Perfect Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Frosting

I adore this recipe.

When I went vegan a little over five years ago, I had a minor panic attack when I realized I’d never eat another Cinnabon again. I remember I used to ask my dad to bring them home from the airport for me when I was little, whenever he had a business trip. The fluffy swirls of dough, the sugary syrup, the cream cheese frosting… I needed to recreate them perfectly, vegan style. And let me tell you, these are a dead ringer for our mall and airport favorites.

Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese FrostingBut it comes at a price. If you’re looking for a healthy, low-fat, calorie conscious treat, I can’t help you today. If you’re looking for a recipe that is guaranteed to win over any vegan doubter, guaranteed to please any Cinnabon lover, guaranteed to send any child into a permanent sugar high; these buns are for you.

There is a lot of sugar and Earth Balance margarine in these. But hey, the recipe makes a ton of rolls, and it takes four hours to make, so they’re really special occasion buns. Embrace the cups (and cups) of sugar and fat, and you will definitely be rewarded with the most perfect cinnamon bun you’ve ever had. Isn’t it worth it, at least once?

I think so.

For those of you who haven’t yet overcome your apprehension about yeast breads, I encourage you to give these a try. I’ve included tons of photos and a video to clarify the process and give you an idea how the dough is supposed to look at every step. They might seem intimidating, but they’re easier than you think!

I think these would be an amazing way to wake up Mom on Sunday, paired with a nice hot cup of coffee. You can make these ahead of time, refrigerating over night before the second rise and popping them in the oven in the morning, or you can freeze them for later. More info on that at the end of the recipe.

Perfect Cinnamon Buns
Makes 12 Large Buns

Yeast Mixture
4 tsp Active Dry Yeast (a little less than 2 packets)
1 tsp Sugar
1 Cup Water, 110º F

1 Cup Soymilk
2/3 Cup Sugar
2/3 Cup Earth Balance Margarine
2 tsp Salt
2 Ener-g Egg Replacer Eggs, prepared, optional
Yeast Mixture, from above
6 Cups All Purpose Flour, more for kneading

Dough Filling
1/2 Cup Earth Balance Margarine, melted
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
3 Tbs Cinnamon

Pan Sauce
1/2 Cup Earth Balance Margarine, melted
1/3 Cup Sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 Cup Earth Balance
1/3 Cup Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Powdered Sugar

Combine yeast mixture and set aside to proof.

From the dough ingredients, combine the soymilk, sugar, earth balance, salt, and ener-g eggs in a small sauce pan. Heat until earth balance is melted and all the ingredients are well combined, but do not let the mixture get too hot. You should be able to put a finger in it without burning yourself.

The yeast should now be nice and foamy (proofed). Combine it with the warmed liquid you just made; make sure it’s not too hot, or you will kill your yeast.

Proofed Yeast and Liquid Ingredients

Place 4 cups of all purpose flour in a large bowl. Add the warmed wet ingredients.

Mixing the Dough

Beat the batter well with a wooden spoon. The dough will be very wet and liquid, much more like a batter than a dough.

Mixing the Dough

Add 2 more cups of flour and mix in partially. It’ll look like a wreck. That’s fine! Turn out the dough onto a large table/kneading surface, scraping out everything in the bowl.


Begin kneading, gently at first. It’s going to take about 8 minutes to get the dough where it needs to be. Add more flour only if the dough starts sticking to the table and there is no more dry flour to be worked into the dough. You want the dough to end up smooth and elastic, and slightly tacky, but not sticky. You should be able to knead it on a bare table without it sticking.

Here is a video of the kneading and cutting process, so you can see the stages the dough goes through.

Cinnamon Buns

Once the dough is ready, place it in an oiled bowl, covered with oiled plastic wrap, to rise for 90 minutes in a warm spot. If you’re lacking a warm spot, turn your oven on low for 1 minute, then turn it off and place the dough in the oven to rise with the door closed. Remember to turn the oven off after one minute, and remember the dough is in there — no preheating for other things! (I’ve made that mistake more than once, it’s never good.)

Once the dough has risen completely, it’ll leave a little dent when you poke it. If it springs back, it needs more time.

Risen Dough

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and press it down (this is part is in the video above). You want it press or roll it out into a 15 x 20 inch rectangle. You can use a roller if you want, but it’s not necessary.

Pour the 1/2 cup of melted earth balance on the dough. Brush it so the dough is covered completely. It’s okay if it pools in some locations.

Mix together the cinnamon and sugar from the dough filling above. Sprinkle it evenly over the dough.

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

Prepare a large baking dish, like a lasagna dish, by pouring in the melted earth balance from the pan sauce ingredients above. Brush the sides of the pan so they are greased.

Melted Earth Balance

Add the sugar, spreading evenly over the bottom of pan. The pan is now ready for the buns.

The following steps are shown in detail in the video above: Roll the dough up gently, starting from one of the short sides. Let it rest on the seem once it’s rolled up completely. Cut 12 rolls with dental floss or sewing thread. Place the rolls in the pan. (Ignore the fact that they are practically floating in earth balance and sugar.)

Cinnamon Buns, pre-baked

Cover the buns and let rise for 45 minutes if you will be baking these immediately. If baking the next day, cover the buns and let rise in the refrigerator overnight. Bake in the morning with no need for more rising. If making the buns for a date in the future, cover the buns and freeze immediately. The day before you are ready to use them, defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then let warm up on the counter the next morning for an hour. In any case, when ready to bake, follow the directions below.

Preheat the oven to 350º F, remembering to remove the rising buns if they are in there!

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes.

Cinnamon Buns, baked

Stir together the frosting ingredients. It takes a bit of elbow grease to mix it together, but resist the urge to add liquid. It will come together, I promise. Whisk until there are no lumps.

Serve the buns warm with frosting. I like to microwave completely cooled buns for 45-60 seconds before eating.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Frosting


  1. Justina

    I am very excited to make these! but how do I know when the water hits 110 degrees? I don’t own any type of thermometer for that except for a regular thermometer to measure fevers.

  2. Jen

    Tried these for Christmas…they were absolutely excellent! We ate them with soysage and fakin. Nicely written out recipe and fantastic directions. That’s a skill unto itself for sure! A billion stars!

  3. Jennifer

    Great recipe. I modified the recipe significantly: couldn’t get myself to use that much sugar in the filling, so I only ended up pouring half of the sugar in. I added some pecans. And I more or less omitted the “pan sauce” and just buttered the pan. I’m not a diet-nut; it just looked like it’d be too sugary for my tastes. Served on Christmas brunch with lots of cheers. I asked a few people whether they seemed too bland, and most people were happy with the level of sweetness.

  4. Christine

    Can you substitute the soy milk with rice milk? Also, what about Smart Balance Vegan Spread instead of the Earth Balance? Just curious.

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  8. NIcole

    I think I’m in heaven! After about 4 yrs being vegan, i was lamenting on how I will never be able to have cinnamon buns again… But the past few weeks I’ve been craving them – and my boyfriend found this for me, bless his heart! Thank you so much for posting this and I will be making sometime very soon!

  9. Beth

    Oh my these look delicious!!!! Can’t wait to try them! But before I do, if I plan on freezing them, I’m assuming to do so without the pool of butter and then add when ready to cook? Or can i cook them without the butter? However, if the pool of butter is teh secret PLEASE let me know! Thanks!

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  12. Margo

    My son has multiple food allergies so I am always on the look out for delicious vegan recipes. These look delicious!! I cannot wait to try them! I will check out your cookbook too. Thanks SO MUCH :)

  13. Jessica

    I made these cinnamon buns 3 days ago and they are AMAZING, i have tried 3 recipes before and not been too happy about them. But this recipe rocks, all my friends keep asking me to make more.
    Thank you

  14. Lottie

    Just made them, AMAZING! I recently found out I was allergic to dairy and these rocked. I shared them with some friends and didn’t tell them they were vegan until after, they had no idea :)

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  17. mary

    Just wanted to let you know I was very successful with this recipe and my family gobbled them up!

    Thank you and I can’t wait to make them again.

    It truly is a labor of love.

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  29. Amanda

    OMG! These are AMAZING! My husband and I just made them – even though it took all day to make, it was TOTALLY WORTH IT! They taste better than Cinnabon! I do have to admit we got a little nervous when we were rolling the dough – the roll was so huge! But it made perfectly moist, HUGE cinnamon buns :) I’m definitely making these for the next family gathering…and I am not telling them they are vegan until after they’ve expressed their love for them lol. Thanks for the great recipe!

  30. candace

    I made these and they were a huge hit…Can I add pumpkin to this recipe and make them vegan pumpkin cinnamon rolls? And if so which step do I add it? Thank You

  31. Lauren

    I made these a little while ago for some family, who are not vegan. My one cousin claimed that they were the best cinnamon buns she had had in her entire life! I thought they were pretty fantastic. Although, if I made them again I would cut down a little bit on the sugar since I’m not used to eating sweet things. But other than that, they were wonderful, the dough was so light and fluffy!

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