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Overnight Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Cinnamon rolls on a plate over a wooden table.

This recipe for Overnight Cinnamon Rolls can give you the taste of bakery style rolls in just a few minutes in the morning. All the work is done the night before, and in the morning, you'll just pop them in the oven, bake and ice the rolls.

Preparation time: 20 to 25 minutes

Refrigeration: 6 to 8 hours

Baking: 20 minutes, 20 minutes cooling

Servings: 6 to 8 cinnamon rolls

Everyone knows that cinnamon rolls are far from the healthiest version of breakfast food. However, nobody denies that cinnamon rolls topped with piles of cream cheese icing are a fabulously delicious way to start the day.

Most people, when they think of cinnamon rolls, think of their favorite bakery or they figure they will need to buy a tube of refrigerated cinnamon roll dough. After all, everyone knows that cinnamon roll doughs use yeast, which can take a long time to rise. They believe that to prepare cinnamon rolls for breakfast, one would have to get up extra early to be able to bake these from scratch. Right?

Well…most of the time. Except with this recipe.

Our recipe for homemade cinnamon rolls is very similar to most others that you will find, except for one major difference. These rolls are made the night before you want to serve them. The dough is mixed up, kneaded, and rolled out in the evening.

Then the unbaked cinnamon rolls go into the refrigerator where they rise all night long while you are sound asleep in bed. Next morning first thing, take the rolls out of the refrigerator and allow the pan to come to room temperature on the countertop. While you’re waiting on this, go ahead, preheat the oven, make your coffee, and take your shower.

Once the rolls are room temperature, put the pan in the oven and bake them. Sounds almost too easy right? Actually, it is just that easy. You can prepare a delicious, home-baked breakfast for the people you love without getting up at the crack of dawn to do so.

If you have had the foresight to create the cream cheese icing the night before as well, you can easily bake this breakfast from scratch without having to spend much time in the kitchen first thing in the day. Of course, your loved ones may think that you made the sacrifice of waking up really early for their breakfast celebration. Only you can decide whether or not to tell them your secret.

Most cinnamon roll recipes create a dozen or more rolls. Unless you are taking the rolls to share with others at work or you have a very large family, those recipes make way too much for most families. This recipe only creates six to eight cinnamon rolls, which is the perfect recipe size for most families. If you do want to bake a dozen cinnamon rolls, feel free to double the recipe. It should work just fine.

Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Dough Ingredients

  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 ¾- 2 cups all purpose flour

Dough ingredients including a baking powder, butter, milk, yeast, salt, and egg over a marble countertop.

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Filling ingredients including a butter, ground cinnamon, and a spoonful of brown sugar against a marble countertop.

Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 ounces room temperature cream cheese
  • ¾ cup cups powdered sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla

Cream cheese icing ingredients including a butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.

Step 1: The night before you want to bake the cinnamon rolls, measure out the milk, butter, salt, and sugar into a measuring cup.

Microwave these ingredients in a measuring cup for 20-30 seconds. Stir until the butter is melted. Test the temperature of the mixture.

It should be warm like a warm bath. If it’s not, microwave in 10-15 second bursts, stirring in between each burst. You don’t want it too hot, or you will kill your yeast.  Crack the egg into the milk mixture, using a fork to mix it into the mixture.

A half glass of milk on a marble countertop.

Step 2: Once the milk is the right temperature, place about 1 ½ cups of the flour and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook.

Use a fork or spoon to mix the dry ingredients well. Add the warm liquids and beat the dough for two or three minutes.

A mixture of milk and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook.

Step 3: Add the remaining flour a little at a time until a soft dough is formed.

Soft dough in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Step 4: Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it by hand for two or three minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic.

Turn the mixing bowl upside down over the top of the dough ball and allow it to rest for about 20 minutes. Don’t skip this step because it allows the gluten in the dough to develop and make it nice and stretchy.

Step 5: While you’re waiting for the gluten to develop, go ahead, and mix up the icing ingredients.

In a medium-sized bowl with an electric mixer, mix together the cream cheese and butter until they are light and creamy. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time and beat well. Add the milk and vanilla, beating well. Place the icing in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator until the next morning.

Spray a 9-inch square baking pan or a 9 inch round cake pan with cooking spray.

Step 6: Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough ball out onto a floured surface into a rectangle that is about 9 by 7 inches.

Spread the softened butter over the surface of the rectangle. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture over the butter on the dough rectangle, spreading it evenly.

Rolled dough sprinkled with a brown sugar and cinnamon.

Step 7: Roll the rectangle from the long edge to create a long, cylindrical roll.

Using a sharp serrated knife gently saw through the dough to create six to eight evenly sized cinnamon rolls. Place these rolls in the greased pan and cover the pan with plastic wrap. Place the pan in the fridge overnight.

Cinnamon rolls in a plate.

Step 8: Next morning, remove the pan from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, and allow the dough to come to room temperature, letting it sit for about 20 to 25 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the cinnamon rolls for about 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Let the rolls cool for 15 to 20 minutes before topping with icing and serving.

A serving of cinnamon roll topped with icing.

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