Prep Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Yield: about 16 cinnamon rolls
Recipe inspired by:
My family has a Christmas tradition of enjoying freshly baked cinnamon rolls for breakfast before opening presents. One year, after getting up at 2am to make cinnamon rolls I decided there had to be a better way to make these pastries. It was during this sleep deprived stupor that I came up with the idea of making the cinnamon rolls well in advance and tucking them in the freezer.
Make ahead freezer cinnamon rolls were such a brilliant way to enjoy fresh pastries for breakfast without getting up at the crack of dawn that we’ve been doing it this way ever since! The shaped dough keeps in the freezer for about 4-5 weeks before getting freezer burned so you can make them a few weeks before Christmas and still be able to enjoy fresh cinnamon rolls.
To pull this off, all you need to do is dust the flour off your favorite cinnamon roll recipe (or just use my favorite recipe below) and make the rolls as you normally would. You’ll want to take the recipe right up until you roll up the spiral and slice the individual cinnamon rolls. Instead of doing the final rise and baking, take the sliced spirals and place them on a freezer-safe pan. Tightly wrap the pan with plastic wrap and tuck it in the freezer until you’re ready to eat.
The night before you want to eat, place the frozen pan in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, pick up with your recipe where it calls for baking at around 350° F and you’re set.
Cinnamon Roll Dough:
2 cups milk
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, diced
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons milk
2 cups powdered sugar
Directions for Freezer Cinnamon Rolls with Pictures:
Place 2 cups of milk in a microwave safe bowl. Place a disposable chopstick or microwavable kitchen tool in the milk and cook it just until it boils, about 4-5 minutes on medium power. Combine 6 tablespoons of the sugar, salt and butter in a large bowl. Pour the hot milk over it and let it cool until it reaches 110° to 115° F.
While the milk mixture is cooling, use a small bowl to whisk together the egg and yeast. Set aside. Once cooled, add yeast mixture to the milk mixture and mix well. Add the flour one cup at a time and mix until the dough is soft.
Pour the dough on a well-floured counter and knead until it is very smooth and elastic; about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a large, well-greased bowl or dough-rising bucket. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Use a small bowl to whisk together the cinnamon and remaining 1 cup of sugar. When it has doubled in size, punch down the dough and pour it onto a well floured counter.
Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray or butter. Set aside. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 10 X 14-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with 1/4 melted butter.
Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the melted butter. Spread evenly across the dough. Starting with the long side closest to you, roll up the dough. Pinch the seam between thumb and forefingers to create a good seal which prevents the dough from unwinding.
Use a serrated knife to cut the dough into 2-inch thick discs. Place the discs on the prepared pan with about 1 1/2-inches between the discs. Tightly wrap the pan with plastic wrap and tuck in the freezer for up to 4 weeks.
Baking the cinnamon rolls: The evening before you want to bake, remove frozen cinnamon rolls from the freezer and place the pan in the refrigerator overnight. On the day you want to bake, remove pan from the refrigerator and let it rest on the counter for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350° F.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let the finished rolls cool for about 5 minutes. While the rolls are cooling, mix together the glaze. Combine powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the cinnamon rolls and serve warm.
- Frozen cinnamon rolls also make great gifts for the holidays. I frequently give them to non-baking family members who also enjoy fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast.
- Instead of the glaze, another option is to make a cream cheese frosting for the cinnamon rolls.