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, like my delicious Cinnamon Apple Bread. Yummy!
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: to make the dough rise.
- Warm water: to activate the yeast.
- Whole wheat flour: you can also use 100% white all-purpose flour.
- All-purpose flour: to combine with the whole wheat flour.
- Kosher salt: to enhance the flavors.
- Eggs: help bind the ingredients.
- Sugar or honey: to help to activate the yeast and add sweetness to the rolls.
- Butter: for the dough and the filling.
- Brown sugar: to sprinkle over the dough.
- Cinnamon: the flavor we’ll be waiting for in every bite of these rolls!
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: what every glaze needs.
- Butter: adds delicious flavor!
- Milk: you can swap it for cream.
- Vanilla extract: makes the glaze even tastier!
You’ll find the measurements in the recipe card below.
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
Activate the yeast:
- 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.
Make the dough:
- 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.
Let it rise:
- 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.
Make the rolls:
- 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.
Make the glaze:
- 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.