You can have fresh fluffy cinnamon rolls in the morning and forget about the ones that come in a can. With easy overnight cinnamon rolls, you make the rolls the night before. You let them rise in the morning, bake until lightly browned, and cover them with luscious cream cheese frosting.
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What Makes Overnight Cinnamon Rolls the Perfect Weekend Treat?
Calories be darned. Nothing is quite like biting into a still-warm, gooey homemade cinnamon roll. Although everyone seems to be trying to eat healthier these days, that doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally indulge.
But don’t waste those calories on a subpar cinnamon roll. This recipe yields the best overnight cinnamon rolls you’ve ever tried, and they’re definitely worth a few extra minutes of cardio!
And they are a wonderful breakfast to make for Christmas morning, birthdays, or other special occasions.
Why You Should Try This Overnight Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
Keeping the dough in the fridge overnight slows down the action of yeast and helps to develop a more complex taste. The result is an incredibly rich and fluffy cinnamon roll that’s surprisingly easy to make.
Since this Overnight Cinnamon Rolls recipe requires only one rise, you significantly reduce the active baking time without sacrificing flavor or taste. It’s truly the best cinnamon roll recipe!
Homemade Overnight Cinnamon Rolls Ingredients
To make the dough for these rolls, you’ll need:
- Whole milk
- While sugar
- Active Dry Yeast
- All-purpose flour
To make the filling for this Overnight Cinnamon Rolls recipe, you’ll need:
- Dark brown sugar
- Ground cinnamon
- Butter or margarine
To make the cream cheese frosting:
- Cream cheese
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
Instant yeast or rapid rise yeast are not recommended for these cinnamon rolls.
If desired, you can add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the filling for a little extra richness.
There is more than one variety of cinnamon. Check out the section below to better understand which is best for this recipe.
How to Make the Best Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
To prepare the dough:
- Warm the whole milk, white sugar, shortening, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Whisk until the sugar dissolves, then remove the saucepan from the heat. Don’t allow the milk to come to a simmer.
- Allow the milk mixture to cool slightly.
- While the milk mixture is cooling, heat a half-cup of water to 110°F. Stir in the yeast and set aside. The water doesn’t have to be exactly 110°F, but it needs to be warm, not hot.
- Once the milk mixture is cooled, pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. A paddle attachment can work but is not recommended. You can mix with a wooden spoon if you don’t have a stand mixer.
- Add the yeast and flour to the bowl and mix at medium speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly greased mixing bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge overnight.
To finish preparing the cinnamon rolls:
- In the morning, take the bowl of dough out of the fridge and let the dough rise in the bowl covered in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.
- While the dough is rising, mix together softened butter or margarine, dark brown sugar, and cinnamon and reserve for later.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
- Roll the dough into a 12 x 18-inch rectangle that is a quarter-inch thick.
- Spread the butter mixture evenly on top of the dough.
- Starting from the bottom, roll the dough upwards into a tight log and have it seam side down before slicing.
- Use unflavored dental floss (or a sharp serrated knife) to cut the log into one-inch thick pieces.
- Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with shortening or melted butter or line the pan with parchment paper. Place the rolls in the baking pan and bake for about 30 minutes.
- At this point, you can serve them warm without frosting.
To prepare the cream cheese frosting:
- Take the cream cheese and butter out of the refrigerator when you take the dough out in order for them to soften at room temperature.
- Place all the frosting ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Use a mixer to combine until smooth.
- Spread the frosting on top of the cinnamon rolls. If they are warm, the frosting may melt a little.
What Type of Cinnamon Should You Use for Cinnamon Rolls?
While Ceylon cinnamon is commonly considered ‘true cinnamon,’ Saigon cinnamon is the better choice for these rolls. Saigon cinnamon has a bold flavor that works well in baked goods and is much less expensive than Ceylon cinnamon.
If you love the taste of Cinnabon’s cinnamon rolls, the company uses a particular type of cinnamon called ‘Makara’ from Indonesia. Makara cinnamon isn’t widely available, but you can purchase similar Indonesian cinnamon online.
Recipe Variation – Glazed Cinnamon Buns
It’s easy to make cinnamon buns with an icing glaze instead of rolls with cream cheese frosting. Here’s how:
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium bowl.
- Add 2 cups of powdered sugar, 4 tablespoons of milk, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
- Stir or whisk until combined.
- Pour the glaze over the warm cinnamon rolls.
What to Serve With Homemade Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
The best way to enjoy a cinnamon roll is between sips of your favorite hot beverage. Coffee or strong black tea are both excellent choices. As the rolls are already sweet enough, adding extra sugar to your drink is unnecessary.
How to Store Leftovers
No one wants to eat a soggy cinnamon roll, and the best way to keep your rolls from getting like that is by putting them into an airtight container. If you plan to finish all the cinnamon rolls within a day or two, keep them inside an airtight container in the refrigerator. Unfrosted cinnamon rolls do not need to be refrigerated and can be stored in a cool place on the counter.
For longer storage, freeze the rolls in an airtight container for up to a month. You can choose to freeze them either baked or unbaked rolls. If you bake them first, it is critical to let them cool completely before putting them in the freezer.
Defrost the rolls in the fridge overnight before reheating.
What Is the Best Way to Reheat Cinnamon Rolls
Warm cinnamon rolls taste much better, so try reheating them in the oven:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Space out the defrosted cinnamon rolls on a deep, oven-safe dish.
- Drizzle some water around the rolls to create seem and prevent them from drying out.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil and heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
For faster reheating, you can reheat an individual cinnamon roll in the microwave for about 10 seconds.
Biscuit and Breakfast Bread Recipes to Try
- Beer Biscuit Recipe
- KFC Biscuit Recipe
- Freezable Biscuit Dough
- Honey Biscuits
- Cinnamon Apple Muffins
- Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls
- Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Muffin
- Starbucks Petite Vanilla Scone Recipe
- Glazed Croissant Recipe
- Homemade Banana Bread
More Cinnamon Recipes
This recipe is from my grandmother, Ethel Eynard. Jefferson City, MO. 1964.
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 package active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 egg
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons butter or margarine
- Combine the milk, sugar, shortening, and salt, and heat until the sugar has dissolved and the shortening has melted. Let cool.
- Dissolve the yeast in warm water and give it a few minutes to activate. Add the yeast mixture and the egg to the milk and mix well. Add the flour and mix to make a dough that is soft, but not sticky. Refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it rise until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- To prepare the filling for the cinnamon rolls, use an electric mixer to blend the brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter until softened and well mixed.
- Roll out the dough, spread the filling on top, and tightly roll up the dough. Cut off the ends of the roll, cut the remaining roll into 1-inch pieces, and place the pieces in a greased 9×13-inch pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven.