Dec 31, 2012
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If you love extra fluffy and thick cinnamon rolls with gooey brown sugar-cinnamon filling, these whole wheat cinnamon rolls are the recipe for you!
The aroma is reason enough to make them, but their taste and texture are out of this world for a whole-wheat version -this means no more brick-like whole-wheat baked goods!
Today, I’m taking you through the recipe step by step so you can make bakery-worthy whole wheat cinnamon rolls at home.
Best Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
These whole wheat cinnamon rolls have that springy and soft texture with every bite coated in brown sugar, cinnamon, and warm frosting.
Since this recipe uses yeast and requires 2 rises, I make it the night before and refrigerate the cut-out cinnamon rolls in a baking dish. This way, they can go straight in the oven the next morning, and I’m free to enjoy that second cup of coffee while everyone else wakes up.
This is a recipe my family and guests have enjoyed for years on weekends, sleepovers, and special occasions.
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Bun Ingredients
These cinnamon rolls are made with a blend of whole wheat and regular flour.
I find it gives them the perfect fluffy texture and that golden wheat flavor, but you can make this entirely with all-purpose flour if that’s what you have on hand.
Here’s everything you need to make whole wheat cinnamon rolls:
- active dry yeast
- warm water
- whole wheat flour
- all-purpose flour
- kosher salt
- large eggs
- sugar or honey
- brown sugar
What are cinnamon rolls without that dreamy glaze? Of course, we can’t leave it out, and my recipe uses only 4 simple ingredients:
- powdered sugar
- vanilla extract
How to Make Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls
There are quite a few steps to make homemade cinnamon rolls, but if you’re looking for a homemade recipe, you probably expected that.
And if this is your first time baking with yeast, don’t worry. It’s easier than you would think. I’ve broken the recipe down step-by-step, and the mixer does all the heavy lifting.
Each bite of these cream cheese glazed wheat cinnamon rolls will remind you it’s worth every step.
- Activate the yeast
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water. Mix with a spoon and allow to rest 10 minutes for the yeast to activate.
- Add some flour
To the yeast mixture add ½ cup flour and mix until it forms a paste.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Make the dough
To the bowl of dough add the eggs, sugar, butter, salt, and remaining flour. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and mix for 10 to 12 minutes on medium speed.
- Let it rise
Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until it’s doubled in size, about 2 hours. *A 100F oven is the perfect warm spot!
- Roll the dough
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll into a 15-inch x 10-inch rectangle. Spread the butter onto the dough and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
- Slice the rolls
Roll the dough lengthwise and cut in half. Slice each half into 4 rolls for larger cinnamon rolls or 5 rolls for medium-sized.
- Melt some butter
Place the sliced rolls, cut side up into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish, and brush melted butter over the tops.
- Be patient
Cover with dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 12 hours.
- Get the oven hot
The next morning (or 12 hours later), remove the cinnamon rolls from the fridge and let them rise once more while the oven preheats to 350F.
- Place the baking dish in the oven
Bake for 30 minutes or until soft, fluffy, and lightly golden. Let the cinnamon rolls cool.
- Make the glaze
Meanwhile, stir together the powdered sugar, melted butter, milk, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
- The moment you’ve been waiting for
Drizzle the icing over the freshly baked cinnamon rolls, then snag yourself a roll or two, and enjoy!
Chilling Cinnamon Rolls Overnight
These cinnamon rolls take about 5 hours from start to finish, mainly because the dough needs to rise twice. I don’t know of anyone who has that kind of time in the morning, and I’ve found it just as easy to prepare and chill the dough overnight without any major change to the texture of the baked cinnamon rolls.
To properly chill cinnamon rolls overnight, follow the recipe as directed in the steps above and the recipe box below.
Can Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls Rise on the Counter?
I don’t advise an overnight rise on the counter. A room temperature rise is considered a quick rise and will cause the cinnamon rolls to deflate.
Do I need a Stand Mixer to Make Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls?
You don’t need a stand mixer to make homemade cinnamon rolls, but it’s certainly the easy route. If your kitchen doesn’t have a stand mixer you can knead the dough by hand with a little elbow grease and extra flour.
Here’s what to do:
- Once you’ve added the eggs, sugar, and remaining flour to the yeast mixture, make sure it’s thoroughly combined in a tacky dough.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, roll up your sleeves, and knead the dough, pushing it down and stretching it out with the palms of your hands.
- Knead for 8 to 10 minutes (this is a great upper body workout) until the dough is smooth.
- Place the dough into the large, greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise.
- Give yourself a pat on the back and proceed with the recipe.
These make-ahead cinnamon rolls are sure to make your mornings brighter! Print the recipe below so you can enjoy them ASAP.
Easy Whole Wheat Cinnamon Roll Recipe
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm water 105F
- 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour*
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- ¼ cup honey or sugar
- ½ cup butter at room temperature
- ½ cup butter at room temperature
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter melted
- 2 tablespoons milk or cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the warm water with the yeast and a teaspoon of sugar or honey. Mix with a spoon and wait 10 minutes for yeast to activate.
- Add ½ cup of flour (white or wheat) to the yeast and mix with a whisk to form a thick paste. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot for about 30 minutes.
- Add the eggs, sugar, butter, salt, and remaining 4 cups of flour to the yeast mixture.
- Fit the mixer with the dough hook and knead the dough on medium speed for 8 to 10 minutes, adding a small amount of flour to reduce the stickiness, if needed.
- Once the dough is smooth and forms a ball, stop the mixer, remove the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm spot for 2 hours or until the dough is doubled in size.
- Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Transfer the dough to a flour surface and roll it out into a 15 x 10-inch rectangle.
- Spread ⅓ cup of butter over the rectangle then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Immediately roll the dough lengthwise.
- Cut the roll in half, then cut each half into into 4 slices for larger cinnamon rolls, or 5 for medium-sized cinnamon rolls.
- Place the cinnamon rolls, cut side up into the baking dish and brush the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
- Cover the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 12 hours.
- The next morning, preheat the oven to 350F.
- Remove the cinnamon rolls from the fridge and allow them to rise once more while the oven preheats.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the tops of the cinnamon rolls are golden brown.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bow, combine the powdered sugar, melted butter, cream, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.
- Allow the baked cinnamon rolls to cool slightly before drizzling with the icing.
Alternatively, you can make this recipe with 100% all purpose (white) flour without any changes. Nutrition information is calculated without the glaze.
Hi, thank you for the recipe! I just have a few questions:
1. Would the rolls vastly differ in texture if I used only whole wheat? If so, do you recommend that I use baking powder to air-out its denseness?
2. I left the yeasted flour/water mixture out for 20 (instead of 30 minutes) and then had an emergency errand to run, so I put the mixture in the fridge to pause its development. I came back and put the mixture back into my oven (set to warm) and it had bubbled and come alive again so I took it out (after 15 minutes). I was wondering: would it hurt to leave the yeasty flour/water mixture to stand in room temperature for longer than 30 minutes? What would happen if I left it in room temperature for 2-3 hours (of course while I kept feeding it sugar)?
3. I multiplied your recipe by 3 and got the ingredients to show 12 large eggs (to 3.25 quarts of flour). Is this a mistake, or accurate?
I look forward to hearing back soon! Thank you! I appreciate it 🙂
Hi, these whole wheat cinnamon rolls will have a slightly denser texture when made 100% whole wheat. I do not recommend using baking powder, however. You are using yeast here. As long as your yeast activated, which sounds like it did, you should be good to go. I always recommend doing a recipe 3x -measuring out things 3x vs using the multiplier in the recipe card as it’s not calculated by a human and can’t account for texture and dough’s needs.
Can I use the bread maker on dough setting to make just the dough?
The reason that you cannot substitute whole wheat flour in the whole recipe is that there is not enough yeast to raise whole wheat dough. I have another similar recipe that uses 2 Tbs. yeast, and it rises very well, and it actually uses a bit less flour.
Have you ever tried to freeze these? I’m wondering if at the point where you put them in the fridge overnight if i put them in the freezer they would be ok later to take out and put in the fridge overnight? We love this recipe and I’m trying to make some post baby meals.
You can freeze them after the first rise. Meaning, instead of placing them in the fridge, place them in the freezer. I thaw them overnight in my fridge -I’ve never taken them out and defrosted straight to oven -something to try.
good morning from the Philippines….I ran onto this recipe and looks good will be trying it today for our family
baybay leyte philippines
Thank you Laura. I forgot to ask if I should substitute same amount of the oil for the butter.
Martha, I’ve never tried it with oil but it should work 1:1 with coconut oil. Enjoy!
I don’t like butter so can I substitute olive oil or coconut oil for the butter?
Coconut oil or vegetable oil would be best since olive oil has a very strong flavor.
How far in advance can these be made. Could I make them 24 hours ahead of time and leave in the fridge all day and all night?
Yes! You can make them a day or two in advance. 🙂 Enjoy!
I don’t have a stand mixer. Is it possible to make these without one?
I’d say yes, but you’ll just have more work to do. All the stand mixer does is cut out the work of mixing and kneading the dough for you. You could do that by hand.
hello, I’m making your recipie right now, and I was just wondering if can I bake the rolls right away, or is important to refigerete them….
for optimal height, you need to refrigerate them. Refrigeration is how the yeast will bloom and rise. I hope they turned out ok if you did not refrigerate them.
I did it! So yummy your recipie I did half right away and the other half overnight. Of course the overnite part was better. So delicious!!! Thanks for shearing your recipies!
I’m glad they were a success! Enjoy!
I look forward both to trying this recipe and to knowing it can’t possibly be teething!! 😉
First time on your site. Definitely won’t be my last! 😀
Thank you Heather! Enjoy!
I made these last week and they were delicious! I was looking for an overnight recipe and this worked great. I love that they have so much whole wheat in them. Thank you for the recipe!
This is such a great recipe!! I’m going to try this tonight once the kids are in bed!!
Hi, This sounds great but do you have any type of egg substitute for this recipe, I have a 2 year old that is highly allergic.
not for this recipe. Sorry Shannon!
Not with this cinnamon roll recipe but with others and any bread. I do flax egg and always works with my son. May not rise as high but still taste the same
I have recently discovered your site, and I have to praise you on several counts. First off, your writing is straight forward, informational, welcoming and I love your realistic attitude. You are neither arrogant or “flaky” (as I find some food blog writing to be). I am thrilled for your success and the fact that you have undertaken something of major issue. Not to mention, in my mind “you’ve nailed it”!
Although I can’t eat gluten and I cannot use this recipe, you offer so many that we can use. Thank you.
On a final note, I just want to add a kudos for photographing your life “as is”. I see things on the counter, toys in the back. It’s a lovely home which includes the fact that it is not staged for a picture.
thanks Julie! there isn’t a single thing in my life that is “scripted” 🙂
I’d like to make these for Thanksgiving morning. I was wondering if you think this recipe would work using spelt flour for the AP flour? Maybe even using all whole spelt flour instead of part WW? Also, when you put the butter on before the cinnamon sugar is that melted butter? Thanks
Nicole, I’ve revised the recipe with my notes.
Kelly @ The Nourishing Home
Wow! those look SO GOOD! I may have to try these using spelt flour. My boys would LOVE these! What a FUN post! 🙂 Blessings, Kelly
Justin- Writing Pad Dad
Love this post! Already printed out the recipe for the Cinnamon Rolls (with Whole Wheat! Yay!) and will be making them VERY soon! Thanks! 🙂
Writing Pad Dad
thank you so much Justin! they require a little elbow grease but boy! they are so good! Let me know how your family enjoys them!
Tiffany's Toy Box
WOW – those cinnamon rolls look DLISH!!! Yes, I do hate those trips to the doc when “nothing” is wrong with your child and you go home with a kid that is still miserable. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Michelle | Creative Food
Seriously looks so delicious! I can’t wait to get home to try it! 🙂