There's nothing like starting the day with a fresh cinnamon roll! But leftovers can easily become dry, so they're not nearly as satisfying the next day. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to store cinnamon rolls so they'll stay soft and fresh for days (plus the absolute BEST trick for make-ahead cinnamon rolls)!
How do I store cinnamon rolls?
This is not such a simple question to answer. There are many reasons why you may want to store or reheat cinnamon rolls, and each one will come with different storage needs. Do you have leftover cinnamon rolls that you want to save to enjoy tomorrow? Or maybe you're looking to make cinnamon rolls ahead of time to cut down on the early morning baking?
Whatever the reason, you'll find the answer in this article.
The Best Way to Store Cinnamon Rolls
The best way to store cinnamon rolls depends on how long you need to store them and whether or not they've already been baked or iced.
If you're interested in making cinnamon rolls ahead of time and storing them, then hands-down the best method is to par-bake the rolls and freeze them. Partially baking them lets you halt the baking process just as the dough sets but before it's fully baked and golden. Then freeze the par-baked rolls until you're ready to serve. Finish baking them, then serve them fresh from the oven. No one will know that you did almost all of the work ahead of time, making it an incredible time-saver! If you're making cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning, DO THIS! I'll explain exactly how to par-bake your rolls a little bit further down in this article.
Otherwise, if you're storing unbaked or already baked cinnamon rolls, you have several options, and I'll walk you through each one.
If you want to store unbaked cinnamon rolls, you can choose to store them in the fridge (overnight) or the freezer for up to a month.
If you will be storing baked cinnamon rolls, you can choose to store them at room temperature (for up to 2 days and only if unfrosted), in the fridge (for up to 4 days), or in the freezer (for up to 2 months).
Keep reading to learn how to seal and store cinnamon rolls at room temperature, in the fridge, and in the freezer. And definitely don't skip the hack I'm sharing for making cinnamon rolls that stay fresh and moist for days!
Here's what you'll need for storing cinnamon rolls:
- Plastic wrap, for creating an air-tight seal around the rolls.
- Aluminum foil, for creating a second layer of protection from air.
- An air-tight container (either a plastic storage bag or lidded container) for storing rolls in the fridge or freezer.
How to Keep Cinnamon Rolls Fresh
The most important thing to remember when storing cinnamon rolls is to keep them away from air. Wrapping the rolls well and sealing them in an airtight container will keep the air out so your rolls will stay moist and they won't dry out too quickly.
TIP: My favorite tip for how to keep cinnamon rolls moist actually happens before they're even baked. Just before baking your cinnamon rolls, pour a bit of heavy cream over them in the pan (use ¼ cup to ½ cup for every 6 cinnamon rolls). The cream absorbs into the rolls as they bake, making them ultra moist and gooey (in a good way!). Since the rolls are starting out deliciously moist, they'll take longer to dry out and taste fresh for longer.
Storing Unbaked Cinnamon Rolls
If you've assembled your cinnamon rolls and just aren't ready to bake them yet, no problem. Unbaked rolls can be stored overnight in the fridge or for up to a month in the freezer.
Some of the prep work for making cinnamon rolls can be done a day ahead, saving time when baking in the morning. You can either:
- Make the dough and refrigerate it overnight (loosely covered, not air-tight). Then in the morning assemble the rolls, let them rise, and bake.
- Make the dough and assemble the rolls before refrigerating (loosely covered, not air-tight). In the morning, let the rolls do their final rise, then bake.
If you want to store unbaked cinnamon rolls for more than 12 to 18 hours, it's best to freeze them to avoid the risk of the dough over-proofing in the fridge. Note that the best method for freezing unbaked (or not-fully-baked) cinnamon rolls is to par-bake them before freezing, and I'll go into much more details a bit further down in this article. In this section I'm sharing how to freeze cinnamon rolls that are completely unbaked.
Assemble to rolls according to the recipe up through the final rise. Then when you would normally be about to bake them, freeze them instead. Place the rolls on a tray lined with parchment in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours until firm and frozen. Then wrap the frozen rolls with plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil and seal in an airtight container. The rolls can stay frozen for up to 1 month.
Thaw the frozen rolls overnight in the fridge before baking. In the morning, allow the rolls to do another small rise at a warm room temperature while the oven pre-heats. Then bake according to the recipe, paying close attention towards the end of the recommended baking time.
Storing Baked Cinnamon Rolls
Note that it's always best to store cinnamon rolls unfrosted, then reheat and frost the rolls just before eating. However this isn't always possible - like if you're storing leftover cinnamon rolls - so follow the same instructions for storing cinnamon rolls that have already been iced.
If your cinnamon rolls are unfrosted and you want to store for up to 2 days, go ahead and store them at room temperature.
Wrap the rolls tightly in plastic and seal in an airtight container or a layer of aluminum foil, leaving the rolls at room temperature but out of direct sunlight.
If you want to store the rolls for up to 3 to 4 days, or if the rolls are already iced, it's best to store the rolls in the fridge. Refrigeration is especially important if the rolls are iced with cream cheese icing.
Before refrigerating, seal the rolls tightly with plastic wrap and then in an airtight container. The rolls can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days before reheating and enjoying.
If you wish to store cinnamon rolls for more that just a few days, you'll want to freeze them. Wrap the rolls well with plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil before sealing in an airtight container and freezing for up to 2 months (one month if already iced).
If you think you may want to eat just one or two rolls rather than the entire batch, wrap and freeze the rolls individually or in smaller batches so that you can easily thaw just what you plan to eat.
Cinnamon rolls that have been frozen should be left to thaw either in the fridge or at room temperature before reheating and eating.
The Best Way to Reheat Cinnamon Rolls
When it comes time to reheat and serve leftover cinnamon rolls, you have two choices: the oven or the microwave. Reheating rolls in the oven increases the likelihood that they'll dry out, which is why I always prefer to reheat cinnamon rolls in the microwave. The rolls stay soft and plush when reheated in the microwave.
To reheat, simply place a roll on a microwave-safe plate and heat to desired temperature. Every microwave is different, so start slow, checking every 10 seconds or so, until you find what works best in your microwave. I like to reheat my rolls for 30 seconds on 100 percent power, which makes them very warm and soft.
You may find that rolls that have been stored in the fridge need a bit more time in the microwave than rolls stored at room temperature. This is because refrigerated rolls are colder but also because they're likely to be a bit drier than rolls stored at room temperature, and a stint in the microwave will revitalize their softness.
Cinnamon rolls that were frozen must be thawed either in the fridge or at room temperature before reheating.
Reheating in the microwave before serving is best even if the rolls are already iced. The icing will become warm and a bit drippy, so be extra cautious and keep an eye on the rolls as it heats, but the warmed icing just enhances the overall gooey-ness of the rolls.
Par-Baking & Freezing Cinnamon Rolls
I've saved the best method for last! If you're here because you want to save time by making cinnamon rolls ahead of time then store them so they stay soft and gooey and no one will ever know that you made them ahead of time, then par-baking is your answer!
If you're baking cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, this tip is an absolute MUST!
Par-baking means to only partially bake something. In this case, we'll bake the cinnamon rolls just enough so that the dough will set. Then we'll let the par-baked rolls cool before storing them until we're ready to eat them.
Here's how to do it:
- Assemble and begin baking the rolls according to the recipe. In the case of my brioche cinnamon rolls, we'll bake them for just 10 of the recommended 15 to 20 minutes. When the dough in the middle and around the edges is set but not yet golden, the rolls are finished par-baking.
- Let the par-baked rolls cool completely. Once cool, wrap with plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil, then seal in an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months.
- The night before baking, defrost the rolls in the fridge.
- When you're ready to finish baking, remove the wrapping and let the rolls sit at room temperature while the oven preheats. Bake at a lower temperature (350ºF instead of 375ºF) for the remaining recommended bake time (in this case, 10 minutes).
- Serve as you normally would and enjoy!
This is the BEST way to make cinnamon rolls ahead of time because the work can be done days or even weeks ahead of time. There is hardly anything to do the day of baking and serving but pop them back in the oven, ice them, and enjoy!
Tips & Tricks
Wait to Ice Until Ready to Eat - If you know you'll have some leftover cinnamon rolls, hold off on icing all of them. It will be easier to store the un-iced cinnamon rolls at room temperature, and you can add a big smear of icing to the warm roll after reheating and just before eating.
Consider Baking a Small Batch - If you don't want to worry about leftover cinnamon rolls consider making a smaller batch. My recipe for small batch cinnamon rolls makes just 6 rolls!
Cinnamon rolls stored in the fridge will dry out more quickly than rolls stored at room temperature, because the fridge sucks some of the moisture out of the dough. If storing in the fridge be sure to seal the rolls really well to keep air out of the container to prolong their freshness as much as possible. My tips (above) for keeping rolls moist and reheating them will help to ensure that your leftover rolls are deliciously soft to eat, even if stored in the fridge.
Unfrosted cinnamon rolls do not need to be refrigerated and will keep best at room temperature. Iced cinnamon rolls, and especially rolls with cream cheese frosting, should be stored in the fridge. This is somewhat controversial, and you'll find several sources that say refrigeration isn't necessary, but I always prefer to be on the safe side when it comes to food safety and dairy.
More Baking Tips
Love this baking tutorial? Be sure to check out these other great baking tips linked above! And don't forget to subscribe to Always Eat Dessert for even more baking tips and simple dessert recipes.