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