The most sinfully good cinnamon rolls in Shanghai

With their hypnotic shape and mouth-watering use of spice, cinnamon rolls have long been the unsung hero of desserts

Photo by Beth Macdonald via Unsplash

Cinnamon Guide (smaller)

By Coquina Restrepo

With their hypnotic shape and mouth-watering use of spice, cinnamon rolls have been the unsung hero of desserts for too long. Countless cultures around the world have their own versions of the cinnamon roll, and many have come to Shanghai to represent.

TIME OUT TIP: China is one of the world’s main exporters of cinnamon, which comes from the Cassia tree that grows in abundance in the Guilin province.

From Swedish Kanelbuller to one fancy cinnamon roll studded with crushed pistachios, these are the cinnamon rolls that ave caught our roving eyes over the past few months!

Sloppy Gin

Everyone's favourite doughnut spot Sloppy Gin has moved to a new location on Yanping Road, so we thought now's the perfect time to remind our readers that they do more than doughnuts!

Their incredibly popular cinnamon rolls are baked the American way in sheet pans, which makes for thick and slightly rectangular rolls, and the glaze is light and sweet without being too sticky. We hate to admit it, but these taste better than what grandma could make.

Sloppy Gin's head baker has been studying how to create the perfect double-fermented sourdough base for years; this is what gives their cinnamon rolls a firm, thick and teeth-sinking texture, and a naturally yeasty sweetness.

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425 Yanping Road


An oldie but a goodie that has specialised in cinnamon rolls for some eight years, CinnaSwirl has also moved to a new location along with its sister business Spread the Bagel, and can now be found on Yuyuan Road.

CinnaSwirl follows the traditional American approach to cinnamon rolls: by dumping an obscene amount of sweet icing on top. That said, you can adjust the amount of icing — none, less, regular or an entire pour-over! Choose from the classic, pecan, apple, cinnamon raisin or even strawberry cinnamon rolls.

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32 Yuyuan Road

Smaka Bakery & Bistro

The Swedish sure take their coffee breaks seriously. Heck, they even invented a word for it; 'fika' means 'to have a coffee break,' and is a national custom where everyone pauses midday for coffee, cake and a catch up with friends.

Opened by a pair of Swedish sisters, SMAKA has been defining 'fika' in Shanghai for the last six years. They bake fresh Kanelbuller, which sees cinnamon and cardamom dough twisted into delicious knot, and Kardamombullar, which are more cardamom-forward and have almonds scattered over the top.

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388 Madang Lu


This quiet bakery is owned by a reclusive Shanghainese couple with a penchant for anything and everything European and gourmet, and who pride themselves on their technical baking methods and traditional ingredients from Europe.

Chatterie produces a wide range of delicious desserts, including not one but two types of cinnamon rolls (classic and pistachio) — three if you count the cinnamony Franzbrötchen, which is German in origin. Note that the cinnamon rolls here are flaky and buttery, making them closer to viennoiserie than buns, and the Franzbrötchen is like the lovechild of a croissant and a cinnamon roll.

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1341 Yuyuan Road

L'Atelier Over Bakery

Hidden behind Shanghai’s winding streets near Wuyi Road is, what we believe to be one of the best bakeries in town. L'Atelier Over Bakery was originally an online bakery that specialised in European breads that sold like hot cakes — you used to have to wait until midnight to place your order and cross your fingers that they didn't sell out in the blink of an eye!

At their new brick-and-mortar (and curving glass windows) store, you'll find cinnamon rolls listed under their Babka (a braided baked good with Jewish European roots) section. It's perfect for pulling apart and dipping into your coffee.

Also take note of their Apple Cinnamon Rolls filled with apple butter; Snow White would fall for her evil stepmother's tricks all over again if tempted with these.

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152 Lixi Road


Good things are worth waiting for, even if the wait is an hour. TonTon opened just last year and already has a cult following. On weekends, you'll see people lining up to place their orders, collect their numbered tickets and leave, only to return much later for their fresh bread, rolls, and doughnuts hot out of the oven.

Their specialty, the so-called 'cinnamon roll' that's more like a Yule Log crossed with a Babka, is to die for. Think rolls of dough layered with freshly ground cinnamon and cloves. It's the most cinnamon-forward dessert on our list with a mouthwatering amount of candied nuts in each bite. No icing needed for this roll, though a fork and a sharp knife might come in handy.

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176 Yongkang Road

Korner Bakery

This new neighborhood baker opened on Fuxing Middle Road last summer, and has been pulling freshly baked goods from its ovens every single day since. The bakery brings contemporary and fusion baked goods like Sichuan Sausage Rolls and Early Grey Scones to the hungry student masses in the neighbourhood, and even has its signature style of cinnamon roll!

Shaped like a cupcake, which makes it easy to carry and eat on the go, the Korner Cinnamon Roll is an absolute showstopper. The head baker revealed that it is made with their signature sourdough base, molasses sugar and Ceylon cinnamon for a more distinct profile.

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1248 Fuxing Middle Road