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Overnight Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

Nothing is better than fresh baked cinnamon rolls, that is unless they are Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls made easy to rise overnight for ease and convenience in the morning! Topped with sweet cream cheese frosting, this is a must make holiday morning treat!

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This post was originally published November 8, 2016 and updated December 11, 2020 with new photos and clarified instructions.

Overhead view of a white baking dish full of gingerbread cinnamon rolls topped with cream cheese frosting and garnished with sugared cranberries next to gold Christmas ornaments.

Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls are perhaps the longest running holiday tradition that my family has started. I always make these for Christmas Eve morning. There is seriously no better way to kick start the holiday celebrations. 

With ease in mind these were developed so that all the hard work is done the night before leaving you to just let them rise in the fridge overnight and pop in the oven in the morning!

A fresh gingerbread cinnamon roll on a small white plate topped with cream cheese frosting.

So let’s take a look at what you need:

Supplies

If you bake frequently you most likely already have what you need. Some special tools are needed to make these:

  • First you will need traditional kitchen tools like measuring cups & spoons, spatulas, bowls
  • You will want a Stand Mixer for the dough and frosting
  • A Baking Dish, I use a 2.5 quart Corningware dish, an 8×8 dish will work as well, in a pinch a 9×13 dish will work but be cautious of the cooking time because they will be further spaced out 
  • You will need a Rolling Pin for the dough as well as a Ruler to make sure your dough is rolled out enough
  • A Serrated Knife works awesome for cutting the dough
  • And a Pastry Brush is needed for brushing on the butter
A gingerbread cinnamon roll on a small white plate with the outside ripped off showing of the flavorful inside of the cinnamon roll.

Ingredients 

  • Whole Milk
  • Molasses
  • Active Dry Yeast
  • Ground Ginger
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Ground Nutmeg
  • All Purpose Flour
  • Egg
  • Salted Butter
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Cream Cheese
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla

For a complete detailed list of the ingredients continue towards the bottom of the page.

All the ingredients needed to make the dough of gingerbread cinnamon rolls.
For the dough.
All the ingredients needed for the filling of the gingerbread cinnamon rolls.
For the filling.
The ingredients and final recipe for the cream cheese frosting.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting.

How to Make Overnight Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

First up making the Dough!

In the bowl of a stand mixer add the milk and molasses, stir together to combine. Dust the top of the mixture with the yeast. Let rest for about 5 minutes until the yeast has bloomed.

Add ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg to the bowl and stir together. 

Collage showing yeast blooming, adding spices, and flour to a mixing bowl.

With the dough hook attachment running on low add 2 1/2 cups of the flour until dough forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. The dough should be pretty sticky at this point. 

With the mixer running on medium very slowly add the egg. Once egg is mixed into the dough slowly add the melted butter.

Collage showing adding eggs and more flour to the bowl of a stand mixer.

This next step depends on the humidity of your area on whether or not you will add the last full cup of flour. Continue to keep the mixer running on low. Add the remaining flour about 1/4 cup at a time, letting the flour get totally mixed in before adding more flour. We are looking for the dough to be sticky but not so sticky to be confused with cookie dough. It will stick slightly to your finger but as the mixer continues to run it should no longer be sticking to the sides (although it still might be sticking to the bottom). So start with 1/4 cup, most likely you will want to add another 1/4 cup. Check where your dough is at this point, still a little too sticky, add a little more. 

Once the dough is to the proper consistency, knead on medium speed for 5 minutes.

Collage of the dough of the Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls being kneaded and transferred to a bowl to rise.

Lightly Grease a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, cover with cling wrap. Place in a warm no draft area for 1-2 hours.

Once the dough has doubled in size it will be time to fill and roll up the cinnamon rolls. 

Mix the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg in a small bowl. Melt the butter and have a pastry brush ready. You will also want to have a ruler ready.

Grease your baking dish generously with the melted butter, using up 1-2 tablespoons.

Dust your clean workspace with flour, gently release dough from the bowl onto the work area. Dust the dough and rolling pin with flour. We want to roll out the dough into a 9×18 inch rectangle (no need to be exact but you will want to be close). Dust with flour as needed.

Collage of buttering a baking dish. And the risen dough on a clean floured surface, and the dough rolled out into a rectangle.

Once the dough is rolled out, brush melted butter evenly across the dough, you will use about 1/2 of the remaining butter.

Sprinkle the sugar/spice mixture evenly over the butter until the whole rectangle is covered, it is okay if you have a little of the mixture left. 

Starting at one of the short ends tightly and evenly roll the dough up into a log shape. 

Collage of buttering the rolled out dough, adding the filling, and rolling up the dough.

With the seam side down, use a serrated knife to score 6 evenly sized rolls on the log. With the serrated knife cut where you made the scores making sure to hold on to your log so it doesn’t come undone. 

Gently place each roll into the baking dish. The space will be tight and the cinnamon rolls will be stuffed in there next to each other. 

Collage showing the dough for cinnamon rolls rolled into a log, scored into 6 pieces, and cutting the rolls.
Collage of the rolls being placed in a dish, being buttered, and ready to rise in the fridge.

Once all rolls are cut and in the dish brush the tops and sides of the rolls with the remaining butter. 

Cover tightly with cling wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours. (If you do want to bake this right away do not place in the fridge and let rise for one hour.)

Once the cinnamon rolls are done rising in the refrigerator, take out and let rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes while the oven warms up.

Risen cinnamon rolls in a white baking dish ready to be baked in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350º.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until a butter knife can separate the rolls without getting doughy. (Check rolls around the 30 minute mark, if the top is starting to look to brown, cover very loosely with aluminum foil.)

Unfrosted freshly baking gingerbread cinnamon rolls in a baking dish set on a blue kitchen towel.

While the cinnamon rolls are baking or the night before you will want to make the frosting. If making the night before you can just store the frosting in the fridge, just take it out while the cinnamon rolls are baking!

In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the whisk attachment beat together the cream cheese and butter on high for 1 minute. On low speed slowly add the powdered sugar until fully incorporated. 

Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

On medium speed add the vanilla and milk. Mix until a smooth consistency forms.

Top your Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls with the cream cheese frosting and enjoy!

A hand with a spoon putting cream cheese frosting onto a freshly baked cinnamon roll.
Freshly made cinnamon rolls covered in cream cheese frosting sitting next to golden Christmas ornaments and sugared cranberries.
A white baking dish with half of the gingerbread cinnamon rolls removed and placed on small white plates.

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Fresh baked gingerbread cinnamon rolls with a spoon full of frosting.

Overnight Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 6 cinnamon rolls
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Inactive Time: 12 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours 50 minutes

Fresh baked Cinnamon Rolls filled with gingerbread flavors all prepped the night before and baked easy in the morning.

Ingredients

for dough:

  • 1 cup warm whole milk
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 Fleischmann's packet)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter, melted

for filling:

  • 5 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

for cream cheese frosting:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk

Instructions

For the Dough:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer add the milk and molasses, stir together to combine. Dust the top of the mixture with the yeast. Let rest for about 5 minutes until the yeast has bloomed.
  2. Add ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg to the bowl and stir together. With the dough hook attachment running on low add 2 ½ cups of the flour until a dough forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. The dough should be sticky at this point but still holding its shape.
  3. With the mixer running on medium very slowly add the egg. Once the egg is fully mixed into the dough slowly add the melted butter, mix until fully incorporated.
  4. With the mixer running on low add the flour ¼ cup at a time, let the flour get totally mixed in before adding more flour. This step depends on the humidity of your area on whether or not you will add the last full cup of flour. We are looking for the dough to be sticky but not so sticky to be confused with cookie dough. It will stick slightly to your finger but as the mixer continues to knead it should no longer be sticking to the sides (although it still might be sticking to the bottom). So start with 1/4 cup, most likely you will want to add another 1/4 cup. Check where your dough is at this point, if it is still a little to sticky, add a little more flour. (I usually need between 3/4 to 1 cup, the more humid it is the more likely it is you will need the whole cup of flour.)
  5. Once the dough is to the proper consistency, knead on medium speed for 5 minutes until you have a nice soft dough..
  6. Lightly Grease a large bowl with butter, place dough in the greased bowl and cover with cling wrap. Place in a warm non-drafty area for 1 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Filling the Rolls:

  1. Once dough has doubled in size it is time to roll it out and fill. Mix the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Have the butter melted and a pastry brush ready. You with also want some sort of measuring device, so have a ruler near by.
  2. Grease a 2 ½ quart or 8x8 inch glass baking dish generously with the melted butter.
  3. Dust your clean work surface with flour, gently release dough from the bowl onto your work area. Lightly dust the dough and rolling pin with flour. We want to roll out the dough into a 9x18 inch rectangle. Dust with additional flour as needed.
  4. Once the dough is rolled out, brush the melted butter evenly across the dough (you will only use about ½ of the remaining butter here).
  5. Sprinkle the sugar/spice mixture evenly over the butter until the whole rectangle in covered, it is okay if you have a little of the mixture left.
  6. Starting at one of the short ends tightly and evenly roll the dough up into a log shape.
  7. With the seam side down, use a serrated knife score 6 evenly sized rolls on the log. With the serrated knife cut where you made the scores making sure to hold on to your log so it doesn't come undone.
  8. Gently place each roll into the baking dish. The space might be tight and the cinnamon rolls might be stuffed next to each other, that's okay.
  9. Once all the rolls are cut and in the dish brush the tops and sides of the rolls with the remaining butter.
  10. Cover tightly with cling wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours. (If you do want to bake this right away do not place in fridge and let rise in a warm place for one hour.)
  11. Once rolls are done rising in the refrigerator, take out and let rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes while the oven warms up.
  12. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  13. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a butter knife can separate the rolls without getting doughy. (Check rolls around the 30 minute mark, if the top is starting to look to brown, cover very loosely with aluminum foil.)
  14. Top your gingerbread cinnaon rolls with your cream cheese frosting (recipe below) and enjoy!

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter on high for 1 minute with the whisk attachment. On low speed slowly add the powdered sugar until fully incorporated. Scrap down the sides of the bowl.
  2. On medium speed add the vanilla and milk. Mix until a smooth consistency forms. You can make this ahead of time the night before or while the cinnamon rolls are baking. For storage keep covered in refrigerator.

Notes

This recipe can be doubled to make 12 rolls. I do suggest if doing so to use 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk instead of 2 full eggs.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 cinnamon roll
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 742Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 115mgSodium: 281mgCarbohydrates: 101gFiber: 3gSugar: 43gProtein: 12g

Nutritional data is automated, final nutritional information will depend on ingredients used and any changes made.

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Peace & Love

Lauren, The Schmidty Wife

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Original Post:

Overnight Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls, I repeat Overnight Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls. Are we all ready for the holiday season yet?? This time of year I am giddy about the flavor options for food. With options like gingerbread, eggnog, and peppermint how can we think about anything else. Perhaps my favorite holiday flavor is gingerbread, I love how it is not overly sweet like so many other holiday flavors. The warmness of the spices mixed with the smokiness of molasses just make me smile just thinking about it. So I decided to make Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls. I was a little nervous to make them at first, wanting them to still be light and airy but I wanted to use molasses so I didn’t know how they would turn out… Oh My Goodness you guys I hit the jackpot. These Cinnamon Rolls are full of flavor from the molasses, cinnamon, ginger, & nutmeg and because they are slowly risen twice they become light and airy. I knew since the first time I made them that these will be my new Christmas morning go-to. They take a few minutes to put together the day before and are so minimal in the morning. So many reason why you need to try these!

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls are the serious way to go to get the best tasting Cinnamon Rolls on the face of the earth. By doing a majority of the work the day before, the Cinnamon Rolls really get a chance to develop a ton of flavor and they save you from having to wake up at 4 in the morning to get them rolled out so they are ready in time for a relaxing Saturday morning breakfast. This recipe looks intimidating but it really isn’t too hard, although it does take a little time to get them ready. They are easily thrown together in a stand mixer, they get a slow 2 hour rise to get a more flavorful dough, and then it is as simple as rolling out, sprinkling with butter, sugar, & spices, rolling up and placing in the fridge for the morning. While the rolls do need a little time to come to temperature and bake the next morning, the work is very minimal, and when you are not a morning person like me this is wonderful! These rolls are then covered with a Cream Cheese Frosting that nobody can resist (which can even be made ahead of time for convenience sake). So say hello to a perfect Saturday (or Christmas) Morning with these Overnight Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls.

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