Coming to you with another glorious cinnamon roll recipe, but this time they’re completely vegan, dairy free and taste like a cross between a Cinnabon and banana bread. WHO ELSE IS READY TO GET THEIR BAKE ON?
I’ve tested these approximately 5 times now to get the perfect fluffy results that will make you better than Betty, almost ask cool as Ina, and definitely as legit as Martha. (Hoping we all get these references.)
These banana bread cinnamon rolls are fluffy, soft and taste like a cinnamon roll and banana bread had a baby. Fresh bananas are nestled in between each cinnamon sugar roll for the ultimate banana bread cinnamon roll. I MEAN COME ON, NOW YOU HAVE TO TRY THEM.
Ingredients in banana bread cinnamon rolls:
- Bread flour. The trick to keep these vegan cinnamon rolls soft and fluffy is to use bread flour. Basically bread flour has a higher protein ratio, which means it produces a lighter and softer cinnamon roll instead of one that’s dense. It’s meant to be used in breads and rolls, so do yourself a favor and pick up a bag ASAP.
- Granulated sugar: this type of sugar is used to sweeten the banana bread cinnamon rolls and to help activate the yeast.
- Brown sugar: personally, I love using dark brown sugar for more robust molasses sweet flavor in those swirls, but light brown sugar will work.
- Quick rise yeast: use quick rise or instant yeast in this recipe to help the cinnamon rolls rise faster. You can also use active dry yeast, but the cinnamon rolls may take slightly longer to rise.
- Vegan butter. We’re using vegan butter in this recipe. However, if you aren’t vegan or dairy free, feel free to use regular unsalted butter. Or you can try my regular cinnamon roll recipe.
- Mashed banana. Not only does mashed banana help to give the cinnamon rolls that banana bread flavor, but it also helps to keep the recipe vegan. Not only that, the banana adds a natural sweetness AND softness to the dough. SO addicting. Just make sure that you measure out the mashed banana to ¾ cup. DO NOT USE MORE. DO NOT USE LESS. Trust me!
- Unsweetened vanilla almond milk. YUM. It keeps these cinnamon rolls dairy free and vegan, plus it adds a lovely hint of vanilla. Simply the best.
Types of yeast used for making cinnamon rolls
There are two types of yeast to choose from in baking:
- The first is an active dry yeast, which must be dissolved in liquid, or also what’s known as being “proofed” before it’s added to the rest of the dough ingredients.
- The second type is instant yeast, also known as quick rise yeast (this is the brand I use and love!) and also what we are using for this vegan banana bread cinnamon roll recipe. It can be added to the dough without any ‘proofing’ required, so you don’t need to sit and watch the yeast to make sure it bubbles. I do still like to dissolve it in a little bit of milk and sugar to help get it started, which is noted in the recipe instructions.
How do you know when yeast is activated?
After adding yeast to warm milk you’ll typically watch and wait to see if the mixture bubbles. Then you’ll know that your yeast is activated. However, in this recipe (as I mentioned above) we’ll be using a quick rise yeast to make these vegan cinnamon rolls, which doesn’t have to be “proofed” before adding in the rest of the ingredients. You’ll simply add the yeast to your warmed milk and sugar (the sugar helps get the yeast started!) and continue on with the recipe. Easy!
How to measure flour for cinnamon rolls
Dip a flour scoop or large spoon into the container of flour and scoop the flour into your dry measuring cup. Do NOT pack the flour or shake the measuring cup so that the flour settles. We want some air in the flour (it’s nature’s leavener). Once you have filled the measuring cup to the top with the flour you’ve spooned in, take the flat edge of a knife and level the cup. You can check out my full video tutorial here!
Tips for making banana bread cinnamon rolls
- Don’t overheat your milk. It should be between 105-115 degrees F. Anything hotter will kill the yeast, which means the vegan cinnamon rolls will not rise. A simple tip is to dip your finger in the almond milk — it should feel warm similar to warm bath water but not HOT. If you warmed it up too much, simply wait a few minutes until it cools down enough to touch.
- Use ripe bananas and measure them out. The mashed banana in these vegan cinnamon rolls will help them bake up without the use of eggs, so be sure to measure out the amount after mashing. Ripe bananas will ensure that these vegan cinnamon rolls have a delicious, banana bread flavor!
- Use softened, room temperature vegan butter for the filling: melted butter will likely cause the filling to leak out before baking. Room temperature butter is best!
- Rub the brown sugar into the vegan butter. after you spread out the softened vegan butter, it’s important to rub the brown sugar into the butter and dough so that it’s well combined.
- Add banana slices to the filling. The extra banana slices will really give these vegan cinnamon rolls that banana bread flavor. Yum! I think chopped walnuts or pecans would also be delicious in the middle.
- Use bread flour: bread flour is available at most grocery stores and it makes ALL the difference in achieving soft, fluffy banana bread cinnamon rolls!
- Flour your work surface and rolling pin: this is to prevent the vegan cinnamon rolls from sticking the the surface or to the rolling pin.
How to make overnight cinnamon rolls
After rolling your banana bread cinnamon rolls up, cut them as directed, arrange in pan lined with parchment paper, cover them with plastic wrap then place them in the fridge overnight. When you are ready to bake, bring the vegan cinnamon rolls to room temperature and let them rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour before baking as directed.
How to freeze vegan cinnamon rolls
Freeze vegan cinnamon rolls before baking: the dough should be frozen after the first rise (once they are rolled up with the filling in and cut). Place into a pan and cover well, then place in freezer. When you are ready to bake, let the dough thaw in the fridge — preferably overnight, then put in a warm spot for 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking to activate the second rise. Bake the vegan banana bread cinnamon rolls as directed.
Freeze vegan cinnamon rolls after baking: allow the vegan banana bread cinnamon rolls to come to room temperature after baking, then either freeze the entire pan, making sure they are well wrapped or covered in an airtight container, or freeze individual cinnamon rolls. When you’re ready to eat, defrost the vegan cinnamon rolls at room temperature, then warm them in the oven at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. You can also warm them up individually in the microwave for 20-30 seconds (once defrosted). I prefer to freeze them before they are iced, and then frost them when ready to eat. The vegan cream cheese icing is also freezer-friendly!
See how to make the banana bread cinnamon rolls:
More baked goods to try:
I hope you love these vegan banana bread cinnamon rolls! If you make them, be sure to leave a comment below and rate the recipe so I know how you liked them. I really appreciate it, xo!
Vegan Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls
Meet the world's best vegan cinnamon rolls: vegan banana bread cinnamon rolls! These homemade vegan cinnamon rolls are like a cross between a cinnamon roll and banana bread. They're incredibly fluffy, soft, and make a wonderful brunch or treat!
- For the dough:
- ¾ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice), warmed to 110 degrees F
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active yeast (1/4-ounce package yeast)
- ¾ cup mashed ripe banana (from about 2 medium bananas, but make sure you measure)
- ¼ cup melted vegan butter
- 4 cups bread flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- For the filling:
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup vegan butter, softened
- 1 medium banana, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- For the vegan cream cheese frosting*:
- 2 oz vegan cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter, softened
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice), to thin frosting for drizzling
Warm milk to around 110 degrees F. I like to do this by placing milk in a microwave safe bowl and microwaving it for 45 seconds. It should be like warm bath water. Transfer warm milk and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle yeast on top. Stir in ¾ cup mashed banana (making sure you measured!) and melted vegan butter. Mix until just combined. Next stir in flour and salt with a wooden spoon until a dough begins to form.
Place dough hook on mixer and knead dough on low speed for 8-10 minutes. Dough should form into a nice ball and be slightly sticky. (If you don’t want to use an electric mixer, you can use your hands to knead the dough for 8-10 minutes on a well-floured surface.)
Transfer dough ball to a large bowl greased with olive oil or nonstick cooking spray, then cover with plastic wrap and a warm towel. Allow dough to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. This may more or less time depending the humidity and temperature in your home.
After dough has doubled in size, transfer dough to a well-floured surface and roll out into a 14x16 inch rectangle. Spread softened butter over dough, leaving a ¼ inch margin at the far side of the dough.
In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and cinnamon. Use your hands to sprinkle mixture over the buttered dough, then gently rub the sugar into the butter. Add banana slices and walnuts on top.
Tightly roll dough up the dough, starting from the 14-inch side (the smaller side) and place seam side down making sure to seal the edges of the dough as best you can. You will probably need to cut off about an inch off the ends of the dough as the ends won’t be as full of cinnamon sugar as we’d want it to be. Then cut into 1 inch sections with a serrated knife or use floss. You should get 12 rolls. I like to make dents in the dough before cutting to make 12 even rolls.
Place banana cinnamon rolls in a greased 9x11 inch baking pan. (I also recommend lining the pan with parchment paper as well, in case any of the filling ends up leaking out.) Cover with plastic wrap and a warm towel and let rise again while you preheat your oven.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap and towel and bake the banana cinnamon rolls for 25-35 minutes or until just slightly golden brown on the edges. You want to under bake them a little so they stay soft in the middle, that’s why we want them just slightly golden brown. Allow them to cool for a 5-10 minutes before frosting. Makes 12 cinnamon rolls.
To make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer or in a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Add 1 teaspoon of almond milk if you’d like a thinner glaze. Spread or drizzle over cinnamon rolls and serve immediately.
If you like a lot of frosting, I suggest doubling it!
*Feel free to use regular butter and cream cheese if you are not vegan or dairy free.
To make overnight cinnamon rolls: After rolling your banana bread cinnamon rolls up, cut them as directed, arrange in pan lined with parchment paper, cover them with plastic wrap then place them in the fridge overnight. When you are ready to bake, bring the vegan cinnamon rolls to room temperature and let them rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour before baking as directed.
These vegan cinnamon rolls are freezer-friendly! Check the full post on tips for freezing them.
Recipe updated on March 30, 2020