Vegan cinnamon rolls are my go-to for any family get-togethers – they’re surprisingly easy to make and everyone loves them. I promise that even the most die hard butter lover will like these, and probably won’t even notice they’re plant based.
A lot of cinnamon rolls and other sweet buns and breads call for eggs, for a brioche style dough. I’ve been making bread since I was ten or so, and I promise that you can get a truly excellent texture and flavour without eggs. The key is to find the right balance of fat to flour to liquid, and then you don’t need eggs or butter.
If you’ve never made cinnamon rolls before, vegan or not, don’t worry! They are genuinely simple and I’ve added plenty of information, tips, and tricks to this post to make sure you get the best rolls you can. There’s also a video here that my friend Chiara made, of this recipe with added cocoa powder and extra spices in the filling.
Yes, there are several other plant based cinnamon roll recipes on OE already – Swedish cardamom buns, chocolate orange buns, pumpkin cinnamon rolls, and a cinnamon bun cake. I really like sweet bread. But there wasn’t a really good basic vegan cinnamon roll recipe, even though I make them all the time, so here we are.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Oil: if you want to avoid any slight coconut flavour, you can use refined oil or substitute a vegan butter you like. I recommend naturli in Europe and miyoko’s in North America.
- Sweetener: the maple syrup in the dough can be replaced with cane sugar if preferred. Brown sugar can be used in place of coconut sugar for the filling.
- Spelt flour: you can use all-purpose flour in place of the spelt, or a combination of the two. I don’t recommend using 100% whole grain flour for this recipe.
- Non-dairy milk: oat and nut milk are always great. Full-fat coconut milk from a can will make them a bit too dense and sort of pastry like, reducing the stretchiness usually found in a yeast dough. Rice milk is too thin; soya probably works but I’ve never tried it.
- Yeast: the type is not specified because it’s activated in any case. If you have instant yeast you can skip that step as long as you’re certain that your yeast is still active. The recipe specifies amounts for both fresh and dry yeast.
Step by Step
1. Make the dough: mix the ingredients in a large bowl, then knead until soft and smooth.
2. Rise: cover the dough and set aside to rise until doubled in size.
3. Roll out: use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a large rectangle.
4. Fill: add the layers of filling to the rolled out dough, covering evenly.
5. Roll up: starting from a short end, roll the dough into a tight spiral.
6. Cut into rounds: use a sharp knife or floss to cut into even rounds.
7. Transfer: move the rolls into a baking dish and set aside to rise again, covered.
8. Bake: bake until golden and bubbly, and serve warm.
My friend Chiara made a video of the process of making these rolls – you can watch that here on YouTube.
There are some things to consider when you’re making cinnamon rolls or any other bread. Temperature, humidity, and ingredient changes can all drastically affect the recipe, so please keep these in mind when you’re baking.
Yeast isn’t finicky, necessarily, but it doesn’t like temperature extremes. If you add it to very hot or boiling milk, it’ll die. If it’s been kept in a warm place for too long before using, it’s probably already dead. If you’re not sure how old your yeast is, test a bit of it in warm water before using it – if it doesn’t bloom, or expand, after about 15-20 minutes, you need new yeast.
If you’re not going with the overnight method, you need a fairly warm, draft-free spot for your dough to rise in. An oven with the light on, a shelf above the radiator, or on top of the fridge are all ideal places. It will still rise if it’s in a cool place, it just takes longer.
Humidity is mostly referring to the humidity within the container the dough rises in, though the external humidity can play a role too. Use a damp tea towel, plate, or waxed wrap to cover your dough and coat the dough in a bit of oil before it goes to prove (rise) the first time. If the top of the dough dries, it can harden, and constrain the dough from rising as much as it should.
How to Store
Storage: cinnamon rolls are best served the day they’re made, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days.
Freezing: place fully cooled rolls into an airtight container and freeze for up to a month. They will dry out slightly when frozen, but taste good when reheated slightly.
If you want to make these the day ahead, you can do a couple of things to slow the rise and bake them the following day. Since the rolls rise twice, either one of them can be done in the refrigerator to extend the process, since they’re much better fresh. I don’t recommend delaying the rise for both steps, just one or the other.
After kneading, the bowl with dough can be very well covered – I usually use beeswax wrap or a damp tea towel and a large plate – and refrigerated for 8-12 hours. After that time, it should be doubled in size the same way it would be after an hour in a warm spot.
Once the dough has risen in the fridge, you simply roll it out and follow the other instructions as written. It will come back to room temperature quickly and rise again once it’s rolled up into buns.
Alternatively, you can refrigerate the rolls in the dish you plan to bake them in, again for 8-12 hours. I like to brush the tops with a little oil or milk to keep them from drying, and then cover very well again with a damp tea towel or beeswax wrap.
They have to be brought back to room temperature before baking, though, which can take up to an hour, though it’s quicker if they’re in a warm place. If you try to bake straight out of the fridge they’ll barely rise in the oven.
Either method works well and can make things a bit easier for you if you want to serve the rolls for breakfast, for example. It also helps to develop the flavour a bit further and makes things taste a bit more interesting.
Hand Kneading vs Stand Mixer
In other words, do you really need to knead dough for several minutes. You sure do! My cookbook editor was really shocked by this the other day but it’s just something that’s needed for yeasted dough (unless it’s an overnight rise, as in this overnight spelt bread). If you’ve ever watched bake off, you’ll see that they knead for ages and ages – think of it as exercise that completely offsets the cinnamon rolls so you can eat as many as you like.
If, however, you have a stand mixer, it’ll do the work for you! I don’t have one anymore, and most people don’t, so the instructions in the recipe are for kneading by hand.
To use a stand mixer, you simply start the dough from the beginning in the mixer and then use the kneading attachment. The instructions are essentially the same, adding flour bit by bit, and kneading until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic. Use a lower setting, one or two, for this, and knead for about half the time.
- Test your yeast: if you’re not sure that your yeast is still active, test it in a bit of warm water before starting the recipe. Even if you follow the recipe fully, and bloom the yeast, it’s still a waste of milk and other ingredients if the yeast is no longer active.
- Keep yeast chilled: dry and fresh yeast should both be refrigerated for the best shelf life. If it gets warm, or the temperature changes frequently, the yeast won’t last as long.
- Don’t omit the salt: it might seem like salt shouldn’t be needed for a sweet bread, but the added salt helps gluten to develop properly in bread recipes.
- Keep flour to a minimum: when kneading, try not to add too much flour. The dough will be sticky at first, but will become smooth and soft through kneading, and adding too much extra flour will make the dough tough.
If you make these Vegan Cinnamon Rolls or any other bread recipes on Occasionally Eggs, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more OE, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, purchase the Occasionally Eggs cookbook, or subscribe for new posts via email.
Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
- 250 ml non-dairy milk*
- 60 grams coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- 2 ¼ teaspoons dry yeast 1/2 cube fresh
- 400-450 grams light spelt or AP flour
- neutral oil optional
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons softened coconut oil
- 50 grams coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 batch vegan labneh
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
For The Dough
- Add the milk to a small saucepan and heat over low-medium until just simmering. Take off the heat and stir the coconut oil and maple syrup.250 ml non-dairy milk*, 60 grams coconut oil, 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- Transfer the milk mixture to a large mixing bowl and check by touch to make sure it’s not too hot. Skin temperature or just warmer is good.
- Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and whisk to mix it in. Let this rest for 15 minutes, until foamy.2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
- Stir 150 grams (1 cup) of the flour, the cinnamon, and salt into the bowl with a wooden spoon. Add the remaining flour in 75 grams (1/2 cup) increments, until the dough becomes too difficult to stir by hand.400-450 grams light spelt or AP flour, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- Generously flour a smooth surface and tip the dough out onto it. Knead, adding flour as needed, until a soft smooth dough forms.
- Place the kneaded dough back into the mixing bowl, brush the top with a little neutral oil (optional), and cover with a large plate or damp tea towel. Set the bowl in a warm, draft free place for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.neutral oil
- Once the dough has risen, uncover it and gently punch down to deflate. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and sprinkle more flour over it. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a rough rectangle shape about 2 cm (1/2 inch) thick.
Filling and Rolling
- Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Mine is about 25 x 15 cm (10 x 6 inches) but anywhere in that range will work.
- Spread the softened coconut oil in an even layer over the dough, then cover with the coconut sugar and cinnamon.1 teaspoon cinnamon, 3 tablespoons softened coconut oil, 50 grams coconut sugar
- Roll the dough from the short end into a tight spiral, then gently pull any loose edges over to even out as needed. Flip the spiral so that the fold is facing down.
- Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Place the rolls into the prepared baking dish and cover with a damp tea towel. Set into a warm, draft free spot to rise again, about half an hour this time or until almost doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Once the rolls have fully risen, place them into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are golden. The centre should still be a bit soft when pressed with a finger.
- Cool for at least 15 minutes. Mix the labneh with maple syrup and ice the rolls, or use another icing you like.1 batch vegan labneh, 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- To store the rolls, cool fully and place them into an airtight container. Don’t ice them. They’ll keep for a couple of days at room temperature but are best fresh.
Overnight MethodTo make these rolls using an overnight method, either refrigerate overnight during the first rise (step 6) or the second (step 4). Make sure the cover the dish very well if using this method. If refrigerating for the second rise, bring the rolls back to room temperature before baking as instructed. * I usually use oat milk, but any thinner nut or grain milk will work. Don’t use full-fat coconut milk (see above for more substitutions). • If you see anything in the recipe that you’d like to sub, or seems confusing, please scroll up and read through the whole post – it’ll help.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.