Nourishing Flourishing

Cinnamon Rolls + The Best Vegan Frosting

27 Mar

Thank you so much for your wonderful input on yesterday’s post! My heart is just full from reading your thoughts and reaching points.

So. Cinnamon Rolls. Whenever a sheet of them was around our house as a child, I would devour only the gooey centers — you know what I’m talkin’ about — and leave the drier outer rings for less ingenious family members. The entire pan of cinnamon rolls was a casualty of this destruction — not one remained unmarred.

(click for source)

I actually still get in trouble for picking raisins, nuts, berries, etc. out of things (don’t be afraid to eat with me — it’s strictly a family dysfunction). I once ate all — ALL — the raisins out of a new bag of bagels. When my BFF Manfriend got home he said, “Why is this bag full of torn up bread?” I tried to explain that when a raisin hankerin’ hits, I can’t be held accountable, and surely he understood how much better plump raisins with dough residue on them are than the dry, unadorned kind from a box…? Plus, we were out of the latter.

We now buy raisins regularly.

This is a high protein, vegan, refined sugar-free, grain-free, fairly low-glycemic (at least compared to the “original”) delicacy. It is surprisingly healthy, simple, and close to the real deal. It isn’t dry like other gluten-free breads, and will satisfy all the other crazies gooey-center lovers out there. ;  ) As you see below, you can shape these however you like.

1/2 C blanched almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill doesn’t work well, I hear. I use this brand, or you can d.i.y.)
1/8 t baking soda
pinch of salt
1 t cinnamon (+ more for inside)
1 Tb ground flax seed
4 Tb water
1 Tb agave (or honey, or other sweetener)
1/8 t almond extract (optional — just to enhance almond flavor)
2-3 dates (insert jokes here)

Makes 2 rolls.

1) Preheat oven at 350*. Vigorously mix warm water with ground flax to create a “flax egg”. Let sit to thicken.

2) Mix dry ingredients.

3) Mix wet ingredients.
4) Mix wet and dry ingredients with a fork.

5) (Once combined, it will be sticky, so wet your hands and keep ‘em that way.) Shape the dough into two equal sized rectangles on a baking sheet (I used parchment).
6) Squish or chop dates.
7) Cover each dough piece with dates, and generously sprinkle cinnamon on top of dates.
8 ) Wet hands again, and carefully start rolling from the short end of the dough.


9) Bake. Watch closely; they take about 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove when you see light browning on the top and/or edges. Frost if desired (see below).


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While the rolls bake, you can whip up The Best Vegan Frosting of All Time. It tastes just like frosting should. It has some cream cheese flavors going on, ever so slightly, and thus is perfect for a cinnamon roll! Also glorious on carrot cake. Or a spoon. Anything, really…

2 Tb coconut butter*
1 Tb agave (or other sweetener)

1) Mix together with a fork until smooth.

For 2 cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, etc.

I guess one step doesn’t qualify as a recipe, but whatever this is, it falls into the Awesome category. Adding vanilla would up the classy factor, too. *Note that coconut butter is not the same thing as coconut oil. To make coconut butter at home (and save some major $), just dump a bag of unsweetened coconut flakes into a food processor and whir it up until smooth. Bam. Done.

Well. I hope this wasn’t anticlimactic for you. I have been lusting for a cinnamon roll for roughly 4 years now, so this may have been more exciting for me than it was for you ;  ) In any case, it came together (labor time) in about 10 minutes. The only hard part was waiting 20 minutes while they baked. That and the sadness that ensued when they were gone, 1 minute later.

Better go make some more. Enjoy your Sunday!

What is a weird thing you did with food as a kid (or now)?

These recipes are part of the fabulous Kelly at The Spunky Coconut’s Our Spunky Holiday post. Thanks Kelly! : ) She has awesome gluten-free, casein-free, and sugar-free recipes on her site, plus she lives near Boulder. What could be better?!

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Related posts:

Bring-The-Party-In-Your-BBQ-Sauce Sauce (GF + Vegan!)
Savory Summer Squash Pancakes (aka Garden Overload Latkes)
Sunday Morning (GF Almond Flour) Pancakes

69 Responses to “Cinnamon Rolls + The Best Vegan Frosting”

  1. MariaJepsen March 27, 2011 at 5:50 am #

    Ooooh, Katie, how I OWN that habit, ha ha. Its like you are my “other twin” (I have an identical one already, ha ha). I CANNOT help myself from picking out nuts, seeds, dried fruit and chocolate from breads and cakes. So embarrasing. I only do it when I am alone, though ;) I even do it with icing, its horrible! I sometimes catch myself bying buns and cakes only for the reason of picking out the “goods” and throw out the rest. Such a huge waste of foods. Shame on YOU, Maria ;)
    Loved your raisin bagel story, ha ha. Cutie!
    I MUST TRY those cinnabuns, mmmmm.
    Great Sunday to you as well, sweetie.

  2. Matt @ The Athlete's Plate March 27, 2011 at 6:12 am #

    Totally making these today.

  3. Kierstan @ Life {and running} in Iowa March 27, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    I love the idea of adding dates to the middle of these rolls! Am going to have to give these a try soon!

  4. kate@ahealthypassion March 27, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    Ahhhhh im drooling!

  5. Deanna March 27, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    Oh man, I am having the hugest cinnamon cravings right now, and these look so amazingly good. Mmmm…….

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing March 27, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

      They are so good and SO easy. It looks more complicated than it is — and it doesn’t even look that complicated ;)

  6. Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food March 27, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    Thank you for making my day amazing by allowing me to look at and drool over these cinnamons rolls! ;-)

    I only eat one ‘group’ at a time when there are multiple things on my plate. For example, I will eat my entire piece of chicken, then my potatoes, and then my vegetables. My mom had a cousin that would use a different fork for each. Hearing that made me feel like I wasn’t SO crazy!

  7. Mary @ Bites and Bliss March 27, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    I’ve been craving cinnamon rolls for ages but haven’t gotten around to actually making them. I love how healthy these are, too! Like an actual breakfast rather than a treat.

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing March 27, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

      Yes, they are divine, and come together really quickly. Their nutritional profile is actually quite impressive, so breakfast would definitely work ;)

  8. Jen March 27, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    Oh my god, how I love coconut butter. These look MORE than amazing.

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing March 27, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

      They seriously didn’t last 5 minutes. If you love coconut butter, you are going to want to BATHE in this frosting!

  9. Kate (What Kate is Cooking) March 27, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    These look AMAZING! Weirdly enough, when I was a kid I didn’t like cinnamon rolls, but I crave them all the time now! I definitely appreciate this healthy version of them- I cringe thinking about the ingredients in the kind my mom makes :)

  10. Pure2raw twins March 27, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    oh my, wish I was enjoying a bite or two of these right now!
    Love using coconut butter as frosting :)

  11. Holly @ The Runny Egg March 27, 2011 at 7:40 pm #

    Katie these look awesome! And I love that they don’t have any refined sugar. I totally want to make them soon!

  12. Sam [Low Carbon Diet] March 27, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    Oh my goodness! This looks so amazing! And no processed sugar??

  13. Heba March 28, 2011 at 12:17 am #

    Oh my goodness… I love dates, in anything/on anything. Will be trying this!!!

  14. Christine March 29, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    I love how this makes just two cinnamon rolls and how they are so many allergen free! I love making them, but my waistline doesn’t like it when I make a whole pan. I’m definitely bookmarking this recipe to make next time I get that craving!

  15. Samantha March 29, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    I will be making these as soon as I possibly can!

  16. Eryn @ Pumpkin's Pantry March 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    I loved your story of eating the middle out of the cinnamon rolls…for me it was eating only the middle of the monkey break made with the leftover dough :) I made sure to get to the middle pieces before anyone else did! Thanks for this recipe- looks right up my alley as far as sweet goes–loved that you used dates!

  17. Sarah April 1, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    I just made these today. They are delicious! Mine look nothing like cinnamon rolls (I have no idea how you rolled them so nicely with such a small amount of dough!), but they do taste like the inside of a cinnamon roll. And taste is what counts, especially for us non-food bloggers! I used stevia because sugar gives me grief, and they are still amazing. I am happy to have a cinnamon roll recipe that is quick, has small portions, and doesn’t give me a sugar crash! It’s not quite like the real thing since there’s no yeast, but I like these BETTER!

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing April 1, 2011 at 9:29 pm #

      Haha, I am glad that despite being less manageable (i.e., not being able to roll them) that they were still delicious! :) This comment was such a compliment – thank you!

  18. AndreAnna April 18, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Came via Spunky Coconut – LOVE this recipe! My GF husband is a cinnamon roll junkie and he has been really jonesing for one. This recipe looks right up our alley!

    Quick question: if we do eggs, what is the substitute ratio for your flax “egg”? I don’t mind using the flax but since we eat eggs, may as well get the nutrition from that in there too!

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing April 18, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

      Hey there! So glad you found me :) Hmm… I’m not sure about using eggs, to be honest, since I’ve only tried the flax thang. I would guess just subbing one egg for my flax egg, but I’m not sure how it will turn out. If you try the real egg, let me know how it goes! :)

    • Sara November 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

      I made these with egg instead of flax seeds. I subbed in one egg and it worked great. The dough ended up a touch wet, so I added a sprinkle of coconut flour to make it more manageable, but then it was a little dry when I baked it. Next time I’ll sub in one egg and then chill the dough before I work with it, to avoid adding the extra flour.

    • Sara November 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

      I made these with egg instead of flax seeds. I subbed in one egg and it worked great. The dough ended up a touch wet, so I added a sprinkle of coconut flour to make it more manageable, but then it was a little dry when I baked it. Next time I’ll sub in one egg and then chill the dough before I work with it, to avoid adding the extra flour.

      • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing November 22, 2011 at 9:55 am #

        Thanks so much for sharing your results, Sara! I’ll be sure to direct those who ask about using an egg to your comment. :) xo.

  19. Jill Frederickson April 22, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    I cannot wait to try these, I have 5 kiddos who love cinnamon buns but since being diagnosed with celiac I haven’t made any. I am so looking forward to making these Easter Sunday am and surprising them!!!! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing April 26, 2011 at 11:55 am #

      It’s such a hard transition into a non-gluten world. I missed cinnamon rolls more than anything! <3 I hope these worked well for you! Let me know if you had any issues. Belated Happy Easter!

  20. Katie May 2, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    Delish! Can’t wait to make these. But – I can’t do dates at the moment…do you have any ideas for how I could substitute? Either way I’m trying it!!

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing May 2, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

      Hi Katie! Hmm… I think you should be able to use raisins with no problem. Just squish or chop them and make sure they form a layer that covers the top of the dough in the same way that the dates do (see pictures if this is confusing ;) ). Let me know how it goes!

  21. Heather Brandt June 3, 2011 at 4:53 am #

    Still trying to figure out what to sub for almond flour since my son can’t have almonds….if you hear of any ideas, please share :)

  22. Kara Helfrich September 14, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Hi, I just found your website yesterday and the first recipe I saw was this one. They sounded so good and I haven’t had one for three years because of food issues. So I knew I had to try them. I made them today and they are the best thing I have had! I love them!!! The addition of dates sounded weird to me, but that was my favorite part. I will definitely make them again and be trying some of your other recipes. Thanks for sharing! :)

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing September 17, 2011 at 9:20 am #

      Kara, thank you so much for this comment! YAY! I know what it’s like to taste a cinnamon roll after literally years of not having one…and whoa. It is a celebration :) This was such a kind note, and I am so, so glad they worked out for you. Hope to see you around here more often! xo.

  23. Anne Marie October 12, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    So … I was stuck in a major gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free cooking rut. And then I met you, Katie! Seriously, thank you so much for all the work you put into these recipes. My freezer stays stocked with garbanzo flour and almond four now, and I’ve loved every recipe of yours that I’ve tried (about 10 now).

    My mom bakes cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning. I’ve eaten plain dates the last two years as my family chows down on rolls (fine with me … but it makes them feel bad). But I just made these tonight and can’t even believe my tastebuds. No more cinnamon-less Christmas mornings! I didn’t even use blanched almond flour- just the coarse, cheap almond meal from Vitamin Cottage. These are even better than Cinnabon rolls. Filling, gooey, sweet, satisfying, and no sugar rush.

    Sorry if this comment is over the top. I’m just really really excited for my cooking future now. I’m sure Jonathan will thank you as well for making me a better cook. :) You rock, Katie!

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing October 16, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

      Anne Marie, this is one of the sweetest comments I have ever received! Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know that the recipes are going well, and that you find the blog helpful. It makes all the time I put into it so worthwhile to hear that! I made the cinnamon rolls largely because I know what it’s like to miss out on them on Christmas morning when everyone else partakes. I’m absolutely delighted that they are working for you! And it’s great to know that it worked well without the blanched almond flour, and just with the coarse meal. Thanks for letting me know about that tip!

      I can’t tell you how much your feedback means to me, Anne Marie. Thank you. Truly — thank you. <3

  24. December 4, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    Little cute cinnamon rolls look extremely delish!

  25. Deanna @ cookingquinoaintheutilityroom December 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    Cinnamon rolls are my bf’s fav. but he says he doesn’t want me making them with regular flour anymore because I can’t have them. Definitely knew I could count on your site for an awesome and simple recipe of them :) Making these and bringing them to his house on Christmas day! Thank you for sharing & happy holidays! xo

  26. Saskia December 27, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    Hi Katie— I just had to tell you how much your blog means to me and how much appreciation I have for your cinnamon roll recipe. For many years, its been a tradition that I bake cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning. Years ago, it was the Pillsbury variety, but I digress… anyway, since I’ve been gluten, dairy, soy and egg free for the past few years I’ve had to find recipes that meet my needs and are also yummy,with nutrient dense, low glycemic ingredients instead of heaps of tapioca starch and rice flour, etc. Last year I found a raw vegan cinnamon roll recipe that was fantastic, but this year, something even more amazing happened—I found your blog and recipe and made your cinnamon rolls. Oh baby, you rocked my world! These cinn-rolls (should be called “sin” a mon rolls they’re so good they should be illegal) of yours are out of this world. Truly. Even my gluten, dairy, soy, egg eating husband rolled his normally underwhelmed eyes at me in orgasmic abandon when we ate them. Brava! Brava! Brava! You’ve got a big fan here! Thank you thank you!

  27. Francesca January 23, 2012 at 2:42 am #

    Finding out that I’m not the only one with a terrible addiction to the habit of picking out the “goods” is….soooo super relieving! I’m slightly embarrassed by my invariable “tendency” to do that…especially getting the chocolate chips out of cookies, oh yum. And blueberries out of muffins (at least if they’re REAL blueberries, not cornstarch+food coloring “blueberry bits”), and raisins out of raisin bran muffins… it’s pretty bad but for some reason i find it incredibly satisfying. also, these look yummy!

  28. Laura June 19, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    This looks fantastic! I’ve recently started cooking paleo breads and this is definitely next on my list! Thanks for sharing.-Laura

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing June 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

      I hope you love it! Let me know if you have any questions — it can be a bit tricky to get the hang of rolling the dough! xo.

  29. Zara December 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    oooo. Looking for a new Christmas tradition that suits our food “preferences.” I think I just found it! Thanks!

  30. Sherry Hamilton December 25, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    The rolls are baking now! I doubled the recipe and filled two with dark chocolate! The frosting is amazing! Thanks for the recioe.

  31. Gabriella February 3, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    I was wondering if I could substitue almond flour for an all-purpose GF flour blend? Nuts aren’t agreeing with my stomach lately…

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing February 7, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

      Oh, I’m sorry to hear nuts aren’t feeling great lately! :( Unfortunately, almond flour is so unique I never advise subbing all-purpose GF flour, because the chemistry is so different. Do let me know if you decide to give it a try and it works out though! xo

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