Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

You can't go wrong when it comes to making cinnamon rolls, and each one is magically delicious in its own special way. This particular recipe combines carrot cake with cinnamon rolls, and the combination is truly a match made in heaven. The dough features a carrot cake-like filling, and the recipe also includes instructions for how to make the frosting — because what cinnamon roll is complete without frosting?

Recipe developer Autumn LeAnn came up with this fun and easy recipe that checks all the boxes for a sweet breakfast treat. "I love that even though there are quite a few steps in this recipe, it's a fairly simple recipe that is easy to pull together," LeAnn shares. "I wanted to create a recipe that would be a fun addition to Easter brunch — thus the carrot cake cinnamon roll was born!" Enjoy this recipe on Easter Sunday or on any old Sunday — it's sure to be a hit.

Gather the ingredients for carrot cake cinnamon rolls

For this recipe, you will need milk, instant yeast, an egg, unsalted butter, granulated sugar, salt, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, finely chopped carrots, crushed pineapple, pecan pieces, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, cream cheese, and powdered sugar.

Combine the milk, yeast, butter, and salt

Grab the bowl from your stand mixer and be sure that it has a hook attachment. Pour in the warm milk first, and remember that it should be warm, not hot. Then, add the instant yeast, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and salt.

Turn your mixer to a lower speed and add the flour a little bit at a time, until it's all mixed in. Continue mixing the ingredients together until they transform into a dough. "If you don't have a stand mixer, this recipe can be made by hand! It's just a little easier with a mixer," LeAnn notes.

Let the dough rise

Spray a clean bowl with nonstick spray and then place the dough inside. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until it doubles in size. As long as you keep the dough at room temperature, it should take about an hour or so to rise. Alternatively, you can pop the dough in the oven if it has a "bread proof setting." Simply turn it to 100 F, and it should only take about 30 minutes.

Mix the filling

While you wait for the dough to proof, you can make the filling. "Proofing is what happens when the yeast starts to ferment and lets off a small amount of gas, which causes a dough to rise — changing the texture and volume of the baked good," LeAnn explains. 

Take out a mixing bowl and add 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, ¼ cup of brown sugar, chopped carrots, crushed pineapple, pecan pieces, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Beat these ingredients until they're combined and fluffy, then set the mix to the side until you're ready to use it again. "Some people put additional ingredients in their carrot cakes, and you can definitely do that with the filling here," LeAnn says. "Feel free to switch up the spices, add chopped raisins, etc."

Roll the dough and add filling

After the dough has doubled in size, you can get to rolling. Sprinkle some flour on a flat, clean surface and roll out the dough into a large rectangle on your counter. After you've done that, add the carrot cake filling and spread it into an even layer on the dough. Roll the dough into a log, like you would with cinnamon rolls. You can also push the ends in a bit to ensure each cinnamon roll is about the same size.

Cut and bake the cinnamon rolls

Cut the dough into 12 even slices and place them into a greased 13x9-inch baking dish. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and let it proof for another 30 to 60 minutes. Again, it will be 60 minutes at room temperature or 30 if you use the setting on your oven.

When your timer dings, brush the rolls with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Pop the rolls into the oven at 350 F and bake for 24 minutes. At the 12 minute mark, rotate the pan to ensure the rolls cook evenly.

Cool the rolls and make the frosting

Once the rolls finish baking, allow them to cool for at least 10 to 15 minutes. In the meantime, you can make the frosting. In another clean bowl, add 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, the cream cheese, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Beat everything together until smooth. Voila, you have the sweet frosting.

Frost the cinnamon rolls and enjoy

Once the rolls have cooled, spread the frosting on top serve to your guests. You can also garnish the rolls with finely chopped carrots if you wish. These would be great on their own, but LeAnn provides a few additional serving suggestions. "Personally I enjoy these carrot cake cinnamon rolls with a good cup of coffee or a glass of milk," she shares. 

"Store any extra rolls in a covered container in the refrigerator. You can reheat them in the microwave for 15-20 seconds," LeAnn notes. "Leftovers are best enjoyed within 2-3 days." Perfect for an Easter treat, we hope you enjoy these decadent carrot cake cinnamon rolls!

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
5 from 14 ratings
These carrot cake cinnamon rolls are perfect for an Easter Sunday brunch.
Prep Time
25
minutes
Cook Time
24
minutes
Servings
12
cinnamon rolls
carrot cake cinnamon roll on plate
Total time: 49 minutes
Ingredients
  • For the cinnamon rolls
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • For the carrot cake filling
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons carrots, finely chopped + extra as garnish
  • 2 tablespoons crushed pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons pecan pieces
  • 1 ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 ⅓ tablespoon vanilla extract, divided
  • For the frosting
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
Directions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine the warm milk, yeast, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, sugar, and salt.
  2. With the mixer running at low speed, add the flour a little at a time until it's all mixed in. Continue mixing until it forms a cohesive dough.
  3. Spray another bowl with nonstick spray and place the dough inside, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size. At room temperature, this should take approximately 1 hour, or if your oven has a "bread proof setting" this will take about 30 minutes at 100 F.
  4. While the dough proofs, make the carrot cake-inspired filling. Combine 6 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter, ¼ cup of brown sugar, chopped carrots, crushed pineapple, pecan pieces, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Beat until combined and fluffy, then set aside until ready to use.
  5. Once the dough has doubled in size, roll it out into a large, long rectangle on your counter (make sure to generously sprinkle the counter with flour first so your dough doesn't stick).
  6. Gently spread the filling evenly on the dough, then roll the dough up into a log. At this point, you can push in the ends a bit to make sure each cinnamon roll will be about the same size.
  7. Cut the dough into 12 even slices, and place the slices into a greased 13x9-inch baking dish.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and let proof for another 30 to 60 minutes (30 minutes at 100 F or 60 minutes at room temperature).
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  10. Once finished proofing, brush the rolls with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and bake for 24 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
  11. After they've finished baking, let the rolls cool for 10 to 15 minutes before frosting.
  12. While the carrot cake cinnamon rolls are cooling down, mix together 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, the cream cheese, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, and 1 cup of powdered sugar together and beat until smooth.
  13. When the rolls have cooled a bit, spread the frosting on them and optionally garnish with extra chopped carrot.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 371
Total Fat 18.9 g
Saturated Fat 11.0 g
Trans Fat 0.5 g
Cholesterol 61.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 44.4 g
Dietary Fiber 1.8 g
Total Sugars 19.0 g
Sodium 150.9 mg
Protein 5.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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