Healthy Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls
Yields: 12 cinnamon rolls
These cinnamon rolls are such a fun breakfast treat, especially during the holiday season! They’re full of rich and cozy flavors, especially from the spices, which make that sweet filling absolutely irresistible. Leftovers will keep for at least five days (if not longer!) if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • for the dough
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp (150mL) warm nonfat milk (100-110°F)
  • 2 tbsp (30mL) molasses
  • ½ tbsp (7g) unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 ¼ tsp (7g or one ¼-oz package) dry yeast
  • 2 – 2 ½ cups (240-300g) whole wheat flour
  • for the filling
  • 6 tbsp (72g) coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tbsp (7g) unsalted butter, melted
  1. Lightly coat a 9”-round pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. (See Notes.)
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the milk, molasses, butter, and salt. Sprinkle the yeast on top, and wait 10-15 minutes or until the mixture turns frothy. Mix in 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 while preparing the filling.
  4. To prepare the filling, stir together the coconut sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl.
  5. On a clean, well-floured surface, roll the dough out into a 16x10” rectangle. Brush with the melted butter, leaving a 1” border on the two longer sides. Sprinkle with the spiced coconut sugar, leaving a 1” border on the two longer sides again. Carefully roll up the dough into a log, starting at one long edge and rolling towards the other one. Pinch the ends to seal. If the dough won’t stick together, gently brush the second longer edge with water before pinching to seal.
  6. Slice the log into 12 pieces using dental floss (recommended) or a sharp serrated knife. Place the rolls into the prepared pan, and 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.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the cinnamon rolls for 17-21 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and 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 cinnamon rolls to rise properly without touching the top of the towel in Step 6.

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 cinnamon 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!)

White whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour may be substituted for the whole wheat flour, but the cinnamon rolls might not rise as high (see Note directly above this one!). All-purpose flour may be substituted, and the cinnamon rolls should rise just as high as with Gold Medal whole wheat flour.

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 always easy to find in grocery stores, so I buy mine online here. (Both their rapid rise yeast and regular active dry yeast work equally well!)

Any milk may be substituted in place of the nonfat milk.

The molasses is essential to create the gingerbread flavor. It’s inexpensive, shelf-stable, and keeps for ages. I do not recommend substituting for it! In a pinch, you can substitute pure maple syrup, honey, or agave, but the cinnamon rolls will no longer have that classic gingerbread taste.

For a vegan version, substitute your favorite non-dairy milk and Earth Balance buttery sticks in place of the butter. (You may substitute coconut oil, but the cinnamon rolls will taste different, and the yeast won’t turn frothy in Step 2.)

Brown sugar may be substituted in place of the coconut sugar, but the rolls will no longer be clean-eating friendly.

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

To see how these cinnamon rolls are made, watch my video here, located directly above the recipe! (The recipe isn't exactly the same, but it's very close!)

For more information, please see the Nerd Alerts #1-10 in my blog post above!

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