Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting


Take the stress out of the ultimate breakfast treat with an easy recipe for Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls with cream cheese frosting being spread over top

We all have that airport food vice, the one item we make a beeline for once cleared through security. For me, it depends on the airport.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, it’s Garrett Popcorn (a mix of their caramel corn and cheesy popcorn, to be exact). At New York’s JFK Airport, it’s a Shake Shack burger and fries. And at just about every other airport in America, it’s a Cinnabon cinnamon roll.

Top down view of Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

I can sniff out the wafting aroma of warm butter mixing with cinnamon and sugar at least 14 gates away.

I walk closer and closer, as the smell intensifies. And then, inevitably, I arrive at the Cinnabon counter and a friendly face is rolling, filling, slicing and icing cinnamon roll after cinnamon roll after cinnamon roll.

Hand poking cinnamon roll dough in clear bowl

Are homemade cinnamon rolls a labor of love? You bet! But with a few simple tricks for how to successfully start and then stop the prep, you can in fact master Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls.

Check out the swirled beauties below. They’re all ready for stashing in your fridge, which means you’re 90% of the way there.

Top down view of unbaked cinnamon rolls in baking dish

Then all that’s left to do in the morning is pop them into the oven and start sippin’ on your mimosa while you whip up the topping.

Stand mixer bowl with paddle attachment and cream cheese frosting

Warm cinnamon rolls, meet the lightest, tangiest cream cheese frosting to ever slather your buns.

And that right there is a big-time breakfast win. Cinnamony, swirly, buttery, better-than-Cinnabon perfection.

Spreading cream cheese frosting over easy homemade cinnamon rolls

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Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

For the cinnamon roll dough:

  • 1
    cup
    whole milk
  • 1/2
    cup
    (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2
    cup plus 1 Tablespoon
    sugar, divided
  • 2 1/2
    teaspoons
    (one 3/4-oz. packet) active dry yeast
  • 4 1/4
    cups
    all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough
  • 2
    large eggs, at room temp
  • 1
    teaspoon
    cinnamon
  • 1
    teaspoon
    kosher salt

For the filling:

  • 3
    Tablespoons
    unsalted butter, melted
  • 1
    cup
    packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4
    cup
    sugar
  • 1 1/2
    Tablespoons
    cinnamon

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 2
    teaspoons
    vanilla extract
  • 1
    (8-oz.) package cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1/2
    cup
    (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2
    Tablespoons
    buttermilk
  • 1/4
    teaspoon
    kosher salt
  • 1 1/3
    cups
    confectioners’ sugar

Make the cinnamon roll dough:

Warm the milk and butter on the stovetop or in the microwave until it is warm but not hot to the touch (it should be below 110°F). Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and the yeast to the milk, stirring to combine, then set it aside for 5 minutes. 

In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix together the flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add the yeast mixture and eggs and mix for 8 minutes until dough is smooth. (The dough will be slightly tacky.) Place the dough in a clean, greased bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm, dark place to proof until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.  

Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper. 

Lightly flour your work surface then scrape the dough out, and using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle that is 1/4-inch thick. 

Brush the melted butter generously over the dough. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon then sprinkle it atop the melted butter. Starting at the long edge of the rectangle, roll the dough up into a tight log, then using a sharp knife, slice the log into 12 2-inch rounds.

Arrange the rounds in the prepared baking sheet (discarding any smaller ends). Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and place the baking sheet in a warm, dark place to allow the cinnamon rolls to rise a second time for about 30 minutes. (Note: This is the point at which you can cover the pan securely with plastic wrap and refrigerate the rolls overnight. Continue with the recipe as directed on the day of baking.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the cinnamon rolls for about 15 minutes or until they are pale golden. (Note: If you are baking the cinnamon rolls directly from the fridge, add about 10 minutes to your bake time.)

While the cinnamon rolls bake, make the cream cheese frosting.  

Make the cream cheese frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. 

Add the vanilla extract, buttermilk, salt and confectioners’ sugar and beat until combined.

Spread generously over completely cooled cinnamon rolls. Best served immediately.  

★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

Nutrition Facts

Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Amount Per Serving

Calories 593
Calories from Fat 234

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 26g
40%

Saturated Fat 15g
75%

Cholesterol 98mg
33%

Sodium 335mg
14%

Potassium 166mg
5%

Total Carbohydrates 81g
27%

Dietary Fiber 2g
8%

Sugars 45g

Protein 8g
16%

Vitamin A
17.7%

Calcium
8.7%

Iron
14%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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