This is the best recipe for Overnight Cinnamon Rolls! Soft, tender, and oozing with cinnamon flavor, this recipe for cinnamon rolls allows you to assemble homemade cinnamon rolls in advance! Perfect for entertaining or a holiday brunch.
Cinnamon Rolls are a favorite brunch recipe. Not just with my family, but with millions of people around the world. And while the taste and texture of homemade cinnamon rolls are far superior to popping open a can of refrigerated cinnamon rolls, they can be a bit time-consuming to prepare.
But what if I told you instead of being trapped in the kitchen, you can be sitting back relaxing with a bellini or a latte and enjoying your company (or time to yourself), while the aroma of cinnamon fills your house? It is ENTIRELY possible with this recipe for homemade cinnamon rolls.
Why You Will Love This Cinnamon Roll Recipe
- Overnight Preparation. This recipe for Cinnamon Rolls is designed to be assembled the night before, so all you have to do in the morning is bake and enjoy! Paired with Overnight Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole, you have the perfect brunch for the holidays or a leisurely morning.
- The Flavor. From the yeasty dough to the warming spices to the cream cheese glaze, these cinnamon rolls are everything you want in a homemade cinnamon roll.
- A Bit Better for You. While this recipe uses flour, butter, and sugar, it uses significantly less than most recipes. The trick is using just enough to still deliver a rich, decadent flavor, minus the excessive fat and calories.
- Easy to Make: Whether you start with homemade bread dough or take a shortcut and prepare cinnamon rolls using frozen bread dough, these cinnamon rolls come together easily and are delicious using either method.
Notes on Ingredients
- Bread Dough: I have provided instructions for making bread dough from scratch using all-purpose flour, dry active yeast, honey, salt, and water. However, you swap the homemade dough for thawed frozen bread dough, making this cinnamon roll recipe that much easier.
- Butter: Instead of using several sticks of butter, only a mere 3 tablespoons of butter are needed to make these Cinnamon Rolls. The butter is used in just the right spots so that you still have that rich butter flavor. I recommend using unsalted butter for best results.
- Sugar: You can use coconut sugar, brown sugar, or granulated sugar for the filling of the cinnamon rolls. I love using brown sugar, as the molasses adds a nice rich finish to the cinnamon rolls.
- Spices: A pinch of cloves along with cinnamon, adds just the right amount of warmth to these Cinnamon Rolls.
- Cream Cheese Frosting: The cinnamon roll frosting is made with powdered sugar, milk, room-temperature cream cheese, and a bit of lemon juice. The lemon juice helps to balance out the sweetness in the cinnamon rolls. Keep in mind you will want to use full-fat or reduced-fat cream cheese, not fat-free cream cheese for the best flavor.
Modifications for Dairy-Free Cinnamon Rolls
- For the Dough: Prepare the homemade dough according to the recipe directions. if using store-bought dough check the ingredients carefully as most contain dairy of some sort.
- For the Butter: In place of the butter use your favorite nondairy butter, such as Earth Balance, in place of the butter.
- For the frosting: Omit the cream cheese, and use dairy-free milk. The glaze will be thinner, but delicious.
How to Prepare Homemade Cinnamon Rolls in Advance
The following tips are provided to help you achieve perfect results. You will find the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step One: Prepare Dough. If desired, follow the recipe card's provided instructions for making homemade bread dough. Otherwise, defrost 1 pound of frozen bread dough overnight in the refrigerator.
Step Two: Assemble the Cinnamon Rolls. Once the homemade dough has doubled in size or the frozen bread dough is fully thawed, you are ready to roll it out and assemble your cinnamon rolls. This can be done up to 16 hours before baking.
Overnight cinnamon rolls are assembled in the same fashion as traditional cinnamon rolls. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, brush with butter, sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture, roll, and cut into individual cinnamon rolls.
Step Three: Refrigerate Overnight. I love to make these cinnamon rolls the night before I intend to enjoy them, as the overnight preparation keeps the hands-on prep time to a minimum before I have had coffee. It also makes this cinnamon roll recipe perfect for entertaining or Christmas morning. Simply cover the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight for up to 16 hours.
Step Four: Prepare the Cream Cheese Frosting. I recommend preparing the cinnamon roll frosting in advance too, leaving less work and dishes for the morning. Blend the ingredients as directed, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap or a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate overnight.
Step Five: Let Come to Room Temperature. While there will be little to no hands-on time needed to bake your cinnamon rolls in the morning, you do want to plan time for your cinnamon rolls to come to room temperature before baking. I recommend removing the cinnamon rolls and frosting from the refrigerator first thing in the morning. Depending on the temperature of your house it can take between 60 and 90 minutes for your cinnamon rolls to get nice and puffy. I like to use that time to brew coffee, shower, and/or get ready for the day.
Step Six: Bake. Once your cinnamon rolls are ready to be baked, remove the plastic wrap, and brush them with an additional tablespoon of melted butter. Bake, uncovered, until JUST lightly golden. You don't want to overbake these cinnamon rolls or they will not be as fluffy and light.
Step Seven: Frost the Cinnamon Rolls. After removing the cinnamon rolls from the oven, give the prepared icing a good whisk, adding a teaspoon or two of milk if needed to reach the consistency desired, and then spread evenly over the warm rolls. Serve immediately for a warm, delicious cinnamon roll.
How to Assemble Cinnamon Rolls for Same-Day Baking
If you don't care for the overnight preparation, you can opt to let the assembled cinnamon rolls rise covered with a clean towel or plastic wrap in a warm spot until they have doubled in size. This typically takes 45-60 minutes, depending on the temperature and humidity of your kitchen. Once the rolls have doubled, remove the covering, brush with butter, and bake and frost as the recipe directed.
How to Store and Reheat Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Storage: Store cooled cinnamon rolls in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Reheat: To reheat the leftover cinnamon rolls so that they do not dry out or become hard, bake them, covered with foil, in a 300-degree F oven for 10-15 minutes until warmed through. Alternatively, place a cinnamon roll on a heat-safe plate, cover it with a damp paper towel, and microwave for 30-45 seconds. The damp paper towel will help prevent them from drying out.
How to Freeze Cinnamon Rolls
After much trial and error, I have discovered that the best way to freeze cinnamon rolls is to allow them to rise fully and partially bake. Once fully cooled, you can freeze the cinnamon rolls for up to 2 months and then defrost and finish baking. This process of partially baking the cinnamon rolls before freezing ensures they have the best taste and texture.
- Prepare the dough and assemble the cinnamon rolls as directed.
- Place the assembled cinnamon rolls into a buttered freezer-safe baking dish or line your baking dish with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.
- Cover and let rise until doubled in size.
- Once risen, brush with additional melted butter and PARTIALLY bake the cinnamon rolls for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F.
- Allow the cinnamon rolls to cool fully. Once cooled, Wrap the freezer-safe baking dish with 2 layers of foil. Alternatively, remove the parchment paper from the baking dish wrap the cinnamon rolls in 2 layers of foil, and place them in a freezer-safe bag. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- When ready to enjoy, defrost the cinnamon rolls overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, remove the foil and if needed, place the cinnamon rolls into a baking dish if needed and bake for 15-18 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until the cinnamon rolls are just golden. Glaze as directed.
More Overnight Breakfast Recipes
- Overnight French Toast Casserole
- Overnight Ham and Egg Casserole
- Slow Cooker Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal
- Overnight Oats
- Overnight Breakfast Strata with Spinach and Cheese
- Overnight Breakfast Casserole
If you tried this recipe for Easy Overnight Cinnamon Rolls, please leave a comment and review below!
Easy Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
For Homemade Bread Dough (optional)
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon dry active yeast
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 to 2½ cups all-purpose flour
For Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 pound bread dough either homemade or storebought
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar or granulated or coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 tablespoons melted butter divided
For the Cinnamon Roll Frosting
- ½ to 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons full-fat cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon milk any fat percentage
To Make Homemade Dough
- If using frozen store-bought bread dough, place 1 pound of frozen dough into a greased large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let thaw overnight in the refrigerator and skip the directions for homemade dough.
- For homemade dough, mix together the yeast, honey, and water in a large mixing bowl. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes until the yeast is a bit foamy.
- In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine the salt and 2 cups of flour. Add in the yeast mixture and stir together until the dough just comes together, adding up to an additional ½ cup of flour if needed. Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface or with the dough hook on a stand mixer until the dough forms a smooth ball.
- Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place, or until doubled in size.
For the Cinnamon Rolls
- Grease an 8x8 baking dish with 1 tablespoon melted butter, being sure to brush evenly over the bottom and sides of the pan. Mix the sugar, cinnamon, and cloves together in a small bowl and set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 9x12-inch rectangle, Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the dough up to the edges.
- Roll the dough up lengthwise. Cut dough into thirds, then each section into thirds again, for a total of 9 cinnamon rolls.
- Place rolls evenly spaced apart in a baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Place them in the refrigerator for up to 16 hours.
- In the morning, remove the cinnamon rolls from the refrigerator, let them come to room temperature, and rise until puffy. This will take 60-90 minutes depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
- Heat the oven to 350 ℉. Remove the plastic wrap, brush the rolls with an additional tablespoon of melted butter, and bake for 23-27 minutes, or until just lightly golden.
For the Cream Cheese Glaze
- To prepare the cream cheese frosting mix together the cream cheese, lemon juice, and milk in a mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Add ½ cup powdered sugar and whisk until smooth, adding up to ½ cup more powdered sugar to make your glaze as thick as desired. Cover and refrigerate overnight along with the cinnamon rolls.
- Once the cinnamon rolls are baked, give the prepared icing a good whisk, adding a teaspoon or two of milk if needed to reach the consistency desired. Spread over warm cinnamon rolls and serve warm.
This recipe has been adapted from Giada De Laurentiis Hazelnut Cinnamon Rolls.