This overnight cinnamon bun recipe is a great time saver. Make it in advance, refrigerate it, then place it in the oven in the morning, and you’ll be left with a fluffy and buttery cinnamon roll that everyone will love.
This cinnamon bun recipe has been my go-to for years. The kids always like to have cinnamon buns on Saturday morning, but mornings sometimes are so busy and it takes a bit of time to make yeast bread, but this recipe can be made the night before and then taken out in the morning and let it raise a little bit and then placed in the oven. Then everyone is happy because I don’t have to spend all morning in the kitchen, and the kids are happy to wake up to fresh cinnamon buns in the oven.
Why we love these cinnamon buns
- Make ahead The best thing about this recipe, in my opinion, is that it can be made the night before, so all you need to do in the morning is bake and enjoy.
- Flavor For me, the smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns is irresistible, and once you take the first bite, you’ll know how amazing the cinnamon and brown sugar flavor is in this cinnamon bun.
- Cream cheese frosting is a must-have for a cinnamon bun; it’s thick, creamy, and delicious.
Ingredients you need for Cinnamon buns
The nice thing about a cinnamon bun recipe is that it doesn’t require a lot of ingredients, but of course, with yeast bread, it does require patience and dedication. Sometimes it’s easy to want to deviate from a recipe, but with yeast bread, you really want to stay true to the recipe.
Cinnamon bun dough
- Milk I like to use 2% or whole milk, but I’ve also used a lot of alternative milk like coconut milk, almond milk, and oat milk.
- Granulated sugar is used to sweeten the dough as well as help activate the yeast.
- Quick rise Yeast I like to use quick yeast when I can because it makes the raising process a little quicker, especially when you have two raises to do.
- Butter I prefer unsalted butter, but salted butter is great.
- Egg The dough uses 1 egg plus egg yolk, which gives it the perfect texture.
- Bread flour To help keep the cinnamon rolls soft and fluffy, I use bread flour. If you want to use all-purpose flour, you can, but you will not have as fluffy a cinnamon roll, but they will still be just as delicious.
- Brown sugar If I can I like to use dark brown sugar you get a richer more robust molasses flavor, but light brown sugar works great here too.
- Cinnamon is a must-have ingredient for cinnamon buns.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cream Cheese you can use full-fat or low fat whichever is your preference. For a nice and smooth frosting bring the cream cheese to room temperature.
- Butter use unsalted butter and bring it up to room temperature.
- Vanilla extract I like to use pure vanilla but any vanilla extract will work
- Powdered sugar
- Lemon juice I like to use a small amount of lemon juice to balance out the sweetness in the cream cheese frosting.
How to make the Cinnamon buns
- Proof Yeast Add yeast, warm milk, and sugar. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes until it starts to become foamy.
- Dough In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and salt. Then add in the melted butter and the yeast mixture that has activated. Then add in 12 cups of flour at a time until all the flour has been incorporated. Knead the dough for around 5 minutes, or until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough still seems too sticky, you can add 1-2 tablespoons more flour.
- First Rise Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap for around 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Roll out the dough into a rectangle approximately 15 x 20 inches.
- Filling Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush the softened butter on top of the dough, and then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture on top.
- Shape and cut Starting at the shorter side, roll the rough up tightly into a tight log. Cut into 1.5-inch pieces and place in a lightly greased baking pan.
- Refrigerate overnight Cover the baking pan with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge overnight.
- Second Rise Pull them out of the refrigerator and place them on the counter the next morning to rise until they have doubled in size. usually about 1-2 hours.
- Bake in the oven Once the cinnamon buns have doubled in size, bake them at 350°F until the tops are lightly golden, about 15–20 minutes. Remove and allow it to cool before topping it with the frosting.
- Frosting To make the frosting beat together the ingredients until smooth. Then spread evenly on top of the rolls. The consistency is thicker, so if you are wanting to drizzle, just add a little bit more milk to thin it out, and then enjoy!
Tips and suggestions
Here are some tips for making your cinnamon buns successful: If there is one thing I know, it is that making bread can feel very intimidating. Making bread can be intimidating, but with a few easy steps, it’s quite easy to make, and once you make one successful yeast bread, it becomes less intimidating.
- Don’t overheat your milk Check the milk temperature. Make sure it is not any hotter than 105–110 °F. One tip is to dip your finger into the warmed milk; it should feel warm but not hot. If it is too hot, wait a few minutes before adding the yeast. If you add it when the milk is too hot, you will kill the yeast.
- Yeast Make sure you are starting with fresh yeast. I use active dry yeast, not instant yeast or rapid yeast, but any yeast will work; it just depends on how long it will take to activate.
- Quick rise to help the dough rise faster or if you have a colder space. I like to preheat the oven to 175° and then turn it off, then place the covered bowl of dough in the oven with a small bowl of hot water.
- Slice When cutting the cinnamon bun into sections use a sharp knife, or I like to use a sharper bread knife. What works surprisingly well is using unflavored dental floss (my kids loved helping me when I used to use dental floss).
- Let Cool once the cinnamon buns have baked and are out of the oven, as hard as it can be with that enticing smell, wait and let them cool for 10 minutes before you frost them.
How to freeze Cinnamon Buns
Freeze before baking
This process involves freezing it before you bake it. You want to do this after you have rolled it out, put in the filling and cut it into pieces. Place in a pan, and then place in the freezer. Then, when you are ready to bake, allow them to thaw out in the fridge, which usually takes over a night. Then, place them in a warm spot for 30 minutes to an hour before baking.
Freeze after baking
Once you have finished baking the cinnamon buns, allow them to cool to room temperature, and then you can choose to freeze them in the entire baking pan or be covered in an airtight container, or what I like to do is freeze them individually. When ready to eat, defrost the cinnamon rolls at room temperature. You can quickly place them in the microwave or warm them in the oven at 350°F for 10–15 minutes. I prefer to freeze them and then place the frosting on them just before they are ready to eat and serve.
Baking cinnamon buns is one of my favorite things to do for breakfast. I personally love the traditional cinnamon bun, but there are a few other great variations you can try.
- Orange Rolls These delicious citrusy rolls are filled with orange marmalade.
- Raspberry Rolls Does it get any better? then a roll swirled with raspberry jam, cream cheese, and fresh raspberries.
- Blueberry Cream Cheese Rolls If you love Danish, these rolls are perfect for you. Mix white sugar and cream cheese, spread over the rolled-out dough, and sprinkle with a layer of blueberries.
- Chocolate Hazelnut Rolls If you love Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread, smother your dough in a nice layer on your rolled-out dough and sprinkle chopped hazelnuts over the spread.
- Birthday Cake Rolls For something a little different, mix together cream cheese, white sugar, vanilla extract, and rainbow sprinkles for a twist on a special birthday treat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use All purpose flour?
This recipe is successful using all-purpose flour, but I find the cinnamon bun isn’t quite as fluffy as when you use bread flour.
Can I use a bread maker?
Yes, you can use your bread maker for mixing, combining, and your first rise. Then remove from the bread maker, roll out, and place filling. Prepare it as per the rest of the recipe.
Can I double this recipe?
Yes, you can double or even triple this recipe if you need to; you just need a larger pan than a 9 x 13.
Why did the middle pop out of my cinnamon bun?
This usually happens if you roll the cinnamon bun too tightly before you cut it into rolls or if your pan is just a little bit too small and they don’t have enough room to rise properly.
The Best Overnight Cinnamon Buns
- 1 Stand Up Mixer optional
- 1-1/4 cups milk 105-110°F
- 2-1/4 tsp quick rise or active yeast ot 1 package
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs beaten
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted
- 3 cups bread flour or 4 cups all purpose flour
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature, not melted
- ¾ cup Brown Sugar
- 1-1/2 tbsp cinnamon
- 4 oz Cream Cheese
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ tsp vanilla
- 1-1/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Heat the milk (cold from the refrigerator) in the microwave in a small bowl for 1 minute 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave and add the pats of butter. Stir until the butter has melted. Pour the milk and butter mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the mixture and let it sit for about 5 to 7 minutes or until you see bubbles on the surface.
- Using the paddle attachment, add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the sugar and salt and continue mixing to combine.
- Remove the paddle attachment and switch to the dough hook. Add 3 cups of flour and mix until the flour is completely incorporated. Add just enough of the remaining flour, in ½ cup increments, until the dough has come together and is holding starting to pull away from the bowl and stays on the hook. about 5 or 6 minutes
- Coat a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray, place the dough in the bowl, and turn it over to coat it with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
- Spray a 9-x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Use your fist to punch down and deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it into a 15-x 20-inch rectangle.
- Spread softened butter onto the dough with a brush. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly over the top. Gently press the sugar down into the butter. Roll the dough up tightly starting at the shorter side. Pinch the sides together at the end.
- Using a large, serrated knife or a long piece of floss, cut the dough in half and then in half again, making 4 pieces. Cut each piece into 3 or 4 1-inch pieces, making either 12 big cinnamon rolls or 16 medium rolls. Place dough rolls, swirl-side up, 1 inch apart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. At this point, if you want to bake, you can let the rolls sit for 1 hour, or until the rolls have doubled in size.
- Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for up to 16 hours. Pull them out onto the counter in the morning and let them rise for 1 to 2 hours, or until doubled.
- Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before frosting.
- Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese frosting ingredients in a small mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Remove the rolls from the oven and allow them to cool slightly, for about 5 to 10 minutes. Spread with the cream cheese frosting while still warm.