Crowd-Pleasing Dairy Free Cinnamon Rolls
Whether you’re trying to limit your dairy intake or you have an intolerance, you will absolutely love these crowd-pleasing dairy free cinnamon rolls! They taste just like the classic doughy rolls we all know and love, but are made with dairy-free ingredients.
I’ll admit it, I absolutely love cinnamon rolls. They’re a once in awhile indulgence that I simply cannot resist – especially when they’re homemade. Is there anything better than pillowy clouds of dough? I didn’t think so.
When it comes to the no dairy part, I personally like to limit my dairy intake as much as possible. I also have several family members who are lactose intolerant. So whenever I’m making a dessert to share with friends or family, I want everyone to be able to enjoy it! Even the ones who eat dairy. My goal is to make a recipe so delicious, that no one will be able to tell a difference in taste or texture!
And that’s exactly what these dairy free cinnamon rolls do! They taste identical to a classic cream cheese frosting roll, but without any animals products (except for an egg!). And I call them “crowd-pleasers” because I am positive whatever crowd you feed these to, they will devour them without hesitation. They are just that stinkin’ good.
I’m also sharing lots of tips to ensure your baking is a success and that no bread-y, dry buns come out of your oven. No no, we want chewy, doughy rolls of perfection! And that’s what we’ll get.
Let’s get baking, shall we?
The Ingredients You Need
Here’s everything you’ll need to make this recipe happen: bread flour, coconut sugar, vegan butter, instant yeast, almond milk (unsweetened), powdered sugar, egg, cinnamon, vegan cream cheese, vanilla extract, and nutmeg.
How to Make Dairy Free Cinnamon Rolls – Step by Step
- Measure dry ingredients: First, use a scale to measure dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then whisk together.
- Heat butter and milk: In a separate glass bowl, heat almond milk and vegan butter to 110F in microwave. Then whisk in vanilla and egg.
- Combine ingredients: Add wet ingredients into bowl of whisked dry ingredients.
- Stir into ball: using either a standing mixer with a bread hook or regular bowl with rubber spatula, mix everything together. Use hands to form ball with ingredients.
- Knead dough on a floured surface for 2-4 minutes. Or until dough bounces back when you press it.
- Let dough rise: Add dough ball into well greased bowl (several drops of oil should work). Cover bowl with dish towel or plastic wrap, let rise in warm place for 30-60 minutes. (See tips for this step).
- Prep dough: after proving, dough should be doubled in size. Punch center of dough to release air.
- Roll out: on a generously floured surface, roll dough out into large rectangle.
- Add filling: spread soft butter evenly throughout dough. The sprinkle with coconut sugar and cinnamon.
- Tightly roll up: length wise, begin to tightly roll up dough. Do this slowly so you can make sure each roll is tight and holds together.
- Cut rolls: Use dental floss to slice the perfect cuts. Place strings underneath roll, cross string, and pull until it slices through. If using a knife, gently slice back and forth without pressing down. Use first roll you cut as a guide to evenly measure the rest of the rolls.
- Let rolls rise: grease baking vessel and spread out cinnamon rolls in it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 60-90 minutes in a warmer temperature.
- Ready to bake: rolls should be doubled in size when finished. Preheat oven to 375F and bake for 18-20 minutes with a cast iron skillet or 25-28 minutes in glass/ceramic bakeware. Halfway through bake time use foil as a “tent” to cover rolls so the tops don’t brown too much.
Cover in icing and eat! Whisk icing ingredients in a bowl and cover rolls with cream cheese frosting. YUMMM.
How to Avoid Dry Cinnamon Rolls
The goal with classic cinnamon rolls is you want that super soft, doughy inside. There are two key steps we need to keep in mind to attain this.
#1: Use a scale for accurate measurements. Avoid over-measuring or under measuring by using a scale to weigh the flour. Scooping with measured cups is not always accurate. Too much flour will result in a dry roll that’s closer to a bread. Too little flour will not give the rolls the structure they need to rise.
#2: Choose your baking vessel wisely. Over-baking anything is a no-go. Not all bakeware is created equal and you can accidentally over-bake your rolls if you’re not careful. Below are different baking vessels you can use and the recommend bake time for each one!
- Baking with cast iron: this bakeware gets hot very fast and will cook your rolls quicker than glass or ceramic. Bake time should be no more than 18-20 minutes for cast iron baking vessels.
- Baking with glass/ceramic: Since this type of baking dish doesn’t get as hot as a skillet, the baking time will need a little bit longer. Cinnamon rolls being baked in glass or ceramic dishes should be baked no more then 25-28 minutes!
Important Recipe Tips & Faqs
The secret to doughy rolls: even though all-purpose flour works just fine, bread flour gives an even chewier, soft texture. Bread flour is used a lot in yeasted breads so it works beautifully with the extra gluten, proteins, and fats in this recipe!
Where to put your dough to rise: room temperature doesn’t always cut it for helping dough rise properly. Our favorite “hack” for this is to preheat the oven to 150F, then shut oven off and place dough inside. Crack door if needed. This helps create a consistent and controlled warm environment that is perfect for “proofing” dough.
How to cut the rolls (two ways): you can either use a very sharp knife and gently slice back and forth (do not press down). Or make perfect cuts by using dental floss! See photos above for reference.
Cutting the rolls accurately: Make sure your rolls are all the same size by using your first cinnamon roll cut out as a guide for the rest. (see photos above).
Can I leave the dough to rise overnight? Yes! But since this is a quick rise recipe, you’ll need to place the dough in the refrigerator if you do let it rise over night. This helps slow down the process of the yeast.
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Whether you're trying to limit your dairy intake or you have an intolerance, you will absolutely love these crowd-pleasing dairy free cinnamon rolls! They taste just like the classic doughy rolls we all know and love, but are made with dairy-free friendly ingredients.
Measure dry ingredients: *use scale to accurately measure flour if possible* in a large bowl or electric mixer, whisk together flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and instant yeast.
Wet dough ingredients: In separate microwave-safe bowl, heat almond milk and vegan butter in microwave until temperature is 110F or is warm to touch but not hot. Mix in egg and vanilla extract into almond milk and butter. Combine wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until dough forms.
Knead dough: on lightly floured surface, knead dough with hands for about 3 minutes. Dough should spring back at you when you press it with your finger. Place dough in lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Roll out: press down or use your fist to "punch" air out of dough. Roll out onto generously floured surface into rectangle shape. Spread soft butter over top. Then sprinkle evenly with 1/4 cup coconut sugar and 1 Tablespoon cinnamon.
Roll up and cut: begin slowly rolling up the dough length-wise. Keep the rolls tight as you go. Use a sharp knife or dental floss to cut log into 9-10 rolls. See notes for tips on both of these methods! To accurately measure each one, use the first roll you cut as a guide for the rest.
Second rise: grease baking vessel and arrange rolls 2 inches apart. Tightly cover with foil or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 60-90 minutes (see notes for a special tip on where to store your dough for rising).
Bake: Preheat oven to 375F. If you're baking in glass/ceramic your bake time will be 25-28 minutes. If baking in cast iron, bake for no more than 18-20 minutes. Halfway through the bake time, make a foil "tent" to cover rolls. This will prevent them from browning too much on top.
Make the frosting: in a bowl, use a hand-mixer to whisk together frosting ingredients until creamy and smooth. Generously spread over top of warm cinnamon rolls and serve!