Gluten free cinnamon rolls are hard to come by. In my more than 15 years of being gluten free, I’ve rarely come across bakery cinnamon rolls I can eat. So, I decided to make my own!
This recipe is sure to satisfy your craving for this classic treat. Just as indulgent as what you’d find at a bakery, these cinnamon rolls are buttery and jam-packed with cinnamon flavor. Though they will not rise as much as a conventional roll, they’re still super tender—especially the pillowy edges where the rolls have snuggled up with their neighbors. They’re a perfect breakfast for the holidays or any weekend when you want a little something special.
Loads of cinnamon, vanilla, and a thick layer of cream cheese frosting smeared on top ensure these rolls will please everyone, gluten free or not!
How to Make Tender Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls
Cinnamon rolls are not the kind of recipe where you simply swap your favorite GF flour blend in a standard gluten-filled recipe and expect good results. You have to add a little something extra.
For extra lift and to lighten the texture, I add both yeast and baking powder, along with generous amounts of butter and an extra egg yolk for richness.
In conventional recipes, gluten helps trap the air bubbles produced by the yeast, giving it rise. Since our dough doesn’t have gluten, it needs extra help, and that’s where baking powder comes in. It increases the volume and lightens the texture of our rolls in a way that yeast can’t achieve on its own.
Yeast is common in traditional cinnamon roll recipes, and I use it here, but it’s important to keep a few tips in mind when working with yeast, because it’s a living product.
- Bloom yeast in a mixture of warm milk and sugar to ensure it’s alive. After five to eight minutes, it should be foamy, which practically guarantees your dough will rise.
- Yeast is heat sensitive. Don’t heat the milk above 110°F otherwise you could kill the yeast, preventing your dough from rising.
- If you don’t see frothy, foamy yeast in your mixture after eight minutes, either your yeast is no longer good, or your milk was too hot and you’ll need to start again.
- Do not knead gluten free dough; it can make the rolls tough (more on that below).
No Need to Knead Gluten Free Dough
Typically, cinnamon roll dough is kneaded to develop gluten, which gives the rolls structure, but this is a gluten free recipe, of course, so there’s no gluten to develop!
Furthermore, overworking gluten free dough can actually make rolls tough. I prefer to use a gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum, which mimics the effect of gluten by providing elasticity to the dough and acts as a binding agent, giving the rolls structure, but it can make dough tough if over-mixed.
My favorite gluten free flour blend is Cup4Cup Multipurpose Gluten Free Blend, but Bob ’ s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking flour is also a good choice.
Rather than kneading gluten free dough, mix it with a spoon or spatula just until the ingredients are combined. It won’t appear smooth and stretchy like conventional cinnamon roll dough. Instead, it will look more like cookie batter.
How to Store and Freeze
These cinnamon rolls are best enjoyed the day they’re baked—especially still warm from the oven! After that, they’ll start to dry out and harden but will still be enjoyable for a couple days if left covered at room temperature.
- To reheat: A quick zap in the microwave (15-20 seconds) will soften leftover cinnamon rolls, bringing them back to life.
- To freeze unbaked rolls: Rolls can be frozen after slicing and placing them in the pan, but before letting them rise. When ready to bake, defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Then, let the rolls rise in a warm place for two hours until they are softened and puffy. Bake according to the recipe.
- To freeze baked rolls: Baked cinnamon rolls can be frozen as well, preferably unfrosted. An individual roll can go from frozen to thawed and warmed through in just 30 seconds in the microwave!
- To freeze frosting: The cream cheese frosting can also be frozen. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and leave out at room temperature to soften a couple hours before using.
More Gluten Free Recipes
- Gluten Free Banana Bread
- Gluten Free Apple Tart
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie
- Gluten Free Fudgy Chocolate Brownies
- Grain Free Apple Honey Cake
Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls
This dough is quite sticky. Rather than rolling it out with a rolling pin, dust a piece of parchment with flour, spray your fingertips with non-stick spray, and press the dough out into a rectangle shape with your fingertips. Once the filling is spread on the dough, use the parchment to help roll up your log.
- For the dough:
- 1 cup lukewarm whole milk
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 egg yolk, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups Cup4Cup gluten free flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- For the filling:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- For the frosting:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Make the dough:
Into a large bowl, add the lukewarm milk. (Make sure the milk is only heated between 89°F to 110°F.) Add 3 tablespoons sugar and the yeast over the milk and set aside until the mixture is bubbly, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Whisk in the whole egg, egg yolk, melted butter, and vanilla to the yeast mixture.
In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and, using a spoon or spatula, stir until combined. The dough is loose and will look like a thick batter. Resist the urge to add more flour.
Make the cinnamon filling:
In a medium bowl, add the softened butter. If your kitchen is cold you might have to soften the butter in the microwave. Add the cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, and salt to the softened butter. Mix with a spoon or stiff spatula until completely smooth.
Press out the dough:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust it with flour. Scoop the dough onto parchment. This dough is very sticky. Spray your hands with non-stick spray, then use your hands to gently press and spread the dough into a 10 x 15-inch rectangle.
Add the filling:
Dollop the filling on to the dough by the spoonful and use the back of the spoon to spread it in an even layer to all four edges.
Roll and chill the rolls:
Start with the long side closest to you and use the parchment to roll the dough into a tight log, ending with the seam at the bottom. Place the parchment-wrapped log, still on the baking sheet, in the freezer for about 20 to 30 minutes to firm up.
Cut the rolls and let them rise:
Remove from the freezer and discard the parchment. Slice the log into 12 rolls. Arrange the rolls cut side up in a greased 9-inch square or round cake pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the rolls have softened and expanded.
Preheat the oven:
Towards the end of the rise time, preheat the oven to 350°F degrees.
Bake the rolls:
Bake the rolls until they are light golden-brown and puffy, about 30 minutes.
Make the frosting:
In a medium bowl, combine the softened butter and cream cheese. Using a hand whisk or electric mixer, beat until completely smooth. Add the powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla, and salt and beat again until well incorporated.
Allow baked rolls to cool 5 to 10 minutes before icing generously with the cream cheese frosting. Serve warm.