March and April were a couple of the hardest months we’ve had since becoming parents of two. We were struggling to stay afloat and not sleeping much. I started to feel depressed/anxious on and off (which worried me a bit, given my past struggles), and was at a loss for how to write about what I was going through. For a while, I lost the motivation to do many of the things I normally enjoy. The past few years have been amazing and intense and emotional and exhilarating and exhausting. The phrase “burning a candle at both ends” comes to mind. My kids are my world and being a mother is my favourite role in life, but it’s so damn hard sometimes. That’s just the honest truth. Some days you just survive. But then there are those daily moments that take my breath away…make my heart burst with love and my eyes well with tears, and it’s like…oh yeah. THIS. This is it. This is what makes it all worth it a million times over. Grateful doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel.
Thankfully, we seem to be in a better phase right now: we’re all getting more sleep, and the kids have been much happier. I’m soaking it up! My motivation has also returned and inspiration seems to be everywhere lately. Despite the incessant rain of late, things are feeling fresh and new again. My birthday is coming up in a week, so the timing couldn’t be better.
If you’ve been following me on Insta Stories, you may have seen the development of these cinnamon rolls over the past couple weeks. Cinnamon rolls for DAYS, you guys!! Working off my Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Rolls recipe from way back in 2010, I made a classic cinnamon roll—vegan styles, of course. Why the heck didn’t I have one already? I do not know. My goal was to make the recipe foolproof without sacrificing that amazing cinnamon roll experience we all know and love, and based on my taste testers’ reactions I’d say it’s a big crowd-pleaser. (One of my pals said they remind her of her grandmother’s cinnamon rolls!) Don’t be put off by the number of steps; I wanted to provide a lot of detail so you wouldn’t be left hanging (that’s the worst). Also, be sure to see my notes on how to prep these the day before (you know I tested that, too), so you can wake up and bake fresh cinnamon rolls with minimal bleary-eyed fiddling in the kitchen. I know what we’ll be enjoying on Mother’s Day, and I can’t wait to celebrate with our crazy little fam…
Classic Cinnamon Rolls
1 hour, 45 minutes
Fluffy cinnamon rolls topped with a sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting; these are great to whip up for special occasions or laid-back weekend mornings. There are quite a few steps, but don’t panic! I promise, as long as you read everything over before you begin, you'll be fine—they're actually quite easy to make. Even though this recipe technically requires about 2 hours and 45 minutes total time, only 30 to 40 minutes of that are active. The remainder is rest and bake time, during which I encourage you to kick up your feet and relax! See my tips below for how to make these the night before, too. I adapted this recipe from my Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Rolls (2010).
For the yeast:
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) warm water
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) sugar
- 1 packet (8 g) quick-rise instant dry yeast
For the dough:
- 2 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons (430 g) all-purpose white flour, plus more for kneading
- 1/3 cup (67 g) vegan butter
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) unsweetened almond milk
- 1/3 cup (73 g) cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) fine sea salt
For the cinnamon sugar filling:
- 1/2 cup (110 g) cane sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (10 g) cinnamon
- 1/4 cup (50 g) vegan butter, melted
For the pan sauce and frosting:
- 1/4 cup (50 g) vegan butter, melted
- 2 1/2 tablespoons (25 g) unpacked brown sugar or cane sugar
- Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
- Set aside a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish.
- For the yeast: In a small bowl, add the warm water. Make sure it’s not too hot; it should feel like warm bath water (approximately 110°F/45°C). Stir in the sugar until mostly dissolved. Now, stir in the yeast until dissolved. Set aside for about 6 to 7 minutes so the yeast can activate (it’ll look foamy when ready).
- For the dough: Flour a working surface for later. Add 2 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl.
- Melt 1/3 cup butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove the pot from the burner and stir in the almond milk, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt. The mixture should be lukewarm—if it’s any hotter let it cool off for a minute. Stir in all of the yeast mixture until just combined.
- Pour the wet yeast mixture over the flour and stir with a large wooden spoon. Stop mixing once all of the flour is incorporated and it looks a bit like muffin batter, about 15 seconds.
- Add in the remaining 1/2 cup and 3 tablespoons flour. Mix with a spoon for several seconds. Lightly oil your hands and roughly knead the mixture until it comes together into a shaggy, sticky dough. It’ll probably stick to your fingers (even with the oil), but that’s normal. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface.
- Knead the dough for about 3 to 4 minutes until it’s no longer sticky to the touch; it should be smooth and elastic. While kneading, sprinkle on a small handful of flour whenever the dough becomes sticky to the touch. Don’t be afraid to add some flour; I probably use between 1/2 and 3/4 cup while kneading. Shape the dough into a ball.
- Wash out the mixing bowl and dry it. Oil the bowl (I love to use a spray oil for ease) and place the ball of dough inside. Flip the dough around so it gets lightly coated in the oil. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the oven with the light on (or simply in a warm, draft-free area). Let the dough rise for 60 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the cinnamon sugar filling. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon and set aside.
- Make the pan sauce: In a small pot, melt 1/2 cup butter (you can use the unwashed pot from before). Remove half of the melted butter (eyeballing it is fine) and put it in another small bowl (this will be spread onto the rolled-out dough before adding the cinnamon sugar). With the scant 1/4 cup melted butter remaining in the pot, stir in the 2 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar until combined (this is the pan sauce). Pour the pan sauce into a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish and spread it out.
- After the first dough rise, re-flour your working surface and grab a rolling pin. Roll the dough into a large rectangle, approximately 20 by 14 inches.
- With a pastry brush, spread the remaining melted butter onto the dough, covering the entire surface. Sprinkle on all of the cinnamon sugar filling, leaving a 1/2 inch around the edges without any sugar.
- Grab the end of the dough (short side of rectangle) and roll it up, rolling as tightly as possible. Place it seam-side down once it’s rolled up. Use a serrated knife to slice 1 1/2 inch–thick rolls. You should have 10 to 12.
- Grab your cut rolls and place into the prepared pan, cut-side down, a few inches apart from one another. Cover the pan with plastic wrap, place into the oven with the light on, and allow them to rise for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting.
- After the second rise, remove the rolls from the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Remove the plastic wrap. Bake the rolls for 23 to 26 minutes at 350°F (180°C), until lightly golden in a few spots. Remove from oven and allow the rolls to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Frost the rolls with the cream cheese frosting. Slide a butter knife around each cinnamon roll and lift it out. (Alternatively, you can pop them out first and frost each roll individually.) Serve immediately and enjoy!
- If you have leftovers, you can wrap them up and chill them in the fridge for up to 48 hours. I like to reheat unfrosted rolls in the oven on a baking sheet for 5 minutes at 350°F (180°C). The oven returns them to their amazing gooey-soft state! Alternatively, you can freeze the cooled unfrosted rolls (wrap them in a layer of plastic wrap, followed by tinfoil) for a week or two. To reheat, simply unwrap and pop them frozen onto a baking sheet and into the oven for 10 to 12 minutes at 350°F (180°C) until warmed throughout. The edges get a bit crispy, and it’s oh so good!
Want cinnamon rolls prepped for breakfast the next day? Simply follow the recipe until you complete the second rise. Place the wrapped dish in the fridge overnight. In the morning, remove the dish from the fridge and let the rolls sit in the oven with the light on for about 20 minutes. After that, remove the dish from the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Remove the plastic wrap, and bake as directed. They can be prepped up to 18 hours in advance. Just be sure to cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap while in the fridge.
Nutrition Information(click to expand)
Keep your eyes peeled for a step-by-step cinnamon roll video coming soon! Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss it.
And as an aside, to anyone out there battling the bad flooding happening throughout Eastern Canada, our hearts go out to you!
Hi there, I am looking for new ideas for annual Christmas morning brunch.
These Cinnamon Rolls look perfect. My question is whether or not to do a
fridge rise overnight or not. Have you tried it and does it work if you have.
Hi Daisy, Oh so glad to hear you are considering this recipe! As for making it ahead, I recommend the following method:
“Want cinnamon rolls prepped for breakfast the next day? Simply follow the recipe until you complete the second rise. Place the wrapped dish in the fridge overnight. In the morning, remove the dish from the fridge and let the rolls sit in the oven with the light on for about 20 minutes. After that, remove the dish from the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Remove the plastic wrap, and bake as directed. They can be prepped up to 18 hours in advance. Just be sure to cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap while in the fridge.”
I haven’t tried doing a rise in the fridge but if you try anything I would love to hear how it goes. Wishing you a lovely Christmas!
I’ve tried different vegan cinnamon roll recipes. THIS recipe is beyond delicious! Reminded me so much of Cinnabon Brand the ones you find at the mall. These cinnamon rolls took more time and effort but extremely worth it. Thank you so much for creating & sharing this lovely recipe!
Aww thanks Brenda!! This makes me so happy to hear :)
Could I use a 1:1 ratio gluten free flour blend (that’s says they are 1:1) ?
I tried with bob’s gf pastry flour and it was delicious.
This was so delicious! It does take some planning to allow enough time for everything, but totally worth the wait! I don’t typically bake, so it seemed a bit intimidating, but really wasn’t too challenging. The detailed steps were perfect! ?
I’m glad the detail in the directions helped you!! I was on the fence as to whether to provide so much detail as it does make the recipe look intimidating, but I think it’s better not to be vague with these types of recipes especially. So happy you enjoyed them!
This recipe is fantastic! I love to cook but I’m not much of a baker; however, these have become an annual Christmas tradition and haven’t failed yet. Thanks and happy holidays :)
Merry belated Christmas Kevin! I’m so glad you enjoy this one so much
These cinnamon roles are so good! I am not a baker, but the instructions were easy to follow and I will definitely be making these for my family for the holidays!
Good morning! May I use the dough cycle in my bread maker? Thank you these look wonderful!
Hey Elizabeth, Oh that’s a great question…apologies in advance as I’m not sure of the answer! You might be able to follow a cinnamon roll bread machine recipe online as a general guide (while using my ingredients?). I’d love to hear how it goes if you try it out!
Hi! They look delicious. Thanks for the make-ahead option. I was wondering: can these buns be frozen before cooking?
Hi Véronique, Oh that’s such a good question. I haven’t tried it before so I’m not sure. I do know that the cooked buns freeze very well if that helps at all (I like to warm the thawed cooked buns in the oven).
I have made this many, many times, everyone loves it. Ohhhhhhh, rolls just amazing. Uh, even my daughter ate them (she doesn’t like sweet stuff) Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!
Wow, another great recipe!
To make it more nutritious, including lower the refined sugar and fat, I made these substitutions that worked:
1) for the dough, I substituted homemade date paste for granulated sugar, replaced 1/2 cup of white flour for 1/2 cup of spelt flour, and used unsweetened applesauce in place of the vegan butter.
2) for the filling, I substituted my homemade date paste (same quantity,) for the granulated sugar.
3) for the frosting.. to reduce the fat, I substituted half the vegan butter for apple butter, and used a smaller quantity of homemade date paste for the sugar.
Again, super great recipe that is much healthier for us all. Thanks for sharing it!
AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Even non-vegans who swear by butter in desserts can’t resist these amazing cinnamon buns! If you have the time to make them definitely do it they turned out beautiful and although it’S a process, it’s easy enough and they are SO good.
Would it be possible to make these gluten free?
These cinnamon rolls taste amazing!!! I love that they are so soft…. Delicious!
Possible to substitute monk fruit sweetener for the sugar in the recipe? Will it work to activate the yeast?
Hoping to make for Thanksgiving brunch!
Amazing recipe, just made these and they were so delish! Thank You for an excellent recipe. I love all of your recipes!
Wow. These are awesome! I left them them to rise a little longer both times just because I started making them early. We heated the frosting for 30 seconds at 50% power and we think that made it taste really good, like it wasn’t made with tofu (we used toffuti cream cheese and it tastes kinda weird by itself). Thanks for posting this recipe! I’ll have to check out the pumpkin spice rolls and the rest of your website.
These were so yummy! I definitely am keeping this recipe and will check out the pumpkin variation.
Hey there! I can’t find yeast and baking powered anywhere in the stores these days. I have all of the other ingredients note in your post. I do have lemon juice and baking soda. Do you think that would suffice for the yeast mixture? If so, How much would you suggest I use to make your cinnamon rolls?
Yay, yay, YAY! This will make me so happy to make this for my Stepmom and Mother-in-law for Mother’s Day care packages (will send minis the icing or overnight). These look fantastic!
Have made this recipe numerous times before and it turns out great every time, however I only have access to instant yeast right now. Could you provide instructions on how to use instant dry yeast rather than quick-rise instant dry yeast (would the ratio be the same? Do I still follow the water and sugar step?) or are they essentially the same thing?
Secondly, I only have soy milk on hand. Will this work in place of the almond milk?
These were such a great treat!! A lot of work but totally worth it when you get to eat the hot gooey cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven. The only change I made was using Active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, as it was all I had and yeast is hard to come by in these quarantimes. Thank you!!!
These are amazing! Lots of steps but it is absolutely worth it. My son doesn’t dish out too many compliments and said it’s the best he has ever tasted. The only ingredient I didn’t have was the vegan cream cheese, I added a little lemon as the icing was quite sweet. Very happy family members wanting seconds ?
SOOOOOOO GOOD!! I didn’t use the pan sauce and I made my own glaze (powdered sugar, almond milk, vegan butter and almond extract), but the rest was PERFECT. The perfect Sunday breakfast. Thank you, Angela!!!
Loved this recipe – I didn’t have vegan butter so I used grapeseed oil in the dough and coconut oil as part of the cinnamon sugar filling. Everyone loved them! :)
This recipe is absolutely wonderful! I didn’t know cinnamon rolls could be so delicious! Highly recommend!!! I’ll be making them for Christmas. :)
This is my go to cinnamon roll recipe! I just had to print another copy because over the years, I’ve spilled so much on the one I have. It is seriously so freaking good. I get loads of compliments on these.
I’ve made these every year for Christmas for a few years now- all of my family loves them, and they never believe me when I tell them that what they’re eating is vegan!
This is my go to cinnamon roll recipe, I’ve been using it for years. I absolutely LOVE it and so does anyone that tries them, vegan or not. My omni boyfriend is really big a fan of the frosting. Thank you so much for this gem of a recipe!!
These are the BEST cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had. Love this recipe!!!
Can I double this recipe and cut the dough in half after first rise, or should I make two separate batches?
This recipe was amazing! I’ve made a lot of cinnamon rolls, vegan and otherwise, and these were by far the best. The pan sauce makes them buttery and caramel-y and the make-ahead instructions were perfect. I put mine in a 9.5″ round glass pie pan, and I had some leftover dough, but I was able to fit 8 rolls nicely in the pan. Will definitely keep this recipe for another time!