Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

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Easter breakfast never looked so good! Serve these homemade carrot cake cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting for your Easter brunch. It’s your favorite carrot cake dessert in a cinnamon bun. 

In 2020, we created a new cinnamon roll every month. And since in March we’re all dreaming of spring and Easter to come (along with warmer temperatures and sunshine), a cinnamon roll with carrots, warm spices and cream cheese icing was necessary.

I mean, wouldn’t you like these Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls on your plate at Easter brunch alongside a breakfast pie and a fruit salad?

a cinnamon roll pulling out of a pan

About this Carrot Cake Cinnamon Roll Recipe:

For this carrot cake cinnamon rolls recipe we tweaked our cinnabon copycat recipe. That is a classic and the perfect base for new cinnamon buns. Here’s what we changed:

  • Added shredded carrots and shredded coconut to the cinnamon roll dough. Many carrot cake recipes call for carrots, coconut, pineapple and/or nuts, so we wanted to bring those elements into the cinnamon roll.
  • Carrots add moisture, so I reduced the amount of milk to ¾ cup.
  • To keep the rolls soft, we upped the butter to ½ cup.
  • Carrot cake needs cinnamon! Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the dough
  • Added walnuts. Sprinkle walnuts over the cream cheese frosting, or crush them finely and add them to the cinnamon filling. 

Key Ingredients for Carrot Cake Rolls

  • Bread flour. For best results, use bread flour for a sturdy, chewy cinnamon roll. All-purpose flour works as well, but the rolls will be much softer.
  • 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 the fine side of a standing grater.
  • Instant yeast. Instant yeast is easy, but active dry yeast works in a pinch. Read our guide to baking with yeast.
  • Heavy cream. Our secret ingredient for the best homemade cinnamon rolls: Pour warmed heavy cream over the unbaked rolls. The cream will bake around the rolls keeping them soft and creating a delicious caramel sauce on the bottom of the rolls.
unbaked carrot cake rolls with heavy cream over the top

Tips for Making Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

  • 9×13″ baking dish or cake pan are standard for baking cinnamon rolls. You can also make the 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!
unbaked carrot cake cinnamon rolls in a pan
  • The temperature of the yeast, milk and eggs should not be over 115ºF. The temperature of the wet ingredients should be between 110-115ºF to activate the yeast and not kill it.
  • Don’t add too much flour to the dough. You want it tacky, but not so sticky that you can’t knead it.
  • 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.
  • 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.
carrot cake cinnamon rolls in a pan

Overnight Instructions

Want to get the messy work done the night before? Make the cinnamon rolls and get them to the point of the second rise (when they are rolled out, cut up and put in the pan). Cover and refrigerate until morning.

The next morning, pull them out of the refrigerator. They may have doubled in size in the fridge overnight. If they have, let them sit for 30 minutes to get the chill off, then bake.

If they did not rise in the fridge overnight, allow them to come fully to room temperature. Plan about at least an hour for this. Then pour on the cream and let them bake. They should pop right up and rise while baking.

Read our guide on how to freeze cinnamon roll dough.

closeup of a cinnamon roll with a bite out

For easy carrot cake cinnamon rolls, use a boxed carrot cake mix in our cake mix cinnamon roll recipe.

overhead view of carrot cake cinnamon rolls with frosting and walnuts
overhead view of carrot cake cinnamon rolls with frosting and walnuts

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

4.85 from 20 votes
Easter breakfast never looked so good! Serve these homemade carrot cake cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting for your Easter brunch.
Servings 12
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 27 minutes
Rise Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 57 minutes

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Ingredients
 

For the Dough:

  • 3/4 cup warm milk (about 115 degrees F**)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (I like Red Star Platinum Baking Yeast)
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup salted butter (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon salt 6 grams
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 3 grams
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 100 grams
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrot 200 grams
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened will work) 83 grams
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour (divided) 535-590 grams

For the Filling:

  • 3/4 cup salted 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 salted butter (softened)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Pour the warm milk (110-115ºF) in the bowl of your stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast overtop.
  • Add the eggs, melted butter, salt, cinnamon and sugar to the yeast mixture. Then add the carrots and coconut.
  • Add in 4 cups (save the other ½ cup and add only if you need it) of flour and mix using the paddle attachment 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 paddle and remove it. Attach the dough hook attachment. Beat the dough on medium speed, adding in up to ½ cup more flour if needed to form a dough. Knead for 5-7 minutes on low speed 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 ¼ 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 dough in the greased large bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel, plastic wrap or wax paper.
  • Set the bowl in a warm place and let the dough rise until nearly double. 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 small bowl, combine the soft butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, mixing until well combined. Set aside.
  • Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface 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 sugar filling over the whole dough rectangle.
  • Starting on the long edge, roll the dough up tightly jelly roll style. Cut the long roll into 12-15 slices using a serrated knife or dental floss and place in a greased 9×13-inch baking pan.* Cover the pan and allow the rolls to rise for 20 minutes while the oven preheats to 350ºF.
  • 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. After 20 minutes, pour the heavy cream over the top of the rolls, allowing it to soak down in and around the rolls.
  • Bake at 350ºF 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 baked rolls. Sprinkle with walnuts if desired.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Rewarm the cinnamon rolls in the microwave.

Notes

  • You can use all-purpose flour. The doughs will be softer with this type of flour. Bread flour makes them a little more chewy.
  • If you want this to mimic our favorite carrot cake recipe, add raisins to the filling. Sprinkle raisins over the cinnamon mixture, then roll and pinch the seams closed.
  • One packet of yeast is 2 ¼ teaspoons.
  • If you don’t have cream, use half and half, coffee creamer, evaporated milk, whole milk or coconut cream. Any of these will work. Even 2% milk will work, but we prefer a higher fat milk.
  • The calories shown are based on the recipe making 12 rolls, with 1 serving being 1 frosted roll. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**

Nutrition

Calories: 784kcal | Carbohydrates: 99g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 123mg | Sodium: 488mg | Potassium: 277mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 60g | Vitamin A: 3836IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 115mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Calories 784
Keyword carrot cake rolls, cinnamon rolls, easter, easy sweet rolls, spring
About JulieJulie Clark

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Peppa
2 years ago

5 stars
I made these Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls. The first batch was horrible because of several reasons, my yeast was to old and I rushed everything. Bought new yeast, started over, the second batch was beyond awesome. Going to make these again and again.

Chico
3 years ago

5 stars
These were perfect. I saw there was only one review saying they weren’t great so I just wanted to say my family loved these, though I will admit I am not a beginner baker so maybe they were right and this is an intermediate level recipe. I followed the recipe exactly, even when I thought it looked wrong, and they were so gooey and soft. The only change I did was add lemon to the icing. This is my second time trying cinnamon rolls but my first time with your recipe and this is definitely The One.

Connie
4 years ago

So I love the regular cinnamon bun recipe but not so much this. The dough was difficult to work with, wouldn’t rise, roll and couldn’t cut them. For somewhat beginner bakers like me it’s frustrating and alot of ingredients to waste. I will stick to the other one and leave carrot cake in carrot cake.