Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

2015-12-25 07.34.58RECIPE #151, DAY #180

ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Overnight Cinnamon Rolls,” from Alton Brown at The Food Network online*

TIMING: 2 hours, plus overnight

DIFFICULTY: Some experience would not go unused

TOOLS: A 9×13 inch baking pan (glass is fine). A stand mixer with a dough hook is best, but you can accomplish these without it.

COOK TYPE: Oven, baking

HEALTH: No. Just no.

2015-12-25 07.33.07EXPERIENCE: I think it might be a Christmas morning tradition to have cinnamon rolls, but I know for sure that it has been sort of a growing tradition in my own family. For the last few years, we have arrived at Grandma’s house in the late morning and were greeted by the lingering smell of her (sometimes orange) cinnamon rolls. The past couple years, we have celebrated at home with a cake for baby Jesus (yes, for breakfast), but this year we knew we were going to have birthday cake later in the day.

I wanted to return to some sort of “overnight” recipe, like a strata or a bread, because there is no way I was going to manage time in the kitchen with two kids rearing to go with the gifts. Then I thought of that familiar Christmas smell: cinnamon rolls. Then I skipped over all the recipe books I had for a highly rated recipe from the internet, because if I am going to indulge, I want to indulge right.

These turned out absolutely perfect. They would be my death row breakfast. With bacon and a mimosa.

2015-12-25 07.33.13NOTES: I suppose you could make these all orange-y, but they are so totally awesome as they are, I can’t think of a reason to change them. Even so, a little orange juice (in for some of the milk) and zest (in the frosting or filling) would do it. A little bourbon could also be used in the frosting.


  1. In your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, whisk together 4 egg yolks, 1 egg, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, and 6 oz buttermilk. Add 2 cups all purpose flour, 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast, and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, whisking until combined.
  2. Replace your whisk attachment with a dough hook (or your whisk with a wooden spoon). Add another 3/4 cup all purpose flour. Either knead for 5 minutes in the mixer then knead by hand for 30 seconds, or incorporate flour with the wooden spoon and turn it out and knead by hand until smooth and elastic (several minutes).
  3. Clear out and oil the bowl (using coconut or safflower oil). Place dough ball back in the bowl and oil the top of the ball. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm, still place to rise for 2 hours. It should double in size.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine 1 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
  5. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan (with butter, coconut oil, or cooking spray).
  6. Meanwhile, whisk 1/4 cup softened cream cheese until fluffy and smooth. Add 3 tablespoons milk and 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and whisk until smooth, again. It should be loose, but not too runny. Place in a sealed container and store in the fridge for tomorrow.
  7. Turn your dough out onto a clean, flat, floured surface and shape into a rectangle. Roll out until it is 18 inches x 12 inches.
  8. With the long side nearest you, brush dough with 1 1/2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, leaving an inch clearance at the border farthest from you. Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon-sugar mixture, leaving the same clearance. Now, roll the dough away from you, creating a long roll. At the top, pinch the roll closed and make sure the roll is as even as you can make it.
  9. Carefully cut the roll into 12 even slices using a serrated knife. Arrange the slices, cut side up, in the baking dish, evenly distributed. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.


  1. Remove frosting from the fridge to soften.
  2. Fill a shallow pan half-way with boiling water and set on the lowest rack of your oven. Remove the rolls from the fridge, uncover, and place in the oven on the rack above the hot water. Close oven door and allow to sit for 30 minutes. (Go open stockings or brush your teeth.)
  3. Remove both pans from the oven and preheat oven to 350F.
  4. Bake 30 minutes, until rolls are golden brown.
  5. Let rolls cool only slightly before spreading with your reserved frosting. Serve hot.


Serve with mimosas and a sugar rush.

*Recipe changed from the original.


One Comment Add yours

  1. A. Joy says:

    Saw this Alton Brown recipe online and was nervous to try- you’ve convinced me to give it a try now! Can’t wait!

    Liked by 1 person

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