Introduction: Classic Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

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The perfect remedy for cold-weather blues, these classic cinnamon rolls are like a cozy, warm hug in food form.  Even when it's not cold outside, everyone will enjoy these sweet, hot buns!  Plus, you do all the work the night before, so you can still sleep in and have fresh cinnamon rolls in the morning.  Sweet!

Step 1: Ingredients


  • Stand mixer, hand mixer, or wooden spoon and strong forearms
  • Rolling pin or wine bottle
  • Baking dish (this 9x13 glass Pyrex is perfect and comes with a lid!)
  • Sifter or sieve for powdered sugar
  • Large bowl



    4 egg yolks*
    1 whole egg*
    1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
    6 Tablespoons (85g/3oz) melted butter (for dough)
    3/4 cup (175mL/6oz) milk*
    4 cups (500g/20oz) all-purpose flour
    1 package (8g/2 1/4 teaspoons) instant dry yeast
    1 1/4 teaspoons (6g) salt
    1 1/2 Tablespoons (21g/0.75oz) butter* (for filing)
    1 cup packed (200g) light brown sugar
    1 Tablespoon (2.5g) ground cinnamon + nutmeg mixture (baker's choice!)
    Pinch of salt


    1/4 cup (56g/2.5oz) cream cheese, softened
    3 Tablespoons milk*
    1 1/2 cups (150g/5.5oz) powdered sugar
    1/4 teaspoon (1mL) vanilla extract (I added in a splash of orange extract too, but go easy! A little goes a long way)

    *Bring ingredients to room temperature

  • Step 2: Make the Dough

    If you're using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment to whip together your egg yolks, egg, butter, sugar, and milk.

    Add about 2 cups of flour, yeast, and salt, and mix to combine.

    Replace the whisk attachment with the dough hook. Turn the mixer on low, and add in another 1 1/4 cups of flour, kneading for about 5 minutes. Add more flour if necessary - the dough should be springy, not sticky. Knead another 5 minutes on low until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and clings to the dough hook. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead for about a minute. Form into a ball.

    If you don't have a mixer, do this part by hand, kneading the dough on a well-floured surface.

    Lightly grease a large bowl, and place the dough inside, turning to coat all sides. Cover the dough and let it rise until double, about 2 1/2 hours.

    Step 3: Roll Out

    Roll your dough out on a gently-floured surface.   Roll into a rectangle about 12"x18" (30x46cm).

    Spread dough with softened butter. 

    Mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and spread evenly over buttered dough.  Leave a border around the top edge so you can seal the dough together when you roll it.

    Tightly roll the dough the long way (see picture) and pinch together seam.  Sometimes I use a bead of water across the seam to help seal it.

    Roll the cylinder around a bit if you'd like to get a good shape (which I did not, but hey, cinnamon rolls! who cares what they look like!).  
    The best way to cut rolls without squashing the whole cylinder is to use something like (unflavored) dental floss or string.  Slide it under the cylinder, and pull the two ends of the thread up over the dough, and across each other to cut through the log.  Then they just pop right off! 

    Grease your baking dish, and place rolls evenly spaced in the dish.  There will be space around them, but boy will they rise up when baked.

    Cover baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

    Step 4: Bake

    If you made it through the night without sneaking into the kitchen and baking up just one or two. . . well done!  Your efforts are about to be rewarded.

    It's time to let the rolls rise again.  Place the baking dish in your oven (don't turn it on).  Fill a shallow pan with boiling water and place on the rack under the rolls.  This will create the perfect steamy environment for them to rise in.  Let them sit for about 30 minutes.

    Remove the rolls and pan of water from the oven.  Heat the oven to 350F (180C).  When the oven is ready, bake the rolls for about 30 minutes, turning the pan around midway through baking.  

    See how much they grew in the oven! 

    Step 5: Icing

    While the rolls are cooling, it's time to make the sugary, gooey glaze that makes life worth living.

    In a mixer or by hand, whisk the cream cheese until it's very smooth.  Add in the milk and vanilla, and whisk until combined.  Finally, sift in the powdered sugar and whisk until very smooth. 

    The mixture may seem a bit gloopy or thick, but it will spread out once it hits the hot, heavenly cinnamon rolls.

    Spread glaze evenly over warm rolls, and go: devour.  Do not wait.

    Step 6: Devour

    Typing this up makes me remember how good they were when I made them a few weeks ago. I mean SO. GOOD.  Unfortunately some of the photos taken in my kitchen at night didn't come out so well because of the lighting.  These two things combined have made it very clear to me that I need to go make these again immediately.  I do it for you.

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