The Ultimate Healthy Whole Wheat Rolls
Yields: 16 small or 12 medium rolls
After years and years of making Dad’s special recipe for whole wheat rolls every Thanksgiving… He said we’re switching to this recipe for the indefinite future! And seeing as he’s the bread master in our family, that’s definitely saying something! These rolls are supremely tender, full of flavor (thanks to the special cinnamon addition!), and the absolute best that I’ve ever had. Leftovers will keep for at least three days if stored in an airtight container at room temperature, or at least one week if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  1. Lightly coat a 9”-round pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. (See Notes.)
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the water, molasses, olive oil, and salt. Sprinkle the yeast on top, and wait 10-15 minutes or until the mixture turns frothy. Mix in the cinnamon and 1 ½ cups of flour. If the dough is still wet, continue stirring in flour 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead for 3-5 minutes or until the dough springs back most of the way when you gently press your index finger into it. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into 16 small pieces or 12 slightly larger pieces (a sharp knife comes into handy!). Roll each piece into a sphere, and place into the prepared pan. Cover the pan with a clean towel. Set the pan in a warm, draft-free spot, and let the rolls rise for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the cinnamon rolls for 13-16 minutes (small) or 15-17 minutes (medium) or until the sides feel firm. Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Notes: I highly recommend using a 9”-round springform pan, like this! Springform pans have taller sides than most traditional cake pans, so this allows your rolls to rise properly without touching the top of the towel in Step 4.

For the whole wheat flour, I highly recommend Gold Medal whole wheat flour. It performs the best out of any brand I’ve tried, and it ensures your rolls fully double in size while rising in Step 6. (Other brands of whole wheat flour don’t rise nearly as high, if at all!)

For the yeast, I used Red Star® Quick Rise Yeast. It performs the best out of any yeast I’ve used, so I highly recommend it! It isn’t always available in all grocery stores, so I buy mine online here. (Both their rapid rise yeast and regular active dry yeast work equally well!)

For slightly more tender rolls, substitute milk for the water (any kind of milk will work!).

I really don’t recommend substituting anything for the molasses. Its flavor really makes a difference in these rolls! This is the kind of molasses that I use. It’s inexpensive, shelf-stable and keeps for ages! You can typically find it near the maple syrup at the grocery store.

This is my current favorite cinnamon! It tastes sweeter, warmer, and fuller than the red-capped brand I grew up with. I buy it online here!

Melted butter or any oil may be substituted for the olive oil. If using coconut oil, your yeast will not turn frothy in Step 2.

I haven’t had good luck substituting gluten-free flours in this recipe. The rolls don’t rise the way they do with wheat-based flour due to the lack of gluten.

To bake this as a loaf, complete Steps 1-3 as written. Lightly coat an 8x4” loaf pan with cooking spray. Gently roll the dough into a log that’s 8” long. Place inside of the pan. Cover the top with a clean, dry towel. Let it rise for 45-60 minutes in a warm, draft-free place. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and bake for 23-28 minutes or until the top turns golden and feels firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

If you prefer to bake in a 9x5” loaf pan, then double the recipe. (I haven’t tried this, so I don’t know how long it’ll take to bake!)

For more tips and step-by-step photos, please see my blog post above this recipe!

{clean eating, vegan, low fat, low sugar}
Recipe by Amy's Healthy Baking at