Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls to Make Your Weekend Mornings

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Homemade Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls are easy to make and super delicious. This recipe calls for rolled oats and whole wheat flour, making the classic baked goodie just a little bit better for you.

table set with coffee and cinnamon rolls

Sweet baked goods are a dime a dozen, are they not? It seems that everywhere you turn you can easily find a cookie, donut, or candy to satisfy a craving.

Sweets come cheap, to be sure.

And often, as a result, lack the quality and substance that can really satisfy. A fiber-filled carb — even a sweet one — can provide more satisfaction than that cheap white flour tidbit that tastes good going down, but later fills you with regret.

If you’d like to enjoy your baked goodie and still feel good, try these Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls.

dozen cinnamon rolls on parchment paper with glazing

Cinnamon Rolls have long been a regular weekend treat at our house. A family favorite, if you will.

For many years, I would whip up the dough in the bread machine on Saturday night. Then fill and slice the rolls and let them rise overnight in the fridge. After a few minutes of resting on the counter in the morning, they’re ready to bake and be devoured.

Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls

While I love my carbs with the best of them, more and more I find myself reaching for fiber-filled carbs like whole grains or fresh fruit. They taste great and feel substantial.

After we got out of debt about a decade ago, there was a lot more wiggle room in our budget for me to work quality ingredients into my pantry. While I still use white flour, I work to add some kind of whole grains into our favorite baked goods.

Case in point: our weekend cinnamon rolls.

flowered plate with cinnamon roll and strawberries with red coffee cup

I’ve tried this recipe with rolled oats (both quick and old-fashioned) as well as All-Bran cereal which I got for free awhile back with a good sale and coupons.

I’ve increased the amount of whole grains as well as decreased the amount of butter and sugar you’d normally find in a cinnamon roll recipe.

I feel a little better feeding these Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls to my kids, knowing that some of their carbs are a little more complex than plain ol’ sugar and white flour.

They’re also super cute made into Cinnamon Roll Turkeys for Thanksgiving!

cinnamon roll on flowered plate with strawberries and coffee cups

What goes well with cinnamon rolls?

We love to serve cinnamon rolls as part of a brunch with an egg dish and fresh fruit, but they are just as good on their own alongside a good cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa.

Can you freeze homemade cinnamon rolls?

One of the beauties about cinnamon rolls is that you can easily freeze them! Learn how to make cinnamon rolls to freeze, making them super convenient without buying the canned kind. 

Can I use quick oats instead of old-fashioned oats in this recipe?

While I recommend old-fashioned rolled oats for their better nutritional content, you can use quick oats instead if that’s what you have.

step-by-step images of whole grain cinnamon rolls

How do you make whole grain cinnamon rolls?

Cinnamon rolls aren’t difficult, but the process will take a couple hours from start to finish.

  1. Gather your ingredients.
  2. Warm the milk and melt the butter. Add the sugar and vanilla and yeast to this mixture and allow to rest five minutes. The yeast will start to bubble up.
  3. Add the flours, oats, and salt. Knead for several minutes until a smooth dough forms.
  4. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to double in bulk, about 1 hour.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 12×18-inch triangle. Spread softened butter over the surface.
  6. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon and spread this mixture over the butter layer, leaving a margin on one long end.
  7. Starting with the opposite long end, roll up the dough, jelly-roll style. Crimp the edge to seal.
  8. Use unflavored dental floss to cut the rolls into thick slices.
  9. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place the sliced rounds in the prepared pan. Allow to rise 30 minutes.
  10. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Place the pan on a rack and allow to cool. Glaze if desired.

flowered plate with cinnamon roll and strawberries hand on mug

How to make this good and cheap:

You know I don’t typically want to make something if I can’t make it good as well as cheap. Here are some of the strategies you can use to make this recipe more economical:

slicing cinnamon rolls with floss

How I make this recipe easy:

This recipe really couldn’t be easier than it is, but having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs.

Here are the tools that I use for this recipe:

  • stand mixer or bread machine – Either of these tools make quick work of making the dough. You can do it by hand, but I prefer a machine.
  • unflavored dental floss – A must-have for cutting cinnamon roll dough easily.
  • parchment paper – I hate washing pans. Parchment paper makes clean up a breeze.
  • sheet pans – I LOVE my set of steel sheet pans. They make such a difference in baking.

hand unwinding cinnamon roll on flowered plate

If you prepare this recipe, be sure to take a picture and hashtag it #GOODCHEAPEATS. I can't wait to see what you cook up!
5 from 2 votes
Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls
Prep Time
1 hr 40 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
2 hrs 5 mins
Homemade cinnamon rolls are easy to make and super delicious. This recipe calls for rolled oats and whole wheat flour, making them a little bit better for you.
Course: Bread, Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cinnamon buns, cinnamon roll, cinnamon rolls, whole grain cinnamon rolls, whole grains
Servings: 12
Calories: 362.96 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
For the dough
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 to 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 3/4 teaspoon yeast
For the filling
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter softened
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
For the glaze
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 - 2 Tablespoons milk
To make the dough in a bread machine:
  1. Combine dough ingredients in the bread machine according to manufacturer's instructions. Use 4 cups of flour to start. Add more flour in case the dough is too wet. Program for Dough and allow the machine to do its magic.
To make the dough by hand:
  1. Warm the milk slightly and melt the 4 1/2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan. Transfer this mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the granulated sugar, vanilla, and yeast, stirring to combine. Let that rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the flours, oats, and salt. Stir until you have a sticky dough but all the flour is incorporated. Turn it onto a floured surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Set into a greased bowl and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
To make the dough in a stand mixer:
  1. Warm the milk slightly and melt the 4 1/2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan. Transfer this mixture to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the granulated sugar, vanilla, and yeast, stirring to combine. Let that rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the flours, oats, and salt. Stir until you have a sticky dough but all the flour is incorporated. Turn the machine to the next notch and knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Set into a greased bowl and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
To form the rolls:
  1. When the dough is ready, roll out on a lightly floured surface until you have a 12 x 18-inch rectangle. Spread the 3 1/2 tablespoons softened butter over surface.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle this over the over butter, leaving a bare margin on one long end.
  3. Roll up the dough, jelly-roll fashion, starting from the opposite long edge and pinching the seam to seal.
  4. Slice the roll into 12 equal portions and arrange evenly in a greased, 9 x 13-inch pan. You can use unflavored dental floss to neatly cut the rolls.
  5. Allow the rolls to rise another 30 minutes before baking.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake rolls until lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
  7. Combine the powdered sugar and 1 to 2 tablespoons milk in a small mixing bowl, stirring with a wooden spoon until combined. Glaze baked rolls with icing.
Recipe Notes

Notes: Some readers have had to add up to 1 cup more flour. This may depend on how you measure flour, what combination of whole wheat to unbleached you use, and the humidity in your part of the country.

To make-ahead: Prior to the second rise, cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or wrap well with foil and freeze. Check this post for more tips on freezing cinnamon rolls. In the morning, remove the pan from the refrigerator and allow to rest 20 minutes prior to baking.

Nutrition Facts
Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls
Amount Per Serving
Calories 362.96 Calories from Fat 93
% Daily Value*
Fat 10.37g16%
Saturated Fat 5.84g37%
Cholesterol 24.51mg8%
Sodium 431.96mg19%
Potassium 218.38mg6%
Carbohydrates 61.21g20%
Fiber 4.34g18%
Sugar 27.34g30%
Protein 8.62g17%
Vitamin A 305.19IU6%
Calcium 83.33mg8%
Iron 1.29mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This post was originally published in October 2009. It has been updated for accuracy and relevancy.

Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Jessica Cusano says

    I do not have a bread machine… any idea on the steps I would take to attempt this delicious sounding recipe without one??? 🙂

    • Jessica says

      Well, you would follow the traditional way of making bread. Warm the milk, proof the yeast. Add the sugar and butter. Then add the dry ingredients. Stir well. Then knead until a soft dough forms. Do you have a stand mixer? You can do it with the bread hook as well. Does that help?

  2. Jessica Cusano says

    Ok, yes that helps thank you!! I do some bread making and do all the kneading by hand since I have neither a bread machine or a stand mixer (I’m really behind the kitchen times huh?!?). :). I am sort of new to working with yeast but it looks like it works about the same in the first basic steps. Thank you for your help and for sharing your wonderful blog with the world, I just love it! 🙂

    • Jessica says

      You’re not behind the times. Do what works for YOU!

      And thanks for your kind words.

    • Cristi P says

      Adding on to this thread. I’m making these for the first time this morning. If I’m suing a stand mixer with a bread hook, does that replace the kneading? or just the mixing?? I’m brand new to bread making. these sound delicious. doing a trial now so I can be ready for Christmas.

  3. When you freeze these for future use, do you freeze them before or after you’ve baked them? And if you freeze them before you bake them is it before or after you let them sit overnight in the fridge? And if you have to cook them after you have frozen them how long do they need to sit out before cooking? Can you tell I’m a type A personality?

    • Jessica says

      I roll and freeze on trays. Then once frozen, move to freezer bags. Then the night before I serve them, I pull however many I want, let them rise overnight in a greased pan and then bake in the morning.

  4. Michelle Z says

    What kind of bread machine do you own? Do you or your readers have any suggestions?

    I’ve been using an old machine that my mother-in-law gave me for almost 15 years, and recently the results have been getting less and less satisfactory. I took a quick look online earlier this week, but there are so many options and brands to choose from! I immediately became overwhelmed!

    I could just go to the thrift store and buy the first one I find, but I do use a bread machine at least once a week (usually more), and I think I’d rather have a new one. Any suggestions?

    • Jessica says

      I am now on my third machine. I’m not sure if it is because it’s the least expensive model out there or if I just use it a lot. I have had two Osters and a Sunbeam. They’re the same machine, just two different labels. Hope that helps.

    • Nia says

      I think you have the right frame of mind to purchase a new one, even if like Jessica said you get the cheapest one. I’ve seen them at Wal-Mart for around $40 in S. California. I got one from my local thrift store, used it a hand full of times before the heating element wouldn’t cook my loaves of bread properly. Also, when shopping for it, I noticed most of the ones at the thrift store didn’t have owner’s manuals. I’m the person who NEEDS the manual. Some machines work differently and suggest putting ingredients in a certain order for success. Just thought I’d share.

  5. yummy!!

  6. So, I was given a bread machine in 1997 because my girlfriend never used it. And I’ve never touched it either. I just googled the manual (as I have, of course, lost it), read it through, and it’s whirring my first batch of cinnamon rolls as we speak. Fingers crossed! It’s been on my to-do list since this post was originally posted!

    It IS OK to not use bread machine flour, right??? The manual directions said it was a no-no, but since I’m only using it for the dough-making and since your recipe doesn’t say otherwise, I thought it was a safe bet.

    • Jessica says

      You “should” be fine. I don’t use bread flour for this recipe.

      • it worked perfectly, thanks! my girls had homemade cinnamon rolls for their first day of preschool then we took them to the church office so we wouldn’t be tempted to eat too many. my empty pan was returned the same day! i think they were a hit! next step… freezer method.

  7. Very yummy! I’ve made these twice and they’ve been a hit with the fam both times. However I did have to add about 1 cup more flour to tame the sticky dough mess that was climbing out of my bread machine pan.

  8. Fleur says

    When you defrost your cinnamon rolls overnight – do you place them in the fridge or just on the counter?

    • Jessica says

      @Fleur, I have done both depending on how late I’m up, how late I want to sleep, and how hot/cold the house is. You want it to thaw and rise before baking. The fridge “should” be fine.

  9. Mary Beth says

    Could these be made a day in advance then left in the refrigerator?

    • Jessica says

      yes, you can make them the night before and refrigerate.

  10. tracy says

    i have a lot of dough left can i put it in the freezer uncut?

    • Jessica says

      I make it all into rolls, so I’m not sure. If it hasn’t risen much, yes, you can freeze it.

  11. Olivia says

    I never thought I’d be able to make Cinnamon Rolls, but I’ve made these twice and they are delicious! My family thinks I’m a rockstar and they say I’ve ruined canned cinnamon rolls for them forever!! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, and many others! 🙂

  12. Chrissy says

    YUMMY! These were really good! Thanks!

  13. Karon B says

    If you have not tried these they are magnificent. I havent tried the gingerbread and the pumpkin ones yet but pumpkin is being made this weekend. This is not my website, it is just something wonderful I found on the internet. http://www.recipegirl.com/2011/03/01/cinnamon-roll-pancakes/

  14. Is this recipe for a 1 or 2 lb bread machine? Wouldn’t have thought this to be important, but lets just say I found out the hard way that it is. Looks so yummy!

  15. Jenn says

    This might sound silly, but I’ve never used rolled oats in a bread recipe – do you grind it into a flour first or put it in as is? Thanks! 🙂

  16. Kathleen Lawson says

    5 stars
    Great recipe~ ! I do not have a bread machine, nor a standing mixer, and I still found the recipe quick and easy to put together with manual mixing:))) (AKA: girl power!),and the results were so yummy! My family of six gobbled these up! I will have to make a double batch to freeze for the holiday busy days ahead! Thanks, Jessica!!!

  17. Ann says

    5 stars
    OMG! These are magnificent! I just wanna sink my teeth into these cinnamon rolls. I wish I could taste these right now. I’m planning to make this easy dessert next weekend and invite our neighbors in for a cup of tea or coffee. These rolls have all chances to become a family favorite treat. I’m so happy to have found this recipe.
    Jessica, thank you A LOT for sharing this fab idea with us and all of your helpful recommendations. Such treasure. You’ve ALREADY answered all of my questions. Your blog is incredible, and I appreciate all the hard work that goes into it. Keep it up!
    p.s. I love the photos you take!

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