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Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
Revamped as Orange Rolls

Years ago my sister and I started a traditional of baking vegan cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, and it's now such a strong association with the holidays for me that I rarely make them other than once a year. But I should! I adore the fluffy, soft, pull apart pieces of the rolls filled with gooey cinnamon and nuts.

vegan cinnamon rolls

This year I decided I wanted orange rolls. It's probably because I'm pregnant and pregnancy brings me strong fruit cravings.

The amazing news is that I could take my regular vegan cinnamon rolls recipe and amend it just slightly to create the perfect citrusy rolls. These turned out to be insanely delicious. Seriously. If I wasn't so sugar-overloaded during the holidays this year there's no doubt we would have finished the entire pan over the course of a few days. Instead we froze the leftovers and fully intend to enjoy them over the next few months.

The tricky part of cinnamon rolls is that you always want them in the morning and of course they need to be freshly baked. That means you can either wake up before dawn and start baking (which, if you are a person who can get back to sleep easily, is a decent idea because they just need inactive time to rise) or you can get most of the prep done the night before and let them take their final rise in the morning before baking. I choose the latter every time.

Ingredients for the Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

For the dough:
  • 3/4 c. warm unsweetened organic soy milk*
  • 1/2 c. cane sugar
  • 1/4 c. freshly squeezed orange juice*
  • 2 1/2 tsp. yeast (1 packet)
  • 6 Tbsp. aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas or other neutral beans)
  • 1/3 c. nondairy butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. orange zest*
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (increase by the tablespoon as needed)
  • aquafaba for brushing the tops of the rolls

For the filling:

  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 c. finely chopped pecans (walnuts are nice too)
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 c. nondairy butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp. orange zest*

For the glaze:

  • 1/4 c. freshly squeezed orange juice*
  • 1 tsp. orange zest*
  • 1 c. confectioner's sugar

*Note: if you just want regular vegan cinnamon rolls, use 1 cup warmed milk and omit the orange juice and zest in the dough. In the filling, omit the orange zest. And in the glaze use nondairy milk instead of the orange juice and zest.

Instructions for the Vegan Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

  1. Put the warmed milk and sugar into your mixing bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the milk and allow it to sit for 5 minutes until the mixture is bubbly and fully proofed.
  2. Whisk in the aquafaba, melted butter, salt, orange juice, and orange zest. Slowly start adding in the flour, a cup or so at a time. When the dough forms, you can either remove it from the stand mixer and knead it until it turns into a soft, springy dough OR you can use your dough hook to knead the dough. I usually opt for the stand mixer. If the dough seems sticky, add 1/4 cup more flour at a time until it's soft but not sticking to your fingers.
  3. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it rise for 45-60 minutes, until it's doubled in size.
  4. Line a 13x9 baking dish with parchment paper and spray it with non-stick spray.
  5. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to form a large rectangle about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
  6. Add the softened butter into a bowl and stir in the cinnamon, orange zest, nuts, and brown sugar. Use a spoon to spread the butter mixture all across the surface of the rolled dough.
  7. Roll carefully from the long side until it's closed, and turn it so the seam is on the counter. Use a really sharp knife to cut the log into pieces about 1/2-1 inch wide. I usually cut it into 16 slices.
  8. Arrange the rolls in the baking dish. Cover with a clean dish towel and let it rise again until it's double in size, about 45-60 minutes. If you're not baking these right away, you can put them in the fridge at this point and let this second rise happen in the morning. I typically want my vegan cinnamon rolls first thing in the morning and the best way to accomplish this (besides waking up at 4am to bake) is to pull the dish out first thing in the morning and let them rise in a warm spot in the kitchen.
  9. When you're ready for this second rise, preheat the oven to oven to 350 degrees F. When the rolls have risen, brush aquafaba across the top of each and place them in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown on top and the rolls make a hollow sound when you knock on the top.
  10. Prepare the glaze while the rolls are baking. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, confectioner's sugar, and orange zest. I like to add the glaze just to the rolls that I'm about to serve and save the rest for later when we eat the other rolls. That way they don't get all sticky and the glaze looks prettier.
  11. You can cover and refrigerate the rolls for a few days. You can also freeze each one individually and reheat them in the oven when you're ready for another sweet treat.
  • 16 rolls
  • 30 minutes of baking
  • 2 hours of resting/rising time
  • 15 minutes of active prep time

› Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

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