Wednesday Baking | Overnight Cinnamon Rolls (with Cream Cheese Frosting)

by Kristen on April 21, 2010 · 43 comments

in Recipes, Wednesday Baking, Yeast Bread

These rolls are a huge hit at our house, and are frequently requested for special birthday breakfasts.

This isn’t the only sweet roll recipe that I use (I’ll share my grandma’s sweet roll recipe with you sometime), but I love this one because of its make-ahead quality.

homemade sliced cinnamon rolls

Like Cinnamon Twists, these shaped rolls can sit in your fridge overnight, needing only to be baked and frosted in the morning.

These rolls are a very loose adaptation of a cinnamon roll recipe I found in Taste of Home, so I’ll share my version with you instead of just linking you to TOH’s recipe.

homemade cinnamon roll

If you can make regular bread dough, you will find that cinnamon rolls are not at all hard to make. Like most of my bread recipes, this one starts with a combination of yeast and flour.

To that, you add a mixture of warm milk, butter, salt and sugar. To make things simple, I combine all of this in a glass measuring cup and microwave it until it’s 120 degrees.

Once you’ve added the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, add an egg and beat the dough for 2-3 minutes. The dough will be really soft at this point.

So, add enough flour to make a kneadable dough, and turn it out onto a floured surface.

I had some extra whole wheat flour around when I made these, so I used 1.5-2 cups of it in this dough. If you use all white flour, your dough will look a little lighter in color.

Anyways, knead the dough for 3-5 minutes, or until it’s smooth and elastic.

Place the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover with a wet tea towel, and let it rest for 20 minutes. The dough will rise some during this time, but the main purpose of the rest is to allow the gluten to relax. This makes it much easier to roll the dough out.

After the dough has rested, you should be able to easily roll it out into a large rectangle. Spread it with softened butter (if you can’t do dairy, you can certainly use a dairy-free butter substitute.).

Combine a cup of brown sugar with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.

Sprinkle this evenly over the dough. And don’t worry about getting all the lumps out of the brown sugar…a few lumps won’t matter at all.

Roll the whole thing up, starting from a long end.

Using a sharp, serrated knife, a piece of thread, or a piece of (not minty) dental floss, cut the dough into 21 slices.

cutting cinnamon rolls

Place 9 slices in a greased 8×8 pan…

and 12 slices in a greased 9×13 pan.

(did you count mine? I have more than 12 in this pan, because somehow I managed to cut more than 21 slices. I lose at math, apparently.)

Cover your pans, and place them in the fridge overnight (alternatively, you can let them rise for 30-35 minutes and bake them straightaway).

In the morning, the rolls should have risen a little bit (but not an impressive amount). Remove the cover, replace it loosely to let some air in, and let them sit on the counter at room temperature for 30-40 minutes, depending on how cold/warm your house is.

Bake them for 20-25 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.

They’re pretty good this way, but frosting makes all the difference in the world.

To make the frosting, combine butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk in a mixer bowl. You can do this by hand, but it’s a lot harder that way.

Slather the frosting over top of the warm rolls.

cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting

If you’re at all concerned about having leftovers, you can always just frost each roll individually. This will keep you from having to store leftover rolls in the fridge (the fridge dries bread out).

homemade cinnamon bun

And if you’re not a fan of cream cheese frosting, you can feel free to substitute a simple buttercream frosting. If you go that route, you can safely leftover frosted rolls on the counter instead of in the fridge.

I make these pretty infrequently, though, so leftovers are rarely a large problem. ;)

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
Printable Overnight Cinnamon Roll Recipe

Dough:
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3.5 to 4 cups flour

Filling
1/4 cup softened butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Frosting
1/4 cup butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened (don’t try to use cold cream cheese!)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make dough, heat milk, butter, salt, and sugar to 120 degrees F. Combine 2 cups of the flour and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add warm liquids and egg and beat for 3 minutes. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 3-5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place dough in bowl, cover, and let rest for 20 minutes.

Place dough on a floured surface and roll to a 17×10 inch rectangle. Spread with 1/4 cup softened butter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over dough. Starting from a long end, roll the dough up jelly roll style. Cut into 21 slices, and place cut side down into greased pans, 9 into an 8×8 inch pan and 12 in a 9×13 inch pan. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, remove lids and replace them loosely. Let the pans stand at room temperature 30-40 minutes, or until the rolls are soft to the touch. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

To make frosting, beat all the ingredients together in a bowl (a mixer makes this much easier). Spread over top of warm rolls.

Leave a Comment

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rhona April 21, 2010 at 8:53 am

They look sooo good. I have always been intimidated by cinnamon rolls but I have baked a fair bit of your recipes, all with rave reviews, so I might attempt at these. Just looking at that cream cheese maks my mouth water.

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2 Christie April 21, 2010 at 9:06 am

We love cinnamon rolls at our home too! There’s not much that can make a Sunday morning before church sweeter than hot rolls and coffee with the family.

Here’s a tip my mom taught me: If you don’t have a sharp knife or don’t want to use a sharp knife, instead you can “cut” your cinnamon rolls using dental floss. Just get a long piece and slip it under the log of dough, cross the two ends at the top, and pull together. This will leave you with a nice round roll. No squishing here!

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3 Kristen April 21, 2010 at 11:07 am

Yup, I said that! lol

“Using a sharp, serrated knife, a piece of thread, or a piece of (not minty) dental floss, cut the dough into 21 slices.”

I didn’t include that tidbit in the printable recipe or the recipe at the bottom of the post, though…just up in the pictures. =P

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4 Christie April 21, 2010 at 11:31 am

OOPS! It was early when I read that and that’s what I get for skimming through your beautiful pictures and not reading what’s under them.. Sorry;)

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5 Kristen April 21, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Christie, it’s totally ok! I’m a skimmer and not a detail person, so I understand. lol

Emily, that’s good to know that the mint doesn’t matter.

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6 Emily April 21, 2010 at 12:21 pm

I’ve been using dental floss for cutting cinnamon rolls for years now, and I haven’t noticed that minty floss makes a difference. I’ve never tasted it. Just checked–yep, mine is minty (I keep it in my spice cupboard near the cinnamon)!

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7 Faith April 21, 2010 at 9:44 am

Cream cheese icing is the best! These look so good. My favorite recipe is modified from a year review of taste of home. I wonder if it is the same one. I will have to look at it when I get home. These make me hungry. :) They are beautiful.

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8 erin@tinytwistcreative April 21, 2010 at 10:40 am

This looks just like my mom’s! She makes the most amazing sausage pastry and cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning and it definitely has cream cheese frosting on the side and extra for all the sweet tooths. :-)

By the way, I made your cheese twists for an event with Chris’ ship and they were devoured! Thanks.

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9 LenciB April 21, 2010 at 10:54 am

I love cream cheese frosting! I also like making pasta sauce with cream cheese. I had to bookmark this page to copy the recipe later, I’ve never made cinnamon rolls before (from scratch)! Not even in home ec, I had an ortho appointment that day! I still remember it too..

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10 Elissa April 21, 2010 at 10:59 am

Kristen,
These look so yummy. I’d like to try these but since there’s only two of us, I need fewer at a time. Is there a point where I could freeze the rolls/dough for baking later? Love your blog. Discovered you on the 700 Club and since have been to Aldi’s , bought Pyres containers and yeast for the first time. You go girl!

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11 Kristen April 21, 2010 at 11:06 am

You could probably freeze them right after shaping them, though I have not personally tried that with this recipe.

If I were you, I’d just half the recipe. :)

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12 Kristen April 21, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Ha. I think that should be “halve”. =P Who in the world lets me write a blog anyways??

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13 Shel November 11, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Cinnamon Rolls are our Christmas morning tradition. Since there are only 3 of us, I have put them in the freezer after shaping them. I wrap them in 4′s and pull them out to rise and bake when we get the craving. (which is usually within the next week or 2…LOL) Works like a charm!

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14 WilliamB April 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Since yeast doesn’t like being frozen, you could also try 1) freezing fully-baked rolls, then defrosting when you want one, and 2) baking them most of the way (15 min?), freezing, then finishing baking when you want more.

You could, in fact, run the experiment. Prepare a batch and try each way. Pull one of each time from the freezer once a week and finish (defrost the fully cooked one, finish cooking the other) and compare. You and your spouse could each eat a half a roll. One cinnamon roll a week sounds good, doesn’t it?

Kristen, do you have a good method for halving a recipe that uses only one egg?

PS: Cinnabons are much richer than this version. My make-at-home version of their rolls uses a half package of vanilla pudding to duplicate the effect.

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15 Kristen April 21, 2010 at 2:57 pm

I would just throw the whole egg in, because I’m that imprecise. lol

I have frozen yeast dough before and it does fine as long as I don’t leave it in the freezer for more than a few weeks.

And yes, the recipe I derived this one from had vanilla pudding in it. I hate to use that stuff unless it’s really necessary, though, and since we all like these fine without the pudding mix, I leave it out.

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16 Shel B July 28, 2010 at 9:37 pm

One of our family’s Christmas traditions is a breakfast of homemade Cinnamon Rolls complete with a cold glass of milk. We’re a small family of 3 and we usually just gobble them all down. Takes us less than a week!

Well….last Christmas I decided to try freezing half. After rolling and cutting the pretty spirals, I placed half in a freezer bag. When I was ready to bake all I had to do was let them thaw and rise. Next, I popped them in the oven and baked as usual. They came out just as good as they did on Christmas morning every time! Beats halving the recipe! LOL

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17 Laurie April 21, 2010 at 12:13 pm

I made these a while back with a recipe from Taste of Home (don’t think it was the same one). I made them the night before and put them in the fridge to rise. They were JUMBO size by morning. It was really kinda cool – like I had made my own Cinnabons.

BTW, so glad to be able to read your blog everyday. It truly is inspirational to see how you help others EVERY day.

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18 Emily April 21, 2010 at 12:23 pm

In your instructions (the ones with pictures, not the recipe at the end), you left out the powdered sugar for the icing. I don’t make cream cheese frosting, so at first I was wondering if it doesn’t actually have any sweetener, but then spotted the powdered sugar in the picture of the bowl of frosting.

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19 Kristen April 21, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Whoops. That’s two recipes in a row where I made a mistake like that. Can you tell I type up my posts right before I publish them? lol I always have high hopes of getting them done ahead of time so I can revise and proofread them several times, but alas, I never manage to get ahead and stay ahead!

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20 CanadianSaver April 21, 2010 at 2:22 pm

OMG, this looks AMAZING!!! Yummers :-)

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21 Samantha April 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm

I’m also making these as we type, I noticed that you forgot to put when to add the egg in your written out directions. I didn’t put the egg in because it didn’t say to…will it make a difference in the outcome?

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22 Kristen April 21, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Darn it! lol I’m so sorry. You should totally add an egg after you add in the warm liquids. I fixed in the printed directions, and I’ll need to fix the pdf too. Phooey.

Thank you for letting me know!

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23 Sarah April 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Ok, definitely going to try these. Thanks for the recipe!!

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24 Cate April 21, 2010 at 7:56 pm

I use this recipe (http://www.recipezaar.com/recipe/Cinnabon-Cinnamon-Rolls-76864) for Cinnabon cinnamon rolls. No vanilla pudding mix required! They’re absolutely delicious, and I haven’t bought a cinnamon roll from Cinnabon since I discovered the recipe–because these are even better.

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25 Michelle Marlowe-Sistad April 22, 2010 at 10:37 am

I just made these this morning and my family loved them!!! Thank you for all the great recipes and tips that you provide. I look forward to reading your blog everyday.

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26 Tiffiny Felix April 22, 2010 at 11:32 am

I love cinnamon rolls, maybe a little too much…I only make them once or twice a year because I can’t stop eating them! :) And cream cheese frosting is a definite must :)

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27 Forest April 25, 2010 at 3:36 am

Yum…. just yum :). I love the cream cheese topping so no problem there!

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28 Petrina LeBlanc April 28, 2010 at 11:06 am

Kristen, made these last night and baked them this morning. Yum!! We have a pan left (there are only 3 of us). We can’t wait to have them again tomorrow. Thanks for posting yum, cool things:-)

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29 Josie June 1, 2010 at 3:11 pm

My kiddos love homemade cinnamon buns! I switch it up sometimes and instead of cream cheese icing I add pecans to the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Also, heat up 3/4c butter and 3/4c brown sugar over medium heat and pour into a greased 9X13 pan. I let that cool, place the cut cinnamon buns into the pan let rise and bake. When finished baking let cool for 15 minutes and flip the cinnamon buns out onto a sheet and voila you have sticky buns. So yummy!

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30 christine November 2, 2010 at 11:11 am

Thank you so much for inspiring me with your Wednesday Baking. Yesterday I made bread, without my bread machine…a big step for me. This recipe I think is going to be the next one my daughter and I try. Thank you for such great ideas!

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31 Joanne Wright aka simplybeingmum November 8, 2010 at 1:47 pm

These look AMAZING- seriously amazing – forget the general overnight rising experiment I was going to try with basic wholemeal to create rolls – this is first on the list. I’m feeling incredibly inspired! Thanks Kristen!

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32 Joanne Wright November 8, 2010 at 1:50 pm

So glad my American Measuring Cups arrived today so I can try this out tomorrow – totally inspiring!

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33 Joanne Wright November 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Even more excited now as have double checked ingredients and I do indeed have them all in the cupboard hurrah!

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34 Deni November 14, 2010 at 4:46 am

Kristen, I’ve been lurking on your blog for about a year now, and I’ve gotta tell you, cinnamon rolls always seemed way too complicated for me. But I’ve made a lot of your recipes and, thanks to your pictures, these didn’t seem too hard. So I jumped in with both feet, tried them out, and now my family can’t stop raving about them! Thanks so much for another success from your blog to my kitchen.

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35 christine November 14, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I finally got around to making these and man-o-man, are the great. Thank you for a wonderful recipe and detailed instructions. It helped a great deal.

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36 Courtney November 25, 2010 at 10:34 am

I LOVE these rolls! I seem to always be on a quest for overnight cinnamon rolls (my daughter LOVES them!) and I haven’t found a sinlge one I totally love…..until this recipe!

Not only are these perfect for doing overnight, but they are DELICIOUS!

Thanks you so much for this recipe!!!!!

With happy hearts and full tummies on Thanksgiving morning-
Courtney

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37 Paige March 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Fantastic recipe. I made a batch of these last night, and they turned out beautifully.

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38 Marla November 11, 2012 at 11:50 am

These are so easy and exactly what I needed for a last minute plan. I doubled the frosting because while they baked I dipped my finger in a few times. Delish!!! Thank you for sharing!!!

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39 Eva @ Eva Bakes January 14, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Thank you for this fantastic recipe. I had a fear of making cinnamon rolls, and my first attempt (using another recipe) was disappointing. They were overly brown and dry. Then I found your recipe, and it was exactly what I wanted in a cinnamon roll. I’ve linked back to you here: http://evabakes.blogspot.com/2013/01/overnight-cinnamon-rolls-take-two.html

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40 Vicki September 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm

I am going to try these. It is my daughter’s favorite!!! I really like the way you present a recipe!! Thank You.

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41 Tess July 4, 2014 at 9:14 am

I just made these last night, and baked them this morning. THEY ARE WONDROUS!! I have never made cinnamon rolls before, and this recipe was easy and quick! definitely making these again. Thank you for the great recipe!! :) xxx

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42 Kristen July 4, 2014 at 10:49 am

Excellent!!

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