Sweet chai dough swirled with a cinnamon nutty center make these vegan cinnamon rolls everything! Top with a delicious icing for the perfect breakfast or brunch recipe.
This recipe was originally published in September 2018 and has been updated with new photos, a video, and recipe.
Okay, so we all know cinnamon rolls, cinnamon buns, whatever you wanna call em’, are incredible, I don’t need to convince you of that. But what makes these vegan cinnamon rolls a must make?
- Crunchy pecan brown sugar filling
- Chai-infused dough
- Topped with a sweet vanilla icing
All that AND they are vegan? I can see you drooling already over this cinnamon roll variation.
Vegan baking probably sounds like a super complex, damn near impossible task if you are unfamiliar with it; however, once you start making the substitutes, you’ll discover it’s really not that different from the traditional way.
And let me tell you, my non-vegan friends go crazy over these cinnamon rolls.
Also, if you see a recipe that calls for yeast, you may run for the hills, at least I do, but I promise you, this recipe is so easy to make!
How to make cinnamon rolls
- Mix lukewarm water, a sprinkle of sugar, and a packet of active dry yeast. Let sit for about 10 minutes until mixture is bubbly and frothy (if your yeast does not do this, wait a little longer or try again. Your rolls won’t rise with dead yeast!)
- Mix vegan butter, vanilla, and yeast mixture in one bowl and whisk together the dry ingredients in another bowl
- Add dry to wet in two batches and stir until just combined. (the dough will be crumbly!)
Pro Tip: Yeast thrives in warm environments! When you mix the wet ingredients together, make sure they are cooled down before mixing with the dry ingredients. We don’t want to kill the yeast.
Warm=perfect, Hot=murder. Got it?
How to knead the dough
Here’s some tips on kneading the dough as this step is crucial to getting soft, pillowy rolls
- The dough will appear crumbly. This is okay! Once you start kneading with your hands, the wet will incorporate with the dry and make a soft, pliable dough
- Knead for about 10-15 minutes. Yep! Set a timer and get in the zone. I find hand kneading dough is very therapeutic.
- Only add more flour to the surface when the dough begins sticker to the counter or your hands. You want the dough to be slightly sticky.
- If hand kneading dough is not your thing, you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook – just be sure to not over knead!
When the dough is in a good place, transfer to a greased mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and rise.
On the left, is the dough in the beginning. The photo on the right is 1 hour later. Your dough should double in size.
Note: It could take longer if your house is cold.
Make vegan cinnamon roll filling:
I use to brush butter onto dough then sprinkle cinnamon on top, but now I mix super softened butter and cinnamon until I have a nice, workable paste.
This evenly distributes all the cinnamon to make sure every square inch is packed with butter and cinnamon (or in our case chai spice!)
Roll out the dough til about 1/4″ thick and it resembles a rectangular shape. I use a bowl scraper to fix the edges.
Spread cinnamon chai butter mixture and add chopped pecans (optional). Carefully roll the dough.
Now when cutting the dough, I like to use a piece of dental floss! It cuts perfect cinnamon rolls without squishing the dough.
I won’t tell your dentist if you use your floss mostly for cinnamon roll making rather than on your teeth. 😉
Here’s the step we do a proof aka a second rise. Once the rolls are cut and placed into a pan, cover, and let rise for about 45 minutes. This will yield soft and big rolls.
This step is also a good time to cover and place in the fridge overnight to bake the next day or even freeze for later baking.
Once the rolls are baking, simply whisk together the ingredients for the icing and frost generously once cooled slightly.
You now have yourself some AWESOME homemade cinnamon rolls, my friend!
There’s no denying that these cinnamon rolls look so orgasmic.
These vegan cinnamon rolls are the best for special occasions, weekend breakfast or brunch, holidays, or even Christmas morning! Do you really need a special occasion to make these though? Let’s be real.
I don’t need to tell you when to eat these!
Variations of these chai vegan cinnamon rolls:
- Substitute pecans with walnuts or have a combination of both
- Use a GF flour blend for gluten-free cinnamon rolls
- Serve with pure maple syrup instead of icing for a delicious topping
If you tried this vegan cinnamon rolls recipe, let me know in the comments below and share a photo using #mindfulavocado. I’d love to hear from you! Want to see more recipes? Let’s get social! CONNECT WITH ME on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest to see what I’m currently cooking up!
Simple Chai Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
Chai-infused dough, brown sugar cinnamon pecan filling, and an irresistible icing, these vegan cinnamon rolls are the BEST!
- 1 1/4-ounce packet instant yeast
- 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup vegan butter melted (I like Earth Balance baking sticks)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for kneading and rolling out
- 1/4 cup cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon chai spice see recipe below
- 1/4 cup vegan butter very soft
- 1/2 cup brown sugar can substitute with coconut sugar
- 1 Tablespoon chai spice see recipe below
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2-1 cup pecans chopped (optional). can substitute with walnuts
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon vegan butter melted
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2-3 Tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk
DIY Chai Seasoning:
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 teaspoons ground ginger
To Make the Dough:
Wake up yeast: Microwave almond milk for about 40 seconds. Should be lukewarm. Add a pinch of sugar and one yeast package. Mix until combined and let sit for 10 minutes. Yeast will be bubbly and frothy when ready.
In a large mixing bowl add vanilla, butter, and active yeast bath. Stir to combine.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and chai spice. Add half of the flour mixture to wet mixture and stir with rubber spatula. Add the remaining flour and stir until just combined. The dough might look floury and that is okay!
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. Only add more flour if the dough begins to stick to the surface or your hands. When the dough is ready, it will be slightly sticky and spring back when you press it.
To Make the Filling:
In a small bowl, mix softened butter, sugar, cinnamon, and chai spice. The mixture should be smooth and spreadable.
Remove plastic wrap and punch dough to release the air. Transfer to a floured surface and roll into a 9x13" rectangle. The dough will be about 1/2 inch thick.
Add filling and smooth out with a rubber spatula. Add pecans (optional). Roll tightly starting from the shorter side. Push in the sides as you roll so it stays uniform.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients together. Add more almond milk until desired consistency is reached. Add more powdered sugar if icing is too liquidly.
Using dental floss, cut the dough into 12 even pieces. Place in greased pan. I grease my pan with the empty butter wrapper! Cover with a towel and let sit for 45 minutes. If you want to make these rolls in advance, now is a good step to stop. You can keep unbaked rolls covered in the fridge overnight or in the freezer for 6 weeks.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before adding icing.
To Make the Icing:
Add a small amount of oil to a clean bowl to coat the bottom and sides. Add dough and give it a swirl around the bowl so all sides are covered in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour. The dough should double in size.
Pour icing over baked and slightly cooled cinnamon rolls. Serve warm. Leftovers keep in the fridge for about 1 week.
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