Whole-Wheat Pecan Maple Cinnamon Rolls (w/o refined sugar!)

6 Reviews / 3.8 Average
We sure do love cinnamon rolls (who doesn't?). But the way they're typically made (i.e. FULL of sugar!) they resemble dessert much more than breakfast. I've made a much healthier version for you with these Whole-wheat Pecan Maple Cinnamon Rolls that don't include refined sugar. With the cinnamon and pecan filling and yummy frosting, everyone will enjoy these on a lazy weekend morning!
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Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Rolls on 100 Days of Real Food

In general it’s hard to understand how so many items with all the qualities of a dessert (donuts, coffee cake, store bought muffins, etc.) can be passed off as breakfast, but for some reason that’s just the way it is these days. Loads of refined sugar is unfortunately not a good way to start the day for anyone!

But, just because we try to avoid eating refined sugar for breakfast, this doesn’t mean we have to miss out on a special holiday breakfast that’s a tradition for many – cinnamon rolls! My daughter and I had fun experimenting with a way to make cinnamon rolls that would turn out to be both healthier and delicious. I wasn’t even planning on posting the recipe on the blog, but after sharing it on social media and seeing how many others were on the same quest … well, Merry Christmas a little early from our family to yours! :) Thanks for being such an amazing group of blog readers!

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63 thoughts on “Whole-Wheat Pecan Maple Cinnamon Rolls (w/o refined sugar!)”

    1. While we haven’t tried making these with gluten-free flour, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. If you give it a try we’d love to hear how they come out. – Nicole

  1. Can you substitute the whole wheat flour with King Arthur’s gluten free flour? I’m looking forward a gluten free option. Thanks so much!!they look delicious!

    1. We haven’t tried it ourselves, but it should work. Let us know how they turn out if you try it. – Nicole

  2. 3 stars
    I made the dough in my bread machine in the dough setting which is 1:20 minutes . I had to add maybe 1/2 to 3/4 cup flour I didn’t mesure but the dough was super wet. When it was done I rolled it and spread the butter mixture , and refrigerated for the next day . When I melted the butter I added 1 table spoon of organic coconut sugar and refrigerated until my dough was rising . . Well if I would do it again I would beat the butter with the coconut sugar than add the maple syrup . It was too thin that when I rolled it the butter mixture was going everywhere , very hard to roll without losing your butter mixture , I baked it for 25 minutes at 350 and I should have taken it out at 21 Minutes . . I don’t like sweet and I like super healthy but it was a tad dry and lacked of flavor . I think you still can add 1 or even 2 more table spoon of cinnamon . My cinnamon was brand new and it didn’t taste cinnamon enough . I never eat this kind of breakfast I had my daughter over just for a quick breakfast but I don’t think I would make this again . It was good but not moist enough . Maybe it’s just me but it’s still a good recipe .
    Thanks .

  3. Anyone have any ideas for a meat roll? Like the one on the back of the Bisquick box but with whole wheat flour?

  4. REALLY good! Surprisingly good, actually. I was a bit worried when they didn’t seem to rise right after the dough was made or after the roll was made and cut (before going in the fridge overnight) but they turned out great after baking. I will add a bit more butter to the filling next time as it came out slightly dry for our taste (we prefer it a bit more gooey). Otherwise, we loved them! The flavor was spot on! Thanks for a great recipe!

  5. My son won’t eat things with nuts in them. Not allergic, just doesn’t like the texture. Will the filling work without the pecans? Should I increase the amount of butter/syrup/cinnamon to have enough?

  6. Kailey Albrechtsen

    5 stars
    I looked really hard to find a cinnamon roll recipe without refined sugar, and I was so excited to find this one! They taste great! I’ll have to make them a new Christmas Tradition. Thank you!

  7. 2 stars
    this is a good yeasted cake recipe, but the fluffy and delicious cinnamon rolls you might be comparing to memory, these are not. thinking it has something to do with the amount of eggs in the recipe. 100 days of food usually has great health-forward recipes, but this one was a miss. just wanted to reach out there to any other people who actually tried this recipe and found it to be a failure and let you know that you’re not alone!

  8. 3 stars
    I just made these. I needed to add a lot more liquid as the dough didn’t come together. Have I done anythign wrong here?

  9. Curious is 3 tablespoons of cinnamon makes these on the spicier side? I’m waiting to add the full amount until I taste the filling.
    I have no milk (shopping this AM) so I used my grass fed half and half…. hoping it will make it softer/creamier texture to dough.
    Making these now can’t wait to have when my family wakes up

      1. 5 stars
        These are great! I even sprinkled about 1/2 cup raisins on top of the filling before rolling the dough up. YUM!

      2. They came out dry for me- I think I also needed more liquid in the filling? The dough itself seemed to taste fine. They were just dry to eat. More butter and syrup maybe?

      3. You could definitely add more liquid in the filling if you find them to be too dry for your taste. – Nicole

  10. These were really good for whole wheat and no sugar! I’m not really good with yeast, but these turned out great! There was quite a mess trying to roll the dough with the melted butter/cinnamon mixture, but I scooped it off my pastry mat and put it on top before baking. I put them all in side by side in a 9×13 and they were slightly overdone for my taste. Will decrease the baking time slightly next time. Thanks for a great recipe!

  11. 5 stars
    I made these for Christmas morning and they were great. My family said they could definitely tell that they had whole wheat in them, but loved them. The icing added that great sweetness and they were just overall terrific. Thanks for sharing!!

  12. We made these for breakfast on Christmas morning. I made the dough in my bread machine and then rolled them out and kept them in the fridge overnight. They hadn’t risen much overnight so I was a bit worried they may not turn out. But, after coming out of the oven they were fluffy,light and airy…..and delicious!! They were great the next day as well. We will definitely make these again. Thanks for a great recipe!

  13. Yay! I’m so excited to try this! It is one thing we have not switched to “clean” because it takes forever to make! We love cinnamon rolls! Thanks!

  14. Thank you for this. It’s exactly what I was looking for! Quick question-do you think the recipe would turn out when using coconut oil instead of butter? Thank you!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      While we’ve not done so in this recipe, we can typically use them interchangeably.

  15. I had been searching for a good Christmas morning pastry and was thrilled you posted this, after seeing the picture on Instagram. Thank you!

  16. How far in advance can I make the dough? Would love to have it prepped the day before and bake while opening gifts Christmas morning.

  17. Does the texture of these cinnamon rolls resemble those made with white (AP) flour? I make amazing white flour cinnamon rolls, but the whole wheat recipies I have tried are ok when still warm, but become dry/crumbly after that. In fact, many whole wheat baked good recipes I make become a bit dry and crumbly the second day. Not sure how to avoid this, but it makes leftovers and frozen leftovers less appealing. Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. You could always try whole wheat pastry flour for a texture more like AP.

      1. I read that whole wheat pastry flour wasn’t supposed to be used in yeast breads because of the low protein? I use white whole wheat in yeasted breads for this reason. Unfortunately, 100% whole wheat/grain breads always become dryer and or crumbly for me the next day or when thawed from the freezer. Specifically yeast rolls, biscuits, flour tortillas, breakfast cookies and your all cornmeal, simple skillet cornbread. I am still committed to baking with whole wheat/whole grains, however, I wish there was a way to avoid this. I love the leftovers, but hate the crumbs my kids leave behind. Any further advice?

      2. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

        Hi again. Letting the dough rest a bit before kneading can help soften it.

      3. April Heimerle

        Thanks for the tip to let it rest before kneading. But when should it be kneaded? (I don’t see that specific step in the directions.) Also, Can almond milk be substituted for regular milk here? THANKS for this amazing-sounding recipe!

    1. I have made other cinnamon roll recipes the night before and had them be successful. I roll out the dough, cut them, then place in the pan. Cover with saran wrap. They will rise some in the fridge but eventually the cold with halt the yeast action. Pull them out in the AM and place them on the counter to warm and finish rising. Then bake as directed

  18. Lisa- to be sure, we should use unsalted butter, correct? Also, what type of yeast should we use? There is quick-rise and active rise, among others. Can you advise, please? Thank you and happy holidays!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. I’ve used both salted and unsalted butter and active dry yeast.

  19. I’m curious as to why the recipe needs eggs? I’ve never used eggs to make cinnamon rolls, and I’d love to use this refined sugar-free recipe but have a child with an egg allergy. Wondering if a flax-egg substitute would work? Thanks!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. You could give the flax-egg sub a try but we’ve not tried subbing in this recipe. Let us know how it turns out if you do.

  20. I was so excited to see you shared this recipe. I’m adding it to our Christmas breakfast menu. I’m fairly new to clean eating and have learned so much from you! Thanks for all you do!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Pastry flour should work, too, though we’ve not given it a try in this recipe.

    1. Both sides are cut when you are finished. It doesn’t matter which cut side is up or which side of down. As long as the swirl is on the flat surface.

      1. My apologies the quantity has been updated – things change when the dough rises, but you’ll end up with 14 to 18 unless you want to cut them a little smaller.

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