and watch them being made right in front of your own eyes.

You can also choose icing or apple butter as an add-on. Or try both, you can’t go wrong.

The Grist Mill was constructed in 1982. It was the first fully operational grist mill built in the state of Tennessee in more than 100 years.

According to the Dollywood website, workers constructed the grist mill exactly as it would have been more than a century ago. At that point in time, folks relied on the giant water wheel to grind corn and wheat rather than delicious, gooey cinnamon bread.

Today, cinnamon bread is the Grist Mill’s main attraction. The aroma of the famous freshly baked bread is a siren song for your nostrils. 

Its popularity speaks for itself. According to Dollywood’s insiders, there are 212,250 loaves of cinnamon bread sold each year at the Grist Mill made with more than 1,650 lbs of cinnamon.

Read Also: What does a grist mill do? How do old grist mills work?

A sign for apple butter and cinnamon bread at Dollywood
You can also add icing or apple butter dipping cups to go with your cinnamon bread (photo by Kim Grayson/TheSmokies.com)

Where else can I buy Dollywood’s cinnamon bread?

Cinnamon bread is also available at Dollywood’s Spotlight Bakery and Dreammore’s DM Pantry at Dolly’s DreamMore Resort.

At DreamMore, you can even have it delivered directly to your room, which seems the height of decadence. 

Plus, DreamMore Resort is open year-round. Therefore, if you need a fix during the off-season, you can swing by the resort and pick up some bread to go. 

How much does the cinnamon bread at Dollywood cost?

At the time of this writing, cinnamon bread with an icing cup is $9.99. You can add additional icing or apple butter for $1.49.

Remember, prices are subject to change.

So what if you can’t make it to Pigeon Forge and you’re really craving some Dollywood cinnamon bread?

Rolls of fresh cinnamon bread at Dollywood
Fresh cinnamon bread is made daily at Dollywood (photo by Kim Grayson/TheSmokies.com)

How do you make Dolly’s cinnamon bread?

You’re in luck. You can make it yourself at home.

Now, as a disclaimer, there are a lot of recipes out there.

Most commonly, of course, folks look to Dolly Parton herself, who released a cinnamon bread recipe in her cookbook, “Dolly’s Dixie Fixin’s”.

This is the recipe you’ll most likely find published on a variety of blogs on the internet. But we were suspicious about that recipe’s authenticity as we doubt most bloggers really purchased the now out-of-print $500 cookbook and are probably just re-sharing bad information without testing it for themselves as copycats often do.

The second recipe comes from Dollywood Insiders, who recently published a version of their own.

Our team tried a version of both recipes so we can tell you which one works best.

However, as a disclaimer, we followed Insider’s version for the dough on both recipes. Most sources say that the cookbook calls for a loaf of frozen bread. We had a hard time finding the right type of frozen bread, so we made our own.

We also made some minor tweaks which we felt produced a more authentic Dollywood flavor.

Without further ado, to make your own Dollywood cinnamon bread at home, here’s what you’ll need:

Mixture of dough in two bowls
Our team made two different versions of homemade cinnamon bread so you don’t have to (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

Dollywood cinnamon bread ingredients

  • Warm water
  • Active dry yeast
  • Granulated sugar
  • Bread flour
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
  • Cooking spray
  • Granulated sugar
  • Light brown sugar
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Light corn syrup
  • Confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • Milk

Instructions for the bread

  1. Combine 1/2 cup of warm water, 3/4 tsp of active dry yeast and one pinch of granulated sugar in a small bowl. Do not stir. Let it sit for about 8 minutes.
  2. In a second bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of bread flour, one tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp of salt. Whisk together. Then, add two tbsps of unsalted, melted butter. Add the flour mixture to your yeast mixture (after the 8 minutes are up).
  3. Knead the dough with your hands until it is smooth. Then, transfer it to a glass bowl with cooking spray.
  4. Cover tightly and the bread rise. This will take about an hour and a half.
  5. The Dollywood Insiders recipe says to cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place. Instead, we used aluminum foil. To achieve a “warm place”, we turned our oven on just enough to get it warm, shut it off and then put the dough in the slightly warm oven, covered with the aluminum foil. To let it rise, you don’t want your dough to be too hot or too cold.
  6. When the dough has (about) doubled in size, knead it down flat and cut it in halves. Then, shape the dough into two loaves. We made ours oval-shaped.
  7. Again, cover the dough the same way as before and set it in a warm place for another 30 minutes.
  8. While you’re waiting, prepare the topping.
Two types of cinnamon bread
The cinnamon bread on the left (base recipe from Dollywood Insiders) looked and tasted a bit more authentic. The one on the right (allegedly from an old Dolly Parton cookbook) had fewer ingredients and while still delicious in its own right, didn’t look or taste like the Grist Mill version (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

Instructions for the cinnamon topping

Here’s where the two recipes are very different. I would say that one recipe is more simple while the other results in more authentic-looking (and tasting) Dollywood cinnamon bread.

  1. For the simple version, mix together one cup of powdered sugar with about 3-4 tablespoons of water. That’s it! You have a topping.
  2. We also added just a pinch of lemon juice as well since some recipes said you could use that instead of water.

Alternatively …

  1. For the more authentic version, whisk together 1/3 cup of granulated sugar, 1/3 cup of light brown sugar, 1 tbsp of ground cinnamon, 6 tbsps of unsalted, melted butter and 2 tbsps of light corn syrup.
  2. We also added just a bit more sugar to ours for good measure.

In a blind taste test, the butter-corn syrup mixture was the favorite amongst our staff, but both were good.

Finishing the bread

  1. After you have your topping, and after the bread has risen, place the loaves into 5-inch loaf pans with parchment paper.
  2. Make four cuts across the top of the dough but do not cut through. Cover each loaf with your topping and drizzle any remaining mixture on top of the loaves.
  3. Then, sprinkle some extra cinnamon on top.
  4. Finally, bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees F.
  5. Let it cool for about 15 minutes before enjoying it. You have cinnamon bread!

You can also make your own homemade icing for dipping.

Homemade icing:

  1. Mix together 1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar, a pinch of salt, two tbsps of unsalted, melted butter and about four tbsps of milk.
  2. Dip your warm, gooey cinnamon bread in the delicious icing.

If you’re not a baker, it may take a couple of tries to get it right. But a little patience when making bread can go a long way.

Have you tried the Dollywood cinnamon bread? Have you tried to make it? Let us know in the comments!

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.

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