Looking for an alternative to regular cinnamon rolls? Try these Easy Vegan Lemon Rolls. Bright, Aromatic, Citrusy, and infused with all the lemony goodness, these rolls are SO GOOD.
It came to my mind that there is a need for a sweet roll that is equally as good for spring and summer as a classic cinnamon roll is for fall and winter. What flavor speaks to warm weather better than lemon?!
I like to create recipes that are easy to customize and this one is no exception. This dough, filling, and glaze will work beautifully with any type of citrus fruit.
Like lime better than lemon? Go For it!
Want some orange flavored sweet rolls? Simply swap lemons for orange.
Grapefruit? Why not, sounds delightful!
Feel free to try other fruit and flavor combinations and I would love to see the results! You really can make this recipe your own by experimenting with whatever you like!
I chose to use instant yeast here because it speeds up rise time and makes this process easier and more accessible, especially for those who might be unfamiliar with or intimidated by working with yeast doughs.
I also utilize the Tangzhong method for this recipe. This will ensure your rolls are soft, fluffy, and stay fresh for much longer than is standard. Although many of us may not be familiar with this method, once you see the results you will be converted!
• Can I use active dry yeast instead of instant yeast?
Yes! Instant yeast helps make this recipe quick and more approachable for those who may be intimidated by working with yeast doughs, but if you’d like to use active dry yeast, swap it out with the same amount as insant. Make sure to bloom the yeast in a portion of your warm water before mixing it into the dough. Also, expect longer rise times for each rise.
• What brand of vegan cream cheese should I use?
Honestly, just use your favorite vegan cream cheese and it will probably work well for you here. I tested 3 different brands with this recipe and for me the winner was Kite hill. I feel that it has the best flavor and texture results.
*If you can’t find vegan cream cheese or don’t have access to a store that supplies it, you could try out a home-made nut-based or coconut milk based cream cheese here.
• Why do I need to use the Tangzhong method? How does it work?
The Tangzhong method is a Japanese technique that involves cooking a mixture of flour and water to create a slurry that will be later added to the bread dough. This pre-gelatinizes the starches in the flour, meaning they can absorb more water. Having retained more water during baking, bread and rolls will be moister, and will stay soft and fresh longer.
• Storage and Reheating:
To store these rolls short term, simply cover with plastic wrap.
If looking to store long term and eat later, freeze until solid and place in freezer bags. Once you’re ready to eat your rolls, defrost for a couple of hours at room temperature.
If you’d like to have your rolls warm and gooey like they were baked fresh, cover them in foil and place in a preheated oven at 350℉. Bake 10-20 minutes until heated throughout.
Vegan Lemon Rolls
For The Tangzhong (starter)
- 3 Tbsp Water
- 3 Tbsp Unsweetened Soymilk
- 2 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
For The Dough
- 2 1/2 C All Purpose Flour
- 1/4 C Sugar
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Instant Yeast
- 2 Tbsp Aquafaba
- 4 Tbsp Vegan Butter, (Melted) (stick form, not spreadable butter)
- 1/2 C Non-Dairy Milk, Unsweetened (I use soymilk or oatmilk)
For The Filling
- 4 Oz Vegan Cream Cheese
- 1/4 C Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
- 1/4 Tsp Lemon Extract
For The Glaze
- 1/2 C Powdered Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 Tsp Lemon Zest
For The Tangzhong
- Add all the Tangzhong ingredients to a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, while whisking constantly, until mixture is thoroughly thickened and no lumps remain, about 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
For The Dough
- Combine flour, sugar, salt, and instant yeast in a large mixing bowl.
- Whisk together milk, melted butter, and aquafaba and add to bowl with your dry ingredients.
- Mix and knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough. (about 3-5 minutes by stand mixer or 5-10 minutes kneading by hand.)
- Let rise in a covered, lightly greased bowl for 45-60 minutes, or until puffy and nearly doubled.
Filling & Glaze
- For The Filling: While your dough is rising, mix all filling ingredients in a small bowl, until well combined.
- For The Glaze: Whisk together glaze ingredients in a measuring cup or small bowl.
- Roll out dough on a floured surface into an 8 X 10 rectangle, that is about 1/2 inch – 3/4 inch thick.
- Spread filling evenly over rectangle, and roll dough into a log.
- Carefully slice log into 8 pieces, each should be about 1 1/2 inches. Place each roll into a lightly greased 9 inch round pan.
- Cover the rolls and let rise 45-60 minutes, until puffy and nearly doubled.
- While rolls are rising, preheat oven to 350℉.
- Once rolls have finished their second rise, place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. When done, the rolls internal temp should read 190℉ – 200 ℉ and should be getting golden brown around the edges.
- While they are still warm, spread glaze evenly over the top of rolls.