It’s hard to say no to a soft and sticky homemade cinnamon roll. And when they look like these, you can’t hide the smile on your face after every bite. This is my recipe for applesauce cinnamon rolls; they’re inspired by regular rolls, but I wanted to make them healthier, low fat and vegan-friendly!
To make these applesauce cinnamon rolls, you’ll need bread flour, instant yeast, salt, applesauce and just a tablespoon of oil--that's it! For the vegan-friendly frosting, use a vegan cream cheese like Tofutti’s — they’ve been championing vegan dairy alternatives for 30 years, but there are others.
Shall we step into the kitchen?
Here's why I love this recipe
- vegan - no eggs, milk or butter required
- no added sugars in the dough! The applesauce provides the sweetness.
- healthy AND delicious
- easy to prepare if you have a stand mixer or bread machine
- high in nutrients and low in fat, thanks to the applesauce
Ingredients Used to Make Low Fat Applesauce Cinnamon Rolls
**I've linked some of these ingredients to amazon.com to give you an idea of what they are, but you should also be able to find them in your local grocery store (usually, the baking aisle, or the natural & organic food section). They are also affiliate links, which means that I earn a commission as an Amazon Associate if you decide to purchase the items. The price will be the same for you, link or no link 🙂
- Bread Flour - Bread flour is highly recommended for this recipe for the best texture and structure. I used King Arthur Bread Flour. Please read the note in the substitution section below if using other flours.
- Instant Yeast - you can find instant yeast in the baking section near the flours. My favorite is SAF Instant Premium Yeast, which works quickly and consistently produces great results. I recommend using instant yeast over active yeast for this recipe since active yeast (unlike instant yeast) needs to be activated in water, which we don't add until the very end.
- Salt - Pink Himalayan salt is what I have at home, so it’s what I use, but you can use any kind for this recipe.
- Applesauce - you can use any kind or any flavored applesauce. I used regular applesauce (sweetened).
- Olive Oil - I like using light olive oil since it has a neutral flavor, but you can also any cooking oil of your choice like coconut oil, or avocado oil instead
- I used a KitchenAid Stand Mixer with a dough hook to knead the dough. You're also welcome to use a bread machine, or knead the dough by hand.
More Apple Recipes (HERE)
Step by Step Guide
How to Make Vegan Low Fat Applesauce Cinnamon Rolls
Mix all the dry ingredients (bread flour, instant yeast, salt) in the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the applesauce.
Start to knead the dough at a low setting (speed 2) for about a minute.
Add the olive oil (and additional water or flour, if needed) and continue to knead for about 8 to 10 minutes. The dough will appear sticky, but will be less so when the flours have a chance to absorb the liquid from the puree.
Remove the finished dough from the mixer bowl and place in a lightly greased bowl.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about 60-90 minutes.
**It's best if the bowl is put in a warm place, for example, inside a microwave oven with a hot bowl of water next to it.
While the dough rises, prepare the filling by mixing the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
When the dough is ready, punch down the dough then remove from bowl. Place on a generously floured surface and use a rolling pin to flatten the dough into a rectangle, about 18 x 10 inches in size.
Spray, brush or sprinkle water or almond milk onto the surface of the dough. The surface just needs to be wet enough for the sugar mixture to stick.
Spread the sugar cinnamon mixture over the dough
Starting from the end, roll the rectangular dough into a roll. Pinch the seams to seal.
Use a string or dental floss to cut the rolled up dough into individual rolls.
Place the individual rolls on a parchment-lined baking pan, swirl side up.
Bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes until golden brown
Once cooled enough to handle, glaze or frost the rolls.
Recipe Variations and Optional Add Ins:
I made this cinnamon roll recipe as basic as possible so that people can customize it to fit their own tastes. Here are some awesome ways you can make this bread your own 🙂
- Add more flavor! Instead of cinnamon powder, use apple pie spice to bring out the fall flavors of this recipe. Also, you can add 1 tsp of vanilla extract to enhance the sweet flavor.
- Add more texture! Adding chopped nuts, seeds, or dried fruits or oats is a fantastic way to increase the nutrition and flavor in breads. If you're feeling indulgent, you can also add chocolate chips.
Different Icing and Frosting Options for Cinnamon Rolls
If you want to enjoy cinnamon rolls with a variety of glazes, icings and frostings, there are many fun and delicious options to choose from. For starters, try drizzling cinnamon rolls with chocolate, topping them with whipped cream, or adding some coffee to the glaze. For more ideas, check out this post for 10+ Easy Homemade Cinnamon Roll Icing & Frosting Recipes
How to Make Applesauce Cinnamon Rolls Healthier
- Make these Applesauce Cinnamon Rolls even healthier by adding a handful of nuts, seeds and old-fashioned oats to add texture and nutrition. Here are some ideas
- Nuts - chopped walnuts, pecans, cashews
- Seeds - poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds or chiaseeds
- Dried Fruit - chopped apricot, raisins, cranberries, dried cherries, candied ginger, citrus zests, etc.
- Want to add more fiber? Substitute white whole wheat flour for up to half of the bread flour called for in this recipe. You'll need to add a few more tablespoons of water to adjust the hydration since whole wheat flour absorbs more water than white flour.
Note on Substitutions
- Unfortunately, gluten-free flours cannot be substituted for bread flour in this recipe.
- For softer rolls with less bite, you can use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour.
- The almond flour can be subbed with other nut flour like pecan, cashew and walnut flour.
How to Store
- WITHOUT FROSTING, you can store these Cinnamon Rolls in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3-4 days.
- WITH FROSTING, these rolls can be out at room temperature for a maximum of 2 days.
- For longer storage, you can place them in a plastic freezer bag or airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 7 days, or freeze up to 3 months. To reheat, cover with foil and warm them up in the oven or air fryer
Final Tips for Low Fat Applesauce Cinnamon Rolls
- Weigh your flour for the best results. 1 cup of bread flour = 120 grams / 4.23 oz. This is recommended since scooping the flour directly from the bag can can pack the flour into the measuring cup, and this means you'll end up with more flour than what's called for in the recipe. If you don't have a kitchen scale, you can measure the flour by spooning pre-sifted flour into the measuring cup, then using the straight end of the spoon to level the flour across the top to sweep off the excess.
- Baking time (as well as serving size) will vary based on the size of your baking pan, the material (silicone vs metal) of the pan. If you're not sure whether the bread is ready, you can insert a quick read thermometer into the bread - a finished bread will register 190 F (or 88 C).
- To make this recipe in the bread machine: add all the dry ingredients into the machine, stir briefly before adding the wet ingredients. The machine can be set for basic. Check the dough for consistency and adjust by adding additional water (or flour) before the end of the first kneading cycle. If you want to add additional nuts or dried fruits, leave them aside, and only them 3 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle.
More Bread Recipes (HERE)
Low Fat Applesauce Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 6 oz vegan cream cheese , can sub with regular dairy cream cheese, either full fat or low fat.
- ⅔ cup powdered sugar of choice , use sugar free confectioner's sugar for low calorie option
- Mix all the dry ingredients (bread flour, instant yeast, salt) in the bowl of the stand mixer.
- Add the applesauce
- Start to knead the dough at a low setting (speed 2) for about a minute, until all the dry ingredients are just combined.
- Add the olive oil and continue to knead for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a slightly bumpy, but a stretchy -supple ball.
- Remove the finished dough from the mixer bowl and place in a lightly greased bowl.
- Let rise until doubled, about 60-90 minutes**
- While the dough rises, prepare the filling by mixing the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
- When the dough is ready, punch down the dough then remove from bowl. Place on a generously floured surface and use a rolling pin to flatten the dough into a rectangle, about 18 x 10 inches in size.
- Spray, brush or sprinkle water or almond milk onto the surface of the dough. Note: the surface just needs to be wet enough for the sugar mixture to stick.
- Spread the sugar cinnamon mixture over the dough
- Starting from the end, roll the rectangular dough into a roll. Pinch the seams to seal.
- Use a string or dental floss to cut the rolled up dough into individual rolls. For wider, dome-shaped rolls like the ones in the photos, cut into 16 rolls and arrange them 1 inch apart, on a half-sized (8"x13") sheet pan. For regular tall cinnamon rolls with straight sides, cut into 12 rolls and use a 9" x 12" rectangular pan, or a quarter sheet pan, half an inch apart.
- Line a baking pan of choice with parchment paper.
- Place the individual rolls on a parchment-lined baking pan, swirl side up.
- Let the rolls rise again for about 30 minutes until puffy. Toward the end of the rise time, preheat the oven to 350F / 180C
- Bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes until golden brown
- Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar to make the frosting. For best results, use cream cheese that's room temperature, and beat the mixture thoroughly until light and fluffy.
- Spread or pipe the frosting on the rolls once they have cooled to room temperature.