Easy Vegan Cinnamon Rolls (Dairy-Free & Sugar-Free)

by Alena
Nov 26, 2019
woman in grey sweater holding a white plate with a vegan whole wheat cinnamon roll and pouring maple syrup over it
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Can you imagine a better smell filling your kitchen than some warm, fluffy and nutty vegan cinnamon rolls? During fall and winter, these healthy homemade treats are probably our favorite dessert.

But we don’t want to discriminate — we would give sweet cinnamon rolls a place on our plates no matter the season. Or do you call them cinnamon buns? You know what we mean! Anyway, a picture says more than a thousand words.

Cinnamon rolls are a classic fall treat all over the world. And we think we have found the key to the best-ever whole wheat and no sugar cinnamon rolls!

All the fluffiness and taste in a nourishing dessert – it sounds too good to be true. 

There’s nothing wrong with keeping your health in check even when it’s time for a sweet dessert. Following a whole food plant-based diet low in fat is the best way for us and countless other people to stay at a healthy weight and prevent chronic diseases.

Luckily, there are almost no downsides to this lifestyle – and it even includes tasty and easy desserts. We’re so excited to share our new favorite recipe with you!

Healthy Dairy-Free and Sugar-Free Treat

That’s true: our whole-food plant-based cinnamon buns might look like an indulgence but they are actually healthy for you. We used mainly whole wheat flour, no milk at all, no oil and just a tiny amount of maple syrup.

Does this mean they are sugar-free? It depends on your definition. The recipe doesn’t call for white or brown sugar, although you could replace the maple syrup with these other vegan sweeteners.

To your body, simple sugar is simple sugar. Maple syrup may come with some traces of minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron – but when following a healthy diet, you should not rely on sources like maple syrup to get your essential nutrients.

risen whole wheat dough in a bowl with a linen next to ingredients for cinnamon rolls

For a completely sugar-free baking recipe (plus a full rant on all things added sugar and ambiguous definitions) check out our healthy vegan banana bread post.

If you or your family are used to cinnamon rolls that are made with white flour, eggs, dairy milk, butter and lots of sugar – our healthy vegan recipe can seem like quite a bit of contrast. In this case, you can first replace the eggs, dairy milk and butter while still using white flour, some oil for the richness and enough sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth.

This recipe for vegan pumpkin cinnamon rolls by our friend Alexandra might be a good one to try if you’re new to vegan baking and not fully transitioned to a whole food plant-based diet.

We also adore these healthy cinnamon rolls by Roberta and the chai cinnamon rolls by Amanda!

whole wheat dough for cinnamon rolls on a surface with nut filling and cinnamon

The Best Ever Fluffy Whole Wheat Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

We make healthy taste great! Granted, there are a ton of beautiful and delicious vegan cinnamon buns out there already, but we aimed to use mainly whole wheat flour and a handful of easy to find and good-for-you ingredients.

After lots of test baking (not complaining here!), we came up with a version with the best balance of easy, soft, no sugar and no milk. Here’s why you’ll love them, too!

  • Easy to make with just 20 minutes hands-on time
  • Rich in fiber and warming spices
  • Sugar-free, dairy-free and still tasty
  • Fluffy and soft whole wheat vegan treat
  • Freshly baked holiday dessert option
  • Perfectly sweet and tender
  • Handy to bring with you and share with others

So far, we haven’t served these to anyone, kid or adult, who didn’t devour them. Our families are used to us making the whole food versions of common dishes, and if we were able to get them on board, we’re positive that your loved ones will like these whole wheat vegan cinnamon rolls, too.

woman placing raw cinnamon rolls next to each other in a baking dish

Making Homemade Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

Are you used to baking? Great, this will be a breeze for you. Truth be told, our kitchen skills are pretty basic and you won’t find fancy or elaborate recipes on our blog.

So, to anyone new to cooking or baking: this easy homemade cinnamon bun recipe is probably in your comfort zone.

First, you need a couple of key ingredients to make these the best fluffy and dairy-free cinnamon rolls!

  • Whole wheat flour – fiber-rich and chewy, baking up like a dream
  • Some all-purpose flour – keeping things a bit more fluffy
  • Dry active yeast – not the same as delicious cheesy nutritional yeast!
  • Cinnamon, chai or gingerbread spice – if you cannot decide, just go all in
  • Maple syrup – refined sugar or not, you want sweet cinnamon rolls
  • Nuts – for the ooey-gooey creamy cinnamon filling and healthy fats
  • Plant-based milk – we used soy but you can swap it for almond or oat

Now you have to get a large bowl and mix all the dry ingredients for the dough together before adding the water to activate the yeast.

cinnamon roll that's been cut by a fork on a white plate next to more cinnamon rolls in a baking dish

In general, the key to making a recipe with active yeast work is to use the right temperature of the liquid! If it’s too hot or too cold, the yeast won’t bloom when you add it. Just stick your finger into the water and if it has about the same temperature as your body, that’s perfect. If it’s a lot warmer, then let it cool slightly.

Then, you’re pretty much just one rise away from these tasty homemade vegan cinnamon rolls!

As for the nutty filling, we like to use either walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts. Sometimes just one type of nut, sometimes all of them combined! We personally think cinnamon nut rolls are even better than plain cinnamon buns.

And for a little fun tip: when cutting the roll into small pieces, use unflavored dental floss to slice through the dough. Yes, you got that right! It makes for a surprisingly nice and clean cut. We went for the more traditional sharp knife for our recipe, though.

vegan whole wheat ciannon roll on white plate with a fork in it next to a hand

Gluten-Free & More Cinnamon Roll Variations

Just using our basic cinnamon bun recipe, countless variations are easy to make. Do you follow a gluten-free diet? No problem: this recipe works with all-purpose gluten-free flour, too.

Is the sweetness too subtle? Double up the maple syrup – or just go for another sweetener if you don’t have that on hand.

If you’re allergic to a particular nut, just use another one or skip the nutty center altogether and use some apple sauce or pureed dates as a filling.

Here are some of our favorite variations

As for the plant-based milk, it’s totally up to you which one you want to go for! Soy just happens to be our favorite one (and it’s the most nutritious, too).

woman in grey sweater holding a white plate with a vegan cinnamon roll and pouring maple syrup over it

More Healthy Vegan Baking Recipes

But you came for the healthy and easy vegan cinnamon rolls recipe – so we certainly don’t want to keep you from filling your kitchen with that amazing baking smell any longer.

Let us know if you tried our recipe by rating it in the comments below or tagging us on Instagram! We’d love to see your creations. You can also Pin this recipe for later. Happy baking!

woman in grey sweater holding a white plate with a vegan whole wheat cinnamon roll and pouring maple syrup over it
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Easy Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

These easy and tasty vegan cinnamon rolls are sugar-free and dairy-free but still super tasty and sweet! No milk is required for the fluffy and soft texture of the best ever vegan cinnamon rolls. Homemade with whole wheat, they are a healthy treat perfect for fall or winter as well as during the holidays.
Prep Time50 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Vegan
Keyword: Holiday, oil-free, sugar-free, whole wheat
Servings: 9 rolls
Calories: 208kcal
Author: Alena @ nutriciously

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour (160 g)
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour (90 g)
  • 1 tbsp dry active yeast (instant)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅓ – ½ cup warm water (80-120 ml)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp chai or gingerbread spice (optional)

Cinnamon Nut Filling

  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ cup nuts of choice, ground (110 g)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ cup soy milk (120 ml)

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients for your dough. Add some of the warm water as well as the maple syrup and start mixing. Add as much water as you need to get a smooth, soft dough that’s not sticky.
  • Knead for a few minutes, then cover the bowl with a towel and let rest in a warm place for around half an hour.
  • Prepare the filling by heating up the soy milk in a small pot and then adding in the nuts, cinnamon and maple syrup. Stir with a spoon for a few minutes to create a homogenous texture, then set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 360 °F (180 °C).
  • Once the dough has risen, flour a flat surface and knead it by hand for about a minute, then roll it into a rectangular shape which should be as flat as one of your fingers (about ½ inch or 1.5 cm).
  • Gently spread your nut filling onto the dough surface, leaving a ½ inch border around the edges.
  • Now, roll the dough until you have one large and even roll. Try to be careful and consistent here.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into even pieces – they can be anything from ½ inch to 2 inches thick, depending on how you like it.
  • Put your cinnamon rolls horizontally on a non-stick baking sheet or pan. Bake for around 20 minutes until golden brown. Allow to slightly cool before taking the first bite! Serve with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

Notes

  • You can use any plant-based milk in this recipe.
  • For gluten-free vegan cinnamon rolls, just use all-purpose gluten-free flour.
  • The recipe works with white wheat or spelt flour as well.
  • To make the rolls sweeter, you can add more maple syrup or any other vegan sweetener but make sure to adjust the flour or water to get the right texture for the dough.
  • Keep covered at room temperature for a few days or in the fridge for around a week.
  • You can also prepare them in advance and even freeze them!
woman in grey vegan shirt with her hands on her hips looking to the left and smiling
Alena has been eating a plant-based diet for 6 years and is passionate about sharing her learnings in the fields of nutrition, wellbeing, and vegan ethics. She is the co-creator of nutriciously and loves music, reading, nature, traveling, yoga & good food. Alena received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy, and social work.
dark grey spotted bowl with a variety of vegetables next to small bottle of green smoothie isolated on light background

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1 thought on “Easy Vegan Cinnamon Rolls (Dairy-Free & Sugar-Free)”

  1. Hi! thank you for the recipe! These are so good I made them for my family but ate most of them myself. Didn’t change a thing and it was so easy.

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