by Olena

Healthy Cinnamon Rolls

by Olena

5 from 1 reviews

These Healthy Cinnamon Rolls are fluffy wholesome buns with healthy frosting and 4 times less sugar than Cinnabon.

Healthy Cinnamon Rolls

Healthy cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning, Thanksgiving or Easter brunch anyone? If I had to tell you about the hardest recipe I had to work on this year, a healthy cinnamon roll recipe would top the list.

10 times since March. 10 times I made cinnamon rolls. And each time different recipe.

But persistence pays off. I can finally share these relatively easy cinnamon buns with you! And may I call them the best in the world healthy Cinnabon buns? They are healthier than traditional cinnamon rolls. Are fluffy, moderately sweet and even with a frosting. Your kids will be happy! Mine are.

Healthy Cinnamon Rolls inside with cinnamon filling bite taken out

Ingredients You Will Need

  • All purpose + spelt flour or whole wheat flour
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Quick rising yeast
  • Cane sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Yogurt
  • Maple syrup

flour, sugar, butte, yeast, cinnamon, milk

How Are These Healthy?

  • I can tell you that I tried very hard to make healthy whole wheat cinnamon rolls. But I didn’t love the end result. I found a compromise in using half all purpose flour and half spelt or whole wheat flour.
  • I also tried very hard to use only honey or maple syrup as a sweetener. That didn’t go well either because the filling would completely leak out of the rolls.
  • At the end, I found a compromise for more wholesome with less sugar but yet fluffy and sweet cinnamon rolls. 4 times less sugar than their counterparts!!! Crazy!
  • I also think the key to “health” is to use good quality ingredients like organic flour, sugar and eggs.

I hope this helps with questions about substitutions. Let’s go over them anyways.

Healthy Cinnamon Rolls Substitutions

  • Flour: You can replace both flours with white whole wheat flour. Substitute spelt flour with whole wheat flour. And you have to use all-purpose flour. You can’t use only whole wheat or spelt flour because all my tests didn’t produce good results that way.
  • Milk: Any dairy milk works. I used 3.25%. Dairy free milk like almond milk works too. Rolls will be a bit less flavorful but you are probably used to that if you are asking.
  • Butter: Vegan butter or melted coconut oil is good.
  • Cane sugar and maple syrup: Substitute with coconut sugar. You can substitute sugar with liquid sweetener like honey or maple syrup ONLY in the dough. DO NOT make liquidy cinnamon filling. It will run out and you will be upset. I tried many times. You need sugar. Brown sugar is OK too.
  • Yogurt: Greek or plain yogurt with fat content 2% and higher works. Do not use 0% yogurt. You can use traditional cream cheese frosting if you want.

Healthy Cinnamon Roll frosted with yogurt frosting

How to Make Healthy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Don’t be intimidated if you don’t bake often. You can do it if you want homemade cinnamon rolls. It’s not hard. Just follow the recipe. Yeast dough doesn’t like a freefall.

I have a funny story. My mom can’t follow a recipe. She doesn’t bake. When I was a kid, she tried once. And gave up. We woke up in the morning to a kitchen floor covered in yeast dough. She threw it in the garbage the night before. Just follow the recipe and you will be fine.:)

1. Activate Yeast for the Dough

  • Warm up milk and butter on the stove until 109 degrees F or warm to the touch. If the milk is hot or above 120 degrees F let it cool down.
  • Add yeast, sugar, salt and whisk well. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Mixture should be foamy. If not, discard and start again.

2. Make the Dough

  • In a large bowl, add foamy milk and eggs. Whisk.
  • Add flour and stir with spatula until can’t any further.
  • Knead for about 5 minutes. You should end up with a ball of dough.

Alternatively you can use a stand mixer. I just don’t have one.

how to make Healthy Cinnamon Rolls dough step by step

3. Let Dough Rise 1st Time

  • Place the dough ball in the same bowl and cover with plastic wrap, lid or towel.
  • Place in a warm place like near a heat register, inside an oven with a bowl of boiled water or by the stove if you are cooking.
  • Let dough sit undisturbed for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

a bowl with dough sitting on a stool by the heater to rise

4. Make Cinnamon Sugar Filling

First melt the butter. Then in a small bowl, add sugar and cinnamon; stir.

5. Roll Out the Dough

  1. Flour the surface and a rolling pin with a bit of all purpose flour.
  2. Place risen dough on it.
  3. Using your hands, form a rectangle. Makes rolling out the dough later easier.
  4. Roll out into 12″ x 24″ rectangle. I literally use tape measurer.

how to roll Healthy Cinnamon Rolls

6. Add the Filling

Brush the butter leaving 1/4″ border all around and sprinkle the filling all over buttered part.

7. Form Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Starting at one long end, roll the dough as tightly as possible.
  2. Pinch the dough on all ends. Long and short.
  3. Use a tape measure and divide into 12 same size pieces. I recommend to measure to the center first and mark with a sharp knife. Then the center of the “new” log etc.
  4. Using very sharp knife or floss, cut the dough into 12 same size pieces.

how to form Healthy Cinnamon Rolls

8. Let Rise 2nd Time

  1. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Place cut cinnamon rolls in 4 rows, 3 per row.
  3. Cover with towel or plastic wrap.
  4. Let cinnamon rolls rise in same warm place for 30-60 minutes. Depends how warm is your room. Good indicator of proper rising is when rolls doubled in size and are touching each other.

how to let Healthy Cinnamon Rolls rise 2nd time

9. Bake

  1. In a small bowl, whisk remaining 1 egg with a splash of water to make an egg wash.
  2. Brush cinnamon rolls generously on top and sides.
  3. Bake in preheated 350 degrees F oven uncovered for 20 minutes.

Healthy cinnamon rolls are ready when:

  1. They look like cinnamon rolls. Haha.
  2. A bit crusty outside. Don’t over dry them.
  3. Puffed up more. Like almost doubled.
  4. Not very brown on top. Mine never do.

Baked Healthy Cinnamon Rolls

10. Make Yogurt Frosting

Remove rolls from the oven and while they are cooling down a bit, make the healthy icing. It’s optional but so good.

  1. In a medium bowl, add 1 cup thick Greek or plain yogurt, 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
  2. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Refrigerate if necessary. I recommend to add it not more than an hour before serving.
  4. That’s it. You can also make your favorite traditional cream cheese frosting. No problem.

Healthy Cinnamon Rolls yogurt frosting in a bowl

11. Serve and Be Proud of Yourself!

Drizzle the icing all over the rolls and then spread with a butter knife. I recommend to add it not more than an hour before serving.

FAQs and Troubleshooting

Can I use regular yeast?

No. This recipe is meant to be used with quick rise yeast. The difference is that it makes dough rise faster.

Milk mixture didn’t foam. Why?

If you added the yeast to warm milk and no visible changes happened after 20 minutes, here are the possible reasons why:

  1. Your yeast is old. Check the label for expiry date. Use fresh yeast. I always buy fresh just not to risk it.
  2. Milk was too hot. Temperature over 120 degrees F will kill yeast and nothing will happen.
  3. Milk was too cold. Not warm enough to activate the yeast.

In either case you have to restart. Good thing you are not that far ahead in the process.

More Healthy Desserts

Healthy Cinnamon Rolls in a baking tray missing a few

Print

Healthy Cinnamon Rolls

5 from 1 reviews

These Healthy Cinnamon Rolls are fluffy wholesome buns with healthy frosting and 4 times less sugar than Cinnabon.

  • Author: Olena of ifoodreal.com
  • Prep Time: 140 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
  • Yield: 12 cinnamon rolls 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American
Scale

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp quick rising yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups spelt or whole wheat flour

Cinnamon Filling

  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted

Yogurt Frosting

  • 1 cup Greek or plain yogurt, fat 2% +
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Make Dough

  1. Warm up milk and 2 tbsp butter on the stove until 109 degrees F or warm to the touch. If the milk is hot or above 120 degrees F let it cool down.
  2. Add yeast, 1 tbsp sugar, salt and whisk well. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Mixture should be foamy. If not, discard and start again.
  3. In a large bowl, add foamy milk and 2 eggs; whisk.
  4. Add flour and stir with spatula until can’t any further. Then knead for about 5 minutes. Alternatively you can use a stand mixer.
  5. Place a ball of dough into the same bowl, cover with plastic wrap, lid or towel. Put in a warm place like near a heat register, inside an oven with a bowl of boiled water or by the stove if you are cooking.
  6. Let dough sit undisturbed for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Make Cinnamon Sugar Filling

  1. Melt 2 tbsp butter.
  2. In a small bowl, add sugar and cinnamon; stir.

Form Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Flour the surface and a rolling pin with a bit of all purpose flour.
  2. Place risen dough on it. Using your hands, form a rectangle. Roll out into 12″ x 24″ rectangle.
  3. Brush the butter leaving 1/4″ border all around. Sprinkle the filling all over buttered part.
  4. Starting at one long end, roll the dough as tightly as possible. Pinch the dough on all ends. Long and short.
  5. Use a tape measure and divide into 12 same size pieces. I recommend to measure to the center first and mark with a sharp knife. Then the center of the “new” log etc. Using very sharp knife or floss, cut the dough into 12 same size pieces.

Bake

  1. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Place cut cinnamon rolls in 4 rows, 3 per row. Cover with towel or plastic wrap.
  3. Let cinnamon rolls rise in same warm place for 30-60 minutes. Depends how warm is your room. Good indicator of proper rising is when rolls doubled in size and are touching each other.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk remaining 1 egg with a splash of water to make an egg wash. Brush cinnamon rolls generously on top and sides. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
  6. Healthy cinnamon rolls are ready when they look like cinnamon rolls.

Make the Yogurt Frosting

  1. Remove healthy cinnamon rolls from the oven and while they are cooling down a bit, make the healthy icing. It’s optional but so good.
  2. In a medium bowl, add yogurt, maple syrup and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Refrigerate if necessary. I recommend to add it not more than an hour before serving.

Serve

Drizzle the frosting all over the rolls and then spread with a butter knife. I recommend to add it not more than an hour before serving.

Notes

  • As for the flour. You can use ALL white whole wheat flour. Substitute spelt flour with whole wheat flour. You can’t use all whole wheat or spelt flour because all my tests didn’t produce good results. You have to use all-purpose flour.
  • Any dairy milk works. I used 3.25%. Dairy free milk like almond milk works too. Rolls will be a bit less flavorful.
  • Vegan butter or coconut oil works.
  • Substitute cane sugar with coconut or brown sugar. You can substitute sugar with liquid sweetener like honey or maple syrup ONLY in the dough. DO NOT make liquidy cinnamon filling. It will run out and you will be upset. I tried many times. You need sugar.

 Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating in the comments.

olena osipov in the studio

Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys and a wife to Alex. And this is our healthy family recipes blog. I grew up in Ukraine on real food. As an adult, I tried many diets without results. Now for over 10 years, I cook quick and easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

What You Will Find Here

Healthy family recipes with simple ingredients. Many are inspired by my Ukrainian heritage. I share mostly dinner recipes because it just never ends... I’m obsessed with healthy freezer meals. And more than in love with my Instant Pot.

A Little More About Me

Originally from Ukraine, I now reside on magic Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada with my family. I started this blog in 2012 when I ended up at home with 2 small kids unemployed and a wee bit chubby.

5 comments on “Healthy Cinnamon Rolls

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  1. I made this recipe the night before baking them. I put them in the fridge, but they never rose a second time. After they were done baking they were still very dense. I should have maybe let them rise before putting them in the oven?

    1. Hi Celine. I’m sorry to hear that. I will take the blame I wasn’t clear in the instructions. Yes, you have to let them rise 2nd time after taking out of the fridge the next day and before baking. So sorry!!!

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