Baked Goods · Cooking · Sweets

Lactose-Free 90 Minute Cinnamon Rolls

The source of drive for many of the recipes I choose to make is straight up jealousy. I want to eat what my friends, family and complete strangers get to eat. Now, I’m not running around seething with jealousy and green with envy – I just sometimes wish I could choose to indulge in the same delicious treats.

Sometimes I get lucky, and there are some treats I can get away with having with my friends. For example, if we go to Starbucks, I can get almost any drink made with Lactaid milk (I say almost any drink, because I can’t have a drink with caramel or white chocolate there, but chocolate and vanilla are fine). If we went to Second Cup, there are a few drinks (mostly tea based) that I could get with soy milk. I could go for ice cream at a gelato place, because many have sorbetto options. These kinds of places make being lactose-intolerant a bit more tolerable.

A place where I find lactose-intolerance completely intolerable is a bakery. Yes, there are many ways to bake without using dairy or lactose-free dairy products, but it’s not common practice. I don’t blame bakers either. Who would want a croissant made of margarine? Butter and milk make things taste better. But just because they taste better, doesn’t mean it makes me feel better! When I’m at a bakery, I want the chocolate filled perfectly crusty croissant. Or the warm, soft, chewy, gooey, cinnamon-y goodness of a cinnamon bun fresh out of the oven. Covered in icing. Preferably without raisins (I have a big problem with cooked fruit).

I woke up early this morning and wanted the warm, soft, chewy, gooey, cinnamon-y goodness of a cinnamon bun fresh out of the oven. I set to work, and cinnamon buns were on their way. Since I woke up and decided these rolls were for breakfast, I searched for a 90-minute recipe so that breakfast wouldn’t be at noon. My tried and true recipe called for rapid rise yeast, but I only had traditional. I came across the 90-Minute Cinnamon Rolls at Chinese Grandma, and gave it a shot. I made a few changes – some intentional and some not so much. I swapped out the butter for vegan margarine and the milk for Lactaid skim milk. I was halfway through making the dough when I realized I didn’t have brown sugar – so I made my own. The recipe for Homemade Brown Sugar follows the Cinnamon Roll recipe.

So here is an awesome recipe for cinnamon buns. They don’t take very much time, and will satisfy that craving you may have for cinnamon buns early one morning like me.

90-minute Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 12 Rolls

Prep Time: 60 minutes | Bake Time: 20 – 25 minutes

Dough Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Lactaid milk (soy milk would work fine too)
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine or lactose-free butter (Becel or Fleischmann’s are my favorites)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup warm water (between 100 to 105 degrees Farenheit)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed (if you want to make brown sugar yourself, see the recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine or lactose-free butter, softened

Icing Ingredients (Optional)

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Lactaid milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it is warm to the touch, then remove from heat. Mix in margarine; stir until melted. Leave to cool.
  2. Heat water to 100 – 105 degrees Farenheit. Add yeast; stir. Let sit for 5 minutes to activate yeast. Mixture will look foamy on top when yeast is activated.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, combine 2 1/4 cup flour, sugar and salt; mix well.
  4. Add egg to cooled milk mixture and mix well.
  5. Add activated yeast and milk mixture to dry ingredients. Mix until dough comes together in a sticky ball.
  6. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, kneading well after each addition until dough is soft and smooth but still a bit sticky.
  7. Cover the dough with a damp clothand let rest for 10 minutes.
  8. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon and softened margarine.
  9. On floured surface, roll out dough into a 14″x12″ rectangle. Spread dough with butter/sugar mixture, leaving a 1″ margin at the top to seal the roll. Make sure to spread all the way to the side edges so the end rolls get their share of filling. (This step almost always causes me to have a meltdown, because it’s SO hard to spread this mixture on the dough – it leaves holes, lifts off the dough and sticks to the tool you use to spread it with. If anyone has tips for making this easier, I’d love to hear them!)
  10. Roll up dough, starting from the bottom, and lightly pinch seam to seal.
  11. To make 12 equal size rolls, first cut rolled log in half. Take each half and cut in half again. Finally take each piece and cut in thirds. You can cut the end pieces a bit wider to make up for their thinner girth. Place rolls (end pieces cut side up) in a lightly greased 9″x13″ baking dish.
  12. Cover baking dish and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. Or refrigerate overnight in fridge and let pan sit at room temperature 30 minutes before cooking. Don’t be concerned if rolls do not rise too much.
  13. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit when ready to bake.
  14. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until browned.
  15. If using icing, mix powdered sugar, milk and vanilla in a small bowl.
  16. Let cinnamon rolls rest a few minutes to let butter and sugar absorb. Serve warm, drizzled with icing if desired.

(Adapted from 90-Minute Cinnamon Rolls at Chinese Grandma at

Homemade Brown Sugar

Yield: As much as you want to make. The basic ratio is 1 cup white sugar to 1 tbsp molasses.

Prep Time: 5 minutes


1 cup white sugar

1 tbsp molasses


1. Measure sugar and molasses into a bowl.

2. Using a fork, mix the molasses into the sugar. This will take some time. At first it will appear gloopy and as if it won’t ever come together. Have patience, because it will!!


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