After deciding to bake and cook with seasonal produce this year, I was surprised to see carrots on the list for January. They are certainly not growing outside right now BUT they definitely keep for a while in the fridge, are relatively inexpensive, are at essentially every stand at my local market and can be easily baked with or cooked with!

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

I love carrots, and after attempting to make carrot cake flavoured everything…from cupcakes to pancakes to oatmeal to smoothies to quick bread…I thought “why not carrot cake cinnamon rolls“?!

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

It totally makes sense, right? I mean, the cream cheese frosting, the spices…definitely cinnamon roll territory.

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls
Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

So for these, I had a few questions on how they should be made. Like:

Should the grated carrots go right in the dough? Or should they go in with the sugar and spice part and get rolled up? And what about raisins? And pecans? In or out?

After several tries, this recipe was born. Pure cinnamon roll perfection with a carrot cake twist.

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

I decided to leave raisins and nuts out purely based on personal preference. I don’t like raisins a lot anyway, and although pecans are nice rolled up with the sugar and spice mixture, these are so delicious on their own that I really find they don’t need anything extra.

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

And the frosting? Pure, classic, cream cheese goodness! No nonsense.

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

For this entire recipe I went with 1 large grated carrot (about 2/3 cup), but honestly, this amount could be doubled or even halved. I found that the amount of carrot didn’t affect the dough at all! So, if you have two carrots and want to use them up you can go ahead! And if you have a million carrots? Well, use one and make a soup with the rest.

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

But like, you need to make these as soon as possible. They are AMAZING and my first recipe of the year!!! I’m so proud of these swirly beauties, if you can’t tell already. Hop on the train!

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls


Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Yield: 8 large cinnamon rolls


  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup (about 1 large) grated carrots*
  • For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1-2 tbsp melted butter, for greasing the baking pan
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/8 tsp Kosher salt


  1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the butter until it begins to melt. Add in milk and sugar and heat until just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute. Do not stir. Allow to sit in a warm place for about 5 minutes, or until foamy and frothy. If mixture doesn’t foam and froth, then toss the mixture and start again - this step is important! Whisk in the egg yolk and vanilla extract.
  2. In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Whisk until evenly combined. Make a well in the center and pour in the wet mixture. Knead with the dough hook, for about 4 to 5 minutes until smooth and elastic OR mix with a wooden spoon and then transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for about 5 to 6 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap (or a clean kitchen towel). Allow to rest in a warm spot (like in the oven with the light on) for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  3. After rising for at least an hour, add in the grated carrots and stir mixture together with a wooden spoon. Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (FYI: dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)
  4. To make the filling, in a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Punch the dough down and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out into a large rectangle that is about a 1/2-inch thick. Slather with the softened butter (Note: at this point you can pop the butter into the microwave to soften slightly for 15 seconds if it’s not spreading easily) in an even layer and sprinkle generously with the sugar and spice filling.** Roll the dough tightly into a log, lengthwise, pinching the seam to close it. Cut the log into 8 rolls and discard the pinched ends.
  5. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan (or casserole dish) with parchment paper, add evenly coat the bottom of the pan with some melted butter. Transfer rolls to the buttered pan, spacing them evenly apart. Cover lightly with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rest in a warm spot for 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  7. Bake the rolls for about 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly for about 15 minutes before frosting.
  8. To make the frosting, in a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the powered sugar and salt and continue to mix until incorporated.
  9. Lather the rolls with the frosting - you may end up with a bit left over at the end and can save this for something else.
  10. Enjoy!


* You can use a greater (or lesser) amount of carrot, if desired. Anything from 1/2 cup to 1 1/2 cups is fine.

** It’s optional, but a layer of toasted pecans tastes real good sprinkled on top of the sugar and spice mixture here.

Cinnamon rolls, in general, take a long time to prepare but you can do a lot of the prep work the day before if you’d like to have these quickly in the morning. There are two ways you can do this:

(1) The night before baking, make the dough, allow to rise for an hour and then place in the fridge. In the morning you can then roll the rolls, slice, allow to rise for a second hour and then bake (this is the option I prefer).

(2) The night before baking, make the dough, allow to rise for an hour, prepare rolls, and place in the fridge. In the morning you just allow the rolls to rest for an hour and then bake.

Wrap leftover rolls well in plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container. They’ll keep in the fridge for about 3 to 4 days. Right before eating, rewarm them for a few minutes in the oven or a few seconds in a microwave to warm through and make them soft once more.

Dough recipe adapted from The Candid Appetite

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24 Responses to Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Tori says:

    No way! These are amazing and I literally dreamed about carrot cake the night before last and have been craving it ever since. This would be the perfect solution!

  2. Sues says:

    Best idea ever!! Combining two glorious foods into one 🙂

  3. Any recipe that allows me to eat carrot cake for breakfast rates in A+ in my book. YES!!

  4. Sabrina says:

    These look delicious!

  5. Wow. Just wow! I can taste them through the screen and I’m loving it 😉 I need to make these soon.

  6. You have basically combined my two most favourite things carrot cake and cinnamon buns. Thank you so much for this,

  7. Carrot cake scream the new year to me- getting ready for spring and all 🙂 Love these cinnamon rolls! That frosting looks to die for. Pinning!

  8. Getting the consistency for this dough right to rolling must have been slightly tricky, but holy smoke they look perfect! With that lovely creamy icing generously spread across. Delicious! Thanks for the recipe Katrina 😀 x

  9. Oh my goodness, Katrina! These look AMAZING! Ahh, I’m literally dying right now.

  10. Erika says:

    Whoa.. How amazing these look. Carrot cake is one of my favorites so I KNOW I would be in love with these rolls.

  11. My bf’s been asking for Cinnamon Rolls 5ever and maybe I’m ready to attempt ’em cause my goodness do these look fabulous!!!
    PS I bought a produce calendar of Etsy and it’s been such a big help with remembering what produce to use each month!

    • katrina says:

      Whoa, a produce calendar sounds like the perfect print idea!! And YES, make those cinnamon rolls! I know you can do it!

  12. Ermmm, how come this isn’t a huge thing already!? Carrot cake flavours totally work with cinnamon roll flavours… and cream cheese frosting works with pretty much everything and anything 😛 wishing badly for one of these right now!

  13. I’m pretty much a cinnamon roll addict, so I’d be all over these! Always up to try new cinnamon roll variations 🙂

  14. Phil says:

    I think I’ve met my soul mate! Wanna make these with me some day Katrinia :). Lol

  15. Joanne says:

    So eating one of these is basically like eating vegetables for breakfast?! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  16. […] the favorite recipe that I made? Definitely my Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls. They are out of this world […]

  17. Hanoitiny says:

    Frankly, I don’t like carrot, but make that cake as your recipe, help me to feel carrot taste better. Thanks for sharing

  18. […] What do carrot cake and cinnamon buns have in common? That’s right, cinnamon! And their amazing taste, of course. So why not go ahead and combine the two? That’s exactly what Katrina over at Warm Vanilla Sugar thought and voilà: Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls! […]

  19. Rachel says:

    I feel like I need to add more flour? The dough is a bit wet???

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