These cinnamon raisin rolls are super soft and fluffy featuring plump raisins in both the dough and filling. Topped with a vanilla bean cream cheese icing, these rolls make an amazing sweet treat or brunch that everyone will love!
Step by step photos and a video tutorial (in the recipe card) are included!
Why You’ll Love These Cinnamon Rolls with Raisins!
Homemade cinnamon rolls are a family favorite. I love a classic recipe but sometimes it’s nice to switch up flavors. So far I’ve made Biscoff Cinnamon Rolls here on the blog and Maple Pecan Cinnamon Rolls (in my e-book!), but for this holiday season I wanted to make a more traditional recipe. Growing up I was a HUGE fan of cinnamon swirl breakfast bread, so I decided to create a cinnamon roll recipe that reminds me of that.
And let me tell you, these gooey cinnamon raisin rolls are everything you could wish for in a sweet roll and more. Here are a few reasons why we love this recipe and you will too!
- Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls with a Soft Texture: The dough for these rolls comes out incredibly soft and fluffy thanks to oat milk, melted vegan butter, and the perfect amount of hydration.
- Burst of Raisins: With raisins in both the dough and filling, there’s a juicy burst in every bite.
- Perfect Zesty Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze: The vanilla bean cream cheese icing has hints of orange giving it the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. The orange is of course optional but it pairs nicely with the raisins!
- Vegan & Dairy Free: These cinnamon rolls are made with oat milk and dairy-free butter, so they are vegan-friendly (but I promise you won’t be able to tell)!
Like with most recipes, I try to use pantry friendly staples, so hopefully you have most of the ingredients below already on hand. The one very important ingredient note I have is below:
⭐️ Since a bulk of the flavor comes from the raisins, it is so important to opt for high quality raisins that don’t have a bitter taste. Normally I can’t tell the difference between generic brands and name brand products, but when it comes to raisins, Sun Maid tasted much sweeter and less ‘burnt’ than the generic grocery store version I tried. Just food for thought! ⭐️
For the Raisins
- Dark Thompson Raisins: Known for their sweetness and plump texture, these raisins add a delightful chewiness to the rolls.
- Hot Water: Softens the raisins, enhancing their texture and flavor. It also helps prevent them from burning when baked.
- Orange Zest (optional): Adds a bright, citrusy note, complementing the sweetness of the raisins.
For the Rolls
- Oat Milk: Provides moisture and a tender crumb to the dough.
- Brown Sugar: Adds sweetness and a hint of molasses flavor, which pairs well with cinnamon.
- Active Dry Yeast: The leavening agent that makes the dough rise and become fluffy.
- All-Purpose Flour: The structure of the rolls- gives them a soft yet sturdy texture.
- Ground Cinnamon: Offers warmth and spice, a classic pairing with raisins.
- Salt: Enhances the overall flavor of the dough.
- Vegan Butter: Adds richness and moisture, contributing to the dough’s tender texture. I used salted butter but you could also use unsalted butter and increase the amount of salt in the dough by 1/4 tsp.
- Vanilla Extract: Infuses the dough with a sweet, aromatic flavor.
Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Icing:
- Dairy-Free Cream Cheese: Creates a creamy, tangy base for the icing. Can be swapped for regular cream cheese if you prefer. I prefer Trader Joe’s Vegan Cream Cheese Alternative. It’s more affordable than other brands and has a good taste and texture.
- Powdered Sugar: Sweetens the icing and helps achieve a smooth consistency.
- Vanilla Bean Paste (or Vanilla Extract): Adds a deep, rich vanilla flavor.
- Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice: Provides a subtle citrus tang and helps thin the icing to the perfect consistency.
- Raisins: Feel free to experiment with different varieties like golden raisins for a milder, sweeter flavor. You can also swap in other dried fruit with this same method like cranberries.
- Dairy-Free Milk: Any plant-based milk will work here, though oat milk adds a lovely creaminess. This cinnamon roll recipe is vegan, dairy free and eggless; however, the oat milk and vegan butter can easily be swapped with regular versions if that is what you have.
- Vegan Butter: Coconut oil can be a great substitute for a slightly different flavor profile. If using unsalted oil, be sure to increase the salt in the dough by about ¼ tsp.
- Large Mixing Bowl: For preparing the dough and filling.
- Rolling Pin: Essential for rolling out the dough.
- Sharp Serrated Knife: For slicing the rolls.
- Baking Dish: A good-sized dish for baking the rolls.
- Whisk or Fork: For mixing the icing.
Step By Step Instructions
🎥 Video tutorial and exact ingredient quantities are in the recipe card below!
Prep the Raisins & Ingredients
STEP 1: Start by soaking the raisins in hot water and orange zest to infuse them with flavor. (This is a similar method I use in my Vegan Panettone recipe!).
STEP 2: For the dough, warm the dairy-free milk and mix with half the brown sugar, then add the yeast. Set aside to activate for 5 minutes. The mixture should become very frothy.
📌 TIP: For activating yeast, the milk should be warm but not hot, ideally between 100–110℉. A practical way to test this without a thermometer is to sprinkle a few drops on your wrist. It should feel comfortably warm, similar to bath water. If it’s too hot or cool to the touch, adjust the temperature accordingly.
STEP 3: Combine the flour, remaining sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
STEP 4: Mix the dry ingredients together and make a well in the center.
Make the Cinnamon Raisin Roll Dough
STEP 5: Pour the yeast mixture, vanilla, and vegan melted butter into the well. Then mix the wet ingredients into the dry to form a soft and sticky dough. The dough should be sticky- don’t add more flour!
STEP 6: Use a spatula to knead the dough by folding it over on itself in the bowl for about 4-5 minutes.
STEP 7: Cover the bowl with a damp clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, creating a light, airy base.
STEP 8: Drain the raisins, patting them dry. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and spread 3/4 of the raisins onto it.
📌 TIP: You can also make this dough in the bowl of a stand mixer. Be sure to use the whisk attachment to mix the dry ingredients on low speed and switch to the dough hook attachment to knead the dough. If using a stand mixer, you’ll only need to knead the dough on medium speed for 3-4 minutes.
Shape the Cinnamon Raisin Rolls
STEP 1: Use a rolling pin to embed the raisins into the dough. Press firmly to make sure the raisins are incorporated into the dough.
STEP 2: Fold the dough in half and then in half again and shape it back into a dough ball.
STEP 3: On the same floured work surface, roll the dough into another rectangle. Make the cinnamon sugar filling by mixing the softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together.
STEP 4: Spread the cinnamon sugar filling onto the dough. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 of the soaked raisins onto the filling.
Slice & Bake!
STEP 5: Roll into a log from the short end. Slice into 8 individual rolls about 1 – 1 ½” wide.
STEP 6: Place them in a prepared baking dish and let them rise for a second time until 1.5x in size. This second rise is important and helps give this cinnamon roll recipe its fluffy texture!
STEP 7: Bake until golden brown. While the rolls bake, make the icing by mixing the softened vegan cream cheese, powdered sugar, orange juice, and vanilla bean paste together in a small bowl.
STEP 8: Once baked, let the rolls cool slightly before spreading them with the icing.
Like most baked goods, these cinnamon buns with raisins are SO good fresh from the oven for breakfast or brunch. The vanilla bean glaze has a hint of orange in it making this recipe great for the holidays. They would be so delicious on Christmas morning.
Of course, they’re also perfect year-round…in fact the flavors also remind me of Hot Cross Buns, so I bet these would be great for Easter too!
I love pairing this recipe with a cup of coffee, tea, or even a glass of cold almond milk.
In terms of flavors…if you prefer a more traditional cinnamon roll, omit the orange zest and orange juice in the cream cheese frosting. You can use 1-2 teaspoons of almond milk instead.
Store any leftover rolls in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
You can also wrap them well and freeze them for 1-2 months. The rolls can be reheated in the microwave or oven (the icing may melt a bit).
- Soft & Sticky Dough: The dough should be soft and slightly sticky, but not overly so. Weather, temperature, and other kitchen conditions affect how flour absorbs moisture. If your dough is super sticky, add an extra tablespoon of flour at a time until it is workable.
- Pick Good Raisins: A bulk of the flavor comes from the raisins, so opt for high quality ones that don’t have a bitter taste. Generic brands I’ve tested have a bitter, burnt or a molasses flavor that both my husband and I didn’t care for. Trader Joe’s Raisins and Sun Maid tasted much sweeter and less ‘burnt’ than the generic grocery store version I tested. Just food for thought!
- Raisin Prep: This recipe calls for soaking the raisins to help keep them moist and plump, and to prevent them from burning when baked. However, it’s important to make sure the raisins are well-drained and patted dry to avoid soggy dough.
- Yeast Activation: Make sure you use warm milk, but not hot, to activate the yeast without killing it.
- Icing Consistency: Adjust the icing with more liquid or powdered sugar to get the perfect drizzling consistency.
Yes, you can add raisins to cinnamon roll dough and other enriched doughs. This cinnamon raisin roll recipe rehydrates the raisins in hot water which gives them a better texture and helps prevent them from burning when baked. After soaking the raisins, be sure to drain them well and pat them dry. Then, the raisins are embedded into the dough!
Yes, you can make these cinnamon raisin rolls in a muffin pan. Grease the pan and place each roll into the muffin cup. Baking time may need to be decreased by a few minutes. Check the rolls after about 17-18 minutes for doneness.
Looking for more Baked Goods?
- Chocolate Puff Pastry Twists
- Puff Pastry Cinnamon Swirls
- Vegan Cinnamon Rolls without Yeast
- Vegan Panettone