Celebration Worthy Cinnamon Rolls

In my opinion it just isn’t Christmas without the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked cinnamon rolls.  One of the first things I tackled as a gluten-free baker was cinnamon rolls.  I had high expectations and I felt like most of my initial attempts fell short.  My desire to recreate the cinnamon roll I fondly remember kept me motivated to continue tweaking and adjusting my recipe….until I had these.  Soft and springy, with a generous filling of spicy brown sugar these cinnamon rolls will comfort and indulge your family regardless of whether or not they’re gluten-free.  These have been tested and re-tested and they pass the finicky palates of neighbors and friends who think gluten-free is some kind of new age political party.

I encourage you to give them a try.  Put on some music, make some tea and enjoy yourself.  They really are worth the extra effort.

If you do, definitely stick to the recipe as closely as you can.  Every ingredient and every amount is there for a reason.  Equipped with my kitchen scale, notepad and pencil, I was a mad scientist on a quest.  One of the many things I learned along the way is how relatively small changes really impacted end results.  For instance, I originally wrote the recipe with brown sugar in the dough (instead of the granulated sugar) and although the dough tasted great, it had a coarser texture that just wasn’t capturing the cinnamon rolls of my memory.  With that said, I also recommend that you use a kitchen scale for best results.  It’s the best 35 dollars you’ll ever spend if you’re serious about baking gluten-free.

Happy Baking and Happy Holidays to all!  See you in the New Year!

Cinnamon Rolls (Gluten-Free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Corn-free)

  • 1 ¾ cups (260 grams) brown rice flour
  • ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (130 grams) tapioca starch
  • ½ cup (80 grams) potato starch
  • 3 tablespoons (25 grams) ground flax (I prefer golden flax)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (click here if baking corn-free)
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons xanthan gum (I use Authentic Foods corn-free xanthan gum)
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (most packages are only 2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil, canola oil or melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (click here if baking corn-free)
  • 1 ¼ cups milk substitute of choice (or cow’s milk)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • *** an additional  3- 4 tablespoons of melted coconut oil, butter, or non-dairy margarine for brushing the dough.
  • *** an additional 1/4 cup of granulated sugar is needed for rolling out the dough.


  • 1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger

→  Mix the filling ingredients, (brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger ) in a bowl with a fork.  Set aside.

To Make the Dough:

→  Liberally grease a 8 by 8 inch square baking pan (or 9 by 13 pan) with pan spray or non-hydrogenated shortening.

→  Place the dry ingredients (brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, ground flax, granulated sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and active dry yeast) into the bowl of your standing mixer with a paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine.

→  Add the remaining ingredients (melted oil, vanilla, eggs, milk, and eggs) to the bowl and starting out on slow speed, gradually increase to medium-high speed and mix for 2 1/2 minutes.  The dough will look like a very thick, sticky batter and should not even come close to forming a ball.  Please see the picture below for an idea of how it should look.

→  Lay out a piece of plastic wrap, parchment paper or a silpat mat, (a bit bigger than 12 inches by 16 1/2 inches).  Sprinkle liberally with granulated sugar (to keep the dough from sticking), trying to cover the entire 12 by 16 1/2 inch surface.  Scrape out the dough in a big, ooey-gooey pile onto the sugared rectangle.  See picture below↓.  Yes, you will feel like you are wrestling with the dough!

→  Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and begin to press it down a bit into a rough rectangular shape.  If you are worried about sticking, you could give your dough a quick spray with pan spray, or oil the plastic wrap first.  My plastic wrap stuck in a couple of spots but it wasn’t too much of a worry.

→  Then gently roll the dough out, with a rolling pin, into a large rectangle approximately 12 inches by 16 inches.  Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect!  Occasionally you may need to stop using the rolling pin and coax the dough into the corners with your fingers and palms.  The plastic wrap will keep this from getting too messy.

→ Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the dough (don’t worry if it sticks in spots) and brush the entire surface of the dough with the melted coconut oil (or canola oil, butter or dairy-free margarine).

→  Spread the filling out on the surface of the dough, leaving a 3/4 inch margin of dough bare on one of the short ends (see the right side of my dough in the picture below).  This will be the closing seam and having it be free of the sugar filling will allow you to seal the cinnamon roll log closed.  (just make sure that when you roll up your dough, you start with the completely sugar covered short end!)

→  Then roll up the dough starting with the short end.  Use the parchment, plastic wrap or silpat  to lift and roll as you go.  Without using this technique, this is a nearly impossible task!

→  When you get to the end, seal the log by gently pressing the seam.

→  Cut the log into 9 equal pieces (I mark mine first so that I get consistently sized rolls) using a sharp chef’s knife or dental floss.

→  Transfer rolls to a well-greased 8 by 8 inch square pan (alternatively you could bake them in a 13 by 9 inch pan, they just won’t be quite as snug).  Cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise in a sufficiently warm area (80 degrees) for 45-60 minutes.

→  After the rolls have been rising for 30 minutes, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

→  When the rolls are done rising (approx. 45-60 mins and they will begin to fill in some of the spaces and gaps that were initially in the pan), bake on the center rack for 10 minutes.  After the ten minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 20 more minutes or until filling is bubbling and rolls are beginning to turn golden.

→  Cool for 10 minutes and then CAREFULLY (you may want to get an adult for this one)  flip them out onto a foil covered cookie sheet so that their bottoms are now their tops.  (Like a pineapple-upside down cake.)  This will allow the warm sugar syrup to drizzle down and spread the goodness!  ↓  The picture below is what they look like when you flip them out.  YUM.

→  Serve warm.  With day old cinnamon rolls, warm gently in the microwave to soften the sugar topping.  If you have leftovers, wrap well and place in air-tight container in the freezer.  Defrost slowly in the microwave.

Yield:  9 GIANT Rolls

34 thoughts on “Celebration Worthy Cinnamon Rolls

  1. I feel like I am there in your kitchen with you, hot cup of tea warming my hands! I can even smell those cinnamon rolls! Nessa is making the regular kind for Christmas. Maybe I’ll pick up some ingredients for these so I don’t feel YUK after eating them.

    Cheers and thanks for that post!


      • Ha! After mentioning to my daughter Vanessa that I burn everything lately, Grandmonkey Lily (6) caught on and said that if some of like the cookies crispy they should let Gramma Neen make them cuz she burns everything! Thanks for the comliment Terris, but I’ll leave the true culinary artistry to you!



  2. Oh, these look amazing…so gooey and wonderful! I may have to make some cinnamon rolls for my family this weekend! Happy holidays!!!

  3. These ARE celebration worthy! I am allergic to cinnamon, so I can’t indulge, but I LOVE the way you rolled them up! When I could have cinnamon, I rolled mine willy-nilly and they were never the same size! Really beautifully done!

    • Oh Ann, I actually thought of you when I posted this recipe! Since I am always trying to think of ways to make recipes allergy friendly I started imagining spice combos that might work for someone who was allergic to cinnamon. Ginger, nutmeg and a pinch of clove or cardamon combined with the brown sugar? Oh and a bit of orange zest too?

  4. My friend and I turn to start eating healthy and she really love to eat gluten free recipe. I would love to introduce to her I am sure that she will love it too.

  5. They look delicious!! I’d really like to make them and I have all the ingredients, except for the flax. Can I make it without? Would I have to increase the gum amount?

    • Hi Barbara! You can still make them. The flax is only there to increase nutritional value and I like the “nutty” taste it adds to dough. It isn’t there to hold the dough together or for leavening properties, so just replace the flax with an equal amount of brown rice flour and you will be good to go! Hope you enjoy them. We can’t stop eating them when they are around. :)

  6. Hello,
    I just want to say that I have been looking for a gluten free cinnamon bun recipe but have not came across any until now. I have just started with the gluten free process this past Sept. I must admitt it was very intense at the beginning I had never even known about gluten. Wel lit has actually been a Blessing because not only am I gluten free but my husband is slowly working his way around to it as well. Well I am also not trying to eat corn niether since I have a low allergy for it. Now as for the xathan gum I know they are formed from corn, can I substitute it or can I just do with out it? Thank you in advance and have a Happy New Year!!

    • Hi there and thanks for visiting Free Eats! I’m always so happy to find new readers. :) In most recipes I provide a link to where I buy corn free Xanthan Gum. http://www.glutenfree-supermarket.com/detail.aspx?ID=1 This also happens to be the same place I buy my flours. I don’t have any affiliation with them, just love their stuff and have always stayed healthy eating it! Thank you for reminding me that I forgot to include that link. You could also try subbing with guar gum. Some people are sensitive to guar gum as it is an undigestable fiber. So, you have to see how it goes. I tend to use fairly small amounts of gums in my recipes, so 1 3/4 teaspoons to the 3 cups of flour in the cinnamon roll recipe will be a very small amount per serving. Guar gum also happens to be a much more affordable option! Thanks again for your comment and happy baking! -Terris

  7. Pingback: Holiday Desserts Roundup! « moderngirlnutrition

  8. Any way to substitute the egg in this recipe? Would flax eggs work or banana? Or is it just wishful thinking that I will ever get to eat cinamon roles again?

    Thanks Amber

  9. I am looking for some advice. I have attempted to make these several times and they have not held together. I consider myself a fairly good cook with baked goods but these have given me fits. After I roll them up on the Silat pan and try to cut them they simply fall apart and I have a big globby mess in my 8X8 pan. They taste good but do not resemble a cinnamon roll like the picture. Please help.

  10. I tried making these like monkey bread and it was delicious and so easy! I followed the recipe exactly except instead of rolling them out I scooped the dough with a cookie scoop into a loaf plan. Then drizzled with coconut oil and the cinnamon sugar mixture. Then another layer of dough followed with more coconut oil and cinnamon sugar until the dough was gone. I just wanted to share in case someone else wanted to try it too!

    • What a great idea, Michelle! This would be a nice time-saving shortcut during the holidays. Thank you for sharing so that other people can give it a try! -Terris

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