Overnight Cinnamon Rolls.

Soft, fluffy, buttery cinnamon rolls you can begin ahead of time. Save time in the morning and have everyone wake up to warm, fresh, cinnamon goodness!

Soft, fluffy, buttery cinnamon rolls you can begin ahead of time. Save time in the morning and have everyone wake up to warm, fresh, cinnamon goodness!

I love all things sweet rolls. Orange, blueberry, cherry, caramel apple, pumpkin, you name it. But sometimes? Nothing and I mean nothing beats a classic cinnamon roll.

Most of my sweet roll recipes can be started the night before, but none of their doughs are actually developed to be an overnight recipe. Today’s cinnamon roll dough gets better with age. Or you know… overnight… making it a perfect make ahead recipe.

They’re dreamy.

Soft, fluffy, buttery cinnamon rolls you can begin ahead of time. Save time in the morning and have everyone wake up to warm, fresh, cinnamon goodness!
This is a wonderful brunch if you’re entertaining this holiday week or anytime throughout the year. (Anytime is cinnamon roll time.) The dough is made the night before. Allow it to rise, roll it up tightly, slice into rolls, cover tightly, and pop in the refrigerator. The next morning, remove the rolls from the cold air and let rise for 1-2 hours before baking.

Your family and guests will wake up to warm, fluffy, fresh, ooey gooey cinnamon rolls. And BONUS! The smell of cinnamon rolls baking. Is there any scent better? I actually have a cinnamon roll scented candle. And I think some genius brand makes cinnamon roll flavored chapstick. Which could be incredibly wonderful or incredibly disappointing.

Anyway. This overnight cinnamon roll recipe is something to keep on hand if you’ve got a busy morning and plenty of mouths to feed. Kevin called them the best thing I’ve baked all year. He must’ve forgotten about my red velvet cupcakes.

Soft, fluffy, buttery cinnamon rolls you can begin ahead of time. Save time in the morning and have everyone wake up to warm, fresh, cinnamon goodness!

Making The Dough

Don’t let yeast terrify you. It’s simply an ingredient that goes into the recipe. My go-to brand is Red Star Yeast; I’ve been working with them for a couple of years and I haven’t found a yeast on the market that can do what Red Star Yeast does. Honestly. Their Platinum line is unbeatable and makes working with yeast… easy! The dough starts out with a little yeast proofing, which I explain in the written recipe below. This step is literally telling you if your yeast is active. Which likely, it is. I use a little more yeast in this recipe compared to my easy cinnamon rolls (a great beginner recipe) because these are about twice the size. After that a little butter and two eggs are added, which make the dough incredibly rich and tender. This has to be the richest sweet dough I’ve ever tasted.

The flour comes next. You’ll need a fair amount of flour to support the dough’s moisture. I always use about 4 and 1/2 cups, but this amount will depend on the feel of your dough. If your dough is a little sticky, add another Tablespoon or two until it’s soft and supple, but not overly sticky. Alternatively, if your dough is a little too stiff, beat in a couple drops of warm water to soften it back up again.

Though this is a yeasted dough recipe prepared in a stand mixer, you don’t necessarily need one to make it. A handheld mixer would be just fine. If you don’t have either, you’ll need some arm muscles to break down the dough’s butter and to knead the dough. Once the dough is prepared, into a large greased bowl it goes. Allow to rise until doubled in size. This will be the FIRST rise. There are two. You’ll let the rolls rise again in the morning.

Once risen, fill with all the cinnamon sugar goodness (a lot of it!) and roll up tightly. Cut into rolls and arrange in the baking pan. Like so:

Soft, fluffy, buttery cinnamon rolls you can begin ahead of time. Save time in the morning and have everyone wake up to warm, fresh, cinnamon goodness!

Cover this pan up tightly to allow the rolls to rise again overnight. Emphasis on tightly! Any dough directly exposed to cold air may dry out, creating a dry and crumbly dough for your cinnamon rolls.

The next morning (about 8-12 hours), allow to rise in the warm environment again until doubled in size. Look at this supple dough ready to be baked:

Soft, fluffy, buttery cinnamon rolls you can begin ahead of time. Save time in the morning and have everyone wake up to warm, fresh, cinnamon goodness!

Bake. Smell. Heaven.

Soft, fluffy, buttery cinnamon rolls you can begin ahead of time. Save time in the morning and have everyone wake up to warm, fresh, cinnamon goodness!

Allllllllll the cream cheese frosting melting into every crack and crevice.

Soft, fluffy, buttery cinnamon rolls you can begin ahead of time. Save time in the morning and have everyone wake up to warm, fresh, cinnamon goodness!

They’re incredibly fluffy, uniquely rich, buttery, soft, and filled to the max with cinnamon sugar goodness. The filling’s the best part right? The butter used in the filling is what makes them supremely gooey, so don’t skimp! These make ahead cinnamon rolls will be the star of your morning; from scratch always wins.

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Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Soft, fluffy, buttery cinnamon rolls you can begin ahead of time. Save time in the morning and have everyone wake up to warm, fresh, cinnamon goodness! Please read through the recipe in full before beginning.

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk1
  • 2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons (14g) Red Star Platinum yeast (2 standard size packets)2
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 and 1/2 cups (558g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting/rolling (measured correctly)

Filling

  • 6 Tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 2 ounces (about 1/4 cup or 56g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (150g) confectioners' sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Make The Dough: In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until lukewarm-- no need to use a thermometer, but to be precise: about 95°F (35°C). Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment (OR you can use a handheld mixer OR no mixer, but a stand mixer is ideal). With a spoon, manually stir in the sugar and yeast. Cover with a towel and let sit until the yeast is foamy, about 5-10 minutes. This is called proofing your yeast. If the yeast does not dissolve and foam, start over with fresh active yeast. On low speed, beat in the softened butter until it is slightly broken up. Next add the eggs, one at a time, and then the salt. The butter won't really be mixing into the mixture, so don't be alarmed if it stays in pieces. On low speed, gradually add the flour. Once it is all added, beat on medium speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is soft and supple, about 6 minutes longer. *If you do not have a stand-mixer with a hook attachment, knead the dough by hand in this step.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands for 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, a paper towel, or aluminum foil and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours. Here's what I do: turn the oven on to 250°F (121°C). Turn the oven off. Stick the covered dough inside the oven and allow it to rise in this warm environment.
  3. Butter/grease/spray with nonstick spray the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish, then line with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using a rolling pin, roll into a 13x18 inch rectangle. I used a ruler for accuracy. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick, even at the corners.
  4. For The Filling: Spread the softened butter all over the dough. Don't skimp-- you want it all on there. In a small bowl, toss the cinnamon and sugar together until combined and then sprinkle evenly over the dough. Tightly roll up the dough to form an 18-inch-long log. If some filling spills out, that's ok just sprinkle it on top of the rolls. Cut into 12 even rolls (about 1.5 inches in width each). Arrange them in the prepared baking pan, cut sides up. Cover the rolls very tightly with aluminum foil (no rolls exposed, please-- this dries out your dough) and stick in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours.3
  5. Remove rolls from the refrigerator and let rise in a warm place just as you did in step 2 until they are puffy, about 1-2 hours. Mine usually take 1 and 1/2 hours.
  6. After the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C). Bake for about 25 minutes, until they are golden brown. About halfway through the bake time, I like to cover the rolls loosely with aluminum foil so the tops don't brown too much. Remove pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes as you make the icing.
  7. Make The Icing: In a medium bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners' sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Using a knife, spread the icing over the warm rolls and serve immediately. Cover leftover frosted or unfrosted rolls tightly and store at room temperature for up to 3 days-- I prefer this over storing in the refrigerator. I find that dries them out, but do what you like best.
  8. Make ahead tip: Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up before enjoying. You can also freeze the unbaked rolls and here's how: let the rolls rise overnight through step 4, then the next morning do step 5. Then, bake the rolls for only about 10 minutes at 375°F (191°C). Cool completely, then cover tightly and freeze. Take the rolls out of the freezer and put into the refrigerator a few hours before serving. Then, finish baking them.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Whole milk preferred for richest tasting dough. 2% or 1% would be fine, but not ideal. Nonfat is not recommended.
  2. If not using an instant yeast, rise time may be up to 40% longer.
  3. No time for overnight? If planning to bake the rolls right away, in step 4-- instead of sticking the rolls in the refrigerator, loosely cover them and let rise in a warm place just as you did in step 2 until they are puffy, about 2 hours. Then continue with step 6.

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Merry Christmas. Thank you for reading Sally’s Baking Addiction and making me apart of your day and kitchen!

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Soft, fluffy, buttery cinnamon rolls you can begin ahead of time. Save time in the morning and have everyone wake up to warm, fresh, cinnamon goodness!

My FAVORITE overnight cinnamon rolls recipe!

172 comments

  1. I have tried several cinnamon roll recipes that claim to be “the best” and always end up disappointed.  This was by FAR the best cinnamon roll recipe I have ever tried.  I had to tweak just because of what I had on hand and we are stuck in the house due to snow right now, but even with 2% milk and brown sugar in the filling…they were fantastic.  I loved your recommendations for putting the dough and the rolls in a warm oven to rise.  They were the fluffiest cinnamon rolls I’ve made.  Thanks for being my go-to baking site!  

  2. I have to admit I am really afraid to use yeast! I have a serious Cinnabon addiction but I am not close enough just to go get a box of those plus I’d like to learn to do this on my own as its way more cost effective then Cinnabon and it is better then the cans of cinna rolls bcuz I can pronounce what’s in it! I have found a Cinnabon recipe and it calls for margarine not butter? I have heard that margarine makes the dough hard to work with. Have you ever tried it with margarine? I have a lot of questions about this but I don’t want to bother you with them all. Last one. I also heard that for great cinnamon rolls that you have to use like top of the line cinnamon and all I have is the store brand kind. I also have whole sticks I could get the cinnamon from. What do you suggest? Sorry again for the long post but I have made a ton of your recipes and I trust yours I have about 10 recipes for cinnamon rolls and I came back here knowing your recipes are amazing and always quality. Plus you explain everything so well. Thanks again Sally! I’m so glad I found your addiction!

    • Hi Jordan! Do not use margarine in these cinnamon rolls– and I usually use McCormick brand cinnamon but I’ve used store-brand before. I agree that more expensive, fancier cinnamon is best. You want that amazing cinnamon taste!

  3. Hi Sally,
    Made these yesterday & it’s really really good… Thanks for sharing amazing recipe..

  4. Hi Sally! I love your blog and I read it all the time! I can’t wait to make your cinnamon rolls for Valentine’s Day! (They are my boyfriend’s favourite)! I was just wondering, as I have not made the overnight cinnamon rolls before, do you wrap the cinnamon rolls themselves in the tin or do you wrap the tin when it goes in the fridge? I wouldn’t want them to come out dry in the morning! Thank you! P.S can’t wait to try them! 

  5. I made these and they turned out incredible. My friend I had over LOVED them and passed the recipe on to her mom. 

    WOW. That’s all I can say is wow. Amazing.

    Thank you for sharing. 

  6. I love to cook, but am new too baking. My husband got me a standing mixture for Christmas and I have made these cinnamon buns a dozen times since then (at least

  7. We want to make these for a church fund raiser. Thinking we would bake them all the way and then freeze.  You mentioned letting them thaw in the fridge and then warming them up to eat.  Do you have any suggestions on specific warming up instructions we could give our buyers? Thank you! 

  8. I’d really love to do your make ahead tip and freeze these partially cooked a few days before Easter. Am I going to be compromising the awesomeness of these rolls at all? 

    • A little bit- nothing tastes as fabulous as fresh. Though they’re still tasty in my opinion. (And no one else noticed a difference!)

  9. I roll my dough out onto a jelly-roll pan for shaping and adding the filling. It’s the right size (13x18inch rectangle) and clean up is pretty easy. I have limited counter space (and no kitchen table) and don’t like fishing flour out from under the toaster and microwave to clean up. 

  10. Could these sit in the fridge for 24 hours ahead of baking??

  11. Hello Sally

    I was wondering if these can be left in the refrigerator to rise longer than 8-12 hours. I need to start them in the afternoon and bake them the next morning. Would they taste the same if I baked them ahead (skipping the refrigerator rise) and reheated them in the morning?

    Thank you

    • That would be too long unfortunately. They’d still be quite delicious if you prepared them all one afternoon then reheated in the morning.

  12. Can these be made with buttermilk instead of whole milk?

  13. This recipe was amazing. Cinnamon rolls are a heck of a lot of work, but being able to do all of it the night before and simply bake them in the morning is so much less stress when you’ve got a breakfast/brunch to host, and other dishes that need to be made that morning. Much better than waking up at 4am!!! Also, my whole family asked if these were a Cinnabon copycat recipe! 10/10, would make these again for sure. 

  14. Hi! I was so excited to try out your recipe! I followed every step to the T. But unfornately my cinnamon rolls came out underbaked. I don’t know what went wrong. I used an oven thermometer to ensure it’s accuracy. The only thing I can think of is that my rolls were too close together? (I did use my largest baking dish though). Perhaps next time I’ll bake them in two batches instead of all 12 at once. I reconciled the problem by lowering the rack down one level and covered with foil to prevent burning the top and baked it for 20 more minutes. Thanks for the recipe though!

  15. These look lovely and I will hopefully try them soon….loved all your other recipes I’ve tried so far, particularly the monkey bread! (And my sister loved those too…she keeps pestering me to make them again :D)
    Also glad that you convert from cups to grams, really helpful for me as im not used to the cup measurements…(British over here! 😉 ) and they’re more precise 🙂
    Thank you! 😀

  16. What about half and half?

  17. I tried this recipe cause I wanted to serve rolls early. Did not work well, you need to let them sit longer than I wanted, even then the middle ones did not cook as well as outside. Better to mix the dough and kneed late in evening. Next morning rollout and put on the butter and cinnamon, then raise for one hour and bake. Much better

  18. With so much going on in the kitchen, I’m looking for shortcuts.
    I’d like to try this recipe by doing all the work on Friday (the 23rd) and bake it Sunday (the 25th) which leads me to my question:
    At step 4……leave in fridge for 8-12 hours (overnight) ……
    Can I leave in the fridge 24 hours or longer and continue to step 5 with good results?
    Merry Christmas Sally !

    • Hi Brenda! Unfortunately, that is too long for the yeasted rolls to sit without baking. Can you prep on Christmas Eve after everyone’s asleep? That’s what I’ll be doing!

  19. Hi Sally,

    Can you make these and refrigerate overnight for two nights instead of one and have the same results?
    Thanks!

  20. Thanks for sharing a lovely lovely recipe. I plan to make this recipe Friday morning and place the unrisen rolls (tightly wrapped in a layer of plastic and foil) in the freezer–not the fridge.  Then at about 2pm on Saturday, I will move them from the freezer to the refrigerator. Then on Sunday morning I will remove them from the fridge at about 5 am and place them in a warm place to rise. I will bake them between 7-8 am. This method came from The Pioneer Woman but I have not tried it yet!

  21. Just finished licking my fingers, they so – so yummy. Thanks Sally and Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family! 

  22. Hi Sally. I wanted to try these for Christmas morning. I have always made cinnamon buns for Christmas morning but like the idea of overnight. 
    My questions is, what’s the max time they can stay in the frig ? Have a lot of people coming for Xmas eve so wanted to start them earlier today. Would be almost like 18 hours or so. 

  23. These are amazing!!! I had been researching on homemade cinnamon rolls and I read the reviews, which is usually what leads me to a particular recipe. We had biscuits and gravy for breakfast and breakfast casserole. My husband ate 2 of these after eating breakfast and kept going on about how wonderful they were. I stayed up and ended up cooking instead of refrigerating. On the 2nd time the rolls weren’t rising  after 30 min. I actually turned the oven on like before and waited 15 min and then they were ready to go. I did one With pecans and one without. This will go in the books. Thanks 

  24. I made these on Christmas Eve day for the next morning and they were SO good!! I think I will put more sugar and cinnamon inside for the filling because mine seemed to evaporate more than I would like. But other than that, a very simple recipe to follow and it will be my go to form now on !

  25. I made your cinnamon rolls for Christmas and last night (New Year’s Eve), I dreamed we still had some! That’s how memorable & remarkable they were. But they were SO delicious that, sadly, no, there weren’t any more left from Christmas. I just wanted to thank you so much for the recipe and the step-by-step, foolproof instructions. I was particularly impressed with the tip for getting my dough to rise. You really made my Christmas with these rolls. Thank you, Sally!! I will definitely be making them again. ❤

  26. My daughter (11yrs) wanted to make Daddy something for his bday and then this recipe came up. Cinnamon buns being a family favorite she was enthused to try them. We aren’t big bakers (yet) so we followed everything to a T. They were dynamite! My husband (& our other daughters) thoroughly enjoyed them. The only trouble we had was trying to roll out the dough into a perfect 13×18 rectangle. It didn’t happen and at that point we improvised and adjusted accordingly but they all worked out. The only thing I would alter is the icing – more cream cheese flavour next time. Thanks for sharing, it was a positive baking (& dining!) experience:)

    • I am so glad you guys liked them! And I LOVE that your daughter wants to start baking! You can always add more cream cheese icing 🙂 Here’s to many more baking adventures!

  27. Just wanted to comment and say I also made these on Xmas Eve for Christmas morning – my first yeast dough EVER and a big occasion to boot. I knew I didn’t have to worry, though, because Sally recipes are basically fool-proof. These were easy and so so so so delicious straight out of the oven. Making a killer yeasted cinnamon roll was like an extra Xmas present. On the last day of leftovers I sliced & toasted them and then topped with maple syrup because holidays.

    A few notes :
    – I made a half recipe & put 6 rolls in an 8×8″ pan which worked just great. (It’s an easy split since there are 2 eggs and 2 packets of yeast)
    – I had these in the fridge for about 16 hours so they got a little extra rise time in the morning but they still came out delicious.

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