Meal Makeover: Skinny Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

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Happy Monday! I have something that will brighten up your Monday morning. 

Oh hey there sexy little  whole wheat cinnamon roll. How you doin?

These bad boys staring before you are not your average Cinnabon. No, no. These deliciously soft, ooey, gooey masterpieces are ones that you can enjoy WITHOUT guilt. Or a 15 mile treadmill session. Or having to unbutton your pants in public. No, no friends. This cinnamon roll is one you can ENJOY without ANY regret!

I was saying that last paragraph in my “TV infomercial voice” in case you were curious. I was startled awake at 4am in the worst circumstances…a sick dog. Ew. So, I apologize if I’m more wacky than usual. At least I made you these, that makes up for something, right?

I took every ounce of restraint not to eat these, one after another, despite an uncomfortably full stomach. They are incredible. Plus, with less than 270 calories a pop (which is close to 350 less than a standard roll), you aren’t completely derailing your diet. [After a weekend soaked in margaritas, this is nice]. They are made with whole wheat flour, a bit of butter and skim milk!

I know, I can hardly contain the excitement either. These were my first attempt at cinnamon rolls and I’m SO happy with how they turned out. So take that, Cinnabon! I’ll be running you outta business in no time! [I say as I twist a pretend villain mustache, cackling at the sky].

Recipe adapted from My Recipes.

Skinny Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

Yields about 14 rolls
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 22 minutes
Total time: 3 1/2 hours



  •  1 cup fat free milk, warmed (100 – 110 degrees F)
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup white sugar + 1 tablespoon
  • 1 package active dry, quick rising yeast
  • 2 3/4 – 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 organic egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (can use regular cinnamon if you want)


  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons light cream
  • About 1 cup powdered sugar

Directions :

  1. Mix milk, yeast, butter (2 tablespoons) and 1 tablespoon sugar in a large mixing bowl and let sit about 5 minutes, or until mixture is frothy. Stir in egg, remaining sugar and 1 cup flour and mix. Let sit another 10 minutes.
  2. Add in flour, 1/2 cup at a time and salt until mixture resembles a sticky dough (you may not use all the flour).  Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 4 – 6 minutes, or until dough is elastic. If still sticky, knead in remaining flour. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray and cover it. Let rise in a warm place (at least 85 degrees F) until doubled in size, may take up to 1 hour.
  3. Once dough has risen, punch it down, re-cover and let rise an additional 35 – 45 minutes, or until doubled in size again. Punch down again and let rest 5 minutes.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 9 x 18 rectangle. Gently brush remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter all over the dough. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Sprinkle the melted butter with brown sugar/pumpkin pie spice mixture. Then carefully roll up one end to the other, pressing the sides down with your fingers.
  5. Using a sharp, un-serrated knife, cut the dough vertically into 14 pieces. Place pieces cut side down in 2 greased baking dishes (I used a 9 x 18 and an 8 x 8 circle), cover and let rise another 35 – 40 minutes, or until doubled in size. (I let rise about an hour).
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake rolls for 18 – 22 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pans and let chill on a wire cooling rack.
  7. While rolls cool, prepare frosting by whisking butter and cream together. Add in vanilla. Then gradually add powdered sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, until mixture is a little thick but still runny.  Drizzle roll with frosting (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each) while still warm and serve.

Y’all, these are UNGODLY good. I just ate one and I’m still licking my fingers.

Nutritional information per roll:

Calories: 265
Fat: 6 grams
Carbohydrates: 42.5 grams
Fiber: 1.8 grams
Protein: 5 grams
Weight Watchers Points Plus Points:  6

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  1. Posted by Vicki @ WITK on
    Monday, May 7th, 2012
    Loving a skinny cinnamon roll.  It's always hard to stop eating at just one! :)
  2. Monday, May 7th, 2012
    Waaaaa??? 265 calories? That's amazing, I think Cinnabon is around 1200. 
    And is it just me, or does that first picture look a little like Flea from The Chili Peppers?
  3. Posted by Brenda's Wedding Blog on
    Monday, May 7th, 2012
    another amazing looking recipe - will have to try making this with gluten free flour. Sounds like the perfect Sunday morning yummy :)
  4. Posted by RavieNomNoms on
    Monday, May 7th, 2012
    The look totally great, definitely going to try them!
  5. Posted by Brenda Ross on
    Monday, May 7th, 2012
    can you use lactose milk or soy milk  for this recipe 
    • Posted by Claire Gallam10 on
      Monday, May 7th, 2012
      Hey Brenda,

      I'm not 100% sure because soy milk cooks very differently than regular milk. I'd definitely look it up to make sure they work!
      • Posted by Elizabeth on
        Monday, May 7th, 2012
        I made these today with almond milk (I'm allergic to cow's milk), and margarine, and they turned out great!  I can't speak to the icing, because I just made the rolls and topped with pre-made icing, but the roll part definitely worked with those substitutions.
        • Posted by Claire Gallam10 on
          Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
          That's awesome Elizabeth!! I'm so happy to hear that!!
  6. Posted by Erin on
    Monday, May 7th, 2012
    Ok, I am drooling like crazy.  I will be over tomorrow morning, please have 2 with extra icing ready for me :)
  7. Posted by Stephsbitebybite on
    Monday, May 7th, 2012
    Sexy cinnamon roll indeed! This is fantastic!
  8. Monday, May 7th, 2012
    These look so amazing. I have been drooling ever since seeing these come together on Instagram. I want!!!
  9. Posted by Happy When Not Hungry on
    Monday, May 7th, 2012
    WOW!  My mouth is watering.  These buns look amazing :-)
  10. Monday, May 7th, 2012
    Guiltless cinnamon rolls? You are a genius!
  11. Posted by amy donovan on
    Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
    these sound great + i love that they have some whole wheat in there to healthify 'em. yum!
  12. Posted by Katie {Epicurean Mom} on
    Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
    Oh my word!!! Claire, I NEED THESE NOW! Do you deliver?? ;-) I'm definitely making these asap! 
  13. Posted by April Johnson on
    Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
    yum, this look delicious!! I just bought a whole bunch of whole wheat flour, and I don't think that there is a better way to utilize it, I am drooling right now.
  14. Posted by Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. on
    Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
    I love you for making these! I love cinnamon rolls, but never make them because they are so fattening. I love this lightened up recipe!
  15. Posted by Baking Serendipity on
    Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
    I am definitely down for a guilt-free cinnamon roll. These look fantastic!
  16. Posted by Lizzy Do on
    Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
    These are my kind of cinnamon rolls!!! Beautifully done, Claire!!!
  17. Posted by Nataša Pajestková on
    Sunday, May 20th, 2012
    I still think there´s a lot of sugar in it. 1 3/4 cup for 2 2/4 - 3 cups flour????? Must be terribly sweet anyway.
    • Posted by admin on
      Sunday, May 20th, 2012
      You can happily omit some sugar if you want :)
    • Posted by Realistic Nutritionist on
      Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
      Use a sugar substitute if that's a problem or sub in a little honey.
  18. Posted by Tiffany on
    Thursday, July 19th, 2012
    Do you think these could possibly be frozen? These would be perfect for an occasional quick and lazy day breakfast!
    • Posted by Realistic Nutritionist on
      Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
      I'm not sure if they could be frozen! I'd have to try!
  19. Posted by TM on
    Friday, July 20th, 2012
    Cook time is NOT 15 minutes. It's more like an hour when you factor in having to let the dough rise. It would have been awesome to know this before I started. 
    • Posted by Tiffany on
      Friday, July 20th, 2012
      And by cook time, I mean prep time!
    • Posted by cgallam10 on
      Sunday, July 22nd, 2012
      Hey, sorry about that! Let me fix that. But they are a yeast recipe, so most of those do take a bit of time.
  20. Posted by Melissa on
    Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
    Hi, These look amazing , going to make these today. was wondering if I couuld substitute the sugar for honey. thanks
    • Posted by Realistic Nutritionist on
      Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
      I wouldn't substitute all of the sugar for honey, but maybe some of it? I worry the consistency and texture could get weird with that much liquid. 
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