Print

Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

gingerbread cinnamon rolls in square baking pan on red holiday tea towel

5 from 8 reviews

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls are a must this holiday season. Topped with a greek yogurt cream cheese frosting your family will love. Dairy-free friendly recipe! See recommendations below.

Ingredients

Scale

for the dough

  • 1 cup milk of choice (I used cashew)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) rapid rise yeast
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (brown, white, etc.)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, ghee or coconut oil, melted
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3.25 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

for the filling

  • 1/4 cup coconut or brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or coconut oil, softened
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (if you don’t love cloves, omit)

for the frosting

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened (regular or lite)
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt (plain 2% of vanilla recommended)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla, almond or maple extract

Instructions

Read through the entire recipe before starting and get all ingredients ready. Then read through step-by-step. See notes below about preparing for overnight

  1. In a microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup, heat milk for about 20-30 seconds. Allow temperature of mixture to reach 110ºF (or lukewarm). If it’s too hot it will kill the yeast.
  2. Add yeast and sugar into large mixing bowl of stand mixer and gently add milk. Stir until combined and allow to sit for 10 minutes, until top is foamy.
  3. Add melted butter, egg and molasses stirring gently or using paddle attachment on low speed until combined.
  4. Start to add flour and salt, about ½ cup at a time. You will likely need about 3.25 cups. Dough should be elastic and start to pull away from edge of bowl when it is ready. At this time, change the attachment to the dough hook, and allow the hook to need the dough for about 3-4 minutes. Dough should remain soft but not overly sticky – you may need to add another ¼ cup flour here.
  5. Oil large bowl and shape dough into ball, place dough in bowl and cover with towel and let rise in warm environment until dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes. TIP: set oven to warm or preheated to 200F then turn off. Place bowl in the warmed oven and allow to rise.
  6. Grease a 9″ pie dish or square baking pan with butter or coconut oil, set aside.
  7. Once the dough has doubled in size, lightly cover rolling pin and flat surface with flour. Roll out dough into a 15×9 inch rectangle. Be patient, and roll gently. If you’re new to this it could take some practice! Don’t use too much flour or your dough will be stiff.
  8. Using spatula, spread softened butter on dough, sprinkle on sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Roll up dough into a log shape then place the dough seam side down. Use a large sharp knife and gently cut into 9 rolls, or use floss to lift up from under the dough. Transfer rolls to prepared dish and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free environment. Again, you can use the warm oven tip above.
  9. Once the rolls have risen again slightly, preheat oven to 350F (take rolls out and wait for oven to get up to 350F). Bake cinnamon rolls for 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Then, if necessary, cover top of rolls with foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Covering the rolls for the last 5-10 minutes will prevent them from getting too brown on the top.
  10. Make the cream cheese frosting: In medium bowl using electric hand mixer (or stand mixer with paddle attachment) beat softened cream cheese until light and fluffy then add yogurt. Add in extract and powdered sugar; mix on low speed until combined. Spread on slightly cooled gingerbread cinnamon rolls. Best served immediately while warm. Enjoy!

Notes

Butter vs. coconut oil. I used butter in Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls, but coconut oil was used in this recipe. Which means if you happen to be dairy-free, you should be okay using coconut oil here too. Just make sure whatever you use, it is softened so it is spreadable.

Flour. I used a whole wheat pastry flour but if you don’t have that on hand you can use about 1.5 cups all-purpose + 1.5 cups whole wheat. OR 3ish cups of whole wheat white flour. Or about 3.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour. I didn’t test this with any gluten-free flours.

Frosting. If dairy-free you can use a simple powered sugar glaze: about 1 cup powdered sugar to 2-3 tablespoons milk. Or use dairy-free yogurt and dairy-free cream cheese.

Make Overnight: Follow recipe directions preparing dough through “Step 8” – so you’ll roll out the dough into the rectangle, slice and place in prepared baking pan. At this point cover tightly with wrap and place in fridge overnight. Remove the pan from the fridge in the morning about an hour before baking, to allow the rolls to rise at room temperature. Or if your house is extra cold, let them rise in a 200ºF preheated oven then turn the oven off. Once the rolls have puffed up and risen again, place rolls in preheated 350ºF oven to bake for 20-25 minutes (remove rolls from oven while preheating to 350ºF).

Recipe originally published December 2017. Post updated with more tips December 2021.

Nutrition

Keywords: christmas brunch recipes, lightened up cinnamon rolls, gingerbread recipes