Healthier Cinnamon Rolls

4.2 from 5 votes

Because sometimes you just want a gosh darn cinnamon roll. That’s why you make skinny cinnamon rolls with no butter.

Then you can eat more. {Kidding.}

Heart Healthier Skinny Cinnamon Rolls - all the flavor without the guilt. These rolls have no butter but still have everything you love about cinnamon rolls.


Okay, so I learned something new last week: people like to eat Junior Mints cold. I mean, I’ve heard of frozen Snickers and even chilled M&Ms but I’ve never heard of cold Junior Mints.

What side are you on? Cold Junior Mints? Regular Junior Mints? Or no Junior Mints, because they’re the devil?

I don’t know what side I’m on but I do know that, thanks to this question, I’ve invented my dream refrigerator.

{I know, I make absolutely no sense most of the time. Bear with me.}

Heart Healthier Cinnamon Rolls

Okay, so the original question I asked on my Facebook page was if people liked Junior Mints. Someone replied that they want to fill their ice maker with them. And a lightbulb went off:

What if could put your glass up to the water dispenser on your refrigerator, except instead of water, candy came out. Wouldn’t that be the coolest thing ever?

Press a button, M&Ms fill your glass. Slide the lever to the left, get Skittles or Junior Mints. The ice maker would give out Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Isn’t it genius??!!

Someone needs to invent it for me. And until they do I’ll work hard at dieting and eating healthier because my candy consumption is going to increase 100% once that fridge is developed.

{Edited to note: adding candy to your ice maker is a thing!}

To help me eat healthier until I get my new fridge, I’m going to indulge in cinnamon rolls. Wait.

Heart Healthier Cinnamon Rolls

No, seriously. Even if you’re eating healthier, you can enjoy these skinny cinnamon rolls. They’re much heart healthier than my usual cinnamon rolls.

In case you were wondering, it’s still heart healthier week on the blog. I’m doing this week in honor of my mom, who suffers from heart disease (and my dad too, who suffers from heart problems). Tomorrow, Febraury 6th, is National Go Red for Women Day where I hope we’ll turn the country red to bring awareness to heart disease in women.

Remember, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease every year. Often times, they don’t even know they’re having a heart attack. Attacks in women are sneaky like that.

Anyway, if you’re trying to eat to have a healthier heart, you might be tired of oatmeal and egg whites. Or maybe you’re thinking about hosting brunch next Sunday and you’re tired of watching your kids and your in-laws eating cinnamon rolls while you get wheat toast.

Sometimes you just need a guilty pleasure, like a gooey cinnamon roll. And now, no matter what diet you’re on, you can. These are much skinnier than any other cinnamon roll I’ve ever made. There is NO butter in this entire recipe and there is so much less sugar than a normal roll. I predict you’ll do a happy dance when you make these.

Heart Healthier Cinnamon Rolls

Let’s break down how these are healthier than a traditional cinnamon roll:

There is NO butter in the entire recipe. There isn’t even any oil. I know, right? Instead of using butter, I used my favorite healthier substitute: unsweetened applesauce. It acts as a filler in the dough to make it nice and soft, without all the fat and calories in butter.

But wait, you say. What about the filling? Cinnamon roll filling traditionally uses butter and tons of brown sugar. These rolls? Still no butter. I also used applesauce in the filling! I did use some brown sugar but I reduced it by a tablespoon. The result of using applesauce in the filling? A skinny cinnamon roll. There is a slight apple taste when you eat them, but since these apple cider cinnamon rolls were such a huge hit, that shouldn’t be a problem.

And last, flour. The American Heart Association recommends reducing the white flour in recipes and substituting whole wheat flour. I did one better for these rolls: I used white whole wheat flour. Have you ever used it before? White whole wheat flour is made from an albino wheat. It’s not white flour – it’s 100% wheat flour that just looks white, but it’s milder in flavor than regular whole wheat flour. You can substitute it 1:1 for all-purpose flour. The rolls are more “wheat” looking but they taste like a regular cinnamon roll, I promise!

White Whole Wheat flour isn’t totally mainstream yet, but the two mainstream brands (Gold Medal and King Arthur) do make it. Just check your local grocery store.

If you can’t find the white whole wheat flour or want to use whole wheat flour, you can. I made these both ways and liked them both times. If you’re using regular whole wheat flour, you’ll want to use a combination of it and bread flour. See the notes in the recipe.

Of course, cinnamon roll frosting is hard to make skinny. Instead of using a traditional butter/cream cheese frosting I made a simple glaze with some powdered sugar and nonfat milk. You know what? I didn’t miss the thick gooey frosting! These rolls were perfect with just a touch of glaze.

Don’t be scared off by the Skinny or Healthier when talking about cinnamon rolls. I know that, a lot of times, healthier recipes = yuck. But I wouldn’t share something here I didn’t love…and I really did love these. The batch makes 8 rolls, which is perfect for Sunday brunch.

Heart Healthier Skinny Cinnamon Rolls - all the flavor without the guilt. These rolls have no butter but still have everything you love about cinnamon rolls.

And? Eating these instead of a regular roll will make your heart happier. Make some tomorrow when you’re wearing red!

Healthier Cinnamon Rolls

These skinny and healthier cinnamon rolls are 100% whole wheat and have no butter at all - and they just taste like cinnamon rolls. Plus, the recipe only makes 8 rolls so you won't have tons left over staring you in the face!
4.2 from 5 votes
Yield 8 rolls
Serving Size



  • 1/2 cup warm water 30 seconds in the microwave; think hot bathwater
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour see note


  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon white whole wheat flour see note
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon nonfat milk


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8” or 9” pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Place the water, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Let the mixture rest for 15 minutes. It will be very frothy when your timer rings!
  • While you wait, make the filling. Stir all ingredients for filling together in a small bowl with a fork. Set aside. It will be wet.
  • Mix in the salt and applesauce using the paddle attachment. Switch to the dough hook and add 1 1/4 cups flour. Start on “Stir” for a few seconds, until the flour starts to incorporate. Switch to “2” for about 30 seconds and then kick it up to “3” until the dough comes together. You know it’s done when all of the dough will join to form a ball and the sides of the bowl are mostly. If your dough is too wet, add an additional tablespoon or two of flour (up to 1/4 cup, but I only used 1 1/4 cups total).
  • Roll out dough on a floured cutting board to a rectangle that’s about 9x11” or so. Spread with the filling. The dough is soft!
  • Roll up the dough into a tight roll. Cut into 8 equal slices with a serrated knife. Place in prepared pan.
  • Let rest for 5 more minutes.
  • Bake for about 10-13 minutes, until the tops start to get golden.
  • Make the frosting: whisk powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk, and pour it over rolls before serving.

Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate

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Sweets from friends:
Skinny Chocolate Banana Oatmeal Pancakes by Inside BruCrew Life
Whole Wheat Greek Yogurt Banana Bread by Aggie’s Kitchen
Strawberry Oatmeal Yogurt Muffins by The Lemon Bowl

All information about baking substitutions and heart healthier recipes come from the American Heart Association. I’m just trying to shed some light on heart disease in women. I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist.

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69 CommentsLeave a comment or review

  1. Hello!!! First time poster and first time using your recipe last night. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about what these would taste like, especially since I was out of butter and having the use of the applesauce. 

    Aesthetically, my rolls didn’t look like they’d be too good, haha, and I wish I knew why! But surprisingly, they were so delicious! I happened to add in cinnamon applesauce, which is all that I had, and I happened to try and make a caramel glaze instead. 

    My word!!! These rolls were so flavorful! Thank you so much!

  2. Thank you!!  Finally I’ve mastered my cinnamon rolls!  Every Christmas I’ve made homemade cinnamon rolls with wheat flour and never have gotten them moist or soft enough.  This recipe is so easy, does not take near the time it took in the past, and they turned out the BEST and most moist I’ve ever had!  So soft, plenty sweet, and just yummy!  My 13 year old son was amazed at how wonderful they were and the family loves them!  This is definitely a new tradition of tastier, healthy, moist rolls!

  3. Hi Dorthy,
    Thank you so much for your recipe! Would it be possible to make this dough the night before, let it rest in the fridge (having already cut out the rolls) and then bake in the morning? I would love to make these for my family, but my mornings are extremely busy!

  4. Do you have the nutritional facts on these rolls? They look yummy but I can’t have them without knowing what I’m eating 🙁 thanks!

    1. Mine showed up as less than 150 calories (I can’t remember exactly) with the frosting. You can put the recipe into MyFitnessPal, and it’ll calculate for you.

  5. I just made a half batch of these (ala style), and my husband and I loved them! I am sure it will not be the last time they find their way into our kitchen. Thank you for a healthified recipe!

  6. I made these! They were pretty good. But I had trouble rolling up the dough tightly so they weren’t as pretty as hers. But The recipe is great for being vegan, and having no oil! I recommend 🙂

  7. Hi and thanks for the cinnamon roll recipe. I made them this evening but without the frosting. They are very good and now my brother is going to make them too. I used instant yeast which can be added to the dry mix and then the water and applesauce is added. This recipe works up easily and I mixed all by hand.

  8. Hi Dorothy,
    This recipe looks amazing and I’m so excited to have found a recipe that cuts back on the fat immensely! Do you happen to have the nutrition information though?

  9. Pretty good! The cinnamon filling is absolutely delicious. The pastry is tender with a slight crust. ?The only thing I would change is the roll is a little lacking in flavor, but the amazing filling makes up for it! Thanks for such a healthy (and happy) recipe!