Christmas morning breakfast is a tricky meal. You want it to be special, but you also don’t want to spend all morning slaving away in the kitchen—the real fun is around the Christmas tree! So what’s the answer? Make-ahead meals! All you do is pop them in the oven and head back to the holiday fun.
There are a million options for an excellent make-ahead holiday breakfast. If you want to go savory, this Denver Omelet Breakfast Bake is a great option, but if you want to go sweet, you can’t beat a hot, gooey pan of homemade cinnamon rolls.
Cinnamon rolls are a bit time intensive to make, but they are the perfect make-ahead meal, so you can do all the work before the holiday chaos hits. And all your holiday guests will ooohh-and-ahhh when they come out of the oven on Christmas morning.
You can make them just a couple days ahead of schedule and stash them in the fridge, or if you’re really on the ball, you can make them weeks ahead of time and keep them in the freezer until you’re ready to bake. Add a fruit salad and you’ve got yourself a stress-free holiday breakfast!
Cinnamon rolls are also incredibly easy to make vegan using the great selection of plant-based buttery spreads available nowadays. I used Pure Blends Coconut Oil Plant-Based Butter, which I grabbed at my local Meijer store. You’ll need two tubs to make this recipe as written.
Meijer has such an incredible selection of organic and natural foods. You can find everything you need to create the perfect Christmas morning breakfast, no matter what your guests’ dietary restrictions or preferences are!
I was also able to find all the linens, dishware, table decor, and other goodies to deck the halls at my local Meijer store. Meijer is truly a one-stop shop for all your holiday needs. I even got all the supplies I needed for a Christmas breakfast mimosa (is that a tradition in your house, too?) there. Shopping at Meijer saves me so much time during this busy season.
Before I get into the recipe, I wanted to give you a few of my favorite cinnamon roll tips and tricks!
First up, this is a yeast dough, which I know scares a lot of people (it used to scare me, too!), but I have officially conquered working with yeast just by keeping one thing in mind: yeast likes it warm! I actually instruct you to warm up your milk in the recipe below before adding it to the yeast, and you’ll want to work with your dough in a warm part of your house—this isn’t a recipe to make when your house is chilly.
This dough rises twice, once in the bowl and once formed into rolls, and both times you want it to rise in a nice, warm spot. You can do this under your oven light, on top of a toaster oven that was on (that’s where I do it!), on top of a heating pad, or even by the fireplace—just make it warm and toasty and your yeast will take off!
My second cinnamon roll tip involves cutting your cinnamon rolls. If you’ve ever tried to cut cinnamon rolls or any unbaked pastry into nice, round circles, you’ve probably realized pretty quickly that knives just don’t cut it (har-dee-har-har). The answer here? Dental floss. I know, crazy, right? I actually learned this trick from my high school art teacher for cutting chunks of clay, but the same principle applies here to cinnamon rolls.
Just slide unflavored floss under the roll, pull it together, and you have a perfectly cut cinnamon roll. I actually keep a container of unflavored floss in my kitchen for just this purpose. This trick also works beautifully with soft and semi-soft cheeses, rolls of cookie dough—anything that is soft and requires a clean cut!
If you do decide to make these vegan cinnamon rolls ahead of time, here are my tips for making sure your end result is just as good as if you cooked from fresh:
- Making 2-3 Days in Advance (Fridge Method): Go ahead and make the cinnamon rolls all the way through until they are in the pan, but stopping before the second rise. These vegan cinnamon rolls will hold just fine, covered tightly, in the fridge for 2-3 days. The chill of the fridge will greatly slow down the yeast multiplication. However, it won’t completely stop it, so your rolls will puff up slightly, depending on how cold your fridge is and how long they are in there. Before baking, pop your rolls into your warm rising spot, and let them rise until nice and puffy—about an hour. Bake as instructed.
- Making 3+ Days in Advance (Freezer Method): Make the cinnamon rolls all the way through until they are in the pan, but stopping before the second rise. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and then, if you can, slide your entire pan into a zip-top freezer bag, squeezing to remove as much air as you can while you close the bag. Freeze flat for up to three months. When ready to bake, thaw in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for about two hours. Transfer to your warm rising spot, and let them rise until nice and puffy—about an hour. Bake as instructed.
You can also make the frosting ahead of time, but honestly, it takes all of about 30 seconds to whisk together, so it might not be worth the storage container you’d dirty by making it ahead of schedule!
When it comes to a pan, you can make the whole batch of these rolls in a 9 x 13 baking dish, but I have to be honest, I love the beautiful flower look you get from putting them into a round pan. If you split the recipe into two batches for baking, you can use two round cake pans, or, for real rustic adorable-ness (and even cooking), two 10″ cast iron skillets work, too.
These vegan cinnamon rolls are best straight out of the oven (isn’t everything?) with the frosting drizzled on them while warm, but you can also reheat them from the fridge in a 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes—just make sure to cover the dish tightly in aluminum foil to keep the moisture in. You can also, of course, pop a single roll into the microwave for 30 seconds or so until piping hot. Enjoy!