100% Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

Healthy Cinnamon Roll Recipe

Colorado aspens in fall

If there is such a thing as a “healthy cinnamon roll recipe”, using 100% whole wheat flour has to be the place to start.

Here in Colorado, the seasons are beginning to change.  You can feel it in the air – especially in the morning.  In a week or so, we’ll make it up to our cabin in the mountains outside Fairplay to see the aspens changing color.  There’s nothing better than the smell of fresh-baked goods on a crisp fall day!  Especially when the results are this good.

Everyone has a homemade cinnamon roll recipe.  I’ve waded through dozens of church and school cookbooks, and there’s always at least one.  The variations are endless – in the dough, in the filling, in the baking process.  So finding one that works for you is important.

I modified a church recipe to make these 100% Whole Wheat Cinnamon rolls.  I use all organic ingredients, but I’ve listed the recipe just as noted in the book – I’ll let you decide how organic you want to make it.  As usual, my comments are in green.

100% Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls
100% Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

100% Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 Tbl butter
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 cups whole wheat flour


  • 8 Tbl butter, divided
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • Cinnamon to taste (I used about 1 1/2 Tbl for each batch)


  • 1 stick of softened butter
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbl cream or milk
  • 1 tsp extract – vanilla, almond, maple, orange – you decide!
  • Water for thinning


Combine the warm water (between 105º F and 115º F) and yeast in a bowl.

In a saucepan, heat the sour cream until warm and smooth, but not bubbling.

Bread dough ready to begin sponge stage
Bread dough ready to begin sponge stage

Combine the honey, butter, baking soda salt and eggs with a mixer in a large bowl.  Add the sour cream and mix until it cools to lukewarm.  Add the yeast water.  Add half the flour and mix to form a medium batter.  (Important: At this stage, let the batter sit for a 25 minutes to 2 hours to sponge.  This will soften the whole wheat bran and germ, giving you lighter rolls).

Switch to a dough hook, if you have one.  Otherwise, add two more cups of flour and mix with your hands or the dough hook.  Continue to add remaining flour just until you form a dough that pulls the bowl clean.  Knead the dough for several minutes until it passes the windowpane test.  Let it rise in the mixing bowl until double in size – about an hour.

Punch the dough down and remove from the bowl.  Split the dough into two equal pieces.

Rolled dough with butter
Rolled dough with butter

Roll one piece into a rectangle about 13″ X 18″ in size.  Melt 4 Tbl of butter and spread evenly over the dough.  Sprinkle the brown sugar over the dough all the way to the far edges.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  You can also add chopped nuts.

From the long side, roll up the dough delicately, starting with just your fingertips – no pulling or stretching.  Once you get it started it’s much easier to roll it all the way to a long cylinder.  Pinch the seam closed tightly.

With kitchen shears, cut the cylinder in half, then quarters.  Then cut 1″ pieces.  Place the rolls in a greased 9″ X 13″ pan or a large jelly roll pan.  Leave them a little room to expand.

Cinnamon rolls ready to bake
Cinnamon rolls ready to bake

Repeat with the second lump of dough.  Let the rolls rise again until doubled – about 45 minutes.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

While baking, prepare the frosting.  Mix the butter and cream cheese until combined.  Add the flavoring, then add the powdered sugar one cup at a time.  Add milk or cream.  Finally, add water a tablespoon at a time until the frosting will just barely pour from a spoon – about 3 Tbl.

When the rolls are done baking, let them cool for about 5 minutes, then pour the icing generously over the rolls.

Makes about 30 large cinnamon rolls.

Question?  Comment?  Suggestion for improving the recipe?  Leave me a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.

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