These Overnight Orange Cinnamon Rolls with Cardamom are a decadent, delicious twist to classic cinnamon rolls.
Making cinnamon rolls from scratch is easier than you might think. It does take some time - this is not a quick or speedy recipe by any means! - but it is easy to do. Just take your time with each step and carefully follow the instructions, and you'll have delicious cinnamon rolls that make your house smell amazing!
One of the reasons I love this recipe is that you can make the dough and filling the night before and then bake it the next morning. This makes it a delicious make-ahead breakfast or brunch. Perfect for feeding the family for holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's!
What you need to make this overnight cinnamon rolls recipe
hint: scroll down if you want to get straight to the ingredients list and instructions in the recipe card. This information is meant to help you better understand the ingredients and learn about possible substitutions.
All-purpose flour - I personally find that sifting the flour helps create fluffier baked goods, like these cinnamon rolls. But you can skip that step if you prefer. Just make sure you measure the flour correctly.
Milk - you'll want to warm up the milk ahead of time. This helps activate the yeast.
Yeast - Use active dry yeast in this recipe, and not instant. However, if all you have is instant yeast, do not mix it with the milk; it will lose its active ingredients if you do this. Instead, if you are using instant yeast, add it to the dry ingredients.
Orange juice and zest - The bright citrus flavor of these rolls comes from orange juice AND orange zest in the dough. There is also some orange juice in the icing.
Ground cardamom - this is a spice that is fairly strong, so you don't need much of it in most recipes. A little cardamom goes a long way! In this cinnamon roll recipe, the cardamom adds a really lovely herbal flavor to balance the sweetness of the citrus.
Ground cinnamon - a must for cinnamon rolls!
Light brown sugar, granulated sugar, unsalted butter
Exact measurements and detailed instructions can be found in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post!
How to make these orange cardamom cinnamon rolls
Start by whisking together the warm milk, active dry yeast, and eggs in a bowl. Set aside.
Next, mix together the dough ingredients and let rise (be sure to read the full, detailed directions in the recipe below!).
While the dough is rising, you can make the cinnamon sugar cardamom spice mix.
Once the dough has finished rising, roll it out into a rectangle. Sprinkle the spice mix evenly over the dough, leaving about a quarter inch of space around the edges.
Roll the dough up tightly into a long cylinder. Slice into about 2-inch rolls. Place into a lightly greased 8" round baking pan and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
When you're ready to bake the cinnamon rolls the next morning, set them out on the counter while you boil some water. Place an oven-proof bowl of the boiled water in the lower rack of your oven. Then place the baking pan of cinnamon rolls in the top rack and allow the rolls to rise for about 30 minutes, just until they're fluffy.
Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes. Make the icing. Once the rolls are done, pour the icing over them while they are still hot. Serve immediately!
Tips for baking the best cinnamon rolls
Use room temperature eggs. At least a couple of hours before you start making this cinnamon roll recipe, bring the eggs out to sit at room temperature. This will help the eggs incorporate easily and fully with the other ingredients.
Note that there are two rises in this recipe. The first occurs after you've kneaded the dough; you let it rise to double its size, about two hours. The second rise occurs the following morning, when you allow the formed, unbaked rolls to rise in the oven with a bowl of boiling water in the rack underneath. After this second rise, you bake the orange cinnamon rolls.
Can you let cinnamon roll dough sit overnight?
As long as it is refrigerated, the answer is yes! You can refrigerate the dough for up to 24 hours before baking. There are two methods for this.
First, you can refrigerate the dough as a big round disc, right after you knead it, and before the first rise.
Or, you can refrigerate the dough after it has risen and you've shaped the rolls. Just be sure to place the shaped rolls into a baking pan, then cover tightly with plastic wrap. The latter is what I prefer to do, and the method I use in this recipe. This way, all you have to do in the morning is preheat the oven, make the icing, and bake the rolls!
Can I freeze unbaked cinnamon rolls?
Yes! You can freeze unbaked rolls that are shaped and placed into an airtight, freezer safe container for up to one month. Simply thaw at room temperature before baking.
You can also freeze baked cinnamon rolls for up to two months.
More breakfast and brunch recipes
- Fluffy Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
- Easy Air Fryer Donuts
- Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Sandwich
- Scrambled Eggs on Toast With Peas and Feta
- Baked Cinnamon Sugar Donuts with Three Glazes
Overnight Orange Cardamom Cinnamon Rolls
- ½ cup milk almond, skim, 1% or 2% milk warmed up to about 110-115°F
- 1 package active dry yeast or 2 ¼ teaspoons
- 3 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 4 cups plus up to ¼ cup more if needed all-purpose flour
- ¾ cups cornstarch
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
- Zest of 1 medium orange (about ½ tablespoon)
- ¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice (at room temperature)
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into small cubes and softened to room temperature
- 1½ cups packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- ¼ cup orange juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Take the eggs out of the fridge a couple of hours prior and let them sit in a bowl on the counter to come to room temperature. Take the butter out and allow it to soften to room temperature.
- Warm up the milk. Measure out the orange juice for the dough so it can warm up to room temperature.
Make the Dough
- In a large bowl, whisk together the warm milk, yeast, and room temperature eggs. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, salt, cardamom and orange zest. Whisk until there are no large clumps of ingredients together. Attach the dough hook, then turn the mixer on low speed. Slowly add the warm milk mixture followed by the room temperature orange juice. Allow the ingredients to combine for one minute.
- Increase the speed to low-medium and add the softened, cubed butter in pieces until it's fully incorporated and there are no large chunks of butter. At this point, the dough will be very wet. Continue mixing at low-medium speed for 10 minutes. If the dough is still fairly wet, add up to another ¼ cup of flour gradually, in 2 tablespoons increments. The dough should be soft, but not too wet or sticky to handle.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly greased large bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Place in a warm location of the kitchen (I place mine in an un-heated oven) and allow the dough to double in size. This usually takes about 2 hours. While the dough is rising, prepare the filling.
Make the Filling
- Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and salt in a bowl. Grease two 8-inch cake pans thoroughly and set aside.
Form the cinnamon rolls
- Once the dough has sufficiently risen, place on a lightly floured sourface and roll the dough out into a large, thin rectangle. Spread the butter across the dough, leaving a small border around the edges. Then sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the buttered dough.
- Carefully roll the dough into a long, tight cylinder. Cut into 12 to 16 even pieces that are each about 2-inches thick, then arrange the rolls cut side down in the prepared greased baking dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours.
Second Rise & Bake the Dough
- In the morning, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan ⅔-full of boiling water and place it on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; this takes about 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F; once ready, return the rolls to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
Make the Icing
- While the rolls are baking, make the icing. In a bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cream cheese, orange juice, and vanilla extract until smooth. Once the rolls are done, remove from the oven and spread about ¼ of the icing evenly over the rolls. Allow the buns to cool for 5-10 minutes, then top with the remaining icing just before serving. (this helps create a thicker icing!).