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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 make-ahead cinnamon buns with homemade orange cream cheese frosting.

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

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Imagine waking up on a cold morning with a pan of make-ahead cinnamon rolls ready to pop into the oven.

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. You’re about the be the most popular person in your house.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls. Let’s do this.

Need a smaller version of this recipe that could also be cooked in an air fryer? Check out our small batch cinnamon rolls.

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 dough rise overnight in the fridge also recommend you take the dough out two hours before baking. Nobody has time for that.

The whole point of overnight cinnamon rolls is to not wake your butt up too early to do 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 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 (related: Homemade Brown Sugar).

A tray of overnight cinnamon rolls covered in frosting

What Yeast Should I Use for Make-Ahead 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 also 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.

Here’s How to Make Them

I’ll walk you through this process with photos, and you’ll also find a printable and detailed recipe card 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 the 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.

Pro tip proofing dough in Instant Pot: you can also proof your dough in an Instant Pot using the yogurt setting and a glass lid. Drizzle a bit of olive oil into the instant pot insert and add the dough. Cover with the glass lid and press “yogurt” and set the timer for 30 minutes. Check after 15. It took mine about 35 minutes to double in size.

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 rolls into the dish. Set aside in a warm place until the rolls have doubled in size (about 1 hour). Looks Like: the dough 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.

Let’s Make the Frosting

While the rolls are baking, combine room temperature 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 (related: how to make powdered sugar). Pro tip: taste as you go because not everyone likes their frosting the same level of sweetness.

Add in the vanilla (related: how to make vanilla extract) 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 rolls. Then stand back while your family rushes the kitchen and then starts to loudly chant your name and slow clap.

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 rolls for up to two months. To thaw: place in the fridge overnight. Bake as normal.

More Recipes Like This

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

two plates with overnight cinnamon rolls, a fork, and orange juice
Print Recipe
5 from 16 votes

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time28 mins
Rising time2 hrs
Total Time53 mins
Homemade Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls from scratch is an amazing treat to make for your loved ones.

Ingredients

Dough

Filling

Frosting

Equipment

Instructions

Proof the dough

  • 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

  • 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. 
  • You can also proof your dough in an Instant Pot using the yogurt setting and a glass lid. Drizzle a bit of olive oil into the instant pot insert and add the dough. Cover with the glass lid and press "yogurt" and set the timer for 30 minutes. Check after 15. It will take 15-40 minutes to double in size.
  • 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.
  • Roll out the dough to make a large rectangle (about 18x22 inches).
  • Spread softened butter over the dough, leaving a small butter-less perimeter around the outside. Cover with brown sugar and top with cinnamon.
  • 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 15 rolls. Pro tip: using a bread knife (aka serrated knife) will create the cleanest cuts.
  • Grease a 9x13 baking 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.
  • Tightly cover the pan and store in the fridge for up to 36 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 28 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden brown.

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.
  • Reduce the mixer to low and add the powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time.
  • Add in the vanilla and almond extract and orange juice and slowly increase the mixer speed to medium until well combined.
  • Pour/spread the frosting over warmed cinnamon rolls.

Notes

No stand mixer? You can technically mix the dough by hand, but be prepared for it to take about 10 minutes.
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
Amount Per Serving (1 cinnamon roll)
Calories 406 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 62mg21%
Sodium 225mg10%
Potassium 112mg3%
Carbohydrates 60g20%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 31g34%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 530IU11%
Vitamin C 2.1mg3%
Calcium 48mg5%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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

  1. This was my first successful batch of cinnamon rolls. I have always been intimidated by yeast recipes and my rolls were always flat and dense. Soooo happy with how these turned out. Love your blog!5 stars

  2. I finally made these!
    I used my food processor with the dough blade instead of a stand mixer because I didn’t have one.  That works great.
    The dough is very easy to handle and rolls out beautifully.
    I made this recipe more difficult than it needed to be because I mixed all the filling ingredients together (that is what I get for not fully reading directions) and ended up doubling my work, but it certainly didn’t hurt anything.
    After they rested in the fridge overnight,  I took the pan out of the fridge and placed it on the counter to warm a little as the oven heated up on Christmas morning.  I had made the frosting the day before, so that was ready to go with no more effort from me.   A couple of the rolls cooked up a little goofy because the middles rose right out of the bun, but they tasted AMAZING. They were much lighter and airier than I was expecting!  I will likely use less sugar in the frosting next time (there will absolutely be a next time!) and I will also make a half batch because despite six people having some, I STILL have several left.
    Thank you for sharing this gem!5 stars

    • I think you need to start all comments with “the baby is not here yet” or the “baby has been born” 🙂

      I’m interested to hear how big of a food processor you have because it’s a decent amount of dough. Great to know you made it fine in there because it’s a good option for people without a stand mixer.

      So glad they worked out well for you and I’m with you on liking my frosting on the less sweet side!

      Thanks for leaving a review!

      • The baby is not here yet.
        You are HILARIOUS!
        We are still waiting for her to arrive.  *Technically* she is due tomorrow.

        I am not even sure HOW to find out about my food processor….  I got it years and years ago after saving up my airmiles (is that a thing there?  You get ‘miles’ for shopping at certain stores, our credit card gives them to us as well, and they add up and you can redeem them for items.  I got my toaster oven that way too.  I think you can put them towards flights as well.)  Anyhow, I know it is a Cuisinart. And pretty heavy-duty.  And it is amazing. 

        Hubby just ate a roll that he had warmed up in the microwave for 15 seconds. He says it was very good that way, but he recommends waiting a bit before eating it because the filling was too hot.

  3. Does it need to rest for 36 hours befor cooking them or is 24 hours long enough.

    • You can cook them right away (after the second rise) if you’d like! the 24-36 hours is the limit to how long they should stay in the fridge before freezing.

  4. Can you use parchment paper under rolls.

  5. hey!!! so I was going to make these tomorrow for thanksgiving breakfast. I was reading through the recipe and saw that it said that I need to use a stand mixer and I was wondering if I could make these without one. I love how you wrote the recipe and really enjoy making bread.5 stars

    • Hi Olivia, yes you can! Under the recipe tips there this a note: “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.”

  6. When you remove the refrigerated rolls, do you need to let sit on the counter to 1hr to let them come to room temperature before baking?

    • Suzanne, you can bake them straight from the fridge! If you’d like to let them sit to come to room temperature before baking you can, but it isn’t necessary as all the proofing and rise time will happen before they go in the fridge.

  7. Made these for our Christmas morning breakfast and they were just as easy as you said! I really appreciated the “looks like” “feels like” instructions, especially when the dough felt like my grandmothers soft and squishy under arm. I baked half the rolls and froze half, but still made the full recipe of frosting (without the OJ and with extra cream cheese) because I’m a pig like that. So tasty!5 stars

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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