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These Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls are your traditional cinnamon roll recipe, but with a fun twist of zucchini! They are sweet, fluffy and topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting. This is the perfect recipe for breakfast or dessert!
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Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls from scratch
Zucchini recipes are always great for anyone who has a garden, or just anyone who wants to use up some zucchini before it goes bad. This recipe uses my favorite buttery yeast and is coated with cinnamon, brown sugar, and butter paste.
These cinnamon rolls are especially good for busy mornings or holidays because they can be easily made ahead of time. You can make the dough the day prior and refrigerate them overnight, then bake in the morning!
Ingredients needed in Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls
- Instant Yeast: This is my go to yeast over the past few years because it’s much easier to use – and takes less time. See recipe notes for using active dry yeast.
- Non-fat milk: This recipe calls for the milk to be heated to about 120 degrees, about 30-45 seconds in the microwave. You can use any kind of milk (regular, fat free, low fat or nondairy).
- Sugar: You’ll need granulated sugar for the dough, brown sugar for the filling, and powdered sugar for the frosting.
- Butter: I love adding butter to the dough to add a richness – plus you’ll need butter for the filling and frosting.
- Egg: This adds a rich flavor and softness to the dough.
- Zucchini: Needs to be shredded – you don’t need to squeeze out extra moisture unless it’s super wet.
How to make Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls
- Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl or stand mixer bowl.
- Heat milk, water, and butter together until they’re between 120-130°F. The temperature is important so it activates the yeast.
- Mix the wet ingredients into the dry using the dough hook.
- Add more flour, 1 cup at a time, along with egg.
- Mix until soft dough forms but it’s all combined.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough comes together in a ball and springs back lightly when touched with 2 fingers. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
- Spread dough into a large rectangle and spread with butter, cinnamon sugar, and shredded zucchini.
- Roll up the dough tightly and cut into 12 pieces. Bake at 350°F until light golden brown.
- Frost with cream cheese frosting!
- Pat the shredded zucchini dry to get rid of any extra liquid if it’s been thawed from frozen or seems extra wet.
- Know that if your house is cold, the dough will take longer to rise, as opposed to a warmer house.
- If your rolls have been in the refrigerator overnight, let them sit out of the fridge while the oven is preheating.
- Want a semi-homemade hack? Skip making your own dough and use refrigerated pizza dough!
Yes you can! Prepare them the night before and let them sit in the fridge overnight!
Yes you can freeze them in an airtight container.
Yes, you should get rid of as much liquid as possible when dealing with the zucchini.
Zucchini Cinnamon Rolls
- 4 ½ to 5 cups (558-620g) all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup (67g) granulated sugar
- 2 packets Instant Yeast (see note)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cups (177ml) water
- ¾ cups (177ml) milk
- 6 tablespoons (84g) unsalted butter softened
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup (100g) brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter melted
- 1 cup shredded zucchini
- 4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter softened
- 4 tablespoons (113g) softened cream cheese
- 1 ¼ cups (141g) powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the rolls:
- Add 2 cups flour, sugar, dry yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Whisk to combine.
- Place water, milk and butter in a microwave-safe measuring cup. Heat, in 30 second increments, until the water reaches 120°-130°F (think hot bath water, use an instant read thermometer for best results). This will take approximately 1 1/2 minutes, depending on your microwave. Butter won’t totally melt.
- Add water mixture to dry ingredients with the egg. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times.
- Add 1 cup more flour, beat an additional 2 minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Mix in just enough remaining flour so the dough forms into a ball. The dough will be slightly sticky but not wet.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. You know it’s done when it forms a cohesive ball and springs back when lightly pressed with 2 fingers.
- Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the filling by stirring together the sugar and cinnamon and melting the butter.
- Roll dough into an approximately 11×17-inch rectangle using a rolling pin. Brush the butter all over the dough in a thin layer. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and then sprinkle with shredded zucchini.
- Beginning at the long side of the dough, roll up tightly. Slice into 12 equal pieces.
- Place rolls in a 9×13-inch baking pan that’s been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
- TO BAKE IMMEDIATELY:
- Cover rolls and let double in size, about 1 hour, then skip to baking directions below.
- TO MAKE OVERNIGHT CINNAMON ROLLS:
- Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place the rolls in the refrigerator overnight.
- In the morning, preheat oven to 200°F, place the rolls in the oven then immediately turn the oven off. Let the rolls sit in the warm oven (no peeking) for one hour to rise.
- After the hour, remove the rolls from the oven.
- TO BAKE:
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake cinnamon rolls for about 25-35 minutes or until golden brown and the center is cooked through. Cool 20 minutes before frosting.
- MAKE THE FROSTING:
- Beat butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until creamy using a hand mixer. Mix in powdered sugar and vanilla.
- No need to dry the zucchini, unless it seems extra wet or if it’s been thawed from frozen.
- Skip making your own dough and use crescent roll dough, bread dough, or pizza dough.
- You can make the frosting the day before as well, and cover and refrigerate it overnight. Just take it out to come to room temperature when you take the cinnamon rolls out of the refrigerator.
- Rolls will last on the counter for up to 3 days or you can freeze them for up to 3 months. You can also freeze them before baking (at the overnight step).
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Fill, bake, and frost cinnamon rolls as directed in the recipe above.
Last Updated on August 9, 2023