FREEZE: Cinnamon buns in 20 minutes.

Ah, the age-old baker’s Christmas morning dilemma: how to serve fresh, hot cinnamon buns without getting up at 2 a.m. to start the long process…

…or popping open a canister of refrigerated buns, ready to bake and frost.

Yummmm… Did you ever wonder what it is that enables those canned buns to sit in your fridge for so long before baking?

“Enriched Flour Bleached (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oils, Dextrose, Wheat Starch, Baking Powder (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda), Whey, Salt, Cinnamon, Corn Starch, Corn Syrup Solids, Mono and Diglycerides, Cellulose Gum, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Polysorbate 60, Artificial Flavor, Colored with Yellow 5 and Red 40.”


If you’d rather serve your own fresh cinnamon buns, yeasty and cinnamon-y and dripping with icing – in just 20 minutes – read on.

First, start WAY ahead of time. Like, weeks before you want to serve them. This method is good for making buns up to about a month ahead.

Make your favorite cinnamon bun recipe up to the point where the buns are risen and ready to go into the oven.

Like this.

One of our favorite recipes is Now or Later Cinnamon Buns. But far be it from me to choose your favorite buns for you!

Bake the buns in a preheated 325°F oven for 15 minutes.

The buns will feel set, but they won’t be brown. You might see the slightest touch of brown (center and right, in the photo above); but they should definitely look pale and wan.

Let the buns cool right in the pan.

When they’re completely cool, bag them up, and freeze.

If you need your pan, remove them from the pan once they’re frozen, re-bag, and put back in the freezer. For best results, freeze no longer than 4 weeks or so.

When you’re planning to serve buns, remove them from the freezer the night before. Let them thaw slowly, still wrapped, in the fridge.

Here they are, thawed and ready to go.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Take the buns out of the bag and put them in a lightly greased pan. You’ll see they’ve settled and shrunk a bit; that’s OK.

Place the buns in the upper part of the oven, and bake them until they’re very lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Like this.

Turn them out of the pan, and brush with melted butter; this helps keep them soft.

Have your icing ready, if you want to ice the buns while they’re warm.

Spread the buns with icing. It’ll seep down into the cinnamon swirls and the spaces between the buns.

Cinnamon in the icing, as well as the filling, gives these buns vibrant flavor.

How’s that for instant – well, 20-minute – gratification?

To make these particular buns, check out our recipe for Now or Later Cinnamon Buns.

Want to read more about how to prepare and freeze just-in-time holiday treats?

•Read about drop cookies, sticky buns, scones, and flaky cheese twists.
•Read about fruit pie.
•Read about rollout cookies.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Nicole

    You have two different techniques for freezing this recipe — partaking and freezing after the first rise. Pros and cons of each?

    1. Susan Reid

      Parbaking means you have less time to wait for warm cinnamon buns from the time you take them out of the freezer: you’re in a heat and eat situation there. Freezing the rolls unbaked gives you a softer, more tender final product, since it’s only baked once, but you have to budget time for thawing and baking before you have that treat in your hands. Susan

  2. Heidi

    I have tried this par baking method with two different recipes and they deflated after the par bake and never fluffed up again after baking from the freezer. What did I do wrong?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Heidi, if the cinnamon buns deflated, it means they could have used just a few more minutes in the oven to help the structure set. When you touch the top of the buns lightly, it should feel firm to the touch, but the color should still be quite light. Your buns might need a few additional minutes if you’re baking in a glass or ceramic pan, or if your oven is running low. The other possible reason they deflated is because they were over-proofed (left to rise for too long). We hope you try it again, cutting back on the rise time slightly and pre-baking the buns for about 20 minutes next time. We hope that helps! Kye@KAF

  3. ter

    Great technique! I’m very fortunate to have a family that agrees on many things — but not in cinnamon buns vs sticky buns.

    I make the dough for now or later cinnamon buns, divide it in half, roll out half and make cinnamon buns, roll out the other half and make KA sticky buns (though do add finely chopped pecans to KA cinnamon filling), bake both for 15 minutes, freeze, and everybody is happy in the morning.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We supposed there could be worse things to disagree about. Happy baking and happy holidays! Mollie@KAF

  4. Jamie Diller

    Can I make these the night ahead and let them slow rise in the fridge and pop them in the oven the next morning?

  5. Kyle

    Novice to making cinnamon buns (not so much in eating them), but is there any value in mixing in some cake flour in with the unbleached in order to make a softer dough or does the potato flour serve that purpose? Oftentimes, I find the finished product from most recipes to be somewhat dryer and firmer than I would prefer.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      For soft and supple cinnamon buns, be sure you’re using all purpose flour and that the dough itself is soft and supple – the same consistency as pressing your cheek with your index finger. Using a couple tablespoons of potato flour or cake enhancer will keep the dough softer once the finished product is baked. Be sure not to over bake the cinnamon buns as that can lead to dry buns or rolls as well. Happy baking! Irene@KAF

  6. Aaron

    Dear representative:

    So I’ve made the cinnamon rolls. When I par baked them, some butter melted onto the bottom of the pan. I’m afraid the melted butter will make the bread soggy. Any suggestions on my next step should be? Do I leave the buns in the pan?



    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Aaron, I think the buns will be fine if you leave them in the pan, but you could allow them to cool a bit and then gently turn them out of the pan, clean the pan, and then return them to the pan for freezing purposes. The pan helps retain the shape of the buns when you initially freeze them. The danger of removing them from the pan is they may pull apart or collapse a bit with too much handling, so gentle does it! Barb@KAF

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