In partnership withCalifornia Walnuts

These Mini Cinnamon Walnut Rolls Are Little Bites of Nutty Perfection

published Dec 20, 2021
One-Bite Cinnamon Walnut Rolls Recipe
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Credit: Photo: Christopher Broe; Food Styling: Martha Tinkler

The holiday season is all about leaning into decadence, but it’s famously short on time. Between happy hours, cookie exchanges, and dinner parties, it’s hard to find a whole afternoon to bake up a show-stopping treat. These bite-sized cinnamon walnut rolls are an easy-yet-impressive way to serve holiday dessert. They’re inspired by potica, a Slovenian pastry with a sweet, nutty filling. While the latter is indeed a big baking project, these rolls come together in under an hour but feel equally as festive.

It’s California walnuts that make these sweet treats sparkle. They provide buttery flavor, crunchy texture, and nutritious goodness (per ounce, they have 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber, not to mention they’re good for your heart).

Credit: Photo: Christopher Broe; Food Styling: Martha Tinkler

Combine them with fragrant cinnamon, bright orange zest, and a touch of honey or maple syrup, roll the mixture up in store-bought puff pastry dough, and you have an easy and impressive dessert that’s fit for all your holiday festivities.

Credit: Photo: Christopher Broe; Food Styling: Martha Tinkler

To ensure your California walnuts stay fresh throughout the holiday season and beyond, don’t forget to store them properly. While you may be tempted to toss the bag in your pantry, tuck it away in the refrigerator or freezer to maintain freshness. Better yet, transfer the walnuts to an airtight container before storing them.

One-Bite Cinnamon Walnut Rolls Recipe

Prep time 35 minutes

Cook time 19 minutes to 21 minutes

Makes 24

Nutritional Info


  • 1 sheet

    frozen puff pastry (from 17- to 18-ounce box that contains 2 sheets)

  • 1 cup

    California walnuts (4 ounces)

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1

    medium orange

  • 1/4 cup

    plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    honey or maple syrup

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • All-purpose flour, for dusting


  1. Thaw 1 sheet frozen puff pastry in the refrigerator according to package directions.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  3. Spread 1 cup California walnuts out on the baking sheet. Bake, tossing halfway through, until fragrant and golden brown in spots, about 6 minutes total. Let cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat 1 large egg in a small bowl to break it up. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium orange until you have 1 teaspoon.

  4. Use the parchment paper to act as a sling to lift and transfer the walnuts to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Return the parchment paper to the baking sheet. Pulse the walnuts until coarsely chopped, about 5 (1-second) pulses. Add 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, the orange zest, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and pulse until the nuts are finely chopped, about 10 (1-second) pulses.

  5. Lightly flour a work surface. Unfold the puff pastry sheet on it with a long side closer to you. If the pastry is not already 10x12-inches, roll it out with a rolling pin to these dimensions. Brush the pastry with a thin layer of the egg wash. Sprinkle the walnut mixture evenly over the top. Lightly press the mixture into the pastry with your hands to adhere.

  6. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the pastry in half lengthwise. Cut the pastry crosswise 11 times, spacing the cuts 1-inch apart, to result in 24 (1x5-inch) strips.

  7. Starting with one of the bottom strips, tightly roll one up, use your fingers to press and seal the seam, then place seam-side down on the now-empty parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat rolling up the remaining strips, spacing them about 1 inch apart.

  8. Brush the rolls lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Refrigerate for about 5 minutes to firm up the dough again.

  9. Bake until puffed and lightly browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.