In this post we’ll show you how to make tall, fluffy, and gooey whole wheat cinnamon rolls. This Recipe will make 9 large cinnamon rolls or 12 smaller ones.
Although we have been making homemade whole wheat cinnamon rolls for many years, we haven’t really had a go-to recipe until now. We finally got our act together and created the perfect whole wheat cinnamon roll recipe.
What's Cool About This Recipe
- Tall, soft and fluffy: Unlike other whole wheat cinnamon rolls that are dense, dry and short. These are tall, extra fluffy and soft, thanks to a very soft dough.
- Ooey gooey: The butter and sugar paired with the heavy cream make the filling ooey gooey and gives it that caramel like texture.
- 100% whole grain: We use 100% whole wheat flour, we like using fresh ground hard white wheat flour.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Whole wheat flour: We use and recommend whole wheat flour milled from hard white wheat.
- Yeast: Active dry yeast or instant yeast work well in this recipe.
- Cinnamon: This is used in the filling of the cinnamon rolls
- Salt: Just a little to go in the dough.
- Brown sugar: Brown sugar gives the filing a caramely taste and texture. We use organic brown sugar.
- Sugar: This goes in the cinnamon roll dough, we use organic cane sugar.
- Vanilla: We put vanilla extract in the dough and in the filling.
- Milk: We use whole milk, it gives the dough softness and flavor.
- Heavy cream: This is poured over the cinnamon rolls just before baking and makes the filling more gooey and the cinnamon rolls more soft and moist.
- Butter: Used in the filling and the dough.
- Egg: Used to give the dough softness.
See recipe card for quantities.
- You can sprinkle the dough with add-ins before rolling up, such as: chocolate chips, shredded coconut, chopped nuts or raisins.
Overview of instructions with photos. See recipe card for quantities and full instructions.
Step 1: Heat the milk to 100-110°F. Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the milk, let sit for 5-10 minutes to activate, it should be foamy/bubbly.
Step 2: To the bowl of a stand mixer, add the yeast mixture, melted butter, egg, vanilla extract, salt and about 2 cups of flour. Attach the dough hook and mix on medium/high speed until smooth.
Step 3: Add enough flour to form a very soft dough, knead on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes.
Step 4: Place the dough into an oiled bowl or container, cover and let rise until doubled in size.
Step 5: Make the filling: In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, softened butter, cinnamon and vanilla extract.
Step 6: Punch down the dough, turn out onto a lightly oiled surface. Roll with a rolling pin or press with your hands to form a 10x14 inch rectangle.
Step 7: Place little spoonfuls of the filling evenly over the dough, this makes it easier to spread out.
Step 8: Spread the filling evenly over the dough. Sprinkle any add-ins over the dough, if using.
Step 9: Roll up the dough, starting on the long edge. Cut into 9 equal pieces (they should be about 1½ inch pieces).
Step 10: Place the rolls into a greased 9x9 inch baking dish. Cover and let rise until doubled in size. Preheat the oven about half way through the rise time.
Step 11: Pour room temperature heavy cream over the top of each roll.
Step 12: Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Frost if desired, we like to use this sour cream icing or cream cheese frosting.
We like to serve cinnamon rolls for breakfast on special occasions. Some other serving ideas are:
- With hot coffee or tea
- For dessert
- With brunch
Store cinnamon rolls covered tightly at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the refrigerator for 5-6 days.
Reheat in the microwave or in the oven on a low setting until warmed through.
Tip: If you are making these ahead of time, and are going to put icing on top, we recommend waiting until serving to add the icing.
How to Freeze
To freeze cinnamon rolls without icing, wrap individual rolls or all the rolls together in a few layers of plastic wrap, place into a freezer safe bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months.
To freeze cinnamon rolls with icing, place the rolls in the freezer for 1-2 hours or until firm. Then follow the instructions above.
How to thaw, unwrap the cinnamon rolls and cover loosely. Thaw at room temperature, in the refrigerator, or in the oven at a low temperature.
Tips From Our Kitchen
The dough for these cinnamon rolls needs to be quite soft. You don’t want it to pull completely away from the sides of the bowl.
If you prefer shorter cinnamon rolls, then cut into 12 pieces and bake in a 13x9 inch baking dish. The baking time will need to be reduced.
Only add just enough flour to form a very soft and sticky dough. If you use too much flour the cinnamon rolls won’t rise very well, thus they won’t be soft and fluffy.
Because the dough for these whole wheat cinnamon rolls is so soft, it is really hard to work with before it has a chance to rise. Letting the dough rise twice (once before rolling out and once in the pan) also makes them more fluffy.
Dry homemade cinnamon rolls are generally from over baking, or too much flour in the dough.
Homemade Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls
For the dough
- 1 cup (240 grams) Whole milk
- 3 tablespoons (39 grams) Organic cane sugar
- 2 teaspoons Active dry yeast or instant
- 4 tablespoons (52 grams) Butter, melted
- 1 large Egg
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 2¾ cups (352 grams) Hard white wheat flour
For the filling
- 6 tablespoons (78 grams) Butter, softened
- ½ cup packed (105 grams) Brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons Ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- ½ cup (120 grams) Heavy cream at room temperature or slightly warmed
- Add the warm milk, sugar and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer, let sit for 5-10 minutes or until the yeast starts to look bubbly and foamy (no need to let it sit if you’re using instant yeast).1 cup (240 grams) Whole milk, 3 tablespoons (39 grams) Organic cane sugar, 2 teaspoons Active dry yeast
- Add the melted butter, egg, vanilla, salt, and 2 cups of flour, stir until combined.4 tablespoons (52 grams) Butter, melted, 1 large Egg, 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon Salt, 2¾ cups (352 grams) Hard white wheat flour
- Attach the dough hook and mix on medium/high speed until smooth, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add enough flour to form a very soft dough (you don’t want the dough to pull away from the sides of the bowl).2¾ cups (352 grams) Hard white wheat flour
- Knead on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes.
- Place the dough into an oiled bowl or container, cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 30-60 minutes.
- Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly oiled surface. Roll or press the dough into a 10x14 inch rectangle. Make sure the thickness is even and the sides are as straight as possible.
- In a small mixing bowl, using a fork or electric hand mixer, mix the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract together until well combined.6 tablespoons (78 grams) Butter, softened, ½ cup packed (105 grams) Brown sugar, 2 teaspoons Ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- Drop little spoonfuls of the filling evenly over the dough and then spread it out evenly over the dough.
- Roll the dough starting on a long side. Mark the dough into 9 equal pieces then cut with a piece of dental floss, a string of thread or a very sharp knife.
- Place the rolls into a greased 9x9 inch baking dish, cover and let rise until doubled in size.
- Carefully pour the cream over the top of each roll.½ cup (120 grams) Heavy cream
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top.
- Top with your favorite frosting while still slightly warm, serve immediately.
We calculate these nutritional facts using an estimate and they can vary drastically between ingredients used and measuring technique. So, they are not intended for medical use.