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Vegan Cranberry Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

No one ate the cranberry sauce? Make these vegan cranberry cinnamon rolls with luscious vegan cream cheese frosting! They are soft, puffy and luscious buns filled with cinnamon, brown sugar and dried cranberries with gooey cranberry sauce on the bottom, topped with a really easy vegan cream cheese icing and finished with orange zest for brightness. Then for added chewy textures add a few extra dried cranberries and vegan mini marshmallows. Optional but highly recommended!

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Video tutorial for Vegan Cranberry Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Currently this video is still in production! Sorry for the wait!

 
 
When I was thinking of delicious sweet things to make for the holidays, I kept going back to cinnamon rolls. My original gooey cinnamon rolls with vegan cream cheese frosting are always a hit. But this year, I wanted something new. I also wanted to use up the cans of cranberry sauce I had languishing at the back of my cupboards. An extra fire was lit under my behind when I recently did a cupboard clean out and realized they expire next month! So if you find yourself in a similar boat with one too many cans of nearly expired cranberry sauce, you’ve got to make these vegan cranberry cream cheese cinnamon rolls!
 
vegan cranberry cinnamon roll cut open
 
These vegan cranberry cinnamon rolls come out of the oven puffy and tender. The cranberry sauce cooks down to a gooey syrup that is so delicious in contrast to the soft rolls with their slightly crispy edges. Then layer on sweet vegan cream cheese frosting but balance that sweetness with the brightness of orange zest.
 
They are incredible as is. But when you add some extra dried cranberries and vegan mini marshmallows…well, I will not be held responsible. Please do yourself a favour and make these vegan cranberry cream cheese  cinnamon rolls! And let me know what you think in the comments below.
 

Other vegan cinnamon rolls

Cinnamon rolls are the easiest way to win over people who don’t “get” vegan food! Be the hero at your next potluck or bake sale with vegan cinnamon rolls. Try my original gooey cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting or pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

pumpkin cinnamon bun with cream cheese iciing

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

If savory is more your thing, try my tomato garlic cheesy rolls or original garlic cheesy buns.

vegan garlic cheesy cheese buns

Vegan Garlic Cheesy Rolls

Note: these cinnamon rolls can be made soy-free. Make sure to choose soy-free varieties of vegan butter and vegan cream cheese. Earth Balance makes a soy free version of their classic buttery sticks. Daiya’s vegan cream cheese is soy free.

How to Make Vegan Cranberry Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls might sound (and look) a little over the top. But really, this is an easy recipe that I recommend even for beginner bakers.  Even though the steps are fairly fool-proof, give yourself plenty of time as the dough needs to rise twice and you’ll want to let the rolls cool before icing. 

vegan cranberry cinnamon rolls with vegan cream cheese frosting

Step 1: Make the dough

Grab a large mixing bowl. Especially if it’s a heavy stainless steel bowl, you may want to warm it up before beginning. Just rinse it with very warm or hot water and then dry it thoroughly. Add a cup of warm (not hot) plant-based milk. I prefer soy milk but any kind will do. If you’re out of plant-based milk, not to worry.  You can just use warm water instead. Add one envelop of yeast (instant or dry active yeast) and a tablespoon of sugar. For a sweeter dough, use up to 3 tablespoon of sugar. Personally, I prefer less since I love adding lots of icing to the cinnamon rolls and that will make them pretty darn sweet. Mix the sugar and yeast until dissolved. Then leave the mixture alone for about 5 minutes.

Troubleshooting Yeast

The mixture will foam up and, in a warm environment, will double in size. This step helps you see that the yeast is alive and active before adding the rest of the ingredients. If you’re not seeing that foam action, your yeast may be already dead or the milk might’ve been too hot (go for comfortably warm, not hot). If you’re seeing a little foam action but it’s not really increasing in size, it could still be the yeast. Maybe it’s partially dead; check the expiry date. It’s better to use fresher yeast if you can. It could also be that your milk/bowl/environment is too cold. In that case, it’s OK to continue but keep in mind your rising times may increase.

Knead that vegan dough ?

Add 3 tablespoons of melted vegan butter and salt and stir well. Add one cup of flour and stir until fully incorporated. Repeat one cup at a time until all the flour is incorporated. Then, knead the dough until it’s smooth: about 5 minutes in a stand mixer or 10 minutes by hand. Finally, cover the dough with a large bowl or damp towel and let sit for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Roll and cut

Afterwards, transfer the dough to a well floured work surface. Flatten the dough, knocking the air out of it. Use a rolling pin to shape it into a rectangle about 18″ long or 46cm. It should be just less than half inch thick or 1 cm. Using 2 tablespoons of room temperature vegan butter, cover the top of the dough but leave a 2″ (5cm) strip along one of the long sides of the dough. Over top of the vegan butter, sprinkle the cinnamon, brown sugar and dried cranberries. Then you can roll up, starting at the sugar coated side of the dough, fold 1″ of the edge over firmly, pinching it down. Roll the dough tightly but gently towards the bare side. Sit the roll on top of the seam.

To make 12 pieces, cut the roll into 1.5″ (4cm) sections. In the video (coming soon) and photos, I was a bit distracted and accidentally cut 8 pieces instead…turned out fine though. So feel free to make 8 large rolls instead of 12 if you’re looking to make some massive cinnamon rolls. 

 

To make clean-up easier, line your baking pan(s) with parchment paper. Mix the cranberry sauce with melted vegan butter until completely combined. Evenly spoon the cranberry mixture into the pans. Place the cinnamon rolls on top of the cranberry mixture. Spoon some of the mixture on top of the rolls and around the sides. Cover them with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm location for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Bake and Frost

When the buns are looking nice and puffy (doubled in size), remove any clutter from your oven and preheat it to 400°F or 205°C. When the oven comes to temperature, remove the plastic and bake the buns on the middle rack for 18 to 20 minutes or until the rolls are golden on top. Do not over bake! Let them cool before adding icing.

 

While those buns are cooling, make the icing by creaming the softened vegan butter and vegan cream cheese together in a large bowl. You can use an electric hand mixer for ease. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add icing sugar, half a cup at a time, mixing well between each addition. Cover and keep the cream cheese icing cold until it’s time to decorate the vegan cranberry cinnamon rolls.

Top the cooled vegan cranberry cinnamon rolls with the vegan cream cheese frosting. Add the zest from one orange, sprinkling it evenly over the rolls. Decorate with extra dried cranberries and vegan mini marshmallows. Enjoy!

Storing vegan cranberry cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing for later

Like most freshly baked breads, these vegan cinnamon rolls are best enjoyed on the same day. However, you can store these in the fridge, covered, for up to 1 day.

These cinnamon rolls can also be frozen. Cover and freeze the whole pan of iced cinnamon rolls until solid. If well wrapped, they can be frozen for up to two weeks.

To defrost, let sit at room temperature for a few hours or place in the fridge overnight. If they are still a little frosty when you want to eat/serve them, microwave them individually for about 15 seconds each just to warm them up a bit in the middle.

Printable recipe for Vegan Cranberry Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Vegan Cranberry Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls
Serves 12
These Vegan Cranberry Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls are soft, puffy and luscious! The easy dough is filled with cinnamon, brown sugar and dried cranberries and baked with gooey cranberry sauce on the bottom to make them deliciously sticky.

Top them with a really easy vegan cream cheese icing and finish with orange zest for brightness. Then for added chewy textures add a few extra dried cranberries and vegan mini marshmallows. Optional but highly recommended!

This recipe makes 12 regular sized cinnamon rolls. In the video, I cut them into 8 which made extra large rolls...by accident. A happy accident.

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Prep Time
3 hr
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
3 hr
Cook Time
20 min
Dough
  1. 3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour
  2. 1 cup (237ml) warm soy milk (or your choice of plant-based milk or water)
  3. 2 1/4 (1 envelope) instant or traditional dry active yeast
  4. 1 tablespoon sugar (any kind)
  5. 3 tablespoons melted vegan butter
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
Filling
  1. 2 tablespoons softened vegan butter
  2. 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  3. 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  4. 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Goo
  1. 1 x 14oz can (414ml) cranberry sauce (whole berry or jellied)
  2. 1 tablespoon melted vegan butter
Icing
  1. 1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter (such as Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
  2. 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. 2 cups icing sugar
Garnish
  1. dried cranberries
  2. fresh orange zest
  3. vegan mini marshmallows (optional)
Make the Dough
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the warm (not HOT) plant based milk or water, yeast and sugar. Whisk well and set aside for 5 minutes for the yeast to bloom. The mixture will foam up if the yeast is active. Do not continue if your yeast does not bloom (that means it's dead and you need new yeast).
  2. Add 3 tablespoons of melted vegan butter and salt and stir well.
  3. Add one cup of flour and stir until fully incorporated. Repeat one cup at a time until all the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough until it's smooth: about 5 minutes in a stand mixer or 10 minutes by hand. Then cover the dough with a large bowl or damp towel and let sit for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  4. Transfer the dough to a well floured work surface. Flatten the dough, knocking the air out of it. Use a rolling pin to shape it into a rectangle about 18" long or 46cm. It should be just less than half inch thick or 1 cm.
  5. Using 2 tablespoons of room temperature vegan butter, cover the top of the dough but leave a 2" (5cm) strip along one of the long sides of the dough. Over top of the vegan butter, sprinkle the cinnamon, brown sugar and dried cranberries.
Roll and cut
  1. Starting at the sugar coated side of the dough, fold 1" of the edge over firmly, pinching it down. Roll the dough tightly but gently towards the uncoated side. Sit the roll on top of the seam.
  2. To make 12 pieces, cut the roll into 1.5" (4cm) sections. You can use a sharp knife or cut with a thread by wrapping the string under the dough, wrapping the two ends around and pull apart to cut through the dough easily.
Pan and rise
  1. Line your baking pan(s) with parchment paper. Mix the cranberry sauce with melted vegan butter until completely combined. Evenly spoon the cranberry mixture into the pans.
  2. Place the cinnamon rolls on top of the cranberry mixture. Spoon some of the mixture on top of the rolls and around the sides.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm location for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  4. Remove any clutter from your oven and preheat it to 400°F or 205°C.
Bake and finish
  1. In your preheated oven, bake at 400°F (205°C) for 18-20 minutes or until the rolls are golden on top. Do not over bake! Let cool before adding icing.
  2. Make the icing by creaming the softened vegan butter and vegan cream cheese together in a large bowl. You can use an electric hand mixer for ease. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add icing sugar, half a cup at a time, mixing well between each addition. Cover and keep the cream cheese icing cold until it's time to decorate the vegan cranberry cinnamon rolls.
  3. Top the cooled vegan cranberry cinnamon rolls with the vegan cream cheese frosting. Add the zest from one orange, sprinkling it evenly over the rolls. Decorate with extra dried cranberries and vegan mini marshmallows. Enjoy!
Storage
  1. Like most freshly baked breads, these vegan cinnmon rolls are best enjoyed on the same day. However, you can store these in the fridge, covered, for up to 1 day.
  2. These cinnamon rolls can also be frozen. Cover and freeze the whole pan of iced cinnamon rolls until solid. If well wrapped, they can be frozen for up to two weeks.
  3. To defrost, let sit at room temperature for a few hours or place in the fridge overnight. If they are still a little frosty when you want to eat/serve them, microwave them individually for about 15 seconds each just to warm them up a bit in the middle.
Notes
  1. My favourite vegan butter alternative for this recipe is Earth Balance (duh), but you can substitute any hard vegan butter. Note that Becel's Vegan Margerine does NOT work well for this. For a DIY version try this recipe: http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/fats/vegan-butters/vegan-butter
  2. I prefer to use store-bought vegan cream cheese like Daiya or Tofutti for this recipe.
  3. Finally, YES this recipe contains a bunch of sugar and fat. It's meant to! This is definitely a recipe for the sweet tooth! However, if you like sweets less sweet, you can eliminate the sugar from the dough. You can also reduce the amount of icing sugar in the icing. Just taste as you go.
  4. If you don't actually have leftover cranberry sauce to use, you can make these without. Add a few extra cranberries in the filling and forgo the sticky-bottom. Reduce the bake time by a couple minutes (so 16 - 18 minutes instead of 18 - 20).
  5. You can freeze these cinnamon rolls! Top them with icing and let them cool completely before storing in an air tight container. If you take the frozen rolls out of the freezer in the morning and store them in the refrigerator, they should be defrosted by the evening. Then you can serve them cold or heated up.
Mary's Test Kitchen http://www.marystestkitchen.com/

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