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This recipe yields a pan of buttery soft, gooey cinnamon sweet, and extra fluffy homemade cinnamon rolls topped with tangy cream cheese icing. It’s been a reader favorite recipe for years and I love it so much that I turned this rich dough into apple cinnamon rolls, pecan sticky buns, maple cinnamon rolls, and even a cinnamon roll wreath. You can make the cinnamon rolls within a few hours or get started the night before using the overnight preparation option.

This recipe is brought to you in partnership with Red Star Yeast.

cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing

This cinnamon rolls recipe has lived on the site since 2014. After making countless more batches since I published the recipe plus answering readers’ comments and questions, I thought it would be beneficial to update the post with more helpful information and success tips. Homemade cinnamon rolls are a popular breakfast choice, so I want to make sure you have all the resources you need for this classic recipe.

Tell Me About These Homemade Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

  • Texture: This is one of my richest homemade doughs, so you’re already promised a soft, springy, and fluffy texture. I usually use all-purpose flour, but if you use the optional bread flour, your rolls will be a little chewier. I find that these homemade cinnamon rolls are even fluffier than my easy 1 rise cinnamon rolls (and that’s because there’s the additional rise here!).
  • Flavor: The smell of warm cinnamon rolls is oh-so-irresistible and inviting. Once you take that first bite, you’ll enjoy a fresh homemade dough that’s swirled with endless pockets of (Cinnabon style!) sweet and gooey cinnamon.
  • Ease: Homemade dough and shaped breads require precision and effort. The dough is pretty straightforward and simple to shape, as long as you have enough flour nearby for your hands, work surface, and rolling pin.
  • Time: This dough requires 2 rises. Once you understand the assembly process, the prep moves pretty quickly. Set aside at least 4-5 hours from start to finish or divide between 2 days with the overnight option. Whichever method you choose, keep in mind most of that time is hands off as the dough rises.

If you are craving cinnamon rolls right now, and just can’t wait for dough to rise, try these no yeast cinnamon rolls!

What Readers are Saying:

“I HAD to come and leave this rave review. I just baked and iced these cinnamon rolls ay 9:05 am. It’s now 10:55 am in a household of only 3 people only two are left. This recipe is the best I’ve ever tried.” – Chelsea

“Delicious and easy to follow! This was my first time cooking with yeast and my first time making homemade cinnamon rolls and this was a great recipe to start with. Everyone at brunch was blown away.” – Hannah

“Delicious! I have tried many cinnamon roll recipes, and this is my new favorite. I prefer a roll that is large, more fluffy than dense/gooey, and buttery without being overly sweet. This fit the bill!” – Brice

cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting on white plate
homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing
Are You a Yeast Beginner?

This Baking with Yeast Guide is a wonderful starting point for yeast beginners. I answer many common yeast FAQs in easy-to-understand explanations, so you can learn about the basics before beginning.

7 Crucial Ingredients in These Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Feel free to skip straight to the recipe. But if you’re new to making bread, the following explanations are points that I’ve learned over the years and will be massively helpful.

  1. Whole milk: Whole milk is ideal for the richest tasting cinnamon rolls. Buttermilk works just as well without any changes to the recipe. Many readers have successfully substituted nondairy milks. In a pinch, you can use 2% or 1% milk, but do not use nonfat milk.
  2. Sugar: You need 2/3 cup of white granulated sugar in the dough. Use 2 Tablespoons in step 1 below (the proofing step), then add the rest in step 2.
  3. Yeast: You can use active dry or instant yeast. Follow the directions exactly as written regardless of which you choose. You’ll still proof the yeast in warm milk with some sugar even if you use instant yeast. This step ensures that the yeast is active and not expired. Most yeast these days is already active, but it’s a quick 5-10 minute step that prevents you from wasting your time just in case the yeast has expired. If using active dry yeast, the rise times will be a little longer. For the past 10+ years, my go-to brand has been Red Star Yeast. I always recommend Platinum Yeast from Red Star.
  4. Butter: This is a rich dough, meaning it has fat to help guarantee softness. Use 1/2 cup of softened butter and to help it blend easier, cut it into 4 pieces before adding.
  5. Eggs: Like butter, eggs promise a softer, richer dough.
  6. Salt: Dough is bland without salt.
  7. Flour: Flour is the structure of the dough. You can use either all-purpose flour or bread flour. You’ll notice the rolls are a little chewier if you use bread flour. It’s not a huge difference, so don’t worry if you only have all-purpose flour. (That’s what I usually use!)

Note: You’ll notice that I use more yeast in this recipe compared to my easy cinnamon rolls. Why? These are much fluffier and larger—about twice the size.

Step-by-Step Photos

Here’s what you’re looking for after you let the warm milk, some of the sugar, and yeast sit for about 5-10 minutes. The top will be a little foamy:

foamy yeast mixture in glass bowl

After the dough comes together, it will be a little soft and sticky—that’s normal. As explained in step 3 below, knead the dough on a floured counter or keep it in the mixer for kneading.

What If I Don’t Have a Stand Mixer? If you do not own a mixer, you can mix the dough together with a large wooden spoon/rubber spatula. It will take a bit of arm muscle. A hand mixer works, but the sticky dough repeatedly gets stuck in the beaters. Mixing by hand with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula is a better choice.

dough in mixer bowl and again pictured on the counter

Let the dough rise until doubled in size:

dough that has doubled in size pictured in a glass bowl

Punch the risen dough down and roll it out.

Baker’s Tip: If the dough keeps shrinking as you roll it out, stop what you’re doing, cover it lightly, and let it rest for 10 minutes to relax the gluten. When you return to the dough, it should stretch out much easier. 

rolled out dough

Spread softened butter on top, then sprinkle on a mixture of cinnamon and sugar (brown sugar or white granulated sugar).

dough rolled out with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar on top

Roll it up:

rolling up cinnamon roll dough

Use a very sharp knife to cut the roll into 12 rolls, each about 1.5 inches. Arrange in your greased baking pan, cover, then let the rolls rise until doubled in size and puffy, usually about 1 hour. The left photo is before rising and the right photo is after rising:

shaped cinnamon rolls before and after rising

Bake the rolls and then make the tangy cream cheese icing to smother on top. If cream cheese isn’t your favorite, you could top the rolls with vanilla icing, the brown sugar icing from these pumpkin donuts, maple icing from maple cinnamon rolls, or even the caramel icing from apple cinnamon rolls. Lots of options!

cream cheese icing in bowl next to a picture of it spread on cinnamon rolls

5 Success Tips

  1. Use brown sugar or granulated sugar in the filling: I used to use granulated sugar in the cinnamon sugar filling, but recently switched to brown sugar for extra flavor. Brown sugar doesn’t necessarily make the filling more moist—there’s so much butter, so it’s moist and gooey either way. Use whichever sugar you prefer.
  2. Best pan to use: I recommend a 9×13-inch glass or metal pan. Avoid ceramic pans. If you must use ceramic, keep in mind that the rolls will likely take longer to bake through.
  3. Evenly baked cinnamon rolls: These are extra big and fluffy cinnamon rolls, so to help guarantee the centers AND tops cook evenly, tent a piece of aluminum foil over the rolls after about 15 minutes in the oven. This will protect the tops from browning too quickly before the centers can cook.
  4. Don’t have all morning to spend on this dough? Feel free to prep the dough the night before. This is a wonderful way to save time in the morning so you can wake up and eat sooner. See my make-ahead/overnight instructions in the written recipe below.
cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing

How to Freeze Homemade Cinnamon Rolls So They Still Taste Fresh

Let me share a tip I’ve learned after working with this dough for several years. You can prep the rolls and freeze them ahead of time so they still taste fresh.

  • Here’s how: Bake the rolls in step 9 for only about 10 minutes. Cool completely, then cover and freeze. To serve, take the rolls out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Once thawed, finish baking them for about 15-20 minutes. 

I often use this method when I gift cinnamon rolls to others—just copy/paste or write these freezing instructions down. This method is also helpful if you have company over, want to cut down on time, or are entertaining. I like to make these cinnamon rolls ahead when I’m hosting holidays like Easter. See more Easter brunch recipes to complete your menu.

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homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing

Homemade Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes (includes rise times)
  • Yield: 12 rolls 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This recipe yields a pan of buttery soft, gooey cinnamon sweet, and extra fluffy homemade cinnamon rolls topped with tangy cream cheese icing. You can make the cinnamon rolls within a few hours or get started the night before using the overnight preparation option.




  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, warmed to about 100°F (38°C)
  • 2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (14g) active dry or instant yeast (2 standard size packets)*
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 and 1/2 cups (563g) all-purpose flour or bread flour (spoon & leveled), plus more as needed for hands/work surface
  • 2 teaspoons canola, vegetable, or olive oil for bowl (or use nonstick spray)


  • 6 Tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar OR granulated sugar (I use brown)
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 2 ounces (about 1/4 cup or 56g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream or milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Prepare the dough: Whisk the warm milk, 2 Tablespoons sugar, and the yeast together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment. Cover and allow mixture to sit for about 5 minutes or until foamy on top. *If you do not own a mixer, you can do this in a large mixing bowl and in the next step, mix the dough together with a large wooden spoon/rubber spatula. It will take a bit of arm muscle. A hand mixer works, but the sticky dough repeatedly gets stuck in the beaters. Mixing by hand with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula is a better choice.*
  2. On medium speed, beat in the remaining sugar (which should be 1/2 cup) and the softened butter until it is slightly broken up. Add the eggs and salt and beat on medium speed until combined. The butter won’t really be mixing into the mixture, so don’t be alarmed if it stays in pieces. Switch the mixer down to low speed and with it running, add 1 cup of flour at a time, making sure it’s fully incorporated before adding the next. After 4 cups have been added, add the last 1/2 cup and beat until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes. Dough will be soft.
  3. Knead the dough: Keep the dough in the mixer and beat on low speed for an additional 3 minutes or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 3 minutes.
  4. 1st Rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or use nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 2 hours or until double in size. (I always let it rise on the counter and it takes about 2 hours. For a tiny reduction in rise time, see my answer to Where Should Dough Rise? in my Baking with Yeast Guide.)
  5. Grease the bottom and sides of a metal or glass 9×13 inch baking dish or line with parchment paper.
  6. Roll out the dough: Punch down the dough to release the air. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 12×18 inch rectangle. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick. If the dough keeps shrinking as you roll it out, stop what you’re doing, cover it lightly, and let it rest for 10 minutes to relax the gluten. When you return to the dough, it should stretch out much easier.
  7. For the filling: Spread the softened butter all over the dough. The softer the butter is, the easier it is to spread in this step. (Microwave it for a few seconds to soften if needed.) In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle evenly over the butter. Tightly roll up the dough to form an 18-inch-long log. If some filling spills out, sprinkle it on top of the roll. With an extra sharp knife, cut into 12 even rolls, about 1.5 inches each. Arrange in the prepared baking pan.
  8. 2nd Rise: Cover the rolls tightly and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Or use the overnight option below.)
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Bake for about 25-28 minutes or until they are lightly browned on top. After about 15 minutes, tent a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pan to prevent the tops from browning too quickly and baking unevenly. Remove pan from the oven and place pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes as you make the icing.
  10. Make the icing: In a medium bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk 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 1 minute. Spread the icing over the warm rolls and serve immediately.
  11. Cover leftover frosted or unfrosted rolls tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions – Overnight: To prepare the night before serving, prepare the rolls through step 7. Cover the rolls tightly and refrigerate for 8-12 hours. (16 hours max. 8-12 hours is best, but 16 hours is OK if absolutely needed. Do not exceed 16 hours.) The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise on the counter for 1-2 hours before continuing with step 9.
  2. Make Ahead Instructions – Freezing: Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up before enjoying. You can also freeze the unbaked rolls and here’s how: bake the rolls in step 9 for only about 10 minutes. Cool completely, then cover tightly and freeze. To serve, take the rolls out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Once thawed, finish baking them for about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Milk: We recommend using whole milk for the best, richest tasting dough. You could also use buttermilk. 2%, 1%, or nondairy milk works in a pinch. Do not use nonfat milk.
  4. Yeast: You can use active dry or instant yeast in this recipe. Follow all of the same instructions. If using active dry yeast, the rise times are usually slightly longer. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
  5. Other Icing Options: Instead of cream cheese icing, you can top the warm rolls with vanilla icing, the brown sugar icing from these pumpkin donuts, maple icing from maple cinnamon rolls, or even the caramel icing from apple cinnamon rolls.
  6. Gluten Free: We have not tested this recipe with gluten free flour, so we are unsure of the results.

Keywords: overnight cinnamon rolls, homemade cinnamon rolls

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I really liked this recipe. I have made a few from your site and this was my first time making these rolls. I used half (UK) ‘plain’ flour (all purpose) and half bread flour. I wonder then if thag is the reason that the consistency of the rolls is more like cake than bread. So soft with no resistance at all. Definitely don’t mind this, just an interesting characteristic compared to ones I have made in the past. I found that I was able to get 15 rolls from the recipe and am so pleased I have so many as I can freeze and enjoy in the future. One questions: could I freeze after icing them?

    1. Hi Holly, Thank you so much for trying this recipe. Bread flour has a higher protein content and is best for chewier baked goods like breads and bagels, so that would actually results in your rolls being more tough and dense – the opposite of what you are describing! The rolls should be nice and soft! If you try them again try using all all purpose flour and you may need to add a bit more – you want a nice soft but workable dough. If you freeze them with icing, you’ll want to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before enjoying.

    2. It’s worth noting that all purpose flour differs between the US and UK: “UK plain flour is typically 10% or lower protein
      US all-purpose flour is generally low 12% and often around 12.9% which would be most definitely be considered ‘Strong Flour’ in the UK. 9-10% protein flour makes good cakes (small crumbs).” – so we’d be better off using bread flour here in the UK I think

  2. I made the Cinny minis, and they worked out really well. I cut the dough in half lengthwise so that I had two 6” x 18” pieces to roll. I baked them for about 25 minutes.

    I followed the recipe exactly, and the dough was soft. The rolls were tender and delicious!

    A great tip that I learned is to make “cinnamud’ filling, mixing the soft butter, brown sugar and cinnamon into a thick paste. Then spread it on the rolled-out dough. The result is an even covering over the dough, and nothing squeezing out of the roll. The result is a nice swirl!

    I have a photo, but can’t figure out how to add it.

  3. I made this recipe, or tried to, but the rolls developed a crust after letting it rise despite covering it. It happens with every yeast recipe I try. Any ideas on why this is happening?
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Meg, Thanks for trying this recipe. How did the baked rolls turn out? You may simply need to cover the pan tighter (we find plastic wrap works well).

    2. Hi Meg:
      In addition to Stephanie’s suggestion, you might like to try this old trick I learned as a teen making my first bread: use a tea towel; thoroughly wet it with the hottest water you can stand. Use this to cover your dough.

      Good luck to you!

  4. Unfortunately, these taste way too yeasty to be enjoyable. The recipe does call for more yeast than I usually use, but I didn’t realize that until it was too late.

  5. I love Sally’s recipes for all my baked goods. Especially muffins! These are a lot of work but get super big and fluffy. I would double the inside filling though. There was a pretty thin layer that could’ve used a lot more.


  7. Hello! How long and at what temp do you reheat the cinnamon rolls if frozen after baking? Thank you!

    1. Hi Christina, you can reheat them at the same temperature for just a few minutes — exact bake time will vary by oven.

  8. I made these this weekend and they were delicious! Could you provide some guidance on how sticky the dough is supposed to be? On a scale of tacky – where the dough kind of pricks up when touched, to sticky – where clumps cling to your hands.
    I weighed everything exactly and followed the directions and the dough was decently sticky. When I touched it, a smallish clump clung to my hands, and I had dough residue on my hands after trying to get it off. Even though I had followed the directions it seemed too sticky so I added a couple of tablespoons of flour and mixed that in for about 5 minutes. It was still just as sticky. I decided to just let it rise because I didn’t want to make the rolls dense. When transferring to the oiled boil the dough had to be transferred in 2 sections because it didn’t form one stiff ball of dough. After rising it was just fine to work with and the rolls turned out great. I’m just trying to get a grasp for next time of how sticky to expect the dough to be. Pictures of that would be helpful, too! Recipes usually say “not too sticky” which I have a hard time interpreting.

    1. Hi Holly! I’m just seeing this question/comment now. I must have missed it during those busy Thanksgiving weeks in November! The dough is supposed to be a bit tacky, but not as sticky as you are describing. We are working on publishing a video for these rolls ASAP! In the mean time, just so you don’t need to add too much flour, if you try the recipe again, I would reduce the milk by 2 Tablespoons (so, leave out 30ml). This way you don’t need to just continually add more flour. But, I’m glad you enjoyed how they tasted! A little less milk should help make the dough easier to handle.

  9. Hello! Looking forward to making these for an upcoming women’s brunch at church. Wondering if it’s ok to double the recipe or if I should make separate batches? Thanks so much for the time and effort you and your team put in to developing, testing, and sharing recipes.

    1. Hi Kelly, for best results, we recommend making two separate batches. Hope they’re a hit at your brunch!

  10. Hi there! I work weekends in a private home with intellectually disabled individuals and cinnamon rolls are my go-to special occasion breakfast for the people I consider my second family. Birthdays, holiday mornings, in celebration of accomplishments, once in a while just because… That said, getting up hours before I otherwise needed to to make them was very tedious, especially on the mornings I knew I’d be there all day! I was so excited when I stumbled upon this recipe because that meant I could do the bulk of the work the night before, then pop them in the oven at my normal wake up time and my clients would wake to that marvelous cinnamon smell.

    I gave it a shot and ended up loving this recipe even more than the one I’d used all my life! These rolls are so soft and fluffy. At the suggestion of one of my clients, we added walnuts to the filling and discovered they’re mind blowing either way. So we dabbled in all kinds of other things. Apple slivers, a bit of orange juice and zest, other spices or nuts – basically whatever they wanted to try, we tried. We have never gone wrong with this base recipe and our rolls have never been less than perfect.

    I’m reviewing tonight because our house is closing tomorrow and each of the three people I have come to love so much over the last four years are off to their new homes, while I’m settling in at my new job. Tomorrow will be my last morning with them.

    My cinnamon rolls are on the rise as I type. Thank you so much for this!

    1. Hi K, Thank you so much for sharing that with us! We’re so glad this recipe has played a special part in each of your lives.

  11. Hi Sally! If I am making these cinnamon rolls one day ahead, can I pop them in the oven the next day to serve warm without issue? Thanks so much!

  12. I’ve made these twice and both times they didn’t rise as much as I’d hoped. I finally figured out why — for the 1/2 tablespoon of yeast I am misreading this and using 1/2 TEAspoon. There is no 1/2 tablespoon spoon that I’ve ever seen in a set. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m wondering if it would be helpful to others who are using a jar of yeast to write this as 1 tablespoon + 1.5 teaspoons?

    1. Keep looking for that 1/2 Tablespoon measure…I have one! It’s from a blue Kitchenaid set which looks like it’s still available on Amazon. Good luck!

    2. Check amazon, keeper of all things! I have a lovely metal yeast spoon that measures out 1 packet of yeast (3/4ths of a tbsp) because i buy in bulk and so many recipes are written for packets or have the equiv like this one does. Makes it easy! Alternatively, just eyeball half a tbsp measure, i do it all the time. Close should be good enough.

  13. These are delicious! I made them for Christmas morning breakfast and now my brothers can’t get enough! They want me to make them fro every holiday.
    I’ve also used your recipes for muffins and soft pretzels, absolutely amazing and delicious!
    Question: what is the longest amount of time I can keep the cinnamon rolls in the fridge for?

    1. Hi Emily, tightly covered leftover rolls should keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

  14. This recipe is amazing! I’m not a fan of cinnamon rolls, but my household is. Give me a sticky roll over a cinnamon roll always. I conceded this time and served these for Thanksgiving brunch. Big hit is an understatement. High, high praise from everyone. If someone hadn’t tried them yet, they were being pushed by those who had. This dough, wow. It’s so soft and pliable without being breakable. It’s so easy to work. I love this dough!

  15. I absolutely love these cinnamon rolls. This year I made a savory version for Thanksgiving. I cut the sugar in half and made a filling from softened butter, fresh rosemary, fresh chives, garlic, and Parmesan. They were a hit…glad I made to two batches.

  16. Lovely recipe! Everyone loved them so much I’m considering making them as gifts for a few friends this Christmas. Sally, what is the best way to make the icing in advance? Can I make it and freeze it separate from the par baked rolls to be dethawed and frosted when they are ready to pull them out of the freezer to eat? If not, what would you suggest?

    This is the first time I’ve tried one of your recipes. I can’t wait to try more!

    Thanks in advance!


    1. Hi Anna, yes, you can absolutely freeze the frosting on the side to gift with the cinnamon rolls. Hope they’re a hit!

      1. Thanks for the info! I’ve read in several places that you can bake the cinnamon rolls all the way, let them cool completely, ice them then freeze them. Then let them dethaw and warm them at a low temp (200 degrees F or so). Would this work for your recipe? Trying to cut out any work for my friends i am gifting these too but do not want to jeopardize the great taste!

      2. Hi Anna, Fully baked rolls can be frozen up to 2-3 months. See the recipe notes for details. If you plan to have your friends warm them up in the oven, you may wish to not ice them (you can freeze the icing separately for gifting purposes). Hope this helps!

  17. Beautiful dough, I’m at 30 min and still not golden or browned on top? Did overnight recipe so maybe still too chilled when I put in oven and need more time

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