These Vegan Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls with a Maple Pecan Glaze are something right out of a sweet treat magazine. They are fluffy, soft, thick, sweet, and surely does just melt in your mouth with every bite. Not being your typical Cinnamon Roll, this recipe is topped with a mouth-watering Maple Pecan Glaze that will leave you 'Cinnamon Roll obsessed'. . All dairy-free and vegan ingredients. Gluten-free + Overnight options.
I seriously can't believe that I originally made these Vegan Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls in February of 2019 in my small one bedroom apartment with barely any natural lighting during a winter storm to the point that I remember having to carry my entire setup near a window in my bedroom to get some sort of lighting.
Oh how those days are sketched in my mind when I look at the original photos. Granted, the photos weren't terrible, but with so much time and practice, I can say that I've definitely learned a thing or two about food styling and baking after so many fails. Haha.
Anyway, if you are a fan of cinnamon rolls, then these sweet potato ones are for sure going to set your taste buds off to the moon! They are SOFT, FLUFFY, + BRIOCHE-LIKE in texture. They're SO bomb, ya'll. I literally couldn't stop myself from eating them, especially since I'm a HUGE sweet potato fan! That's one ingredient that I've always loved and I can enjoy it in almost ANY form, which is why I'm so excited about my newest themed week coming up soon! Be sure to follow me on Instagram to stay tuned!
While cinnamon rolls were once the hardest thing that I could master, after doing them over and over again, I finally did and these Classic Cinnamon Rolls started it all for me! These were my most viral recipe on Pinterest and have been consistent in popularity on the blog for years, which is why I had the pleasure of remaking + reshooting them earlier this year to celebrate!
But don't worry----if you're intimidated with making your own cinnamon rolls, I've got you covered with some awesome tips below!
How to Make Vegan Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
Start by making the cinnamon roll dough. It needs to rise for at least 1 hour in a warm place for it to be super soft. Then make the filling and assemble and bake your rolls. Finally, add the maple pecan glaze, and dig in!
Ingredients for Vegan Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
Here's what you need for the fluffy sweet potato brioche-style dough:
All-purpose flour. I use organic flour from Bob's Red Mill.
Bread flour. You can find this from King Author or Bob's Red Mill.
Sweet potato puree. I like to make this advance by roasting sweet potatoes, removing the insides, and mashing them until pureed. You can also use a canned organic version.
Brown sugar. You could also use coconut sugar.
Instant yeast. Also called Rapid Rise Yeast.
Spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice for cinnamon rolls, of course!
Toasting your pecans makes all the difference regardless of which dish you add them to! Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the chopped pecans unto the baking sheet, ensuring that they are evenly spread out and toast them for 10 minutes, tossing them halfway to prevent browning on just one side.
Reasons Why You'll Love these Vegan Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls:
They're super easy to make.
Bake time is under 1 hour.
Is completely dairy-free and vegan. Entirely kid-friendly for those not allergic to nuts!
Super fluffy, soft, + brioche-like.
Makes for the perfect breakfast, brunch, or dessert situation.
Perfect Fall vibes---thanks to the sweet potato + spices!
Did I mention, it's just TOO good to pass up?
Tips and Tricks for Making the Best Cinnamon Rolls
Due to many delicious attempts at perfecting this recipe, I have come across some very helpful tips that will ensure a perfectly baked cinnamon roll.
NEVER OVERHEAT THE MILK!
It is so important that your milk is warm, but NOT hot! It should be warm to the touch. If you find that your milk has overheated, allow it to cool before adding the yeast. Milk that is too hot will kill the yeast and you won't get the big, fluffy rise in the dough. We want these rolls super fluffy, and that's only possible when the yeast is bloomed properly.
USE VERY SOFT BUTTER AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
Like in most baking, room temperature ingredients mix better than cold ingredients. Beat in your butter while it is completely room temperature for a seamless, tender texture.
DO NOT WORRY ABOUT OVER-MIXING
I know it sounds weird, but hear me out. With cakes and cookies, you never want to overwork a dough because working develops the gluten in the flour. Gluten development leads to a chewy, unpleasant texture in cakes and cookies, making them dense and heavy. Because cinnamon rolls use a yeast dough, it is required to develop the gluten in the dough. The yeast brings elasticity that lightens and fluffs the dough, much like bread dough. When making these rolls, keep on mixing even after you think you've mixed enough!
RISE THE DOUGH OVERNIGHT
While I developed this recipe as a quick-bake cinnamon roll, more flavor develops in the dough if you allow it to rise overnight. The dough has more time to rise, leading to a more developed, yeast-bread flavor. This yeast flavor is a perfect pairing with the sweet filling and frosting.
USE A BREAD FLOUR MIX
After much trial and tribulation, I have found that a mix of bread flour and all-purpose flour is the perfect combination for cinnamon rolls. The bread flour gives a tender, thick, brioche-like texture that I think is perfect for this dish.
ROLL THEM UP TIGHT!
A loose roll will fall apart upon slicing and bake unevenly. Instead, begin with a very tight roll and keep that momentum throughout the roll. The dough is sturdy and can handle being rolled tightly due to its elasticity.
How to Make Your Own Sweet Potato Puree
If you're thinking about making your own sweet potato puree instead of using a store-bought canned version, then you'll be happy to know that it is rather simple:
Step 1: Gather about 3-4 medium sweet potatoes, rinse the skins, and poke a few holes all around them using a knife or fork.
Step 2: Prepare a baking sheet with foil or parchment and place the sweet potato side-by-side. Rub each sweet potato with olive oil until fully coated.
Step 3: Roast in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40-45 minutes or until their insides begin to bubble outwardly and they become super tender once tested with a fork or knife. Let cool until easily handle when cutting them open and scooping out the flesh.
Step 4: Using a food processor or blender, puree the flesh of the sweet potato along with water or veggie stock, until smooth. You can either use this immediately in whatever sweet potato recipe you'd like, store it in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.
How To Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls without Yeast
OK, so you might think it's possible, but you can totally make cinnamon rolls, including these Vegan Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls without yeast, if you ever needed to! Just know that the texture wouldn't be as brioche-like or fluffy, and they'll be more dense, but still good.
Instead of yeast, you'll just need to substitute with 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder to allow some level of rise to occur.
How To Make Overnight Vegan Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
If you don’t want to make your rolls on the same day, you can simply follow all steps (including the initial 1+ hour rise) and after cutting rolls and placing them into your baking pan, just cover them tightly (using foil paper of plastic wrap) and refrigerate them overnight or for 8-12 hours instead. The following day, remove from refrigerator and keeping them covered, let rolls rise at room temp 1 to 1 ½ hours. Bake per usual and make the maple pecan glaze and enjoy!
Can I Make Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls?
Yes! To make fluffy classic cinnamon rolls gluten-free, substitute both the all-purpose and bread flour with Bob's RedMill1:1 baking flour. Reduce the amount by 1 cup and add more if necessary if the dough is too sticky.
How To Store + Reheat Cinnamon Rolls
Leftovers can be kept fresh at room temperature when tightly wrapped or sealed for up to 3 days. Fresh for up to 1 week in the Refrigerator. Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2 months. To reheat, I recommend adding them an oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-10 minutes or until just about warmed through, but the glaze hasn't melted. For a quicker warm, you can add it to a microwave for a few seconds. You can also let it sit at room temperature until warm enough to eat.
Combine yeast and 1 tablespoon brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and slowly pour in warm water while stirring frequently. Allow 10 minutes for the mixture to sit and for the yeast to activate.
Add in the room temperature milk and warm melted butter to the yeast mixture and whisk until well combined. Add in the sweet potato puree and vanilla, whisking to incorporate.
In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, bread flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and sea salt and add them to the wet ingredients and mix on low-speed until well combined and everything begins to form into a dough-like consistency, about 2-3 minutes.
Change “Mixer head” to kneading accessory and knead dough for 5-10 minutes on high speed until dough ball becomes smooth and elastic and dough springs back when lightly pressed together with 2 fingers. NOTE: If dough is still too sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until texture is achieved!
Lightly grease a large bowl with a small amount of olive oil and place the dough ball in the bowl, tossing it around until coated. Cover with plastic wrap (or a towel) and let sit for 1 hour, allowing the dough to rise and double in size.
In the meantime, you can work on the filling!
TO MAKE THE FILLING:
Add the softened the butter (best if done at room temp. so that it's more "paste-like" in texture once smeared) in a bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the cinnamon, allspice, and brown sugar, mixing them together. Set aside.
ASSEMBLY + BAKE:
Once the dough has risen fully, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper, allowing excess to hang from the sides.
Add a bit of flour to a surface and place the dough onto it, lightly adding a bit of flour to the top. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough into a rectangular shape (approximately 9″x14 and ½-inch thick), trimming the edges if needed. NOTE: Try not to make the dough too thin or else rolling it up will be hard to do!
Then, generously add ¾ of the softened butter atop dough (spreading it out evenly with a spoon or knife), followed by the brown sugar-spice mixture, ensuring that the top is coated evenly. NOTE: I also use a 'pastry brush' to sweep sugar mixture evenly across the dough to ensure that every bite is sweet!
Tightly roll dough (long-ways) and using a pastry cutter, cut dough into 1.5" rolls, placing each roll (cut side down) in the baking dish. Repeat until all rolls are set.
Then place plastic wrap over the baking dish with rolls, smear the tops with remaining softened butter and let them rise again (for another 20 minutes).
Once the rolls have doubled in size (once again!) or have gotten significantly larger, bake them for approximately 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven or until golden brown, ensuring that the middles are baked through.
Remove the rolls from oven and wait 10-15 minutes or until it cools enough to be remove from dish and add glaze.
TO MAKE THE MAPLE PECAN SAUCE:
In a high-powered blender, add the toasted pecans, maple syrup, cinnamon, and milk together and blend on high-speed until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. NOTE: The sauce should be thick, but liquid-y. If needed, add another tablespoon of milk if it's too thick or "paste-like".
TO MAKE THE GLAZE:
In a bowl, add the powdered sugar, maple pecan sauce, and milk, whisking until smooth and the glaze slowly runs off the whisk when lifted. NOTE: Add additional milk (1 tablespoon at a time) if the glaze is too thick or powdered sugar (1 tablespoon at a time) if too thin.
Spread the glaze atop the rolls using a rubber spatula evenly until generously covered.
To serve, cut out each roll desired and enjoy.
Tips & Tricks
TO STORE: Leftovers can be kept fresh at room temperature when tightly wrapped or sealed for up to 3 days. Fresh for up to 1 week in the Refrigerator. Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2 months.
RAPID (INSTANT) RISE YEAST VS. ACTIVE DRY YEAST: If you’re not using the Rapid Rise Yeast for this recipe, please know that the rise time will be twice as long (about 3 hours) since regular Active Yeast doesn’t work as quickly.
OVERNIGHT OPTION: If you don’t want to make your rolls on the same day, you can simply follow all steps (including the initial 1+ hour rise) and after cutting rolls and placing them into your baking pan, just cover them tightly (using foil paper of plastic wrap) and refrigerate them overnight or for 8-12 hours instead. The following day, remove from refrigerator and keeping them covered, let rolls rise at room temp 1 to 1 ½ hours.
FLOUR: If you don’t have bread flour, you can always just use all-purpose flour entirely instead.
TOASTED PECANS: Add chopped pecans to a baking sheet and toasting them in the oven (400 degrees Fahrenheit) for 10-15 minutes, tossing them halfway to avoid browning on one side.
GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: If you're looking to make these GF, I recommend substituting both flours with Bob's 1:1 Baking flour and slightly reducing the amount by 1 cup, slowing adding more if the dough is too sticky.