Why do bakers or home bakers want to freeze dough? The short answer: TIME. Many times we want to wake up to a warm cinnamon roll freshly baked from the oven. That can be difficult to do when it takes 3 hours (or longer if you’re using natural yeast) to make/rise/fill/shape/rise/bake cinnamon rolls. Freezing cinnamon roll dough lets you prepare a large batch of rolls ahead of time. Then they can rise overnight and bake right when you wake up. If you are preparing cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning or a large gathering, you NEED this method. So here it is: how to freeze cinnamon roll dough. There’s nothing better than a hot cinnamon roll right out of the oven with no cleanup required! Mmmmm….
A disclaimer: This method for freezing cinnamon rolls works BEST with Instant Yeast. However it can also work with sourdough cinnamon rolls, and I have a detailed section in this article with my experience.
The Best Instant Yeast Cinnamon Rolls
Freezing Dough Made with Instant Yeast
Instant yeast is yeast that’s made commercially. It is made to withstand colder temperatures and warmer temperatures (not going above 140 degrees F). This is the type of yeast that will give you best results if you want to freeze cinnamon roll dough. You can also use dry active yeast if you activate it properly before mixing your dough.
- Make your cinnamon roll dough as usual with this one exception: Whatever the amount of yeast called for in the recipe, I like to add a little extra. If the recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon instant yeast, I’ll add 1.5 Tablespoons instant yeast. This accounts for any yeast that may “die off” in the colder temperatures of the freezer. And if you’re looking for the best cinnamon roll recipe, it’s right here.
- Let the dough rise once and then shape the dough into cinnamon rolls. Place the rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet and immediately stick the rolls into the freezer.
- Freeze the rolls until they are completely frozen solid. At that point you can remove the rolls from the baking sheet and place in an airtight container.
- Rolls can stay frozen for a couple of weeks. I don’t recommend leaving them in the freezer much longer than 3 weeks because they don’t tend to revive quite as well the longer they are in the freezer. That’s just been my personal experience, but you can try to stretch it longer.
- Mix up the frosting and portion it out into piping bags. Tie the end of the piping bag and stick the bags into the freezer along with the cinnamon rolls.
Baking Cinnamon Rolls from the Freezer
Now that you’ve frozen your cinnamon rolls, it’s time to bake them! It’s important that whatever you do, LET THEM RISE COMPLETELY. This means the cinnamon rolls need to thaw and then rise. You will also want to pull the icing out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge overnight.
When you want a cinnamon roll, pull the cinnamon rolls out of the freezer. Set them on a parchment lined baking sheet or pan. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let them thaw and rise until puffy and soft. This usually takes 6-8 hours in the summer and 10-12 in the winter.
To check that the dough is ready, take your finger and press it into the dough. The dough should spring back just a little bit. If it doesn’t spring back at all, bake the rolls right away. You may want to account for a quicker thaw/rise next time. If the rolls are still dense in the middle, let them continue rising until puffy and airy. Bake according to the recipe directions and spread with frosting. Enjoy!
What about Sourdough or Natural Yeast? Can You Freeze Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls?
The short answer: Yes!
The longer answer: Yes, it is possible to freeze sourdough cinnamon roll dough. If you are going to do this, make sure your starter is very active, bubbly and ripe before mixing the levain. I also do not recommend freezing the dough for quite as long as instant yeast. Cold temperatures can kill off yeast, so the longer you leave the dough in the freezer, the more yeast that could die off. Also keep in mind that sourdough takes a much longer time to rise. You may need to let the rolls thaw and rise for a much longer time before baking. If you leave your rolls out overnight and they thaw but don’t rise much, you will want to increase the temperature of the dough. Stick them in an oven with the light on to help re-activate the wild yeast and let them rise until puffy and risen. Do not bake these if they have not risen!
Looking for Sourdough Cinnamon Roll recipes?
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does the frozen cinnamon roll dough last in the freezer?
About 2-3 weeks. You may be able to stretch it a little longer, but I think best results are during this time. It’s perfect for an upcoming holiday. Just make your rolls a week or two ahead of time, freeze them and pull them out the night before you need them to rise. Bake the morning of and there’s no cleanup needed!
Can you freeze cinnamon rolls made with dry active yeast?
Yes. Just make sure to activate it properly before using.
Can you freeze cinnamon roll dough before it’s been shaped?
I prefer to shape and then freeze. It makes it much easier to bake and use. I haven’t had as much success freezing dough and then shaping. My cinnamon rolls freeze really well once they are baked as well, so if you’d rather go that route, you can bake and then freeze them. Warm them up individually when you want one.
Why would you want to freeze cinnamon rolls?
There are quite a few reasons why you may want to do this. If you own a small cottage bakery and want to sell take-and-bake cinnamon rolls for the holiday, this method works well. We’ve been successfully selling take and bake cinnamon “swirls” for a couple of years out of our home during the holidays. You may also want to prepare cinnamon rolls a day or two ahead of time and have them ready to eat on Christmas morning or when you have family coming over for brunch. This method can ensure that you aren’t in the kitchen all day on those special holidays. I’ll take it!
How do you gift frozen cinnamon rolls?
Frozen cinnamon rolls make for a great gift for a neighbor, friend or family. My cinnamon roll recipe makes 12 large rolls. I buy these containers on Amazon. Roll up your cinnamon rolls, cut and place 4 large rolls per container. Immediately freeze them. Portion the icing into bags and freeze the bags with the containers. Join my email list and print out the free printable below to add to the top of the cinnamon roll containers. This makes the perfect gift and takes some of the stress away for the holidays!