From Sweet to Savory: Veggies for Breakfast!

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spinach and cream cheese savory cinnamon rolls


On our childhood Saturday mornings, Mom mixed up batches of Mickey Mouse pancakes for my brother and me while we watched our favorite TV shows. During the commercial breaks, we rushed into the kitchen, doused our plates with maple syrup, and cut up the pancakes (ears first!) into as few bites as possible to shovel into our mouths. We needed lots of sugar energy to dance along to Gullah Gullah Island and Blue’s Clues!  


If Mom ran out of milk or flour, she popped open a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and drizzled lots of cream cheese icing on top as she pulled them from the oven. We ate them straight from the pan, so everybody won—we got our daily dose of sugar, and Mom had less plates and forks to clean!


Although I never really grew out of the whole “sweets for breakfast” phase, I tried thinking of ways to nudge my taste buds in a healthier direction without sacrificing my cinnamon rolls. I acted impulsively on my first thought, savory cinnamon rolls!” by spreading cream cheese on the dough and sautéing spinach to sprinkle on top. After waiting a few minutes in front of the oven and adding a little balsamic drizzle, I realized Pillsbury might lose this loyal customer—I actually want to eat veggies for breakfast now!


spinach and cream cheese savory cinnamon rolls


Spinach and Cream Cheese "Cinnamon" Rolls

Yield: 8 rolls

Serving Size: 1 roll

Spinach and Cream Cheese

You can easily halve the recipe and bake the rolls in a 6”-round cake pan instead. Be sure to serve them warm!

for the dough
½ c + 2 tbsp warm water (100-110°)
2 tsp yeast
2 tsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 c whole wheat flour
¼ c all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading

for the filling
4 tbsp fat-free cream cheese
1 tsp water
4 c spinach
¼ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

for the drizzle
3 tbsp plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  1. To prepare the dough, combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a medium bowl, and let it sit for 10 minutes or until bubbly. Stir in the whole wheat flour. Mix in a tablespoon of all-purpose flour at a time until a wet dough forms.
  2. Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface. Knead the dough until it springs back when a finger is pressed into it (about 3-5 minutes). Shape the dough into a ball. Lightly spray a medium bowl with nonstick cooking spray, and place the dough ball inside, rolling it around until it’s coated with the spray. Lay a clean towel on top, and place the bowl in a warm, draft-free spot for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  3. About 30 minutes into the rising time, stir together the cream cheese and water in a small bowl until smooth. Chiffonade the spinach, and add along with the basil, salt, and pepper to a large pan coated with cooking spray. Sauté over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the spinach turns dark green and wilts, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°, and lightly spray an 9”-round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  5. On a well-floured surface, punch down the dough. Spread the dough into a 8”x15” rectangle. Spread the cream cheese over the dough with a spatula, leaving a 1” border at one of the short ends. Sprinkle the spinach evenly across the top of the cream cheese.
  6. Starting with the other short end, roll up the dough into a log. Slice the log into 8 equal pieces, each about 1” wide. Place the rolls spiral-side-up in the prepared cake pan, and bake at 350° for 15-18 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
  7. While the rolls cook, prepare the drizzle by whisking together the yogurt and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Spoon on top of the rolls just before serving.

View Nutrition Facts


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spinach and cream cheese savory cinnamon rolls


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  1. Genevieve says on April 19, 2013 at 8:05 am

    This is such a creative idea – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a spinach and cream cheese stuffed cinnamon roll! It’s like the perfect cross between a savory breakfast and a sweet pastry. The yogurt balsamic drizzle sounds so interesting too, and much healthier than a sugary glaze.

    • foods for the soul says on April 19, 2013 at 11:17 am

      Thank you! I was really excited with how they turned out. I might actually prefer them to traditional cinnamon rolls since I feel much healthier after eating one (or two)!

  2. Kim @ Curtain Queen says on April 19, 2013 at 10:31 am

    This looks delicious! I love the Saturday morning story, too. Were we all raised the same way, or what? 😉

    • foods for the soul says on April 19, 2013 at 11:18 am

      Thanks! There’s something special about waking up early for Saturday morning cartoons… It was hard to get us out of bed for school during the week, but we were wide awake by 5:30 am on weekends! :]

  3. Andrea @ Mrs Webb in the Kitchen says on April 20, 2013 at 5:44 am

    YUM, YUM, and YUM! I bet the cream cheese oozes out at first warm, delicious bite… magical! I might be willing to put my naught sweet tooth aside for some of these! :)

    • foods for the soul says on April 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm

      I’m the queen of sweet tooth breakfasts, and I actually looked forward to having these! There’s something really satisfying about the combination of soft spinach and tangy cheese where I forget that there isn’t any sugar! :]

  4. Brittany says on April 20, 2013 at 8:23 am

    YESS TEACH us your photography ways!!! What unique recipe, it just HAS to be delicious!

    • foods for the soul says on April 20, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      With that emphatic of a YES, I’ll treat it as 2 votes! ;]

  5. Norah says on April 21, 2013 at 9:52 am

    This looks sooo delicious and unique! Love the idea ans I love love spinach so thats a great osea especially for brunch! :-)

    • foods for the soul says on April 22, 2013 at 8:20 am

      Thank you! Spinach is great. I eat so much of it that I’m surprised I haven’t turned a bright leafy green yet!

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