I’m here to tell you that making cinnamon rolls is very easy when you have a bread machine. If you’ve never made them before, this is certainly the way to start. My recipe for Simple Overnight Cinnamon Rolls will scratch the itch for the ones you get at the mall and miles better than any prepackaged variety you find at the grocery store.
There are many things that I try to perfect or make better, but when putting this recipe together I let all those rules fall to the side. I keep it simple; I don’t put the pressure on myself to make them look perfect or fit in the pan just right. I follow my basic rules for bread making with the dough cycle and let the rest come together as it will.
Cinnamon Rolls are high on the list of ultimate comfort foods for me, and this is my way of taking the pressure off to indulge in one of my favorite foods. I haven’t met one person who doesn’t fall in love with homemade rolls, this is my chance to share them with all of you. I really hope you give these a try and make them part of your weekends. Not just a special occasion or a holiday. We all deserve that small break with something delicious to eat and a cup of hot coffee or tea.
These start with making the dough the night before. I make the dough before dinner and clean it all up all at once. The dough cycle runs for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. Take the dough out and place in large, greased bowl. Also lightly grease the surface of the dough so it does not dry out. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. It will slowly rise, and the slow fermentation enhances the flavor. It also allows us to start with a slightly wetter dough. It should be a little sticky but not wet & loose.
As it ferments overnight it will become a little more dense and MUCH easier to roll out in the morning. You will need approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes before you can serve the rolls. About 5 minutes for assembly, 45 minutes for rising, and 15 – 20 minutes for baking (depending on how thick you roll & cut them.)
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What You’ll Need:
White Bread Flour– I do recommend using bread flour here because I think it has a slightly better texture, but it is not a must. All-purpose flour will work just fine. It would take a real connoisseur to tell the difference.
You can also make your own bread flour by adding vital wheat gluten to all-purpose. I add 1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten per cup of all-purpose. Measure the VWG into the cup and then add the flour on top to keep an accurate measurement of dry ingredients.
Whole Milk or Half & Half– I love to use whole milk for the liquid. Either one works very well. Sometimes I will use half and half because it’s what I have in my fridge most often. If you can’t wait to get started on these rolls you can just use water in an equal replacement in a pinch. The goal is homemade cinnamon rolls!
Instant Yeast– Instant or Bread Machine Yeast is perfect for this recipe. I buy mine in the larger jar and store it in the freezer. Any yeast you purchase should at least be refrigerated and if you have had it for a long time it never hurts to test it for freshness before baking. I do this by adding 1 teaspoon of yeast to a cup of warm water (about 100 F) with a teaspoon of sugar. After about 10 minutes it should be actively foaming. If not then its time to get a new container.
Butter– All of my recipes have been tested using real butter. I do not recommend margarine. It may work, but I have never tried it. To be safe, I would use the real stuff.
Vanilla Extract & Paste– Adding a little bit of vanilla to the dough makes this sweet dough a little extra special. It’s part of what takes a basic sweet dough to the next level. It’s subtle, but I love making sure that I round off the flavors in my baking.
For the icing I go with a good Vanilla Bean Paste. It’s a combination of extract with the inside of the bean itself. Paste packs a lot of flavor and I love the look of the little vanilla bean flecks. It’s the perfect addition to this icing. It is not necessary, it is definitely not as commonly found as extract but I am starting to see more recipes that use it. If it’s not something that you feel you need in your baking supplies, feel free to use extract in it’s place.
Bread Machine– I have tested MANY recipes like this on several brands of machines. I would say that any 1.5 or 2 pound machine works to make this sweet dough. Because we are not baking in the machine it does not rise up to the lid. Just be sure that you are selecting DOUGH CYCLE.
Brown Sugar– You can use light or dark brown, it doesn’t affect the end result because there is so much yummy cinnamon. Do not substitute any white sugar. Brown sugar has molasses, that is what gives it that color and flavor. Anytime I am working with brown sugar, I like to make sure I get out any hard pieces. I also like to get the lumps out so the cinnamon is incorporated very well. You can do this by hand or with a spoon.
Cinnamon– Cinnamon is the classic but you can always get creative here too. You can use pumpkin spice mix or chai spice. As long as it is just spices and no additional fillers or sweeteners, it will make a great variation. See below for other ideas.
Small Silicone Spatula– This comes in handy during that first mix and knead. Sometimes bits of flour or butter gets stuck to the sides and I will carefully push that off with the silicone spatula so it incorporates. I use these for so many things in my kitchen. The little pastry “brush” is great if you really get into bread making and starting adding glazes and toppings.
Digital Scale– I weigh all of my ingredients in grams. Though this does not eliminate the need for occasional adjustments, it does secure more consistent results. In the recipe card below, select Metric rather than US Customary if you are going to weigh rather than use volume measurements.
Dough Scraper– You can use a plastic or stainless steel. I use both interchangeably. Just use what you have or what is in your budget. This comes in handy if you have very wet dough that sticks to your surface and for those days that you want to cut and shape dinner rolls or hamburger buns. It also helps with clean up to clear the excess flour and sugar off of the counter.
Digital Thermometer– I always check my dough when the timer tells me that the rolls are done. I use a digital thermometer to check the middle roll for doneness. It should read 190 F – 200 F.
Baking Pans- You can use a 9 x 13″, 9 x 9″, or 9″ round. Anything you can make work. I recommend using aluminum rather than a dark non-stick pan. If you are using a darker pan, you can set the temperature to 325 F. 20 minutes should do the trick.
Foil– You will definitely want to use foil during the final part of baking to keep the rolls from drying out and becoming too browned on top.
Rolling & Shaping
I try to roll them out into a 12 x 16″ rectangle and it’s usually about ¼” thick. You can get about 15 smaller rolls OR 7-9 thicker rolls. I usually use a 9 x 13” pan for 15 rolls and a 9 x 9” for the 9 thicker rolls. You can even make 7 in a 8-9″ round.
There is flexibility here, if you are feeding a crowd, you can cut 15. If its just a small amount that you need then go for 7 or 9. With there only being four of us at a time, I usually bake the rolls in a 9″ round.
Using a serrated knife, lightly pre-mark your cuts. You will be making a starting point mark in the middle and evenly again on the other sides to get the amount of rolls you wish. Space them in the pan with room to rise and expand as they bake. I gently smoosh them down a little before setting aside to proof.
After they are assembled and during the rising period, I prepare the icing and do my clean up. This takes time, but it’s not complex. It is all simple steps, one at a time. If this is your first-time making cinnamon rolls, you will be so impressed with yourself. I promise it will be something you want to make again and again.
I will list out the important ingredients and equipment for you and I will also share some of my tips & tricks to the dough cycle. So go grab your apron and your favorite drink, let’s get started making some cinnamon rolls!
Looking for some more breakfast ideas?
Try my other recipes…
Buttermilk Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
Bakery Style Vanilla Bean Scones
Orange Maple Brioche Sticky Buns
Glazed French Toast Brunch Bake
If you try these rolls or any of my other recipes tag me on Instagram @joymakersandco, I’d love to see what you make!
Tips & Tricks:
- Make sure all of your refrigerated ingredients are room temperature, unless you have a machine that pre-heats. I will take them out 1-2 hours ahead of time. You can warm the milk in the microwave for 10-20 seconds at a time until it gets to 90-100 F. No hotter than 110 F or the yeast will not work. If you crack the egg and whisk it in a separate bowl, it will come to room temperature quicker.
- Please read the user manual for your particular machine before you get started so you are familiar with the timing on the dough cycle and in which order to add ingredients. All machines that I have used have instructions stating to add wet, then dry so that’s what I always do (I have tested this recipe in 5 different machines) and it never fails me but I do recommend that you double check.
- Double check that the paddle is in the bread pan and remove the pan from the machine when you add the ingredients. That way if anything spills, it does not end up inside the machine.
- I add the butter last in this recipe. The way it mixes with the flour gives me the fluffy results I am looking for in this type of dough. I just cut it up and drop it in around the edge.
- I recommend supervising the first 5 – 10 minutes. Look out for dough that may be too wet or too dry and make sure the machine does not take a walk of off the counter. Recipes are a guideline, the temperature and humidity varies and affects the dough quite a bit. Most of the time I don’t need to make adjustments, but sometimes it needs that extra bit of flour or liquid. Every time you bake bread has the potential for adjustments. It’s easy to do, just have your ingredients handy.
- If your dough is still too wet to handle when it comes out of the pan, don’t worry. The overnight fermentation generally takes care of that like magic. Use your best judgment here, if you still think it is too wet… as in not quite dough at all then just knead in a little flour. Last it can go into the fridge overnight as instructed in the recipe below.
- Keep the machine in a secure spot so when it starts mixing and kneading it will not be able to walk off of the counter.
- Add the zest of 1 Navel Orange to your dough during the first kneading part of your cycle. Use 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom in the sugar & spice filling. Voila! You have Orange Cardamom Rolls. Take it up a notch and add Orange Extract instead of vanilla to the icing.
- Use Buttermilk or Evaporated Milk as your liquid. The buttermilk adds a little bit of sourdough flavor and evaporated milk is richer with notes of caramel.
- Use 1/2 the amount of Coconut Extract in place of vanilla extract in the sweet dough. Sprinkle flaked coconut on top of the iced rolls and you have Coconut Cinnamon Rolls.
Simple Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 Bread Machine 1.5 lb or 2 lb
- 1 cup whole milk , room temperature (up to 100 F)
- 1 large egg , room temperature, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups white bread flour
- 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon plain salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter , softened
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter , softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup half and half
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter , melted, cooled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract , optional
- 1 pinch plain salt
- Remove your bread pan from the machine, make sure your mixing paddle is inserted. Add the ingredients in the order listed in the recipe, from wet to dry unless your machine states otherwise.
- Snap the pan back into the machine and set to the dough cycle. Be prepared with your silicone spatula and additional liquid & flour if adjustments are needed. Set a timer for 3 minutes, then come back and help any ingredients stuck to the side incorporate into the dough ball. At about the 5 minute mark, make adjustments if the dough is too wet or too dry. (SEE TIPS & TRICKS ABOVE)
- Set a timer for the remainder of the time on the cycle. Grease a large bowl and when the cycle finishes, place the dough into the bowl and then lightly grease the top so it does not dry out. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in fridge overnight. It will continue to rise and the yeast will slowly ferment.
- In the morning, prepare your filling as written below. Flour your surface and grease your pan. Take the bowl out of the fridge. Flour your surface and punch down your dough. Pressing into it with your fist, gently knock out the large pockets of air that built up overnight.
- Lightly flour your rolling pin and roll the dough into roughly a 12 x 16" rectangle at about 1/4" thick. Spread with the melted butter. (I like to leave about a 1/2" gap on top so when I roll it up I can pinch it closed)
- Spread the cinnamon mixture on top of the butter, again leaving that 1/2" gap on top. Roll it as tightly as you can while still being gentle enough to keep the shape, starting in from the bottom and rolling upwards to the top. Once you have rolled it up, pinch along the edge to close it up the best you can.
- Using a serrated knife, lightly pre-mark your cuts. You will be making a mark approximately every inch, 15 marks in total. Alternatively if you are making 7 larger rolls, make a mark in the middle and 3 more spaced out evenly to each side of your middle part.
- Cut carefully with the knife, placing them in the pan with enough gap to rise and expand. 15 should fit in a 9 x 13" pan and 7 should fit in a 9" round. Use whichever pan fits best for the amount of rolls you have, no need for perfection here. All we need are cinnamon rolls!
- Place in a draft free area and cover with a light kitchen towel to rise for 45 – 60 minutes. This may vary if your kitchen is overly cold or warm. I like to place mine in a "cold" oven with just the light on. That works for me every time. While these are rising, make the icing as written below.
- When doubled in size, set the rolls aside and pre-heat your oven to 350F. Place the rack in the middle and bake for 10 minutes, loosely covered with foil. Remove the foil and bake for for an additional 5-10 minutes. When they are lightly golden or the internal temperature reaches 190 F, whichever happens first.
- I like to take a butter knife a loosely cut around the cinnamon rolls to loosen them from the pan and allow the icing to fall in between. Frost these while warm, serve and enjoy!
- Soften the butter and set aside in a separate dish.
- Add the brown sugar to a small bowl. I like to remove any hard pieces and break the chunks apart to fluff it up a bit with my hands.
- Measure in your cinnamon and mix well with a fork.
- Place your melted butter, half & half, vanilla, and almond extract into a medium bowl or a glass 4 cup measuring jug. Sift in the powdered sugar and whisk well.
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