Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls


Here's one take on wake and bake—you do all the prep work the day before and let the rolls have their final rise in the fridge while you sleep. Not only does that allow them to develop extra flavor, you get more shut-eye.

Cinnamon Rolls
Photo: Victor Protasio
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs

Step-by-Step Photos: How to Roll Cinnamon Rolls

Step 1: Gently roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into an 18-by-15-inch rectangle with the long side facing you. Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar filling, leaving a 1-inch border at the top.

Hand sprinkling cinnamon sugar on cinnamon roll dough
Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh

Step 2. Carefully roll up the dough beginning with the edge closest to you, starting in the center and working your way to the sides to maintain a uniform cylinder. Stop when you get to the border.

Hands rolling up cinnamon role dough
Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh

Step 3. Pinch the edge (without sugar) into the dough to seal the log. You may need to go back over the seam again to ensure the cylinder is well sealed.

close up of hands shaping cinnamon rolls
Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh

Step 4. Slide a long strand of unflavored dental floss under the log, cross the ends over the top and pull to cut the dough. Repeat so you have 12 equal portions. (A knife might tear and/or flatten the rolls.)

Close up of hands cutting an uncooked cinnamon roll log
Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh



  • 1 cup reduced-fat milk

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1 1/4-ounce envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon water

Filling & Glaze

  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. To prepare dough: Combine milk, butter and honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Transfer to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and let cool to 110°F. Stir in yeast and set aside until bubbly, about 10 minutes.

  2. Whisk all-purpose flour and whole-wheat flour in a medium bowl. Separate one egg, reserving the yolk for the egg wash. Combine the white with the whole egg in a small bowl and beat until well mixed, then whisk into the yeast mixture. Sprinkle 2 1/2 cups of the flour mixture and salt over the wet ingredients. Mix with a flexible spatula or the dough hook attachment on a stand mixer until a shaggy dough forms; it will be sticky.

  3. If kneading by hand, dust the work surface with some of the remaining flour mixture and turn the dough out onto it. Dust the dough with flour and knead, adding additional flour mixture as needed, until you have a smooth, elastic dough, about 5 minutes. (If using a stand mixer, knead with the dough hook, adding additional flour mixture as needed, until you have a smooth, elastic dough, about 5 minutes. The dough will not form a ball or clean the edges of the bowl.) Gently knead the dough into a ball. Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Add the dough and turn to coat. Cover with a kitchen towel and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise until tripled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into an 18-by-15-inch rectangle with the longer side facing you.

  5. To prepare filling: Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Evenly sprinkle and press the cinnamon sugar into the dough, leaving a 1-inch border at the top edge. Beginning with the edge closest to you, roll the dough up, starting from the center and working out to the edges to maintain a uniform log. Pinch the seam closed to seal it.

  6. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Cut the log into 12 equal portions using unflavored dental floss or a wire cheese cutter (slicing with a knife could tear the delicate dough). Transfer the rolls to the prepared baking dish. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise until nearly doubled, about 1 hour, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

  7. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  8. Mix the reserved egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the egg wash lightly over the tops of the rolls. Bake, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through, until the rolls are puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

  9. To prepare glaze: Mix confectioners' sugar, water and vanilla in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush the glaze over the warm rolls. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes more before serving.

To make ahead

Prepare though Step 6, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.


Unflavored dental floss or a wire cheese cutter

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

272 Calories
4g Fat
54g Carbs
6g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Serving Size 1 roll
Calories 272
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 54g 20%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 23g
Protein 6g 12%
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 38mg 13%
Vitamin A 127IU 3%
Sodium 219mg 10%
Potassium 164mg 3%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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