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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 rolls with homemade orange cream cheese frosting.

An overnight cinnamon roll on a blue plate with icing dripping down the side.
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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 to 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. And if you don’t want to make your own dough, try our Puff Pastry Cinnamon Rolls.

Try our Pecan Rolls if you’re looking for something with nuts.

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 handles 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.

Multiple ingredients on a grey board.

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.

A pan of cinnamon rolls covered in icing.

Here’s How to Make Them

*I’ll walk you through it here with some photos and tips, and you’ll also find a printable recipe card at the bottom of the post with exact measurements, etc. You can also click “jump to recipe” to skip down.

Proof the Yeast

Whisk together warm milk, honey (or sugar), 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!

Two photos showing yeast proofing in a mixing bowl.

Make the dough

Add flour, sugar, eggs, salt, and butter. Using the dough 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.

3 photos showing dough proofing in a mixing bowl.

proofing dough in Instant Pot (Cold Kitchen Tip):

If you have a colder kitchen (I do!) and you have an Instant Pot, you can 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, press “yogurt” and set the timer for 30 minutes. Check after 15. It took mine about 35 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. 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).

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

4 photos showing the process of rolling out brioche dough.

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.

two photos showing the process of rolling and slicing dough.

Grease a 9×13 baking pan and place the cinnamon rolls in the pan so that they’re close but not necessarily touching.

Sustainability Tip

Sustainability Tip

Use the empty butter wrapper to grease the baking pan to use all up the leftover bits of butter.

Set the baking pan aside in a warm place until the rolls have doubled in size (about 1 hour depending on the temp of your kitchen). Looks Like: the dough will have “fluffed” up and are likely touching each other in the dish.

2 photos showing the process of rise times in a baking dish.

You can go ahead and bake them now if you’d like, but if you’re planning ahead, tightly cover the pan and store it in the fridge for up to 36 hours.

To bake: preheat the oven to 350˚F degrees. Bake for 25-28 minutes! 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. Make this frosting YOURS.

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

4 photos showing the process of making icing.

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. It may look like the “Oh, Captain, my Captain” scene from Dead Poet’s Society. Maybe.

a hand pouring icing over a pan of cinnamon rolls.

How to Store and Reheat

Storing Leftovers: Place any leftover cinnamon rolls in an airtight container and store them at room temperature for up to two days. If the cinnamon rolls have frosting on them, they will need to be stored in the fridge.

Reheating Leftovers: Warm up leftover cinnamon buns in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, or until the butter/cinnamon mixture softens. You can also reheat them in a 300˚F oven for 5-10 minutes.

To Freeze and Bake: I recommend freezing them without the frosting on them. Press a piece of plastic wrap over the rolls after the second rise.

Tightly wrap the pan in foil and freeze the unbaked rolls for up to two months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, and then bake as instructed in the recipe card below.

Frequently Asked Questions

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. Bob’s Red Mill is my favorite brand when I can find it.

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

If you already have instant yeast, you can skip step 1 in the recipe card and just incorporate all the dough ingredients together. I’ll also make note of this in the recipe card so no knead to start taking notes. <—dough joke!

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, and you didn’t get any bubbles after 10 minutes, chances are the milk was too hot when combined with the yeast.

How long can I store these in the fridge before baking them?

I recommend baking these overnight cinnamon rolls within 36-48 hours of the second rise. If you’re storing them in the fridge for longer than 24 hours, tightly press plastic wrap over the rolls.

Do I need to bring the cinnamon rolls to room temperature before baking?

Nope! These beauties can go straight from the fridge to the hot oven.

You certainly can take them out of the fridge while the oven preheats, but it’s not necessary.

Can I make cinnamon rolls without a stand mixer?

Absolutely! 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.

Invest in tank tops to show off your new muscles.

Can I make bigger (or smaller) cinnamon rolls?

You sure can! Cut them into larger segments for jumbo cinnamon rolls, or smaller segments for mini rolls.

The cooking time will need to be increased by a few minutes for larger rolls, and reduced by a few for the mini rolls.

Why did my cinnamon rolls turn out dense?

Three main culprits for dense yeasted dough are: 1) the yeast wasn’t given enough time to proof, 2) the dough was rushed during the rising process, or 3) too much flour was compacted into the measuring cup.

Make sure you spoon the flour into the cup, rather than scoop the measuring cup into the flour. This can pack the flour in, causing too much flour to be added, resulting in dry, dense cinnamon roll dough.

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes

  • Did you know you can make your own brown sugar? It’s true! Check out our post on Homemade Brown Sugar.
  • 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. If that’s even possible!
  • Types of milk – I would recommend 2%, whole, or buttermilk. Results with 1% or lower are generally poor. I have not personally tested this recipe with non-dairy milk but readers have noted success with almond 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.
a make ahead cinnamon roll on a blue plate.
4.98 from 40 ratings

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 28 minutes
Rising time: 2 hours
Total: 53 minutes
An overnight cinnamon roll on a blue plate with icing dripping down the side.
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 rolls with homemade orange cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients 

Dough

  • 1 cup milk, warmed to 110˚F {recommend: 2%, whole milk, or buttermilk}
  • 1/4 cup honey {or white sugar}
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 large eggs {room temperature}
  • 1/3 cup salted butter {melted, slightly cooled}
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour {spooned and leveled into the measuring cup}
  • drizzle olive oil {for greasing the bowl}

Filling

  • 1/2 cup salted butter {softened}
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tbsp ground cinnamon

Frosting

Instructions 

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! If you have instant yeast, skip this step and combine the yeast, honey, and milk along with the dough ingredients together and follow directions in the next step (Step 1 under "Make the Dough".
    1 cup milk, warmed to 110˚F, 1/4 cup honey, 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Make the Dough

  • Add flour, sugar, eggs, salt, and butter to the proofed yeast in the stand mixer. Using the dough hook attachment on the stand mixer, mix the dough at "stir" or "2" 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 large eggs, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp salt, 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup salted butter
  • 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. 
    drizzle olive oil
  • 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.

Assemble the 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.
  • Roll out the dough to make a large rectangle (about 18×22 inches).
  • Spread softened butter over the dough, leaving a small butter-less perimeter around the outside. Cover with brown sugar and top with cinnamon.
    1/2 cup salted butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed, 3 tbsp ground 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 12-15 (~1.5-2 inches wide) rolls. Pro tip: using a bread knife (aka serrated knife) will create the cleanest cuts.
  • Grease a 9×13 baking pan. 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 48 hours. (You can also bake them right away if desired).
  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F degrees. Bake for 25-28 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.
    3 oz cream cheese, 3 tbsp butter
  • Reduce the mixer to low and add the powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time.
    1 cup powdered sugar
  • Add in the vanilla and almond extract and orange juice and slowly increase the mixer speed to medium or medium-high until well combined.
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract, 1/8 tsp almond extract, 1/4 cup orange juice
  • Pour/spread the frosting over warmed cinnamon rolls.

Notes

  1. If using instant/rapid yeast, you can skip step 1 of proofing the yeast.
  2. Types of milk – I would recommend 2%, whole, or buttermilk. Results with 1% or lower are generally poor.
  3. Make sure you spoon the flour into the cup, rather than scoop the measuring cup into the flour. This can pack the flour in, causing too much flour to be added, resulting in dry, dense cinnamon roll dough.
  4. No stand mixer? You can technically mix the dough by hand, but be prepared for it to take about 10 minutes.
  5. 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

Serving: 1cinnamon rollCalories: 406kcalCarbohydrates: 60gProtein: 5gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 225mgPotassium: 112mgFiber: 1gSugar: 31gVitamin A: 530IUVitamin C: 2.1mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @sustainablecooks or tag #sustainablecooks!

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About Sarah

Helping you serve up budget-friendly sustainable recipes with a side of balanced living.
Come for the food. Stay for the snark.

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72 Comments

  1. I’m going to try these for my kiddos at work. Usually I do frozen whole wheat cinnamon rolls and bake them the day before, but I feel like if I make them mini I can put them on a sheet pan without too much overflow. Obviously I’ll use whole wheat flour, so I’ll update how that goes. Also, I feel like the orange frosting would pair well if you added some cardamon to the cinnamon sugar part. (I may be biased, it’s my favorite spice and I put it in most baked goods….)5 stars

    1. I too love cardamon, so I can’t wait to hear how it goes!

      If you use whole wheat flour, I recommend 1 tbsp of vital wheat gluten per cup of flour.

  2. Hey Sarah – hope you’re feeling better. 

    Just wondering if you’ve tried the IG hack, that’s everywhere these days, of pouring some heave cream/milk over the rolls before baking. 

    People are swearing that addition makes the best cinnamon rolls. 

    Thanks and Merry Christmas.5 stars

  3. Everytime I make these, I have to come back here and say how wonderful they are! I just made these for my aunts and they told me they are better than Cinnabon. The dough is an absolute dream to work with – soft, easy to roll, and not sticky at all. Overnight directions make these perfect for Christmas morning!5 stars

    1. Emily, I’m always thrilled to hear how much people enjoy these. Thanks so much for making them and leaving a review!

  4. I’m so excited to try this recipe for Christmas this year! I need to make them 2 days before we eat them on Christmas Day. Is it possible for them to sit in the refrigerator for 2 days prior to baking? Thank you!5 stars

  5. Question. If you put the rolls in the fridge to have ready for the next day. Do you have to bring them to room temp before baking? Wanting to try this for Christmas. 5 stars

  6. I thought I was gonna have to fight someone because the fact that these have a 4.9 rating is a TRAVESTY. They are so worth the wait and I have been asked for the recipe every time I make them. I have also split the dough in half to make mini cinnamon rolls. I just use two dishes and take them out and put them in cupcake wrappers before I frost them. Have also freezed them and as long as you let them sit in the fridge overnight to thaw you will get a similar rise in the oven as fresh.5 stars

    1. I’m giggling at the idea of fighting someone over a 4.9 rating. Thanks for the smile this afternoon! 🙂

  7. I hope it is okay to leave a review twice. I did something a little different and wanted to update.  I made these a couple of years ago and loved them.  This Christmas, I decided to make them again.  The first time, I had made a note on my printed copy of the recipe to make a “half batch next time” as we (six people) did not eat all of them that day.  Well, THIS time, I still made a  full batch, even though there were only two of us eating them.
    I placed four in a pan and I placed the remaining cinnamon rolls on a parchment lined cookie sheet (not touching each other) for their second rising. After the second rise, I placed my pan in the fridge and I placed the cookie sheet right in the freezer.  Once they were frozen, I wrapped the rolls in “packs” of two.   Last night, I took a pack out of the freezer, placed each roll it a tiny casserole dish and popped them in the fridge overnight.  This morning, I took them out and let them warm up a little on the counter (I don’t like putting fridge-cold bakeware into a hot oven.  I worry that will shock and break the dish), then cooked them in my toaster oven for 14 minutes.  
    AMAZING!!!!!  Fresh-baked cinnamon rolls for one on a weekday morning! I will cook them a few minutes less next time because they were a little too browned for me.
    So, if a full batch is too many rolls for you, try this.  It works GREAT.
    (Now, I am wondering if freezing the frosting in portions will work to go with it….)5 stars

    1. That’s a great idea, Ange!

      And yes, I think freezing the frosting in small portions would work great. As long as you have containers that small. 🙂

  8. These did come out light and fluffy. I did double the recipe to bring to work, I may have over filled the pans… they took nearly an hour to bake. After 45 minutes the center buns were quite doughy… I kept hearing Paul Hollywood saying “it’s Raw”. Hahaha.
    They were delicious when fully cooked, I frosted them while they were warm and they look lovely. I’m sure the nurses in the ER will be happy to devour them tonight.5 stars

    1. Deana, I’m so glad you enjoyed them, and thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

      Many thanks to you and the team in the ER for doing what you do. And at my last job, I worked with 10 RNs, so I can confirm they will be gobbled up. 🙂

  9. Hi! I love this recipe and I make it every year for Christmas. As I prepare to make it this year, I wanted to ask, are all 12 rolls supposed to fit in the 9×13 pan? When I squish them all in there I always end up with 1 or 2 that are smooshed and I think they would all benefit from more room. I think 9 would fit better. Am I doing something wrong? Does anyone else have this problem?5 stars

    1. Megan, I am able to fit all the rolls in 1 pan. Smooshing is fine unless you feel that they don’t rise or bake evenly. If that is the case, 9 rolls might be better for you. Or, try 6 rolls each in an 8×8 pan if you happen to have two of them.

      If you cut them into 9 rolls, each individual roll will be taller. Watch the tops for uneven browning as you bake them. You may need to put a piece of foil over them in the last 5-10 minutes.

      Hope this helps and happy baking!

  10. I can’t say these cinnamon rolls were the best I have ever had …just okay. The dough wasn’t light and fluffy…more dense. I think there should have been another rise before making the dough into buns. They were not light and airy. On a positive note I loved your directions and comparisons…very well explained! I also loved that they could be made ahead right up to the baking and then  refrigerated or frozen until needed. Very handy. I might try the recipe again but allowing a second rise before making them into buns…then the third rise once the buns are formed. 4 stars

    1. Elle, they should be light and fluffy with just the two rises noted in the recipe.

      If you had issues with the rise, a few things to check: the age of the yeast and the temperature of the room they’re rising in. I often put my bowl on a heater vent to help during the rising process because my kitchen is COLD!

      If you know your yeast is fresh, double-check to make sure the milk isn’t too hot in the beginning as that can scald the yeast.