Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls


Our Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls are the closest you'll get to eating cake for breakfast. Don't forget a slathering of cream cheese frosting before serving.

Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 40 mins
1 dozen

This might be the closest you can get to having cake for breakfast without crossing a line. While we happily endorse a slice of carrot cake in the morning, it's more fun to add cinnamon rolls packed with the spices and ingredients for your favorite carrot cake to the menu. The dough for these cinnamon rolls is a standard and reliable sweet roll recipe, but with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and orange zest rubbed into the flour to create an aromatic and flavorful dough surrounding the sweet sticky filling. Mix instant yeast, sugar, and warm milk together to allow the yeast to activate before the dry ingredients are added. Only kneaded for a few minutes, the dough becomes smooth and doubles in size over the course of an hour. The filling for these cinnamon rolls is sweetened with brown sugar and coconut while shredded carrot adds moisture, color, and flavor. Finely chopped pecans or walnuts add a toasted nutty taste and heartier texture, and cinnamon mingles with all of these ingredients to make for a syrupy cinnamon roll filling that is easy to spread across the dough before it's rolled.Once rolled, cut the log of dough into 12 rolls that are evenly spaced in a baking dish. These rolls expand to fill the pan and the moisture in the carrot seeps out of the rolls and caramelizes with the sugar at the bottom of the pan. That makes them extra sticky and delicious. Of course these Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls are best with a slathering of cream cheese frosting. 

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls
Micah A. Leal



  • 1 (1/4-oz.) package instant yeast*

  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed to between 105-115°F

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/8 teaspoons cloves

  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest (from 1 orange)


  • 3/4 cup shredded carrot (from 1 large carrot)

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans or walnuts

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

  • 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup powdered sugar


  1. Combine yeast, warm milk, and sugar. Allow to sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add oil, flour, spices, and orange zest. Knead until dough becomes smooth and homogeneous, about 3 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover in plastic wrap; allow to rise until doubled in size, about one hour.

  2. While dough is rising, combine filling ingredients and set aside.

  3. Preheat oven to 325°F and lightly grease a metal 9- x- 13-inch baking dish. Press dough in center of dough to expel air. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and roll into a 22- x- 14-inch rectangle. Evenly spread filling across rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch margin around the rectangle.

  4. Working from the top of the rectangle, tightly roll the dough from one long side to the other, creating a tight spiraled log. Generously flour roll and slice log into 12 equal segments. Place segments swirl-side-up in prepared baking dish in four rows of 3, evenly spacing the rolls. Cover in plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove plastic wrap and bake until browned, about 25 minutes. Enjoy warm with Cream Cheese Frosting.

  5. Make Frosting: On low, cream together Cream Cheese Frosting ingredients until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until satiny, about 2 minutes.

Chef's Notes

Use instant yeast and not active dry yeast for this recipe. Instant yeast is sometimes called "Rapid Rise" yeast.

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