Easter breakfast never looked so good! Serve these homemade carrot cake cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting for your holiday brunch.
It’s March which means we’re ready for a new cinnamon roll recipe! Since we’re all dreaming of spring and Easter to come (along with warmer temperatures and sunshine), a cinnamon roll with carrots was necessary.
What’s different about this cinnamon roll recipe?
For this recipe we tweaked our cinnabon copycat recipe. That recipe is a classic and the perfect base for new sweet rolls! Here’s what we changed:
- Added shredded carrots and shredded coconut. Many carrot cake recipes call for carrots, coconut, pineapple and/or nuts, so we wanted to bring in at least 3 of these into our sweet roll.
- Carrots add moisture, so I reduced the amount of milk to 3/4 cup.
- To keep the rolls soft, we upped the butter to 1/2 cup.
- Carrot cake needs cinnamon! Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the dough. You could even add nutmeg if you’d like, but we went with just cinnamon.
- Added walnuts. You can add walnuts over the cream cheese frosting if you’d like, or you can even crush them finely and add them to the cinnamon filling. Whichever your family prefers will work!
Tips for Grating Carrots
If you are making homemade carrot cake or these carrot cake cinnamon rolls, you’ll need to grate the carrots finely. To start, peel the carrots (or you can use baby carrots). The easiest way to grate the carrots is to throw them in a food processor and pulse a few times. You can also use a standing grater. If you choose this method, use the fine side of the grater.
Cinnamon Roll Recipe with Heavy Cream
Many of you found us because of our secret ingredient cinnamon rolls. The secret my girls hid for years. Aren’t you glad they decided to let our heavy cream trick out?
Here it is: Pour warmed heavy cream over the unbaked risen rolls. The cream will bake around the rolls keeping them soft and extremely fluffy. It’s so easy…you MUST try it. Just read the hundreds of reviews of families who love this recipe!
What pan is best for cinnamon rolls?
9×13 cake pans are standard for baking cinnamon rolls and this recipe does work in a 9×13 cake pan. However, they will be packed in and can take longer to bake, making the rolls browner on top. Lately we’ve been making our cinnamon rolls in a 10×15″ pan. This allows the rolls to have more room to expand and bake more evenly. Plus, you can make 15 rolls instead of just 12!
How do you know when cinnamon rolls are done?
It can be tricky to tell if cinnamon rolls are done or not. You want soft and gooey, but not necessarily unbaked. That’s a fine line.
Here’s how to do it: Pull up on the edge of a center roll. If it looks baked underneath, they are done. If it looks doughy, leave them in for longer.
**Pro Tip: If they look like they are getting too browned, place a piece of foil over the top of the pan for the remainder of the time.**
We hope you love these breakfast rolls. If you had to create a new flavor, what would it be?
Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls
For the Dough:
- 3/4 cup warm milk (about 115 degrees F**)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast (I like Red Star Platinum Baking Yeast)
- 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 1/2 cup butter (melted)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrot
- 3/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened will work)
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
For the Filling:
- 3/4 cup butter (almost melted)
- 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (for pouring over the risen rolls)
For the Frosting:
- 6 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- 1/3 cup butter (softened)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Pour the warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast overtop.
- Add the eggs, butter, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Then add the carrots and coconut.
- Add in 4 cups (save the other 1/2 cup and add only if you need it) of flour and mix using the beater blade just until the ingredients are barely combined. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes so the flour has time to soak up the liquids.
- Scrape the dough off the beater blade and remove it. Attach the dough hook.
- Beat the dough on medium speed, adding in up to 1/2 cup more flour if needed to form a dough. Knead for 5-7 minutes or until the dough is elastic and smooth. **The dough should be tacky and will still be sticking to the sides of the bowl. That’s ok! Don’t be tempted to add more flour at this point. We generally add about 4 1/2 cups, but start with 4 cups.
- Spray a large bowl with cooking spray.
- Use a rubber spatula to remove the dough from the mixer bowl and place it in the greased large bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a towel or wax paper.
- Set the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to rise until double. I like to turn on the oven to the lowest setting for 1-2 minutes. Then turn off the oven and place the dough to rise in there. It normally takes about 30 minutes for the dough to rise. Do not allow the dough to rise too much or your cinnamon rolls will be airy.
- While the dough is rising, prepare the cinnamon filling. In a medium bowl, combine the soft butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, mixing until well combined. Set aside.
- Sprinkle a pastry mat generously with flour. Turn out the dough onto the pastry mat and sprinkle the top of the dough with additional flour.
- Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough to about a 24×15″ rectangle. (the size of the rectangle can vary…it does not have to be exact!)
- Use a rubber spatula to smooth the cinnamon filling over the whole dough rectangle.
- Starting on the long end, roll the dough up tightly jelly roll style.
- Cut into 12 slices and place in a greased 9×13 baking pan.*
- Cover the pan and allow the rolls to rise for 20 minutes or until nearly double.
- Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
- Warm the heavy cream until the chill is off. Don’t make it hot…you just don’t want it cold. It should be warm to the touch.
- Once the rolls have risen, pour the heavy cream over the top of the rolls, allowing it to soak down in and around the rolls.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 27-30 minutes. Check the roll after about 15 minutes of baking. If they look like they are getting too browned, place a piece of foil over the top of the pan for the remainder of the time. **Note…the time will vary based on how big the rolls are, what type of pan, how close the rolls are packed, etc. To see if they are done, lightly pull up on the edge of the cinnamon roll in the center. If it looks cooked and not too doughy, it is done.**
- While the rolls are cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting.
- In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and butter using a hand mixer. Blend well.
- Add in the vanilla and the powdered sugar. Beat until combined.
- Spread the frosting over the cooled rolls. Sprinkle with walnuts if desired.
- Store in an airtight container.