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Dairy Free Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls are so sweet and cinnamony that you will never miss the dairy! Also, unlike most cinnamon rolls, these are incredibly light and fluffy.

Serve them as a dessert or just treat yourself to one any time of day!

three dairy free cinnamon rolls on a white plate

Living in Israel, I’m surrounded by an amazing food culture with wonderful rich foods and pastries like chocolate rugelach and chocolate babka.  That said, there are foods that I grew up with that I often miss.

In fact, on my first visit back to the States, I made sure to eat as many foods I missed as possible.  Unfortunately though, there always seem to be more tomiss.

One of the things my brother Ari missed most was cinnamon rolls.  So, I decided to make them for him.  

While these cinnamon rolls are dairy-free, you won’t feel like you’re missing a thing!  They are light, fluffy, and incredibly sweet. But not too sweet! 

Ari couldn’t get enough and gave them a ten out of ten.  Personally, they totally satisfied my cinnamon roll craving – at least for a little while.

Another dairy free dessert you may love are my chocolate sweet rolls. They are like cinnamon rolls but with a rich chocolate filling.

Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

20% of all profits are donated to a women’s shelter to support the fight against domestic violence.

what you need

Dry measuring cups and spoons
Liquid measuring cup
Mixer with dough hook
Damp towel
Baking spatula
Rolling pin
Pastry brush
9×13 baking pan

BREAD FLOUR VS ALL PURPOSE FLOUR

Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose, which helps with gluten development.

Some recipes call for it if an especially chewy texture is desired.  It will also produce a heavier and denser loaf.

All-purpose flour has a lower protein content, but can generally be substituted for bread flour.

I almost never use anything other than all-purpose flour, including in bread recipes. I like it because it’s inexpensive and extremely versatile.

HOW TO MEASURE FLOUR AND OTHER DRY INGREDIENTS

Using a dry measuring cup, scoop ingredients from the bag or spoon them into the cup.  Next, level off the ingredient by removing the excess with an upside-down butter knife.

The one exception to this is brown sugar.  Brown sugar should be packed down and then any excess should be scraped off as well.

DRY VS LIQUID MEASURING CUP

Ever wonder why measuring spoons often come with a set of measuring cups?  I used to.  I didn’t see why we needed a set when we could have one large measuring cup. 

After a quick search, I had my answer.  I discovered that the large measuring cup is used for liquids, whereas the set is used for dry ingredients.

As it turns out, if you try to measure dry ingredients with a liquid cup, the measurements get messed up. 

First, you pour the flour or cocoa in, next you shake it around to get it level, and then you add more. 

By shaking it, you are causing the powder to settle, and when you add more, you end up using more than called for.

WHY SIFT FLOUR and Other Powder Ingredients

There are a number of benefits to sifting flour and other ingredients like cocoa ingredients: 

It removes any unwanted debris and you can get a more accurate measurement than when packed tight in a bag. 

It also removes any lumps that can get into the batter and be hard to break up later, or be missed altogether before baking.

If you sift the powdered ingredients together, it helps combine them and mix more evenly with other dry ingredients like sugar.

BREAD FLOUR VS ALL PURPOSE FLOUR

Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose, which helps with gluten development.

Some recipes call for it if an especially chewy texture is desired.  It will also produce a heavier and denser loaf.

All-purpose flour has a lower protein content, but can generally be substituted for bread flour.

I almost never use anything other than all-purpose flour, including in bread recipes. I like it because it’s inexpensive and extremely versatile.

Types of YEAST

There are seven different types of yeast used for baking.  However, only five are relevant to home bakers:

WILD YEAST

Wild yeast is found naturally in the air.  This type of yeast is used for sourdough breads, and in order to use it, you need to make a sourdough starter.

FRESH YEAST

Fresh yeast (a.k.a. cake yeast), block yeast, wet yeast, or compressed yeast is found in small, foil-wrapped cubes.  

It is far less popular with home bakers because it’s highly perishable. However, it is still widely available for commercial use and is still used by home bakers in some countries.

The benefits of using it is that it’s easier to measure and has the most leavening power.

If you want to use fresh yeast in this recipe, for every 1 teaspoon instant dry yeast you’d need 17 grams (or .6 ounces) of fresh yeast.

Make sure to bloom it before using it in this recipe.

ACTIVE DRY YEAST

Active dry yeast looks like large grained powder mainly used by home bakers in the States.

It has a much longer lifespan than compressed yeast, lasting up to a year at room temperature and more than a decade if frozen.

Unlike other types of yeast, it needs to proof first. This means it is rehydrated in warm liquid such as water or milk to activate it.

The main downside of using this is that a lot of the yeast is already dead, so you need more of it than other yeasts.  This can cause an undesired yeast flavor.

If you want to use active dry yeast in this recipe, for 1 teaspoon of instant dry yeast you need 1 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast.

Make sure to bloom it first before using it in this recipe.

INSTANT YEAST

Instant yeast looks the same as active dry yeast. However, it does not need to be proofed before using.

Instead of having to be activated in warm liquid first, it can be added as is when making the dough.

It is more perishable than active dry yeast, lasting only 2 to 4 months at room temperature and for years in the freezer.

This is my favorite type of yeast to use because it lasts longer than fresh yeast and you need less of it than active dry yeast.

RAPID-RISE YEAST

Rapid-rise yeast is often specifically marketed toward users of bread machines.  It’s essentially instant yeast with a smaller grain. The smaller granules allow it to dissolve faster in the dough and therefore rise faster.  

While most baking experts believe that the bread flavors aren’t as developed by using this yeast, others feel it makes little difference.

WHY BlOOM INSTANT YEAST?

As mentioned above, active dry yeast needs to be bloomed (aka proofed) before use to activate it, but I also proof instant yeast. The reason for this is because it helps troubleshoot if any problems come up.  

By blooming the yeast first, you know it is active. So, if the dough has trouble rising, you know it’s not the yeast.

This is particularly useful when you don’t have a “warm” place to let it rise.

How to Bloom Yeast

To bloom, place the yeast, warm water, and sugar together in the bowl. Stir and wait for it to activate.

You know the yeast is activated when foam appears on the surface. This can take up to 10 minutes.

Please note that hot water will kill the yeast and cool water won’t activate it. Lukewarm water is ideal.

If you are using fresh yeast, make sure to break it up with a fork once it is in the water.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE DOUGH TO RISE?

How quickly dough rises depends on how warm the place it is rising in is.

If you put it in the fridge for instance it could take 8 hours or so. In the summer in Israel, it rises very quickly.

If you leave it on the counter in a comfortably warm room, its usually 45 minutes.

HOW TO RISE BREAD FASTER

I often find myself running late and need to rise dough faster, or sometimes, in the winter, I don’t have a warm place and the dough take forever to rise.  So, I let my dough rise in a warm oven.

What I do is preheat the oven to its lowest temperature and turn it off.  Then, I cover the dough with a damp towel and place the oven.

This trick works for me every time.  On occasion, I may need to remove the dough and preheat the oven another time or two, but usually just once does the trick.

The down side of this process is that some bakers feel it doesn’t allow for flavors to really develop.  Personally, I never noticed much of a difference.

PUNCHING DOUGH DOWN

Punching is a bit of a strong word.  Yeast is a delicate living thing so you actually need to treat it with care.  

What you’re really doing is lightly pressing down the dough through the center with first.  This removes gasses that have formed during the first rise allowing for a better crumb.

 By doing this you are also bring the yeast, sugar, and moisture back together which is important for the second rise as the yeast feeds on the sugar.

After you “punch” the dough you should pull edges of the dough to the center. Once you’re done, take dough out of bowl and place on lightly floured board, turn over, and shape your dough into a ball.

If desired, you can kneading the dough two or three times to release additional air bubbles.

LET THE DOUGH REST

While you don’t need to let the dough rest after punching it down, it is preferable to.  

If you have the time, allow the dough to rest between 10 to 40 minutes. Ideally no less than 15 minutes.  

This will allow the gluten to relax making the dough easier to roll out and shape.

I often allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes in the fridge with a damp towel. Chilled dough can be easier to work with.

THE SECOND RISE

The second rise allows the yeast to feed longer on the sugar.  This allows the bread to become larger, have a better crumb, and develop a better flavor.  

Also, if you were to let it rise only once, punch it down, shape it, and stick it in the oven, your bread would rise somewhat, but not enough for it to become fluffy.  

BAKING WITH OIL

In general, oil in baked goods makes for a superior texture than those made with butter.  

Oil cakes tend to bake up taller with a better crumb. They also stay moist and tender far longer than recipes made with butter.

Furthermore, since oil is lighter than butter, the texture of oil cakes is lighter too. Also, given that oil is 100% fat while most American butter is 15% water, it creates a more tender crumb.

This is due to the fact that the extra water strengthens the gluten, resulting in a crumb that’s more dense.

Which Type Of Oil to Use

I use neutral oils like canola oil, safflower oil, and vegetable oil.  However, it’s not unheard of for oils with stronger flavors like olive oil or coconut oil to be used.

If using olive oil, I recommend using pure olive oil for its milder flavor and higher smoking point.

Baking with Oil Conversion Chart

If you want to convert your butter recipes to oil recipes, check out my baking with oil butter to oil conversion chart.

DO EGGS NEED TO BE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE?

The short answer is “no”.  While a side-by-side comparison shows that baking with eggs at room temperature makes a better crumb, it’s not otherwise noticeable.

What are Eggs used for?

Eggs do three things in most recipes: they help bind the ingredients together, act as a mild leavening agent, and they add moisture.

EGG FREE OPTION

Eggs can be substituted with 1/4 cup of unsweetened apple sauce per egg.  This means for recipes calling for 2 eggs, you’d need 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce.

The reason applesauce makes a good binder is that it’s high in pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring starch in fruits and berries that acts as a thickening agent and stabilizer in food.

This happens when combined with sugar and acid (if the fruit or berry isn’t naturally acidic).

Just keep in mind that it may change the flavor slightly.

ARE EGGS DAIRY?

No, eggs are not dairy.  Dairy is milk and any food products made from milk, including cheese, cream, butter, and yogurt. 

So, while eggs are an animal product, they are not dairy. In fact, eggs fall under the protein food group.

Understanding Sugar

Sugar may seem very basic if you’ve baked before, but I’ve been asked about it before, so I’m explaining.

There are many different types of sugar, including white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla sugar, powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, and demerara sugar.

When a recipe – any recipe, not just mine – says “sugar” without specifying anything else, it is regular white sugar.

White Sugar

White sugar (sometimes called granulated sugar, table sugar, or white granulated sugar) is made of either beet sugar or cane sugar, which has undergone a refining process.

It is the easiest to find and most commonly used.

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added to it.

It is commonly used in chocolate chip cookie recipes, and it’s rare for a recipe that calls for brown sugar not to also call for white sugar as well.

When a recipe calls for “brown sugar” but doesn’t specify what type (light or dark), it is referring to light brown sugar.

In my recipes, you can use whatever type of brown sugar you have on hand whether it is dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, or demerara sugar – which is very common in Israel.

Just keep in mind that the flavor and color will be slightly different depending on what you choose to use.

Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado sugar is better known as “raw sugar”. But, despite this name, the sugar is not really “raw.”

Instead, it’s partially refined sugar that retains some of the original molasses.

The term “raw sugar” may also give off the impression that it is somehow healthier.

In reality, turbinado sugar is nutritionally similar to white sugar.

Demerara Sugar

Demerara sugar is very popular in Israel and is especially delicious in tea but is also used for baking.

Unlike white sugar, demerara sugar undergoes minimal processing and retains some vitamins and mineral.

However, it is still not much healthier than white sugar.

Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla sugar is not very common in the States. However, it is common in Israel and parts of Europe.

This is sugar that sat for an extended period of time with vanilla beans, giving it a vanilla flavor.

Caster Sugar

This type of sugar is common in the United Kingdom.

It has a finer grain than white (granulated) sugar and larger than powdered sugar.

Caster sugar is often called for in recipes for delicate baked goods like meringues, souffles, and sponge cakes.

You can use a 1:1 conversion rate between caster sugar and white (granulated) sugar.

Powdered sugar

Powdered sugar, sometimes known as confectioners’ sugar, is a sugar with a powdered texture.

This sugar is rarely, if ever, used for baking. Instead, it is used for dusting desserts and making frosting and icings.

In some countries, you can also find powdered vanilla sugar. It is made the exact same way regular vanilla sugar is made. However, the sugar used is powdered instead of granulated.

Vanilla Extract vs Vanilla sugar

In my recipes, I don’t specify what kind of vanilla to use.

The reason for this is that in the States, vanilla extract is exclusively used. Meanwhile in Israel, along with many European countries, vanilla sugar is common.

In most, if not all recipes, both vanilla extract and vanilla sugar can be used.

In recipes where vanilla sugar can be used instead of extract, you can replace them 1:1.

BROWN SUGAR

Brown sugar should not be confused with raw sugar or demerara. 

What we call brown sugar is essentially white sugar that has had molasses added back to it. 

Both dark and light brown sugar can easily be made at home if you have a little white sugar and molasses.

It is commonly used in chocolate chip cookie recipes, and it’s rare for a recipe that calls for brown sugar not to also call for white sugar as well.

When a recipe calls for “brown sugar” but doesn’t specify what type (light or dark), it is referring to light brown sugar.

DARK BROWN SUGAR 

Dark brown sugar can be made with 1 cup white granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons molasses. 

Add both ingredients into a bowl and mix with a fork until completely mixed.

LIGHT BROWN SUGAR

Light brown sugar can be made with 1 cup white granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon molasses. 

Add both ingredients into a bowl and mix with a fork until completely mixed.

DEMERARA

Demerara is popular in Israel and is easier to find than light brown sugar. It is a type of cane sugar with a nice toffee flavor and can be used in place of brown sugar.

HOW TO SUBSTITUTE DARK AND LIGHT BROWN SUGAR

DARK BROWN SUGAR

Dark Brown Sugar can be made with 1 cup of light brown sugar and 1 tablespoon molasses. 

Add both ingredients into a bowl and mix with a fork until completely mixed.

LIGHT BROWN SUGAR

Light Brown sugar can easily be replaced in a recipe with half dark brown sugar and half white granulated sugar.

DOES THE TYPE OF BROWN SUGAR YOU USE REALLY MATTER?

Yes and no.

It will change the flavor and likely the color.

Dark brown sugar has more molasses which will give it deeper, more complex flavor that’s closer to toffee or caramel.

However, I tend to use what’s on hand, which for me means dark brown sugar in Israel and light brown in the States.

I also happen to love the extra flavor dark brown sugar gives, so I like using it even if I have both on hand.

HOW TO HALVE THIS RECIPE

If you halve the recipe you will need an 8-inch square baking pan. 

The area of a square or rectangular pan is calculated by multiplying one side times the other side.  This recipe calls for an 9 x 13-inch rectangular pan so a 9 x 13 = 117 square inches where an 8 x 8 = 64 square inches. 

So, if you halve 117 it comes out to 58.5 square inches which is close enough to 64 square inches.

TROUBLESHOOTING

WHY IS IT TAKING LONGER THAN DESCRIBED TO BAKE?

Over time, the thermostat on ovens gets a little off, causing some ovens to run hot and others to run cool. 

This is why recipes tend to say things like “10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.” 

So, if it takes you longer than expected that’s fine, don’t worry about it. Just keep baking until ready.

WHY DID MY RECIPE COME OUT TOO DRY?

Just like some ovens run cool, others run hot.  If your oven runs hot, bake these at a lower temperature.  Ideally, you should get an oven thermometer to know what temperature you’re really baking at.

HOW TO STORE

Cover cinnamon rolls tightly with plastic wrap. This will preserve the cinnamon rolls for two days at room temperature.

To preserve them for up to a week: refrigerate the cinnamon rolls in a sealed plastic bag with as much air removed as possible.

How to freeze

To freeze, let glazed cinnamon rolls cool. store inside of a heavy-duty freezer bag and squeeze out the excess air before sealing.

They can freeze for up to 2 to 3 months. After that time, they will still be safe to eat but their quality will begin to degrade.

When ready, thaw in the refrigerator the night before you want to serve the rolls.

The next morning, preheat your oven to 325°F or 160°C and reheat them for 5 to 10 minutes or until warm. Glaze and serve.

MY SNAFU:

My only trouble with this recipe was the glaze. 

First, I thinned it out too much, then I put it while the rolls were still hot so it kind of melted. 

Both of these gave me a kind of doughnut glaze.  

Then I tried to put in less water or dairy free milk but that made it nearly impossible to mix.

In the end, I added a quarter teaspoon extra at a time until I got it just right. 

I will say though, even too thin it tasted amazing!

RECIPE Tip

While I used a sharp chef’s knife to cut the roll into slices, you can also use flavorless dental floss for easy cutting. 

If you don’t want to take the time to chill the dough, lightly oil your rolling pin so the dough doesn’t stick. 

Also, for a thin glaze, add another spoon or two of water.

Yield: 12 rolls

Dairy Free Cinnamon Rolls

three dairy free cinnamon rolls on a white plate

These cinnamon rolls are fluffy, moist, and delicious!

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 cup warm water (235 milliliters)
  • 1 tablespoon instant dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons oil*
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (360 grams)

Filling

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed (220 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup oil* (60 milliliters)

Glaze

  • 1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar (150 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons water or nut milk, warm

Instructions

  1. Pour warm water, yeast and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit for a few minutes until the yeast is activated and frothy.  
  2. Add oil, egg, salt, and flour. Knead using the dough hook until the dough is smooth but sticky.
  3. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and put in a warm place. Let it rise until it's doubled in size. 
  4. Optional: Chill for about half an hour making it easier to roll out.
  5. Punch (press) the dough down. Then remove and place it on a lightly floured surface and roll the dough out into a large rectangle. 
  6. In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
  7. Lightly pour the oil on the dough, and brush it out. Then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over it as evenly as possible.
  8. From the longer side, roll the dough tightly. Then cut the roll into 12 pieces, and place the pieces in a parchment paper lined 9×13 baking pan
  9. Cover with a damp towel and put in a warm place. Let it rise until it is about double in size.
  10. Preheat your oven to 350°F or 175°C. When it is fully heated, place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until it begins to brown slightly.  Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool.
  11. Combine the confectioners' sugar and water and mix until you have a nice, thick, smooth glaze. If it is too thick, add more water a 1/4 teaspoon at a time until you achieve the desired consistency.
  12. When the cinnamon rolls are completely cool, spoon the glaze over the rolls. Best served room temperature.

Notes

*Click here to jump to notes on oil

A great trick when working with dough is to put a little oil on your hands to prevent it from sticking.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 307Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 206mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 2gSugar: 22gProtein: 5g

Did you make this recipe?

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Sally

Saturday 10th of October 2020

Wait so this doesn't require any baking soda or baking powder?

ElissaBeth

Sunday 11th of October 2020

Cinnamon rolls are a yeast bread not a quick bread so they use yeast, not baking soda or baking powder.

Sara

Saturday 10th of October 2020

First time making these! Hope they turn out well, I'll write a reply later once I finish making them. Thanks for this awesome recipe! Fingers crossed!

ElissaBeth

Sunday 11th of October 2020

You're welcome :) I hope you enjoyed them!

AV

Friday 7th of August 2020

what kind of sugar is white sugar. is it granulated or caster???

ElissaBeth

Friday 7th of August 2020

As I explain extensively in the section in the post about sugars, white sugar is granulated sugar however you can use caster sugar if desired :)

Mel

Sunday 2nd of August 2020

This was fantastic! Thanks for a thorough account of the ingredients and the process. We made these in April during our stay at home time. Going on a family getaway to the lake, and my daughter wants to take these as a surprise. So glad to see freezing instructions!

ElissaBeth

Monday 3rd of August 2020

You're welcome :) I'm happy to hear you and your family liked them so much!

Chana

Friday 10th of July 2020

This is the second time I made these. I did not put a glaze on them. They were sweet enough and good enough enough without it.

ElissaBeth

Friday 10th of July 2020

I'm glad you enjoyed them :)

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