How to Make Irresistible Whole Wheat Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Fluffy, flavorful, and just sweet enough, these whole wheat sourdough cinnamon rolls will become your go-to recipe! They’ll let you enjoy a sweet breakfast treat without the usual sugar crash, too.

There’s something warm and comforting about the tantalizing aroma of freshly baked cinnamon rolls, dripping with icing.

Cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar all swirl in the air with hints of buttery goodness.


But when you care about your health, you can’t help but think of all the things that make cinnamon rolls seem so forbidden: lots of white flour, heaps of white sugar, and maybe even a dash of processed fats to finish it off.

Not so blissful.

But I have good news. You don’t have to swear off cinnamon rolls or only enjoy them when you’re willing to go on a little guilt trip after. 

You can actually make incredibly delicious whole wheat sourdough cinnamon rolls that will rival any overly sweet version from bakeries, pastry tubes, or Grandma’s house. Sorry, Grandma.

These homemade cinnamon rolls will give you the light, fluffy texture and sweet cinnamon flavor you want in a cinnamon roll, but nicely balanced with healthy whole wheat and leavened with sourdough. 

Best of all? They’re relatively simple to make. Follow my step-by-step instructions and photos and you’ll be able to enjoy a batch in no time.

You’ll never want another cinnamon roll after you try whole wheat sourdough cinnamon rolls. Enjoy!

How to Make Healthier Cinnamon Rolls

To be sure, cinnamon rolls are a sweet treat. Period. They’re never going to compete with kale and they’ll always to one of those “sometimes” foods you indulge in once in a while.

But there are a few simple ways to take a sugary cinnamon roll recipe and make it a little more reasonable. Not exactly healthy, per se, but healthier. And this recipe does just that.

sourdough cinnamon roll served and cut with fork
  • You’ll use whole wheat flour instead of white flour, giving your body some protein, nutrients, and fiber to prevent the quick spike in blood sugar you typically experience from white flour.
  • The dough is very lightly sweetened, as is the frosting. You’ll let the filling do the sweet work so you can enjoy these without your teeth hurting.
  • You’ll find extra cinnamon in both the dough and the filling. Cinnamon helps our body regulate blood sugar, making it the perfect addition to any sweet treat. It also lends more flavor and a sweet taste, without extra sugar.
  • Egg, milk, and butter give these rolls additional protein and fat. That helps your body process the sugar more slowly and evenly.
  • Sourdough, with all its wonderful benefits, leavens the dough instead of baker’s yeast. This makes the dough more digestible and all the nutrients in wheat more bioavailable.

And in case you’re worried, no, sourdough won’t make your cinnamon rolls taste too sour. Instead, it’ll leave you with a flavorful dough that has a delightful, slight tang and incredible texture.

Disclosure: Affiliate links are included. If you purchase through these links, your cost is the same while I can earn a commission.

how to make irresistible whole wheat sourdough cinnamon rolls

Whole Wheat Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

For the best results, start your whole wheat sourdough cinnamon rolls the evening before you want to serve them. That gives your dough plenty of time to rise and ferment with the sourdough starter so you end up with light, fluffy cinnamon rolls.

I’ve got detailed instructions and photos for you next, including tips on how I use the incredible Brod and Taylor Bread Proofer from Pleasant Hill Grain to get perfect results every time. But if you’re a sourdough baking pro, you can scroll all the way down for a printable recipe card.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 2 1/2-3 cups whole wheat flour (I use my WonderMill to freshly grind mine)
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar (like this one, though any will work)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (Real Salt is my favorite)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup fed, active sourdough starter
  • 3/4 cup milk (buttermilk or sour milk will work, too)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

For the Filling:

  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

For the Frosting:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey
sourdough whole wheat cinnamon roll on plate

Detailed Instructions for Whole Wheat Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Start your cinnamon roll dough at least 12 hours before you plan to serve the rolls. That means if you’re making them for the morning, start them the evening before.

In a stand mixer with the dough hook or attachment, combine 2 cups of the flour with the other ingredients until smooth. Add additional flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until you have a smooth, soft dough that clings to the dough hook. You can also mix the dough by hand. 

Cover the dough and allow to rise overnight (or 8-10 hours), either in the mixing bowl or a different bowl.

cinnamon roll dough before rising (1)
cinnamon roll dough after rising (1)

In the morning, punch down the dough. If possible, chill it in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours so it will roll out easily. If time is limited, skip chilling and proceed to rolling it out.

On a clean surface, gently roll out the dough with a rolling pin, only using flour if necessary to prevent sticking. Continue rolling and stretching to form a rectangle around 12 inches long and 10 inches wide.

In a small bowl, mix together the filling ingredients with a fork until thoroughly combined. Spread the filling evenly over the rolled dough.

rolled out cinnamon roll dough with filling

Starting on one long side, roll the dough up jellyroll style. Once it’s completely rolled up, gently pinch the long edge of the dough to seal it.

Use a piece of unflavored floss or thread to slice through the roll and create 6-8 cinnamon rolls. Slide the floss or thread under the roll, wrap it around the roll and cross, then pull the ends to slice through the roll.

slicing cinnamon rolls with thread

Place the cinnamon rolls in a well-buttered 9-inch pie pan to rise one final time before baking.

At this point, I put the cinnamon rolls in my bread proofer to get the perfect rise before they go in the oven. This is an optional tool, but it gives incredible results! It keeps the dough at just the right temperature and humidity for rising well and folds up completely for easy storage. 

sliced cinnamon rolls in Brod and Taylor Bread Proofer

Since the proofer allows for the warm, humid environment dough needs for its final rise, I don’t have to cover the cinnamon rolls. If you let your cinnamon rolls rise on the counter for the final rise, be sure to cover them with a warm, damp cloth so they don’t dry out before baking.

You can find the Brod and Taylor Bread Proofer at Pleasant Hill Grain. They carry an incredible collection of high-quality tools for your whole foods kitchen that are meant to last a lifetime.

Once the cinnamon rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 350*F/190*C, then bake for 30-35 minutes (until the rolls are lightly browned and the filling starts to bubble).

Remove the cinnamon rolls from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack in the pan while you mix up the frosting.

baked cinnamon rolls before frosting

For the frosting, beat together the cream cheese, vanilla extract, and honey with a fork in a small bowl until smooth and thoroughly combined. Spoon around 1 tablespoon of the frosting over each cinnamon roll, then spread evenly over the rolls.

Serve the cinnamon rolls warm and enjoy!

finished sourdough cinnamon rolls

This recipe makes the perfect-sized batch for my family, allowing us to all enjoy one delectable cinnamon roll and not leaving any left over to tempt us.

But there are times when you need a giant batch of cinnamon rolls. Maybe it’s Christmas. Maybe you’re serving them for a party. Or maybe you just know that one cinnamon roll is never enough.

Whatever the case may be, you can double this recipe and use a 9×13″ pan for baking.

Sourdough Cinnamon Roll Recipe Notes

Along with doubling the recipe, there are a few other things you can do to tweak the recipe.

  • You can add 1/4 cup of finely chopped pecans, walnuts, or another favorite nut to the cinnamon roll filling for nutty sourdough cinnamon rolls.
  • For additional spice, try adding pinches of ground nutmeg, ginger, clove, allspice, and/or cardamom to your cinnamon roll filling. I love combining cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and ginger!
  • To naturally flavor your frosting, you can add one drop of organic orange or lemon essential oil to the frosting. This is a safe way to ingest essential oils because the dose is incredibly small and it’s thoroughly diluted in the fat from the cream cheese.

We enjoy these cinnamon rolls every year on Christmas morning. It’s one of our favorite seasonal traditions.

And now with this recipe at your fingertips, you can enjoy them with your family, too, knowing you’re giving them something a little better for their bodies. 

Cinnamon rolls need never be forbidden again!

Printable Recipe Card: Whole Wheat Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

sourdough whole wheat cinnamon roll on plate

Irresistible Whole Wheat Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 6-8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 50 minutes

These sourdough cinnamon rolls will make a delicious breakfast treat that's full of flavor but lighter on sugar.


  • 1/2 cup fed, active sourdough starter
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, sour milk, or buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 1/2-3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Filling Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 1/2 cup gently packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Frosting Ingredients

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, add sourdough starter, milk, egg, melted butter, 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon to the bowl. Stir on the low setting to form a wet dough.
  2. Gradually add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough clings to the dough hook and is very smooth.
  3. Cover the dough either in the mixer bowl or another bowl to rise overnight, or for 8-12 hours. Punch down the dough and if possible, chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to make it easier to roll out.
  4. Roll out and gently stretch the dough on a clean surface into a rectangle about 12 inches long and 10 inches wide. Use flour while rolling out only if needed.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together the filling ingredients until thoroughly combined. Spread the filling evenly over the rolled dough.
  6. Roll the dough together, starting on a long side, then gently pinch the outside edge to seal. Use a long thread or piece of unflavored floss to cut the cinnamon rolls into pieces approximately 2 inches long by sliding the thread under the roll, crossing the ends over the roll, and pulling them to cut through.
  7. Generously butter a round 9" pie pan, then arrange the cinnamon rolls in the pan. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise for 3 hours, or until puffy. For faster results, place the cinnamon rolls in a bread proofer (uncovered) or an oven that was turned on for 1 minute and then turned off (covered with a damp cloth).
  8. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Once hot, bake the cinnamon rolls for 30-35 minutes until they're lightly browned and the filling bubbles. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  9. While the cinnamon rolls bake, mix together the cream cheese, honey, and vanilla extract in a small bowl with a hand mixer or fork until smooth. Spread evenly over the baked cinnamon rolls after they've cooled slightly.


For additional flavor options, try one or two of the following:

  • Add 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, cardamom, and/or nutmeg to the filling for additional flavor.
  • Add 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans to the filling for cinnamon nut rolls.
  • Add 1 drop of sweet orange or lemon essential oil to the frosting ingredients.
  • Use maple syrup in place of honey for the frosting.

This recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9x13" dish.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 666Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 344mgCarbohydrates: 112gFiber: 13gSugar: 23gProtein: 20g

What’s your favorite part of a good cinnamon roll?

Pleasant Hill Grain provided me with a Brod and Taylor Bread Proofer and store credit for this post. The opinions, information, and recipe in the post are strictly mine. If you’re in the market for quality kitchen appliances, bakeware, and tools, I highly recommend this small online business.

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    1. Kristen ~did you mill soft white wheat berries for the flour? The rolls just look so dark. Thanks for the recipe! I searched far and wide for “sourdough cinnamon rolls using fresh milled flour” for Christmas morning! 🙂

      1. Hi Jenny! I’ve made these with soft white wheat as well as spelt. I usually skip hard red wheat for cinnamon rolls since it has a stronger flavor. The dough looks a bit darker from the cinnamon. I also use unrefined sugar like Sucanat or Rapadura, so that lends a darker color, too. I hope that helps! Happy baking!

      1. Hi Candi. You can certainly still use your dough. The cinnamon rolls might turn out a little more dense, but it’s okay. The high heat from baking will make the dough rise up more than you think it would. I hope you enjoy them, even if they aren’t exactly perfect. 🙂