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

    I adore this recipe and figured out a way (accidentally) to make them even better. Once I wasn’t paying attention to the recipe and added the butter that’s supposed to coat the dough into the filling. OMG it was SO GOOD. Adding butter to the filling makes it so gooey and delicious. So just double the butter and add half of it to your filling. You won’t be disappointed!

  2. 2

    I had two questions for you? If I was going to cook a double batch (we have a big group!:)) would you cook the rolls on separate racks or the same? Would you change the time or temp it cooks? Or do you recommend cooking them separately??

    And also I noticed your blog directions cook it differently then the food network recipe. Not proofing the rolls the same. I was just curious why you changed that?? I have always cooked them with proofing them with the hot water. And then this thanksgiving was my first time 1) Making a double batch and 2) proofing them by heating the oven up and leaving them in. And I feel like the rolls turned out different. So I just wasn’t sure if it was bc I did a double batch or bc they were proofing different. I really hope all this makes sense?? I have been using this recipe for about 7 years now and my family loves them! I save this for just thanksgiving and Christmas morning. And I was a little sad this year to have them not turn out as well. I hope to hear from ya!! Thanks for an amazing recipe!!!

  3. 3

    This was super easy to make and they turned out delicious! I did add a little more than double the cinnamon (I really love it, can’t get enough) and my oven tried its best to burn the top, but they still taste amazing! And despite the tops being almost uniformly black (yikes!) They barely taste burnt at all. Like, BARELY. Miracle rolls. Anyways, they’re great, I’ll be making them many more times in the future!

  4. 4

    Has anyone made these without a stand mixer?
    I’d love to own one but it’s a pretty pricey appliance, and it’s not the kind of thing that’s easy to borrow from a friend.

    • 5

      Hi Adrian. I’ve never used a stand mixer in my life, and I recently made these cinnamon rolls, and they came out fantastic. It might take longer kneading, and such, but it made it that much better. Cheers.

    • 6

      I made them several times with my hand mixer & its dough hook. i made them once in a stand mixer at someone’s house and i have to say that I prefer by hand mixer. Everything I made in that stand mixer didn’t come out as well. I think doing it by hand is a great way to go.

  5. 7

    These are INEDIBLE they are so sweet. Even after upping the amount of cream cheese (by a ton) in the frosting, it just could not counteract how sweet the buns themselves were. This might be the first time I’ve had terrible results with an Alton Brown recipe and it is disappointing. I would not recommend this recipe to anyone who doesn’t like sickly sweet rolls.

  6. 8
    Jennifer Freeman

    I made these over the holidays with a little tweak to make them more “festive.” I substituted egg nog for all of the milks and added some fresh grated nutmeg to the dough and filling. They were incredible. I also made the straight recipe. So worth the time and effort.

  7. 9
    Rachel L Schmidt

    I made these for my friends, and they were a hit! Thank you for this recipe, Alton, I have been looking for a good Cinnamon roll recipe, and my search is over.

  8. 10
    Su L.

    I didnt follow recipe to the letter but still thought it was delicious. Buttermilk made it tender and it wasnt too sweet, which is always a good idea. This one’s a keeper. Easy and made a nice size batch. I actually let it rise the first time in the refridge overnight which worked out fine.

  9. 12

    Amazing flavor and texture. Closest thing you’ll find to the Cinnabon or Ikea (the fans will know) ones… but even better! It did necessitate way more than ”a little bit of flour” to make it un-sticky. I also substituted the buttermilk with plain yogourt as my buttermilk always end up going bad before I use it again in other recipes. Will definitely make those again!!

    • 13

      Forgot to add that I made these without a stand mixer and it worked very well. Used a regular mixer to begin with and as soon as the dough started forming, I transfered it on the counter and kneeded it with my hands. Turned out great!

  10. 14

    Perfect recipe, I was the hero of Christmas! I’m a fatty, do I made a double batch of icing.

    Also, the base required about 20 oz of flour total to get the right consistency.

    Alton, this was all by weight correct?

  11. 15
    Toni Pittman

    THANK YOU ALTON BROWN!!! I’ve been wanting to make cinnamon rolls from scratch for Christmas morning for years – but never wanted to get up THAT early to make them. Plus I was a little scared of the whole yeast and kneading thing. Well no more! I used my dough hook for the first time (I’ve had it for 14 years) – and it WORKED!!!!
    Total success! I had a few hiccups – but they were my own doing. This recipe is no fail, and great for a yeast dough novice like me.
    But the really important thing is that they are delicious!!!!

  12. 16

    I’m a big big AB fan: This was my first attempt at homemade cinnamon rolls. Thought I was screwing it up about 3-4 different times a long the way. Had to add 1 ounce of flower about 4-5 times to get the dough passed the sticky stage, I used homemade buttermilk because the store was out on Xmas eve, the rolls looked super tiny in the 13×9 dish, and a couple other technical errors on my part. The finished product was amazing. I would pay for these. One of the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had right out of the oven. This recipe will be a family tradition on holidays.

  13. 17

    I made these with non dairy cream cheese and non dairy yogurt for the frosting. I zested some orange and squeezed some orange juice into the cream cheese mix. I also used non dairy yogurt and a little water in the dough instead of buttermilk. Without the orange I think that the frosting would have been too sweet. The orange really helped with that though, and it was completely non dairy! I think next time I’m going to put some orange zest into the dough too. I didn’t think the dough was too dense.

  14. 19

    How wet is this dough supposed to be? I continued to add flour, a spoonful at a time, until the dough formed a ball on the dough hook and cleared the sides/bottom. It ended up being a lot of flour (maybe 17-18 oz?). It’s doing its final proof in the oven right now, so we’ll know soon, I guess. But I have a hunch I made the dough too dry.

  15. 20

    Can you go straight from asembling the rolls to Baking? Do you need the refrigerator step? If you skip the fridge step, do you lessen the proof time as they are already room temperature?

    • 21

      Well we tried just rolling them and straight to the oven and they turned out perfect! I will reduce the sugar next time though. Way too sweet for me:)

  16. 22

    Anyone made these at high altitude? I usually add 2 tablespoons of extra flour in baking but wondered if anyone else had some thoughts. I’m at about 6,800 feet 😉

    • 23

      That’s about my same altitude. I just made them as the recipe said and my guys are saying to make sure I keep this recipe. I might have baked them a couple of minutes longer–the center is a bit doughy, but I kind of like them that way.

  17. 24

    I have 7 kids. I doubled the recipe, made a comparable rectangle, rolled and cut twelve and shoved all that goodness into a 9×13 pan. Worked out beautifully. Thanks, Alton, you make our mornings in Idaho SWELL.

    • 26

      I made it with Red Mill GF baking flour (wife if GF). They ended up delicious, but the presentation wasn’t great, as rolling them tightly into the cylinder was *tough* and a lot of them fell apart a bit – I think my dough was too warm (warm kitchen) and therefore I should have refrigerated it for a bit, or its just the nature of GF. I, like many on here, had to knead the dough longer and add more flour than was called for to get past the stickiness. **Make sure you use plastic wrap when you roll out the dough (trick for GF flour for any dough)!

    • 27

      I made these for the first time GF and they turned out awesome! Just don’t expect them to rise and poof as much. Also i would suggest probably using a smaller baking dish to keep them bunched together and from drying out too much during baking.

  18. 29

    I am sorry to say that I am not a huge fan of buttermilk recipes. As a result, I probably will not use this recipe, for the dough. However, I appreciate the filling and icing recipes, and will definitely give those a try. I have my own dough recipe, which is based on an old Czech Crescent Roll that I use.
    Thank you AB! Keep up the great work!

  19. 30

    Has anyone made this without a stand mixer? I don’t bake much, so it’s the one appliance missing from my kitchen. I’d love to try this recipe without it, though!

  20. 31
    Dawn Schmidt

    I made the dough the night before, put them in the oven the next morning for church, it was easy. Just follow the steps! Turned out beautiful! And, I WILL NEVER turn to store bought rolls again! Thank you, Alton! I’m a huge fan!

  21. 33
    Heather Wenzel

    I have made these now a half dozen times and ever time they are flawless and devoured quickly.
    Longer fridge time makes a better roll, in my experience. I have left them anywhere from 7-20 hours and liked the latter a lot more. I have a pretty cold fridge, so YMMV.

  22. 34

    Am I doing something wrong? I keep trying to make these, and despite using plenty of butter to sop up the sugar and cinnamon, whenever I try to cut them, the whole thing just dribbles out the ends and it tries to fall apart.

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