Recipe: Grape-Nuts Cinnamon Rolls

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(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

Do you love homemade cinnamon rolls, but don’t have the time or patience to wait for the dough to rise? These yeast-free cinnamon rolls are the answer to your prayers. Cottage cheese and baking powder make for a brilliant short-cut dough, but the best part is the secret ingredient, Grape-Nuts cereal, which gives the rolls a boost of fabulous (and addictive) crunch. Who knew?!

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

When I think of Saturday mornings as a kid, I think of Saved By the Bell marathons and the aroma of “homemade” cinnamon rolls coming from the kitchen. Of course I had yet to realize that homemade was not the same thing as prying open a can. It wasn’t until college that I actually tasted a fluffy, yeasted, from-scratch cinnamon roll with a buttery cream cheese glaze. Talk about eye-opening!

Since mastering brioche dough in culinary school I have crafted more than a few batches of my beloved childhood treat, but the long wait and my inability to plan ahead mean they’ve pretty much been assigned to special occasions only. But a chance discussion recently with a culinary colleague inspired me when she mentioned her trick for transforming leftover biscuit dough into sticky buns. It was a brilliant idea that immediately had me running to the kitchen.

After a little Googling I found some interesting recipes using cottage cheese and leaveners (baking powder and soda) that promised quick and painless cinnamon rolls. I quickly drafted a version of my own, using my online findings as a guide. The first attempt had its fair share of problems, so I went back to the drawing board adding some tips and twists of my own. The second time proved brilliant — I couldn’t stop scarfing them straight from the pan. They were moist and feather-light… pure breakfast perfection.

My final dough is super quick, but without yeast for strength, it is delicate and moist. To make up for this, the dough needs to be thoroughly chilled to be durable enough to roll and fill. The rich glaze is a scaled down version of my time-tested cream cheese frosting. (Feel free to double if you’re feeling wild!) As for the filling, I used my usual mix of butter, sugars, and plenty of spicy cinnamon, but instead of using nuts I swapped in hearty Grape-Nuts for a bit of crunch.

As I shared the warm cinnamon rolls with my husband and a friend, we all agreed: I’d never need to make my sluggish overnight dough again! This will be the go-to Dozier family recipe from here on out. But I must say, the biggest surprise was the amazing addition of the Grape-Nuts. They provided an incredible nutty texture unlike I’d ever had. I think pecans just got the boot for good!

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

I promise these decadent cinnamon rolls (and their secret ingredient!) will make the perfect addition to your next holiday brunch. There’s nothing better for the busy host and a house filled with guests. You can rest assured these will make any morning a smashing success.

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Grape-Nuts Cinnamon Rolls

Makes12 cinnamon rolls


For the filling:

  • 1/4 cup

    packed golden brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    ground cinnamon

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 3/4 cup

    Grape-Nuts cereal, plus more to top

For the dough:

  • 10 ounces

    (2 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1 tablespoon

    baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon


  • 1/4 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1 cup

    cottage cheese (2% or 4%)

  • 1/2 cup

    low-fat buttermilk

  • 1

    egg yolk

  • 1/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 2 ounces

    cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 1/2 cup

    powdered sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract



  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease the sides and bottom of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray or butter.

  2. For the filling: Combine the brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Melt butter in a small bowl in the microwave and set aside. Measure out the Grape-Nuts in a separate bowl.

  3. For the dough: Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a medium mixing bowl. Combine the cottage cheese, buttermilk, egg yolk, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the food processor and pulse quickly, 6 to 8 times, until dough just begins to clump together; it will be very sticky and wet.

  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it into a ball. Place the ball on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and transfer to freezer to chill for 10 to 15 minutes.

  5. Lightly flour the chilled dough (as well as your hands) then gently press and stretch the dough into a 12x15-inch rectangle. Using a small silicone pastry brush, brush the melted butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border on all sides. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the dough, followed by the Grape Nuts. Return the baking sheet to the freezer to chill for 10 to 15 minutes.

  6. To make the rolls: Starting at the long side closest to you, carefully roll the dough into tight log, using the paper, not your hands, as a guide. (Think of rolling sushi!) Gently pinch the seam to seal. Slice the dough into 12 equal pieces. Place the rolls cut side up the the springform pan. (It’s okay if there are small gaps, they will expand as they cook.)

  7. Bake the cinnamon rolls until golden and firm to the touch, 25 to 27 minutes. While the rolls are baking, make the frosting: combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy.

  8. Let the rolls cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan and remove the springform ring. Frost the cinnamon rolls while still warm and serve immediately.

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

We’ve created a few delicious new recipes from The Kitchn starring Grape-Nuts, all of which are perfect for a cozy winter brunch. Check out our other recipes: Chicken Salad with Grape-Nuts and Cranberries and Oatmeal Pancakes with Grape-Nuts.