Everything I love about carrot cake is baked into these perfectly soft and moist carrot cake cinnamon rolls: the brown sugar flavor, the walnuts, raisins and silky cream cheese frosting. The main ingredients for this recipe are bread flour, instant yeast, salt, sugar, olive oil, solidly-packed shredded carrots and almond flour--an extra (optional) healthy ingredient that helps turn these rolls into a healthy but scrumptious treat without the need of eggs, milk or butter.
Most cinnamon rolls are slathered in frosting, but these rolls are sweet enough on their own and that dollop of cream cheese frosting is just there to reward you for waiting 🙂
Here's why I love this recipe
- vegan - no eggs, milk or butter required
- healthy AND delicious
- easy to prepare if you have a stand mixer or bread machine
- high in nutrients and fiber, thanks to the shredded carrots and added almond flour
Ingredients Used to Make Healthy Carrot Cake 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 on the substitution section below if using other flours.
- Almond Flour (optional)- I used blanched almond flour. But you can also make your own by blending raw or blanched, slivered almonds in the food processor and sifting them through a sieve. In this recipe, almond flour was added to add more nutrition and is optional. If you want, you can substitute the almond flour with half the amount of bread flour (read note on the recipe card).
- 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.
- Sugar - I used raw cane sugar, but you can use regular granulated white sugar, or healthier alternatives like coconut, date, or maple sugars. Sugar free sugar-free substitutes such as monk fruit sweetener or stevia powder can be used in the frosting recipe, but for what goes inside the bread, I would not recommend using sugar-free substitutes since they can cause the bread to not rise properly.
- 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.
- Carrots - you'll need finely shredded (or grated) carrots in this recipe. Because the rolls only bake for 15-20 minutes, it's important for the carrots to be finely shredded so that they cook through.
- 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 Carrot Recipes (HERE)
How to Make
Easy Healthy Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls
Mix all the dry ingredients (bread flour, almond flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt) in the bowl of the stand mixer.
Add the finely shredded carrots
Start to knead the dough at a low setting (speed 2) for about a minute, adding the water gradually until all the dry ingredients are just combined. The dough will appear sticky, but will be less so when the flours have a chance to absorb the liquid from the puree.
Continue to knead for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a slightly sticky, but still a stretchy-supple dough.
Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and place in a lightly greased bowl. It's best if the bowl is put in a warm place, for example, inside the microwave with a bowl of hot water next to it.
Let rise until doubled, about 60-90 minutes
While the dough rises, prepare the filling by mixing the filling ingredients. Set aside.
After the initial rise, 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.
Spread the filling mixture over the dough, and starting from the short end, shape the 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.
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
Let the rolls cool to room temperature before topping the rolls with frosting. I used an Ateco 869 tip to pipe the frosting onto 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 a mixture of cinnamon powder with a pinch of ground gloves and nutmeg to bring out the fall flavors of this recipe. Also, you can add 1 tsp of vanilla extract or almond extract to the frosting 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 instead of raisins
- 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.
- Don't like raisins? Neither does my family 🙂 You can omit the raisins when you mix the filling ingredients. Pic below!
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
Note on Substitutions
- Unfortunately, gluten-free flours cannot be substituted for bread flour in this recipe.
- If you don't have bread flour, you can also use All Purpose Flour instead. AP flour has less protein than bread flour, so they will yield softer rolls with less chew/ bite.
- 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 Healthy Carrot Cake 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)
Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls with Almond Flour (Healthy, Vegan Recipe)
- 6 oz vegan cream cheese , can also use regular cream cheese (full fat or low fat)
- ⅔ cup powdered sugar of choice , can use sugar free substitute for lower calories
- Mix all the dry ingredients (bread flour, almond flour, instant yeast, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt) in the bowl of the stand mixer.
- Add the finely shredded carrots
- Start to knead the dough at a low setting (speed 2) for about a minute, adding the water gradually until all the dry ingredients are just combined. Note: More water or flour may be needed depending on the protein content of the flour, the water content in the carrots, as well as the humidity and temperature of the kitchen. If adding additional water or flour, be sure to add one tablespoon at a time, just until the dry ingredients are no longer visible.
- 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 water
- After kneading, let the dough rest in the bowl for 10 minutes to give time for the flour to fully hydrate.
- Remove the 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 filling ingredients. Set aside.
- After the initial rise, 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 filling mixture over the dough
- Starting from the short end, shape the dough into a roll. Pinch the seams to seal.
- Use a string or dental floss to cut the rolled up dough into individual rolls. Note: For wider, dome-shaped rolls like the ones in the photos, cut log 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, divide into 12 rolls and use a 9" x 12" rectangular pan or a quarter sheet pan, and space them half-inch apart so that they're almost touching.
- Line the baking pan 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
- In another bowl, 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.
- Let the rolls cool to room temperature before topping the rolls with frosting. I used an Ateco 869 tip to pipe the frosting onto the rolls.