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!
I have a couple of suggestions, but I have to start by saying I LOVE your cookbooks — I cook from your recipes at least twice weekly, and it’s not an exaggeration to say your books have completely transformed the way my family eats. Thank you for all the work you put into your books and into the blog!
A couple of suggestions:
First off, a few commenters have suggested using a mix of flours in order to healthy-up these cinnamon buns, and I would like to second this suggestion. I’ve been making cinnamon buns for many years, and substitute just over half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour (I use the PC Organics brand). The cinnamon buns are still light and fluffy, but in addition, they have a wonderful depth of flavour that is missing from baked goods made entirely with all-purpose flour. (For cookies and muffins, I use 100% whole wheat flour.)
And secondly (because your recent purchase of reusable produce bags makes me suspect you care about such things), I would just like to point out that it is unnecessary to use plastic wrap when making cinnamon buns (or other yeasted items). I use a damp tea towel (or sometimes a plate) to cover bowls when the dough is rising, as well as when the dough is resting on the counter in between steps. When I place my tray of buns into the oven for their last rise, I don’t cover them at all. And when I freeze my cinnamon buns (as I do with all my baking immediately after cooling), I don’t wrap them in anything — I simply place them in a freezer-safe container. I’ve never had an issue with quality and I feel it’s important (and completely do-able) to avoid the use of disposable products as much as possible.
This is looking an awesome recipe, I must try it in coming days.
Can i use whole wheat flour?
Hi Cat, I haven’t tried a full 1:1 swap myself, so I’m not sure. But, I do know a few readers have substituted whole wheat flour for half the amount of AP flour the recipe calls for, and they enjoyed the results. I hope this helps! And if you decide to experiment, please do let us know how it goes.
Thank you for another winning recipe!
I am traveling to Toronto next week and I wonder if you can recommend your favourite (or several) vegan restaurants in the GTA area.
Thanks for all that you do for so many, even with a young family!
Hi there Nancy, I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for taking the time to let me know, and for the warm words. It’s appreciated! :) Sorry I’m getting to this a bit too late to recommend a restaurant to you (though honestly, it’s been a long while since I’ve tried out any vegan places in Toronto, so I don’t know that I would have been much help!). Where did you end up eating? I hope you had a great trip.
Thanks for getting back to me. We ended up at Fresh on Spadina. It was within walking distance from my daughter’s apartment. The food was good and plentiful. And the poutine was amazing! We ended up finishing the meal with the chocolate fudge cake. I am glad I don’t live in Toronto as that could be really bad! In addition, they have a book with the listed ingredients for each recipe. Great for anyone with allergies.
As an aside, my brother who is an omnivore with celiac disease, came to visit and we were preparing meals from your cookbook. He ended up buying your cookbook because so many of your recipes were gf and he loved the way that your recipes incorporate whole foods.
My husband and I switched to plant based eating about 20 months ago and we discovered you right at the beginning of making the switch. You have shaped our eating to be whole food based, rather than eating mock foods. It has definitely been the way to go for us and we are so grateful to you for the ease, creativity and delicious recipes that you provide.
Happy Canada Day!
These are so wonderful! Well done :)
Wally Jay – http://wallyjay.blogspot.co.uk/
I love making cinnamon rolls from scratch. My biggest issue is how long it takes to make them. I always want to eat them 2 hours before they’re finished. I love that you show how to pre make these. The recipe looks amazing. The pictures look so tasty. I’m really excited to try these!
I agree, the waiting is the hardest part! Lol.
Looking good and tasting delicious, what a remarkable day in the life! hahah Thanks for this recipe, my whole family loved it!
So glad to hear it, Sean! Thanks for the comment :)
I never tried making any type of desserts before, but once I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it. I’m currently getting it all set up to start. Thank you for the recipe!!
Hope you enjoyed the end result, Diego!
I may be weird but I prefer cinnamon rolls without toppings.
Thanks for sharing your story. You go girl! The buns look great.
Looks absolutely gorgeous! You are such an inspiration, Angela!
The rolls look amazing.
Have you ever tried using dates to replace the sugar? I really can’t taste the difference.
Thanks for the great recipe.
Hey David, Do you mean date sugar? I think that could work nicely as a 1:1 swap for the sugar. As for using actual dates, it would take some experimenting since they would need to be blended into a paste, and the wet to dry ratio of the recipe would need some tweaking. :) If you try anything, please let us know!
These cinnamon rolls are beautiful and your pictures are making my mouth water. Thank you for this vegan alternative to this classic recipe.
I’ve only begun researching vegan recipes and moving my family in that direction. My son has IBD, so we’ve already begun diet changes. He is on a reduced lactose and gluten diet. Where do I find vegan butter? And my son cannot consume coconut oil or almonds. When I search for vegan butter options many are coconut oil based. Maybe I’m not looking in the right place. I would appreciate your guidance.
I just happened to read your comment, and I know that Earth Balance Spread does not have any coconut oil. Where I live (Toronto area) I’m able to find it in a lot of grocery stores (Fortinos, Longos, Loblaws stores) or if you’re not in Canada I’m sure a lot of grocery stores in the US carry Earth Balance as it is an American company! I hope this helps :)
Earth Balance makes a great vegan butter, not coconut oil based. The “original” one
Hey Chelsie, You can find vegan butter in the refrigerator of most grocery stores; it’s often with the dairy-free cheeses and milks. I would check the Earth Balance ingredient list…I can’t quite recall if theirs contains coconut oil or not. Good luck!
This recipe looks absolutely delicious! Thank you for all the inspiration.
Wow yes, I’ll take ALL OF THEM ROLLS thank you! These look absolutely delicious.
Now I can’t wait until the end of the day to go home and try making a batch!
Hey Vanessa, How did it go? I hope you had fun baking (and eating!). ;)
Oh my these look fantastic!! I can’t wait to try this recipe!!
You’re God Sent to all Vegans
Thank you so much for all of the delicious vegan recipes! You are truly inspiring.
The kids are begging me to get this cinnamon roll recipe on the go. I will make these while they are at school so they will be a surprise for them when they get home. I have marked your site as one of favourites. Thank you so much you are an inspiration. Regards Sammy
I’m sure they’ll love the surprise! And thanks so much for the warm words, Sammy. :)
I had twins 27 years ago
it gets easier and they are best friends
one day at a time
This looks amazing! I’ve been making a long fermented sourdough cinnamon bun since I was pregnant! I came up with it, because I needed a sweet treat and my midwife was adamant that sugar during pregnancy is just horrible! I haven’t even shared it on my blog….its just so good and feels like the most special thing I’ve ever created that’s actually good for me! I think I’ll make it a family secret recipe. hahaha
Awesome! These look sooo tasty!
OH YES! :-)
These sound absolutely delicious! I can’t wait to try them the next time I need to make a dessert :) Your website is fabulous. I’m a big fan! Thanks for sharing all these awesome recipes with us!
omg they look so good!!
Thank you for your great inspiration. Great pictures, great recipes. Greetings from Berlin
Well don’t these look like little mouthfuls of heaven! Can’t wait to try these!
This is an outstanding recipe! I made them last night at the request of my vegan daughter, and I think they might be the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had. Truly delicious!
These look AMAZING! So good. Will you be blogging again soon? I need more great recipes like this please x
Yummy, It looks delicious and beautiful. Last Sunday I made it on my baby b’day. All children and my party member really like it. And I have shared your recipes with a party member. Thanks to share this recipe and make my baby B’day special.
As someone with an egg allergy, I would love love love to try these!
Love your books, blog, and app. Have posted about your books on my reading blog, thought you might want to have a look. Thanks Angela!
Thanks so much for the shout-out, Joanne! :)
This looks amazing, so excited to try this!
Hi there! I came across your recipe while searching for foods I can eat while currently on a strict diet (due to BFing my baby who has sensitivies). From one busy momma to another, I wondered if this recipe could work in a bread machine? Thanks in advance!
Hey Megan, To be honest, I’m not sure as I haven’t tried it out. I would suggest searching online for “bread machine cinnamon rolls/buns” to see if others have tried it. If you try anything please let us know! Congrats on your baby, too!
OMG, Now I have to eat again. Looks amazing. I do lots of healthy fitness dessert recipes on my website and will definitely be trying out this one this weekend! YUM :)
Thank you for sharing,
Was wondering if this recipe can be halved and still come out OK?
Thanks in advance!
Hey Stacey, To be honest, I’m not sure as I haven’t tried it out. Sometimes it can be tricky when halving vegan baking recipes. If you try anything please let us know!
For vegan icings made with vegan butter, I would suggest adding a pinch of salt. This will help enriched the flavour of the icing and bring out the sweetness too, as the salt contrasts with the sweet taste. Dairy butter used in regular icing has some salt in it, and I’ve always found that this makes a difference, whereas Vegan Butters don’t contain salt and therefore you need to add some to get the same rich flavour in your vegan icings!
I am in transition to vegan eating. Trying to drag my 18yo daughter along with me..ha! These look yummy and can’t wait to bake them tomorrow! Has anyone used any other type of flour with this recipe and if so, what was the outcome? Thanks!
Hi Lynette, Thanks for your question! I haven’t tried a full 1:1 swap myself, so I’m not sure. But I believe a few readers have tried a combo of whole wheat or spelt flour and AP flour, and enjoyed the results. You may want to read through some of comments below to see more details about what others have tried—there are some super helpful tips in there. And if you decide to experiment, please do let us know how it goes! :)
These look delicious! If I wanted to make them ahead of time on a Wednesday night to bake and serve Thursday evening for a breakfast for dinner night with friends, what would be the best way to do that? I noticed it said refrigerating after the second rise for up to 18 hours would be okay, but this would be more than 18 hours. Could I potentially refrigerate the dough after the first rise on Wednesday night, then roll it out, put it all in the pan for the second rise Thursday morning before work, and then pop the risen pan in the fridge until that evening?
Hey Haley, Your breakfast-for-dinner get together sounds amazing! To be honest, my 18-hour timeframe is just an estimate, they may well work in the fridge beyond that. I’m just not positive. My guess is that they could be okay in the fridge for 24 hours (just wrap the pan tightly so they don’t dry out)? As for your other suggested method, I really can’t say because I haven’t tried it like that before. But maybe by searching online you could find someone who has done exactly that. If you try anything out please let us know!
This looks amazing!
Is there anything we can use to substitute vegan butter? Maybe applesauce? Would love to make it more plant based. Thanks!
Hi Anne, I know a few people have asked about trying coconut oil, and while I haven’t experimented with that sub myself yet, I can’t see why it might not work (be sure to measure it from solid, though). If you try anything out please let us know how it goes!
You’re going to make my wife very happy when I surprise her with these. We are new to the vegan/plant-based diet world, but she has been mentioning the things she’s not sure she can give up. These cinnamon rolls will hopefully be a big hit and one less thing she feels like she has to live without!
Oh, I hope she loves them, Benjamin!
These look yummy going to share and try making them.
Hope you enjoy them, Andy!
THE BEST cinnamon rolls everrr, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT VEGAN. Dough is very forgiving, rose beautifully, very fluffy and it just melts in your mouth. Such a treat ! Only difference is I cut down on the flour about a half cup or 50g !
I’ve got a family BBQ this weekend where I’m in charge of the sweets and this recipe is coming with me! Thanks!
Would whole wheat flour be ok for these? Wondering if anyone has tried it.
Yummy! Can’t wait to try these, I really love cinnamon rolls, and these being vegan makes it even better!
These look so delicious! One of my best friends is a vegan, and I think I’ll make these for her for breakfast on her birthday next week! I know we’ll both love them!!
So thoughtful of you, Gabby! I’m sure your friend will appreciate the birthday treat :)
I used a homemade vegan butter the first time I made these delicious rolls but made the dough a little too sour. Second time around I bought a plant-based butter but had to use gluten-free flour because of guests allergies. I used gluten-free buck wheat flour and it turned out good. The dough doesn’t stick too well (might have added too much flour during kneading) and they don’t rise as much. But the result of the taste was wonderful. Will definitely try them again with and without gluten-free /bought or homemade butter!
Thanks for an inspiring site.
Are these in the Every Day cookbook ??!!
I love a good cinnamon roll :)
There’s just something wonderful about freshly baked cinnamon rolls, isn’t there? This recipe isn’t in Oh She Glows Every Day, no; it’s available only on the blog and in the app.