Light, fluffy homemade cinnamon rolls are easy to make with this overnight recipe.
It’s my great mission in life to make things easier in the kitchen. Homemade cinnamon rolls? Not that easy — or, at least, not that simple. But when you make the recipe an overnight endeavor, it changes everything. You can wind your way through the prep, taking time to mix the ingredients, let them rise and roll them out. And then you can toss them in a pan in the fridge and just leave ’em until the morning. Overnight homemade cinnamon rolls, anyone?
Really though, cinnamon roll dough is actually pretty easy to work with. You stir together the ingredients and then knead them until it’s smooth. Kneading is just working the dough with your floured clean hands until it goes from a crumbly mess to a smooth dough — just a few minutes of work.
One note: Do make sure your yeast is fresh (check the expiration date). Fresh yeast will make these rise more than not-so-fresh (aka expired) yeast.
Then you leave that dough in an oiled bowl, covered (make sure the dough is oiled all on the outside so it doesn’t stick!), until it doubles in size. That part is kind of magical. The yeast makes the dough rise and expand, giving it that fluffy quality that makes cinnamon rolls like these special.
Next, you flour your work surface — I use a large cutting board — and roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it’s a thin, big rectangle. Brush it with butter and sprinkle with light brown sugar and cinnamon and then roll it up. Finally, cut it into circles, place them in a greased pan and brush with butter. Then let them chill overnight.
The next day, take the pan out about an hour before you want to cook them and let them sit in a warm, dry, draft-free place. The dough will rise again (making them even more fluffy!). Then bake, glaze and dig in.
Are there faster ways to make rolls like these? Yes. You could use premade dough. You could buy the ones in the tube or in the freezer. Or you could use a faster dough that doesn’t take so long to rise. But, faster doesn’t mean better. The time and care you put into these will show in the finished product — a light, fluffy roll with a crispy crust and a just-right glaze. The tender insides, and layers of sweet cinnamon filling will have your family begging you to make these again.
And really, once you’ve made these once, you’ll realize that while making yeast doughs like this can be time-consuming, it’s really not that complicated. So you might just say yes to that request.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, divided
- 1 pkg. active dry yeast
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 tbsp whole milk
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Heat the milk in a small pan to scalding (it should be just short of boiling -- it should have little bubbles). Remove from heat and stir together with sugar, salt and ¼ cup of butter (cut into pieces). Once the butter is melted, sprinkle the yeast on the surface of the liquid and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes, until it foams. Stir.
- Add the flour one cup at a time, stirring until combined. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead with floured hands until the dough forms a cohesive ball.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a dish towel and leave in a draft-free, warm spot for 1½ to 2 hours, until it doubles in size.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured board and roll into an 8x12-inch rectangle. Melt the remaining butter and brush the dough with half of it. Sprinkle all over with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll (on the long edge) into a cylinder. Cut into 1-inch pieces with a sharp knife and arrange in a 9x13-inch greased baking pan. Cover (leaving room for the dough to rise) and refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, remove the pan from the refrigerator and let sit in a warm, draft-free place for about an hour, or until the rolls have doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before glazing.
- To make the glaze: stir together ingredients in a small bowl and spoon over the warm rolls.