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Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

These Overnight Cinnamon Rolls are ultra soft, gooey and perfect to make for the holidays, for busy mornings and for when you have friends and family over. The cream cheese frosting melts into the warm cinnamon roll swirl, making these irresistible.

As I’ve mentioned before, my mom wasn’t one to make things from scratch growing up. Cooking and baking just weren’t her thing. However, whether my mom made things from scratch or from a can or box, she always made sure my brother and I were involved in some way. To me, anything that she made had that “homemade” feel, because I was always involved in some way.

I grew up on Pillsbury canned cinnamon rolls, and while they weren’t necessarily homemade, they were darn good. You really can’t beat cinnamon rolls. My senior year in high school, I decided to attend a technical school and study pastry arts. It was during this year that I realized making cinnamon rolls from scratch was actually easy and something that I truly enjoyed doing.

And so, I began my cinnamon roll making journey. I’ve experimented with making my own cinnamon roll recipes over the years and as I am now a mom to three little boys, my time to make yeast breads like cinnamon rolls has become a bit tougher. These overnight cinnamon rolls divide the work. The dough is made and rolled the night before. The rolls rise overnight, so you don’t have to wait around during the day for the rolls to rise. The day of, you bake the cinnamon rolls. Alright, let’s get to the details of these, shall we?

The details

instant vs active dry yeast

This recipe uses active dry yeast. The difference between instant versus active dry yeast is that instant yeast can literally be used instantly. You mix the yeast with all the ingredients and mix. With active dry yeast, you have to “activate” it. This means that you need to add a warm liquid to the yeast. I also add the sugar at this time, because it gives the yeast “food”, but the sugar is not necessary. Some recipes you will see don’t have sugar in them.

Once you whisk together the warm liquid, active dry yeast and sugar, you allow the mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes. The mixture should get foamy/frothy. If it does not, it means the yeast is not active. The yeast could have been expired or the liquid could have been too hot. The liquid should be 108-112F. Ideally it should be 110F.

Once the yeast is active, you add the remaining ingredients and mix. Active dry yeast has a slower rise time than instant yeast, so the active dry yeast is perfect to use in this overnight cinnamon roll recipe.

Mixing the dough

You can make the dough for these overnight cinnamon rolls by hand, or with a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add the yeast, sugar and warm milk to your mixing bowl, then whisk to combine. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes to allow yeast to activate.

Once the yeast mixture is foamy, add the remaining ingredients. Mix on low speed to combine ingredients, then increase to medium speed for 5 minutes. The dough will be very soft. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Spray the top of the dough with nonstick cooking spray, then cover with plastic wrap. I prefer using plastic wrap when covering dough, because it keeps the dough from developing a skin on the surface. Allow the dough to rise for 60 minutes.

Rolling and shaping dough

After the initial rise, punch dough down, then roll into a 12×18 inch rectangle. Spread softened butter over dough, then sprinkle brown sugar/cinnamon mixture over dough. Use your hands to evenly spread sugar mixture over dough.

Roll the dough, starting at the short end, into a log. Cut the dough into 9 rolls with a serrated knife or dental floss. Yes, you read that right. Unflavored dental floss actually is my preferred way to cut cinnamon rolls. It doesn’t squish the dough and allows the cinnamon swirl to stay perfectly intact. Simply wrap a piece of dental floss around the dough log, then use your hands to pull both ends of dental floss in opposite directions to cut the rolls.

Place the dough in a lightly greased 8×8 pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap.

Overnight rise

The cinnamon rolls should rise overnight for at least 8 hours, but can rise for up to 24 hours.

baking the day of

When baking the cinnamon rolls the day of, you have two options. You can allow the rolls to rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours, or you can preheat your oven to 100F. Once the oven temperature hits 100F, turn your oven off. Place the cinnamon rolls, covered, in the oven and allow to rise for 30 minutes. Remove the rolls from the warm oven and preheat the oven to 350F.

Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Spread the frosting on the warm cinnamon rolls and enjoy!

If you make this overnight cinnamon roll recipe, let me know what you thought in the ratings and comments below. I love hearing your feedback so I can improve my recipes. Make sure you find me on instagram and youtube for the full baking video for these as well as fun behind the scenes.

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Overnight Cinnamon Rolls


  • Author: Jolene
  • Total Time: 10 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 9 1x

Description

These Overnight Cinnamon Rolls are ultra soft, gooey and perfect to make for the holidays, for busy mornings and for when you have friends and family over. The cream cheese frosting melts into the warm cinnamon roll swirl, making these irresistible.


Ingredients

Scale

1 cup warm whole milk (warmed to 110F) (240 grams)

1 teaspoon active dry yeast (3.1 grams)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar (24 grams)

1 large egg

3 cups all-purpose flour (360 grams)

1/2 teaspoon salt (3 grams)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (56.7 grams)

Filling:

4 tablespoons salted butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar (165 grams)

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (8 grams)

Frosting:

6 ounces cream cheese

2 tablespoons salted butter, softened (28.4 grams)

1 cup powdered sugar (115 grams)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Instructions

1. Mix the warm milk, yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl, or bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, or until the yeast appears frothy/foamy. If it is not frothy, the yeast is not active (it could have been old yeast, or the liquid could have been too hot). I recommend discarding and starting over if the mixture is not frothy.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.

3. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, covered and allow to rise for 60 minutes.

4. Punch down dough and roll into a 12×18 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface.

5. Spread softened butter over dough, then sprinkle brown sugar/cinnmamon mixture over dough. Use your hand to gently spread the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly over dough.

6. Starting at the short end, roll up dough into a log. Using a serrated knife or dental floss, cut into 9 rolls.

7. Place in a lightly greased 8×8 pan. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight.

8. Remove rolls 1 ½ hours before baking from refrigerator. For a faster rise, you can preheat your oven to 100F, turn the oven off, then place rolls in warm oven for 30 minutes. Remove rolls from oven and preheat oven to 350F.

9. Place rolls in preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

10. To make the cream cheese frosting, place all ingredients in mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachment or a handheld mixer, mix until smooth and creamy. Spread the cream cheese frosting on the warm cinnamon rolls and enjoy!

  • Prep Time: 600
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: cinnamon rolls, overnight cinnamon rolls, overnight cinnamon roll recipe, cinnamon roll recipe

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6 Comments

  1. We’ve tried your 1 hour cinnamon rolls and they were amazing. We want to try the overnight ones for Christmas morning. Do you not pour the heavy cream over there before baking like the others?

    1. Megan,

      I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the 1 hour cinnamon rolls! You do not need to pour the heavy cream over the cinnamon rolls. I found they are moist and do not need the heavy cream. I hope you enjoy them! Merry Christmas Eve 🙂

      -Jolene

  2. Hello Jolene,

    I’ve had the pleasure of trying both the pecan and orange cinnamon rolls, as well as the super soft (1-hour) recipe, and I absolutely loved them. However, I do have a concern. My dough consistently turns out quite moist, to the extent that it would be challenging to knead by hand without the aid of a machine. As a result, I often find myself adding extra flour to achieve a less moist consistency. But now I’m curious: would the rolls turn out even softer if I didn’t add this extra flour? Could you share how moist your dough is before the 60-minute rising period? Is it possible to shape it by hand, or is it too moist?

  3. Hello Jolene,

    I’ve had the pleasure of trying both the pecan and orange cinnamon rolls, as well as the super soft (1-hour) recipe, and I absolutely loved them. However, I do have a concern. My dough consistently turns out quite moist, to the extent that it would be challenging to knead by hand without the aid of a machine. As a result, I often find myself adding extra flour to achieve a less moist consistency. But now I’m curious: would the rolls turn out even softer if I didn’t add this extra flour? Could you share how moist your dough is before the 60-minute rising period? Is it possible to shape it by hand, or is it too moist?

    1. Iris,

      I am so happy to hear that you’ve enjoyed my cinnamon roll recipes! I truly appreciate you trying them out :). In terms of the dough being moist, sometimes it can be affected by the humidity in the air. I know sometimes during the summer time, when it is warmer and more humid, my dough can be a bit wetter or stickier. The opposite is true of the winter, when it’s colder. My dough is softer, but not to the point that it is sticky and too difficult to handle. It usually gets more “firm” or easier to handle after it rises too. I just make sure I spray my bowl with nonstick spray, and spray the top of the dough, so that it doesn’t stick to the plastic wrap that I cover it with. I, personally, have not tried mixing it by hand, so I can’t say for 100 percent certainty how tough it would be to mix by hand. If you mix the dough by hand, you do have to knead the dough a little bit longer, than with a stand mixer. This dough is probably best made with the stand mixer, if you have one. If you mix it by hand, adding extra flour to make it easier to handle and knead is totally fine. Hope all of this helps! Thanks again for making the cinnamon rolls 🙂

      -Jolene

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