The Best Make~Ahead Cinnamon Roll Recipe EVER!

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make ahead cinnamon rolls

It’s December 26th, and there’s a good chance you’ve exceeded your maximum caloric intake for the day/week/month/year already.  BUT, don’t we get to feast until the New Year and then start our diets?!

This is the best cinnamon roll recipe EVER, and I have made quite a few, including my grandmother’s (delicious) and Pioneer Woman’s (also yummy).  There are a couple of reasons I like this one so much.  First, the dough gets mixed in a bread machine.  While I make lots of bread from scratch, sometimes it’s nice to be able to dump the ingredients in the bread machine and do something else while it does the work.  Yes, you can mix the dough by hand if you don’t have a bread machine.  Second, you can make the rolls the day before, cover the pan and let them rise in the fridge overnight.  Then bake and frost the next morning (I also make the frosting the day before) and enjoy.  Third, they are slap-your-momma good.  Seriously!  Why not try them for your New Years’ Day breakfast?  That way, if your head aches from too much champagne, all the work is already done for you.

Our posts contain affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking on these links, we will earn a small commission, which helps to keep our content free.  You don’t pay a cent more than you would otherwise, since that would be tacky!

I claim no credit for this recipe.  I found it on my favorite recipe site,, where it has 4,916 reviews and a five-star rating.  That means there are over 314 million people in the US alone who don’t know about this recipe!  And what about the rest of the world?!  Out of the goodness of my heart, here it is:

Clone of a Cinnabon by Marsha Fernandez (click to go to original recipe)

IngredientsAll about Cream:


  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup margarine, melted
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast


  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon (you can use the fancy kind if you want, but it’s great with the plain old grocery store brand)
  • chopped pecans, if desired (because they make my husband happy)
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened


  • 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start. (I use this bread machine and love it, if you’re in the market for one.)
  2. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Roll dough into a 16×21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. (Christy’s note:  add chopped pecans if you’d like.  My kids prefer not to have nuts, so I do half and half).  Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).  (Christy’s note: This is where I cover them and put them in the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning, I take them out and let them come to room temperature and rise for up to two hours, and then I bake them).
  4. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and salt. (Christy’s note:  I make the frosting the day before, too, and store it in the fridge.  Pull it out when you take the rolls out to rise the next morning).  Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

I bake these a little longer than 15 minutes, sometimes up to 18-20 minutes.  I try to find the balance between letting the tops get too brown and having the uncooked doughy center (I hate that!).  These are SO delicious, and I usually serve them with fresh strawberries or pineapple.  You can thank me later!

make ahead cinnamon rolls

Thanks for stopping by!



  1. Now I must buy a bread machine! Do you mind sharing which one you have (or any tips on what to look for) as I have no experience with one? Thank you!

    • Hi, Steph–Well, you don’t really have to buy a bread machine for this recipe; it just makes it a little easier. You can mix everything by hand or with a stand mixer. If you want a bread machine, you can probably find one for CHEAP at a thrift store. I always see tons of them there! Mine is a Panasonic, and it’s a really nice one, but it’s SO noisy. I’d get a different one if I could do it over again. I hope that helps!

  2. julie marshall says

    I make this recipe every Christmas Eve. I keep it in the fridge until the morning bring it out of the fridge and get it to room temp before throwing it in the oven. I have also found that taking the oven temp down to 375 and adding 10 minutes of cooking works best for me. At 400 my rolls almost would burn on top and I would still have some “doughy” parts in the middle. I did try to get out of making these this year but was met with a stern NO from both of my kids who are now adults. This is a really great recipe and easy to do if your not a bread maker.

  3. Julie–GREAT idea on lowering the temperature and increasing the cooking time. I wrote that on my recipe to try next time. Thanks so much!

  4. Christy, I had a ‘Like the Mall Cinnamon Roll’ recipe that my family dies for. It’s my sons birthday this weekend (adult) he is requesting them as a present. Due to economy, we’re living in our RV and all my household goods are in storage. Off course the kitchen is packed in the back. I’ve been searching for a recipe like the one I used (bread machine and cream cheese frosting.) This one appears to be the closest.
    Thank you for the recipe and I will also try the reduced baking temp. Happy Fall!

    • I hope it works out for you, Teri. That’s a challenge, cooking in a RV. Good luck with the cinnamon rolls, and happy birthday to your son!

      • can the dough be made in the bread machine then frozen, then thawed overnight in the fridge the night before I plan to to bake them? I’d like to make them this week and bake them the day after Christmas morning. I would like to have them all cut into the 12 rolls. I’d ice them that morning after baking.

        • Judy, yes, but they won’t rise as high after they’ve been frozen–that’s just the way it works. You’d have better luck if you pulled them out of the freezer on Christmas Eve and put them in the cold oven overnight. I’ve done that with other recipes, but never this one. Good luck and let us know how it works!

  5. I can’t wait to try your receipe. I have a bread maker that I use all the time. Since my kids luv cinnamon rolls, I thought about making them for Christmas morning. Wish me luck!

    • Stacey, they would be perfect for Christmas morning! We usually have them on Thanksgiving Day morning and at least once during Christmas. Then I go on a diet in January! 🙂

  6. These were absolutely delicious! I made them this morning and the whole family loves them. A true keeper recipe! Thank you so much!!

  7. When you take them out of the fridge the next morning, did you leave them covered? I covered mine with wax paper and tinfoil…..just asking because this is my first batch of overnight cinnamon rolls

    • I had them covered overnight (in the fridge) with plastic wrap, but then I covered them with a flour sack towel in the morning. I think you could also let them rise uncovered, but we have two dogs and a cat and there is pet hair floating in the air at my house!

  8. brenda l says

    I just had to tell you- I have made these so many times for my husband who is slightly crazed when it comes to cinnamon rolls. They are delicious and your recipe is so much easier than husbands family recipe! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. I have a bread machine and made the dough in dough mode. Do I then let it rise or roll it out and proceed? (sorry, for some reason my text may come out in all caps)

    • When my dough comes out of the bread machine, it has risen. I turn it onto a floured board, let it rest for ten minutes or so, and then roll it out and make the rolls. After I cut them and put them in the pan, I let them rise again and then pop them in the oven. I hope that helps!

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