These small batch overnight cinnamon rolls are the BEST, made from scratch with a soft and tender brioche dough, sweet cinnamon filling, and cream cheese icing. It takes just an hour of hands-on time (plus time for rising and baking) to make this impressive and indulgent homemade breakfast treat.
If we’re on the topic of sweet breakfast treats, cinnamon rolls are at the top of my list of favorites. There’s something so comforting and nostalgic and the soft, and puffy dough, rolled up tightly with a cinnamon sugar filling and topped with a thick layer of cream cheese icing. I’ve experimented with lots of recipes over the years, but they all pale in comparison to this recipe. A tender brioche dough, a perfectly spiced filling, and a sweet and tangy icing. These small batch overnight cinnamon rolls are the holy grail; I’ll never make any other cinnamon roll recipe again!
What is Brioche? And why is brioche the perfect dough for cinnamon rolls?
Brioche is a type of bread dough made with egg, butter, and milk. While the bread itself isn’t sweet, it has a rich, buttery flavor and a soft, tender (even puffy) crumb that makes it perfect for sweet treats like cinnamon rolls and French toast.
Can you leave cinnamon roll dough to rise overnight?
Yes! Once of the many reasons to love these cinnamon rolls is that some of the prep work can be done the night before, so there’s no need to wake up extra early to enjoy freshly baked cinnamon rolls for breakfast! The dough is made the night before and allowed to rise at a warm room temperature before it’s transferred to the refrigerator to rest overnight. The cool temperature of the fridge slows the yeast’s rising so that the dough won’t overproof (rise too much) before the cinnamon rolls are assembled and baked in the morning. Do not allow your dough to sit at room temperature overnight as it will overproof.
How to make overnight cinnamon rolls from scratch
Making these small batch overnight cinnamon rolls from scratch requires just about one hour of hands on time (plus time for the dough to rise and the rolls to bake) – and it will be well worth it when you sink your teeth into these soft and tender rolls! Here’s how to make cinnamon rolls from scratch:
- Make the dough – Combine warm milk and yeast before adding egg, butter, flour, sugar, and salt.
- Knead the dough – A stand mixer with a dough hook attachment makes this step super simple, but the dough can be needed be hand, too.
- Rise #1 – Let the dough rise at a warm room temperature until its doubled in size.
- Refrigerate the dough over night (while you dream of the sweet cinnamon rolls you’ll devour in the morning!)
- Assemble the cinnamon rolls – Roll the dough into a rectangle and spread the filling – a mixture of sugars, cinnamon and spices, and butter – over the dough. Roll the dough into a log and slice the log into 6 rounds.
- Rise #2 – Let the cinnamon rolls rise while the oven preheats.
- Bake the cinnamon rolls
- Make the cream cheese icing – Beat together cream cheese, butter, salt, vanilla, and confectioners sugar, and spread the icing over the still warm cinnamon rolls.
Ingredient temperatures are important for this recipe
When a recipe calls for room temperature ingredients there’s a real reason for doing so. Using room temperature ingredients (when the recipe calls for it) will allow the ingredients to blend more easily, creating a dough, batter, etc. with the optimal texture to create the most delicious baked goods possible. (Intrigued? You can read more about baking with room temperature ingredients here).
This recipe calls for several ingredients to be warm or room temperature. Here’s why:
- Milk (warm) – The first step in making the cinnamon roll dough is to warm the milk, which is necessary for activating the yeast, which makes the dough rise.
- Egg (room temperature) – A room temperature egg will blend more efficiently into the cinnamon roll dough.
- Cream cheese and butter (room temperature) – Beginning with room temp cream cheese and butter will allow you to blend the cream cheese icing to a much smoother consistency.
How to slice cinnamon rolls without squishing or flattening the dough
Here’s an amazing trick for slicing your cinnamon rolls: instead of using a knife, use unflavored dental floss. While slicing the rolled up cinnamon roll dough with a knife is likely to squish the rolls, using dental floss to slice the rolls with keep the beautiful cinnamon spirals perfectly intact. To slice cinnamon rolls using dental floss, cut a length of floss approximately a foot long and lay it underneath the rolled up log of cinnamon roll dough where you would like to make your cut. Holding one end of the floss in each hand, bring the floss up over the log of dough, crossing the two ends over one another, and pull them taught until the floss severs the log to create one cinnamon roll. Repeat this process until you have 6 equally-sized cinnamon rolls. (Note: I unfortunately can’t take credit for this amazing discovery. I think I first saw this trick on Instagram, and I wish I could remember who shared it to give them proper credit.)
How to store small batch overnight cinnamon rolls
Cinnamon rolls are best when they’re fresh from the oven, which is just one more reason small batch cinnamon rolls are so great! You can, however, store leftover cinnamon rolls in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you prefer to eat the rolls warm, reheat the leftovers before serving. (I recommend reheating the rolls in the microwave rather than the oven to preserve the softness of the rolls.)
Love these small batch overnight cinnamon rolls? Leave a review and be sure to check out these other indulgent breakfast recipes!
- S’mores Sticky Buns
- Classic Glazed Donuts
- Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Chunk Breakfast Cookies
- Nutella Ebelskivers
These small batch overnight cinnamon rolls are the BEST, made from scratch with a soft and tender brioche dough, sweet cinnamon filling, and cream cheese icing.
for the cinnamon roll dough:
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 3 T unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
for the cinnamon filling:
- 3 T brown sugar
- 1 T granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg (optional)
- pinch of ground cloves (optional)
- 2 T unsalted butter
for the cream cheese icing:
- 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 T unsalted butter, room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- Make the cinnamon roll dough. Warm the milk to between 110ºF and 115ºF either in the microwave or on the stove. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the milk. It should be warm but not hot to the touch. Pour the warmed milk into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl) and add the yeast.
- Add the egg, melted butter, flour, sugar, and salt and mix until the ingredients are blended. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes (to give the flour time to hydrate).
- Using the stand mixer’s dough hook attachment, beat on medium speed until a sticky dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for another 5 minutes, or until the dough is soft and smooth. (NOTE: If not using a stand mixer with a hook attachment, knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes, or until a soft and smooth dough forms.) Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it gently with your hands for 1 minute before gently forming the dough into a ball.
- Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover the bowl with a clean dish towel. Place the dough in a warm spot and let it rise until doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes.
- Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature while you prepare the filling. Line a quarter baking sheet or an 8 in. x 8 in. metal pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Make the cinnamon filling. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugars and spices. Set aside. Melt the butter and set aside.
- Shape the cinnamon rolls. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle that’s 9 in. x 12 in. (TIP: Use a bench scraper to gently nudge the edges of the rolled dough to form a perfect rectangle.)
- Use a pastry brush or an offset spatula to spread the melted butter over the rectangle of dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the butter, covering the dough all the way to the edges.
- Beginning at the short (9 in.) end of the rectangle of dough, roll the dough tightly to form a log that 9 in. long. Slice the log into 6 equal pieces. (TIP: I like to cut cinnamon rolls using unflavored dental floss – wrap it around the log of dough, cross the two ends over each other, and pull taught to slice the dough without squashing it. Alternatively, you can use a sharp knife to cut the log of dough, using a gently sawing motion so that you don’t flatten the dough as you slice it.)
- Place the rolls cut side up onto your baking sheet or pan. Cover the pan with a clean dish towel and place it in a warm spot until the rolls have doubled in size, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- While the rolls rise, position the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Bake the cinnamon rolls. Once the rolls have risen, bake them for 20-25 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a roll comes out clean with no raw dough. If the rolls become golden brown before they’re finished baking, carefully place a sheet of aluminum foil over the rolls to keep them from over-browning as they continue to bake. Remove the baked rolls from the oven, and allow them to cool slightly on a wire rack while you prepare the cream cheese icing.
- Make the cream cheese icing. Add the cream cheese and butter to a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Using an electric handheld mixer or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth and combined. Add the salt and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar slowly and continue to beat until blended and smooth. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed using a rubber spatula while mixing the icing.
- Spread the icing over the still warm cinnamon rolls and enjoy!
Cinnamon rolls are best fresh from the oven, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Reheat leftovers in the microwave before eating if you prefer the rolls warm. (I recommend reheating in the microwave rather than the oven to preserve the softness of the rolls.)
Keywords: small batch cinnamon rolls, overnight cinnamon rolls, cinnamon rolls from scratch
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