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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Healthy Cinnamon Rolls (Low-Calorie, Low-Sugar!)

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Introducing my healthy cinnamon rolls—great for breakfast, brunch, and special occasions! This easy recipe is low in sugar and calories, ideal for anyone seeking a healthier alternative to enjoy as a morning pick-me-up, healthy treat, or with tea and coffee. With my step-by-step instructions, and a few healthy swaps, I’ll show you exactly how to make these fluffy, gooey cinnamon rolls perfectly every time!

Healthy cinnamon rolls with low sugar icing, served on a large sheet of parchment paper.

If you’ve been on the hunt for healthy cinnamon rolls, you have come to the right place!

I’ve perfected a healthy cinnamon roll recipe that delivers all the classic flavors you love—ooey-gooey, perfectly sweet, and irresistibly fluffy—but with half the calories and sugar of traditional versions.

There is nothing quite like a hot, freshly made batch of homemade cinnamon rolls. The soft, fluffy texture of cinnamon buns, the perfectly balanced sweetness of the cinnamon sugar mixture, and the creamy icing make cinnamon rolls one of those treats that is pretty much irresistible.

However, if you’re trying to be more health conscious, they probably aren’t the best thing to consume on a regular basis. Given my love for all things sweet, I knew I had to come up with a solution! And I’m happy to say, these healthier cinnamon rolls are a real winner!

While it might seem daunting to make these buns from scratch, rest assured it is actually quite easy. I’ll take you through the process step-by-step, with helpful tips for smooth sailing.

There is so much to love about these low calorie cinnamon rolls! I have incorporated a bunch of healthy ingredient swaps in this recipe: whole wheat flour instead of refined flour, pumpkin puree instead of butter, and less sugar overall. The pumpkin puree cuts down on the amount of fat needed too!

While the classic Cinnabon cinnamon rolls have 880 calories each, 60 grams of sugar, 30 grams of fat, my healthy cinnamon rolls recipe has 1/4 of the calories and fat (about 200 calories and 7 grams of fat per roll), and 1/6 of the sugar – making it a much better option!

They are fluffy and moist on the inside and perfectly flaky on the outside. Every bite is super satisfying – and I guarantee your entire family will adore them! Even little kids and picky eaters won’t be able to tell the difference from traditional cinnamon rolls.

I will often whip up a batch of these healthy homemade cinnamon rolls whenever I am craving something comforting and delicious.

I’ve tested these rolls so many times, with different ingredient combinations and bake times, and the recipe here is the one that gave me the best results – but I’ve also provided substitution suggestions and variations below if you need to switch things up!

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🥘 Ingredients

My low-calorie cinnamon buns recipe calls for simple pantry staples like vanilla extract, sugar, and cinnamon and stands out for its use of pumpkin puree. Below I’ll break the needed ingredients down into categories for the dough, filling, and icing!

ingredients for homemade healthy cinnamon rolls recipe

For The Cinnamon Roll Dough

Milk: Either low fat milk or unsweetened almond milk (for a vegan option) would work. I haven’t tried this recipe with unsweetened coconut milk but I imagine that should work too.

Oil: Use any oil of choice, preferably with a neutral taste. I like to use coconut oil, avocado oil, or any organic vegetable oil.

Egg: To bind the ingredients together and improve overall texture, I use one regular egg. 

Pumpkin Puree: I use pumpkin puree as a secret hack – it allows me to use less butter in this recipe without losing any of the moisture! Make sure to use pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.

Spices: Vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg provide the best flavor and warmth. I love the aroma that these spices create as the cinnamon rolls bake!

Sugar: I typically use unpacked brown sugar or coconut sugar in this recipe. For even lower-sugar cinnamon rolls – you can substitute 1/3 of the sugar with stevia or monk fruit. I haven’t tried this healthy Cinnabon recipe with maple syrup or honey but I would imagine both of those could also work.

Instant Yeast: This is critical for helping the dough rise! You can also use active dry yeast, but your rolls will take longer to rise.

Whole Wheat Bread Flour: I prefer to give this low calorie cinnamon rolls recipe a boost in whole grains instead of using all purpose flour. I would guess that regular whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, or whole wheat pastry flour would also work.

For The Delicious Filling

Sugar & Spices: Any type of sugar will work! White sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar – they will all taste great. You can also use powdered stevia for a sugar-free option. I mix the sugar with cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice for additional depth and flavor. The pumpkin pie spice is optional, so if you can’t find it, you can use a combination of cinnamon with a pinch of nutmeg and ground cloves for a similar result.

Butter: The butter is optional here but it helps the sugar cinnamon mixture stick to the dough.

For The Healthy Cinnamon Roll Icing

Instead of the high calorie traditional cream cheese frosting typically used with cinnamon buns, this healthy icing needs just 3 ingredients! I use powdered sugar, milk (low-fat regular or plant-based milk), and vanilla bean paste.

🔪 How To Make Healthy Cinnamon Rolls

Making my healthy cinnamon roll recipe is a lot easier than you might think! Follow my simple instructions below and quickly master the art of making this delicious pastry.

Activate Yeast: To prepare for this recipe, I start by adding warm milk, sugar, and sprinkle the yeast on top to a small bowl. Let it rise for 5 minutes.

Yeast and milk mixed in a bowl.

Mix Wet Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl I combine the oil, egg, vanilla, and pumpkin puree, mixing until smooth and well combined. Then, I pour in the milk with yeast and stir until combined.

Wet ingredients mixed in a bowl.

Add Dry Ingredients: Now, I add the flour and spices to the wet ingredients and stir until incorporated.

Wet and dry ingredients mixed together in a bowl.

Knead Flour Mixture: I usually either knead the flour mix by hand or use a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment for 3-5 minutes. You want to have an elastic and smooth dough.

Kneaded cinnamon roll dough on a cutting board.

Let Dough Rise: Next, I form the dough into a ball and place it into a lightly greased large bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for 1 – 2 hours in a warm place until doubled in size.

Risen dough for healthy cinnamon buns in a bowl.

Roll Dough: Once doubled in size, I transfer the dough onto a floured work surface. With the help of a rolling pin, I roll the dough until I have a large rectangle – about a 14×16 inch rectangle.

Rolled out dough for cinnamon buns on a countertop.

Add Filling, Slice Into Rolls: The next step is to spread the butter on top and sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin spice. Roll the dough into a log shape and cut out 12 rolls. I prefer to use a sharp knife, but any serrated knife, or even a string of dental floss, will work!

Cinnamon roll dough cut into rolls on a white countertop.

Let The Rolls Rise: Place the rolls into a 9×13 inch baking dish and cover again. I like to let them rise for 30 minutes, while the oven preheats to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Unbaked cut healthy cinnamon buns on a baking sheet.

Bake: Take these low fat cinnamon rolls to the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown on top.

Cinnamon rolls on a baking sheet, fresh out of the oven.

Glaze And Serve: To make the glaze I mix the icing sugar with milk and vanilla. Top the cinnamon roll with glaze.

Icing added to the tops of the rolls with a spoon.

Let the glaze cool over the rolls for 2-3 minutes, then serve!

Healthy low calorie cinnamon roll served on a white plate.

My #1 Secret Tip for this healthy cinnamon bun recipe is to make sure you spoon and level your flour into your measuring cup.

Instead of just scooping out the flour with your measuring cup, it is important to be more precise with measurements, so you don’t end up with too much flour. Also, don’t forget to sift it as you’re adding it to the mixing bowl.

Doing these two things will ensure you have a light and fluffy roll. Adding too much flour to the cinnamon rolls will cause them to be dense, tough, and not nearly as light and airy.

Other Tips To Keep In Mind:

  • Use bread flour in the recipe. The higher protein content in bread flour helps to achieve softer cinnamon rolls. 
  • Do not overheat your milk. The milk should be warm, as hot milk will kill the yeast and the dough won’t rise properly.
  • You can make the cinnamon rolls overnight. After placing the rolls into a pan, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. On the next day leave them on a countertop for 30 minutes before baking.
  • Do not overwork the dough. Once all the ingredients are incorporated, you don’t need to over-knead it. Overworking the dough leads to a stiff, hard roll that’s not too appealing. 
  • To seal the rolled up dough before cutting them into individual rolls, pinch the free end – and if you need to, you can brush the edge with water before pinching to seal.

📖 Variations 

Here are a few of my favorite ways to change these low-sugar cinnamon rolls slightly, by adding in different flavors or accommodating different dietary needs!

Different Spreads: Instead of spreading regular butter on the dough before rolling it up, try adding a spread of pumpkin or apple butter to the filling as a 1:1 substitution.

Add Citrus: Add about 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice to the glaze. It will give you a zesty orange flavor that is amazing.

Try A Different Icing: You can top these rolls with a traditional cream cheese icing for more decadence. I also like to play around with maple frosting, vanilla frosting, or even vegan cream cheese icing! You can also make a Greek yogurt icing by combining plain Greek yogurt, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and a tablespoon or two of coconut flour (if needed, to bind the frosting).

Mix-Ins: Feel free to try raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, pecans, walnuts or anything you like to add into your healthy cinnamon rolls! 

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls: To make these cinnamon buns vegan, use almond milk as a 1:1 substitution for regular milk, vegan butter as a 1:1 substitution, and swap egg for either 1 flax egg (3 tbsp water mixed with 1 tbsp ground flaxseed), for 3-4 tbsp more milk, or 1/4 cup pumpkin puree.

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls: Try a 1:1 gluten free baking flour, or gluten free oat flour to make this healthy cinnamon rolls recipe gluten free.

Sugar Free Option: Replace all of the sugar in this recipe with stevia or monk fruit as a 1:1 substitution (adjust to taste though, as both stevia and monk fruit are sweeter than regular sugar).

Healthy cinnamon rolls with low sugar icing, served on a piece of parchment paper.

🍽 Serving Suggestions

I love serving these homemade healthy cinnamon rolls as part of a bigger breakfast or brunch spread, or sometimes I’ll just enjoy them on their own! Here are some of my favorite pairings:

Warm Beverages: There is nothing more comforting than a warm drink and a gooey cinnamon roll! Try out my oat milk hot chocolate or lavender latte.

Other Breakfast Items: For a full breakfast or brunch spread, I love to serve these rolls alongside oat flour pancakes, crispy fried potatoes and onions, and breakfast fruit salad.

🫙 Storing And Reheating

Refrigerator: Once cooled completely, I place the cinnamon rolls inside of an airtight container and store them at room temperature for up to two days. If I need to extend their shelf life, I’ll place them in the fridge for up to 5 days!

Freezer: I love to freeze these easy healthy cinnamon rolls to have on hand! There are two methods I’ll typically use when freezing these rolls:

1) To Freeze Before Baking: After following the instructions for the first rise, roll, and cut, you can easily store these in a freezer-safe container until you’re ready to bake them.

2) To Freeze After Baking: Let the rolls cool completely. Then wrap each one in plastic wrap and put them in a freezer-safe bag or container. They will last up to 2 months in the freezer. 

Reheating: Before serving from the fridge, I recommend tossing these healthy cinnamon buns in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, or warming them in the toaster oven on low heat for a couple of minutes. That will help them to become warm and gooey just like they were when they came out of the oven. If they have been frozen after baking, let them thaw in the fridge overnight, then warm in the toaster oven or regular oven at 350 degrees until warmed through. If frozen before baking, they’ll need to thaw in the fridge overnight, then rise on the countertop for one hour, and then you can follow my baking instructions in this recipe.

❓Recipe FAQs

What if my cinnamon roll dough is too sticky?

Sticky dough may not be a bad thing as that leads to fluffier cinnamon rolls! You want it to be a little bit sticky, but if your dough seems a bit too sticky, add a small amount of flour, one spoonful at a time. The dough should become more of a tacky texture where it pulls away from the mixing bowl but isn’t too dry. Be careful not to add too much flour as that will result in tough, dry buns!

Why is my dough not rising?

Make sure to not overheat your milk! The milk should be warm but not hot. If the temperature of the milk is too high, it will kill the yeast and the dough will not rise. Alternatively, if the milk is too cold it will also not activate!

WHY ARE MY CINNAMON ROLLS BAKING UNEVENLY?

It is important to cut the rolled dough very evenly into individual rolls. This can be a challenging step, so ensure that you use a sharp knife for a clean, effective cut! If the rolls are cut unevenly, they may bake at different rates, resulting in some being undercooked while others are overcooked.

Do I need to proof my yeast?

Nope! My recipe uses instant yeast, so you don’t really need to proof it before adding it to the recipe. But you can proof it just to check if it’s still active, if it’s older instant yeast that you haven’t used in a while.

Healthy low calorie cinnamon rolls with low sugar icing, served on a large sheet of parchment paper.

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🎥 Watch How to Make It

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Healthy cinnamon rolls with low sugar icing, served on a large sheet of parchment paper.
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5 from 31 votes

Healthy Cinnamon Rolls

My healthy cinnamon rolls are great for breakfast, brunch, and special occasions! This easy recipe is low in sugar and calories, ideal for anyone seeking a healthier alternative to enjoy as a breakfast, brunch treat, or with tea and coffee. With my easy, step-by-step instructions, I’ll show you exactly how to make these fluffy, gooey cinnamon rolls perfectly every time!
Prep Time2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time3 hours
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Calorie, Low Fat, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 12 cinnamon rolls
Calories: 232kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

For The Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk or lowfat milk, warm (118 ml)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar (unpacked) or coconut sugar can also use powdered stevia (55 grams)
  • 2 tsp instant yeast (1 package)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (Use any vegetable oil like sunflower, coconut oil or canola/rapeseed oil)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • ½ cup pure pumpkin puree (110 grams)
  • cups whole wheat bread flour, sifted, divided (440 grams) Note – you'll need more for hands and work surface
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg

For The Filling

  • ¼ cup butter, softened at room temperature (60 grams)
  • ½ cup coconut sugar or brown sugar, unpacked can also use powdered stevia (100 grams)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice optional
  • 2 tbsp raisins, dried cherries, walnuts, pecans, or dried cranberries optional

Glaze/Icing (Optional)

  • 2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk or lowfat milk
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar (30 grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
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Instructions

  • In a small bowl add warm milk, sugar and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it rise for 5minutes.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the oil, egg, vanilla, pumpkin puree and mix until smooth and well combined.
  • Pour in the milk with yeast and stir until combined.
  • Add the flour and spices and stir until incorporated.
  • Knead by hand or using a mixer for 3-5 minutes until you have an elastic and smooth dough.
  • Form into a ball and transfer to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for 1 – 2 hours until doubled in size.
  • Transfer the dough onto a floured surface. With the help of a rolling pin, roll out the dough until you have a 14×16-inch rectangle.
  • Spread the butter on top and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin spice. Roll the dough into a log and with a knife cut out 12 rolls.
  • Place the rolls into a 9×13 inch baking pan and cover again. Let them rise for 30 minutes, then preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Take the rolls to the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown on top.
  • To make the glaze, mix the icing sugar with milk and vanilla. Top the cinnamon roll with glaze and enjoy!

Notes

  • Do not overheat your milk. The milk should be warm, as hot milk will kill the yeast and the dough will not rise.
  • Use bread flour in the recipe. The higher protein content in bread flour helps to achieve softer cinnamon rolls. 
  • If you want to freeze the rolls, they should be frozen after the first rise, roll and cut. When you are ready to bake, let them on a countertop for 1 hour before baking.
  • You can make the cinnamon rolls overnight. After placing the rolls into a pan, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. On the next day leave them on a countertop for 30 minutes before baking.
  • Make sure to spoon and level your flour into your measuring cup (versus scooping out the flour with your measuring cup) and don’t forget to sift it! Doing these two things will ensure you have a light and fluffy roll vs. a dense roll. Be sure not to add too much flour to the cinnamon rolls. If you add too much, they are going to be denser and not as fluffy. 
  • When making cinnamon rolls, it’s important not to overwork the dough. Once all the ingredients are incorporated, you don’t need to over-knead it. Overworking the dough leads to a stiff, hard roll that’s not too appealing. 
  • To seal the rolled up dough before cutting them into individual rolls, pinch the free end – and if you need to, you can brush the edge with water before pinching to seal.
  • If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice you can use a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove for a similar result.
  • For a vegan version, substitute your favorite non-dairy milk for the regular milk, use a flax egg or a vegan egg substitute, and use vegan butter or coconut oil for the butter.
  • Nutritional information calculated using lowfat milk, coconut sugar and walnuts as the optional add in.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cinnamon roll | Calories: 232kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 67mg | Potassium: 205mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g

90 responses to “Healthy Cinnamon Rolls (Low-Calorie, Low-Sugar!)”

  1. I followed the overnight instructions which meant I could have beautiful, freshly baked cinnamon rolls for brunch without having to do any dishes! I loved the flavour and warm colour that the pumpkin puree added to the dough. (I didn’t have pumpkin spice, so I used cinnamon with a pinch of nutmeg and clove as suggested, and it worked like a charm!) Thank you so much for this recipe!5 stars

  2. Loved your recipe and the delicious filling and glaze too. Perfect recipe for a Tea time treat or a Breakfast option too. Cinnamon flavor is yummy too.5 stars

  3. The low-calorie and low-sugar recipe still delivered on flavor and texture. I appreciated being able to indulge in a guilt-free treat.5 stars

  4. These Cinnamon Rolls are absolutely AMAZING!! I used Bob Mills Stone Ground Whole-Wheat Flour, 2 Flax Eggs and added Cardamom to my homemade Pumpkin Spice Mix. I coated each Cinnamon Roll with warm Coconut Cream just before baking for 20 minutes. The sweetness level is just right. This will become my go to for Cinnamon Rolls.5 stars

  5. Only had regular whole wheat flour and active dry yeast, so made do with what I had. Let the yeast bloom longer (about the time it took to be ready for it when baking with a kindergartener,) and kneaded the dough a bit longer to try and develop the gluten yet not overdo it. I think I succeeded. I also used half coconut sugar and half brown sugar.

    They just came out of the oven and the hubby who hates all things pumpkin and winter squash couldn’t detect the “secret ingredient.” While they are noticeably less most than the less healthy version we have been buying at the grocery store bakery, they are as fluffy as advertised. Will play around with baking time and the glaze, which I may have left too thick since I didn’t measure the liquid I added.

    While these won’t fool the average person who is used to the full fat, refined flour version and likes the amount of sugar in the “regular version,” I preferred the sweetness level in this recipe, and don’t mind the slight difference in texture. We are going to enjoy finishing these off!5 stars

  6. Hi! Does the pumpkin flavor overpower the cinnamon flavor? Just wondering how much you notice the pumpkin flavor since I have a picky eater haha! Thank you!

    • Hi Emma! Great question! I don’t think the pumpkin flavor overpowers the cinnamon flavor – I think it adds a very subtle sweetness to the dough, but it’s mainly used as a substitution for oil / butter in the dough to make this recipe healthier. The other flavors – the cinnamon + the icing seem to mask it! Hope that helps and I hope your picky eater likes this recipe! 🙂

  7. hello! i would love to try these for my family but i was wondering if there is a substitute for the pumpkin puree as i cant find it in any near grocery stores

    • Hi Fatema! I haven’t tested this recipe with anything other than pumpkin puree, so I can’t be 100% sure that a substitution will work, but you can try mashed bananas or unsweetened applesauce as it has a similar consistency and might work! Hope that helps!

    • Hi Linda! I think theoretically it should work! I haven’t used that specific flour before, so it might change the texture of the cinnamon rolls slightly, but I think it should probably still taste pretty good. If you do try it with that flour, let me know how it turns out!

  8. I absolutely love these! Love the healthier spin, and they don’t skimp out on flavor at all. Such a nice treat without having to deal with the guilt 😉5 stars

  9. I make this recepie the dough is hard at the end of the mixing it process.. the kneeding part was hard. I did for 3 min and the dough didn’t turnelastic .
    Ilet it raises not too much changes . What I can do to make the dough manegable… More oil?

    • Hi Gloria! Hmm that is strange! Typically, if the dough contains too much flour, or if the dough has been overmixed, the result will be a dry, tough dough that’s hard to work with. So you could try adding less flour, or mixing it for less time. You want the dough to be tacky, but not sticky, to the touch. Hope that helps!

  10. Absolutely divine recipe for cinnamon rolls. Soft, gooey and plenty of amazing cinnamon flavor:) Definitely making these again!5 stars

  11. Yum! Gooey cinnamon rolls are the best (really the only way they should be)! And chili season is coming up, yes chili and cinnamon rolls if you have never tried the two together you should!5 stars

  12. I love the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls and I love the idea of adding pumpkin to these rolls! Can’t wait to make these delicious cinnamon rolls.5 stars

  13. We are never tried of cinnamon rolls, and your new recipe is worth trying! 🙂 I love your detailed explanations, and I hope to succeed with baking this weekend.5 stars

  14. Hi anjali! Is the oil necessary? As i am trying to keep it low fat as possbible, I was wondering if maybe apple sauce or greek yogurt would work as a substitute? and The carb count is impressively low…How in the world?!

    • Hi Shweta! You could try replacing the oil with applesauce, but honestly the amount of fat in this recipe is already super low (1.5g) and I’m worried that with zero fat it will lose some of it’s yummy texture and flavor. I’d say go ahead and give it a try, but if it doesn’t turn out well – then make another batch with the oil and it will taste a lot better. Hope that helps! Good luck!

  15. Hi Anjali,

    theses cinnamon buns looks so welcoming and divine. I did try these out over the week , the kitchen smelt heavenly with the spicy aroma, buns were soft and gooey (maybe too gooey), tasted really nice expect it was it went abit hard (not too sure what went wrong) could it be me being too generous with the maple syrup that could have caused them to get hard….so I tried them again following your recipe to point and the same thing happened. 🙁

    • Hi Charm! So sorry to hear these didn’t turn out perfectly for you! I’m confused though, you said the buns were soft & gooey but then you also said they were hard? One thing to try is to try baking them for a little less time – it’s possible your oven gets hotter than mine and so it overbaked the rolls. Hope that helps!

      • hi Anjali,

        thank you for the feedback ,sorry bout the confusing , when i took them out the oven the buns were still very warm and soft but after cooling off completely there turned out abit hard ,well more stiff and dry ( hope this makes sense)

        you might b right it could be my oven settings and I could have rolled out the dough too thin. I did take a pic of the final product and looked at it again , mine are much browner compared to yours in the pic . Well I am gonna try these again .

      • Ah I see, that makes sense. Yes I’d recommend less baking time and maybe not rolling the dough out so much. Let me know how they turn out the next time!

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