A Healthy Cinnamon Roll Recipe Guaranteed to Make You Come Back for More

by Heather

Warning: The recipe that follows could result in spontaneous drooling, finger licking, and uncontrollable urges to go back for seconds, thirds, and fourths. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

After 2 long days of sitting at my desk pouring over business plans and paperwork, I crossed the fine line of frustration overload.

business plans

The only solution? More baked goods.

baking supplies

Soon my business scribbling turned into recipe scrawling.

My initial attempt at vegan cinnamon rolls was finally getting an overhaul. (Well, a few tweaks at least.)

vegan cinnamon roll recipe

The original batch was good, but nothing special. They were a little too “cakey” and had a little bit of bitter-metallic-y taste.

Apparently I didn’t need to worry so much about making them rise, so I nixed the flax egg and cut out the baking soda (my close personal friend Google told me that baking soda can leave a funny taste if not mixed with acidic enough ingredients. I didn’t feel like making buttermilk with almond milk, so the baking soda got the shaft & I upped the baking powder.)

I added a little more milk, and switched from hemp to almond milk because let’s be honest, almond milk rules. (I cut the flour down too, but ended up adding most of it back in at the end.)

The best part? I eliminated an entire rise (which is single handedly the most annoying part about baking. Besides the mess…)

And that was that. Time for some baking!

Step one- don’t burn the almond milk in the microwave. You want it slightly warm, but not hot. Kinda like a bath for a baby. Just so we’re clear, the yeast is the baby… Pardon my nonsense, I’m on a cinnamon roll high.

Mix the yeast & almond milk and set aside while you measure all the dry goods.

almond milk and yeast yeast and almond milk

This recipe uses mostly whole wheat flour, with just a bit of bread flour for kicks and giggles. Use whatever you have on hand. I don’t like wasting whole wheat flour for kneading. I know, I’m weird.

Add some sugar. The real deal. Nothing fake here.

Throw in some baking powder, salt, & cinnamon and you’re done with the dry ingredients.

Time to pour in the milk & yeast mixture. It should be a little bubbly on the surface- if not, your yeast might be past it’s prime.

Then comes the applesauce time when you realize you’re out of applesauce.

Hmmm..banana maybe?

Aha! Pumpkin! (Yes, I’ve been hoarding that since last fall since NC is stingy in selling canned pumpkin. And yes, that would be 3 jars of PB. I have more, I promise.)

So pumpkin it is! (Don’t worry, your cinnamon rolls won’t taste like pumpkin. Although I’m already planning to make an intentionally pumpkin batch.)

Now mix away. Only don’t mix too much. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

It probably won’t really come together like dough. Unless you’re superhuman. And if you’re superhuman, what are you doing making cinnamon rolls from scratch?

Knead the dough until it magically forms a ball. Add bread flour as needed or you’ll have a sticky mess and curse my name.

wooden rolling pin baking

Now comes the fun part- roll out the dough. Ok, kneading is probably more fun. But I don’t really feel like I’m baking til I whip out a wooden rolling pin circa 1923.

Make as close to a rectangle as you can, but let’s not go crazy. I’d say my dough’s about 1/4 of inch, but that’s only because I feel like that’s what all recipes say. I don’t measure. It’s as thick as it looks. It won’t matter either way.

dough for homemade cinnamon rolls

Melt a little vegan margarine (or whatever you have on hand) and pour it across the rolled out dough. Spread it with a pastry brush if you want to continue feeling fancy.

If, unlike myself, you happen to have applesauce on hand, you could use that here instead of the butter. But I kinda like the butter.

Sprinkle the butter with brown sugar and cinnamon. Use more than what’s in this picture. This is not the time to hold back. I got distracted by licking the brown sugar off my fingers….

cinnamon filling

Then roll ‘er up. Try to start with a tight roll so it doesn’t get loose and sloppy on the ends. You can always cut the ends off it doesn’t work. I may or may not have eaten the dough ends raw…

rolling breakfast buns

Slice away. I’m guessing these are about an inch wide? I think it made about 9. Or 11.

I hear you can use dental floss to cut dough so you don’t squish your pretty little rolls, but I only have mint flavored. Who wants mint flavored cinnamon rolls? Eck.

Spray or butter a pan and fill with the cinnamon rolls.

homemade cinnabon rolls

Here comes the hard part. Stop. Put down the dough. Step away from the pan.

Well, before you step away, cover it with plastic wrap & put it in the fridge. Then step away. Go to sleep. Dream of cinnamon buns dancing in your head.

Ok fine. If you’re impatient like me, throw a few extra in a pan for semi-immediate consumption.

Put them somewhere warm-ish [I use the DVR box…] and go clean up that mess you made.

baking disaster mess

After 30 minutes or so, pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes and give your batch a test run. All in the name of baking, right? 😉

fresh baked cinnabons

But on to the real deal….

Time to make the best breakfast ever. If you’re nice enough to share these with someone special, they will love you forever. I’m not that nice.

baking cinnamon buns for breakfast

Bake the Buns!

Pull the buns out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Take a little bit of cold margarine and spread it on the tops of the buns. Nobody will fault you for using your fingers. Then sprinkle the cinnamon rolls with granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Oh yes.

cinnabon topping

When the oven’s ready, bake them for 20 minutes. The key to this insanely delicious bun is to ever so slightly under bake them.

homemade cinnamon rolls

That bears repeating. Ever so slightly under bake! For me, it was 20 minutes on the dot since they were cold from the fridge.

While they’re doing their under-bake thing in the oven, mix up the icing.

Honestly, I’m not giving you measurements on purpose. Powdered sugar has a life of it’s own- I swear it has multiple personalities. Just pour a bunch of sugar in a cup, and add a splash of almond milk and tiny bit of vanilla.

royal icing

If it’s too thick, add more milk. Too thin? Add more sugar or a bit of cornstarch.

When the cinnamon rolls come out of the oven, let them cool just a tiny bit. I know, it’s hard.

cooling cinnamon buns

But if you do that, when you drizzle them with icing they’ll stay nice & pretty!

freshly iced cinnamon rolls

vegan cinnamon rolls

vegan cinnamon buns

Now eat away! Don’t hold back! If you don’t want to finish the pan, find somewhere to lock it up. Don’t come complaining to me when they’re gone the same hour day.

I’ll stop torturing you now.

Oh, I guess you want the recipe, huh?

I don’t blame you- cinnamon rolls so healthy you can legitimately call them breakfast? Yes please.

Here you go:


Whole Wheat Vegan Cinnamon Roll Recipe
Save RecipeSave Recipe


  • Dough
  • 1 c almond milk
  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • 2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c bread flour (plus 1/4-1/2 c for kneading)
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 4T pumpkin puree
  • Filling
  • 2 T vegan margarine
  • 4 T brown sugar
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • Icing
  • Powdered sugar
  • Almond milk
  • Vanilla

the best cinnamon roll you'll ever eat

Go. Bake. Do not collect $200.


Woahh hold up –> Check out the updated version of this vegan cinnamon roll recipe!

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman September 16, 2010 at 7:56 am
These look so so good. Dare I say it? They look even better than Cinnabon's.
Alex @ I Eat Asphalt September 16, 2010 at 8:13 am
These look amazing! Oprah has a great recipe for sticky buns but they are far from healthy. I cant wait to see the pumpkin version of these!
Tess September 16, 2010 at 8:36 am
Scrumptious! Love the photos as well.
Liz @ LBBakes September 16, 2010 at 8:42 am
YUM! I've been wanting to make cinnamon buns for awhile, and now that it's cold... well, I'm bookmarking this. :)
Matt September 16, 2010 at 9:08 am
Ok, you might have me beat... MIGHT ;)
Heather September 16, 2010 at 9:45 am
I'm still waiting for yours...we'll have to see ;)
Callie @ Callieflower Kitchen September 16, 2010 at 9:34 am
Oh my gosh, you're like a cinnamon bun goddess sent down from heaven! I've been craving cinnamon buns for a while now, and these look AWESOME. I just need to get my hands on some yeast...
Anne @ a daily slice September 16, 2010 at 11:37 am
This looks ridiculous. I'm so excited :)
suki @ [Super Duper Fantastic] September 16, 2010 at 12:29 pm
Considering that I didn't have breakfast yet this morning... *drool* to the max. Heh.
Marcia September 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm
Wow healthy and cinnamon roll in the same sentence? Be still my heart! These look amazing!
Nichole September 16, 2010 at 2:49 pm
Get.in.my.face. Are you serious?! PUMPKIN?! Get outta dodge Paula Deen. Your little pics of the cute rolls all tightly bundled is awesome!
Lisa September 16, 2010 at 4:11 pm
Man I want those so bad! They look amazing!
Sagan September 16, 2010 at 4:59 pm
Ohmygosh. I love you. These look amazing! And I'm really impressed with the ingredients. Mmmm cinnamon buns.
Kristina @ spabettie September 17, 2010 at 11:27 am
these look SO good... I want one now... I *LOVE* the color of your mixer :)
Jessica @ The Process of Healing September 17, 2010 at 10:10 pm
They. Sound. AMAZING!
Liz @ Blog is the New Black September 17, 2010 at 10:35 pm
This recipe looks SO GOOD!
Anne November 25, 2010 at 11:18 am
*wipes drool off keyboard* I'm making these ASAP. I'm actually considering asking my boss if I can go home cause I'm "sick" just so I can make these....
Breann December 24, 2010 at 12:46 pm
These do look great, but your layout makes the recipe hard to follow...with the instructions first and ingredients later. I am making them now and noticed a couple of problems. 1/4 cup salt? Can't be right. Also, sugar is listed in the instructions, but not in the ingredients list. How much sugar?
Heather December 28, 2010 at 10:46 am
Oops! It's 1/4 cup SUGAR. And a 1/4 tsp salt. :)
Breann December 28, 2010 at 11:04 am
Those are the amounts I guessed. And these turned out DELICIOUS! My husband has a weak spot for cinnamon rolls, and we have been on a super-low carb diet for three months. He was so happy to have cinnamon rolls again. (And I have a new-found love for almond milk!)
Heather December 30, 2010 at 12:16 pm
I'm glad they worked out for you even with my brain farts! Mmmm almond milk is my favorite!
Marilia February 1, 2011 at 5:41 pm
I made them today, I put mashed bananas (don't have applesauce). It's perfect, I loved. Thanks for share this wonderful recipe
Shawn February 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm
"Stumbled" you! These sound fabulous! Have a great day!
Kristl Story February 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm
These just might help my sweet tooth with my new year's resolution to eat healthier!
Brenna @ Almost All The Truth February 24, 2011 at 11:18 pm
Yum! These look so good!
Jen K March 15, 2011 at 11:33 am
This is making me hungry and I just ate! I will definitely have to try this recipe. And I had to forward it on to my vegan friend! You always have such great recipes!
Carlee April 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm
These look fabulous girl! The texture looks so hearty! and not like too much sugar at all! Cinnamon rolls always make me feel "icky!" but I bet these wouldn't :)
Ellie@fitforthesoul April 5, 2011 at 11:45 pm
these look so cute and moist!! great job on the improvisation ;)
Kenda May 1, 2011 at 5:40 pm
Delicious! I'm currently eating my third!
Liz May 10, 2011 at 11:41 am
have any non-vegans tried these with egg instead of pumpkin?
Heidi @ Food Doodles July 12, 2011 at 7:52 pm
Those look incredible :) And so perfectly rolled too, my cinnamon buns never turn out so perfect. Love the whole wheat, I have to share this with my mom, she'll love it :)
Christa July 13, 2011 at 3:53 am
They look incredible! And you're funneh :)
Grace@ FoodFitnessFreshAir July 13, 2011 at 11:32 am
Whole wheat cinnamon rolls that are vegan and addicting on top of that...these sound amazing! The slightly underbaked thing has me drooling too.
Schmee July 14, 2011 at 2:24 am
These look absolutely delectable! How do they hold up after a day?
Heather July 15, 2011 at 5:39 am
They hold up well if you keep them wrapped up, although the icing tends to soak in a little. Of course, the only way I end up with any after more than a day is if I make a double batch ;)
Jamie Stolarz October 10, 2011 at 9:11 pm
These look awesome!!!
Kimberly November 7, 2011 at 6:01 pm
I LOVE these. I have loved cinnamon rolls for quite some time but am committed to finding an alternative to the 600 calorie mess I've been eating :) I tried this out and have to say - they are delicious. Mine did NOT turn out looking as nicely as yours, but the taste made up for that! Thanks for sharing! K
Christine April 1, 2012 at 1:02 pm
I just made these. So delicious!! Thanks :)
Amanda Senita September 21, 2012 at 8:37 pm
I just got done making these for breakfast tomorrow. I'm SO excited to try these! Question: Can you make these ahead of time and freeze? We have cinnamon rolls for a special treat on the weekends, so if I could make a couple rolls and freeze it would save lots of time. Just wanted to check. Thanks for this recipe!
Heather September 24, 2012 at 8:41 am
I've never tried freezing them but I don't see why it wouldn't work!
Milena February 16, 2013 at 3:24 pm
I am a huge fan of pancakes for breakfast so eating these so early in the morning is out of the question. But if i wanted them for lunch.....how long should I let them rise in a warm place? Should they double in size?

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