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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 (Gooey, Moist and Flavorful!)

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If you’ve been on the hunt for Healthy Cinnamon Rolls, you have come to the right place. This is the best ever ooey-gooey cinnamon roll recipe! Made with a few healthy swaps, these easy cinnamon rolls are lower in sugar and calories than traditional cinnamon rolls, and are a delicious recipe for breakfast or brunch, a holiday dessert, a special occasion, or a sweet treat with your tea or coffee anytime of the year!

top view of easy homemade healthy cinnamon rolls recipe with healthy icing

There is nothing more traditional or classic than a hot, freshly made batch of homemade cinnamon rolls. The gooey 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.

But while most bakery cinnamon rolls taste amazing, they are packed with refined carbs and sugar – making them delicious but not healthy enough to enjoy on a regular basis!

Which is why I created the best healthy cinnamon rolls recipe you’ll ever find – one that has all of the flavor of the traditional version, but has half the calories and sugar of the original recipe!

Latest Recipe Video!

These low calorie cinnamon rolls use a bunch of healthy swaps: whole wheat flour instead of refined flour, pumpkin puree to cut down on the amount of fat needed, and less sugar overall. While these are much healthier than the traditional version, they are fluffy, moist and super satisfying – and I guarantee your entire family will adore them!

👩🏽‍🍳 Why This Recipe Works

  • Healthier cinnamon rolls than the traditional version
  • Vegan option
  • Gluten free option
  • Made with whole grains
  • Super kid friendly
  • Easy to make
  • Best recipe for Christmas morning or any special occasion!

🥘 Ingredients

This recipe calls for simple ingredients easily found in your pantry or your local grocery store! See below for detailed instructions and nutrition information.

ingredients for homemade healthy cinnamon rolls recipe

For The Healthy Cinnamon Buns 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.
  • Vegetable Oil: Any vegetable oil like sunflower oil, coconut oil, canola / rapeseed oil would work. I haven’t tried it with olive oil but I imagine it would work as well.
  • Egg: 1 regular egg, or 1 flax egg (for a vegan option)
  • Pumpkin Puree: Allows you to use less butter in this recipe without losing any of the moisture! Make sure to use pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.
  • Vanilla Extract, Ground Cinnamon, Ground Nutmeg: For flavor and warm spice.
  • Sugar: You can use unpacked brown sugar, coconut sugar, or for low sugar cinnamon rolls – use stevia for a sugar-free option. I haven’t tried this recipe with maple syrup or honey but I would imagine both of those could also work.
  • Instant Yeast: 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: Gives this 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. I haven’t tried this recipe with a gluten-free flour like almond flour or gf oat flour, my guess it would still work but the texture of your rolls might be slightly different.

For The Delicious Filling

  • Sugar + Cinnamon: 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.
  • Butter: Optional, but helps the sugar cinnamon mixture stick to the dough.
  • Mix-Ins: Optional, but adds a nice texture and flavor. Feel free to try raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, pecans, walnuts or anything you like to add into your healthy cinnamon rolls!

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! You’ll need powdered sugar, milk (low-fat regular or plant-based milk), and vanilla bean paste.

🍽 Equipment

📖 Variations

  • Healthy Vegan Cinnamon Rolls: To make these cinnamon buns vegan, use almond milk, vegan butter, and swap egg for a flax egg, or for 3-4 tbsp more milk or pumpkin puree.
  • Try A Different Butter: Instead of spreading regular butter on the dough before rolling it up, try adding a spread of pumpkin or apple butter to the filling before sprinkling the dough with cinnamon (so the pumpkin or apple butter, then the cinnamon mixture, and then roll).
  • Low Cal Cinnamon Rolls: To reduce the calories even further in this recipe, use stevia to sweeten the rolls and omit the butter from the filling.
  • Add Citrus: Add about 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice to the glaze. It will give you a zesty orange flavor that is amazing.
  • Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls: Try a 1:1 gluten free baking flour, or gluten free oat flour to make these rolls gluten free.
  • Sugar Free Cinnamon Rolls: Replace the sugar in this recipe with stevia for a sugar free option!
  • Try A Different Icing: You can top these rolls with a traditional cream cheese icing for more decadence, a maple frosting, vanilla frosting, or even a 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).
side view of easy homemade healthy cinnamon rolls recipe with healthy icing

🍁 How Do You Make Healthy Cinnamon Rolls?

Making a healthy cinnamon roll recipe is actually easier than you might think! As far as how healthy the recipe becomes, that all depends on how close you want it to taste to the traditional version, vs. a less sweet version.

I think this recipe is the perfect balance between a healthy cinnamon roll that still tastes amazing! While these cinnamon rolls aren’t entirely healthy, they are MUCH healthier than classic recipes. They are made with ingredients that are okay to eat in moderation. Let’s talk about what makes them healthier.

  • Less Sugar: While regular cinnamon rolls are LOADED with tons of sugar in the rolls and icing, mine is much better. They do still have some sugar, but it’s not an overwhelming amount. Each roll has only 10 grams of sugar! We also used coconut sugar for a lower glycemic sugar option.
  • Whole Grains: Instead of using regular all-purpose flour, we use whole wheat flour instead. Whole wheat flour has fiber, protein, folate, manganese, copper, and selenium in it. It’s also higher in heart healthy fiber and keeps you fuller longer.
  • Low Calorie and Low Fat: Each one of these giant, low fat cinnamon rolls only has 230 calories and 7 grams of fat! So you can indulge without feeling guilty for eating a high-calorie treat. 

I guarantee, even with these healthy swaps, these will be the best cinnamon rolls you’ll ever make!

🔪 Instructions

Activate yeast: In a small bowl add warm milk, sugar and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it rise for 5 minutes.

yeast and milk mixed in a bowl

Mix the wet ingredients: 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.

wet ingredients mixed in a bowl

Add the dry ingredients: Add the flour and spices to the wet ingredients and stir until incorporated.

wet and dry ingredients mixed together in a bowl

Knead the flour mixture: Knead by hand or using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment for 3-5 minutes until you have an elastic and smooth dough.

dough for rolls on a cutting board

Form into a ball and place dough 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 buns in a bowl

Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface. With the help of a rolling pin, roll dough until you have a large rectangle – you’ll want it to be about a 14×16 inch rectangle.

rolled out dough for buns in a bowl

Add the filling: Spread the butter on top and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin spice. Roll the dough into a log shape and with a sharp knife (or serrated knife, or even a string of dental floss!), cut out 12 rolls.

dough cut into rolls

Let the rolls rise: Place the rolls into a 9×13 inch baking dish and cover again. Let them rise for 30 minutes, then preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

unbaked cut healthy cinnamon buns on a baking sheet

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

rolls baked in the oven

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

icing added to the tops of the rolls

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

single easy homemade healthy cinnamon rolls recipe on a white plate

❓Recipe FAQs

How Do You Store Cinnamon Rolls?

For best results, you will need to let the cinnamon rolls cool down completely. Once they have cooled all the way, place them inside of an airtight container. You can store them at room temperature for up to two days.

To extend their shelf life, you can also store them in the fridge. They will last up to 5 days in the fridge.

Before serving, I recommend tossing these healthy cinnamon rolls 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. 

Can You Freeze Cinnamon Rolls?

Yes, you can freeze these easy healthy cinnamon rolls!

To Freeze Before Baking: While you can freeze the rolls after they have fully baked, I have found they turn out better if you freeze them after the first rise, roll and cut. Then, when you’re ready to bake them, remove them from the freezer and let them thaw in the fridge overnight, then let them rise on the countertop for 1 hour before baking.

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. Thaw in the fridge overnight before serving. You can also defrost them in the microwave if you want them warm.

What if my cinnamon roll dough is too sticky?

If your dough seems a bit too sticky, add a little bit of flour – 1 spoonful at a time – until the dough comes to more of a tacky texture (where it pulls away from the mixing bowl easily but isn’t too dry). But be careful not to add too much flour as that will result in tough, dry buns!

Are cinnamon rolls unhealthy?

Unfortunately yes! For example, the classic Cinnabon cinnamon rolls have 880 calories each and 60 grams of sugar and 30 grams of fat. Our healthy cinnamon rolls recipe has 1/4 of the calories and fat, and 1/6 of the sugar – making it a much better option!

👨‍👩‍👧 How To Serve

I love serving these healthy homemade cinnamon rolls as part of a bigger breakfast or brunch spread that includes pancakes, oatmeal, breakfast potatoes, and smoothies! But you can enjoy them with a simple cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or just all on their own!

💭 Expert Tips

  • 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.
top view of easy homemade healthy cinnamon rolls recipe with healthy icing

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📋 Recipe Card

top view of easy homemade healthy cinnamon rolls recipe with healthy icing
Print Recipe
5 from 13 votes

Healthy Cinnamon Rolls

If you’ve been on the hunt for Healthy Cinnamon Rolls, you have come to the right place. This is the best ever ooey-gooey cinnamon roll recipe! Made with a few healthy swaps, these easy cinnamon rolls are lower in sugar and calories than traditional cinnamon rolls, and are a delicious recipe for breakfast or brunch, a holiday dessert, a special occasion, or a sweet treat with your tea or coffee anytime of the year!
Prep Time2 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time3 hrs
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 vegetable oil (Use any vegetable oil like sunflower, coconut oil or canola/rapeseed oil)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup pure pumpkin puree (110 grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup brown sugar (unpacked) or coconut sugar can also use powdered stevia (55 grams)
  • 2 tsp instant yeast (1 package)
  • cups whole wheat bread flour, sifted, divided (440 grams) Note – you'll need more for hands and work surface

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

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!

Video

https://youtu.be/WKMxYS1PnR8

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

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76 responses to “Healthy Cinnamon Rolls (Gooey, Moist and Flavorful!)”

    • 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!

  1. 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

  2. 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!

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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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!

  8. 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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