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?
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.
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.Print