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. colemanfive

    Good morning- novice cinnamon roll baker here- what if I do not have any potato flour or instant potato flakes on hand? Can I sub. something else? Leave it out? Please advise… Thank you for your help!

    Boil a potato in water – use the mashed boiled potato in your recipe or use the potato water! Irene @ KAF

  2. bearcat97

    Your timing could not be more perfect. I’m making several pans of cinnamon rolls this weekend for next Friday morning and I was wondering the best way to go about freezing them. I presume if I have those giant gallon-sized freezer bags, they would work for the freezing process, right?

    Freeze the cinnamon rolls in the pan first to keep their shape, then pop just the round of rolls into your freezer safe bags. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

  3. ambeckett

    How funny…. I literally just looked up and made your chocolate chip cookies from last years post. Maybe I’ll try both cinnamon bun recipes this year!

    THANK YOU for doing these- they have made great meals for my friends after they have brought home new babies!


    You are a terrific BFF! Irene @ KAF

  4. lindawaymeier

    This is perfect timing! Our grown kids are coming for Christmas and I don’t want to miss a minute with them. I’m wondering if I could use the “bake and give” pans so I could prepare, freeze and bake without having to take the buns in and out of my metal pans. Would the bake and give pans get soggy? Thank you all so much for your great recipes with those pictures that are worth even more than 1,000 words!
    Linda Meier

    Yes, you can freeze products in the Bake and Give pans! Happy holiday prepartions – happy baking! Irene @ KAF

  5. ebenezer94

    How would this work for something like a sticky bun where you bake it with sugar and nuts on the bottom of the pan and then flip it over when done and have caramel gooeyness on the “top”of the rolls?

    Should be fine. But I’d say you should freeze them right in the pan, not try to flip them out partially baked and then freeze. For another method especially good for sticky buns, check out the link at the end of this blog post. PJH

  6. miller0814

    I tell ya, it doesn’t get any better then the “Now or Later Cinnamon Buns”. I baked them about 6 months ago for the first time and I’ll never try another recipe. They’re perfect! I love how moist they stay and how they’re not crazy sweet like most cinnamon rolls. Perfect! I’ll definitely be making them for Christmas this year.
    I’ll have to try this method for freezing them. I’ve frozen them after completely baking them before and they do beautifully. I just thaw them on the counter and microwave them individually for a few seconds whenever I want one and then top it with icing. Yum!

  7. mumpy

    well, duh!……i’ve been freezing unbaked cookie dough for ages (hubby can’t be trusted around cookies – he’ll eat all of them)…. but i’ve been freezing it in bags or containers in large lumps, which means you have to wait for it to thaw to bake the cookies. I do find it entertaining to watch my husband poking the dough with a fork and muttering “thaw, darn it!” but it think doing it this way will be a huge improvement.
    and cinnamon rolls?….can’t wait to try this!….thanks so much for showing us how!

    The only danger here is that he may develop an affinity for the shaped frozen cookie dough! Irene @ KAF

  8. darlamae

    Is it possible to do this with the candied buns, where you have the caramel sauce on the bottom with the pecan?

    Yes, it certainly is. You can also shape them, let them rise, then freeze without baking… check out the link at the end of the blog to see our freezing advice for sticky buns. PJH

    1. Carol Stuart

      Where do I look for the freezing-sticky-bun link referenced in this Dec.10, 2010 blog? (It’s now Dec. 2014) We love your “Best Sticky Bun” recipe! Thanks for all your info and tips!

  9. musicmaa

    This method is just fantastic! Can’t wait to try this one for Christmas morning and New Years’ brunch! Thank you so much. I was just thinking about researching this issue on the weekend. Once again saved by the magic kitchen at KAF.

    I’ll try the Now or Later recipe also, but my all time favorite so far is Jodie Picoult’s Dark and Dangerous Whole Wheat Cinnamon rolls. Totally yummy and healthy too?! It can’t get any better.

    Thanks for reminding me about those – I know Jodi, and she gave me that recipe for the book. So I recall working on it and testing it several years ago. Hmmmm, gotta go back and enjoy that one again! 🙂 PJH

  10. mflack20789

    Hi PJ,
    Love you recipes and pictures in the Baking Banter. Would it be possible to have the option to just print the recipe. Once I see the pictures I do not need to print them to bake the recipe. Just want to print a small picture of the finished recipe and the recipe. Thanks

    Sure, just go to the actual recipe (you’ll find the link at the end of the blog), click “printable version,” and you’ll be able to print just wnat you want. Here’s the link to the Cinnamon Buns recipe. PJH

  11. sharolyne

    I’m just wondering why not just freeze without par-baking? I haven’t tried freezing either way (with or without par-baking)….just curious. I usually just make buns the night before and place them in frig and let rise overnight, and bake in the morning. However, that method is not practical for making several batches. I’m going to try freezing some ahead of time…hmm what about freezing individual buns, so one could just use as many or as few as needed.

    Why not, indeed? Last year’s “FREEZE” log demonstrated this method; link to it from the end of this post. And yes, you could definitely freeze individual buns; let them rise in muffin tins for easiest handling. PJH

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Barbi, you can do that, but it gets a bit precarious, trying to keep a fully risen bun from sinking on its way from counter to being wrapped to being frozen. I’d prefer to let the buns rise abut halfway, then freeze, for up to a month; thaw at room temperature, unwrapped, before baking. Or you could try baking them frozen, see if they rise sufficiently as they bake. Good luck – PJH

  12. rebmarch

    Could I do a similar thing with other sweet yeast breads? I have a recipe for homemade monkey bread (you make the dough, don’t use pre-packaged). I need to serve it this Friday morning, but don’t have time to make the whole thing that morning. I would love to bring it to the par-baking level, and then freeze

    Yes, that should work very well – what you want to do is bake it enough so that it’s st and won’t collapse, but not so much that by baking it further you’ll dry it out. Bake at a lower temperature than you normally would, prior to freezing – probably 325°F. PJH

  13. Cheryl

    I’m allergic to potatoes, what do I use in place of the potato flour? What does the potato flour do for the recipe?

    Potato flour adds tenderness and moistness to the rolls. You can omit is. Frank @ KAF.

  14. mumpy

    Questions for the freeze-and-bake experts: I have a recipe for kifflies that is sort of a pastry recipe, sort of a cookie recipe – it’s a yeast dough that’s rolled and cut. They are absolutely best when really fresh, but not easy to make and it would be wonderful to have a way to keep some ready to bake fresh. These normally bake at 350 for 15 minutes. So here are the questions; do yeast things NEED to be prebaked? If so, how long and what temp would you try for these? Does it matter that they have a jam filling?
    I really apreciate any ideas….and LOL at Irene’s comment about hubby and frozen dough!

    A home freezer is not cold enough to “stop” the action of the yeast. The yeast will continue to ferment and digest the sugars. Raw yeast dough may only be stored for 3-4 weeks, with out the addition of extra yeast. To take the dough at peak, parbaking is a useful technique. Give it a try with these, the next time you make up a batch. Frank @ KAF.

  15. lisamcohen

    I’m also a HUGE fan of the Jodie Picoult’s Dark and Dangerous Whole Wheat Cinnamon rolls because I love cooking with whole grains. They are my go-to cinnamon bun recipe.

    I’m wondering if anyone tried these make-ahead ones posted here with whole wheat flour? Or has anyone tried the same method with the Picoult buns??

    I love the idea of make-ahead and whole grains (for a quick and healthier cinnamon bun).

    My in-laws are coming in from out of town this weekend and I’d love to bake these to have one morning for breakfast.


    Lisa, this method should work just fine, whether or not your recipe includes whole grains. I say go for it! PJH

  16. phyllis13

    Would this technique work making a raisin bread in loaves? And could I just put it partly baked in the refrigerator overnight and finish baking it Christmas morning?

    Baking times would change, obviously, from buns to a loaf; but the par-baking technique should work just fine. You’d want to tent it with foil to finish baking, I’d think, as it’ll take awhile for the heat to reach the bread’s cold core and bring it up to temperature… PJH

  17. phyllis13

    The stuff I’ve been learning about bread the last few weeks is amazing me. Never thought to bake part way or to take the bread’s temperature! I obviously have a lot to learn. Thank you all soooo much.

    Bread is a wonderful, engaging subject, isn’t it? To say nothing of delicious! Glad you’re finding this all helpful, Phyllis – bake on! PJH

  18. kaylowe

    Could I use the same method when doing my almond croissants?
    Hi Kay. Yes, you can use the same method, though I would not par bake them after they proof, rather just freeze them after they proof and bake fully when ready to serve.

    1. bakersresource

      Hi Kay. Yes, you can use the same method. Though I would suspect that you would be better off not par baking them, and just freezing them after they proof.

  19. Jadxia

    Duh, why didn’t I think of parbaking my favorite cinnamon roll recipe? Then none go to waste and I can have them whenever (I feel like such a silly-billy for not thinking of it sooner). Thanks for posting this! Think I’m going to try par-baking some yeast squash biscuits I want to make.

    Cheryl: As for potato allergies, mashed sweet potatoes (which are not actually members of the potato family) or squash make good substitutes if you can find a recipe that uses the fresh potato rather than the flour or flakes (you could use it for this recipe if you adjust for moisture content). Happy baking everyone!

  20. bobolots

    I made these on Christmas Eve and put them in the fridge overnight – popped them in the oven on Christmas Morning … WOWZA! You guys have outdone yourselves! They were outstanding!!!

    🙂 PJH

  21. neuwifebakes

    These were SUCH a hit on Christmas morning. I made these a few days ahead of time (baked at 325 degress for 15 minutes until set but not browned, wrapped and then frozen), and they traveled well, well wrapped, in an ice filled chest filled with other Christmas foods and trimmings, for three hours in the car. I popped them in my parents freezer upon arrival, and before bed put them in the fridge to thaw over night. About a half hour on the counter to come to room temperature, and then 15 minutes in the oven and my family was thrilled with hot cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning! Several members of my family have to be careful with their sugar intake, and really appreciated that these rolls contained much less sugar than those sold at the kiosks in the mall, and so they could “indulge” a bit without too much harm done to their sugar levels.

    I agree- like that the rolls themselves have very little sugar, and it’s all in the topping. I’d prefer most sweet breads like that – the dough rises much more readily without being sugar-laden, and sugar used as a “condiment” on top really gives you all the “sweet” you need… Thanks for sharing here. PJH

  22. Debbie

    Just yesterday I made the cinnamon buns from KA Baker’s companion pg:217; for the very first time; however I substituted 1-1/2 cups of whole wheat flour into the recipe, instead of the full asked for 3-1/2 cups of white flour.Turned out delicious – next time I will try to freeze and keep them for my monthly get-together.

  23. Jackie

    My family loves your CB from KAF baking companion. Recently I found out I have a gluten intolerance and have had to cut back a lot on my gluten intake. Is it possible to make these gluten free using your wonderful gluten-free flour?

    Yes, it is possible to make g-f Cinnamon Buns, but it is a very different technique. Here is a version of the technique I found on the web: Frank @ KAF.

  24. kirstenhaughey

    I absolutely love this recipe, and I’ve made it several times. However, my dough does not double in size during the first or second rise times. Any ideas as to what I am doing wrong?
    There could be a number of reasons why your dough is not rising properly. Please call our baker’s hotline, 802-649-3717, so that we can get more information from you and best answer your question. ~Amy

  25. katemfuller

    I pushed the envelope because I made cinnamon rolls for Christmas and I re-baked the second, frozen pan today for Easter. They were still wonderful.

    Kate – thanks for sharing your experience here, it’s always good to hear the results of experiments! PJH

  26. "Mollys Mom"

    Do you think this method would work on just about any Cinnamon Roll recipe? I have a recipe for Vanilla Pudding cinnamon rolls from a popular food blogger that says to freeze after shaping and placing on pan. She doesn’t pre-bake at all.

    Yes, this method should work with any cinnamon roll. Yeast dough is actually very flexible – you can freeze before rising, after baking, and at most points in between. Good luck – PJH

  27. Kimberly A

    If I’m making these only a day in advance, should I just store them par-baked in the fridge?

    Likewise, if I give away a pan of these that are par-baked one day to be eaten the next, can I safely give the recipient the option to freeze the buns if they don’t want to eat them the next morning?

    Kimberly, no need to refrigerate overnight – just leave at room temperature, wrapped in plastic. And yes, the recipient can definitely freeze the parbaked buns – be sure to caution him/her to wrap airtight in plastic, for best results. Good luck – PJH

  28. Jan Mowbray

    I’ve been making cinnamon rolls for years, usually around 70-100 at a time for functions or events I’m attending, which means getting up at 4am sometimes.

    Thanks so much for this post. I have a meeting next month for which I promised cinnamon rolls – I will be using the instructions here. Fabulous website, great information.
    Too bad we don`t get KA flour up here in Ontario.

  29. Berkeley

    Wow, I am so going to try this freezer method next time. I have been adding a drop of Flora di Sicilia to the icing and the rolls fly off the table. Thanks.

  30. lkmcilroy

    I usually make Ridiculously Easy Sticky buns for Christmas morning. This year I’d like to try Now or Laters. I have some Bakers Cinnamon Filling you think that would work rather than just cinnamon? Any thoughts on proportions?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes, you may use the Bakers Cinnamon Filling in place of the cinnamon. Use 3/4 c. plus 3 T water. Enjoy these now or later! Elisabeth@KAF

  31. Shell_bell

    This didn’t work for me. The outside of the pan was done and brown when I pulled it out to freeze the center roll never baked completely on the second bake whirl the outside ones go overdone. Any advice?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It is worth another try! Be sure to bake on the middle rack in your oven. Keep an eye on them and if you see that the outer edge are getting too brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil until the first bake is complete. Also, use this trick for the second bake! Elisabeth@KAF

  32. Jessica

    Hello! We are planning a fundraiser with homemade cinnamon rolls (and anticipating making *quite* a few batches) and were planning on freezing the buns pre-raised or partially-raised in aluminum pans for folks to take home and bake for Christmas. Can you tell me if this freezing method will work well? I have a couple in the freezer now to try out for myself, but thought I’d check here, too. Par-baking would add another step and extra time that we’d rather skip, I think, unless it would be a huge change to the delicious factor. 🙂 I would love your advice!

    Thanks in advance!

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Jessica, it should work if they recipient doesn’t leave the buns frozen for too long after baking; the yeast starts to deteriorate after about a month in the freezer, so you might want to include some directions for the buyers. I’d let the buns rise partway, then freeze in the pans; the recipients should let them thaw overnight in the fridge, then let rise before baking. Good luck with your fundraiser! PJH

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Absolutely! The make ahead method works for just about any roll recipe out there. Enjoy!~ MJ

  33. staybo

    question – you say to bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes — then freeze — then bake at 350 for 15 minutes to serve. I notice that the recipe you are demonstrating with says to bake at 350 degrees. What if I am using a recipe that say to bake the rolls at 400 degrees? (E.G. the “Cinna-Buns” recipe) To make ahead, should I still use your recommended 325 deg. then 350 deg. ? Or should I modify to 375 deg – then freeze – then bake at 400 ?

  34. Si

    This looks great. I was looking for a good source to know more about freezing buns. However, Can you freeze the rolls before they have been baked? I do not know how this would affect the yeast but I am curious. Thank you!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Si, here’s a post that shows you how to freeze unbaked sticky buns. I think you could freeze cinnamon rolls in a similar way, although in both cases I would recommend freezing them a bit before they’re fully risen, so that they’re not too delicate going into the freezer. Barb@KAF

  35. 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

  36. 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

  37. 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?

  38. 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

  39. 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

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