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holding a cinnamon roll with icing
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5 from 5 votes

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

These Overnight Cinnamon Rolls are so soft and fluffy and slathered in a velvety cream cheese icing! 
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Rising Time9 hrs
Total Time9 hrs 55 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy cinnamon rolls, homemade cinnamon rolls, make ahead breakfast recipe
Servings: 12 cinnamon rolls
Calories: 656kcal
Author: Amanda

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp instant or active dry yeast (my personal favorite is Red Star Platinum Yeast - it's instant)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature and sliced into 5-6 pieces
  • 2 large eggs room temperature is best
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 - 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Filling

  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 3-4 oz cream cheese softened to room temperature
  • 2 tsp whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Make the dough

  • Heat milk until about 95°F (where milk is warm to the touch but not hot), using either the stove or microwave.  Add to bowl of a stand mixer, add warm milk, sugar and yeast.  Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • After the 5-10 minutes, the mixture should be foamy and smell “yeasty”.  This step to to activate the yeast and make sure it’s still good.  If mixture doesn’t look foamy, discard and start over with new yeast.
  • Fit the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and add butter, eggs and salt, then mix on LOW speed until combined.
  • Gradually add the flour, in roughly 1 cup increments.  When 4 cups of flour has been added, increase mixer speed to MED and knead about 5-6 minutes, until a soft dough forms.  Dough should be soft and smooth, slightly tacky but not sticky.  If dough is too sticky, add extra flour, 1 Tbsp at a time, and mix until it’s soft and smooth.  If dough is too stiff, add some water, about 1/4 tsp, and mix until dough is soft.
  • Lightly grease a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Lightly flour your counter or other flat surface and transfer dough onto it.  Dust your hands with a little bit of flour and gently knead the dough for a minute or so.  
  • Form into a ball and transfer to prepared mixing bowl.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel.  Place bowl in a warm spot for about 2 hours, or until roughly doubled in size.
  • Punch down the dough, then turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle, roughly 12x18” in size, and even in thickness.

Make the filling and roll

  • In a small bowl, combine granulated sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • Dot the dough with the softened butter, then sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar mixture. Pat the dough with your hands a bit so the sugar mixture sticks to the butter.
  • Starting with one of the longer sides of the rectangle, roll up tightly into a log shape.  I find starting to roll one side, rolling away from you once, then moving down the line a bit and doing the same thing, repeating until you’re all the way across gives you the most even rolling method.
  • Once you have an 18” log shape, carefully slice into 12 evenly sized rolls.
  • Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13” baking dish.  Arrange rolls in baking dish, cut side up.
  • Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for 8-18 hours.

Second rise and bake

  • Remove baking dish with rolls from the refrigerator and let sit in a warm spot for about 1-2 hours, until puffy.
  • Once the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 375°F.  Bake rolls for about 25 minutes, until golden.  Halfway through, cover loosely with foil so the tops don’t brown too much.

Cool slightly and top with icing

  • Let baking dish of baked rolls cool on a wire cooling rack for about 7-10 minutes.
  • Using a handheld mixer, or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
  • Add vanilla and powdered sugar and beat another 3 minutes or so, until fluffy and creamy.
  • Spread icing over the cinnamon rolls and serve.

Notes

No stand mixer

If you have one, by all means use it!  But you don’t have to use one, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t own one.  You just use a bowl and wooden spoon, but you’ll have to knead by hand until the dough comes together.

Check your yeast

After sitting with the warm milk, the yeast should be frothy and foamy looking.  If it doesn’t, then that yeast is likely dead and won’t work for this recipe.  Start over with a new batch of yeast.

Make your own warm spot for the dough

Most people, myself included, don’t necessarily know where a naturally warm spot is in their kitchen… or maybe it’s the dead of winter and there’s no warmth anywhere.  No worries!
  1. Preheat your oven to 200°F and let it preheat for about 3-4 minutes.  Then turn your oven OFF, don’t let it get all the way to 200°F. 
  2. Place the bowl of dough in the oven to rise. 
  3. Alternately, you can turn on the light in your cold oven and add the bowl of dough to the oven with the door shut.

Easy slicing

Slicing the cinnamon roll dough into wheels can be tricky.  Use a very sharp serrated knife, or some unflavored dental floss (seriously, make sure it’s UNflavored – no one wants spearmint flavored rolls!). 
Slide the floss underneath the log, bring both sides up, cross them over each other, and pull tight.  Easy slices!

Freezing

The unfrosted baked rolls can be frozen for 2-3 months.
  1. Cool the baked cinnamon rolls completely. 
  2. Make sure to wrap them tightly with foil and place in an airtight container for freezing. 
  3. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator, then warm them up, slather them with icing, and enjoy!
You can also freeze the UNbaked cinnamon rolls.  Well, partially baked.  They're best when par-baked so you can have these rolls on the table faster.
  1. Complete the cinnamon roll recipe up to the baking step.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until set but not golden brown. 
  2. Let them cool completely in the pan, then cover tightly and freeze for up to 6 weeks.
  3. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake for about 15 minutes, or until cooked through and golden.

Nutrition

Calories: 656kcal | Carbohydrates: 103g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 147mg | Potassium: 164mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 704IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 4mg