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Soft & Fluffy Protein Cinnamon Rolls with 12g of Protein

This recipe took me many tries, but I’ve finally landed on a version that I am proud to bring you.

These protein cinnamon rolls are one of the most delicious ways to get some extra protein in for breakfast, and may just be one of my favorite healthy recipes of all time.

Frosted protein cinnamon roll

These protein cinnamon rolls are packed with 12g of protein each and have only 175 calories, but you’d never know it. They’re soft, buttery, and packed with delicious cinnamon flavor.

This recipe is kid-approved, and it’s a perfect recipe to make with your kids on a weekend or snowy day.

Plus, there is no yeast required, so you can whip up a batch in no time!

In my trials, I made sure that you’d be able to peel these protein cinnamon rolls, because what fun is a cinnamon roll if you can’t peel it all the way down to its gooey cinnamon core?

Cinnamon roll core

Needless to say, these protein cinnamon rolls deliver.

If you need some validation that these protein cinnamon rolls are actually as good as they look, the reviews I’ve been getting on Instagram have been nothing but positive:

Review of protein cinnamon rolls

 

How to Make Protein Cinnamon Rolls

Unlike other recipes of mine, like my Air Fryer Donut Holes, that require adding ingredients in a specific order, these protein cinnamon rolls are as simple as adding all your ingredients to a large bowl and mixing.

Here’s what you’ll need to make this simple cinnamon roll dough:

  • Unflavored or Vanilla Protein Powder
  • Self-Rising Flour (All-Purpose Flour + Baking Powder)
  • Sugar Substitute or Regular Sugar
  • Light Butter Spread
  • Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • Unsweetened Applesauce
  • Vanilla Extract

Cinnamon roll dough coming together

It’s worth noting that I use a protein powder that is a blend of whey & casein protein, and I highly recommend you do the same. You can use 100% whey protein, but whey protein tends to be stickier and leads to baked goods that are drier (check out my Protein Powder Substitution Guide to see the differences).

I highly recommend using PEScience brand protein powder– that is the brand I use for all my recipes, so if you want the same results, it’s best to stick with what works.

I’ve tested these high-protein cinnamon rolls with both unflavored and vanilla protein powder, and I can tell you that they both work out great. I prefer the unflavored version, but using vanilla still creates a balanced flavor and is not overly sweet.

Of course, you could use cinnamon or cinnamon roll protein powder if you have that- it would work great!

Once you have mixed up all the ingredients, you’ll add the dough to a generously floured surface.

Cinnamon roll dough on floured surface

I formed my dough on a sheet of parchment paper to make things easy, but it will work just fine on a clean countertop.

It’s important to use extra flour to help form the cinnamon roll dough. Many people choose to skip this step in an attempt to save extra calories, but I can assure you that additional flour is necessary to prevent this dough from becoming too sticky.

If you’re worried about the calories, at most you’ll end up using a serving of flour, which would come to about 10 extra calories per cinnamon bun.

Use a rolling pin to roll your dough out into a rectangle (don’t worry about it being a perfect rectangle). As you shape the dough, carefully flip it a few times while sprinkling additional flour over the top to prevent sticking.

We will need to roll this dough, so it’s very important that it doesn’t stick!

Rolled out cinnamon roll dough

The sheet of parchment paper I formed my dough on is 12×16″, so I estimate that my cinnamon roll dough is roughly 10×14″.

Soften your butter in the microwave to make it easily spreadable, then cover the entire cinnamon roll dough with the butter.

Mix the cinnamon and brown sugar in a small bowl, then sprinkle it over the butter to cover the entire thing. Use your hands to lightly pat the cinnamon sugar down to stick to the butter.

With the dough positioned so the short side is furthest away from you, carefully roll the cinnamon roll dough towards you (in the photo above, the photo was taken from where I was standing, and then I rolled the dough towards me just as you see it).

As you roll the dough, try to keep it tight to get as many rolls as possible.

Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the edges off of the log to square it off (you don’t have to do this, but it will lead to prettier cinnamon rolls). Next, score your dough to measure out 8 cinnamon rolls, then slice through to create your protein cinnamon rolls.

Note: I have tried other knives for this and have found that other types of knives tend to squish the cinnamon rolls too much. Slicing with a serrated knife has worked the best for me.

Place your cinnamon rolls in a round pan, leaving some space in between them to allow all the edges to fully cook. The rolls will expand into each other a bit, which is to be expected.

You can bake these protein cinnamon rolls on a baking sheet as well, but using a pan keeps everything nicely enclosed and allows the cinnamon rolls to bake into each other, which keeps them nice and soft inside.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

While the protein cinnamon rolls bake, I like to prep a very simple high-protein icing using vanilla protein powder, powdered sugar, Greek yogurt, and milk.

Protein icing for cinnamon rolls

I love making this icing because it’s a very easy (and delicious) way to add extra protein to these cinnamon rolls, but you can leave it out if you prefer.

You can also keep things simple by making a basic powdered sugar + milk icing, or go the traditional route and make cream cheese icing.

Once the cinnamon rolls have been baked for 20 minutes, they will have expanded and puffed up very nicely!

Dish of protein cinnamon rolls

Allow the warm cinnamon rolls to cool for about 10-15 minutes before adding your icing or removing the cinnamon rolls. If you were to try to remove the protein cinnamon rolls from the pan right away, they would be too delicate.

The protein icing is an easy (and delicious) way to add extra protein to these cinnamon rolls, but they are incredible on their own as well.

Without the icing, each cinnamon roll has only 155 calories and still 9 grams of protein, which is very much still a high-protein treat.

But if you want to bump up the protein, spread that icing over the top of the cinnamon rolls, and then dig in!

Protein cinnamon rolls with icing

I should note that I recommend separating the cinnamon rolls with a butter knife or spatula before adding the icing. Once I added the icing, I couldn’t quite tell where one cinnamon roll ended and another one started, so my first batch came out looking funky once cut up.

Enjoy these warm cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven, or save the leftovers in an airtight container and heat them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to soften them up.

Since these protein cinnamon rolls use Greek yogurt, they’ll only stay fresh for a few days at room temperature. If you want to save them for further down the road, keep the cinnamon rolls stored in the fridge or freezer instead.

Whether room temperature or frozen, the microwave will soften them up and make them just as gooey as when they were fresh out of the oven.

 

More recipes for cinnamon sugar lovers

There’s just something about cinnamon sugar that hits all the right spots. Maybe it’s nostalgia (thanks, Cinnamon Toast Crunch) or the sheer deliciousness, but I love cinnamon sugar.

Here are some other recipes worth checking out if you’re a cinnamon lover like me:

 

Dish of protein cinnamon rolls

Protein Cinnamon Rolls with 12g of Protein

Yield: 8 Cinnamon Rolls
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Cooling Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

These soft & fluffy cinnamon rolls are easy to make and are sure to be a crowd-pleaser! While they are packed with protein, these taste just like the real deal, and nobody would ever know that they are secretly healthy.

Ingredients

CInnamon Roll Dough

Cinnamon Filling

Protein Icing

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Add all of your cinnamon roll dough ingredients to a large bowl and mix until it comes together to form a dough.
  3. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on the counter and generously flour the surface. Remove your dough from the bowl, add it to your parchment paper, and sprinkle a little more flour on top.
    ------
    NOTE: If you don't add flour to your surface, the cinnamon roll dough will be very difficult to roll up. Don't be shy with the extra flour- at worst it will add 10 calories to each cinnamon roll, in case that is a concern, and it will make a world of difference.
    ------
  4. Roll out the dough into a 10x14 rectangle (roughly). I like to flip the dough a couple of times while sprinkling extra flour to make sure the dough is not sticking at all before rolling it up.
  5. Soften the butter for the filling in the microwave for a couple of seconds (it should be soft, not melted) then use a spoon or spatula to spread it over the dough. Mix up the cinnamon and brown sugar in a small bowl, then sprinkle that over the top. Lightly pat the cinnamon sugar down to stick to the butter.
  6. Position the dough so the short side of the rectangle is furthest away from you. Carefully roll the dough towards you, starting from the farthest short edge and working your way to the edge closest to you. This ensures the roll is tight and evenly shaped.
  7. Once you have your roll, use a sharp knife (I find a serrated knife works best) to square off the edges, then slice the roll into 8 cinnamon rolls.
  8. Place the cinnamon rolls in a round pan with some space in between each. They will expand into each other, which is to be expected, but we need to leave some room in between them to ensure even baking.
  9. Bake the protein cinnamon rolls at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.
  10. While the cinnamon rolls are baking, make a simple icing by mixing all of the protein icing ingredients in a bowl, then placing it in the fridge to slightly thicken until the cinnamon rolls are ready.
  11. Remove the baked cinnamon rolls from the oven and allow them to cool for 10-15 minutes. This will allow them to firm up inside and make it much easier to remove them from the pan.
  12. Use a knife or spatula to separate your cinnamon rolls, then either add your icing over the top of all the cinnamon rolls, or plate individually with icing.

Notes

  • Leftover cinnamon rolls can be stored at room temperature for a few days, but since Greek yogurt is involved, you will want to store them in the fridge or freezer for anything longer than 2-3 days. These cinnamon rolls soften up very nicely in the microwave.
  • The applesauce in the cinnamon roll dough helps keep the cinnamon rolls soft and cakey. You can leave it out if needed and use 75g of extra Greek yogurt instead, but the final result will be a bit denser (more like bagels).
  • These protein cinnamon rolls can be baked on a baking sheet instead of inside a cake pan, but using the cake pan method helps them retain their shape.
  • If you do not want to use protein powder, you can replace it with the same amount of flour and follow the recipe the same way. The cinnamon rolls won't be quite as sweet, but they'll still turn out great.
  • If you are gluten-free, I can't promise that a gluten-free flour like almond flour, coconut flour, or oat flour will work in this recipe, but a 1:1 gluten-free baking flour replacement should work.
  • Note that I do not count the sugar substitute in my nutritional facts because they contain zero calories, but if you are strict about counting carbs, be sure to calculate the nutrition on your own.
Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1 Cinnamon Roll
Amount Per Serving Calories 175Total Fat 5gCarbohydrates 20gProtein 12g

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Share The Love

Cassie

Saturday 13th of January 2024

Has any tried this with a gluten free flour? I know it’s hard to sub for baked goods.

Matt Rosenman

Tuesday 16th of January 2024

I've found that generally a 1:1 gluten-free flour works for Greek yogurt dough, but you lose some of that fluff. In this particular case you may find that the rolls are lacking texture since there's no yeast or anything involved

Mindy Pedersen

Sunday 15th of October 2023

I made these during meal prep for my dessert this week and they are GORGEOUS. I am not the biggest fan of the flavor of plain greek yogurt in sweet applications and I love cream cheese so I subbed out half of the greek yogurt for 1/3 less fat cream cheese and added just a touch more milk to the icing to make it more spreadable and it was DIVINE. I could have eaten it with a spoon.

Another absolute banger of a protein baking recipe, Matt! Thanks so much!

T

Tuesday 26th of September 2023

Loved the idea and followed the recipe to a T. Was so excited as everything worked out until it cooked. Has all the flavors but sadly it did not rise. It was hard. Any suggestions as to why it didn’t rise? Would like to give it another try. Thanks!

Matt

Monday 2nd of October 2023

Shoot, I am so sorry! The only thing I could think is that the baking powder is old and did not rise properly. If you followed everything else exactly, there's no reason why it shouldn't work as I've made these countless times! When something doesn't rise, baking powder tends to be the culprit.

Deniece

Monday 21st of August 2023

I don’t know why but I couldn’t get the dough to not stick to the wax paper. I added so much flour and it still didn’t firm up.

Mindy Pedersen

Sunday 15th of October 2023

@Deniece, did you use the PeScience protein powder? If not, I'll bet that's the issue. Protein powders all work SO differently in baked goods.

Evan

Wednesday 19th of July 2023

I tried these the other day and they were incredible! Even without the glaze. Thank you!

About Matt Rosenman

With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Cheatdaydesign.com. Matt’s philosophy is simple: no foods are off-limits, and a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be complicated or restrictive. As a former certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavioral Sciences, Matt brings well-rounded expertise to his blog. From revamping classic recipes with a nutritious twist to breaking down fast food menus, his goal is make healthy living less confusing for everyone. Featured in major publications and with a strong following on social media, Matt is committed to making “healthy” uncomplicated—no matter where you are in your health journey. Join Matt on his mission to simplify health without sacrificing flavor. Learn More

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