Trust us: you knead these cinnamon buns in your life. They've got the same oversized, indulgent flavor as your food court favorites—but with half the calories of a grab-and-go Cinnabon thanks to tweaks like protein-packed Greek yogurt!
Make and roll the buns the night before, then pop them in the oven the next morning for a warm breakfast treat. Add cream cheese frosting to sweeten the deal or serve them with your favorite nut butter or jam for a new twist—er, roll—on your morning meal.
Prep your buns the night before:
Heat the milk in a small saucepan over low heat just until the milk is warm but not steaming or bubbling; it should feel no warmer than comfortable bathwater.
Pour the milk into a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over its surface. Let sit for 5-8 minutes to activate the yeast.
While the yeast rests, whisk 3 cups of the flour with the sugar and salt in a large bowl.
With a silicone spatula, stir the activated yeast and milk, along with 1/2 cup yogurt, into the flour. Continue to stir until a shaggy but cohesive dough forms, then switch to using your hands to press and knead the dough into a ball.
Keep pressing and kneading in the bowl for about 2 minutes more. If the dough is too sticky, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time so it doesn't completely cover the palms of your hands.
Spritz a clean bowl with nonstick baking spray and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour in a warm place.
While the dough rests, whisk the brown sugar and cinnamon together for the filling. Whisk the 1/4 cup yogurt and vanilla extract together in a separate bowl. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into a rough 18- x 12-inch rectangle. With a pastry brush, coat the dough generously with the yogurt. Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar-cinnamon filling all over the dough.
Starting with the long (18-inch) end, carefully roll the dough into a log as tightly as you can. Work slowly; the dough will be sticky. Trim the loose edges of the rolled dough to make a log 18 inches long. Slice the log into 6 pieces, each 3 inches long.
Place the pieces cut-side up on the prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches of space between the buns.
Spritz a large piece of plastic wrap with nonstick baking spray and tightly cover the buns. Depending on the size of your baking sheet, you might need to use additional plastic wrap.
Refrigerate the buns overnight, for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
Bake your buns the next morning:
Remove the plastic wrap from the refrigerated buns and let them rest at room temperature while preheating the oven to 325 degrees F.
Bake the buns just until the outer edges turn light golden, about 20 minutes—don't overcook or the centers won't be as soft and gooey as you want them to be.
Carefully slide the buns, still on the parchment paper, onto a wire rack to cool while you make the frosting.
With an electric hand mixer, blend the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and milk together on low speed to make a spreadable frosting.
Spread the frosting on the cinnamon buns and serve.
Baked, unfrosted cinnamon buns can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; reheat buns in an 300 degree F oven for 5 minutes if desired, or just bring to room temperature.