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Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls are far from the traditional cinnamon roll recipe. After making these light, fluffy, mouthwatering cinnamon rolls, you will begin to change your mind about tradition.
I wanted to play with another variation of cinnamon rolls that would work during the holidays to offer another option for sweet potatoes. I know I wouldn’t be upset if I had to make cinnamon rolls during the holidays.
It turns out I created a recipe that’s perfect for any occasion.
I was inspired by dreamsicle ice cream. That’s how I came up with the orange cream cheese icing. This cream cheese icing is excellent on many desserts, so keep that in mind when you’re looking for a new icing for that cupcakes or cakes.
Sweet potato cinnamon rolls are a perfect breakfast recipe, dessert, pot lucks, wedding shower recipe, or bridal baby shower recipe. Let’s face it, cinnamon rolls are perfect anytime, anywhere.
To make this recipe, you will need the following key ingredients to be successful with these cinnamon rolls:
Always use the freshest sweet potatoes possible to make the sweet potato puree.
Dry Active Yeast
Active dry yeast is a common form of commercial yeast. Yeast plays a significant part in cinnamon rolls. Always use a fresh pack or keep an open jar in the fridge.
Flour and yeast are a tag team that helps give the dough the correct height, flavor, and texture—all things needed to make cinnamon rolls. You can use gluten-free flour too.
Adding butter to the sweet potato cinnamon rolls dough creates an incredible buttery flavor throughout the roll, similar to brioche dough. Plus, the melted butter acts as glue for our cinnamon sugar filling.
Dark Brown Sugar
I love the deep molasses flavor of dark brown sugar and sweet potatoes. It was a no-brainer for these cinnamon rolls.
Cinnamon and sweet potato are flavor pals. The warm spice notes play well with the natural sweetness in sweet potatoes. Keep in mind all cinnamon are not created equal.
Ground ginger is another warm spice that flows in harmony with sweet potato’s natural sweetness.
Most people don’t like raisins in their cinnamon rolls, but these golden raisins provide a pop of tart-sweetness to balance the dish.
Cream cheese icing is the classic icing for cinnamon rolls.
The powdered sugar is going to give our cream cheese icing the right amount of thickness and sweetness.
How to Make Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
Making sweet potato cinnamon rolls does take time, but once you take that first bite. Here’s what you’ll need to make these amazing cinnamon rolls.
Make the dough: Preheat the oven to 170°F or warm; cut the oven off once hot. In a large mixing bowl mix, the yeast and warm water together set aside for 5 minutes. Add the sugar, kosher salt, butter, eggs, sweet potato, and vanilla extract, mix with on low with a paddle attachment for 30 seconds. Add 3 ½ cups of flour, mix for 30 seconds. Add remaining flour, mix on low for 30 seconds, then mix on medium speed for 3-4 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the sweet potato dough 20 times until the dough is smooth, form into a ball, and transfer to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and pop in a warm oven for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
Meanwhile, make the cinnamon filling in a bowl mix with brown sugar, cinnamon, and kosher salt.
After the dough has doubled in size, punch dough down on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to ¼ inch thickness and into a rectangle shape. Brush with melted butter and evenly spread the cinnamon mix over dough, then raisins. Roll the dough into a log shape. Cut the log in 1-inch slices, place on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and pop in the fridge for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400°F; bake rolls for 20 minutes, cover loosely with foil, and continue baking for 10 minutes, until golden brown.
While rolls bake, in a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and orange zest until smooth. Once rolls are finished baking, allow to cool for 10 minutes before pouring icing evenly over each roll. Enjoy warm.
Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls Tips & Tricks:
Here are some of my top tips and tricks to help you make this dish:
- If this is your first time making a homemade dough with yeast. When you make the dough, feel confident and trust the recipe.
- Proof your dough in the oven. Proofing gives you the perfect temperature in your home for your dough to double in size without the a/c or ceiling fans adjusting the temperature.
- You can use warm milk to mix your yeast with instead of warm water.
- Some ovens come with a proofing option on them. Use it.
- Any leftover candied yams or sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner will be perfect for these cinnamon rolls.
- Long strings on sweet potatoes equal an old sweet potato. Avoid at all costs.
- To make the sweet potato puree, you can use a potato masher, fork, potato ricer, or food processor.
- The skin (zest) of citrus has more flavor than the juice.
- Using sweet potatoes stops the form of gluten, and this gives these cinnamon rolls an incredible pillowy chewy texture.
- Dry active can be stored at room temperature for one year from the date it was produced. After that time, dry active keep only six months refrigerated or three months in the freezer.
- If you do not own a stand mixer, make the dough with a large spoon. Once the dough is too difficult to stir, add to the light flour surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth, form into a ball. If the dough’s too sticky, flour your hands as you knead the dough.
- Use your dough 24 hours after it’s been refrigerated.
- Once your sweet potato dough is ready for proofing, you can use plastic wrap or a towel to cover the dough.
- Proofing the cinnamon rolls the second time in the fridge increases the flavor these rolls have.
Frequently Asked Questions about Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about a sweet potato cinnamon roll:
You can boil, steam, microwave, or bake (roast) sweet potatoes. The best way to cook a sweet potato all depends on the end goal.
For this recipe, the best way is baking. Baking the sweet potato in the oven for 1 hour until soft will increase the depth of flavor in the sweet potatoes because baking will bring out the natural sugars from the heat.
Boiling and steaming will not add any flavor.
Microwaving the sweet potatoes is acceptable for eating but not ideal for sweet potato cinnamon rolls.
Baking the sweet potato in the oven will bring out the best flavor and texture from the sweet potato needed to make sweet potato cinnamon rolls.
Proofing the dough in the fridge is known as “retarding” this style of proofing helps improve the final results of your bread, rolls, or buns. Retarding the dough slows down the rise (yeast activity) and gives the bread more flavor, a better crust, and crumbs to your final product.
It’s best to use your dough 24 hours after it’s been refrigerated.
There’s no difference between a cinnamon roll and cinnamon buns. It’s just a name preference—however, a cinnamon roll and a sticky bun are different. Cinnamon rolls have vanilla or cream cheese icing, where sticky buns have nuts and a brown sugar glaze.
I proof my dough in a warm oven. I turn my oven on to warm (170 degrees); once hot, I cut it off before placing my dough in. This technique is a great way to proof the rolls in the winter or when it’s cold out.
Another technique is to place your dough on the top rack, fill a pan with boiling water on the bottom rack, and close the oven door. The residual heat will keep the oven warm. You can do the same thing in the microwave.
What does adding sweet potato do for the dough?
Potatoes are the secret ingredient to making bread soft. They stop the gluten from forming and helps aid in creating a light and fluffy roll. It enables the yeast to rise faster from the rich potassium in sweet potatoes. You can omit it and will notice the difference.
Can I freeze the sweet potato cinnamon rolls?
Absolutely! Place the cooled sweet potato cinnamon rolls in a freezer storage bag and then freeze for up to three months. Defrost overnight in your refrigerator, then let thaw in a warm place before you reheat them.
What is the difference between using bread flour vs. regular all-purpose flour?
Bread flour about 11%-13% protein, while regular all-purpose flour has about 9%-11% protein. The higher amount of protein in bread flour creates much gluten. The higher amount of gluten makes a chewier finished product. Kneading dough forms gluten that produces the characteristic of bread and rolls.
I used all-purpose flour and still had a great finished product.
What to serve sweet potato cinnamon rolls with?
A sweet potato cinnamon roll can stand on its own. However, here are some options to accompany these fabulous rolls.
Cold Glass of Milk
Can these rolls be made vegan?
Yes. You need to make only a few swaps to turn these into vegan sweet potato cinnamon rolls.
Swap the unsalted butter for plant-based butter.
Swap the cream cheese for plant-based cream cheese.
You have a choice for the eggs swap. You can use a flax egg or aquafaba.
Raw cane sugar is already vegan because there’s no bone char. So, if you cannot find vegan brown sugar, you can use the raw cane sugar in the filling.
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Can I make it in advance?
Freezer: Sweet Potato Dough: You can freeze the dough after the second proof. Keep in a freezer-safe storage bag in the freezer for 3 months. Thaw 24 hours before reheating.
Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls: You can keep the cinnamon rolls in a freezer-safe storage bag in the freezer for 3 months, thaw 24 hours before reheating. Then follow the instructions for baking the sweet potato cinnamon roll.
Fridge: Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls: You can keep the cinnamon rolls in an airtight container in the fridge for 7 days.
Reheat: Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls: Reheat the cinnamon rolls in a 300°F oven for 5-8 minutes.
Common One to One Substitutions:
I understand every ingredient doesn’t work for everybody. Here’s a list of swaps you can make to make these incredible sweet potato rolls fit your diet.
Cranberries = Raisins
Bread Flour, Gluten-Free = Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
Instant Yeast = Active Dry Yeast (if using instant yeast, rising times will speed up by 50%-75%)
Light Brown Sugar = Dark Brown Sugar
Granulated Sugar = Raw Cane Sugar
Shortening, Non-hydrogenated Coconut Oil = Room Temperature Butter (Rolls)
More Dessert Ideas:
- Fresh Fruit Tart
- Strawberry Whisky Cake
- Homemade Cinnamon Rolls with Mascarpone Icing
- German Chocolate Cake
- Skillet Strawberry Cobbler
- Peppermint Fudge Brownies
I hope your mouth was watering as you read this blog post. I hope you’re ready to try my sweet potato cinnamon rolls? If so, don’t forget to leave a comment and tag me on Instagram!
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Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Cream Cheese Icing
Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls:
- 1 package of active dry yeast
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- ½ cup raw cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter softened
- 2 large eggs slightly beaten
- 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes cooled
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for kneading
- 2 cups dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 1 cup golden raisins
Orange Cream Cheese Icing:
- 4 oz. cream cheese softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest 1 medium orange
- Make the dough: Preheat the oven to 170°F or warm; cut the oven off once hot. In a large mixing bowl mix, the yeast and warm water together set aside for 5 minutes. Add the sugar, kosher salt, butter, eggs, sweet potato, and vanilla extract, mix with on low with a paddle attachment for 30 seconds. Add 3 ½ cups of flour, mix for 30 seconds. Add remaining flour, mix on low for 30 seconds, then mix on medium speed for 3-4 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky.
- On a lightly floured surface, knead the sweet potato dough 20 times until the dough is smooth, form into a ball, and transfer to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and pop in a warm oven for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, make the cinnamon filling in a bowl mix with brown sugar, cinnamon, and kosher salt.
- After the dough has doubled in size, punch dough down on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to ¼ inch thickness and into a rectangle shape. Brush with melted butter and evenly spread the cinnamon mix over dough, then raisins. Roll the dough into a log shape. Cut the log in 1-inch slices, place on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and pop in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F; bake rolls for 20 minutes, cover loosely with foil, and continue baking for 10 minutes, until golden brown.
- While rolls bake, in a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and orange zest until smooth. Once rolls are finished baking, allow to cool for 10 minutes before pouring icing evenly over each roll. Enjoy warm.