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!