Crazy for Crust

Aug 05

Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls

These Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls are fluffy, sweet, and filled with cinnamon and zucchini; a wonderful breakfast for back-to-school or a Sunday morning.

Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls by | A fluffy cinnamon roll filled with zucchini - the perfect way to use up zucchini!

Raise your hand if you’ve been sucked into the vortex that is American Girl.

You all know my hands are both firmly raised. I’ve talked about Jordan’s obsession here, and here, here, and many more times. I gotta hand it to that company – their marketing team is probably the best one around.

I mean, people. They create a two hour commercial for each of their doll-of-the-year girls, package it like a movie, and show it on national television. It’s insane, and genius.

Jordan watched the Saige movie a few weeks ago, and promptly asked for Saige for Christmas. Really, I was shocked it took her so long to ask for another doll. But now I’m in panic mode because if she really does want Saige, I have to buy her soon. Saige is the 2013 doll of the year and only available “while supplies last.”

Seriously, geniuses these people. I want to hire them to market my blog. Pie Movie, anyone?

So anyway, it turns out I know someone who hosts American Girl camps during the summer, and wouldn’t you know it, Saige was the camp this week. I dropped Jordan off this morning and she waved good-bye among a sea of artificial hair and limbs and other 8 year olds.

Watch out people: American Girl is going to take over. First, stores and TV shows. Next stop, government.

The other thing that is going to take over? Zucchini.

Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls by | A fluffy cinnamon roll filled with zucchini - the perfect way to use up zucchini!

Zucchini. It’s another thing I cannot stop talking about. Cookies, pie, cake, and brownies, oh my! Zucchini did take over my garden this summer. We finally ripped it out of the ground because we just couldn’t take it anymore.

Did you know that August 8th is national Sneak Some Zucchini on your Neighbor’s Porch Day? Like ding dong ditch, but with zucchini?

#whoknew #itsarealthing

Believe me, I understand the need for that day!

I have one last zucchini recipe for you. Well, I might be lying a little bit. One last one for now, anyway.

Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls.

Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls by | A fluffy cinnamon roll filled with zucchini - the perfect way to use up zucchini!

This is my favorite cinnamon roll. Well, one of them. I have several. But this is definitely my favorite dough. I used the same buttery yeast dough for my peanut butter cinnamon rolls last month. If you’ll remember my Instagram photos, I actually made these the same day. While the peanut butter ones were rich and sinful beyond belief, these are more traditional.

The sweet and buttery dough is filled with a cinnamon, brown sugar, and butter paste that has been stirred up with some shredded zucchini. These don’t taste like zucchini, rather it’s an add-on. Think of it as a way to (1) get rid of some of your stash and (2) sneak veggies into food your kids will eat.

And, well. They’re topped with cream cheese icing. There’s nothing better than that, is there?

Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls by | A fluffy cinnamon roll filled with zucchini - the perfect way to use up zucchini!

These Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls are perfect for make ahead. You’ll notice in the recipe that I make the dough and the rolls the night before, and then leave them to rise overnight in the refrigerator. That way all you have to do is pop them in the oven when you get up in the morning.

But I have an even better idea for you, on that will be perfect for busy school mornings:

Make these cinnamon rolls on a weekend. Cool completely, and separate the rolls from each other. Place them in individual plastic baggies and freeze. Then, all you have to do is grab one in the morning before school, or when you are jonesing for a cinnamon roll. We did that with these and it was the perfect quick breakfast for Jordan (and me)! You can freeze a little frosting in the baggies too. I froze them without frosting, and added some after reheating.

Ugh, now I want a cinnamon roll. Badly.

Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls by | A fluffy cinnamon roll filled with zucchini - the perfect way to use up zucchini!

I imagine it’s how Jordan feels after watching an American Girl movie. Or how she’s going to be when I pick her up later today.

At least cinnamon rolls are cheaper than a new doll…. :)

Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 9-12 rolls

Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls - a fluffy cinnamon roll recipe filled with shredded zucchini! Sneak veggies into breakfast and no one will ever know.


For the Dough:

  • 1 package active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3/4 cup warm non-fat milk (heated to about 120 degrees, about 30-45 seconds in the microwave)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • Paddle attachment & dough hook for your mixer

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons flour

For the Frosting

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract


Make the Dough:

  1. Place milk in a microwave safe measuring cup. Heat for 30-45 seconds in the microwave, until it’s about 120 degrees. Add yeast and stir. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  2. Place sugar, butter, salt, and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until the butter is distributed throughout the liquids, although it may be chunky. Pour in the milk/yeast mixture and stir for a few seconds.
  3. Add flour and stir with the paddle attachment just until the mixture starts to stick to the paddle. Then replace the paddle with the dough hook. Continue mixing on low speed until the dough forms a ball in the center of the bowl.
  4. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough ball in it. Spray the top of the dough ball with cooking spray (lightly) and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let sit for 1-2 hours until it doubles in size.
  5. Note on rising: if your house is warm, it should rise no problem. If it’s cold in your house, it may take longer for the dough to rise, so plan accordingly!

Prepare your Rolls:

  1. Pat your zucchini shreds with paper towels to remove any excess water.
  2. Stir together butter, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon until it forms a paste. Stir in zucchini.
  3. Once the dough is risen, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle, about 12” by 9”. Spread the filling as evenly as possible over the rectangle, making sure to reach to the sides so the outer rolls have enough filling.
  4. Roll the dough up tightly from the long end. Slice it into 9 equal rounds. Place the rolls into a 9” pan or 9 1/2” round pie plate that has been sprayed with cooking spray. (You can also slice them into 12 rolls and place them in a 9x13" pan.)
    At this point, you can let them rise for about 30 minutes-1 hour until they are swelling up in the pan and bake as directed. Or you can do what I do: cover with plastic wrap and stick in the refrigerator overnight until ready to bake.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. If the rolls have been in the refrigerator, remove them and let them warm up while the oven is preheating. Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 15-25 minutes, or until they are golden brown.

Make the frosting:

  1. Mix cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer until well blended. Mix in powdered sugar until smooth, stir in vanilla. Frost rolls and serve warm.

Love this? Check these out:

Cinnamon Zucchini Coffee Cake

cinnamon zucchini coffee cake7w

Peanut Butter Cinnamon Rolls

peanut butter cinnamon rolls (3 of 7)w

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

carrot cake cinnamon rolls 1 words

Sweets from friends:
Sausage Filled Cinnamon Roll Monkey Bread by I Wash, You Dry
Chocolate Rolls with Coffee Icing by Roxana’s Home Baking
Rolo Stuffed Monkey Bread by Something Swanky


78 Responses to “Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls”

  1. Faith @ Pixie Dust Kitchen posted on August 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm (#)

    I loved AG As a girl- I got the magazine and everything, and I still have my dolls! I can only imagine what I but my parents though obsessing over it! Too bad they didn’t have these cinnamon rolls to help them through it. These sound great, and obviously they’re healthy because of the zucchini, right?


  2. Averie @ Averie Cooks posted on August 5, 2013 at 5:02 pm (#)

    These are genius! I’ve made cinn rolls with sweet potatoes and pumpkin, but never zuke! Wow! Impressive! Pinned! I wish I had one in front of me right now!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 5th, 2013 at 6:39 pm

      Me too. We just finished the last from the freezer. :) Thanks Averie!


  3. Amy posted on August 5, 2013 at 5:12 pm (#)

    Can I be your neighbor on August 8th?? Pretty, pretty please?? Or, even better… You can drop off your entire zucchini PLANT on my doorstep, not just the individual zucchinis!

    Love the sound of your zucchini cinnamon rolls! You’ve been so creative this whole season, but this recipe might be my favorite one yet. I’ll keep it in mind next summer, especially if I get to plant my own garden!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 5th, 2013 at 6:38 pm

      I think this is one of my favorites too Amy! :)


  4. Heather @ French Press posted on August 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm (#)

    I don;t think I would have EVER thought to put zucchini in cinnamon rolls…TOO clever Dorothy!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 5th, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      Thanks Heather! I did carrots, why not zucchini. :)


  5. Lydia posted on August 5, 2013 at 6:42 pm (#)

    Could u make these GF?


  6. Terri C posted on August 5, 2013 at 6:59 pm (#)

    Love this! Will try them and the peanut butter and carrot cake rolls yum!


  7. Lisa @ Wine & Glue posted on August 5, 2013 at 7:46 pm (#)

    OMG. Pie Movie!! Genius!! Do it!! I’m so jealous of American Girl Doll Camp. Well . . . I’m jealous that you have a kid free house. The idea of the camp actually kind of gives me the heebie jeebies. :)


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 6th, 2013 at 6:40 pm

      LOL!! Kid-free is my house of choice. 😉


  8. Tieghan posted on August 5, 2013 at 8:05 pm (#)

    Oh wow! Did you really just put zucchini in cinnamon rolls!?! That incredible and genius!! Plus, this mean they are totally healthy! Oh yes!


  9. Mary-Clay @ Cooking with the King posted on August 5, 2013 at 8:50 pm (#)

    I so envy your creativity with zucchini! Cinnamon rolls? You’re incredible. Yum.


  10. Sues posted on August 6, 2013 at 4:15 am (#)

    I would never, never think to do this, but what a fantastic idea!! And they look beautiful :)


  11. Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner posted on August 6, 2013 at 6:33 am (#)

    I know lots of girls who adore American Girl. Kidn of reminds me of the days when Cabbage Patch dolls were all the rage (which is more my time).
    I love love love cinnamon rolls! I never thought to add zucchini. Awesome idea. These look so scrumptious. I’m all about that cream cheese frosting. :)


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 6th, 2013 at 6:38 pm

      Yes! I looooooved cabbage patch!!


  12. Jennifer @ Not Your Momma's Cookie posted on August 6, 2013 at 7:07 am (#)

    Now that we know for sure that we’re having a girl, I’ve been thinking about the American Girl dolls because…I kind of like them too…as a 30 year old woman, perhaps I should be a little embarrassed? They are beautiful dolls though! But, I think my husband would rather her be playing with legos and other “skill building” toys. We’ll see what she prefers 😉

    I would not have thought to add zucchini to cinnamon rolls, but what a sneaky way to get some extra nutrition in a sweet, indulgent pastry! :)


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 6th, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      They are the prettiest dolls. I looked at a lot of baby ones before we went with AG. The others are kinda creepy…:)


  13. Lily @ Life, Love, and Cupcakes posted on August 6, 2013 at 7:29 am (#)

    These are brilliant! Plus you could even say they’re kiiiinda healthy since they incorporate veggies 😉


  14. Mary Frances @ The Sweet {Tooth} Life posted on August 6, 2013 at 9:35 am (#)

    I was totally into American Girl about 6 years ago:) And they aren’t cheap!
    You are a genius. I have no words. Mainly because my mouth is so full of zucchini . . . I wish it was full of these cinnamon rolls, not the other ways we’ve been using it! Oh, I am practically famous among my friends and family for your zucchini/apple coffeecake – thank you SO much for that recipe. I bet this will become a fast fav as well!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 6th, 2013 at 6:36 pm

      Yay! I love hearing that. Sweet zucchini recipes are the best!


  15. Mary Frances @ The Sweet {Tooth} Life posted on August 6, 2013 at 9:36 am (#)

    Oh, pinned!


  16. Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry posted on August 6, 2013 at 10:02 am (#)

    Every year for Christmas till i was about six, I would get an American Doll. My love for them ran deep. Now that I am older, my love has switched over to cinnnamon rolls. Sneaking zucchini into the filling? GENIUS.


  17. Laura Dembowski posted on August 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm (#)

    You always make me want an American Girl doll! It’s the one toy from my childhood my parents didn’t get me . . . and of course I never let them forget it and would happily take one now :) I’ve seen so many creative spins on cinnamon rolls but never with zucchini. Great idea!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 6th, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      I know, I want one. I never had one either!!


  18. Julie @ Julie's Eats & Treats posted on August 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm (#)

    I understand the “sneak zucchini to your neighbor” day as well! But here’s the thing I planted Yellow Summer Squash too…what the h do I use that for?! :) HAHA!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 6th, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      Oh man, I know!!! I meant to try bread, but never did!


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  20. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie posted on August 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm (#)

    What a crazy-wonderful way to sneak in veggies!


  21. Tonia@thegunnysack posted on August 6, 2013 at 3:55 pm (#)

    My daughter has an American Girl Doll and we have made many trips to the MOA store.


  22. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious posted on August 6, 2013 at 7:30 pm (#)

    Zucchini in cinnamon rolls?! I love it!


  23. Sue {munchkin munchies} posted on August 6, 2013 at 8:15 pm (#)

    These sound wonderful! I would never think to make cinnamon rolls using zucchini, but I’m glad you did! BTW, you’re funny Dorothy:)


  24. Alexandra @ Confessions of a Bright-Eyed Baker posted on August 7, 2013 at 9:04 am (#)

    I’ve baked with zucchini before, but I never thought that you could just shred it into the middle of cinnamon rolls and completely hide the fact that there are veggies in your sweet breakfast. Crazy! I absolutely love a good cinnamon roll, though, and these sound awesome!


  25. Chandra@The Plaid and Paisley Kitchen posted on August 7, 2013 at 10:25 am (#)

    Zucchini is like a crazy jack and the beanstalk kind of vine!!! They really will take over! These rolls are a great way to use up that veggie!!!


  26. Trish - Mom On Timeout posted on August 7, 2013 at 5:04 pm (#)

    Kinda sorta totally awesome Dorothy :) The rolls look sooo good! Pinning!


  27. Tahnycooks posted on August 8, 2013 at 4:44 am (#)

    What a great and unique way to use all that summer time zucchini! Pinning!


  28. Jamie @lifelovelemons posted on August 8, 2013 at 5:59 am (#)

    Look at this texture! Amazing!


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  30. Vera Lima posted on August 8, 2013 at 11:22 am (#)

    Wow!! Very impressive recipe!
    cinnamon Rolls with zucchini! Very creative, Dorothy!


  31. Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen posted on August 9, 2013 at 9:28 am (#)

    I’m not jealous of being in your shoes right now! Although I could throw down a roll or two…In a few years, my daughter might be obsessed with American girl dolls, but so far so good :)

    Love that you put zucchini in a cinnamon roll. Probably considered a veggie serving, right?


  32. Julie @ This Gal Cooks posted on August 11, 2013 at 8:12 pm (#)

    These look great, Dorothy. I like the addition of the zucchini. Never had cinnamon rolls with zucchini but I definitely want to try ’em. Pinned and sharing on FB and twitter. Thanks for sharing at Marvelous Mondays!


  33. ang posted on August 12, 2013 at 6:54 am (#)

    These look incredible! I saw your thumbnail on Marvelous Monday and had to come check these out! I had my zucchini round-up set and ready to go but now I think I need to re-vamp because these MUST be included :)
    I pinned them (of course!) to my zucchini board and can’t wait to make them for my family.
    Happy Monday!
    Ang, Juggling Act Mama


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 12th, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      Thank you so much!! :) Enjoy!


  34. Jocelyn @BruCrew Life posted on August 18, 2013 at 1:08 pm (#)

    Well, now I really want a cinnamon roll! I love that you put zucchini inside the rolls! Best idea ever!!! And am I ever glad my daughter has moved out of the AG stage…these Monster High dolls are so much cheaper!!!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 18th, 2013 at 3:13 pm

      LOL, Monster High now looks better to me!


  35. Mallory @ Total Noms posted on August 19, 2013 at 1:13 pm (#)

    Wow! What a cool way to incorporate vegetables into something that looks so decadent. Can we make August 19 the official “Cinnamon Rolls Are Zero Calories And Actually Are Good For You Day”? Great, thanks. :)


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 19th, 2013 at 7:00 pm

      Yes, yes we can. I declare that day today, and “eat all the Reese’s PB Cups you want day” to be Aug 20. :)


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  37. Stephanie posted on October 1, 2013 at 9:46 am (#)

    Wow these were good!! I added some cardamom to the dough recipe and to the filling. Doubled the amount of zucchini. Used your maple frosting (from the maple bacon cinnamon roll recipe) instead of the cream cheese one. Put half the batch in the fridge and the other half in the freezer. Never have frozen cinnamon rolls before but if they rise amazingly after being put in the fridge for a couple days I am sure they’ll be fine in the freezer. You rock! Wouldn’t thought zucchini would’ve tasted good in something savory and rich.


    • Dorothy Kern replied on October 2nd, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      Yay! I’m glad you liked them. Maple frosting – gasp. YES!!


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  40. susie posted on December 3, 2013 at 5:03 pm (#)

    Hey can I make these buy hand I don’t have one of those mixers, And is it complicated to cool with active yeast? I have never cooked with it before?


    • Dorothy Kern replied on December 4th, 2013 at 6:24 pm

      Using yeast can be scary, but it’s totally doable! You can do it by hand. Mix with a wooden spoon until you can’d mix anymore, then knead until the dough comes together!


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  46. Kristen posted on July 21, 2015 at 7:30 am (#)

    Any clue how non-dairy milk and butter might work for this recipe? I typically use almond milk for my daughter’s dairy allergy and Earth Balance non-dairy butter, but haven’t tried the Earth Balance for baking. Wondering whether the cow’s milk and butter have fats/oils necessary for the cinnamon roll dough?!?


    • Dorothy Kern replied on July 21st, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      I use the Earth Balance vegan butter sticks (they’re not butter) as a sub in baking for dairy-allergic friends with great success. Those should definitely work in the dough, as should almond milk. I’ve been meaning to try doing that! Let me know if it works before I get a chance!


  47. Kristen posted on July 22, 2015 at 6:15 am (#)

    Thank you so much! I’ll be trying this one soon :)


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