Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls
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Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls start with the best cinnamon roll dough and are filled with a carrot cake brown sugar filing. These are soft and perfect with cream cheese frosting.
more than three days a year when cinnamon rolls are perfectly acceptable for breakfast: Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Easter. These carrot cake rolls are perfect for all three, but especially when the Easter Bunny visits!
I’d like to say that I am pretty sure I invented Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls. I know that’s a big and bold statement but…the proof is in the date stamp, or at least it was, until I updated this post.
(Wait – don’t leave. Don’t be mad, please? Yes, this is an old post that I updated. But it’s ALL NEW and totally improved! And it desperately needed a reboot.)
When I was private searching “carrot cake cinnamon rolls” yesterday while writing this, my original post is 6th on google. This post was originally posted in 2012, with horrible photos and a questionable recipe. (Hey, don’t fault me. I was a newbie blogger who didn’t know what she was doing but thought she knew it all…kind of like teenagers.)
If I scroll the top 10 on page one of google, all the other dates are 2015 and newer. Now this post will look like I’m copying them. HA!
Anyway…let’s talk about my new and improved Carrot Cake Cinnamon Roll recipe. This unique sweet roll recipe has a fluffy yeasted dough and is filled with a brown sugar cinnamon mixture that also has shredded carrots and some carrot cake spices. On top? It’s all about the cream cheese icing, of course.
It wouldn’t be carrot cake without cream cheese icing!
6 years ago when I first made these rolls, I used an old cinnamon roll dough recipe. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love that recipe. But since that time I’ve discovered the best cinnamon rolls that ever existed and that is now my gold standard when it comes to making a sweet bread dough. This recipe is fluffy and light and sweet and just like a cinnamon roll dough should be.
The best thing about these rolls isn’t just the flavor, but the fact that they can be made ahead of time. These are overnight cinnamon rolls or freezer cinnamon rolls, or even make them and eat them rolls. Depending on your time limit, you can make them however and whenever you want.
When I make cinnamon rolls for Christmas, I like to make them ahead of time. No one wants to be letting dough rise on Christmas morning! I make this same recipe (without the carrots) for Christmas and I make them up to a few weeks ahead and freeze them. Or, if I make them on Christmas Eve, I just put them in the refrigerator overnight, then bake them in the morning.
The overnight cinnamon roll method works really well for holidays like Easter or Sunday brunch, or anytime you don’t want to be bothered early in the morning. That’s what I want to wake up to: a giant fluffy cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting!!
Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls are the perfect recipe for Sunday brunch! Make them ahead and have fluffy sweet cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing for breakfast!
Just hand me a fork, no plate needed!
How to make the best Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls:
- Start with my easy yeasted cinnamon roll dough made with active dry yeast. This dough has egg and sugar in it too, so it’s fluffy and sweet and light.
- Yeast needs a specific temperature of water in which it becomes activated. Too cold, it won’t wake up. Too hot, it’ll die. The perfect temperature for active dry yeast is about 100-110°F. I like to use an instant read thermometer to check it.
- Make sure to use fresh carrots that you shred for this recipe. Pre-shredded carrots are thick and too hard for the filling of these delicate rolls.
- Feel free to add some chopped walnuts or pecans and/or raisins to the filling. Any would be delicious and make these even more like carrot cake.
- You can make this all at once or, if you want to make them overnight cinnamon rolls you can. Or freeze them. Directions are in the recipe.
Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls
For the dough
- 3/4 cup 178 ml warm water
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup 40g granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup 79 ml vegetable oil
- 2 1/2-3 312-372g cups all purpose flour
For the filling
- 3 tablespoons 42g unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup 104g packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 cup 75g grated carrots (about 2 medium)
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
For the Icing
- 4 ounces 114 g cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons 28g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups 163g powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Place warm water (about 100-110°F) into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. (The easiest way to test the water is using an instant read thermometer, but if you don’t have one, think hot bathwater.) Sprinkle the yeast into the water, then add the salt and sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon. Let rest until it bubbles, about 5 minutes.
- In another bowl or large measuring cup, whisk eggs and oil together. Add the egg mixture to the yeast mixture along with 1 cup of the flour. Start the mixer and then slowly add rest of flour, stirring in gradually. Run the mixture for about 5-10 minutes or until the dough is elastic. The dough will be slightly sticky and very soft. Turn it out onto a floured board and knead it a few times until it is no longer sticky.
- Place the dough into a bowl that’s been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Let rest until doubled.
- Spray a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Make filling: Stir together brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and grated carrots in a small bowl.
- Roll dough into a rectangle that is about 12x15”. To fill, spread with melted butter and sprinkle with filling. Roll up lengthwise. Make roll as tight as possible. Cut into one-inch pieces. Place in greased pan so that rolls just touch each other. (You can slice it into 9-12 slices depending on how big you want your rolls.
- At this point you have two options: 1. Let rise until doubled (about 20-30 minutes), then bake as directed below or 2. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Let the rolls come to room temperature before baking.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake approximately 20-25 minutes.
- Make the frosting: beat cream cheese and butter until smooth, then mix in powdered sugar slowly. Mix until crumbly, then add vanilla and beat until smooth. Spread over warm or cooled rolls.
- Store loosely covered in refrigerator for up to 2 days. Rolls can be frozen before baking or after, or even after frosting.
I love cinnamon rolls so much! You can find all of my cinnamon roll recipes here or check out some of my other favorites: Chelsea’s Cinnamon Roll Cherry Danishes or Becky’s Cinnamon Roll French Toast Bake.
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