Cinnamon rolls. There are so many variations of cinnamon-sugar sweet rolls out there. You can find them on gas station shelves next to snack cakes. They are the stars of hometown cafes where one serving takes up the whole plate. But the best cinnamon rolls; the ones that families gush over, the ones that friends tell their friends about, are these homemade frozen ones right here. They are soft, sweet, and the ultimate comfort food. The best part is that they freeze and bake beautifully, so you can assemble them ahead of time and pull them out on a rainy, snowy, or sunshine-y day! These homemade frozen cinnamon rolls are much tastier and more satisfying than the store-bought kind, and the cost of ingredients is cheaper, too. Let’s begin.
The dough: this sweet yeast dough is very simple. Only 7 ingredients; all of them are kitchen staples!
Combine dough ingredients and knead until the dough is soft and slightly tacky. Form into a ball and let rise until double in size.
Once doubled in size, punch dough to release air and roll into a 12×18 inch rectangle. Spread butter and cinnamon sugar on top.
Roll the rectangle length-wise into a 16-18 inch log. The tighter you roll, the more swirls you create! Cut the log into 12 even slices.
After rising in the fridge for 8-16 hours, let them proof at room temperature until puffy. Then partially bake the rolls at 375° for 10 minutes.
When ready to serve, let frozen rolls thaw in fridge overnight, or room temp for a few hours. Then bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Whip up the cream cheese frosting while the rolls cool slightly. Pour the frosting directly over the rolls and serve warm!
Homemade Frozen Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 cup warm whole milk (100°F -109°F)
- 2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons (14g) of instant yeast
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temp
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 1/2 cups (558g) all-purpose flour, plus more for hands and work surface
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar or brown sugar
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
Cream cheese frosting:
- 2 ounces (56g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups (150g) powdered sugar
- 3 Tablespoons heavy cream or milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prepare the dough: whisk warm milk, sugar, and yeast in large bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes until foamy. Using a rubber spatula or stand mixer with dough hook attachment, beat in butter until slightly broken up. Add eggs and salt and mix on medium speed until combined. Butter will still be in pieces. Slowly add flour 1 cup at a time on low speed. Beat on low until all flour is combined and dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. At this point, dough will be sticky and very soft. Knead dough in mixer for 3 minutes or by hand until dough barely bounces back when poked. You want the dough tacky, but not sticking to your hands. You may need to flour the dough ball and your hands a couple times. Grease a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough ball inside, turning the dough to coat all sides with spray. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until dough has doubled in size. This takes about 2 hours at room temperature.
Roll and fill the dough: Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down to release the air. Roll the dough into a 12×18 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface, keeping it smooth and even. Using a pastry brush, offset spatula, or balled up paper towel, spread the softened butter over the entire rectangle of dough. Next, combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl, then use a spoon to sprinkle the mixture over the buttered dough. Tightly roll the long side of the rectangle until you have an 18 inch log. Some loose sugar may fall out. Cut the log into 12 even slices, about 1 1/2 inches each. Place the cut rolls into a greased 13×9 baking dish. You can sprinkle any loose sugar that fell out on top of the cut rolls. Cover rolls tightly with the lid to your baking dish or plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight, between 8-16 hours.
Par-bake and freeze the rolls: In the morning, remove the rolls from the fridge. Cover the rolls with a clean kitchen towel and let them proof at room temperature until quite puffy. This takes 1-2 hours. Once puffy, preheat the oven to 375°F. Partially bake the rolls for 10 minutes at 375°F. If you’re using a disposable aluminum pan for the rolls, place it on a cookie sheet to bake. Remove the rolls from the oven and let cool completely before covering tightly and putting in the freezer. Rolls can stay frozen for up to 3 months.
Bake and frost the rolls: When ready to eat, remove rolls from the freezer and let thaw completely. Do this overnight in the fridge or for a couple hours at room temperature. Preheat oven to 375°F and bake rolls for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on cooling rack. While the rolls cool slightly, mix up the frosting. Beat the room temperature cream cheese until it’s smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla and beat until well combined. Pour frosting over rolls and serve warm.
Recipe adapted by Sally’s Baking Addiction.