Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Why go through the trouble to make these yourself? Because this kind of power should be in the hands of the people, not just those working in mall food courts … and you know exactly what I’m talking about. As for the instructions, I know it looks like a lot, but I’ve broken it down into tiny steps for clarity. Read it all over once and it won’t seem so daunting … I promise.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls


  • 4 large egg yolks (room temperature)
  • 1 large whole egg (room temperature)
  • 2 ounces sugar (approximately 1/4 cup)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon cold butter for lubricating baking dish
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (room temperature)
  • 15 ounces all-purpose flour divided into 10 ounces (4 ounces and 1 ounce batches)
  • 1 package rapid rise yeast (approximately 1/4 ounce)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt


  • 8 ounces light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (ground)
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)


  • 2 1/2 ounces cream cheese (softened)
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 5 1/2 ounces confectioners' sugar


  1. Combine the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter and buttermilk in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk at medium speed.
  2. As the mixture comes together add 10 ounces of the flour, along with the yeast and salt and continue whisking until combined.
  3. Remove the whisk attachment and replace it with a dough hook. Add another 4 ounces of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. At this point the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. If it is sticky, add a bit more flour (one ounce at a time). Knead on low for another 5 minutes or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; and form dough into a smooth ball. Transfer to a large bowl that has been lightly lubed with the vegetable oil. Rotate the bowl so that the dough ball is evenly covered. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside until the dough doubles in volume, about 3 hours. (Exact times will vary depending on the temperature of the room and the temperature of the ingredients.)


  1. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.


  1. Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish with the cold butter.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently shape into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Then use a rolling pin to shape into 18 by 12-inch rectangle.
  3. Brush the dough with the the melted butter, leaving a 1-inch border along the top edge.
  4. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the dough, also avoiding the top border.
  5. Gently press the filling into the dough. (If you tend to have hot hands, you may want to cover the filling with a layer of plastic wrap first.)
  6. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough away from you into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness.
  7. Using a serrated knife, gently cut the cylinder into 2-inch rolls; yielding 8 pieces.
  8. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight, or up to 16 hours.


  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees F.
  2. When the oven has reached 200 degrees F, turn it off and place the rolls in the turned-off oven. Let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy, about 30 minutes.
  3. Without taking the rolls out of the oven, increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and let the rolls continue to bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F. Remove the rolls and let cool while you make the icing.


  1. Whisk the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.

In case there are leftovers, arrange them on a plate and cover thoroughly with plastic wrap for up to 3 days. To reheat, move to a small plate (I usually use a paper plate) and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Two rolls can be reheated this way, three may require a few seconds more. Four will … let’s face it, you’re not going to have that many left over and you know it.
To freeze: Individually wrap the rolls in plastic wrap and place them in a zip-top freezer-safe bag. When ready to eat, uncover and defrost on the counter for an hour. Then microwave for 30 seconds.

Alton Brown's Overnight Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Alton Brown’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls Recipe


Add yours
  1. 1
    Sharon G

    This is a great recipe. It seemed like a lot of work and was time consuming. I followed the recipe exactly and the overall result was excellent. This is not some thing I would undertake frequently but it would be great for special occasions. My husband, a serious cinnamon roll connoisseur, pronounced them the best he has ever eaten, anywhere. He said the distinct flavors of the various ingredients are well balanced and the interior is soft and slightly chewy. He just a the four, seriously, and against my better judgement, I ate two. We need to wrap up and hide or give away the remaining six.

  2. 2

    My kids said this was better than Cinnabon. I didn’t have buttermilk so I used one cup of milk minus 1 tbsp and 1 tbsp of lemon juice. I let it curdle a bit, but didn’t quite work. Used 1/4 cup of the homemade buttermilk and 1/2 cup of plain yogurt. It worked out fine! The dough was soft and moist. If you don’t want it too sweet, just drizzle the topping. Will make it again! Was a hit in our family!

  3. 3

    I’ve been making these every year for Christmas for many, many years, and the family starts talking about upcoming cinnamon rolls during Halloween! My rule is I ONLY make them on Christmas…. BUT… I decided there is a worldwide pandemic exception. If there’s a worldwide pandemic and we’re all stuck inside for weeks on end I’ll make the rolls then as well :D. So we’re having these for breakfast tomorrow, love the recipe, and love that it’s evolved over time. I have more success with this version than the previous. Thank you!

  4. 4

    These are fabulous!! Made them for Christmas brunch and my family loved them. It was a little hard to find the rapid rise yeast but worth the effort. I did change the recipe a little- I added melted butter to the filling as well as brushing the dough- so doubled the butter. I used simple glaze of powered sugar, milk and vanilla. Our new holiday tradition!!

  5. 5

    I’ve been making cinnamon rolls for years. Made these last two years in my bread machine on dough setting and turned out wonderful. My daughter thought they could use more cream cheese flavor in icing and ask for the recipe. Lol.

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