Red Velvet Cinnamon Roll Zombie Guts!

I was casting about for an idea of what to bring to a Halloween potluck when I came across a video showing someone unrolling some canned cinnamon roll dough, arranging the coils of dough in a pan to look like intestines, and then topping the dough with cherry pie filling to look like blood. It looked delightfully creepy, but since I’m not really a fan of canned cinnamon rolls I decided to go a step further and make the dough myself.

A little searching online turned up this fabulous recipe for a similar dough made with red velvet cake mix– brilliant idea! Unfortunately for me it didn’t turn out quite as planned– the dough was very soft and sticky,* and after I rolled it up with the filling it refused to unroll so I could form the intestine-coils. I ended up just pulling the dough apart and plunking it into the pan– I didn’t expect it to turn out well, but by the time it puffed up in the oven it looked pretty great, particularly with the addition of some edible eyeballs (canned lychees). Nevertheless, I’ve adjusted the flour/water ratio below so you’ll hopefully get dough that’s easier to handle!

* For the dough issue I blame recent adjustments to cake mix contents– in the past few years, cake mix manufacturers have apparently reduced the amount of mix in each box. This saves them money, but when it comes to using the mix as a base for other recipes, this can be a problem.

Note: This recipe makes a 9×13″ pan PLUS an additional 8″ pan!

Red Velvet Cinnamon Roll Zombie Guts (adapted from Kitchen Overlord)

• 1 tbsp yeast
• 1 tbsp brown sugar
• 2 1/4 cups warm water
• 1 tsp kosher salt
• 1 box Red Velvet cake mix
• 6-7 cups all-purpose flour

• ½ cup melted & cooled butter
• 1 cup dark brown sugar
• 1 cup white sugar
• 2 tbsp cinnamon

1. To make dough, combine yeast and brown sugar with the warm water and let sit for about 10 minutes, until foamy. If you’re using instant yeast you can skip this step.

2. Combine water/yeast mixture with red velvet cake mix and 6 cups of flour until the mixture forms a soft dough. Knead about 6-8 minutes in your stand mixer until the dough is smooth and glossy. If necessary, add more flour, up to the total 7 cups.

3. Form the dough into a ball and let rise in a warm place, loosely covered, for about an hour or until doubled.

4. Knead again to deflate the dough, then roll out on a floured counter into a large rectangle– about 18×24 inches.

5. Combine all filling ingredients and spread evenly over the surface of your dough.

6. Roll up the dough along its long side, and slice the tube into 2″ slices.

7. Grease a 9×13″ pan and an extra 8″ round pan.

8. Partially uncoil the rolls and arrange them in your pans to make intestines. Don’t pack them into too tightly– they’re going to rise on the counter and will puff some more in the oven to 350 degrees F.

9. Set the pans of dough in a warm place and let them rise for another hour. In the meantime, preheat your oven.

10. Bake pans for 24-28 minutes, until done.

Left: dough before the final rise. Right: dough after baking.

11. After you remove your rolls from the oven, prepare the glaze.


1/4 cup golden syrup, corn syrup, or maple syrup, warmed


  • 3 tbs. melted butter
  • 2 tbs. milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch salt

For shiniest glaze, use warmed syrup. If you don’t have any of those, combine glaze ingredients and stir until smooth. Brush over baked cinnamon rolls.

To decorate with “eyeballs,” use canned lychees with melted chocolate piped into the centers.

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