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Overnight Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Cinnamon Rolls}

Imagine waking up to the amazing scent of soft, gooey, and delicious homemade Overnight Cinnamon Rolls baking in your oven. Spoil your family with these fresh cinnamon buns with homemade orange cream cheese frosting.

A tray of overnight cinnamon rolls covered in frosting

So many people in my life have freaked out about baking with yeasted dough. It can seem intimidating at first, but I’m here to tell you that You.Can.Do.This!

I have taught all those dough-newbies (and my nine-year-old) how to make these very cinnamon rolls and now they’re making them for their own families with confidence. And their families? Let’s just say cinnamon roll day is a day when the kiddos are extra well-behaved.

Imagine waking up on a cold winter morning with a pan of cinnamon rolls ready to pop into the oven. Picture the memories that can be made over that breakfast where everyone says “please” and “thank you” and you don’t have to threaten your kids that you’ll sell them on Facebook if they touch each other one more freaking time.

Just me?

Even though I can’t be in your kitchen when you make them, I have packed so many tips into this recipe that you will totally ace it. Don’t be scared. I’m here, we’re in this together and you’re about the be the most popular person in your house.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls. Let’s do this.

Can You Let Cinnamon Roll Dough Rise Overnight?

You sure can! Putting cinnamon roll dough in the fridge overnight will still allow for a strong second rise. But…most recipes that have the cinnamon rolls rise overnight in the fridge also recommend you take the dough out two hours before baking.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

The whole point of overnight cinnamon rolls is to not wake your butt up too early to do all the work! This recipe does all the rises the day before. You just need to stumble out to the kitchen, pop them in the oven, set a timer and go back to bed for 28 minutes.

Let’s Talk About Rise Times

If you’ve never worked with yeasted doughs before AND like exact directions, notations like “until doubled in size ~1 hour” might make your butt clench so tightly you could turn a grain of sand into a pearl. You want specifics. I get it.

But there are many factors that go into how your cinnamon roll dough will rise. The temperature of your house is a huge part of it, as is the age of the yeast, how much the dough was kneaded, etc.

Pay attention to the cues I give you in the recipe (noted by “Looks Like”) and just embrace that sometimes little things in life are out of our control.

But hey, at least in this instance those things contain cinnamon and brown sugar.

two plates with overnight cinnamon rolls, a fork, and orange juice

What Yeast Should I Use for Overnight Cinnamon Rolls?

The two main types of yeast you can buy in most stores are active dry or instant (rapid rise) yeast. I use active dry for almost all my baking because of personal brand preference and what I can find locally.

If you already have instant yeast, you can skip step 1 of the recipe and just incorporate all the dough ingredients together. I’ll make note of this in the recipe card so no need to start taking notes. Or…you don’t knead to take notes… <—dough joke!

Active dry yeast needs to be “proofed” and mixed with a liquid (warm milk in this case) to get the party started.

How Do I Know If Yeast is Active?

If your yeast doesn’t dissolve into the milk and start to produce some bubble action within 10 minutes, your yeast has passed on. If you know the yeast is new and worked recently, chances are the milk was too hot when combined with the yeast.

How to Make Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

*Detailed and printable recipe card is available at the bottom of this post

Proof the Yeast

Whisk together warm milk, honey, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let it sit until foamy and doubled in size. Looks Like: the top of a super creamy root beer!

yeast being proofed for overnight cinnamon rolls

Make the dough

Add flour, sugar, eggs, salt, and butter. Using the bread hook attachment on the stand mixer, mix the dough until it is a solid mass and the sides of the bowl are clean (about 2 minutes). If the dough is still super sticky, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it is no longer sticking to the sides.

Gather the dough in one hand and quickly grease the bowl (I use a drizzle of olive oil). Place the dough back in and cover bowl with a clean damp kitchen towel. Let it sit until the dough has doubled in size (about 1 hour). Looks Like: a puffed up mass of dough with the top sides pulling away from the bowl. Feels like: the super soft underside of your granny’s squishy arm. You know what I am talking about. Just go with it.

Two photos of dough in a mixing bowl for overnight cinnamon rolls

Sprinkle a bit of flour onto a clean surface. Make a ball out of the dough and gently press it with your hands to create a rectangle. Pro tip: using the palm of your hand before using a rolling pin will save you a lot of work. Roll out the dough to make a large rectangle (about 18×22 inches).

two photos of flattened dough for making overnight cinnamon rolls

Spread softened butter over the dough, leaving a small butter-less perimeter around the outside. Cover with brown sugar and top with cinnamon.

dough covered with butter and cinnamon sugar for overnight cinnamon rolls

Starting with the long edge of the dough furthest from you, tightly roll the dough towards you until you have a solid “roll”.

Cut into 12-15 rolls. Pro tip: using a bread knife (aka serrated knife) will create the cleanest cuts. Some people use dental floss, but I am totally pro-bread knife for this step.

dough being rolled and cut for making overnight cinnamon rolls

Grease a 9×13 baking dish (pro tip: use the empty butter wrapper to use all up the leftover bits of butter). Place the cinnamon rolls into the dish. Set aside in a warm place until the rolls have doubled in size (about 1 hour). Looks Like: the cinnamon rolls will have “fluffed” up and are likely touching each other in the dish.

Two pans of dough proofing for making overnight cinnamon rolls

Tightly cover the pan and store in the fridge for up to 36 hours.

To bake: preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake! Smells like: heaven on earth.

Make the Frosting

While the cinnamon rolls are baking, combine butter and cream cheese in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium until soft and fluffy. Looks Like: whipped butter

Reduce the mixer to low and add the powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time. Pro tip: taste as you go because not everyone likes their frosting the same level of sweetness.

Add in the vanilla and almond extract and orange juice and slowly increase the mixer speed to medium until well combined. Pro tip: if you want a spreadable frosting, skip the orange juice. If you still want an orange flavor (you do!), add in 1 tbsp of orange zest with the vanilla.

three photos showing how to make orange cream cheese frosting for overnight cinnamon rolls

Pour/spread the frosting over warmed cinnamon rolls. Then stand back while your family rushes the kitchen and then starts to loudly chant your name.

A bowl of orange cream cheese frosting being poured over overnight cinnamon rolls

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes

  • This recipe has been written specifically for all-purpose flour because it is easy to find and economical. You’re welcome to use bread flour if you have any on hand. The extra gluten will create an even fluffier overnight cinnamon roll.
  • No stand mixer? You can technically mix the dough by hand, but be prepared for it to take about 10 minutes and for your arms to get freaking jacked.
  • Types of milk – I would recommend 2%, whole, or buttermilk. Results with 1% or lower are generally poor. I have not tested this recipe with non-dairy milk.
  • To freeze: press a piece of plastic wrap over the cinnamon rolls after the second rise. Tightly wrap the pan in foil and freeze unbaked cinnamon rolls for up to two months. To thaw: place in the fridge overnight. Bake as normal.
  • To make these overnight cinnamon rolls extra special, use homemade vanilla extract and homemade brown sugar.

More Recipes Like This

a plate with an overnight cinnamon roll, a fork and orange juice

Making this recipe or others?

Post a photo on my Facebook page, share it on Instagram, or save it to Pinterest with the tag #sustainablecooks. I can't wait to see your take on it!

two plates with overnight cinnamon rolls, a fork, and orange juice
Print
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Cinnamon Rolls}
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
28 mins
Total Time
53 mins
 

Soft, gooey, and delicious - homemade Overnight Cinnamon Rolls from scratch is an amazing treat to make for your loved ones. Wake up to fresh cinnamon buns.

Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade cinnamon rolls, make ahead cinnamon rolls, overnight cinnamon rolls
Servings: 15
Calories: 406 kcal
Author: Sarah Cook - Sustainable Cooks
Ingredients
Dough
  • 1 cup milk warmed, to 110 degrees F
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 1/3 cup butter melted, slightly cooled
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Filling
Frosting
Instructions
Proof the dough
  1. Whisk together warm milk, honey, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let it sit until foamy and doubled in size. Looks Like: the top of a super creamy root beer! If you have instant yeast, skip this step and combine all the dough ingredients together and follow directions in step 2.

Make the dough
  1. Add flour, sugar, eggs, salt, and butter. Using the bread hook attachment on the stand mixer, mix the dough until it is a solid mass and the sides of the bowl are clean (about 2 minutes). If the dough is still super sticky, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it is no longer sticking to the sides.

  2. Gather the dough in one hand and quickly grease the bowl (I use a drizzle of olive oil). Place the dough back in and cover bowl with a clean damp kitchen towel. Let it sit until the dough has doubled in size (about 1 hour). Looks Like: a puffed up mass of dough with the top sides pulling away from the bowl. 

  3. Sprinkle a bit of flour onto a clean surface. Make a ball out of the dough and gently press it with your hands to create a rectangle. Pro tip: using the palm of your hand before using a rolling pin will save you a lot of work. Roll out the dough to make a large rectangle (about 18x22 inches).

  4. Spread softened butter over the dough, leaving a small butter-less perimeter around the outside. Cover with brown sugar and top with cinnamon.

  5. Starting with the long edge of the dough furthest from you, tightly roll the dough towards you until you have a solid "roll".

  6. Cut into 15 rolls. Pro tip: using a bread knife (aka serrated knife) will create the cleanest cuts. Some people use dental floss, but I am totally pro-bread knife for this step.

  7. Grease a 9x13 baking dish (pro tip: use the empty butter wrapper to use all up the leftover bits of butter and to grease the dish). Place the cinnamon rolls into the dish. Set aside in a warm place until the rolls have doubled in size (about 1 hour). Looks Like: the cinnamon rolls will have "fluffed" up and are likely touching each other in the dish.

  8. Tightly cover the pan and store in the fridge for up to 36 hours.

  9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 28 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden brown.

Make the Frosting
  1. While the cinnamon rolls are baking, combine butter and cream cheese in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium until soft and fluffy. Looks Like: whipped butter

  2. Reduce the mixer to low and add the powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time. Pro tip: taste as you go because not everyone likes their frosting the same level of sweetness.

  3. Add in the vanilla and almond extract and orange juice and slowly increase the mixer speed to medium until well combined. Pro tip: if you want a spreadable frosting, skip the orange juice. If you still want an orange flavor (you do!), add in 1 tbsp of orange zest with the vanilla.

  4. Pour/spread the frosting over warmed cinnamon rolls.

Recipe Notes

No stand mixer? You can technically mix the dough by hand, but be prepared for it to take about 10 minutes and for your arms to get freaking jacked.

 

Types of milk - I would recommend 2%, whole, or buttermilk. Results with 1% or lower are generally poor. I have not tested this recipe with non-dairy milk.

 

To freeze: press a piece of plastic wrap over the cinnamon rolls after the second rise. Tightly wrap the pan in foil and freeze unbaked cinnamon rolls for up to two months. To thaw: place in the fridge overnight. Bake as normal.

Nutrition Facts
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Cinnamon Rolls}
Amount Per Serving (1 cinnamon roll)
Calories 406 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 23%
Saturated Fat 9g 45%
Cholesterol 62mg 21%
Sodium 225mg 9%
Potassium 112mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 60g 20%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 31g
Protein 5g 10%
Vitamin A 10.6%
Vitamin C 2.5%
Calcium 4.8%
Iron 11.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This post was shared at Weekend Potluck.

Soft, gooey, and delicious - homemade Overnight Cinnamon Rolls from scratch is an amazing treat to make for your loved ones. Wake up and bake fresh cinnamon buns with homemade orange cream cheese frosting.

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6 comments on “Overnight Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Cinnamon Rolls}”

  1. In the filling section, is the second brown sugar supposed to be cinnamon?

  2. I am not a baker at all and my husband is gluten intolerant.  How do you think these would come out using a gluten free flour blend?

    • I have never tried it with a GF flour so I can’t speak to the results. Based on what I have seen, GF flours are really hard to “proof” with yeast. If you give it a try I’d love to hear how it goes.

  3. Do you think the frosting could also be prepared in advance?  I’m wondering if I can make that the night before as well, then maybe warm it up gently in the microwave (on a low power) to make it pourable/spreadable again.  Then all the prep dishes will be clean on ‘cinnamon roll day’.  I’m thinking that this would be an AWESOME Christmas morning treat.  But it isn’t a treat for me if I have to mix and clean up after the frosting.
    Also: can you define “poor”?  As in: The results are poor with 1% milk.  That is all I buy.  If I don’t know what I am missing, will they still be “poor”? I think adding a little instant milk powder helps – I used to do that  with my yogurt. (Yogurt I started making myself because of YOU!) 
    And lastly:  you have “Proofing the Dough” as a ‘headline’ (I don’t know what else to call it).  Shouldn’t that be Proofing the Yeast?
    ( Now, I just have to decide if I will be nice to my citrus-hating daughter and leave the OJ out, or if she can just suck it up…..)

    • Yep, you totally could make it ahead of time! I would microwave it 10 seconds at a time until it is ready to go.

      Poor as in it has a thin consistency and lacks some “uumph”! I wouldn’t add any instant milk powder…but maybe a bit more powdered sugar to pop it up. Whoot, look at you go with the yogurt!

      I’ve always always always called it proofing the dough but I think you’re totally right.