This post was originally published on February 1, 2017 and was updated on January 29, 2020. This overnight cinnamon rolls recipe is the ultimate in baked breakfast pastries. Paired with cream cheese frosting they are a true treat to enjoy any morning! Prep the dough the night before to make mornings even easier. And sweeter!
These are the fluffiest, lightest, chewiest cinnamon rolls you’ll ever have! They truly are the perfect recipe. So full of cinnamon flavor and so easy to prepare – they’ll become your new favorite in no time!
Ingredients for Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
- Vanilla Extract
- Brown Sugar
What is enriched dough?
The dough of these cinnamon rolls is what is called “enriched.” This means that the mixture includes eggs, dairy, and sugar. It makes for a chewier, sweeter dough that has more moisture. It’s a dough that is soft and workable and very forgiving. Perfect for early morning bakes!
How to make Overnight Cinnamon Rolls Dough
- Mix the yeast and ¾ cup warm milk. Set it aside to let it get foamy. This means it’s activated and working.
- Mix the rest of the wet ingredients. The sugar, egg, melted butter, vanilla, and the rest of the milk.
- Add the yeast mixture. To the rest of the wet ingredients.
- Add the flour and salt. To the wet mixture.
- Make a shaggy dough. This is a wet, workable dough.
- Knead the dough. For ten minutes. It will come together into a beautiful ball. It will be soft and only slightly sticky.
And that’s it. The dough is made! It will be so soft and supple. Very similar to brioche. Now, the dough will need to be proofed twice before it can be baked. And there are two ways to do it. One is to refrigerate it during its first proof, the other is to refrigerate it before the second.
Letting Dough Rise in the Fridge
First Proof - This is my favorite way to do it! Make the dough all the way through Step 6 of the "for the dough" section in the recipe card. Then, place the kneaded dough into a greased container with a lid and place in the fridge overnight.
During that time (about 8 – 10 hours) it will slowly rise and double in volume. In the morning you’ll have a beautifully chilled dough that is easy to handle and work with! From there, you’ll roll it out, fill it, and shape it into cinnamon rolls. Then it’s on to the second rise and baking as directed below.
Second Proof – If desired, these rolls can be made all the way through Step 6 of the "for the rolls" section in the recipe card. Then wrap the rolls in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, let them rise in a warm place for 60 minutes before baking as directed below.
Either of these options are great for refrigerating dough. And both of them make baking homemade cinnamon rolls even easier! Personally, I prefer letting them go through their first proof in the fridge. It’s just my preference. Make them both ways to find which one you prefer!
After the dough has risen and baked up to light and fluffy perfection, it’s on to the most important part of cinnamon rolls – the frosting!
Cream cheese frosting for cinnamon rolls
I am of the belief that the only frosting for cinnamon rolls is cream cheese. And, I’m also of the belief that the only cream cheese frosting is my mom’s recipe! It’s the absolute best! When it comes to covering cinnamon rolls, I make a half batch so there’s enough to go around, but not too much.
Speaking of frosting! The best time to frost cinnamon rolls is when they’re still warm! About 5 – 10 minutes after they’re out of the oven, to be exact. I like to slather big dollops of cream cheese icing onto each roll. The icing runs into all the nooks and crannies of the rolls, making them even sweeter and softer. To die for!
The easiest trick for cutting cinnamon rolls
Once the rolls are filled and roll up into that signature swirl, they need to be cut! The best way to do this? Dental floss!
I know, it sounds crazy! But it works! It leads to perfectly cut cinnamon rolls that aren’t all squished with the filling oozing out.
First, trim the ends off the cinnamon rolls. Then use a knife to evenly mark out where you’ll make the cuts. I do this by dividing the log in half. Then each half in half. Then each of those quarters get cut into thirds. Voila! 12 perfectly even cinnamon rolls.
Run a large piece of dental floss under the rolls. Pull each side of the floss in the opposite direction through the dough to slice through it evenly. Ta da! Perfectly cut cinnamon rolls!
How to store cinnamon rolls
Leftover cinnamon rolls can be stored in the pan they’re baked in! I wrap mine in foil and leave them on the counter for a day. After that, I like to keep them in the fridge. In the refrigerator they’ll last for up four days.
Of course, a fresh cinnamon roll is always best! But, it’s easy enough to reheat a day-old pastry.
Reheating day-old cinnamon rolls
I grew up watching my mom microwave every baked good that ever graced our countertops. Cinnamon rolls in particular. And I have to say, it is a quick and easy method to reheat a cinnamon roll! For best results, cut the roll in half and microwave for 10 – 15 seconds before enjoying.
If you really want to get fancy, leave the rolls wrapped in foil and reheat in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes before eating!
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
- Stand Mixer
- Large Tupperware Container
- 9x13 Pan
For the dough:
- 1 ¼ cup whole milk warmed to 105°F - 110°F
- 2 ¼ tsp. active dry yeast
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter melted
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
For the filling:
- 2 ½ TBSP unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 TBSP ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
For the dough:
- In a measuring cup, whisk yeast into ¾ cup of the warm milk and set aside until foamy, about five minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, and the rest of milk.
- Stir in the yeast mixture until combined.
- Add the flour and salt to the bowl. Using the dough hook, mix on medium-low until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and knead for ten minutes, until dough is smooth and pulls away from sides. (Dough will still be tacky, but not sticky.)
- Transfer dough to greased Tupperware and place the lid on top.
- Place dough into refrigerator to rise overnight.
- The next morning, prepare the filling.
For the filling:
- Melt butter in microwave in a small glass bowl. Stir in vanilla and set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
For the rolls:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Turn refrigerated dough out onto a lightly floured surface and sprinkle the top with flour. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into a large rectangle, about 18x12 inches.
- Spread vanilla butter over dough, leaving a small border along the edges. Sprinkle sugar mixture over the top and spread out evenly.
- Working with the short end of the dough, begin rolling the dough up into a log. This will create that classic cinnamon roll swirl! Let the dough rest with the seam side down on the counter so it does not unroll.
- Cut off uneven end pieces, then mark the remaining dough into 12 equal sections with a knife. Do this by marking the middle to create two halves. Then mark each half in half, creating four sections. Then mark each of those quarters into thirds.
- Use a large piece of dental floss to cut each of those markings into a perfectly circular roll. Do this by running the floss under the dough and then pulling each hand in the opposite direction through the dough. This will leave you with perfectly cut rounds!
- Place the rolls in prepared pan, in a 3x4 arrangement. Cover with a clean dish towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 35 – 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- When rolls have risen, bake in preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and fragrant.
- Remove from oven and cool for 5 – 10 minutes before topping with cream cheese frosting.
- Cinnamon rolls are best served the day they are made, but can be kept on the counter, wrapped in foil for up to one day. Refrigerate any remaining leftovers for up to 4 days after that.
- To reheat cinnamon rolls: cut roll in half and microwave for 20 – 30 seconds.
- If desired, these rolls can be made all the way through Step 15 and refrigerated overnight. In the morning, let them rise in a warm place for 60 minutes before baking as directed above.
- Recipe adapted from Bake from Scratch magazine.