BAKED PROTEIN CINNAMON ROLLS
There are so many things to love about these Baked Protein Cinnamon Rolls: the macros, the short prep time, the voluminous size, and of course, the flavor! These beauties are less than 300 calories with 20-26 grams of protein each, depending whether you choose the sugar free buttercream frosting or the cream cheese protein frosting. AND they have less than 5g sugar per roll, including the frosting! Because there’s no yeast in this recipe, you can have warm cinnamon rolls on your table in 30 minutes or less. The texture is doughy with firm edges just like you’d expect from a fresh-baked cinnamon roll, and the flavor… oh my freaking WOW the flavor! Let’s just say you’ll never miss the real deal again.
For this recipe, I recommend either an unflavored whey blend (like Quest Multipurpose) or an unflavored whey concentrate. If using a flavored protein powder (like vanilla), your rolls might not taste like traditional cinnamon rolls, but they will still be tasty! I DO NOT recommend whey isolate as it tends to dry out baked goods. Since whey behaves differently than vegan protein, I cannot guarantee the result with a plant-based protein, but I will tell you soy isolate is the most similar to whey. Any time you change the type of protein or even the brand of whey, you can end up changing the taste and texture of the end product a bit.
For the flour, I recommend either all-purpose flour or a gluten-free baking blend. Sorghum or spelt should work as well, but the type of flour really does matter for that doughy texture. I cannot recommend coconut flour, almond flour, or even cassava flour since I haven’t tested it.
To sweeten these Baked Protein Cinnamon Rolls, I used this organic stevia blend that’s twice as sweet as sugar. You could also use twice as much (one-quarter cup) of baking stevia, granulated erythritol, granulated monk fruit, or granulated sugar. Of course, substituting sugar will increase the carbs, calories, and sugar per roll! I do not recommend using honey or maple syrup to sweeten this recipe.
To add moisture and buttery goodness to the dough, I used a vegan buttery spread, but you can also use regular unsalted butter or ghee. You could also use butter-flavored coconut oil or light buttery spread for fewer calories and fat.
This recipe does call for almond milk, but you can use any milk you have on hand (such as skim milk, whole milk, cashew milk, rice milk, or oat milk).
How to make baked protein cinnamon rolls
Since rolling out the dough and everything is kind of hard to explain, I’ve taken pictures for y’all 🙂
Start by whisking together the dry ingredients for the rolls in a large mixing bowl. Next, mix in the butter (or oil) and milk of choice using a fork until crumbly. Now, get your hands in there and knead the dough until it sticks to itself. If the dough seems too crumbly still after working it with your hands, add more milk a teaspoon at a time. Don’t add too much or the dough will become impossibly sticky!
Place your ball of dough on a lightly floured surface, like a (clean) kitchen counter. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough in all directions until it’s about half an inch thick. Cut off the uneven edges to make a square and place the dough “scraps” in the center of your square. Roll out the dough again until it is an even thickness, attempting to keep a square-ish shape (shown above).
Next, mix up your cinnamon filling. Here I used that organic stevia blend again, cinnamon, and melted vegan buttery spread. Again, you can use whatever sweetener you have on hand, or regular butter or ghee. Spread the cinnamon filling over your dough square, all the way to the edges, then cut into six strips (I cut into thirds first, then each third into half).
One at a time, carefully roll each strip up onto itself (as shown above), gently scraping the dough away from any “sticky” spots. Place your finished rolls in a cake pan lightly coated with cooking spray.
They may look small now, but have no fear – soon they will be wonderfully voluminous, sweet-smelling rolls! Bake for 9-12 minutes at 350 until edges are lightly browned and firm but the centers are still soft (mine were done at exactly 10 minutes).
Now, for the frosting, you have two options:
You can do buttercream frosting (pictured), which is simply powdered sugar-free sweetener, tapioca starch (can use corn starch or potato starch), milk, buttery spread, and pure vanilla extract (optional).
Or, you can go for the cream cheese protein frosting. I used lighter Greek cream cheese, vanilla protein powder, milk, sweetener, and pure vanilla extract. Feel free to use any kind of cream cheese you like (fat free, reduced fat, whipped, vegan cream cheese, or Neufchatel cheese).
Which frosting do I like better? Well, the buttercream frosting is sweeter and tastes like straight-up icing (which I love), while the cream cheese protein frosting is less sweet and higher in protein – so it’s your choice! This recipe makes plenty of extra frosting, enough to completely smother your rolls. You can eat these glorious rolls “properly” with a fork…
…or just grab that bad boy and devour! Either way, you’re in for the ultimate guilt-free cinnamon roll experience. Here’s the printable recipe! Kindly rate this recipe and comment below if you try it 🙂
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Baked Protein Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 cup (120g) unflavored or vanilla protein powder* can use a whey blend, whey concentrate, or soy isolate
- 1 cup (130g) gluten-free baking flour* or all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp. calorie-free sweetener* omit if using vanilla-flavored protein
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt optional
- 1/4 cup softened buttery spread* like vegan buttery spread, butter, ghee, or butter flavor coconut oil
- 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk* or milk of choice
- 2 tbsp. calorie-free sweetener* I used one that's twice as sweet as sugar
- 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp. melted buttery spread* like vegan buttery spread, butter, ghee, or butter flavor coconut oil
- 1 cup Swerve confectioner’s erythritol or powdered monk fruit, powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp. tapioca starch or corn starch, potato starch
- 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
- 1 tbsp. softened buttery spread* like vegan buttery spread, butter, ghee, or butter flavor coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
OR cream cheese frosting
- 4 oz. softened cream cheese* I used Greek cream cheese
- 1/4 cup (30g) vanilla protein powder* can use a whey blend, whey concentrate, or soy isolate
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cashew milk or milk of choice
- 1/4 cup calorie-free sweetener* I used one that's twice as sweet as sugar
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients (through salt) in large mixing bowl.
- Using a fork, mix in the softened butter and milk using a fork until a crumbly dough forms.
- Knead the dough with your hands until it sticks to itself. If the dough seems too crumbly still after working it with your hands, add more milk a teaspoon at a time (don’t add too much or the dough will become impossibly sticky!).
- Place your ball of dough on a lightly floured surface like a (clean) kitchen counter. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough in all directions until it's about half an inch thick.
- Cut off the uneven edges to make a square and place the dough “scraps” in the center of your square. Roll out the dough again until it is an even thickness, keeping a square-ish shape.
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