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Vegan Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are a classic American treat. These gooey rolls require a leavening agent that gives them their light and fluffy texture. A good cinnamon roll is soft and gooey on the inside with a sweet cinnamon filling. They are often topped with a simple glaze or cream cheese frosting. I created this vegan sourdough cinnamon roll recipe to hit all those special features we know and love, while accommodating those who are dairy free or egg free. (Also check out some of the other vegan recipes on my site, like my vegan sourdough brownies, my vegan sourdough chocolate chip cookies, and my vegan chocolate banana muffins).

vegan sourdough cinnamon roll on plate.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

There is so much more to sourdough baking than simply sourdough bread. These vegan cinnamon buns are soft and fluffy with a strong, but not overpowering cinnamon flavor. They are topped with my favorite glaze recipe for these perfect finishing touch. 

Vegan baked goods can sometimes come out dry and dense. I wanted to make sure I avoided this by using a generous amount of active sourdough starter, vegan butter, and a moist cinnamon filling. My secret ingredient is a little but of extra non-dairy milk poured directly over the rolls before baking. 

This helps create rolls that are extra moist, but not soggy on both the insides and the outside. 

Traditional cinnamon rolls are topped with either a cream cheese frosting or a simple icing. This recipe includes a simple recipe for my favorite icing recipe that works super well on these cinnamon rolls, and is made with a few pantry staples. 

Special Equipment Needed for This Recipe

  • Stand mixer
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Rolling pin
  • Large knife or unflavored dental floss
  • 9×13 inch cake pan
  • Pastry brush
  • Whisk

Ingredients and Substitutions

vegan sourdough cinnamon roll ingredients in individual measuring cups and bowls.

All Purpose Flour: I tried making these cinnamon buns with a small amount of whole wheat flour and they came out more dry. I would recommend sticking to all purpose flour for this recipe. Although I typically use all purpose flour, I think bread flour should work fine too. 

Vegan milk: You can choose any kind of non dairy milk that you like for this recipe. I used oat milk for mine but any type should be fine. Popular non-dairy milks include soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk. 

Vanilla extract 

Vegan butter: I recommend either Earth Balance or Country Crock Plant Based Butter. While the Country Crock vegan butter is olive oil based, I would not substitute olive oil for the fat in this recipe since it is a liquid. I have not tried substituting coconut oil for the butter in these vegan cinnamon buns. Coconut oil is a common butter substitute but it doesn’t have that same buttery flavor that works so well in cinnamon rolls. 

Brown sugar: I really like the flavor of brown sugar in these cinnamon rolls. You can use regular white sugar or even coconut sugar if you desire but they will not have as much richness as with brown sugar.

Salt 

Sourdough starter: Use 100% hydration sourdough starter for this recipe. This means the starter was fed with equal parts water and flour. You also want to make sure your starter is active and bubbly, ideally just at its peak rise. This is NOT a sourdough discard recipe, which typically has instant yeast. The sourdough starter is the leavening agent so you want to make sure your starter is active. 

How to Make Vegan Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Step 1: Melt the Butter

In a small saucepan, melt the vegan butter, stirring frequently. Add the milk and give the mixture a quick stir to slightly warm the milk. Remove from heat. Whisk in the vanilla, brown sugar, sourdough starter and salt until smooth. 

Step 2: Add Remaining Wet Ingredients

Add the mixture of wet ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer along with the flour. 

Step 3: Mix the Dough

Use the dough hook to stir the mixture until fully incorporated and a shaggy dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 30-60 minutes. 

shaggy sourdough cinnamon roll dough in bowl of stand mixer with dough hook attachment.

Step 4: Knead the Dough

Use the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer to knead the dough on low speed until the dough forms a ball with a smooth, slightly shiny surface. This usually takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes. 

Note: Please be careful to follow the user guidelines for your stander mixer. Some models do not tolerate prolonged mixing and I don’t want you to burn out your mixer! It is perfectly fine to take a break or two from the kneading if you have a lower powered stand mixer so it doesn’t overheat. 

Step 5: Bulk Fermentation

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 2 hours. 

sourdough cinnamon roll dough in a bowl that has undergone bulk fermentation. The dough is now smooth and shiny.

Note: After you have completed the bulk ferment, you can proceed to step 6. If you are not ready to make the rolls, transfer the bowl to the refrigerator to cold ferment for up to 48 hours. The longer you keep the dough in the refrigerator, the more sour they will become. 

Step 6: Make the Filling

Melt the butter in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds. Add the cinnamon and brown sugar and mix until well blended. Set aside.

 

vegan cinnamon bun filling in a small bowl being mixed with a spoon.

Step 7: Roll out the Dough

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into an approximate rectangle shape. Roll out the dough into an approximate 13×21 inch (32.5×53 cm) rectangle using a lightly floured rolling pin. 

Note: It’s okay if your measurements are not exactly the same as mine. A few inches off in either direction will not make a huge difference. 

You do, however, want to make sure you have a nice rectangle shape, trying to get as sharp of corners as you can. This will ensure that all of your rolls are shaped evenly and look uniform.  I often use my hands to shape the corners of the dough as it can be difficult to achieve with the rolling pin alone. 

Step 8: Fill the Cinnamon Rolls

Sprinkle the filling across the dough, leaving about a half inch without filling on the long edges of the dough. Use a spoon to spread the filling evenly across the dough. You may need to work at this a little bit to get the filling mixture spread evenly. Feel to (gently) scrape up any filling that is too thick in some areas to spread it to areas that are more sparse on the filling. 

A large rectangle of sourdough cinnamon roll dough with filling spread over the surface.

Step 9: Roll the Cinnamon Rolls

Roll the cinnamon roll dough up from the long edge. Don’t roll them super tight but you also don’t want them to be loose either. If you roll them too tight they won’t rise properly. Too loose and they will unroll and fall apart. If the dough is sticking, feel free to use a bench scraper to gently loosen the dough away from your work surface. 

Two hands rolling the filled cinnamon roll dough along the long edge.

Step 10: Cut the Cinnamon Rolls

There are two ways to cut the cinnamon rolls and both work fine for this recipe:

  1. Use unscented dental floss: To do this lift the dough and slide the dental floss underneath. Then, pull the ends up and cross them over the dough. With a quick motion, pull the ends across the opposite sides of the dough to cut the dough. 
  2. Use a large sharp kitchen knife: Simply cut the dough with a sharp knife. Try to use a sawing motion rather than pressure alone to avoid crushing the rolls. 
long roll of cinnamon roll dough being cut with a piece of floss. The floss is underneath the roll and the ends are crossed over the top of the roll being pulled in opposite directions to cut the dough.

Regardless of the method you choose, you want to cut 12 evenly sized rolls. The best way to do this is to cut the log of dough in half, then cut each of those halves in half again. This way, you only need to eyeball the sizes of three rolls for each quarter of the greater log. 

Step 10: The Second Rise: 

Transfer the cinnamon rolls to a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking pan. You can also line the pan with parchment paper if you desire easier clean up. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature to rise. You want the rolls to get puffy and increase in size by at least 50%. Some of the rolls may be touching other by the time they are ready to bake. 

Fully proofed sourdough vegan cinnamon rolls in 9x13 baking pan.

This step is extremely variable based on the temperature of your home, the climate at which you live, and how active your starter is. This can be anywhere from 4-12 hours. To expedite the process, place your baking dish in a warm place like on top of the fridge or near the oven while you are cooking. 

If you are not ready to bake the cinnamon rolls right away, place them in the fridge overnight and bake the next morning. Pull the rolls out of the fridge and let rest at room temperature when you are preheating the oven. 

Step 9: Bake

Preheat the oven to 350F. Brush the top of the rolls with the remaining vegan milk. Any excess milk will collect in the bottom of the pan and create a delicious gooey sauce that gets mixed with the excess cinnamon sugar filling. This is one of the reasons these rolls turn out so good. 

pastry brush brushing vegan milk over the cinnamon rolls before baking.

Once the oven is preheated, bake the cinnamon rolls for 20-25 minutes. or until the internal temperature reaches 190F. The insides of the cinnamon rolls should be completely cooked with no raw dough. 

If you refrigerated your cinnamon rolls before baking they will likely need to bake for 20-25 minutes.  

Step 10: Make the Icing

Melt the butter for the glaze in a small bowl for about 15 seconds. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, maple syrup and milk and whisk together. Add the milk last. The very cold milk can sometimes cause the melted butter to solidify if added before any of the other ingredients. 

Drizzle or spoon the icing over the cinnamon rolls while still warm and serve. 

spoon spreading glaze over cinnamon rolls in a baking pan.

These cinnamon rolls are best fresh from the oven but will last for a few days. I recommend consuming these cinnamon rolls within 3 days for best results. 

How to Make Ahead

You can freeze the unbaked cinnamon rolls ahead of time. Just make sure to fully defrost in the refrigerator before baking. 

How to Store 

Store the cinnamon rolls in an airtight container or directly in the pan that you baked them in covered in plastic wrap. They can be stored at room temperature but I recommend storing them in the fridge if not consuming within 24 hours. 

What to Serve With Sourdough Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls go best with a strong cup of coffee or tea. I love serving this with a morning spread of eggs, breakfast meats like bacon or sausage and fresh fruit. They are the perfect side for your breakfast or brunch but make a great dessert as well.

I hope you enjoyed these vegan sourdough cinnamon buns. These are a fun and delicious way to use your extra sourdough starter with only a few basic ingredients. 

I have also tried two of my other popular cinnamon roll recipes using vegan ingredients. Simply substitute the dairy ingredients for non-dairy counterparts (including the cream cheese frosting):

Sourdough Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls

Orange Sourdough Sweet Rolls

If you love sourdough recipes, check out these other breakfast sourdough treats:

Cranberry Orange Sourdough Scones

Gingerbread Sourdough Biscotti

Delicious Sourdough Banana Bread

vegan sourdough cinnamon roll on plate.

Vegan Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

These sourdough cinnamon rolls are egg-free and dairy-free, but no one will be able to tell! They are super light and fluffy and have a perfectly sweet cinnamon filling and topped with a simple, but delicious icing.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Rest Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 45 minutes
Course Breakfast, brunch, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 rolls
Calories 378 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 stand mixer with dough hook attachment
  • 1 small sauce pan
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • mixing bowls
  • 1 9×13 inch baking pan
  • 1 pastry brush
  • 1 rubber spatula or wooden spoon
  • 1 Rolling Pin
  • unflavored dental floss or sharp knife

Ingredients
 
 

  • 8 tablespoons vegan butter (1 stick)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • cup + 2 tablespoons oat milk or other non-dairy milk of choice
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • cup sourdough starter bubbly and active
  • 4 cups all purpose flour

For the Filling

  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter
  • tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • cup brown sugar

For the Icing

  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon oat milk or other non-dairy milk of choice

Instructions
 

Make the Dough

  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
  • Add the brown sugar, salt, vanilla and milk. Stir until smooth.
  • Add this mixture along with the sourdough starter and the flour to the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the dough hook to stir the mixture until mostly combined and a shaggy dough forms.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the plastic wrap and set the speed to low on the stand mixer to knead the dough until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl (about 7-10 minutes). The dough should hold together in a smooth ball.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 2 hours.

Roll Out the Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • In a small bowl, melt butter in the microwave (about 15-20 seconds or more if needed). Add the sugar and cinnamon and stir until well combined.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough into an approximate 13×21 inch (32.5×53 cm) rectangle. If needed, use your hands to shape the corners into sharp corners. You want the sharp, even corners so that the end rolls will be uniform with the rest of the cinnamon rolls.
  • Sprinkle the dough with filling mixture and spread evenly across the dough with a spoon. Leave about an inch on the long edges of the rectangle without filling. (Note: You may need to work the filling a little bit to get it to spread evenly. If some areas have too much filling, use your spoon to gently scrape up some of the filling mixture and transfer it to an area with less filling.)
  • Carefully roll up the cinnamon roll dough from the long edge, forming a long cylinder.
  • Use unscented dental floss or a sharp knife to cut the rolls into 12 evenly sized rolls. If using the dental floss, slide the floss under the dough and cross the ends of the floss over the opposite side of the dough. In a quick motion, pull the floss hard in opposite directions to cut the dough.
    It is easiest to cut the dough in half, then in half again. This will leave you with four pieces that should be easier to cut into three evenly sized rolls.
  • Transfer the rolls to a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking pan, spacing the rolls evenly apart. Place the end rolls upside dough so the more attractive side that has been cut is facing up.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature until the rolls are puffy and nearly touching each other. Depending on the activity of your starter, your climate and temperature of your home, this can take anywhere from 4-10 hours.
  • Once the rolls are fully proofed, you can transfer them to the refrigerator to chill overnight and bake the next morning. Alternatively, you can bake them right away.
  • Preheat the oven to 350℉
  • Brush the tops of the cinnamon rolls with 2 tablespoons of vegan milk.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes. The center of the rolls should have no raw dough and the internal temperature should be 190℉ when finished. If baking straight from the refrigerator, you may need to bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  • When finished, remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan while you make the icing.

To Make the Icing

  • In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and maple syrup. Whisk until smooth.
  • Spoon the icing over the warm cinnamon rolls while the rolls are still warm.

Nutrition

Calories: 378kcalCarbohydrates: 63gProtein: 5gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.1gSodium: 416mgPotassium: 96mgFiber: 2gSugar: 27gVitamin A: 685IUVitamin C: 0.04mgCalcium: 73mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Dairy-free, Egg-free, Sourdough Discard, Vegan
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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5 Comments

  1. This is THE rolls recipe! I have tried tens of recipes throughout the years, and while I found a few yeast based ones that I like, this is THE one. I always have SD in the fridge, so I have now found our family favorite! Thank you! I might try a savory filling with this dough.

  2. I made these for a family weekend since my nursing daughter had to cut all dairy and soy from her diet. They were so good! I want to make them again for an upcoming vacation. I’d like to make ahead and freeze to bake later. At what point do I freeze them? Is it at the point just before the baking step? Thanks!

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