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 and 1/4 cups (150g) confectioners’ sugar
- 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream or milk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 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.*
- On medium speed, beat in the remaining sugar (which should be about 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Grease the bottom and sides of a metal or glass 9×13 inch baking dish or line with parchment paper.
- 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.
- 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.
- 2nd Rise: Cover the rolls tightly and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Or use the overnight option below.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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