Super-Soft Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls are a direct offshoot of Perfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Rolls, our 2021 Recipe of the Year. Already egg-free, making them vegan required only a couple of substitutions for the milk and butter. The finished rolls are every bit as soft and pillowy as the originals and keep just as well.

Prep
30 mins
Bake
15 to 18 mins
Total
2 hrs 25 mins
Yield
8 large rolls
Super-Soft Vegan Cinnamon Rolls - select to zoom
Super-Soft Vegan Cinnamon Rolls - select to zoom
Super-Soft Vegan Cinnamon Rolls - select to zoom

Instructions

  1. To make the tangzhong: Combine the plant-based milk and flour in a small saucepan, and whisk until no lumps remain.

  2. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook the mixture, stirring regularly, until thickened, paste-like, and the spoon or spatula leaves lines on the bottom of the pan, 1 to 3 minutes.

  3. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl, the bowl of a stand mixer, or the bucket of a bread machine.

  4. To make the dough: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Add the ingredients to the bowl in the order listed.

  5. Mix — by hand, on low speed of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, or in a bread machine set to the dough cycle — to bring the dough together. Next, knead the dough until it’s smooth, elastic, and tacky.

  6. Cover the dough and let it rise until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 60 to 90 minutes.

  7. To make the filling: While the dough is rising, put the melted coconut oil into a medium bowl and add the remaining ingredients, stirring until the mixture is the texture of damp sand. Set aside.  

  8. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper.

  9. To assemble the rolls: Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and press it into a 10” x 12” rectangle about 1/2” thick.

  10. Sprinkle the filling over the dough, covering all but a 1/2” strip along one long side. Starting with the filling-covered long side, roll the dough into a log.

  11. Score the dough lightly into eight equal pieces. Cut the dough at the score marks using dental floss, a bench knife, or a sharp knife.

  12. Place the rolls onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them so there’s at least 2” between each one and they’re 2” away from the edges of the pan; a 3-2-3 arrangement works well. To prevent them from unraveling while they rise and bake, tuck the ends of the spirals underneath the rolls to hold them in place.

  13. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap or a reusable cover and let them rise for 30 to 60 minutes (depending on the warmth of your kitchen). The rolls should be puffy, and the dough shouldn’t bounce back immediately when gently pressed.

  14. About 20 minutes before you’re ready to bake, position a rack in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

  15. Bake the rolls for 14 to 18 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown and a digital thermometer inserted into the center of one roll reads 190°F.

  16. Remove the rolls from the oven, place the pan on a rack, and brush the hot rolls with 1 1/2 tablespoons (21g) of the melted coconut oil. Let the rolls cool for 10 to 15 minutes before icing.

  17. To make the icing: In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons (21g) melted coconut oil with the remaining icing ingredients, mixing with a spatula until smooth.

  18. Ice the rolls and serve immediately. If you’re planning to serve the rolls later, wait to ice them until just before serving. Store icing at room temperature, tightly covered, until you’re ready to use it.

  19. Storage information: Store completely cooled rolls, un-iced and well wrapped, for a couple of days at room temperature; or freeze for up to 1 month.

Tips from our Bakers

  • With origins in Japan's yukone (or yudane), tangzhong is a yeast bread technique popularized across Asia by Taiwanese cookbook author Yvonne Chen. Tangzhong involves cooking some of a bread recipe’s flour in liquid prior to adding it to the remaining dough ingredients. Bringing the temperature of the flour and liquid to 65°C (149°F) pre-gelatinizes the flour’s starches, which makes them more able to retain liquid — thus enhancing the resulting bread's softness and shelf life.

  • While cultured butter substitutes will work in place of the coconut oil, they’re not our first choice. If you do choose to use a butter substitute, know that your dough will be softer, making it more difficult to handle and more prone to collapse when the rolls come out of the oven. You can counteract these effects by making sure your hands are greased when working with the dough and by letting the rolls bake a couple of minutes longer, until they’re a bit deeper gold and their internal temperature is closer to 195°F.