Vegan Dairy Free Cinnamon Rolls

By: Cassy Joy Garcia

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Drizzled with the yummiest vanilla bourbon glaze, these homemade vegan cinnamon rolls are incredibly delicious, fluffy, and really easy to make!

a pan of vanilla cinnamon rolls drizzled with vanilla bourbon glaze

Vegan Cinnamon Roll Recipe

These cinnamon rolls are EVERYTHING that good cinnamon rolls should be: gooey (but, if you like firmer cinnamon rolls, they can be that too!), flavorful, fluffy, and drizzled with the most delicious, unique vanilla bourbon glaze. Plus, they’re vegan!

Make a batch (or two) at your next brunch gathering or holiday breakfast and I can promise you that vegan and non-vegans alike will be raving about them! 

What makes these cinnamon rolls vegan?

This recipe was developed specifically with vegans in mind, so all of the ingredients are not only vegan but have been tested and work together beautifully. Ingredients like dairy-free milk, applesauce, and vegan butter replace more conventional dairy ingredients in this recipe, and a really delicious vanilla bourbon glaze is drizzled over top of the finished rolls instead of a traditional cream cheese frosting.

What is the secret to tasty vegan cinnamon rolls?

Honestly, the secret is finding a recipe that was specifically created and developed for vegan ingredients! Trying to swap ingredients out to make recipes kind of work is exhausting, and, quite frankly, doesn’t always yield really great results.

Brittany Angell, a really gifted recipe developer (especially when it comes to accommodating and creating for specific dietary restrictions), developed this gooey vegan cinnamon roll recipe, and she hit it out of the park!

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls Ingredients

The ingredient list may look long at first glance, but everything on it is super accessible and easy to find. You may even have a few of the ingredients on hand already! Here’s everything you’ll need:

ingredients for vegan cinnamon rolls on a marble surface

For the Yeast + Milk Mixture 

  • Dairy-Free Milk – to start, you’ll need ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon (161 grams) of dairy-free milk. 
  • Sugar – 1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar combines with the milk to form a yeast-thriving base.
  • Yeast – 2 teaspoons of fast-acting/instant yeast will head into the milk and sugar mixture.

For the Dough

  • Flour – 3 cups + 1 tablespoon (430 grams) of all-purpose flour acts as the base of the cinnamon roll dough.
  • Applesauce – 3 ounces of smooth applesauce (regular or unsweetened) replace the eggs here.
  • Avocado Oil – a ¼ cup (46 grams) of avocado oil head into the dough mixture too.
  • Sugar – to sweeten the dough, you’ll need a ¼ cup (57 grams) of organic cane sugar. 
  • Salt – ¾ of a teaspoon of salt enhances the other flavors and add a nice counter to the sweetness of the rolls.

For the Filling

  • Vegan Butter – 4 tablespoons of room temperature vegan butter gets rubbed onto the rolled-out cinnamon roll dough first.
  • Brown Sugar – 1 ½ cups of brown sugar goes on top of the buttered dough.
  • Cinnamon – 2 teaspoons of cinnamon finishes off the cinnamon roll filling beautifully.

For the Vanilla Bourbon Glaze

  • Powdered Sugar – 1 ½ cups of powdered sugar is the base of the glaze.
  • Vanilla Extract – 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract go into the glaze to add a really delicious vanilla flavor.
  • Bourbon – 2 ½ – 3 tablespoons of bourbon heads into the bowl also! If you’d like to omit the bourbon from this recipe and use an equal amount of either dairy-free milk or water in its place, that works too.

For the Pan

  • Vegan Butter – 2 tablespoons of melted vegan butter coats the pan to keep the rolls from sticking.
  • Vegan Heavy Cream or Dairy-Free Milk – 4 tablespoons of either vegan heavy cream or dairy-free milk gets brushed onto the rolls before they head into the oven.

What the best vegan alternative to butter?

There are a lot of really great vegan butter alternatives on the market. Miyoko's Creamery and Milkadamia both make delicious options. My recommendation, though, would be to go to your local grocery store, see what they have, try a few, and see which one you love the most! 

What is the best vegan egg replacement?

Brittany used applesauce in this recipe, and because the recipe was specifically created with applesauce in place of the eggs, I’d stick to that as your egg replacer here. If you’re looking for more egg substitutes for other baked goods, though, find our full (really extensive) guide HERE.

What plant-based milk is best in this recipe?

ANY non-dairy milk will work really great in this recipe, so grab your favorite one and get to baking!

Supplies Needed to Make this Recipe

How to make Healthy Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

Though cinnamon rolls may feel really intimidating, they’re actually pretty easy to execute if you follow the steps below carefully! 

  1. Preheat oven to 200°F.
  2. Make the yeast mixture – to a measuring cup, add ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon of dairy-free milk and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Warm the mixture up in the microwave for about 25-30 seconds, then give it a stir and make sure it is only lukewarm. If it’s hot, allow it to cool for a minute or two. Once lukewarm, stir in the yeast and place the measuring cup on top of the preheating oven. 
  3. Measure the dough ingredients – add all of the dough ingredients (flour, applesauce, avocado oil, cane sugar, and salt) either to the bowl of your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, make sure to weigh them out carefully using a baking scale. 
  4. Check your yeast and milk mixture – if the yeast mixture has started to bubble and froth, you know your yeast is alive. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the dough ingredients.
  5. Mix the dough – attach the dough hook to the stand mixer and mix starting on low and work your way up to medium. Keep the mixer on for about 7 minutes — you will end up with a smooth, tacky, and sticky dough.
  6. Let the dough rise – prepare a large glass bowl by coating it with oil, and then, using a spatula, scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl into the prepared glass bowl. Cover the bowl with saran wrap, and turn off the oven. Place the bowl into the warm (turned off) oven and set a timer for 10 minutes. Keep the door open a crack for these 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes is up, close the oven door (with the bowl of dough inside and covered in saran wrap) and set a timer for 50 more minutes. You’ll know the dough is done rising when it doubles in size — see tips and tricks below if you are struggling to get a good rise. 
a measuring cup of milk, yeast, and sugar
all of the ingredients for vegan cinnamon roll dough in a glass bowl
vegan cinnamon roll dough rising in a glass bowl covered in saran wrap
  1. Press + fill the dough – remove the dough from the oven and turn the oven back on to preheat it to 375°F. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on your work surface and sprinkle a good amount of flour across the surface. Add your cinnamon roll dough to the center by flipping the bowl upside down, then sprinkle more flour on top of the dough. (Use just enough flour to prevent sticking – try not to overdo it.) Press the dough out so that it’s 14 inches by 12 inches, then spread the softened butter across the surface, leaving ½ of an inch uncovered around the edges. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over the buttered surface. 
  2. Roll the dough – using your hands or the parchment as your guide, roll up the dough. Start by rolling up a little at a time, moving back and forth across the whole width as you go. After you do your first roll, give the dough a tiny tug to make sure it’s nice and tight and continue the process. After each new roll, give the dough another little tug to keep the roll nice and tight. When you reach the end, roll it so that it is seam-side down.
  3. Measure the rolls – using a sharp knife, trim off the end pieces if they are less thick/uniform. Using your ruler and knife, mark every 1 ½ inches (this will give you 9 same-sized buns.) Using a sharp knife, bench scraper, or floss, gently cut each roll.
  4. Put the cinnamon rolls in the pan and proof – place two tablespoons of melted butter into your pan, then add the cinnamon rolls to the pan, spacing them out a ½-inch apart if possible. Brush 2 tablespoons of the cream or milk on the tops and sides of the rolls, cover the pan again with saran wrap or a kitchen towel, and place it on top of the warm oven until the rolls double in size (30-60 minutes). 
  5. Bake – once they have doubled in size, remove the cover on the pan and brush the rolls a second time with the remaining 2 tablespoons of dairy-free milk or vegan heavy cream.  Place them into the 375°F oven and bake for 20-23 minutes. Keep an eye on them and cover them with tinfoil for the last few minutes if they brown too quickly. When finished, they should be golden brown and you should see no raw pieces on the top of the buns.
  6. Make the glaze – while the rolls bake, make the glaze. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and bourbon to a medium bowl and whisk together until smooth. Spread over the hot buns when you remove them from the oven.
  7. Enjoy! 
vegan cinnamon roll dough flattened and filled with cinnamon and sugar and being rolled up
the ingredients for vanilla bourbon glaze in a small glass bowl
a pan of vegan cinnamon rolls covered with a kitchen towel before rising for a second time
a bowl of vanilla bourbon glaze

Tips and Tricks

Brittany’s best vegan cinnamon roll tips and tricks can be found below:

  • Use a baking scale: for best results use a baking scale to make these cinnamon rolls . The cup amounts are included primarily to give you an idea of the amounts needed. The flour and liquid amounts need to be exact for the recipe to turn out perfect.
  • The dough should be tacky/sticky: when fully mixed, this cinnamon roll dough should be tacky/sticky.
  • Make sure your milk is lukewarm: the temperature of your dairy-free milk should be lukewarm. If it’s hot, it will kill the yeast, and if it’s cold, you won’t be able to tell if it is alive and will work in the bread for you.
  • Use a glass bowl: using a glass bowl in step 4 is important. It conducts heat best and allows for the dough to warm and proof up nicely. 
  • If your dough isn’t rising: if, after 45 minutes, your dough has not risen, this typically means that it’s not warm enough to do so. Remove it from the oven, turn on the oven to 475°F, place the bowl of dough on the warmest spot on your stovetop, and reset the clock for the proofing time. This can also be the result of not using the gram measurements and the dough being too dry, which requires a longer rise. 
  • Use softened butter: make sure the vegan butter for the filling is a soft, easy-to-spread consistency. If it’s melted, it may just run off the dough. 
  • Invest in an oven thermometer: I recommend investing in a little $10 oven thermometer that hangs on the rack so that you can make sure your temperature is what it is supposed to be. Oven temperature can make or break how bread recipes turn out.
  • Use the right pan: for the pan, a variety of sizes can be used. The most ideal pan size for these buns is an 11×9. A 10-inch deep cast-iron skillet or a 10-inch springform pan will also work. Make sure that the sides of your pan are at least 2 inches tall, but 3 inches is preferable.

Do Vegan Cinnamon Buns need to rise?

They do! Your cinnamon rolls will actually need to rise twice — once, for about an hour, before they’re rolled out and filled and then again, for 30 minutes to an hour, before they head into the oven.

How do you know when easy cinnamon rolls are done?

The cinnamon rolls bake for 20-23 minutes, but it’s important to keep an eye on them for the last few minutes so you can pull them out at the right time. You’ll know they’re done when they’re golden brown and have no raw pieces on top.

What is the best glaze or icing for dairy-free cinnamon rolls?

The vanilla bourbon glaze developed specifically for this recipe is AMAZING. If you’re looking for more of a traditional cream cheese frosting topping, THIS one is great (just be sure to use dairy-free cream cheese and vegan butter!).

Can these cinnamon rolls be prepared ahead of time?

If you’re looking to serve warm, gooey cinnamon rolls, I’d enjoy them right out of the oven. If you don’t have time to make your cinnamon rolls just before serving, you can absolutely make your cinnamon rolls in advance, though. Just be sure to store them on the counter so that they stay nice and moist.

a vegan cinnamon roll being drizzled with vanilla bourbon glaze

How do you store easy vegan cinnamon rolls?

Store your cinnamon rolls covered at room temperature for up to 1 week — storing them on the counter (as opposed to the fridge) will keep them from drying out!

Can easy vegan cinnamon rolls sit out overnight?

They can! In fact, you’ll actually want to store any leftover rolls you have covered on the counter anyway. Storing them in the fridge will dry them out.

Do vegan cinnamon rolls freeze well?

They do. Be sure to freeze already-cooked rolls (rather than cinnamon roll dough), though, so that you can get the best rise and texture out of each roll (the freezer may kill the yeast in dough, causing the texture and rise to suffer). Wrap individual rolls in parchment paper, throw them all in a large Ziplock bag, and freeze! Then, when you’re ready to enjoy a roll, simply pull one out, pop it on a microwave-safe plate (or oven-safe pan), and heat until warmed through.

Print

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

Drizzled with the yummiest vanilla bourbon glaze, these homemade vegan cinnamon rolls are incredibly delicious, fluffy, and really easy to make!

  • Author: Brittany Angell
  • Active Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 20-23 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 23 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 9 1x
  • Category: Baked Goods
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale

For the Yeast + Milk Mixture

  • ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon (161 grams) dairy-free milk
  • 1 tablespoon organic cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fast-acting/instant yeast

For the Dough

  • 3 cups + 1 tablespoon (430 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3 ounces smooth applesauce (regular or unsweetened)
  • ¼ cup (46 grams) avocado oil
  • ¼ cup (57 grams) organic cane sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

For the Filling

  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the Vanilla Bourbon Glaze

  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ½3 tablespoons bourbon

For the Pan

  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons vegan heavy cream or dairy-free milk, divided

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200°F.
  2. To a measuring cup, add ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon of dairy-free milk and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Warm the mixture up in the microwave for about 25-30 seconds, then give it a stir and make sure it is only lukewarm. If it’s hot, allow it to cool for a minute or two. Once lukewarm, stir in the yeast and place the cup on top of the preheating oven.
  3. Add all of the dough ingredients (flour, applesauce, avocado oil, cane sugar, and salt) either to the bowl of your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, being sure to weigh them out carefully using a baking scale.
  4. If the yeast mixture has started to bubble and froth, you know your yeast is alive. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the dough ingredients.
  5. Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer and mix starting on low and working your way up to medium. Keep the mixer on for about 7 minutes — you will end up with a smooth, tacky, and sticky dough.
  6. Prepare a large glass bowl by coating it with oil, and then, using a spatula, scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl into the prepared glass bowl. Cover the bowl with saran wrap, and turn off the oven. Place the bowl into the warm (turned off) oven and set a timer for 10 minutes. Keep the door open a crack for these 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes is up, close the oven door (with the bowl of dough inside) and set a timer for 50 more minutes. You’ll know the dough is done rising when it doubles in size — see tips and tricks below if you are struggling to get a good rise.
  7. Remove the dough from the oven and turn the oven back on to preheat it to 375°F. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on your work surface and sprinkle a good amount of flour across the surface. Add your cinnamon roll dough to the center by flipping the bowl upside down, then sprinkle more flour on top of the dough. (Use just enough flour to prevent sticking – try not to overdo it.) Press the dough out so that it’s 14 inches by 12 inches, then spread the softened butter across the surface, leaving ½ of an inch uncovered around the edges. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over the buttered surface.
  8. Using your hands or the parchment as your guide, roll up the dough. Start by rolling up a little at a time, moving back and forth across the whole width as you go. After you do your first roll, give the dough a tiny tug to make sure it’s nice and tight and continue the process. After each new roll, give the dough another little tug to keep the roll nice and tight. When you reach the end, roll it so that it is seam-side down.
  9. Using a sharp knife, trim off the end pieces if they are less thick/uniform. Using your ruler and knife, mark every 1 ½ inches (this will give you 9 same-sized buns.) Using a sharp knife, bench scraper, or floss, gently cut each roll.
  10. Place two tablespoons of melted butter into your pan, then add the cinnamon rolls to the pan, spacing them out a ½-inch apart if possible. Brush 2 tablespoons of the cream or milk on the tops and sides of the rolls, cover the pan again with saran wrap or a kitchen towel, and place it on top of the warm oven until the rolls double in size (30-60 minutes).
  11. Once they have doubled in size, remove the cover on the pan and brush the rolls a second time with the remaining 2 tablespoons of dairy-free milk or vegan heavy cream.  Place them into the 375°F oven and bake for 20-23 minutes. Keep an eye on them and cover them with tinfoil for the last few minutes if they brown too quickly. When finished, they should be golden brown and you should see no raw pieces on the top of the buns.
  12. While the rolls bake, make the glaze. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and bourbon to a medium bowl and whisk together until smooth. Spread over the hot buns when you remove them from the oven.
  13. Enjoy!

Notes

Tips and Tricks:

  • Use a baking scale: for best results use a baking scale to make these cinnamon rolls. The cup amounts are included primarily to give you an idea of the amounts needed. The flour and liquid amounts need to be exact for the recipe to turn out perfect.
  • The dough should be tacky/sticky: when fully mixed, this cinnamon roll dough should be tacky/sticky.
  • Make sure your milk is lukewarm: the temperature of your dairy-free milk should be lukewarm. If it’s hot, it will kill the yeast, and if it’s cold, you won’t be able to tell if it is alive and will work in the bread for you.
  • Use a glass bowl: using a glass bowl in step 4 is important. It conducts heat best and allows for the dough to warm and proof up nicely.
  • If your dough isn’t rising: if, after 45 minutes, your dough has not risen, this typically means that it’s not warm enough to do so. Remove it from the oven, turn on the oven to 475°F, place the bowl of dough on the warmest spot on your stovetop, and reset the clock for the proofing time. This can also be the result of not using the gram measurements and the dough being too dry, which requires a longer rise.
  • Use softened butter: make sure the vegan butter for the filling is a soft, easy-to-spread consistency. If it’s melted, it may just run off the dough.
  • Invest in an oven thermometer: I recommend investing in a little $10 oven thermometer that hangs on the rack so that you can make sure your temperature is what it is supposed to be. Oven temperature can make or break how bread recipes turn out.
  • Use the right pan: for the pan, a variety of sizes can be used. The most ideal pan size for these buns is an 11×9. A 10-inch deep cast-iron skillet or a 10-inch springform pan will also work. Make sure that the sides of your pan are at least 2 inches tall, but 3 inches is preferable.

Keywords: vegan cinnamon rolls

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  1. Lauren says:

    Can GF all purpose flour be substituted? Thanks!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      It can! Enjoy!