Overnight Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls — The SOFTEST and FLUFFIEST cinnamon rolls with an overnight MAKE-AHEAD option and eggnog frosting adds the perfect touch!! These would be a great make ahead Christmas breakfast option!
Make Ahead Christmas Morning Breakfast
This is a lengthy post, with lots of information to ensure cinnamon roll success. However, if you’re already a cinnamon roll pro, feel free to scroll down until you see the actual recipe card if you don’t need my tips, tricks, commentary, and advice.
These overnight cinnamon rolls with eggnog frosting have soft, fluffy, tender dough that’s buttery and scrumptious. They’re as light and feathery as cinnamon rolls can get. They’re lighter and not as quite as dense, heavy, and ‘bready’ as Cinnabon cinnamon rolls although no one would call them light as a feather.
While baking, the filling mixture of brown sugar and butter melts and caramelizes, producing a thick, sweet, caramely sauce, pleasantly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg for that holiday-inspired flavor profile.
That saucy filling, along with melty eggnog-based frosting, is what a holiday cinnamon roll is all about!
The eggnog flavor is present but not overwhelming, and just in the frosting and not the actual dough. The nutmeg in the filling helps to enhance the eggnog flavor.
Before We Dive In…
Homemade cinnamon rolls are great in theory until you do the math and realize in order to have a warm cinnamon roll with your 10am coffee, you need to wake up way too early!
I solved that problem and made the fluffiest, softest, and best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had. The recipe for the dough for Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls is based on my Overnight Buttermilk Soft and Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls recipe. \
The dough recipe is the same. The eggnog comes into play in the frosting. Rather than making a cream cheese-based frosting for these rolls, I made an eggnog-based frosting!
I encourage you to check out that post so you can see some of the step-by-step process photos that I included in my classic Cinnamon Roll recipe but didn’t duplicate in this post.
Even if you’ve never worked with yeast or made cinnamon rolls, this overnight cinnamon roll recipe is very approachable. However, there are no shortcuts.
These are not One Hour Cinnamon Rolls, which is why I made the recipe function as overnight eggnog cinnamon rolls so that you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to start them.
However, you can make the recipe straight through if preferred, and start to finish you’re looking at about 5 hours of work.
Ingredients in Overnight Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls
To make the eggnog cinnamon rolls and frosting, you’ll need:
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Instant dry yeast
- Unsalted butter
- Light brown sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Kosher salt
- Holiday sprinkles
How to Make Eggnog Cinnamon Roll Dough
There is no actual eggnog in the dough because adding eggnog to a yeast-based dough was something that I didn’t want to experiment with. I know that my Overnight Cinnamon Roll recipe is perfect and I didn’t want to do anything to mess with it.
Combine the dry ingredients: To the bowl of a stand mixer, add the all-purpose flour, instant dry yeast, sugar, and salt. Let the dry ingredients rest in the mixing bowl while you melt some butter, lightly beat the eggs, and warm the buttermilk.
Warm the buttermilk: I warm the buttermilk in my microwave for about 45 seconds in a glass measuring cup. If after warming the buttermilk, it’s separated or gotten a little foamy, whisk it and it will smooth out.
The type of yeast you use and the manufacturer’s directions will dictate the necessary buttermilk temperature. For Red Star Platinum Yeast, the water should be warmed to about 120ºF to 130ºF, which is notably warmer than most other instant dry yeast, which typically call for temps in the 100ºF range. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for whatever yeast you use.
Beat together the wet and dry ingredients: Beat the dry and wet ingredients together with the paddle, and after a minute switch to the dough hook. Moist, wet batter will be stuck to your paddle, so just pick it off as best you can.
Knead the dough: Allow the dough hook to knead for 10 to 12 minutes. If after 5 minutes the dough is still extremely wet and sloppy and not coming together, add one-quarter cup more flour, one tablespoon at a time, until it firms up.
Tip: The most important thing you can do in this entire recipe is trust that the moisture level of the dough is high and not over-flour it. The more flour you add, the denser the dough becomes, and the heavier the rolls will be. It’s nice in theory to have a smooth, round, mound of satiny, non-sticky dough, but that’s not this cinnamon roll dough.
The cinnamon roll dough in this recipe is wet, gloppy, moist, messy, sticky, and of all the bread I’ve ever made, this dough gets the award as the sloppiest. I always curse it when kneading in a mixer, the rule of thumb for this type of dough is that it clears the sides of the bowl, but sticking the bottom of the bowl is fine.
Let the dough rise: Transfer the sloppy mess of a dough to a cooking-sprayed large mixing bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size. The sloppiness factor will diminish as the dough rises and all the moisture helps create light and fluffy eggnog cinnamon rolls.
Punch down the dough: Punch down the dough and for an awesome visual representation of this, check out my Overnight Cinnamon Rolls post and look for the neon green bowl with my fist punching the dough in it!
Roll out the dough: On a floured Silpat or counter, roll the dough out to a large rectangle, about 16×10 inches. I didn’t measure with a ruler because I know that’s just slightly larger than my Silpat, so I rolled it about that size.
Prepare the filling: Spread a stick of very soft butter over the dough and sprinkle with brown sugar and shake on the cinnamon and nutmeg. I used almost 5 teaspoons of cinnamon because I love cinnamon, especially in cinnamon rolls, hence their name.
In no way was 5 teaspoons overpowering. That’s a lot of dough and it needs to be properly flavored, but add to taste, as I note in the recipe by mentioning 3 to 5 teaspoons of cinnamon along with 1 teaspoon nutmeg.
Roll up the dough: Starting on a long edge, roll up the dough into as tightly coiled of a log as possible. It’s messy and if your log isn’t perfect, that’s okay.
Slice the dough into rolls: Slice it into 12 pieces and put them onto the baking sheet. For slicing, use a serrated knife or unwaxed and unflavored dental floss works great. You can pinch off the slices without compressing and squishing down the log. I used my trusty bench scraper.
Place the rolls in the pan: I used a large 10-x-15-inch jellyroll pan with a nice raised edge. In a pinch, you could use a 9×13-inch pan, but I strongly prefer the jellyroll pan because the rolls are less squished, have more room to spread out and rise, and baking is more uniform.
Some people complain their cinnamon rolls get too browned on the top before the center cooks through, which can happen if they’re too cramped in a pan. The jellyroll pan prevents that.
Cover with plastic wrap and now it’s decision time.
If you’re doing the overnight make-ahead option, slide the pan into the fridge and keep it there for up to 16 hours before baking the rolls. When it’s time to bake the next day, allow the rolls to come up to room temperature and rise for 1 hour on the counter, or until almost doubled in size. And then bake.
If you’re making them straight through, allow the rolls to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 60 to 90 minutes, or until almost doubled in size. And then bake.
Bake the eggnog cinnamon rolls: Bake them at 350ºF for 22 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden on top and cooked through, but not overly browned. I prefer these on the paler side. Nothing says dealbreaker like a hard or crusty cinnamon roll.
I baked for 23 minutes, and rotated the pan once. It’s amazing how much they puff during the 1 hour rise and then later in the oven. The term for it is called oven spring. Yes, they sprung, which is why I again recommend a 10x-15-inch jelly roll pan over a 9×13-inch pan.
How to Make Eggnog Frosting
While the cinnamon rolls bake, make the eggnog frosting by combining softened butter with eggnog, vanilla, confectioners’ sugar, a pinch of salt, and beat until smooth and creamy.
Immediately after taking the rolls out of the oven, generously frost them so it drips into all the cracks and crevices, although it’s not likely you will need it all and you’ll have extra.
I save the extra so that I can literally dunk forkfuls of cinnamon roll into the frosting. I like a little roll with my bowl of eggnog frosting.
Plus, frosting keeps for a couple weeks in the refrigerator and I have also frozen it for months. When I am dirtying the mixer to make it, I may as well make a decent amount.
If eggnog isn’t in season, don’t fret and make a batch of cream cheese frosting instead.
How to Tell If the Buttermilk Is Warm Enough to Activate the Yeast
Some people just dip their finger into the warm liquid and if that’s the method you’re using, err on the side of warm bath water rather than hot because you don’t want to risk killing the yeast. In bread-making, I don’t like to guess and always use a thermometer.
I urge you to buy a food thermometer. It could save you from a bread fail and if you’re going to go to the work of making cinnamon rolls, having one is a no-brainer, not to mention you can use it to check meat or make candy.
Is There A Substitute for Buttermilk?
In this recipe, no there is not. It is necessary to produce wonderfully soft rolls and interacts with the yeast so you can’t just skip it and use regular milk.
I have never tried making this recipe with ‘homemade’ buttermilk, which is a makeshift DIY solution employed in a pinch if you don’t have it on hand. Usually the ratio is about 1 teaspoon white vinegar to 1 cup of two-percent cow’s milk to allow it to curdle and thicken.
However, my theory is that if you’re going to the work to make these rolls, make sure you have actual buttermilk on hand.
I haven’t ever tried powdered buttermilk either, only actual buttermilk. I usually buy the Trader Joe’s brand.
How to Store Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls
The rolls are best eaten fresh, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Reheat leftover rolls for a few seconds in the microwave before serving.
I don’t worry about the eggnog being at room temperature because it’s been mixed with (so much) confectioners’ sugar but of course, do as you see fit for your comfort level on this one.
Chances are, you won’t have to worry about leftovers with these incredible buttermilk cinnamon rolls with eggnog frosting!
Can I Freeze Cinnamon Rolls?
Yes, these overnight cinnamon rolls freeze well. You’ll want to prep and bake the cinnamon rolls all the way through and then freeze them without the frosting. When you’re ready to eat the frozen cinnamon rolls, set them on your counter to thaw and make the eggnog frosting.
What Type of Yeast Should I Use?
I used Red Star Platinum yeast, which is my gold standard. It’s an instant dry yeast, so you don’t have to proof it first with water and wait for it to get bubbly and foamy. Just sprinkle it right into the bowl with the other ingredients and then pour the liquids over the top of everything.
When I deviate from Platinum and use other yeast, my dough doesn’t rise as well and doesn’t bake up as puffy and fluffy.
However, I know that in the last year yeast is sometimes very challenging to find and so use whatever brand you can get your hands on.
I am sure that you can make this with active dry yeast, although you’d have to proof it first, and since I haven’t ever tried this recipe with it, I can’t give provide a verified and tested quantity to use.
Can I Make Cinnamon Rolls with Bread Flour?
I love bread flour for producing extra chewy bread, rolls, and cookies, but for these homemade cinnamon rolls I didn’t want any chewiness.
I wanted softness and fluffiness, and all-purpose flour is the way to go. It has a lower protein and thus lower gluten content, meaning the finished rolls will be more tender and soft with less chew-factor.
Can I Make The Rolls Gluten-Free?
This is something I’ve never experimented with. I have never tried to make yeasted dough using gluten-free flour, such as the cup-for-cup style flours that exist on the market. Because they don’t have gluten, I don’t think the dough will rise or rise well. However, I’ve never tried.
I suggest researching how to make gluten-free cinnamon rolls and then see if you can adapt that methodology to be in line with my recipe.
Tips for the Best Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls
A stand mixer will make your life immensely easier because the dough needs to be kneaded for a minimum of 10 minutes. However, you can also do it by hand — and in the process, you’ll burn off enough calories that you easily deserve a couple rolls.
Don’t over-flour the dough as I stated in the preceding section, How To Make Eggnog Cinnamon Roll Dough.
Don’t over-bake because there is nothing worse than a hard or dry cinnamon roll. Or worst yet, actually burnt. Keep a close eye on them in the oven.
Be generous with the frosting!
Check my original Overnight Buttermilk Cinnamon Roll recipe for step-by-step photos that may help you with this recipe if you’re new to bread making.
Please note that I wrote the recipe below as clearly and descriptively as possible. Before making these homemade cinnamon rolls, read it over at least three times so you know where you’re going, what’s next, and more importantly, how much butter to set aside!
Pin This Recipe
- up to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast (one 1/4-ounce packet, I use Red Star Platinum)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (3/4 of one stick)
- 3 large eggs, lightly whisked
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), very soft – let it sit out while dough rises
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon (I used almost 5 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup eggnog
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 7 cups powdered sugar, or as needed
- Christmas Sprinkles, optional and to taste
Make the Dough:
- To the bowl of a stand mixer* fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 4 cups flour, 1/3 cup sugar, yeast, salt to taste; set aside.
- Place 6 tablespoons butter in a small microwave-safe bowl, and heat to melt, about 45 seconds; set aside.
- Crack eggs in another bowl and whisk; set aside.
- Add buttermilk to a glass measuring cup and warm to temperature, about 45 seconds on high power in the microwave. (Based on the type of yeast used, milk temperatures will vary. Red Star Platinum Yeast calls for warmer temperatures than most, 120 to 130F; other brands and yeast call for much lower temperatures, about 95 to 105F. Warm buttermilk according to manufacturer’s recommendations on the packaging. Taking the temperature with a digital thermometer is highly recommended, but if you’re not, make sure the buttermilk is warm, not hot. Err on the cooler rather than hotter side so you don’t kill the yeast.) If the milk separates or gets a little funny looking after being warmed, whisk it to smooth it out.
- To the dry ingredients in the stand mixer, add the melted butter, eggs, buttermilk, and beat on medium-low speed for about 1 minute, or until combined.
- Switch to the dough hook (the dough will have stuck to the paddle and just pick off what you can and put it into the bowl) and knead for 10 to 12 minutes (15 to 18 minutes by hand).
- If after 5 minutes more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the side of the bowl but sticks to the bottom. This is a very sticky, tacky, moist, and borderline sloppy dough; don’t be tempted to over-flour it. It’s supposed to be that way. The more flour you add now, the less fluffy and more dense the rolls will be. Dough should clear the sides of the mixer while kneading but sticking to the bottom is fine.
- Remove the dough from the mixing bowl, spray a large mixing bowl with cooking spray, and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place it in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or doubled in size. I keep my bowl inside a powered-off oven. Every 45 minutes or so, I power on the oven for 1 minute to 400F, as if I am preheating it, then I power it off. Do not, repeat do not, keep the oven on. These short bursts of 1 minute of heat create a stable 85F-ish warm environment, ideal for the yeast. If your rising spot is cold, it will take longer than 2 1/2 hours.
- Prepare a 10x15-inch or similar sized jellyroll pan. I prefer a jellyroll pan to a 9x13-inch pan because it’s slightly larger so the rolls are less squished, have more room to rise, and bake more evenly. Line pan the pan with aluminum foil if desired for easier cleanup, spray very well with cooking spray; set aside.
Shape The Cinnamon Rolls:
- After dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Turn dough out onto a floured Silpat or floured countertop. Knead it lightly for about 2 minutes.
- With a rolling pin, roll it out to a 16-by-12-inch rectangle; just slightly larger than a standard Silpat.
- With a knife, butter the dough with 1/2 cup soft butter, leaving a 3/4-inch border around the edges.
- Sprinkle the brown sugar over it. Sprinkle the cinnamon, and then the nutmeg, over the brown sugar. I am very generous with the cinnamon and use almost 5 teaspoons and recommend at least 3; just eyeball it and shake it on.
- Loosen the dough from the counter using a bench scraper (or metal spatula), and starting with a long edge, roll the dough into a tight log. Pinch the seam closed and turn log so seam side is down.
- Gently stretch the log to be 18 inches in length with an even diameter all the way around and pat the ends to even them up. Don’t fret if your log isn’t perfect; it’s okay.
- Slice the cylinder into 12 evenly sized rolls (about 1 1/2 inches wide) using a bench scraper, serrated knife, or plain unwaxed dental floss which works great to not squish and compact the log.
- Arrange the rolls cut side down in the prepared baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap.
- If making the rolls straight through: Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until the rolls have nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- If making the rolls overnight: Don’t let rolls rise after they’ve been sliced and placed in covered pan. Place pan in refrigerator for up to 16 hours. Before baking, let the rolls sit at room temperature until they have nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Bake The Rolls:
- For either version, bake at 350F for 22 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden on top and cooked through but not overly browned; don't overbake is my advice. While the rolls bake, make the frosting.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and beat on high until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Add the eggnog, vanilla, salt, 3 cups confectioners’ sugar (I don’t bother sifting), and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes on low or medium-low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Add 3 more cups of confectioners' sugar and beat until incorporated.
- Add the final cup of sugar slowing, and just as much as is necessary, based on desired frosting consistency; you may not use the full 7 cups of confectioners' sugar called for, or you may use a bit more, depending on the consistency of your particular eggnog and how thick you like your frosting.
- Immediately and generously, spread the frosting on the warm rolls, noting you may not need all of it.
- Optionally sprinkle with Christmas or festive sprinkles, and serve immediately.
*A stand mixer is incredibly helpful in this recipe. If you don't have a stand mixer and your only option is a handheld mixer, I would then opt to mix and knead this dough manually as a handheld mixer simply isn't strong enough.
Storage: Extra frosting can be reserved for dunking the rolls into. Extra frosting will airtight keep for many weeks in the fridge.
Rolls are best warm and fresh but will keep airtight at room temp for up to 4 days. I am comfortable storing frosted baked goods at room temp and don't recommend storing these in the fridge as it will dry out the rolls.
Dough and methodology adapted from Overnight Buttermilk Soft and Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 775Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 279mgCarbohydrates: 135gFiber: 2gSugar: 90gProtein: 9g
The stats take into account using ALL the frosting and it isn't likely you'll need it all; however it is artificially elevating the values.
Favorite Cinnamon Roll Recipes:
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls — These overnight cinnamon rolls are ultra soft and fluffy thanks to the buttermilk in the dough. They remind me of Cinnabon! Top them with homemade cream cheese frosting and enjoy!
One-Hour Homemade Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting – It’s possible to make soft, light, fluffy cinnamon rolls from scratch in 1 hour!
The Best Glazed Orange Sweet Rolls — These homemade orange rolls are filled with a buttery orange filling and are topped with a simple orange glaze. They can be prepped the night before, if needed.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Bake — The recipe is easy, ready in 40 minutes, and you don’t even have to make scratch cinnamon roll dough.
The BEST Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls — The glaze soaks into the nooks and crannies and adds even more moisture and softness. Total gooey, cinnamon-and-sugary, juicy perfection.
Caramel Apple Cinnamon Roll Bake — This cinnamon roll recipe with apples and caramel sauce is easy, ready in 30 minutes, and you don’t even have to make scratch cinnamon roll dough.
Nutella Cinnamon Rolls with Vanilla Glaze — A can of crescent rolls never tasted so good as when they’re stuffed with Nutella and rolled up. Ready from start to finish in 15 minutes, no joke