Overnight Cinnamon Twists

I’m happy to report, my sentiments from last week are still just as strong: I’m not sure I’ve been this excited for a recipe in a long time. Not to play favorites or anything. I mean, I love all my recipes equally (just like my children) but sometimes I’m enveloped with a bit more excitement (like when one particular child clean his or her bedroom without being asked and I almost faint with happiness). And that’s the case with these beautiful twisty cinnamon rolls.

Overnight Cinnamon Twists

My dear friend Deb brought our family her Aunt Joan’s sweet rolls a few weeks ago and we were smitten. Flaky and buttery and perfectly sweet and cinnamony with a yummy, creamy glaze – wow, they were incredible. When she shared the recipe, I was delighted to find these incredibly delicious rolls are some of the easiest ever, especially for newbies to yeast breads. No kneading, no electric mixer, no fussy directions (other than the shape which doesn’t take much to pick up on especially with the pictures and the video below).

The dough is old-fashionedly mixed up with a bowl and spoon the night before and refrigerated. It’s a much softer, wetter dough than most cinnamon roll doughs (so easy to stir together!) but magic happens overnight as the dough sturdies up a bit and is perfectly manageable in the morning.

Overnight Cinnamon Twists

The rolls are unconventionally twisted…and then twisted some more into a circle which not only gives them a lovely, unique look but it creates a flaky, buttery texture to the golden baked cinnamon and sugar rolls with lots and lots of pull-apart potential. I literally cannot stop making these. They are absolute perfection and will be very welcome on Christmas morning (to be served to all of my perfect children, of course).

One Year Ago: Soft and Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies
Two Years Ago: Salty Sweet Granola and Coconut Yogurt
Three Years Ago: Killer Crunch Brownies

Overnight Cinnamon and Sugar Sweet Rolls

Yield: Makes about 2 dozen rolls depending on size

Overnight Cinnamon and Sugar Sweet Rolls

If you want to have these ready even faster on a given morning, simply start a day ahead of time. Make the dough the morning before, refrigerate it for 8-10 hours, take out and follow the directions to shape and place on the baking sheet. Cover the shaped rolls with greased plastic wrap and refrigerate until the next morning. Take out in time to come to room temp and rise and then bake as directed.


  • 4 1/2 cups (22.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 large eggs (7 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 cup hot water
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) butter, melted
  • Filling:
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (3,75 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Glaze:
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk, plus more if needed
  • Splash of vanilla extract


  1. In a large bowl (to allow for about 7-8 cups of dough to double in bulk), whisk together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  2. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together the eggs and pour them into the well. Use the same measuring cup for the hot water. Pour it around the edges of the well (not directly on the eggs) and then add the melted butter to the bowl. Use a large spoon to mix the ingredients together until a soft, rather wet dough is formed. It won't look like traditional cinnamon roll dough; it will be much softer and it's ok if it looks a bit lumpy. Magic happens overnight, I promise.
  3. Cover the bowl with greased plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for 8-10 hours.
  4. Using about 1/4 - 1/3 cup flour (more or less), dust a clean countertop. Lightly punch down the chilled dough and roll it out on the floured counter to a long, skinny rectangle (about 24-inches long and 7 or 8-inches wide).
  5. Spread the 4 tablespoons melted butter on the rectangle. It will solidify and be easier to work with as you spread it on the chilly rectangle of dough. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and spread it on top of the butter, lightly pressing it in.
  6. Fold one long edge of the rectangle up to meet the other long edge so the dough is folded in half. Use a pizza cutter or knife and cut the dough into 1-inch strips. With each strip, hold an end in each hand and twist it up several times and roll it around the center into a circle (see pictures below for a visual). Place on a large, rimmed baking sheet (11X17-inch) lined with parchment paper (about 12 per tray).
  7. Cover the trays with greased, plastic wrap and let the rolls rise until puffy and doubled, an hour or so.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees F for 12-14 minutes until just barely golden on top (don't overbake or they'll be dry).
  9. For the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla. Add more milk as needed until the glaze is thick but pourable. Let the rolls cool for 5 or so minutes before drizzling with glaze.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from my friend Deb (a recipe she got from her sis-in-law, Karen, from Karen’s Aunt Joan)
Overnight Cinnamon Twists

Here’s a quick and simple video on shaping the cinnamon twists if you need more of a visual:

83 Responses to Overnight Cinnamon and Sugar Sweet Rolls

  1. […] twist it up several times and roll it around the center into a circle (see pictures and video in this post for a visual). Place the rolls on a large, rimmed baking sheet (11X17-inch) lined with parchment […]

  2. Dorene says:

    These sweet rolls saved the day for my son’s birthday! He wanted cinnamon rolls and because of the snow storms we’ve been having (like in Idaho!) I didn’t want to go buy Rhodes rolls and I really didn’t want to get up at the crack of dawn to make them before school. So I went on your site and found this sweet recipe that wouldn’t take a lot of time and they were a big hit! These will definitely be my go-to for a special occasion breakfast. Thanks! Love your blog!

  3. Nancy says:

    Just wanted to share, I made these for Christmas morning, 2nd yr in a row, but this year I used half sugar and half brown sugar and rolled them out like regular cinnamon rolls. It made about 16 I think. I made up a cream cheese icing. They were amazing!! My mother in-law was impressed! Thanks

  4. karen lewis says:

    i made these the day after thanksgiving for a family reunion breakfast (at altitude!) and they came out perfectly!! one person said they were the best cinnamon rolls she had ever had. thank you!! i love your blog and recipes and self. 🙂

    PS: we just published a ward cookbook and you are no stranger in it! 🙂

  5. Jocy says:

    Love these rolls! If i want to make them orange flavored, should i exchange the whole amount of water for orange juice? Or just add orange zest to dough, filling and/or glaze?

  6. Heidi g says:

    Happy Sunday Mel! I made these this weekend, instead of our traditional cinnamon rolls for general conference weekend, and my family and I LOVED them! I loved the simplicity of the recipe and because of it I didn’t have to wake up super early because most of the work happened the night before! Love that! We loved the tenderness of the dough and appreciated that it wasn’t overly sweet but still super fantastic and full of cinnamon/sugar flavor! Anywho, thanks as always for posting the best of the best recipes! And thank you a million times over for the picture tutorials! My twist would not have happened without the step by step pictures!

  7. Marguerite says:

    This came out to a sticky mess i followed the recipe and the dough was so tacky i couldn’t work with it at all i finally threw it in the oven and am hoping for the best. I won’t be making it again.

  8. Sarah says:

    How to be a hero at work: make these rolls! They were delicious, even though I think I overbaked them slightly. I made them the day ahead, shaped them after almost 8 hours and left them overnight, got up 2 hours ahead of baking time and left them to rise on the counter (thanks to Nita’s comment for the timing help). I used cream in the icing just for the extra richness. The staff room smelled like a bakery, and I’m pretty sure people came running from all corners of the building!

  9. Jocy says:

    Hi Mel, sorry to bother you, but could you pist a picture of the dough after being mixed. I would like to see how wet or thick is supposed to look :s

    • Jocy says:

      I made the rolls for this morning, and even though the dough didn’t rise, they turn out super soft and delicious. I even used 3 cups of whole wheat flour and the rest all purpose. Thanks Mel! It’ll be my new go to recipe!

  10. Rachel says:

    I have to say that these turned out AMAZING! I needed a good, easy cinnamon rolls for my Niece’s Mission Farewell Brunch, and so I did what I always do, Googled Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and searched your site! You always have recipes that fit my family’s tastes! Although as a general rule I don’t bake new, untried recipes for a group gathering (I have had many disasters in the past), I knew that using one of your recipes was a safe bet. I had compliment after compliment on how soft and buttery the flavor was. My girls declared it the best cinnamon “roll” that I have made so far (I have made several different versions, including some of yours which they also love!)! Thank you so much for taking the time to put all these wonderful recipes and techniques together for all of us who don’t have the time to do it ourselves! You are awesome! And your family is beautiful!

  11. Jane H. says:

    OMG!! These are great rolls! Dough is beautiful. But seasoned baker that I am (and living in the mountains), I decided to let final rise be in oven that had been preheated to 150 degrees (and turned off). The result: ginormous rolls, the size of a pretzel! Family didn’t care, they still inhaled them!
    Thanks, Mel!

  12. Angela says:

    Made these for an Easter egg hunt brunch and they were fantastic! Gobbled up in no time. Really liked how easy the recipe was and that I could do it ahead of time. Your pictures and instructions were very helpful. Thanks!

  13. Ketz says:

    These were really good =)

  14. Amy says:

    These were both beautiful and delicious! My pastries almost never come out pretty, so this was a nice change for me! Particularly since I was pretty sure I’d end up with yet another tasty mess. I’m just about to make them again to take to the sweet neighbor who plowed me out after the big snow but only works for baked treats.

  15. Suzanne says:

    I have made these countless times and I still can’t believe how amazing they taste, especially bc they are so easy to make. Do you think they would work as many “mini” sweet rolls. I was thinking about making them for a baby showe?

  16. Guenevere says:

    Hi Mel! I just wanted to tell you that I made these for our Christmas morning brunch, and they were absolutely amazingly delicious! My dad (who is not easily impressed) declared, “this is the best pastry I have ever eaten in my life!”…and he went on to eat 3 of them! 😉
    Thanks for all of your awesome recipes! You ROCK!

  17. susan says:

    Made these for Christmas breakfast following the instructions to speed them up by starting the morning before. Worked like a charm! Even though my husband would prefer a super-sweet cinnamon roll, I actually prefer something like this! I truly appreciate all your work in putting together pictures and the tutorial. Watched and looked at them carefully to make sure I was doing it right–and it made it so easy to pull it off! Thank you!

  18. Nikki says:

    Mel I think 22.5oz flour is about 5.3 cups, so that is too much. I think it should be 19.125oz for 4.5 cups. My dough was way too stiff!
    I am so excited because I think this is the secret recipe a neighbor of mine wouldn’t give out for her mother in law’s famous “cream rolls”. Can’t wait to try them again and see!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Nikki – my weight measure for 4 1/2 cups is the 22.5 ounces (I use 5 ounces per cup of all-purpose flour for my measuring standard). I’ve made this recipe dozens of times using that weight measure so I’m not sure why your dough was so stiff. Good luck if you try them again!

  19. Kristin Castleton says:

    It was not the presents under the tree or the smiling faces of my sweet children (although I always love this) that made my Christmas super exciting. It was the twisting, baking, glazing and devouring of these delicious twists!! Thanks so much for another great recipe. Merry Christmas!

  20. Mary P says:

    Can bread flour be used with these, or will it change the measurements or texture? I sent my husband to the store for flour and he came home with bread flour I am actually making Gloria’s perfect cinnamon rolls too, so is bread flour okay for them too?

    • Mel says:

      Bread flour works great in Gloria’s cinnamon rolls. I haven’t tried it with the cinnamon sweet rolls but I’d say go for it – better than making another trip to the store.

      • Judy johnson says:

        I made them with Gold Medal Better For Bread today. They were amazing! Thanks for posting this Mel. Glad I found your site

  21. Nita says:

    These were so delicious! I’ve made almost every cinnamon roll recipe on your site and these were a big hit! I will definitely be rotating between these rolls and Gloria’s roll recipe. I was surprised these turned out well because I wasn’t able to follow the instructions exactly. I made the dough and put it in the fridge at 9am yesterday. I had intended to shape them at around 6pm but I had a crazy day and didn’t get to pull them out of the fridge until 1am about 16 hours later! When I looked in the bowl the dough looked like it had risen and fallen. I decided to proceed with the next steps anyway. So I shaped them and refrigerated them. This morning I took them out and let them come to room temp for 2 hours and baked them as directed. They came out absolutely wonderful and oh so fluffy! My kids kept commenting on how fluffy and soft they were. I will be making these often! Thanks!

  22. Cassidy says:

    Oh my Mel! These were so simple to make (first I wrote simple to “eat” instead of “make” because I think my brain couldn’t get past the eating part. Yum!). I adjusted the recipe and put orange zest instead of cinnamon and in the frosting I put orange juice instead of milk and orange flavoring instead of vanilla. I love how this dough holds up. I was honestly skeptical when I put the dough in the fridge last night because it looked so strange, but I should have trusted in your recipes. They always turn out great and this one did not disappoint. Thank you again!

  23. Faye says:

    Hi Mel, I wanted to make these as soon as you had posted them!, so I did! I’m an enthesiastic novice baker and this was my first time making them. I did the dough the evening before and then popped it in the fridge overnight. In the morning I was surprised that the dough had not risen as much I anticipated, I carried on despite this and found the dough indeed had become sturdy but was still soft. When I came to twisting the dough it was workable but my twisted rolls looked a bit flat after shaping them. I proofed them for second stage and instead of risen rolls they all but flattened out. I wasn’t detered and baked them all and they tasted lovely. Even though mine were not beautifully risen I take this first attempt as a learning curve and if there is any advice you could give to me for my second attempt I would be very grateful.
    Great recipe and definalty going to try again : )
    P.s. Thank you for all the visuals, they help a novice a lot!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Faye – thanks for the detailed comment! A couple questions – what type of yeast did you use? Did you use warm water? Also, how do you measure your flour (scoop and shake to level? Scoop and flat edge to level?). It sounds as though the dough may have been overfloured – especially if it didn’t rise much (it should be noticeably risen) and seemed a bit too sturdier. Try adding less flour next time and see how it goes. Let me know if you have any other follow-up questions!

      • Faye says:

        Thankyou for the hints, I used fast action dried yeast, with water I had just boiled in a pan and measured my flour with scales (I always use scales where I can). When making my dough it did cross my mind that using hot water as opposed to warm water might kill the yeast (done this before when making pizza dough!) but as the recipe states hot I didn’t question it until thinking about why it didn’t rise as I expected. I was making sure I didn’t make scrambled eggs and forgot that yeast can be fussy with hot water too!
        I hope in a way it was the hot water because this can be easily rectified next time.
        Thankyou for taking the time to help me out : )

        • Leslie says:

          I had the same problem. Didn’t look like the dough had risen much overnight at all. So is it best to use hot or warm water?

        • Mel says:

          It very well could be the dough has risen and then fallen so when you take it out it doesn’t look like it has risen much. I use hot water but if you’re worried that it might be hindering the yeast, warm water will work just as well.

  24. Gloria says:

    I followed your wonderful recipe and found no missing steps. They were easy, and simply wonderful. I will make these rolls again and again and make sure I tell everyone where I got the recipe, but they will have to make them themselves to see how easy they are, because I will enjoy impressing, and amazing everyone with them. Thank you

  25. Natasha says:

    These are wonderful little gems! The dough was easy to throw together the night before and the morning prep was minimal too. I love how they are not over the top sweet too (allowing me to eat two). Just perfect. Thank you!

  26. stavroula says:

    Very easy to make them and very very delicious. I loved them.

  27. Sharon says:

    These sweet rolls are so yummy and easy! I made the dough around noon, got them shaped and ready around 9 p.m. Then in the morning I took them out of the refrigerator at 5 a.m. and they were ready to bake at 7 a.m. They were ready for my kids to take to school as a thank-you to their teachers! Thanks for the great recipe! Definitely a keeper 🙂

  28. Sarah says:

    I have been looking for a cinnamon roll to try for Christmas morning and this one might just fit the bill! I wanted something I could do ahead. Thank you! I can’t wait to try them out 🙂

  29. Nikie says:

    Hi Mel,
    If I don’t refrigerate the dough, could I work with it in 1/2 the time, or does it need the 8-10 hours?

    • Mel says:

      I’m not sure, Nikie – I think it needs the slow rise in the refrigerator to be workable (otherwise the dough is quite soft and wet). But you could experiment – I’ve never tried it other than how it’s written.

  30. Shonda says:

    I second what Deb said! Once again, you made me a rockstar. Thank you, Thank you for turning this dud of a cook into a a happy, looking forward to it meal maker!

  31. Deb says:

    Thanks Mel for the info regarding the eggs, they came in about 7.5 ounces. Have the rolls on the second rise now, hubby is gonna be so happy! BTW, I am so glad you are using weights, it adds just a bit of added insurance for success. PS it makes my heart sing to see such a loving Mom! You are what is so right in our crazy world! Thanks again!

  32. Hilary says:

    Oh my goodness these are soo delicious!!! My kiddoes were in heaven this morning when I pulled these out of the oven. Now I have to get to work on the chocolate fudge sour cream cake!!!!

  33. Adrienne says:

    We are eating these for breakfast, and my goodness they are incredible!!! I used cream cheese frosting instead of the glaze. These will definitely be made for Christmas morning at our house !!

  34. JC says:

    Yum-o. Does someone want to make these for me and deliver them to my doorstep? 🙂

  35. Deb says:

    Hi Mel: Just a quick question, regarding the above recipe, my 4 eggs weighed (alot) more than 3.5 oz. I may have left the scale on ounces, should I have switched it to fluid ounces? BTW we have your Classic Pumpkin Pie every Thanksgiving and it has got to be the BEST tasting pumpkin pie ever! Thanks so much!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks Deb about the pie – glad you love it! I actually realized I needed to double the ounces on the eggs. Four large eggs should be about 7 ounces. Is that around what you got when weighing? As long as they were 4 large eggs, you’re good. I’ve started adding weights to eggs now that I’m using our backyard chicken eggs.

  36. edee says:

    I made these this morning and because I realized I only had one packet of regular yeast and 2 of the quick yeast for pizza crust, (which I tried in regular rolls ultimate failure), but because of being in the refrigerator they turned out great! So anyone else that realizes they don’t have regular yeast the pizza yeast does work 🙂 Thanks for the recipe!!!

  37. Sara H. says:

    Oh my! These look amazing! I had Christmas morning all planned out but this might change things.

  38. Paige says:

    These rolls look incredible! You’ve really out done yourself! We have cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning, we’ll have to try your recipe this year!


  39. Mickey Louth says:

    We have a traditional overnight roll recipe I”ve used for 20 yrs. As the kids have gotten older, they aren’t as enthusiastic about the oversweetness. I am going to try this one and use rasp jam for the filling to make a danish sort of dessert. Thanks!

  40. Melissa says:

    Looks delish! I cannot wait to try this! As a teacher, I love the visuals…I so need those!!

  41. These rolls are gorgeous, Mel! Can’t wait to try them!

  42. Colleen says:

    These look amazing! Do you think the rolls could be frozen after shaping and thawed in the frig overnight before the second rise and baking?

    • Beetree says:

      Wondering the same thing! Would love these for Christmas morning, but only if I don’t have to be in the kitchen Christmas Eve! 😉

    • Mel says:

      I haven’t tried that but I think it could definitely work. Some yeast doughs freeze better than others and I haven’t tried freezing this one yet.

  43. Tricia says:

    Wow, these look delicious and easy to make. I’m definitely going to make these for Christmas breakfast.

  44. Julie H says:

    Oh my goodness! I’m so happy!!! My children regularly request homemade cinnamon rolls for their birthday breakfast-in-bed and they don’t always get them because I’m unwilling to get up at 4 a.m. and start baking. Can’t wait for the next birthday – and maybe I won’t!

  45. susanne says:

    I think it is obvious, but since I am going to make them and I have a large family, this recipe only makes 12 rolls right? I will need to double the recipe.

  46. jodi says:

    Can’t wait to try these Mel! Thanks for the recipe.

  47. Stephanie says:

    Can I use active dry yeast in this recipe?

    • Mel says:

      Yes, usually that works. Dissolve the same amount of active dry yeast in a bit of warm water and sugar until it’s bubbly and foaming and then use in the recipe.

  48. Natalie says:

    It’s interesting that this recipe uses white sugar, instead of brown sugar like traditional cinnamon roll recipes. Doesn’t that change the flavor?

  49. These look so delicious! Can’t wait to try!

  50. Melissa McKneely says:

    Is the recipe supposed to read 1/3 CUP sugar? It just reads 1/3 and then gives the ounce. I guess I could get out my scale, but you might want to edit it. Can’t wIt to make them, LOVE your blog.

  51. Hilary says:

    Oh I have been waiting for this recipe!! So much so that the dough is already in the mixer :)!! Thank you, thank you…my children are going to LOVE tomorrow mornings breakfast!!!! 🙂

  52. Nana says:

    Should read as dinner roll…sorry.

  53. Sarah says:

    Thanks for this recipe! As I was already in the kitchen baking bread when this recipe came into my inbox, I thought I’d whip it together right now! Wondering about the hot water, if it matters if it’s hot tap water, or just off a boil from the kettle.

  54. Nana says:

    I found the recipe and appearance to be really appetizing, but I was wondering if the dough could be used as a savory dinner without the cinnamon sugar and glaze.

    • Mel says:

      Certainly worth a try! Although it would be a bit on the sweet side (just the dough) so you might want to cut the sugar down in the dough.

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