Fat Free, Whole Wheat Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls

February 8, 2013

*Photos updated 1/20/2014*

Snow day! Here in Michigan, there is easily a foot of snow in my driveway this morning! Crazy.  I shoveled my way out to the road, only to find that the snow is so deep, even if I shoveled out my driveway, the bottom of my car can’t physically clear the height of snow in the road.   So I’m stuck here, at least until a plow comes through.

Fat Free, Whole Wheat Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls

So. Who likes cinnamon rolls?  Everyone?  Good.  Do you like apple pie?  Even better.  I personally don’t even like apple pie and I’m pretty sure these are the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever eaten, perfect for a super-snowy day like today.  Add to that, un-iced they’re only 100 calories EACH, and I’m pretty much in heaven!

Fat Free, Whole Wheat Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls

I’ve tried probably 10 whole wheat, low fat/no fat cinnamon roll recipes and none of them were worth making twice– most weren’t even worth even making the first time.  These cinnamon rolls are ooey gooey and come together pretty easily compared to other yeast recipes.  You sacrifice nothing by opting for whole wheat and leaving our the butter and oil, everything about these cinnamon rolls is a win.

Fat Free, Whole Wheat Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls

Let me explain the weird way I roll out my cinnamon rolls.  I like to use a cookie sheet with raise edges spritzed with nonstick spray or lightly coated in flour.  Use a rolling pin (or side of a round glass, smooth water bottle, etc) and flatten the dough so it meets the long edges of the pan.  When rolling the dough up, roll from the short end of the pan to the other short end.  By using the raised edges as a guide, you’ll be able to get filling all the way to the edges and will guarantee an evenly rolled cinnamon roll– no more ugly edges to cut off and waste.  I also like to take my rolling pin and press down any filling gently to help keeping the filling in the rolls.

If you want a thicker, fluffier “roll” portion, use all of the dough instead of saving half for later.  This wont impact rise time, but you’ll want to bake for 20 – 30 minutes.  Nutritional estimate, below, is for the recipe as written.

Fat Free, Whole Wheat Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 9

  • Dough:
  • 1 ½ cups warm water (not hot to the touch)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 4 tsp active dry yeast, typically 2 packages
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar (honey or agave okay, no “sugar free” substitutions)
  • 3 c + 3 tbsp white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Filling:
  • ⅓ c almond milk
  • ½ tsp butter flavor (optional)
  • 2 medium apples (I used empire, fuji or another sweet/tart apple would work great)
  • ⅓ c brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • ½ tbsp cinnamon

  1. Mix warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit 5 minutes until foamy (if it doesn’t get foamy, your yeast was dead or your water was too hot)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour and salt.
  3. Using a stand mixer with a dough hook (or a lot of elbow grease!) slowly add the yeast mixture to the flour and stir until it forms a ball. Add additional 3 tbsp water one tablespoon at a time, if necessary, to incorporate any flour remaining in the bottom of the bowl. You may need to knead by hand.
  4. Using the hook on a low setting or kneading by hand, knead for 5 minutes. I typically split the time between hand and hook.
  5. Cut the dough in half. Wrap one half in plastic and place in either the refrigerator or freezer– use this for cinnamon rolls later or bake as bread (following the same bake instructions as below, for 15 minutes)
  6. Flatten the remaining dough slightly and cover. Allow to rise for 1 hour.
  7. Meanwhile, peel and finely dice apples. Mix with brown sugar and cinnamon
  8. After rising, punch down dough and roll out into an approximately 11” square.
  9. Mix almond milk and ½ tsp butter flavor (optional). Using a pastry brush, paint a layer onto the dough. You want the dough to appear wet but not soaking. This milk layer will help keep the filling inside your cinnamon rolls.
  10. Spread the apple filling over the dough, leaving a 1” gap on one side. If your filling as excess liquid, try not to get too much on the dough.
  11. Roll tightly. Slice into 9 pieces.
  12. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes more. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°. Fill a small dish with water and place on the bottom rack of the oven for the last ten minutes of rise time – leave this in the oven during baking.
  13. Bake for about 18 – 25 minutes. I spritz mine with nonstick spray during the last 5-10 minutes to encourage browning.
  14. Let cinnamon rolls cool for 5-10 minutes, top with icing and serve.

Nutrition Information
Calories: 100 Fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 23g Fiber: 2g Protein: 3g

Cinnamon Roll Icing (Optional)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: Up to 24

  • ¼ c almond milk
  • ½ tsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp butter flavor (optional)
  • ¾ – 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c powdered sugar

  1. Combine all icing ingredients except sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Once heated, slowly stir in sugar until dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and place in fridge/freezer to cool and thicken until use

Note: If you make up the apple filling and let sit, it will produce a lot of liquid — I sometimes use this liquid + powdered sugar to make the icing and skip the ingredients here. The amount of powdered sugar will depend on how juicy your apples are, but you can add milk if you need more.

Nutrition Information
Calories: 40 Fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 10g Fiber: 0g Protein: 0g


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    Comfort Food Makeovers - Clever Spoon Aug 21, 2014

    […] Still ooey. Still gooey. Still sure to put a smile on your face, just a little healthier. Whole wheat flour instead of white flour and fat-free. Enjoy! See recipe. […]

    inmynuddypants Feb 14, 2014

    I’m confused. Doesn’t wheat flour have fat in it?

    That being said, fat doesn’t remotely bother me, and these look really tasty!

      Kelly Feb 14, 2014

      Yes, wheat flour does have some amount of fat. When I made these, I was expecting a good 1 – 2 g, however, when you count it out, there’s not enough wheat to add a substantial amount of fat. These rolls actually clock in around 0.3ish g of fat, which is fat free by US nutritional standards.

    Christie - Food Done Light Jan 21, 2014

    These look totally addicting. I love the glaze on top too. I bet my little one would enjoy these. She loves any type of cinnamon roll.

    Sara {Home is Where the Cookies Are} Feb 16, 2013

    What?! only 140 calories per roll?? I. must. try.
    I LOVE cinnamon rolls on Saturday morning, but I stay away from them really only out of fear – I always want more than one!! I’m saving this recipe! 😉

      Kelly Feb 16, 2013

      Ha! Me too. I’ll eat the whole pan if no ones watching

    Erin @ Texanerin Baking Feb 14, 2013

    Yes, yes, yes! I love this recipe! It’s just perfect… in every way. And I’m with you… most whole wheat cinnamon rolls are just awful. I’m happy you found a keeper!

    nlisson Feb 09, 2013

    Since these cinnamon rolls are fat free, that means I can eat two without any guilt right? Because I have a feeling it would be hard to stop at just one.

      Kelly Feb 09, 2013

      Oh definitely! It was kind of hard to stop after two… luckily, these keep for days– I think it’s easier to pace myself if I know they be as tasty tomorrow.

    Aimee @ ShugarySweets Feb 09, 2013

    I love these. I just made cinnamon rolls using a caramel apple pie filling! So delicious, right???

    Alissa N Feb 08, 2013

    Holy yummy, these look amazing!! We are getting a whole bunch of snow tonight, and there is no more perfect recipe for a snowed in morning than cinnamon rolls. And these look incredible!!

      Kelly Feb 08, 2013

      Snowed in with cinnamon rolls is how I spent my day today! 🙂

    Erin | The Law Student's Wife Feb 08, 2013

    Holy moley, these look amazing! I have a soft spot for cinnamon rolls, but I’ve never tried an apple pie version. Great idea!

    angela@ anothe rbite please Feb 08, 2013

    oh my gosh my hubby would go crazy over these…he loves apples in any roll type thing 🙂 these look soo good…having fun checking out all your recipes!!!

    Erin @ The Speckled Palate Feb 08, 2013

    Kelly, these cinnamon rolls sound absolutely delightful! And how fun for you that it’s a snow day. (Says the girl who lives in the South and would LOVE to see some snow.) Hopefully, the plow will come through soon so you aren’t stuck at home for too long… and if you are, I hope you get to continue enjoying these cinnamon rolls. Adding these to my to-make list now.

      Kelly Feb 08, 2013

      Ha, you’re right! These cinnamon rolls are definitely my consolation prize for having to stay home all day. Hope you like them!