These overnight cinnamon rolls pair soft, fluffy dough with swirls of buttery brown sugar and cinnamon, along with a tangy cream cheese glaze. Start them the night before and bake them up in the morning!
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There’s nothing like waking up to the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls wafting through the house. Unfortunately, cinnamon rolls in the morning usually means waking up at the crack of dawn to accommodate the two rises. Enter: overnight cinnamon rolls.
As you’ve probably guessed from the name, overnight cinnamon rolls are a type of cinnamon roll that is made the night before so they can be enjoyed fresh and warm the next morning. This recipe is perfect for those who want to enjoy a delicious breakfast without having to spend the wee hours of the morning preparing it.
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
There are many different recipes for overnight cinnamon rolls, but they all share one key ingredient: time. By making the dough the night before, you allow the flavors to meld together and develop overnight, resulting in a richer, more flavorful cinnamon roll.
This particular overnight cinnamon roll recipe is based on the classic cinnamon roll. It starts with a fluffy yeast dough, rolls it up with a butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon filling, and tops it all off with a generous slather of rich cream cheese frosting.
If you want to enjoy fresh, delicious cinnamon rolls without all the waiting, these overnight cinnamon rolls are the perfect solution!
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
Overnight Cinnamon Roll Dough:
- Whole milk – The fat in the whole milk makes for a rich, tender dough.
- Granulated sugar
- Active dry yeast – This recipe was tested with active dry yeast, not instant yeast.
- Unsalted butter
- Eggs – Here’s the best way to crack an egg.
- Kosher salt
- All-purpose flour – Gently spoon this into your measuring cup, rather than scooping it.
- Canola oil – Or another neutral oil like vegetable oil.
Overnight Cinnamon Roll Filling:
- Unsalted butter – Soften this so it’s easy to spread.
- Dark brown sugar – Light brown sugar will work too, but dark brown has a stronger molasses flavor.
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground nutmeg
- Cream cheese – Use the full-fat cream cheese that comes in a block, not a tub.
- Powdered sugar
- Whole milk
- Vanilla extract
- Add chopped pecans to the filling for some nutty flavor and crunch. Top them with caramel instead of icing to make sticky buns.
- Swap the cinnamon and nutmeg for an equal amount of pumpkin pie spice.
- Use almond extract instead of vanilla extract in the icing.
Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before getting started. This includes the milk, butter, and eggs. Room temperature ingredients mix together more easily and result in a smoother dough.
How to Make Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
- Prepare: Grease a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray or butter.
- Start the dough: Combine the warm milk, 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Cover the bowl with a towel and let sit for 5 to 8 minutes.
- Finish the dough: With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the remaining sugar and butter for 3 minutes, followed by the eggs and salt. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour one cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the bowl.
- Knead and rise: Knead the dough with the dough hook on low speed for 5 minutes, then place the dough in a greased bowl and turn it to coat. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set it in a warm place to rise for 2 hours.
- Roll out the dough: Gently punch the dough to deflate it and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a 12×18-inch rectangle.
- Make the filling: Spread the softened butter over the dough. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter, then top with the cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Form the cinnamon rolls: Roll the dough into an 18-inch log from one long edge to the other and pinch the edge to seal. Cut the log into 12 rolls (you can do this with a serrated knife or unflavored dental floss) and place the slices into the prepared baking dish.
- Chill: Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and refrigerate overnight, up to 14 hours.
- Rise again: Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and set them on the counter to rise for 2 hours before baking.
- Make the icing: Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle and beat until it’s smooth and creamy. Add the sugar, milk, and vanilla and beat until the mixture is well-combined and smooth. Add more milk to thin the mixture, if needed.
- Bake: Put the baking dish in the oven and bake the rolls at 350ºF for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. If the rolls get too brown after 15 to 20 minutes, tent the pan with foil.
- Finish: Let the rolls rest for 10 minutes, then add the icing and serve immediately.
How to Store Leftover Cinnamon Rolls
Leftover overnight cinnamon rolls can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. To reheat, place the cinnamon rolls in a 350ºF oven for 10-15 minutes or microwave for 30-60 seconds.
You can also freeze leftover overnight cinnamon rolls for up to 3 months; wrap them in plastic wrap, then store them in an airtight container or freezer bag. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat as directed above.
These overnight cinnamon rolls are quite filling on their own, so they’re perfect for pairing with fresh fruit or something else that’s light. If you’re making them for a brunch, I like serving them alongside a savory main dish like my crescent roll breakfast casserole for balance.
No, you should not leave uncooked cinnamon rolls out overnight. The dough needs to be refrigerated so that it can rise slowly and evenly. If you leave the dough out at room temperature, the rolls will be dense and uneven.
Yes, overnight cinnamon roll dough can rise too long. If the dough rises for too long, the rolls will be dense and heavy.
Unbaked cinnamon rolls can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 14 hours, or frozen for up to 2 months. Let the dough thaw in the refrigerator before baking.
There are a few reasons why these overnight cinnamon rolls might not rise. The most common reason is that the yeast is not active. Make sure to use a fresh package of yeast and to proof the yeast before adding it to the dough. Also make sure the rolls are in a warm place to rise. If they are in a cool space, they will not rise properly.
More Sweet Breakfast Options
Baked Apple Cider Donuts
Cake Mix Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 cup whole milk warmed to 100F
- ¾ cup granulated sugar divided
- 2 packets active dry yeast
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup dark brown sugar packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup cream cheese softened
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Grease a 9×13 baking dish.
- For the dough, add the warm milk, 3 tbsp granulated sugar, and the yeast to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Cover the bowl with a towel and let sit for 5-8 minutes.
- With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the remaining sugar and butter for 3 minutes. Add the eggs and salt and continue to mix to incorporate. Reduce to low and add the flour one cup at a time until everything is added and fully combined and the dough pulls away from the bowl. Knead the dough with the dough hook on low speed for 5 more minutes.
- Lightly grease a large bowl. Move the dough from the mixer to the greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a towel and place in a warm space to rise for 2 hours.
- Punch the dough to remove the air and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to a 12×18 rectangle making sure the dough is an even thickness.
- For the filling, evenly spread the soft butter over the dough. In a small bowl, add the cinnamon and nutmeg and stir. Sprinkle the dough with brown sugar. Top with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Roll the dough into an 18” log. Cut 12 rolls from the log and place into the prepared baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate overnight but not more than 14 hours.
- Remove the rolls from the fridge and let rise for 2 hours before baking.
- For the icing, add the cream cheese to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle and beat until smooth. Add the sugar, milk, and vanilla and beat until smooth, creamy, and fully mixed. Add more milk to thin if needed.
- Bake the rolls at 350F for 30 minutes or until browned. If the rolls get too brown after 15-20 minutes, lightly cover with foil to prevent burning.
- Let the rolls rest for 10 minutes before icing. Serve immediately.