breads · brunch

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Homemade cinnamon rolls are simply delightful, am I right? They make your house smell so good. And the warm, gooey, cinnamon-y bread on a cold [snowy] morning… ummm, yes please! Yes, you can buy them in a tube and bake them and your house will still smell good. I certainly did that for years until I started getting serious about not relying on processed foods. Now I prefer to make them from scratch.

But this recipe has white flour and sugar. Those are processed, you say? Yes. They are. But at least there’s a short list of ingredients, and I’m not adding anything I can’t pronounce. I could make these with half white whole wheat flour. I did not. Maybe next time.

So truth be told, what I love about these cinnamon rolls the most is that I make them the night before. I can sleepwalk down to the kitchen in the morning to pull them out of the fridge for the final rise. Then I go back to bed because it’s winter and I like to be warm and morning sleep is my favorite. If I set the oven to turn itself on, I can get another full hour of sleep! Then I just sleepwalk back down to put the rolls in the oven and wake myself up during the 30 minutes that they cook. And everyone else wakes up happy asking, “what’s that smell?”

These cinnamon rolls grow to be quite large. There’s a subtle taste of butter (you brush butter on top of the assembled rolls before refrigerating them). I love butter, so I love it when the taste of it comes through. Enjoy them while they’re warm.

Cranberry colored stoneware baking dish filled with cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven, vanilla glaze being poured on top.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Course Breakfast
Yield 10 rolls


for the dough

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) warm water, 105°F/40°C
  • 4 1/2 cups (22 1/2 oz/700 g) all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz/60 g) sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

for the filling

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

for the glaze

  • 1 cup (4 oz/125 g) powdered (icing) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


  1. To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the water, allow to bloom for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz/75 g) of the flour. Cover with plastic or bee’s wrap and let stand in a warm spot, about 30 minutes.

  2. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, and the remaining 4 cups (20 oz/625 g) flour to the yeast mixture. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and knead on medium speed until smooth, 3-4 minutes. Add the room temperature butter and continue to knead, adding a little flour to reduce stickiness if needed, until the dough is smooth, 10-12 minutes. Cover with plastic or bee’s wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

  3. Butter a 9×13-inch (23x33cm) baking dish. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Roll out into a 15-by-10-inch (38-by-25-cm) rectangle. Brush the rectangle with half of the melted butter, leaving a 2-inch (5-cm) wide strip uncovered on one long side. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the butter. Starting at the long side covered with butter and sugar, roll up the rectangle snugly and pinch the seam together. With the seam facing down, cut into 10 equal pieces. Place the pieces, cut side up, in the dish. Brush with the remaining butter. Cover with wrap and let rise in the refrigerator overnight.

  4. The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and let rise until half again as high, about 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. 

  5. Meanwhile, make the glaze. In a small bowl, sift together the powdered sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, milk, and vanilla and stir into the sugar to form a smooth paste. Spread the glaze over the slightly cooled cinnamon rolls and serve warm.


Source: Williams-Sonoma’s Family Meals Cookbook by Maria Helm Sinskey

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