Baking, Breads, Muffins & Donuts

Vegan Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls


Vegan Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls

I entered my clean, quiet, dark kitchen and wondered if I was losing my mind or possibly going crazy. Yet, here I was measuring out yeast, warming almond milk and dumping it into my mixer at 10pm on a Saturday night. I had been cooking all day and I suppose I was on a cooking high or something. Does that even exist? I just *had* to try this chai spiced cinnamon roll recipe. My roommate Mom, for a few weeks longer -I think, looked at me with raised eyebrows, and had that ‘Mom Look’ that said it all without a single word being spoken. She looked at her watch, as if it would somehow give clarity to the situation, then looked back at me…you are starting to make cinnamon rolls now? Sure, it is no big deal, I said indignantly, as if I were a teenager all over again, and marched into the kitchen. The challenge was on.  

After making such a to-do over making cinnamon rolls (that would not be able to be ‘put to bed’ by midnight) I started gathering up the ingredients. I was using my favorite vegan whole wheat cinnamon roll recipe from Naturally Ella. (note: favorite recipe is defined by me as a recipe that turns out well each and every time I make it. Otherwise known as – the recipe you can impress company with!) I have used this recipe quite a few times and the reason why I absolutely adore this recipe is the dough. It isn’t scary to work with. It is forgiving. This dough is super soft, pliable, and easy to work with (working with yeast is ok!). The rolls always bake up beautifully and are not tough. But here is a secret – I have never made this recipe from start to finish in one fell swoop. My second tip of the day: the refrigerator is a great tool for the second rising as you get some shut eye! In the morning just take the pan of rolls out of the fridge, let the rolls come to room temperature for about twenty minutes and stick them in the oven to bake and become happy. Twenty minutes later…HELLO BREAKFAST! Cue happiness and applause (in my head) all around on a Sunday morning!

I came across Joy the Baker’s post recently on her Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls. I intended to use that recipe as a new recipe to try. But then I realized that I was comfortable with the vegan whole wheat cinnamon rolls recipe (SO comfortable that I shipped some down to Sweet Z’s family for their holiday celebrations last year…and no, we had not officially met yet!). So I figured I would merge the two recipes and spices and hope for the best. What could go wrong…dough not rising properly, overpowering flavors, tough rolls versus a pillowy soft roll? I have realized that being comfortable in the kitchen is a lot of trial and error.

Imagine my surprise delight as I opened the fridge this morning. I carefully pulled out my pan of rolls and pulled back the saran wrap. Big exhale.

Baby steps

I turned on the oven and set to work gathering up the icing ingredients. Coffee beans were ground up and brewed. The rolls were ready to be baked and after approximately twenty- five minutes they were ready to be consumed. My Mom had no sooner warmed her coffee and then grabbed a hot roll and ran. I was still stirring the icing! I made sure she had a few swirls of icing to get the full experience of eating Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls on a Sunday morning.

Vegan Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls


Thank you Naturally Ella and Joy the Baker for giving me the courage to take two wonderful recipes and roll with it! Pun, intended! Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week…stay safe with Hurricane Sandy and all that comes with it!

Vegan Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls


  • Recipe adapted from Naturally Ella
  • Yield: 8 rolls
  • For the rolls:
  • ¾ cup almond milk warmed (or soy)
  • 2¼ teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½-1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • Filling:
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup natural cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves


  1. In a small bowl combine the ground flax and water, stirring to combine. Set aside. Gently heat up the milk and have it ready.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the dough hook attached, add in the milk, sugar and yeast. Let it sit until the yeast bubbles a bit - the sugar is the feeder for this! Add the liquid coconut oil, flax seed mixture, salt, and the wheat flour. Stir this a bit with a trusty wooden spoon and then turn on the mixer with the dough hook. Slowly add the all-purpose flour ¼ cup at a time, letting it mix in before adding more. Adding just enough flour so that the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl (it may still slightly stick to the bottom) and letting it knead, on medium speed, for 5-8 minutes.
  3. At this point, scoop the dough out of the bowl, form into a ball, place back in the bowl, brush it with a oil, and let it sit in a warm, draft free spot for 1- 1½ hours.
  4. As the dough is rising, combine your filling ingredients in a small bowl: natural cane sugar, cinnamon, chopped candied ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, salt, pepper, and cloves. Set this aside.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out into a 8 by 12 rectangle. Brush another tablespoon of liquid coconut oil over entire surface and sprinkle the cane sugar and filling mixture over the entire surface. Begin the the edge closest to you and roll away from you- tucking the dough in as you go. Give the log a gentle squeeze as you come to the end. You are now going to cut this into 8 rolls. I cut the log in half and 4 equal-ish pieces after that. Place in a greased round 8″ cake pan. 2 options at this point: Overnight Rise or Same Day Rise.
  6. Overnight rise: If you are going to have these rise overnight, cover the cake pan with saran and stick the rolls in the fridge to slow rise overnight. In the morning, bring the rolls out and let them warm up a bit (about a half hour on the kitchen counter). Bake in a 350* oven for 15 - 20 minutes.
  7. Same Day Rise: Cover with a warm towel and let rise again for 45 minutes to an hour. Bake the rolls in a preheated 350* oven for 15 - 20 minutes.

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