Soft, fluffy and slightly chewy, these Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls are the real deal. Rich with warming cinnamon and a perfect cinnamon bun texture. Drizzle with light citrus icing or go full-on with Cream Cheese Frosting. (Buns – optional dairy free)
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The BEST Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
I introduce to you my Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls recipe. They are soft, fluffy, slightly chewy, rich with warming cinnamon and just like cinnamon buns should be. And with a texture this good, they may just be a recipe you fall in love with. Not convinced? Just look at that crumb.… THAT is a texture you don’t see too often from a gluten free recipe.
The first cinnamon rolls I ever tried were in my pre-gluten days on a visit to the States. They were addictively delicious and while it should be a distant memory, they clearly made an impact. The memory is as sharp as day. The recipe offered here seeks to replicate that experience and (I think) is as close as you’ll get to the real deal in a home gluten free kitchen. If you can tell the difference, let me know and I’ll try harder next time!
What are Cinnamon Rolls?
Like so many foods, Cinnamon Rolls have variations. Fundamentally though, they are spiralled buns made with a yeasted dough. Their texture is distinctly bread rather than cake with a slight ‘chew’. The dough is flattened, spread with butter and sprinkled with plenty of cinnamon and sugar, before being rolled and cut into slices. Once proofed, the buns are baked… Or (I understand) in some places, deep-fried.
Apparently, the original cinnamon rolls were baked in Sweden. But the Scandinavian version is much lighter and less sweet than those from the US and includes a touch of cardamom in the spice mix. They are also often baked in muffin wrappers and tend to be smaller than their American siblings.
The recipe offered here is definitely more akin to the richer American version, although perhaps a little smaller in stature. Either way… The pleasure of eating a Cinnamon Roll (and that includes these gluten free babies) is undeniable. They should be fluffy and moist, a little bit gooey and sticky and definitely packed with cinnamon which pools at its most intense in the sweet doughy centre.
When to enjoy Gluten Free Cinnamon Buns…
Known also as cinnamon buns, swirls, snails and even spirals, Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls are traditionally eaten for breakfast, particularly in North America. However never let that constrain you. Really!
Gluten Free Cinnamon Buns can (and should) be eaten whenever you want or need one. Think elevenses… mid-afternoon… tea time… in front of the TV… dessert. They are delicious and comforting and addictively yummy.
The famous Cinnabon – Is this a recipe for gluten free copy-cat Cinnabon Rolls?
Heads up… I’ve never actually had a Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll. Or at least I don’t think I have. But apparently, Cinnabon Rolls are the most renowned in America.
The first Cinnabon was opened in 1985 in Seattle, apparently revolutionising the delights of cinnamon bun eating. With stores all over the world they are a success story. And while the UK has been late to the party, Cinnabon recently opened stores in the UK too (in the North West). The downside of course is that they don’t have a gluten free version. But hey! We’re used to that right?
And who knows…. These Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls may even be BETTER than Cinnabon!
What you need to know to make Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls…
Heads up… Making the BEST gluten free Cinnamon Rolls is not a five-minute job. But if you truly want buns that are this good, you have to work a little harder. Great gluten free texture and flavour that truly rivals the gluten equivalent needs careful attention to ingredients and process… And actually… While they take a little time, they are honestly not that difficult. The recipe given is detailed and should help you to make the best buns ever!
Does the flour blend matter?
Yes, is the simple answer. The gluten free flours blended to make my cinnamon rolls are carefully selected and balanced to give the best, softest, most gluten-like texture you can find. Trust me. I’ve tried making cinnamon swirls with standard commercial blends and they are short-lived, tasteless and gritty. So, I’ve put all my know-how into creating something better.
You’ll need a combination of four flours for the base blend, including tapioca starch and potato starch. The additional two flours are slightly more flexible (as detailed in the recipe below), with the recipe including both oat and oat-free options. All the recipes offered are corn free.
Using psyllium husk…
This recipe uses psyllium husk in addition to a very small amount of xanthan gum. Don’t skip or substitute the psyllium. It is crucial to the texture of the bake. If you can’t tolerate xanthan gum, it can be removed, but the buns may go stale a little quicker.
What type of yeast should be used to make Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls?
This recipe uses Dry Active Yeast… The type that is activated before adding to the dough mix. It is NOT instant yeast.
The recipe also requires that the dough is proofed twice… Just like normal bread!
Both of these elements are important to the recipe and the texture achieved… giving a superior rise and allowing the best hydration of the flours for a perfect bake.
Be absolutely certain (and double check) that the water you add to the yeast to activate it, is hand warm. If in doubt, use a thermometer… The optimum temperature is 38 C/100 F. Water which is too hot will kill the yeast.
The activated yeast should bubble and froth. If it doesn’t, it is dead and unusable. In this case, throw it away and start again. It may be that the water was too hot or that the yeast is too old.
What size eggs are used?
Like all the recipes at Gluten Free Alchemist, this one uses UK large eggs. Again, the size of eggs is important to the success of the bake. But be aware that not all eggs are equal and what is called large in the UK, will be sized differently elsewhere. If unsure, please read my International Guide to Egg Size and Weight (with comparison chart).
The importance of fat in cinnamon buns – Using full fat milk
My recipe for gluten free cinnamon rolls specifies the use of full fat milk. If you want fluffy, soft-textured buns that last more than five minutes, this is important, as is the use of butter and a splash of oil. The fat will not add heaviness… far from it. But it will bring and hold the moisture needed for the enriched dough to be as good as it can be.
Equally, don’t skip brushing the cinnamon rolls with either full fat milk or cream before they go into the oven. Full fat milk works fine to support holding the moisture and keeping the crumb soft. But for totally silky luxury, brushing with cream is amazing!
Dairy free alternatives
If dairy free, try to use substitutes that are higher in fat. Full-fat coconut milk (from the tin) is probably a good alternative as is the block butter-alternatives such as Stork or Flora baking blocks.
How to top Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls… Icing or cream cheese frosting?
Traditionally, American cinnamon rolls are slathered with tangy cream cheese frosting. And I have to agree, it tastes incredible paired against the spicy cinnamon and slight chew of the buns. But ultimately, the choice is yours…
For a lower-calorie option… a drizzle of lightly citrus sugar icing is perfect, bringing a touch of decadence without the ‘weight’.
I’ve offered a separate recipe for spoonable cream cheese frosting below as well as icing instructions in the main cinnamon roll recipe card.
If you are dairy free, you may want a vegan cream cheese frosting recipe. I personally don’t have a recipe… But Veggie Desserts does. I’ve not tried it but I’m guessing it’s probably fine.
Can I freeze Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls?
Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls can be frozen both after baking (freeze as soon as possible after cooling and store in an airtight container/wrap) and also as dough. And that makes them super-flexible and super-fresh.
As the recipe makes quite a few buns, I thoroughly recommend freezing as dough, so that you can have freshly-baked buns when you want them.
Simply fill, roll and cut the dough into buns and freeze immediately before the second proof (rise). Freeze on a tray, separated so that they don’t stick together and once frozen, pop into a freezer container. When ready to bake, defrost and rise at room temperature. The whole de-frost and rise takes about 4 hours. But you can defrost at room temperature and slow-rise in the fridge over-night for a freshly-baked breakfast treat (see next section). Gluten free cinnamon rolls should be good frozen as dough for up to 3 months.
Slow-rise in the fridge
If you fancy your Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls freshly baked for breakfast, there is also the option to slow-rise them in the fridge over-night…
Make the dough… Fill, roll and cut and place in/on the baking tin that you will use to bake (leaving a centimetre or two for rise)… Place in the fridge loosely covered in clingfilm overnight. In the morning, take out of the fridge and bring back to room temperature/finish proofing as required. Brush, bake and nosh!
How to store gluten free Cinnamon Swirls
Although (like any cinnamon buns) these rolls are best eaten on the day they are made, they will stay a little soft for a couple of days. Store at room temperature in an airtight container or airtight bag (with the air pushed out before sealing).
Cinnamon Rolls are divine when warm (rather than hot) from the oven. But even when they have gone cold and a little firmer, they can be quickly brought back to full warm freshness by popping in the microwave for (literally) a few seconds.
If you are using cream cheese frosting, they should be stored without this being added (as adding will mean having to store in the fridge, resulting in quicker firming of the bread… Or not being able to warm again later in the microwave). But once ready to eat and warmed, slather away!
If drizzled with basic sugar icing, they can be fully iced and stored at room temperature and heated without any problem.
Ready to make Cinnamon buns?
So… I think that’s the full low-down. If I’ve missed anything or you have any questions, leave a comment below or ping me an email.
As always, don’t forget to follow me on Social Media and tag me in with your super-yummy photos… Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
For lots of other yummy gluten free eats, visit our Gluten Free Recipe Book Index. And shout if you need anything.
Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls
- spoon and fork
- Small saucepan
- cling film
- tight-fitting vinyl gloves (optional)
- flat-bladed knife
- sharp clean-edged knife or bakers string
- oven-proof bowl
Dry Flour Mix
- 175 g tapioca starch
- 145 g potato starch
- 85 g oat flour For no oat version sub with sorghum flour
- 70 g sorghum flour or buckwheat flour For no oat version sub with brown rice flour or buckwheat flour
- 5 g fine sea salt = 1 level teaspoon
- 3 g xanthan gum = 1 level teaspoon
- 20 g Dried ACTIVE YEAST The type that needs activating (I use Allinson's)
- 2 to 3 tsp honey (for preference – or golden caster sugar)
- 60 g hand warm water
Psyllium Husk Hydration
- 3 large eggs UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
- 28 g ground psyllium husk
- 100 g full fat milk if DF, use a rich plant-based milk alternative (eg. full fat coconut milk)
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- 100 g golden caster sugar or ordinary caster sugar
- 50 g unsalted butter Or a good DF alternative
- 200 g full fat milk if DF, use a rich plant-based milk alternative (eg. full fat coconut milk)
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 50 g unsalted butter softened or melted (see Notes) Or a good DF alternative
- 70 g light soft brown sugar
- 2½ tbsp ground cinnamon
- 3 to 4 tbsp full fat milk or 5 to 6 tbsp single or double cream to brush the buns before baking – See NOTES and Blog Post (if DF, use a rich plant-based milk alternative (eg. full fat coconut milk))
Lightly Citrus Icing (for alternative cream cheese frosting, see separate recipe)
- 120 g icing sugar confectioners sugar
- 3 tsp lemon juice (or 1½ tsp vanilla extract)
- 2 to 3 tsp cold water
Dry Flour Mix
- Mix together the 4 flours, salt and xanthan gum until thoroughly blended. Set aside. TIP: Weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously.
- Weigh the yeast, honey (or sugar) and hand warm water into a small bowl. Make sure the water is tepid only, as if it is too hot, it will kill the yeast.
- Beat together with a fork or whisk briefly to mix thoroughly and enable the yeast granules to dissolve.
- Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes while the yeast activates. Yeast that has activated will appear frothy and may even bubble slightly.
Psyllium Husk Hydration
- Beat the eggs in a large bowl with an electric whisk until they are just starting to thicken.
- Add the psyllium husk to the eggs and beat again. The mixture should become thick enough to start holding shape.
- Scrape down the bowl and re-whisk to ensure the psylium husk and eggs are well blended. Keep beating until the psyllium and egg become a thick, airy batter consistency.
- Next add the 100g measure of milk and the vanilla extract and beat again to combine.
- Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the psyllium husk to fully hydrate.
- While the psyllium husk is hydrating, weigh the caster sugar, butter, 200g measure of milk and sunflower oil into a small saucepan.
- Gently heat on the hob over a medium setting, stirring frequently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. To cool more quickly, either transfer from the hot pan to a cool jug, or keep stirring in the pan to help the steam to escape.
Mixing the ingredients together to make a dough
- When the hot milk has cooled a little (you should be able to touch it without burning), add it little by little to the hydrated psyllium mixture in the bowl, whisking thoroughly between each addition.
- Next add the activated yeast mixture and beat again to blend evenly.
- Once fully blended, add the flour mix to the bowl.
- Beat the flour into the wet ingredients with either a wooden spoon or electric beaters with a dough hook. Start slowly (to avoid the flour spraying out of the bowl).
- Keep beating for several minutes to ensure the mixture becomes a very thick, even (but sticky) dough-batter.
Proof the Dough
- Scoop the dough into a single heap and rest a sheet of clingfilm over the bowl (not touching the dough).
- Set the bowl in a warm place to proof (rise) for about an hour. I set my bowl over another bowl with a little steaming water in the bottom (changing the water to refresh the warmth regularly).
Preparing the Cinnamon Filling (See NOTES)
- Weigh the butter into a bowl and allow to soften at room temperature (or if necessary, soften in the microwave on medium to low setting for a few seconds). It needs to be very soft.
- In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon – Set both butter and sugar mix aside.
Knocking back the dough
- Once the dough has risen to about double the size, 'knock it back' by stirring and turning with a solid wooden/silicone spoon.
Rolling and filling the dough
- Base line two x 9 inch round non-stick baking tins with baking parchment.
- Place a large sheet of good quality non-stick baking parchment on the work surface and get ready a rolling pin by rubbing a light covering of oil (I use olive) onto the surface.
- With lightly oiled hands (It really helps to wear tight-fitting vinyl food gloves) rubbed with a dribble of oil, divide the dough into two equal pieces.
- Pick up one half and work in the hands, kneading until it comes together as a smooth workable dough.
- Place on the baking parchment, flatten slightly into a rectangle shape and using the oiled rolling pin, roll into a rectangle about 35 cm long x 25 cm wide. If the dough starts to stick to the pin, lightly re-oil.
- Using a flat-bladed knife or the back of a spoon, spread the very soft butter across the whole surface.
- Next, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar across the surface, leaving a 2 cm clean edge along one long side (to seal the final roll).
Rolling the dough into a long swirl
- Turn the dough so that the long clean edge is closest to you.
- Start the roll on the opposite, long sugared side by carefully turning in on itself by a couple of centimetres all the way along.
- To continue to roll the dough up into a swirl, use the baking paper on the far side to help pull the dough to roll over itself, keeping the roll as tight as possible.
- At the closest edge, gently push the clean edge into the roll to seal (if necessary dampen with milk to seal).
Cutting the dough into buns
- Once the dough has been rolled into a long sausage shape, cut into 8 even sized rolls (trim the ends first if preferred for neatness and bake them separately as an extra treat). To cut, use either a very sharp, clean-bladed knife, or if you feel confident, a piece of baker's string (gently lifting the end of the roll to position the string and then pulling tight across the top to cut through).
- Arrange the dough balls into the base-lined baking tin (one in the centre, and the rest evenly spaced around it, swirl side up, with a small gap between each).
Preparing the second half of the dough
- Once the first half of the dough has been filled, rolled and cut, repeat the process for the second half of the dough, starting with working/kneading the dough in the hands until smooth.
Proofing the buns for baking
- Gently rest a piece of clingfilm over the top of the dough-buns (they mustn't be restricted) and set aside in a warm place to rise for about an hour (depending on the warmth of the room). The buns should more or less double in size.
- While the buns are rising, place a heat-proof dish or pan at the bottom of the oven and (when the buns look like they are almost ready to bake) pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Boil a kettle of water ready to pour into the heat-proof dish in the oven.
Baking the buns
- When the dough-buns are risen – very gently brush the tops all over with milk or cream.
- Half-fill the tray/dish placed in the base of the oven with boiled steaming water.
- Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes (dependent on size) until the golden and firm on the tops.
- NOTE : If using cream cheese frosting, see the separate recipe below.
- When the buns have been removed from the oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes in the baking tin, before removing and transferring to a wire rack. If the edges are stuck, carefully ease a flat knife or silicone spatula round the sides to loosen.
- Prepare the icing glaze by mixing the icing sugar, lemon juice (or vanilla) and a drop of cold water in a small bowl or cup. Add the water a tiny drop at a time, until you have a thick drizzling consistency. If the mixture becomes too runny, add ½ to 1 teaspoon of icing sugar to re-thicken.
- While the buns are still warm, drizzle the icing across the top. (TIP: place a piece of kitchen paper or a tray underneath the wire rack to catch the drips).
Eating and Storing
- Cinnamon Buns are best enjoyed fresh and warm, but should still be quite soft for 24 hours, if a little drier. (This is the same as for non-GF cinnamon rolls). To re-warm, pop in the microwave on high for about 15 seconds.
- To store after they have cooled, make sure the buns are placed in an airtight container for maximum freshness.
- To Freeze: Freeze on the day of making and as soon as possible after cooling in an airtight container. SEE NOTES re freezing the dough.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist
Lightly Spoonable Cream Cheese Frosting for Cinnamon Rolls
- medium mixing bowl
- wooden/silicone spoon (or beater attachment)
- 90 g unsalted butter block butter only
- 150 g cream cheese (recommend Philadelphia)- Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
- 230 g icing (confectioners) sugar sifted
- 1 tsp orange or lemon extract optional Or vanilla extract
- Soften the butter slightly and beat in a medium bowl until smooth and beginning to pale.
- Take the cream cheese from the fridge and drain-off any excess liquid.
- Add the cream cheese to the bowl and beat into the butter (preferably with a beater attachment or wooden/firm silicone spoon) until just smooth. Do not over-beat.
- Add the sifted icing sugar about a third at a time and gently beat or mix through. Again, use a beater attachment rather than a whisk or a wooden/firm silicone spoon to avoid over-beating. If you over-beat, the icing may become liquid, so be very careful.
- Add and beat in the citrus extract if using.
- Place back in the fridge until ready to use.
- When ready to use, simply leave at room temperature for a short while and fold through before spooning over the Cinnamon Rolls.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist
Thank you for putting so much effort into creating this recipe. I had an issue that I was hoping you’ve run into in the past. On my second proof, my buns didn’t rise as much as I was hoping and I ended up with a really tight bread. The buns were still delicious but yours look so much bigger and have the right texture. What could I have done wrong here? My first proof was AMAZING. I had a really nice rough and it rolled out beautifully. For both proofs, I set my oven to the proof setting. Any advice would be great.
I’m sorry the buns didn’t rise as much as expected on the second proof. It sounds a bit strange if there was a good 1st proof… So definitely not an issue with the yeast (assuming the proof setting was within temperature limits).
If my dough isn’t rising as much as I would like at room temperature (because it’s too cold in the room), I usually put the pan with the proofing buns on a tray, loosely cover with clingfilm and set the tray over a bowl or two of steaming water (a tad below boiling temperature). Keep a close eye on the tray to check they then don’t rise too quick… But it works a treat.
Could give that a try? Let me know if it helps
This is the second recipe I’ve used from your site and again super Impressed. Thank you for continuing to use your own flour mixes AND sharing them with us. This makes superb results over store premodern blends. I made the oat free, full fat dairy version and am adding it along with the bread machine loaf recipe to my collection.
Thank you so much Teresa. That’s wonderful feedback. So glad that you love the recipe.
Just shout if you need anything. And Happy New Year xx
Hi Cat, I made the recipe as per the steps, but when I threw it on the counter to open it, it was still excessively sticky to the point of sticking to the non-stick paper. I live in Brazil, I don’t know if the absorption of flour is different, but I would like your opinion. Thanks
It’s possible the absorption of flour is different. It’s also possible that if there are any differences in altitude, it could have an affect (we are at sea level). Ingredients may vary from country to country too…
The dough will nonetheless be quite sticky when it is being knocked back at first, which is why it is so important to oil the hands before ‘kneading’ it and why gloves can help. However, as you knead it in the hands, it should start to behave more like dough. Try working it in the hands without putting on the counter initially and see whether that helps.
If it is still sticky, but firm enough to roll, you could rub a very light coating of oil on the paper (using hands to get as thin as possible) before rolling with a pin.
And if the dough is still way too sticky, add an extra teaspoon or two of tapioca flour.
I hope that helps
Best wishes xx
Cat | Curly's Cooking says
You had me at cinnamon rolls! They are one of my favourite sweet treats and these look incredibly light and fluffy.
Ha ha! Absolutely Cat… and thank you. Cinnamon Rolls are such a treat.
Eb Gargano | Easy Peasy Foodie says
YUM! I love cinnamon rolls and these ones do look particularly good 😀
Thank you Eb. I’m so happy that I’ve cracked a Gluten Free enriched dough. It opens up so many possibilities xx
I have reached that point on a Friday afternoon where I would actually pay serious money for one of your glorious cinnamon rolls to be delivered to my door. I love a cinnamon roll, probably my favourite way to enjoy a sweeter bread. What a fabulous gluten free recipe.
Ha! I know what you mean!
Thank you so much… They were such a treat to achieve. And the fact that I can freeze them at dough stage is a breakfast game-changer xx
My daughter is allergic to gluten so I will definitely have to try these.
Thank you. I hope she loves them as much as we do…. They are such a treat. x
Hi Kate, I have tried your recipe and what can I say??? These are the most delicious GF cinnamon buns we have ever eaten! 😃 We are just eating them now fluffy and warm 😋 Absolutely gorgeous! Thank you so much for developing and sharing this amazing recipe 🧡xx
Yay!!! Thanks so much Fernanda for such lovely feedback. So glad you enjoyed them.
I have some frozen at dough stage in my freezer too… May just have to defrost them for breakfast tomorrow xx
Jean | Delightful Repast says
Kate, these are wonderful, I can tell! I’m not gluten-free myself, but several of my friends are, and I like to bake for them. I’ve not yet tried psyllium husk in my GF baking, so I’m eager to try it out. Your post “jumped out at me” on Miz Helen’s linkup.
Thank you SO much Jean. I really hope your friends (and you) love them as much as we do.
Psyllium husk was a complete game-changer for me when it came to GF bread/dough bakes. It’s like magic! So do let me know how you find it xxx
Helen at the Lazy Gastronome says
I was gluten free for a couple years to control gall bladder attacks until it was removed. I sure wish I had these recipes then!! These are great!! Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner party – Have a fabulous week.
You’re welcome Helen. Gluten Free baking has come so far and you know me… I love to push the boundaries xxx
Oh my goodness, Kate, these look heavenly. I loved cinnamon buns before having to give up gluten. I am going to have to try these out. Thank you! Helen
Thank you Helen. They are such a treat. Do let me know if you try them xx