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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Ann Arbor, MI!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali See what I'm eating this week

Light and Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

healthy cinnamon rolls

I have a confession to make.

While I do try to eat healthy most of the time, I’ve got quite a sweet tooth. It’s one of the rare food preferences the husband and I have 100% in common!

I crave all sweet treats: cookies, cakes, pastries, chocolate, candy, ice cream — they call to me like long lost friends whom I love and adore.

I also eat dessert every day.

But I do it in The Picky Eater way: in moderation, just a bit of indulgence, so it’s relatively guilt-free.

A while back, I received a request on my Facebook Page for a lighter version of Cinnamon Buns or Cinnamon Rolls. I love, love, love Cinnamon Buns. I remember when Cinnabon opened in our local mall when I was in junior high — it was all the rage and I definitely had my fair share of their ooey, gooey, decadent, calorie-laden treats.

So in a quest to recreate that Cinnabon experience, but with The Picky Eater twist, I scoured the web and finally found this amazing recipe for a health(ier) version of Cinnamon Buns!

What are the secret swaps in this recipe?

  • Whole wheat flour for 1/2 the all purpose flour
  • Nonfat milk
  • A bit less sugar than the traditional recipe
  • Fat free icing, and less of it per bun
  • Smaller buns (it’s somewhat obvious, but if you make the buns slightly smaller, you end up with fewer calories!)
  • Raisins instead of nuts for the filling
The Ingredients
Adapted from Food.com

Makes 12 buns

  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon yeast, about 1 package
  • 1.25 cups whole wheat flour, sifted, divided
  • 1.25 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, divided
  • 1/4 cup unpacked brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest, grated
  • 1/4 cup raisins or 1/4 cup dried cherries or 1/4 cup cranberries
  • Optional icing ingredients: 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 Tbsp low fat milk, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

The Directions

  1. Stir together milk, vegetable oil, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Heat to lukewarm.
  2. Pour yeast over 2 tablespoons lukewarm water and let sit 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the yeast/water mixture into the milk mixture.
  4. Transfer milk mixture to a large mixing bowl and beat in half the flour by hand or with an electric mixer.
  5. Mix in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough (you may need a little less than 2.5 cups total)
  6. Let rest 10 minutes; knead well on a floured board or with an electric mixer and dough hook; let rest 10 minutes.
  7. Spray a large, clean bowl with cooking spray, add dough, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  8. Lightly coat a 9-inch round baking pan with cooking spray.
  9. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle.
  10. Spray the rolled out dough with cooking spray.
  11. Stir together brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest; brush over dough.
  12. Sprinkle with raisins.
  13. Roll up tightly, like a jelly roll.
  14. Cut into 12 pieces.
  15. Place buns cut-side up in baking pan.
  16. Cover with plastic and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  17. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  18. Bake buns until firm and nicely browned on top, 30 minutes.
  19. Cool completely before serving.
Your finished buns will look like this:
.
Now, if you want to add a bit of icing, all you have to do is stir together the icing ingredients (powdered sugar, milk, vanilla) until smooth. Drizzle about 1 Tbsp over each of the buns.
.

healthy cinnamon rolls

Each cinnamon roll / cinnamon bun has about 160 calories, 10g sugar, and 1.5g fat. Not bad for a guilt-free version of the original!

Light and Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Yield: 12 buns

Serving Size: 1 bun

Nutritional Info Per Serving: 166.4 Calories, 1.5g Fat, 215.6mg Sodium, 34.9g Carbs, 1.3g Fiber, 10g Sugar, 3g Protein

Ingredients

  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon yeast, about 1 package
  • 1.25 cups whole wheat flour, sifted, divided
  • 1.25 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, divided
  • 1/4 cup unpacked brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest, grated
  • 1/4 cup raisins or 1/4 cup dried cherries or 1/4 cup cranberries
  • Optional icing ingredients: 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 Tbsp low fat milk, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Stir together milk, vegetable oil, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Heat to lukewarm.
  2. Pour yeast over 2 tablespoons lukewarm water and let sit 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the yeast/water mixture into the milk mixture.
  4. Transfer milk mixture to a large mixing bowl and beat in half the flour by hand or with an electric mixer.
  5. Mix in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough (you may need a little less than 2.5 cups total)
  6. Let rest 10 minutes; knead well on a floured board or with an electric mixer and dough hook; let rest 10 minutes.
  7. Spray a large, clean bowl with cooking spray, add dough, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  8. Lightly coat a 9-inch round baking pan with cooking spray.
  9. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle.
  10. Spray the rolled out dough with cooking spray.
  11. Stir together brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest; brush over dough.
  12. Sprinkle with raisins.
  13. Roll up tightly, like a jelly roll.
  14. Cut into 12 pieces.
  15. Place buns cut-side up in baking pan.
  16. Cover with plastic and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  17. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  18. Bake buns until firm and nicely browned on top, 30 minutes.
  19. Cool completely before serving.

Notes

Adapted from Food.com

http://www.pickyeaterblog.com/light-and-gooey-cinnamon-rolls/

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58 responses to “Light and Gooey Cinnamon Rolls”

    • Haha! Making cinnamon rolls in your head – I love it 🙂 I often bake in my head as well – especially when I’m sitting in traffic or bored hehe. Hope you like this recipe when you try it at home!

    • Aw thank you so much Linda! And I promise, you won’t even be able to tell the difference with these swaps 🙂 I’m so glad you’re getting more into cinnamon!! It’s one of my favorite spices – I add it to everything: oatmeal, hot chocolate, tea, sometimes it’s even fun to sprinkle on peanut butter and banana on toast – it tastes great! Can’t wait to hear how you like this recipe!

  1. I just made these tonight using cherries as the dried fruit, and they were awesome! I love the idea of maple syrup in the filling instead of butter or corn syrup. Great recipe!

    • Hooray!! I’m so happy you liked the recipe Beth 🙂 I usually make mine with raisins, but I’m sure the cherries tasted great!!

  2. this was actually great for a lightened up version, it was soft and not at all dry. for the icing i mixed powdered sugar with orange juice instead and was great. thanks.

    • Oh awesome!! So glad you liked it – and I love the idea of mixing powdered sugar with orange juice for the icing!

    • It’s definitely worth a try! I’m just not sure how the almond milk will react with the yeast in the dough — but if anyone ends up trying it definitely let me know how it is!

  3. Great recipe, but for me the orange zest made it taste bitter. Might have been something about the orange I used. Next time I’ll omit the zest. Thanks for the wonderful recipe.

    • Hi Larry! Aw I’m sorry to hear that. It might have been the orange you used, or – if you end up zesting too much of the rind, the part that is close to the white part of the orange ends up being really bitter. So you could try zesting the orange differently, or yes, omitting it is totally fine too. Glad the rest of the recipe turned out well! 🙂

  4. I was really excited about these rolls, but mine, once rolled out, came apart in the pan and the filling oozed out leaving the buns flat and dense. What did i do wrong? Any ideas or tips? I really want to get these right…

    • Hi Shradha! Aww man – I’m so sorry to hear that! The only thing I can think of is that for whatever reason, your dough mixture ended up being too thin. When you rolled out out the dough, put in the filling, and then rolled it back up again, was it able to stand up (cut side up) in the baking pan? If it didn’t stand “upright,” your dough could have been rolled out too thin. One other option is that you can use large muffin tins to hold the rolls — that way they won’t fall apart in the oven while they’re baking because the muffin tin rounds will keep them together. I hope this helps, let me know if you try it again and whether it works!

  5. Hello I have a question? Would they be as delicious if I didn’t use maple syrup?? Thanks,
    Baking Gramma

    • Hi Georgia! So regarding the maple syrup – it’s one of the key ingredients in making the filling stick to the dough. Without it, I’m not sure the brown sugar mixture will stick to the dough very well and it will probably be a little dry. I hope that helps – I wouldn’t recommend omitting the syrup!

  6. I subsituted almond flour for whole wheat flour, coconut oil for the veg oil no lemon zest and slivered almonds for the fruit. They are about to go in the oven, hopefully I didnt ruin your recipe 🙂

    • Those are really interesting substitutions Amber! How did they turn out? I’m sure you didn’t ruin the recipe 🙂 Let me know!

      • pretty good thank you, my kids and husband loved them. my only problem, when I put them in the 9inch round pan the 12 cinammon rolls didnt have room to expand like your pictures.

        • Oh great! I’m glad they tasted good 🙂 That’s too bad about the pan — maybe the differences in the dough made them thicker so they needed more room? Maybe a slightly bigger pan will work next time!

  7. Hi Anjali,

    theses cinnamon buns looks so welcoming and divine. I did try these out over the week , the kitchen smelt heavenly with the spicy aroma, buns were soft and gooey (maybe too gooey), tasted really nice expect it was it went abit hard (not too sure what went wrong) could it be me being too generous with the maple syrup that could have caused them to get hard….so I tried them again following your recipe to point and the same thing happened. 🙁

    • Hi Charm! So sorry to hear these didn’t turn out perfectly for you! I’m confused though, you said the buns were soft & gooey but then you also said they were hard? One thing to try is to try baking them for a little less time – it’s possible your oven gets hotter than mine and so it overbaked the rolls. Hope that helps!

      • hi Anjali,

        thank you for the feedback ,sorry bout the confusing , when i took them out the oven the buns were still very warm and soft but after cooling off completely there turned out abit hard ,well more stiff and dry ( hope this makes sense)

        you might b right it could be my oven settings and I could have rolled out the dough too thin. I did take a pic of the final product and looked at it again , mine are much browner compared to yours in the pic . Well I am gonna try these again .

        • Ah I see, that makes sense. Yes I’d recommend less baking time and maybe not rolling the dough out so much. Let me know how they turn out the next time!

  8. Hi anjali! Is the oil necessary? As i am trying to keep it low fat as possbible, I was wondering if maybe apple sauce or greek yogurt would work as a substitute? and The carb count is impressively low…How in the world?!

    • Hi Shweta! You could try replacing the oil with applesauce, but honestly the amount of fat in this recipe is already super low (1.5g) and I’m worried that with zero fat it will lose some of it’s yummy texture and flavor. I’d say go ahead and give it a try, but if it doesn’t turn out well – then make another batch with the oil and it will taste a lot better. Hope that helps! Good luck!

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