Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

cinnamon rolls recipe

What’s better than homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning? Homemade cinnamon rolls that are ready to pop in the oven without missing any of the fun and memories!

These cinnamon rolls can be made the night before and stored in the fridge so all you have to do on Christmas morning is preheat the oven! Even the frosting can be mixed up the night before.

steps to make cinnamon rolls recipe

These rolls do require some effort and are not as easy as popping open a store-bought tube, but, trust me. They are so much better than store-bought cinnamon rolls that it’s worth it!

If you’ve never worked with yeast dough before, don’t be intimidated. These are so easy to make with these simple instructions. 

cinnamon roll on a plate

These light and fluffy cinnamon rolls have the perfect mix of cinnamon and sugar, covered in a delicious cream cheese frosting. We spend Christmas morning in our pajamas, making memories and enjoying these delicious rolls. I hope you will make these cinnamon rolls part of your Christmas tradition too!

ingredients for cinnamon rolls recipe

Prep time: 2 hours (includes 1 hour to let the dough rise)

Cook time: 30 minutes

Servings: 12

Serving size: 1 cinnamon roll

For the dough: 

  • 1/3 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 0.25 oz. package active dry yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 ¼ cups flour
  • non-stick cooking spray

For the filling:

  • ¼ cup melted salted butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

For the frosting:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar 

Directions

butter in a mixing bowl with milk cinnamon rolls

1. Cut up 1/3 cup butter into chunks and place into the bottom of a mixing bowl. Microwave the milk for 2 minutes and pour over the top of the butter. Stir gently until butter is melted. 

yeast on milk in a mixing bowl cinnamon rolls

2. Sprinkle the package of yeast onto the top of the warm milk mixture and let sit for 5 minutes. 

egg mixture in a mixing bowl cinnamon rolls

3. Add eggs, ½ cup sugar, and 1 tsp. salt. Mix well using a handheld or stand mixer. Add flour, in 1 cup increments and mix until combined. The dough should be clinging to the paddle.

stand mixer using dough hook with cinnamon rolls batter

4. Switch to a dough hook with a handheld or stand mixer and knead dough on low speed for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you could dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes.

bowl with cinnamon rolls dough

5. Coat a large bowl with non-stick spray and scoop dough into the bowl using a rubber spatula. Turn the dough so it is completely covered with spray. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let stand for 1-2 hours. (If you keep your house at a cool temperature, it may be wise to leave the bowl near a heated oven for added warmth. The yeast will work best in a moist, warm environment.)

cinnamon rolls dough after proofing

6. Check dough after 1 hour. It should be nearly doubled in size. If it isn’t, don’t be afraid to let it rest longer – up to 2 hours. 

cinnamon roll dough on the counter
cinnamon rolls dough rolled out

7. Push down on the dough to deflate it and dump the dough onto a floured surface. Sprinkle more flour on top and use a rolling pin (or the side of a cup in a pinch!) to roll the dough out into a large rectangle (approximately 12”x20”).

cinnamon rolls dough with filling on top

8. Pour ¼ cup melted butter over the dough and use a pastry brush or back of a spoon to completely cover the dough. Sprinkle on the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. 

cinnamon rolls dough rolled into a log

9. Roll lengthwise into a large log. Cut the dough into 12 pieces and place slices into a greased 9×13 pan with the cinnamon facing up.

cut cinnamon rolls ready to bake in a pan

10. Cover with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator overnight. 

ingredients for cream cheese frosting in a bowl

11. Mix the softened cream cheese, softened butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar with a handheld or stand mixer until creamy. If you're making this the night before, cover and place into the refrigerator overnight.

baked cinnamon rolls in a pan

12. The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 25-30 minutes. 

cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting in a pan

13. Spread frosting over hot rolls.

Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

These cinnamon rolls can be made the night before and stored in the fridge so all you have to do on Christmas morning is preheat the oven! Even the frosting can be mixed up the night before.

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • For the dough:
  • 1/3 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 0.25 oz. package active dry yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 ¼ cups flour
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • For the filling:
  • ¼ cup melted salted butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • For the frosting:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Cut up 1/3 cup butter into chunks and place into the bottom of mixing bowl. Microwave the milk for 2 minutes and pour over the top of the butter. Stir gently until butter is melted. 
  2. Sprinkle the package of yeast onto the top of the warm milk mixture and let sit for 5 minutes. 
  3. Add eggs, ½ cup sugar, and 1 tsp. salt. Mix well using a handheld or stand mixer. Add flour, in 1 cup increments and mix until combined. The dough should be clinging to the paddle.
  4. Switch to a dough hook with a handheld or stand mixer and knead dough on low speed for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you could dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes.
  5. Coat a large bowl with non-stick spray and scoop dough into the bowl using a rubber spatula. Turn the dough so it is completely covered with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let stand for 1-2 hours. (If you keep your house at a cool temperature, it may be wise to leave the bowl near a heated oven for added warmth. The yeast will work best in a moist, warm environment.)
  6. Check dough after 1 hour. It should be nearly doubled in size. If it isn’t, don’t be afraid to let it rest longer- up to 2 hours. 
  7. Push down on the dough to deflate it and dump the dough onto a floured surface. Sprinkle more flour on top and use a rolling pin (or the side of a cup in a pinch!) to roll the dough out into a large rectangle (approximately 12”x20”).
  8. Pour ¼ cup melted butter over the dough and use a pastry brush or back of a spoon to completely cover the dough. Sprinkle on the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. 
  9. Roll lengthwise into a large log. Cut the dough into 12 pieces and place into a greased 9x13 pan.
  10. Cover with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator overnight. 
  11. Mix the softened cream cheese, softened butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar with a handheld or stand mixer until creamy. If making the night before, cover and place into the refrigerator overnight.
  12. The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 25-30 minutes. 
  13. Spread frosting over hot rolls.

amy cookAmy Cook is a midwestern wife and mom to four boys ages 8, 6 and 3 year old fraternal twins. She has a degree in Biochemistry and worked in medical research for 8 years before becoming a SAHM when her twins were born. Now she runs her Etsy shop and graphic design blog, Loving Our Messy, offering free printables and design tools. Her other passions include baking, watching baseball and all things creative.

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