Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

These warm, gooey cinnamon rolls rise in the fridge overnight, which means that you just have to roll out of bed and bake them for the perfect comfort food breakfast.

It's coming, you know.  The air is getting a crisp edge, and trees are beginning to shed their leaves.

And as much as I will mourn the lazy, warm summer days, I'm kind of excited about being able to bake without turning my house into Dante's Inferno. I mean, some days this summer I just couldn't even with the oven.  Or cooking.  Or clothes. (HA! Just kidding)

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There's something quintessentially cozy about cinnamon rolls.  They speak of chilly weekend mornings spent snuggled under blankets in a carb coma, doing nothing in particular. They're the perfect treat for special occasions, but are still simple enough for a "just because" breakfast. Their comfort food vibe is through the roof, and you can always just rewarm the leftovers to return them to their soft, sweet glory.

You know what's not to love about cinnamon rolls?  Getting up to make the dough hours before everyone else, allowing enough time for rising and proofing, rolling and baking.  That's why these overnight rolls are genius--make them the day before, then allow the rolls to sit in the refrigerator until you pop them into the oven next morning to rise up into gloriously golden brown pillows of soft, sweet dough.

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And about the fluffy frosting... well, it doesn't have to be fluffy.  If you prefer your icing melted into the rolls, just melt the butter instead of softening it and add an extra tablespoon or two of milk.  If you spoon it over the rolls as soon as they come out of the oven, you'll get a gooey marriage of brown sugar filling and icing.  It's really your call.

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All I know is that these will be on repeat at my house this fall and winter.  Carb comas for everyone!


Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe by Rebecca Neidhart
Makes 10-12 medium sized cinnamon rolls

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. yeast
  • 1 egg 
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
     
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/2-3/4 cup brown sugar
  • Cinnamon

For the Frosting:

  • 3 Tbsp. soft butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2-2 Tbsp. milk

To make the Dough: Warm the milk and butter together in a small pan on the stove until it is lukewarm (between 95° and 110°F).  If you don't have a thermometer, it should not feel at all hot when you stick a (clean, of course) finger in it. 

Pour the milk and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attached and add in the white sugar and yeast. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes or until the yeast is foaming.

Mix in the egg, then stir in the flour and salt.  Mix on low for 2 minutes, scraping the edges of the bowl to make sure to get all of the flour mixed in.  Turn the mixer up to medium and beat for 5-6 minutes.  The dough will be very soft and tacky.

Grease a medium sized bowl and turn the dough into it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (it shouldn't touch the dough) and allow it to rise until it has doubled, about 2 hours.

To Prep the Rolls: Grease a 10x14" baking dish well.  Flour a work surface and turn the risen dough out onto it.  Roll the dough out into a rectangle 18"X18".  Roll gently, making sure not to press too hard or the dough will become too thin in those areas.

Pour the 6 Tbsp. of melted butter over the rolled out dough, then spread the brown sugar over the dough and sprinkle generously with cinnamon.  Carefully roll the dough, starting with the furthest edge and rolling it towards you.  Gently pinch the edge of the dough to the roll to seal it.  You should have a long cylinder of dough.

With a very sharp knife, cut the dough into 1.5" rounds, then lay them flat side down in the baking dish.  You should end up with 12 rolls.  Cover with plastic wrap (again, it should be wrapped around the dish and not touching the dough), then place it in the refrigerator overnight, about 12-16 hours.

To bake the rolls: Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and take the plastic wrap off the top of the dish.  Preheat the oven to 350° and bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are a deep golden brown.  Remove them from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.

To frost the rolls: Beat together the softened butter, vanilla extract, and 1 cup of the powdered sugar.  Add 1 Tbsp. of the milk, then beat in the rest of the powdered sugar.  Add the rest of the milk one teaspoon at a time until the frosting is thick and fluffy, but still soft and spreadable.  Serve the rolls immediately.

Note: If you can't serve the rolls immediately, or don't eat all of them right after baking, rewarm them to soften the sugar inside before eating.