Cinnamon rolls are delicious, but not exactly the healthiest option...so here’s a way to make them healthier! And, these have a Thanksgiving style twist thanks to cranberries and pecans! These are also vegan and gluten free! You could make them with regular milk and butter if you are not vegan or dairy free. These were inspired by Rachel Mansfield's (one of my favorite recipe bloggers) recipe for healthy vegan cinnamon rolls.
My friend Allie and I wanted to bake something festive since Thanksgiving is coming up, and I had made some recipes with cranberries last year, so I thought it could be fun to add cranberries and pecans to cinnamon rolls! I experimented (using that handy chemistry experience haha) a bit to make a cranberry topping, and it was such a good addition to the cinnamon rolls. Try making these for your Thanksgiving celebration and I’m sure it’ll be a hit!
Makes 8 cinnamon rolls
1 cup non-dairy milk (we used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp melted coconut oil
2 ¾ cup spelt flour (or use all-purpose or oat flour)
3 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp coconut sugar
A good dash of cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg (optional)
¼ cup coconut sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup melted vegan butter (we used this kind)
¼ to ⅓ cup crushed pecans
1 bag of cranberries (we got ours from Trader Joe’s)
About 1 tsp vanilla
Dash of cinnamon
About ¼ cup maple syrup (can add more to taste later)
1. Preheat oven to 400 F and lightly oil a 9 x 9 baking dish.
2. Mix the apple cider vinegar and milk together in a bowl and set aside for at least 10 minutes, until it curdles a bit.
3. While this is setting, mix together the dry dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
4. Add the rest of the wet dough ingredients to the milk and vinegar, then pour the wet into the dry ingredients and mix evenly until a smooth dough forms.
5. Mix the filling ingredients together.
6. Sprinkle flour on a flat surface, and place the ball of dough in the middle.
7. Roll out the dough until it is about ½ inch thick - we didn’t have a rolling pin, so we used a water bottle, which worked great!
8. Spread the filling down the center of the dough, then roll the dough tightly from one end.
9. To evenly slice the rolls with squishing them, use dental floss!! This was such a great trick we found - thanks Internet! See the above video for a demonstration - slide the floss under the roll, then pull the ends together on top until it completely slices through the dough.
Before and after baking!
10. Place the rolls in the baking dish, and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Let cool - the insides of the rolls will be soft for a while, so if they don’t fully cool, they may fall apart when you try to pick them up.
11. While the rolls are baking, begin making the cranberry topping. Place the cranberries in a pot on the stovetop and add enough water to cover them. Turn the burner on medium heat, and cover.
12. Once the cranberries start to pop - you can actually hear them, which is fun, stir occasionally. Once all cranberries have popped and are soft, strain the water.
13. Add the cranberries back to the pot and turn it to low heat/simmer, and add the vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Stir well and let simmer. Cranberries are naturally very tart, so you may want to add more syrup or some coconut sugar to taste if you want them sweeter.
14. Add the cranberry topping, pecans, and a drizzle of almond butter to the cinnamon rolls and enjoy!
While we were baking these, a maintenance employee came to fix Allie’s washing machine, and we shared the cinnamon rolls with him. He thought these were delicious as well and was surprised that they were a healthier, vegan version of cinnamon rolls! So this recipe is definitely a winner!