Baker Bettie

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Prep these cinnamon rolls the night before and bake in the morning. These overnight cinnamon rolls bake up super fluffy and gooey and are slathered with cream cheese frosting while still warm! 

Gooey Cinnamon Rolls in a casserole dish slathered with cream cheese frosting

When I first decided I was going to do a series on baking with yeast I asked people to post on facebook what questions they had about baking with yeast. One of my friends asked, “I make cinnamon rolls at night. What do I need to do to be able to bake them in the morning and still have them be as fluffy as if I baked them immediately after they rise?” This is a great question! Plus, any excuse to make cinnamon rolls is okay by me! 

I’ve always thought that all cinnamon roll recipes (or any breakfast yeast bread) should include instructions for if you are making the dough the night before and baking in the morning.

Let’s face it, who really wants to get up 4 hours before you want to eat cinnamon rolls to get the dough prepped? Nobody. That’s who. It just makes a lot more sense to prep them the night before and bake in the morning!

Dough rolled out into rectangle shape and then poured with butter and cinnamon sugarLeft side: unbaked cinnamon rolls in pan. Right side: fluffy cream cheese frosting

The thing you have to remember about making any yeast dough and putting it in the refrigerator is that the yeast is going to slow way down while it’s cold. Remember, as we addressed in the Baking with Yeast 101 post, yeast is most active at warm temperatures.

I had a feeling that the problem with my friend’s cinnamon rolls is that they were going into the oven cold. She confirmed that they were, and this is the problem with the fluffiness of the rolls.

When yeast is awake and feeding, it produces carbon dioxide. This is what makes the bread rise before it goes into the oven. Once the bread hits the oven, the yeast begins to die and the gas that the yeast produced expands and makes the bread rise even more.

Therefore, in order for the cinnamon rolls to be super fluffy, the dough needs to warm back up before going into the oven so that the yeast is awake and feeding.

I find that for best results I put the rolls into the refrigerator as soon as they are shaped. Then I take them out and let them sit in a warm place to come back to room temperature and finish rising before going into the oven.

This usually takes about 2 hours. But that’s 2 hours where you don’t have to do anything. You could even go back to bed! And if your kitchen is very warm, it may not even take the full 2 hours. You can always sit the pan near a heating oven to help them along.

Freshly baked cinnamon rolls right out of the oven before frosting

If you are ever in Chicago one of the biggest things on your eating agenda should be to get a cinnamon roll from Ann Sather. I’m telling you, they are incredible. I have never in my life had a cinnamon roll so tender, fluffy, gooey, and filled with butter and cinnamon. I have had a lot of cinnamon rolls and none compare to those of Ann Sather’s!

But, with this recipe I aimed to get as close as possible to Ann Sather level and let me tell you these do not disappoint! Definitely the best cinnamon rolls I have made to date! I even made you another little tutorial video so you can see exactly how to do it yourself! I hope it helps!

Please let me know what other questions you have about baking with yeast so I can address them!

Gooey Cinnamon Rolls in a casserole dish slathered with cream cheese frosting

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 12 Rolls
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Overnight Rise Time (optional): 12 hours
Total Time: 14 hours 35 minutes

Prep these cinnamon rolls the night before and bake in the morning. These overnight cinnamon rolls bake up super fluffy and gooey are are slathered with cream cheese frosting while still warm! 

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk (any kind, dairy or non-dairy will work fine)
  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp, 7 gr) active dry or rapid rise yeast
  • 1/2 cup (100 gr) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (75 gr) unsalted or salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4-5 cups (480-600 gr) all-purpose flour or bread flour

For the Filling

  • 1/3 cup (75 gr) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3 TBSP (36 gr) cinnamon
  • 1 cup (200 gr) brown sugar or granulated sugar (or a combination of the two)

For the Frosting

  • 4 oz (113 gr) cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 56 gr) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups (240 gr) powdered sugar

Instructions

For the Dough and Filling

  1. Warm the milk up slightly until it is about 110 F. This will feel just slightly warm. You do not want it to be hot.
  2. Pour the yeast into the milk and add a big pinch of sugar. Stir together and let sit for 5-10 minutes until you see some foaming. This means your yeast is alive. If you see no activity or foaming, your yeast is either old or your liquid was too hot.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, butter, eggs, salt, and flour. Add the milk/yeast mixture and stir together until it forms a dough.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 5 minutes until its smooth and elastic. Alternatively, you can knead with a dough hook in a stand mixer.
  5. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  6. Deflate the dough by gently pushing your fist in the center and folding the sides over. On a floured surface, pat the dough out to a rectangle. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to about a 16X12" rectangle.
  7. Combine all of the ingredients for the filling together in a bowl. Spread the filling evenly over the rolled out dough, leaving about a 1/2" border. Starting on the long end, roll the dough into a log and pinch the seam closed.
  8. Using a serrated knife, trim the ends off the roll. Cut the roll in half and then cut each half in half. Cut the roll into 12 pieces by cutting each section in 3 even pieces.
  9. In an oiled 9X13 pan, space the rolls out evenly. Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the rolls and press down so no rolls are exposed. Refrigerate the rolls overnight.
  10. About 2 hours before baking, take the rolls out of the refrigerator and let come to room temp and rise. You can place the pan next to a heating oven to speed up the process.
  11. Preheat the oven to 350F. When the rolls are doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap and bake for 35 minutes.
  12. Frost the rolls while still hot so the frosting seeps into the rolls.

For the Frosting

  1. With a hand mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0

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86 comments on “Overnight Cinnamon Rolls”

  1. These look delicious.

    Love your page.

    Thanks for the post.

  2. These look absoloutely delicious and mouthwatering.

    Please have a look at my new blog for my cake creations:)
    https://sprinkleoficingsugar.wordpress.com/
    It would be great to get some support.

  3. I love cinnamon rolls but I am eating them only from bakeries. May be it is time to try to prepare them at home. This recipe is not that complicated 🙂 Thanks darling!

  4. OH MY GOD! LOOKS YUMMY!! THANKS FOR SHARING!! LOVE YOUR SET-UP!! VERY INSPIRING!!!

  5. Digging in freezer looking for something when I ran across a 4 oz. jar of Fleischmann’s Activ Dry Yeast, never opened. The top says it expired 210, but it’s been in the freezer all this time. Do you think it’s okay to use for these cinnamon rolls? or should I throw it out and go get fresh. THANKS!

    • I have used yeast far past the expiration date with success. Just make sure you see some activity in the milk. If it isn’t frothing up at all then you need to get new yeast.

    • I always keep yeast in the freezer.  I buy the large size from Costco and put it into jars and freeze.  I have been using yeast that is older than me!!!!  Never had a problem as long as it is kept in the freezer.

  6. If I want to bake them as soon as I make them, how long should I allow them to rise once they have been sliced and put in the pan?

    • You want them to proof until double in size. It should take about an hour. If your kitchen is really warm, it will go faster, and if it is chilly, it will go a little slower.

  7. Really like your receipe posts

  8. Have made these a few times and they are hands down the best ever. Great recipe!!

  9. These were soooooooooo good. I don’t like cinnamon rolls but these have converted me. The only thing is my dough took 2 hours to double in size after kneeding. Other than that, awesome recipe! Will make again and again! Thank you!

  10. It’s very difficult to find active dry yeast in where I live. Your cinnamon buns look amazing and I really want to make them. Can I use a less amount of insant yeast for this? Thanks

  11. How many rolls does it make?

  12. I made this recipe last night for breakfast this morning. Delicious! Thanks for this great and so easy recipe! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes.

  13. So amazing! That frosting is gorgeous and mouth-watering. One question: have you ever tried warming yeast doughs in the microwave in short bursts on 10% power? I’ve been doing it for years after reading about it in Real Simple during that mag’s early days. 3 minute bursts on power level 1 (10% power), followed by 3 minutes rest the 1st time, then 6 minutes rest after the second burst, then a final 3 min and after about 15 minutes more rest, the dough is usually fully risen. It’s an extraordinary tool. I’ve had pizza dough in the oven in just over an hour starting from yeast in water with this technique. I have microwaved dough out of the fridge to get it to wake back up, and with some flexibility on the times, it gets it moving again in fairly quick times…maybe 30 minutes instead of 2 hours. Pretty cool. I’d love to hear someone else’s take on it! The only trouble would be if you didn’t have a machine with good power control. A “defrost” setting, for example, would be too hot and kill your yeast. But ultra low power is magic!

    • I have never tried this but I saw a contestant on The Great Brittish Bakeoff do this. I know the judges thought it messed with the gluten structure, but I say, if it works for you keep at it! I’ll have to give it a go sometime!

    • I have used the microwave to raise dough since 1998. What I do is put a small juice-glass full of water in the inner-left corner of the microwave and placed the bowl of dough in the center of the rotating plate. Power 1 for 15min works for me, but then I do not have a super-high wattage machine either.

  14. Your explanation about the yeast is outstanding! I love making homemade breads, and understanding what is happening is so helpful. Thanks!

  15. Your link to print doesn’t work. 

  16. My daughter 15 years old has never made any rolls or bread. She did both yesterday and they were so good. She is so proud of herself. We are so happy to see her face as we tried the bread, then the rolls. She is so happy she tried them . She will be making them for Thankgiving. I’m so proud of her and thank you so much for your yeast 101. Thank you. The proud mother of Susan L Cheney.

  17.  Very awesome recipe but that music needs to go, LOL 

  18. Glad I tried this recipe!  The active yeast I bought didn’t foam up but thank goodness the dough did rise!  Will need to tune down the icing recipe for my taste as it’s a bit too sweet for me (fine for others with major sweet tooth ).

  19. Bettie, I absolutely love this recipe. And your website too. This recipe is amazingly good and I have made your rolls, with the same directions with great success, time after time, which amazes me, because the yeast never foams. Thanks so much for all the time you spend giving us yeast 101. I absolutely love working with yeast. Again, Thank You so very much.

  20. Do you used all purpose flour or bread flour for this recipe? Looking forward to trying these!

  21. I just got done making these and man are the delicious! The only thing that happened was the bottoms got too Brown but that was not the recipe it was my oven. Everything was very easy to do and the icing is to die for!! Will for sure make these again thank you!

  22. These are the best cinnamon rolls that I’ve ever made! So decadent and fluffy. I honestly would make them more, but they’re impossible to resist. 

  23. I am wondering if any left over cinnamon rolls with the CC frosting would need to be refrigerated because of the icing? 

  24. I only have fast rising yeast. I know you say not to use it but how big of a difference does it make?

    • If you want to use quick rise yeast for these rolls you want to go ahead and proof them and bake them. They will likely over-proof in the refrigerator overnight if you use quick rise yeast. So what I propose is to make the dough, let it double in size (this will happen faster than the recipe states due to using the quick rise yeast, probably 30ish minutes), shape the rolls, let them double in size again (probably 30ish minutes), and then bake them. Hope that helps Ginger!

  25. Could you leave this on your counter overnight? Or does it absolutely have to be refrigerated?

  26. These are wonderful! The texture is so rich and unique, and the filling is perfectly balanced. My husband and son raved about them so much for so long over the course of the last two weeks that I’m making them again this weekend!

  27. This is the best cinnamon bun recipe I have ever made! The texture is so fluffy and soft.
    I will definitely be sticking to this recipe.
    I did find that I had to use a little bit of milk than what the recipe called for.

    Could I double this recipe and freeze the dough, or will the propotions not work?

    Thank you.

  28. Hi Bette! I cannot wait to try the cinnamon roll recipe! Thank you so so much! I do have one question…. what other topping would you suggest other than using cream cheese.  My husband hates cream cheese or anything made with cream cheese.  I love cream cheese and will put that frosting on half! … but for my “picky” eater what else do you suggest that may taste as yummy?

  29. Hi! I love this recipe and am wanting to make them for presents. At what point would you suggest to freeze them? I think that instead of putting them in the fridge overnight, I can put them in the freezer. Then leave instructions to put them in the fridge the night before to thaw and then the next morning set them out for the 2 hours. What do you think?

    • Hi Jennifer! I would freeze them right after they are shaped, before they proof. Leave instructions to thaw them in the refrigerator overnight still covered and proceed as the recipe suggests!

  30. Hi. Thank you for this recipe. I’m looking forward to making it. 
    Do you think it’s possible to make the rolls a few days in advance and maybe put it into the freezer? 

  31. Looking forward to making these for Christmas morning! Would I be able to put them in the fridge 24 hours before I bake them?

    • Hi Emily! I have not tried to slow proof them for that long. I have only gone up to 18 hours and I fear they might overproof if you go much longer than that. I would suggest putting them in the freezer after shaped and then moving them into the fridge to thaw and proof overnight. Pull them from the refrigerator about 3 hours before baking to finish proofing.

  32. Could you let the dough rise for more than an hour? Say …….. maybe three or four? I need to make this around a party we’re going to please respond

    • Hi Sonya, just now seeing this as I am traveling to see family for the holidays. Your day may overproof if you let it sit out at room temperature too long. If you need to let it go for longer than suggested, then you would want to put it in the refrigerator. Cold will slow down yeasts activity so it will buy you some time.

  33. Great recipe! Made them last night and baked them this morning! Will defiantly keep this recipein my files

  34. What is the maximum time you can leave these in the fridge before you cook them? Is 24 hours too long?

    • Hi Jemma,

      I have never tested letting them proof that long. I would say 18 hours would be max, but that is just a guess as it is possible 24 hours could work. I believe they would start to overproof though if left that long.

  35. My yeast didn’t foam after proofing☹️ will my rolls still turn out?

  36. Finally, a weekend that actually feels like Fall here in the Low=Country of South Carolina.
    Made your overnight cinnamon rolls and they are sleeping in the fridge until tomorrow morning.
    I made Beef Stew for Supper, roasted brussel sprouts on the side,. and decided to make your Dinner Rolls—these people are going to wonder what’s up with me !!
    Thanks,
    Henny
    PS Love the Calorie Count of the Cinnamon Rolls….

    • HAHA! I think it auto-filled that in since I don’t ever add calories. But also, who’s counting calories when eating cinnamon rolls?! Sounds like your family is very well fed!

  37. These were phenomenal and not as difficult as I anticipated. I was super nervous since I have never baked any bread item.

  38. Hello I am eager to try this recipe but I am wondering if I could sub the scalded milk for buttermilk? Will I need to heat it or just let it come to room temp? I enjoy the taste of biscuits and other breads made with buttermilk and as a thought wondered how it would be in your recipe. If I were to use the buttermilk would I need to adjust the amount of butter in the recipe because whole fat buttermilk would have more fat than whole milk right? Thank you!!

  39. I apologize I entered my email incorrectly in my first post. My post was on the buttermilk question.

  40. I learned to bake correctly from you – to weigh the ingredients. I’m super bummed out that this recipe is written as volume measure and not weights. Otherwise it’s fabulous!

    • Hi Michelle! Sorry to hear you’re disappointed. All of my recipes in the last few years do include weight measurements. However some of my old recipes, like this one, have not yet been updated to include them. I am working to get them updated as soon as I can but with hundreds of recipes, it is quite a project. I will try to get this one done today.

  41. Approximatley how large is the dough when it is rolled out… prior to putting on the cinnamon goo?

  42. These are absolutely delicious! The perfect fluffy texture! And if anyone else was wondering like I was…these worked for me on two different occasions with both regular whole milk and almond milk! And now I have them rising again for Christmas Morning! Thank you!

  43. Help! They didn’t rise.
    What else can I do with the dough? 
    So disappointed this Christmas morning. 

    • Hi Suzanne! Did you get my email on Christmas morning? I sent you one right when I received this comment. If your dough did rise the first time then they should definitely rise after they are shaped. Sometimes you just need to give them a little more time especially if your kitchen is really cold. Did you happen to bake them?

  44. You indicate 4-5 cups of flour but do not specifically state when you might add the additional flour or what should the dough look like when enough is added? I bake so I am assuming the extra cup is added as you knead the dough. I like to be precise when I bake especially when I have not used a recipe before. Thoughts?  

  45. Thank you so much for the insightful videos. I have tried and tried to make cinnamon rolls to to avail. My kitchen is very cold in the winter … like 60 degrees on a warm day. My rolls would never rise… I put them in a 100 degree oven to see if that would work and they did rise, but then they fell before baking. I’m wondering if I can leave them out on the counter overnight for the second rise?

  46. Hi, Bettie,
    Saw the Bake-Alongs. Really helpful, Thank-you. Am looking forward to the next one’s. I posted a question but didn’t see it appear in the chat column so am repeating it here. If you see something similar in your chat feed, it’s probably me. My question is:
    I’m using British flour and I often find I have to increase the moisture content a little when I’m using your recipes. Is there a difference between British flour and American flour?

  47. Love, love, love your three part tutorial videos on making cinnamon rolls. This recipe is great because you can prepare doing most of the work the night before. Thank you, Bettie! I have my ingredients weighed and measured and will be preparing these wonderful roles tonight for tomorrow’s breakfast. Can’t wait!!

  48. Hi Bettie
    Wow!! I just finished eating my first warm cinnamon roll. I’ve sampled many in my time but this is my first attempt at making my own. This recipe could not be improved upon! I found the first videos when you were already on step 3 live, and decided I had to give them a try. I was so impressed by your clear instructions I knew they could not fail!
    Comment and questions: I think it would be helpful for me next time to line the pan with some overhanging parchment (or foil?) so they could be removed all together before icing. I just couldn’t easily find the divide between rolls after icing them in the pan, so had to take a guess where one ended and the next began, not always successfully. (I used the cream cheese frosting recipe, icing within 5-10 minutes out of the oven.) Is there a reason you prefer not to remove from pan before icing? And if you were to line the pan, would foil or parchment be better?
    One other question: how long can you leave the rolls in the fridge before removing for the two hour rise? I had read somewhere never to leave them longer than 12 hours in the fridge or the flavour would suffer. I had the impression you were putting them together mid-aft to bake the next morning, so that would be 14 – 16 hours I think. Mine were about that. What’s your feeling about that? Mine tasted just great after that length of time, but maybe that was pushing it?
    Thanks so much for a great recipe and easy instructions. I’m looking forward to trying sourdough with you too.
    Cath
    Toronto, Canada

  49. Hi i really want to make this for my family but i have 7×11 pan so i want to make a half batch. So my question is do i have to divide the yeast if i divide the recipe in two? Thanks in advance

  50. Hi Bettie,

    I watched your YouTube 3 part video on making cinnamon rolls and decided I needed to make them. It’s great that how to make them is on video so we can go back and watch over and over again while we are making them. They turned out delicious but I do have a couple of questions:

    Mine did not rise as much as your and I suspect yours were fluffier. I think that had to do with my kneading technique or lack of it. Could I put the ingredients in my bread machine and let it do the work? If so, would I only put in the 4 cups of flour and be done with it? Hopefully yes because my machine’s limit is 4 cups.

    I tried the tip of rising in a pre-warmed oven and that seemed to work very well except that I had a crust on top of my dough. I covered the bowl up with a bowl and am wondering if heat or air got through the towel to create the crust. Although there was a crust which seemed to incorporate which the rest of the dough and seemed not to cause a problem, next time can I put a piece of saran wrap directly on top of dough while it’s rising or would be better to just wrap the top of bowl with saran wrap?

    Thank you for your help. I am looking forward to YouTube video on making pie.

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