Breads/ Recipes/ Seasonal Ingredients/ Seasonal Recipes

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

I’m a big proponent of cinnamon rolls in the bread basket.

I mean, why wait till breakfast to enjoy a warm, gooey roll? Let it be noted, though, that these would make the perfect Thanksgiving morning breakfast if you insist on waiting. Mashed sweet potatoes make these cinnamon rolls exceptionally soft and tender while cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom provide a seasonal touch of spice.

As a self-proclaimed breadaholic, I rated these sweet potato cinnamon rolls an A+ on every account. They’re gooey, soft, sweet {but not too sweet}, pull apart easily and are filled with brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. They’re soft in the middle, yet still have ever-so-slightly crunchy edges.

Oh, and like everything good in this world, they, too, are best covered in icing.

Like other yeast breads, these require a little bit of time.

I recommend assembling everything completely at night {mixing the dough, doing the first rise, + shaping into buns} then covering with plastic wrap and placing in the fridge overnight. This will “retard” the process, give the cinnamon buns even more flavor and, most importantly, allows you do the quick work in the morning: the second rise and baking.

Potato acts as a natural tenderizer and, if you’ve never tried potato rolls before THIS IS YOUR TIME! Seriously, they blow regular rolls out of the water. Here’s another one of my favorites. You could also throw some chopped, toasted pecans on top after you glaze these suckers. Next time, I’m going to do that.

With only a couple tablespoons of butter in the dough, these are some of the “lightest” cinnamon rolls I’ve come across. Sooooooo practically they are diet food….right up there with brussels sprouts and broccoli.


Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

makes about 15 rolls

Print this Recipe!


4 tbsp butter

2/3 cup milk

1/2 cup mashed sweet potato (about 1 sweet potato, baked)

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 packets active dry yeast (1/4th oz each)

4 1/4 cup flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp cardamom

for filling —

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

4 tbsp butter, very soft

for glaze—

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract


Heat the milk and the 4 tbsp butter together in a small pan on the stove over low/medium heat until the butter melts and the milk is warm to the touch. Remove from heat, let cool about 10 minutes (temperature should be around 100 degrees—like warm bath water. If it’s hotter than that, the yeast will die and the rolls won’t rise!) sprinkle in the yeast and stir so yeast will dissolve. Let yeast mixture sit for five minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the mashed sweet potato and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment.

In another bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

Add flour mixture to the sweet potato mixture. With mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in the yeast and milk.

Knead for about six minutes on medium speed with either a paddle attachment or dough hook. The dough should be smooth and elastic when you’re done.

Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a dishcloth and set in a warm area to rise for 1 hour 15 minutes. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Remove dough and punch dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to a large rectangle and spread soft butter on top. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture on top keeping an inch bare around the sides.

Gently roll up dough so it resembles a log. Slice dough into 1/2 inch slices and place in a greased 9 x 13″ dish. Cover with a dishcloth and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls for 25 minutes. Let cool while you make the glaze.

For the glaze, mix together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract. If glaze seems too runny, add a little more powdered sugar. Place glaze in a small plastic bag and snip the tip off. Make swirls over the cooled rolls and serve.


~3 1/2 hours

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  • Gabby (Quest for Delicious)
    November 14, 2012 at 3:57 am

    These look perfect! I’m totally a breadaholic too.

  • Joelle (on a pink typewriter)
    November 14, 2012 at 4:01 am

    I canNOT wait to try these!!

  • Blog is the New Black
    November 14, 2012 at 4:27 am

    These look so worth the yeast involved! 😉

  • amy walters, aDESIGNdock
    November 14, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Aah….I must
    I’m a little intimidated by yeast, but this recipe might be good reason to conquer my fears!

  • Betsy
    November 14, 2012 at 4:33 am

    YUM! could you substitute pumpkin puree for the sweet potato?

    • jenna
      November 14, 2012 at 7:25 am


  • Sam
    November 14, 2012 at 4:50 am

    Yes. Please.
    I will be making these over the weekend!

  • Erin
    November 14, 2012 at 4:57 am

    Hi Jenna! I love your blog and can’t wait to make these!! I want to take these to my inlaws house for thanksgiving morning. If I completely assembled them the day before (both rises) and put them in the oven the morning of would that work? Thanks for the help!

    • jenna
      November 14, 2012 at 7:24 am

      Unfortunately they would probably over-rise that way and then collapse in the oven 🙁 I recommend either doing the whole thing the day of, or sticking them in the fridge assembled then rising a second time before baking after they come to temperature.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    November 14, 2012 at 5:02 am

    Oh my gosh, these look amazing! One of my memories of living in Toronto was the smell of the Cinnabon stands in the subway stations. I’m sure if you sold these there, you’d be rich (and might just put Cinnabon out of business!)

  • jaime @ sweet road
    November 14, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Sooo…. sweet potatoes = healthy, right? I should consider this a veggie rich, balanced breakfast, yes?

  • Lauren
    November 14, 2012 at 5:12 am

    Oh goodness! I have no words right now. 🙂

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More
    November 14, 2012 at 5:38 am

    YUM! Those look A.MAZ.ING!

  • Rachel (Two Healthy Plates)
    November 14, 2012 at 5:45 am

    I can’t handle recipes like this – sweet potato desserts are my favorite. This looks delicious! =)

  • Jenny
    November 14, 2012 at 6:01 am

    These look amaaazing! Would the rolls rise ok with using half whole wheat and half white flour? Thanks!

    • jenna
      November 14, 2012 at 7:23 am

      They won’t be as soft and fluffy if you use whole wheat flour — you probably would also need to let them rise for longer (whole wheat flour typically lends a denser product – I recommend using all purpose or bread flour in this recipe!)

  • Michelle
    November 14, 2012 at 6:01 am

    These look amazing. I have never made cinnamon rolls before (though I’ve been wanting to for years) and these might just force me to finally make them! I’m curious how they compare to your vegan pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

    Thanks, Michelle

  • Abby@ The Frosted Vegan
    November 14, 2012 at 6:05 am

    Health food right there!! I’ve never tried potato rolls, so these will be my first!

  • Monique @ Ambitious Kitchen
    November 14, 2012 at 6:08 am

    I’m obsessed with sweet potatoes! I bet you could freeze these and reheat too. Yumm… these look so good!

  • Lily O' Dare @ Candied-Life
    November 14, 2012 at 6:25 am

    haha! since these are basically broccoli… I’m going to bake them!

  • Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit
    November 14, 2012 at 6:30 am

    I’ve never thought to let them slow-rise in the fridge before, that’s brilliant! I’m sure it makes them even more tasty. Well done with this, wow!

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    November 14, 2012 at 6:39 am

    Absolutely lovely! Cool idea!

  • Lydia
    November 14, 2012 at 6:40 am

    mmmm…I recently made some too-sweet pumpkin cinnamon rolls, but I have never used potato in a baked good before. I think I’ll try these this weekend!

  • Heather @ Heather's Dish
    November 14, 2012 at 6:40 am


    omg. i want!

  • Gara
    November 14, 2012 at 6:41 am

    Wow – I think I’ll make these for the fam when visiting for Thanksgiving!

  • Sarah @ Yogi In Action
    November 14, 2012 at 6:54 am

    I was JUST looking at the sweet potatoes in my fridge and wondering what to do with them. This is definitely the answer to that question!

    Looks delicious

  • deva at deva by definition
    November 14, 2012 at 6:58 am

    I am also a breadaholic. I pretend I’m not but really, I am. These sound and look fantastic!

  • Kim@hungryhealthygirl
    November 14, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Definitely diet food….they contain veggies, right? Printing this recipe now!

  • The Domestic Fringe
    November 14, 2012 at 7:31 am

    These look amazingly yummy! Makes me want to go bake them right now.

  • Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life
    November 14, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Oh wow, yum! These look great! I have never made homemade cinnamon rolls before, but your recipe sure does make me want to try! I have had my eyes set on a pumpkin cinnamon roll on pinterest, but I like your fall inspired rolls too! 🙂

  • Julie
    November 14, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Ooooo These look amazing!! I think I may have to make them for Thanksgiving, haha.

    Question.. how did you cook the sweet potato first? Oven? Microwave? I’m assuming it’s really hard to mash when it’s raw! 🙂

    • jenna
      November 14, 2012 at 7:40 am

      Good question! I baked this – I need to add that in the recipe — thanks!

  • Sarah
    November 14, 2012 at 7:48 am

    These look so good! Quick question though, under ingredients you list 2 tsp cinnamon twice, is this correct?
    “2 tsp cinnamon

    1 tsp salt

    2 tsp cinnamon”

  • Living The Sweet Life
    November 14, 2012 at 7:54 am

    I may look a little silly sitting in my office drooling at my computer … but HOLY MOTHER OF YYYYUUUMMM!! This is perfection. Mmmm.. this is why fall is my favourite season 😉

  • Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe
    November 14, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Jenna, these rolls are a sight for sore eyes first thing in the morning. I have been meaning to try making sweet potato or pumpkin cinnamon rolls since September, but have never gotten around to it. I think I need to carve out some time this weekend and go for it!

  • allie@sweetpotatobites
    November 14, 2012 at 8:16 am

    great idea for cinnamon rolls! sounds like a good thanksgiving morning breakfast to me.

  • Tasha @ ThatsSoYummy
    November 14, 2012 at 8:30 am

    YUM-O!!!! is all I have to say 🙂

  • krystal
    November 14, 2012 at 8:38 am

    There is NO doubt that I must make these…but sweet potato or pumpkin?? I’m so torn!

  • Erica @ Coffee & Quinoa
    November 14, 2012 at 8:57 am

    These look amazing. I’ve been wanting to try pumpkin rolls like these for some time! Halloween may be over, but I’m not over pumpkin yet 🙂

  • Julie
    November 14, 2012 at 9:02 am

    How long do you bake a sweet potato? foil wrapped?

    • jenna
      November 14, 2012 at 9:17 am

      I usually just prick mine all over with a fork and roast at 400 for about 40 minutes or so until very tender!

  • Caroline L.
    November 14, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Forget Thanksgiving, I’ll take one of these every day and then just be thankful for them on the real day…

  • Heather @ girlyeverafter
    November 14, 2012 at 9:40 am

    I love that these wouldn’t be too sweet. I’m a fan of the sweetness coming from the icing and not as much from the pastry too so I’m not over sugared;)

  • Andrea
    November 14, 2012 at 10:17 am

    The look to DIE for!!

  • Averie @ Averie Cooks
    November 14, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Ive been getting into yeasted breads and rolls so much lately and I am loving these rolls with sweet potatoes! Oh I bet they are so moist and tender and fabulous!

  • Jessica Jorgensen
    November 14, 2012 at 10:35 am

    I have a food blog too and one of my vegan bloggers HATES sweet potatoes, so we challenged her to try different recipes with it to see if she could learn to love it. She tried sweet potato burgers and sweet potato “mac and cheese” and actually liked it!
    I’ll have to pass this recipe along to her.

  • Carissa
    November 14, 2012 at 10:44 am

    I love potato rolls! These look SO good. And the spices you used are all my favorites. Yum!

  • jenn
    November 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    heyyyyyy- how about that “what i’ve read” page? I need inspiration! Please? 🙂

  • Bailey @ Full-Flavored Life
    November 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    These look so soft and yummy!!

  • Julia {The Roasted Root}
    November 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    LOL, my family would LOVE it if I set a big bread basket of sweet potato cinnamon rolls on the table for Thanksgiving. I bet these turned out faaaantastically and can’t wait to give the recipe a go!

  • Emily @ Life on Food
    November 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Let’s just say these are my new BFF.

  • luv what you do
    November 14, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I have never tried potato rolls before but I think we’d be fast friends. I want these for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning!

  • Katie @ Oh Shine On
    November 14, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    these look so delicious. total noms for the holidays.

  • Sharla
    November 14, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    I love the idea of putting sweet potatoes in a sweet roll! Could I substitute almond milk and ghee for butter and milk?

  • Carrie @ The Cook's Palette
    November 14, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Oh, wow! These look perfect for Thanksgiving morning. Or tomorrow. Love the unique sweet potato touch.

  • Jackie
    November 15, 2012 at 6:17 am

    Hey Jenna! These look absolutely wonderful! Just a quick question for you. My husband and I are the only ones in the house and a tray of these might not be the best thing for our waistlines. 😉 Is there a good spot in the process to freeze the dough? Is it just after the assembly? Any advice? Thanks. 🙂

    • jenna
      November 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      I would not freeze the dough, unfortunately. Yeast does not do well frozen! If you refrigerate, do so for only one night then bake the next morning for best results 🙂

  • pamela
    November 15, 2012 at 9:42 am

    I am SO making these! If you do the overnight refrigeration, would the next-morning rise still just be 45 minutes? Or does the dough need to come to room temp first? How long altogether should it be out before baking then, do you think?

    • jenna
      November 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      If you do the overnight refrigeration, plan on about an hour or so rising time — you’ll see — when they double in size, they’re done!

  • Tricia
    November 15, 2012 at 10:39 am

    These look delicious! I’m thinking of making them in the evening, with one rise, then refrigerating them as you suggest, but I’m wondering how long it would be ok to leave them in the fridge for before pulling out for the second rise and baking. Would 2 nights be too much?

    • jenna
      November 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      Yes — I think 2 nights would be a little too long…they might not rise as much that way. I suggest keeping overnight only one night!

  • Molly @ RDexposed
    November 15, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Dang, I’m running a 5K Thanksgiving morning that will make it tricky to make these for breakfast. I may stretch this for Christmas Eve breakfast!

  • Laurie {Simply Scratch}
    November 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    How I wish I had a pan of these right now!

  • Life's a Bowl
    November 15, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Oh my goodness, these look HEAVENLY! We make a batch usually every Christmas morning for brunch- I wonder if I could convince my oober picky brother to try them 😉 I’ll “forget” to mention the sweet potato part…

  • Sonia the Mexigarian
    November 15, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I just printed a similar recipe from Vegetarian Times this morning! I think I’ll do your recipe first 😉 Hoping I can commandeer my MILs oven T-day morning.

  • AmyJo
    November 15, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Can you make without a stand mixer? I only have hand held : (

  • Jen
    November 16, 2012 at 8:07 am

    I just made these (with canned pumkin, though) and they are AMAZING! And easy too! I kept in the fridge overnight like you suggested, and then let them rise again and bake this morning. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Runner Dad
    November 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    It’s funny…I usually skip recipe posts…but wow, these sound amazing! Can’t wait to try them!

  • Kelly @ The Quotable Kitchen
    November 16, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    I seriously love the term breadaholic because I’ve always been one but never knew what to call it. Anyway – these look amazing! I never thought to try sweet potato in a cinnamon roll before – how creative!

  • {Moni} @ Moni Meals
    November 17, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Oh muy GAWD! Yes and THANK YOU!

  • Sarah
    November 17, 2012 at 10:06 am

    under ingredients you list 2 tsp cinnamon twice, is this correct?
    “2 tsp cinnamon

    1 tsp salt

    2 tsp cinnamon”

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  • Sarah M
    November 19, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Hi Jenna,

    Would it be possible to cut this recipe in half? If so, would it alter the time needed for the dough to rise and the baking time? Thanks!

  • Lori
    November 22, 2012 at 7:25 am

    These sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing. I tried doing the night-before prep last night and had issues with the yeast. I’ve only ever put yeast in warm water with a little sugar to get it started. That usually results in a creamy/foamy mixture, which I didn’t get with the milk/butter/yeast combo. Does your yeast usually foam up in the milk? I thought I had the right temperature, maybe the yeast just wasn’t good.

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  • Renee
    November 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Can’t wait to make these!

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  • Debra
    December 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    You’ve seriously got to do a bread cookbook, Jenna!

  • J
    December 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I also had problems with the yeast. Despite the milk just being warm and the yeast being fresh, my rolls didn’t rise at all. Pretty disappointed. 🙁 I tried to research why, apparently the fat content of the milk can affect whether or not the yeast properly absorbs moisture. If I make this again I think I will sub substitute half the milk with water and dissolve the yeast in the water first.

  • Angena
    January 6, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    I made these today and they turned out pretty good. Definitely let them rise more both times as it is cold in my house and we live at 5800 ft- requiring more time and moisture. I turned the oven on to 200 F let it warm for ~10/15 min and then turned it off, then let them rise in the warm oven. I used 3 cups of white whole wheat flour (on accident, I thought it was unbleached flour) and 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour. Lets just say they were a bit dense and definitely tasted good for you grainy BUT all my friends LOVED them. Looking forward to trying with some all-purpose and wheat flour!

  • anthony
    February 28, 2013 at 5:38 am

    hey there can you substitute potato flakes instead

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    April 14, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Making these today, my first attempt at cinnamon rolls and these look like a great jumping off point. Thanks Jenna!

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  • Katie
    November 23, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    I just had to share with you that since you first posted these, I’ve made these Thanksgiving morning 2012 and 2013, and I’m making my grocery list now, preparing to do the same this year. On Thanksgiving morning, I take my kids out to deliver to nearby friends that we aren’t spending the day with as a little “we are so thankful for YOU” thing. Thanks for a wonderful recipe that I can keep coming back to every year!