You guys. This post is so long overdue, and to those who’ve requested it in the past few weeks, I’m sorry! I kept meaning to type it out but, well, I kept getting distracted. Okay. So, truth time. Before this past Easter, I’d never made cinnamon rolls from scratch before. Honestly, I was afraid that it was beyond my skillset. People kept posting the most delicious-looking photos though (I’m looking at you, Kait), so I decided it was time. I lined up my ingredients, and I dove in. Headfirst. I knew I wanted to make cinnamon rolls for Easter breakfast. We’re a family that loves a good tradition, and now that the kiddos are getting older, we want them to look forward to little traditions like this. I’ll be honest though. I did not want to get up at the buttcrack of dawn to make cinnamon rolls. So, I decided to try my hand at an overnight recipe. With a little luck, a lot of hoping, and a great amount of patience, I made what I’m happy to pronounce the best overnight cinnamon rolls recipe – and I think my family will agree.
The Best Overnight Cinnamon Roll Recipe
I know what you’re thinking.
There’s no way they can be the best overnight cinnamon roll recipe. But let me just tell you; I gauge all my cinnamon rolls off Cinnabon. They have to be soft, dense, flavorful, oozing with a flavorful frosting that’s sweet, but also tangy. I don’t want crunchy, and I definitely don’t want dry. I’ve made a lot of canned cinnamon rolls in my day, and they’ve always fallen somewhere in the blahhh spectrum. These, however, deliver in spades, and they’re ridiculously easy to make. But don’t just take my word for it. Try them yourself! Here’s what you’ll need:
1 cup whole milk, warmed
1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
3/4 cup of granulated white sugar – I use the ultra-fine white sugar
1/2 cup of salted butter, softened
2 eggs, room temperature – the easiest way it to pop them in some lukewarm water for 10 mins
1 pinch salt
4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour – you’ll want extra for dusting your work surface and rolling
3/4 cup heavy cream – save this till the morning you bake them
8 tbsp softened butter – you want this really soft, but not melted (split the difference!)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup of packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
4 oz cream cheese, softened – this is half a stick
6 cups powdered sugar
6 tbsp softened butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp lemon juice – fresh is best!
One of the most common questions I’ve been asked lately (probably because of the amount I bake and share on my instagram stories) is where I get my yeast. Most of our stores have been sold out for over a month now, so I actually bit the bullet and bough a bound of active dry yeast on Amazon. While it might seem excessive, my kids eat rolls almost every single day, and it just made sense for us to always have some on hand. For those curious, this is the yeast I bought. It took about a week for delivery, but it’s been completely worth it not to have to wonder if I’d find some. Just pop it in the fridge to store, and you’re good to go!
Back to the cinnamon rolls though. The best part about this recipe is that you do the heavy lifting, so to speak, the night before. The morning you plan to eat them, all you have to do is finish one little step, prep the icing, slather them in sweet and tangy goodness, and devour! I mean, truly, it doesn’t get better than that. So, let’s begin.
- Warm your cup of milk to about 100 degrees. I usually do this in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds. You want it warm enough to activate the yeast, but not hot enough to kill it.
- In a small bowl, combine your milk, yeast, and sugar together. Stir gently, then set it aside. The yeast should consume the sugars, activating it, and the top of the milk should start to look foamy and frothy. If it doesn’t after about 10 minutes, discard your mix and try again. The foam indicates whether it’s active, and you need it active to rise.
- While the yeast is working, in your mixer (or bowl), combine your butter, eggs, mixing until they’re combined.
- Gradually add your flour until it is completely incorporated.
- Add your yeast mixture to your mixer, and mix at a medium speed until your dough is soft and malleable. I usually leave it running for about 5-6 minutes.
- Lightly flour a work surface, and transfer your dough to it, gently kneading it with your hands for about a minute. Once you’ve worked it into a ball, transfer it to a well-greased bowl and cover lightly with a dish towel or plastic wrap. Set it aside to rise for two hours.
- Grease a 9×13 baking dish, and when the two hours are up, move your dough back to your floured work surface. Punch it – and I mean it. Punch the air out of it before you start rolling it into a rectangle. Okay, truth time (again). I don’t own a rolling pin. Ya girl used a floured wine bottle that wasn’t even empty to roll these babies out, and it worked perfectly. Also, pro tip – you can have a sip when you’re done.
- Mix your filling ingredients until well incorporated. This includes the butter, white and brown sugars, and your cinnamon.
- Transfer your filling mixture bit by bit to the rectangular dough on your work surface. My tip? Use your hands. You’re gentler than a spoon will ever be, and you’ll get all those little nooks and crannies better. And, of course, you can lick your fingers after. No shame.
- Now it’s time to roll your dough! Roll your rectangle into a neat little log with sweet (pun intended) spirals of buttery, sugary goodness peeking out at you.
- From your log, cut 9-12 cinnamon rolls in even increments, transferring them to your greased baking dish. I usually opt for 9 because we like food. A lot.
- Cover your baking dish tightly with either cling wrap or aluminum foil, and transfer them to the refrigerator overnight. Make sure the dish is completely covered, or the rolls will dry out.
- In the morning, remove your refrigerated rolls and allow them to rise for about an hour. While they’re rising, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Before you pop the cinnamon rolls in the oven, take the 3/4 cups of heavy cream, and pour it all over the cinnamon rolls. This is my secret step! Right before you pop them in the oven, this cream will slowly absorb, keeping the rolls nice and dense as they bake!
- Put your cinnamon rolls in the oven for 22-25 minutes, or until they’re a nice golden brown.
- While your cinnamon rolls bake, start on the icing, and mix your softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and milk together in your mixer until thoroughly combined. I let my mixer go for about 3-4 minutes at a low-medium speed, then put the tsp of lemon juice in for the last minute.
- When your cinnamon rolls are done, take them out, and allow them to rest for about 10 minutes.
- Ice your warm cinnamon rolls (but make sure you’ve waited the 10 minutes), and get ready to enjoy!
Don’t be intimidated by the sheer volume of steps that this recipe has. Yes, there are a lot of little steps, but none of these steps are particularly hard. In fact, this recipe is actually insanely easy because setting them up the night before eliminates the need to really work on them the day you want to eat them. Best of all, these are kid and adult-approved, so they’re a win-win in my book! I feel I should mention that there is absolutely nothing healthy about this recipe, but you know what? Yolo. These are the perfect treat for quarantine days, holidays, and everything in between, and I’m so glad I finally know how to make them!
Tell me – have you ever made homemade cinnamon rolls, or do you prefer the canned kind? If you try this recipe, let me know!