These Mini Cinnamon Rolls are a bite-sized version of a classic cinnamon roll with a soft, pillowy interior and a golden brown exterior that’s slightly crispy drizzled with a sweet glaze. These bites are made with half the sugar of other cinnamon roll recipes and are just as delicious!
Why We Love These Mini Cinnamon Rolls
If you love the taste of cinnamon rolls but are looking for a healthier option, these mini cinnamon rolls are for you! Made with a soft, whole grain dough and sweetened with a touch of sugar, these mini rolls are a tasty and nutritious twist on the classic pastry.
I knew I wanted a healthier cinnamon roll recipe on my site for a long time. My daughter is really good at making cinnamon rolls, and there were many weekends we enjoyed them. However, the recipe we typically use was drenched with butter, topped with HUGE amounts of brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon. Don’t get me wrong… they WERE amazing. But I knew we could do better, and I knew that with just a few modifications, we could still have them be delicious, while cutting back on most of the sugar we were using.
And we did it! These mini cinnamon rolls are so yummy, easy to make and don’t make you feel heavy after eating them!
Ingredients Needed for This Recipe
- Flour: If you want the benefits of whole wheat flour, but like the texture of baked goods with all-purpose flour, a good compromise is whole wheat pastry flour. This type of flour is made from finely ground whole wheat and has a lower protein content than regular whole wheat flour. It can be used as a substitute for all-purpose flour in lots of recipes, including cinnamon rolls. It adds a slightly nutty flavor and can give the rolls a slightly more dense texture.
- Yeast: Active dry yeast is what is called for in this recipe. This type of yeast needs to be activated in a small amount of warm water or milk before adding it to your recipe.
- Milk: Unsweetened, with at least 1% milk fat is what I recommend for this recipe. Milk adds moisture to the dough and helps to create a soft and tender texture. It also adds a richness and flavor to the cinnamon rolls.
- Butter: unsalted is best.
- Egg: One large egg is all that is needed. It helps to bind the ingredients together. It also contributes to the color and texture of the finished rolls.
- Brown Sugar: helps to create a caramelized, gooey center when baked.
- Cream Cheese: Needed for the glaze.
What is Whole Wheat Pastry Flour?
These cinnamon rolls started with some whole wheat pastry flour. Regular whole wheat flour is heavier and more dense. When you want to create a more delicate pastry, but are trying to use as much whole wheat as possible, whole wheat pastry flour is a great option. According to the Bob’s Red Mill site,
Many people ask how whole wheat pastry flour is different from whole wheat flour. It’s simple: whole wheat pastry flour is milled from white soft wheat, whereas regular whole wheat flour is milled from red hard wheat. It has a lower protein content than regular whole wheat flour and it makes wonderfully tender whole grain baked goods like pie crust, muffins, quick breads, pastries and cookies, yet it still retains the nutrients of the bran and germ. (source)
What Yeast is Best for Mini Cinnamon Rolls?
There are two main types of yeast used in baking. Active dry yeast and instant yeast.
Active dry yeast is made by drying the yeast cells in a process that removes some of the moisture. As a result, it is less potent than instant yeast and requires longer to rise. Active dry yeast should be dissolved in warm water (110-115°F) before being added to the dough. It is best to proof the yeast (test it to make sure it is active) by adding it to a small amount of warm water with a small amount of sugar (or honey) and wait for it to become foamy before using it in your recipe.
Instant yeast, also known as rapid-rise or fast-acting yeast, is more finely ground than active dry yeast and has a higher moisture content. It is more potent than active dry yeast and does not need to be dissolved in water before being added to the dough. It also requires less rising time.
In general, you can use instant yeast or active dry yeast in a recipe, but you may need to adjust the rising time slightly. If you are using active dry yeast in a recipe that calls for instant yeast, you may need to increase the rising time and proof the yeast before adding it to the dough.
How to Make Mini Cinnamon Rolls?
- Mix. Start by combining the warm milk and yeast. Let it sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is foamy. This is key with active dry yeast. You will mix the rest of the ingredients together and then need it for 5-7 minutes. I always use my stand mixer with the dough hook.
- Rise. You will let this dough rise for 1-2 hours depending on how warm your house is. Once it is about double in size, then it has risen enough.
- Roll. This is the fun part! Punch the dough down and then you will roll it into a rectangle. The size here actually matters because when you roll it up, you want it to be long and skinny so you can cut cute little pieces of dough that will fit into your mini muffin tin. You will need to roll out the dough into a rectangle that is 9 inches by 18 inches.
- Spread. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread the softened butter over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top. Tightly roll the dough into a log shape.
- Slice. With a sharp knife, or a piece of dental floss, slice the dough into 24 even pieces that are approximately 1 inch wide. Place the mini rolls into a greased mini muffin tin. Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise for another 30 minutes.
- Bake. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls for 12-15 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Let them cool for a few minutes before adding the glaze.
What Happens if Your Cinnamon Rolls Rise Too Long?
As the dough rises, air pockets are created in the dough. If the dough rises for too long, the dough may become too puffy and may not hold its shape when baked. The cinnamon rolls may also become too large, which can make it difficult to bake them evenly.
If you notice that the dough is rising too quickly, you can punch it down to release some of the air and then let it rise again for a shorter period of time. You can also refrigerate the dough to slow down the rising process.
Tips for Making Amazing Mini Cinnamon Rolls
- Use fresh yeast: If your yeast is old, it might not be as potent and then your cinnamon rolls won’t rise properly. If you are using dried yeast, make sure it is still active by proofing it in warm water before adding it to the dough.
- Knead the dough well: Kneading the dough helps to develop the gluten, which gives the rolls a soft and tender texture. Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
- Don’t over-bake the rolls: Mini cinnamon rolls can overcook quickly, so keep an eye on them as they bake. They should be golden brown and cooked through, but still soft and tender.
More Favorite Baked Treats
- Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
- Healthier Homemade Donuts
- Strawberry Chocolate Chip Scones
- Soft and Chewy Ice Oatmeal Cookies
Mini Cinnamon Rolls
- In a small bowl, combine the warm milk and yeast. Let it sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is foamy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the melted butter, egg, brown sugar, and salt. Add the yeast mixture and mix to combine.
- Add the whole wheat pastry flour to the bowl and mix until the dough comes together. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time as needed. The dough should be tacky, but not sticky. Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a towel. Let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it down and roll it out on a floured surface into a large rectangle that is 9 inches by 18 inches.
- In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread the softened butter over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top.
- Tightly roll the dough into a log shape, then slice it into 24 pieces that are about 1-inch wide. Place the mini rolls into a greased mini muffin tin.
- Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise for another 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls for 12-15 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Let them cool for a few minutes adding the glaze.
- To make the glaze, add softened cream cheese to a medium size mixing bowl. With a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy. Spread over the mini cinnamon rolls and enjoy!
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie