If you love coconut, then these cinnamon rolls are for you! Inspired by the flavours of coconut almond macaroons, these soft and decadent coconut cinnamon rolls have a spiced coconut filling made with condensed milk and almond with a bit of heat from ginger and cinnamon. Topped with cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut.
What are these rolls like?
- Super soft brioche dough - my classic soft and fluffy homemade brioche dough, loaded with butter, baked until risen, golden and pillowy perfection.
- Coconut macaroon filling - this isn't your average cinnamon roll filling! These coconut cinnamon rolls are filled with a condensed milk, almond and coconut mixture that is best compared to a chewy coconut macaroon.
- Ginger - adding a bit of ground ginger to these cinnamon rolls help to give the filling a little extra kick. The ginger compliments the coconut and works well with cinnamon.
- Toasted coconut and cream cheese - these cinnamon rolls with coconut filling also have plenty of coconut on top! The decoration starts with my quick and easy tangy cream cheese almond frosting, inspired by the classic flavour pairing of a coconut almond cake. This is then then finished off with the crunch of fresh toasted coconut flakes.
These rolls use my classic brioche dough. For a step by step guide and more tips for the dough, see my Brioche Cinnamon Rolls recipe.
I also use the same dough in:
- Biscoff Cinnamon Rolls
- Raspberry Nutella Cinnamon Rolls
- Pistachio and Coconut Cinnamon Rolls
- Caramel and Coconut Cinnamon Rolls
Ingredient Notes for the Coconut Filling
To make the filling for these coconut rolls, you'll need:
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Coconut - sweetened shredded coconut flakes work best in this recipe. You can substitute with desiccated coconut, however, the texture will be different as sweetened shredded coconut is softer flakes of coconut, whereas desiccated is usually finer particles and dried. This recipe isn't suitable for large flakes of dried coconut.
- Almond extract - almond is a classic pairing with coconut. If you don't have almond extract available, you can substitute with vanilla.
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground ginger
- Almond flour - or finely ground almonds. This works alongside the almond extract here.
How to Make Coconut Cinnamon Rolls
If you've made any of my other cinnamon roll recipes, the process here is essentially the same. For preparation, have a square baking pan ready lined with parchment paper.
Filling and Rolling
- After allowing the dough to proof overnight, you'll want to scrape this out of the bowl and place on a floured work surface.
- Press the dough into a rectangle and then roll out to a larger rectangle about 12" wide by 15" long.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together your filling ingredients: the condensed milk, coconut, almond flour, almond extract, cinnamon and ginger. This won't be smooth due to the coconut, but it should be well combined into a thick spreadable batter. (Image 1 below)
- Spread the filling over the surface of your dough, leaving a gap around the edges.
- Roll up your dough from the bottom to the top forming a tight log. (Image 2 below)
- Use flavorless dental floss of thin kitchen twine to trim the ends off the dough log, removing about an inch or two of unfilled and uneven dough. Then divide the remaining log into 9 rolls. (Image 3 below)
- Place these in the lined baking pan and cover with a kitchen towel to proof at room temperature for about 2 hours, until doubled in size. (Image 4 below)
Once finished with the second proof, these rolls are ready to bake.
- Preheat the oven and make a quick egg wash using the reserved egg yolk and a splash of milk. Beat the yolk and milk together with a fork and brush over the rolls.
- Place these in the centre of the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes until risen and golden.
Frosting and Toasted Coconut Topping
For these rolls, I use an almond cream cheese frosting and a mix of both toasted and un-toasted sweetened shredded coconut.
- Powdered sugar - also called icing sugar or confectioner's sugar. You don't normally need to sift this for use in a cinnamon roll frosting, because the milk will melt this down into a smooth spread. If your powdered sugar is particularly lumpy, you may wish to sift it just to remove any especially stiff clumps and to make the stirring easier.
- Cream cheese - a couple tablespoons of spreadable cream cheese will give the classic tangy flavour of a cream cheese frosting to this glaze.
- Almond extract - almond pairs particularly well with coconut and helps to accentuate the coconut both on the topping and in the rolls. You can substitute with vanilla extract.
- Milk - a little full fat or whole milk goes a long way here. Milk should always be added slowly to cinnamon roll frostings to ensure that you don't make it too runny. This frosting can be adjusted by either adding more milk (to make it more runny) or more powdered sugar (to thicken), but adjustments should be made sparingly.
- Coconut - more sweetened shredded coconut flakes work best here. I like to toast half of mine, so that you have a mix of soft shredded and crisp toasted pieces.
Stir the powdered sugar, cream cheese, almond extract and milk together until smooth and use this to frost the warm rolls.
Then mix the toasted coconut together with the untoasted coconut and sprinkle over the top.
You can toast your coconut for this recipe at the same time as you bake your cinnamon rolls.
- Line a baking sheet with some parchment paper or aluminium foil and spread the coconut on top.
- Bake the coconut in a 350°F oven (I bake mine on a rack underneath the cinnamon rolls) for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through to ensure that all the coconut is well toasted.
- For this recipe, I toast only half of the coconut for the topping, the rest stays untoasted.
- If you'd rather not toast the coconut at the same time as baking the cinnamon rolls, you can do this in advance, while the rolls are proofing.
- Lining the baking pan isn't entirely essential to baking these cinnamon rolls, but will make your life easier. It allows you to just pull the entire pan of rolls out in one go to set on a serving plate and dig in. No risk of anything sticking or you scratching your baking pan with serving utensils.
- Toasting half of the coconut for the topping lets you have the best of both worlds - the soft sweet texture of the sweetened shredded coconut with the crisp and crunchy toasted bits thrown in for flavour, texture and appearance.
- You can toast the coconut at the same time as you bake your rolls to save yourself the trouble of too much prepping.
- The condensed milk in the filling of these rolls make them stickier and heavier than some of my other recipes. This means that they take a little longer to bake (I recommend 30 minutes instead of my usual 25). But, like with most baking, this will be oven dependent - look for the rolls to be risen and golden. You should be able to lightly press the centre of the central roll and it shouldn't sink or seem doughy.
There are a couple of easy alternative options available with these rolls:
- Different spices - while it wouldn't really be a cinnamon roll without cinnamon, you can certainly change up the spice combinations or even omit them in these rolls if you're looking for something a bit different. Try adding cardamom, allspice or nutmeg - any or all of these in combination work nicely with coconut.
- Alternate frostings - just like any cinnamon roll, your frosting options are limitless. Try a vanilla frosting, like I use in my
- Nut free - you can make these coconut rolls without almond to make them nut free. Simply omit the almond flour in the filling and swap the almond extract for vanilla in both the filling and frosting.
- Dairy free - I've not yet tested these rolls with dairy free alternatives. The milk can be substituted for a full fat coconut cream or coconut milk. As long as the yeast activates as directed, this will work fine. In place of the butter, you can use coconut oil or any dairy free butter that you trust in your baking.
Yes absolutely! Cinnamon is a great flavour with coconut and I use the pairing in a few cinnamon roll recipes including my Pistachio Coconut Cinnamon Rolls and my Coconut Caramel Cinnamon Rolls.
These cinnamon rolls are more distinctly dedicated to coconut as the key ingredient, with the cinnamon adding some warming spice to the mix. These rolls also use ginger to further provide a burst of flavour - ginger giving a pleasant heat to the filling.
I will always recommend that cinnamon rolls are best eaten fresh on the day they're baked. This is when they are in top condition and guaranteed at to be at their finest.
In practice, these homemade coconut rolls will keep for a couple of days if wrapped well. The cream cheese frosting should be stored in the refrigerator, so if you're planning to make in advance, it is best to wait until serving to frost. This also would allow you to re-heat the rolls in the oven for about 15 minutes to make them nice and warm.
These cinnamon rolls with coconut can be frozen once baked. I would not recommend freezing with the frosting and topping.
If intending to freeze, allow to cool completely once baked and then wrap well or store in a freezer safe bag. They can then be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow to defrost at room temperature before consuming. You can also reheat in the oven before topping with frosting and serving.
Coconut Cinnamon Rolls
- stand mixer fitted with a dough hook
- 8" square baking tray
Ingredients for the Dough
- ¼ cup full fat milk or whole milk, warmed to 104°F (40C), plus a little extra for the egg wash before baking
- 2¼ teaspoon dry active yeast
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar or caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour or plain flour
- ¾ cup bread flour or strong flour
- 3 large eggs ideally at room temperature, one of the eggs divided into yolk and white
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened at room temperature, plus a little extra for greasing a bowl
Ingredients for the Filling
- 7 oz sweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 tablespoon almond flour
Ingredients for the Topping
- ¾ cup powdered sugar or icing sugar
- 2 tablespoon spreadable cream cheese
- 2 teaspoon full fat milk or whole milk
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 oz sweetened shredded coconut half toasted (see note)
Instructions for the Dough
- Begin by sprinkling the yeast and a teaspoon of sugar over the warmed milk. Stir this together and set aside for about 10 minutes for the yeast to become foamy.
- Add the flours, remaining sugar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Give this a quick stir.
- Once the yeast has activated (developed a foamy top), add this to the flour, immediately followed by 2 whole eggs and 1 egg white. Reserve the remaining egg yolk for an egg wash before baking. Place the remaining yolk in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap to store in the refrigerator in the meantime.
- Turn the mixer to a low setting and knead for about 15 minutes until you have a dough that is beginning to pull itself from the sides of the bowl. (see note)
- After 15 minutes, keep the mixer on a low setting and slowly add your butter a few pieces at a time. Once these have all been added and are incorporated into the dough, continue kneading for about 15 minutes until the dough is again pulling itself away from the sides of the bowl. (see note)
- Scrape the dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place this in the refrigerator to proof slowly overnight (or for about 8 hours, until doubled in size).
Instructions for Filling
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together the filling ingredients - the condensed milk, coconut, almond flour, almond extract, cinnamon and ginger.
- Once the dough is finished its first slow proof, line a square baking tray with parchment paper.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and shape into a rectangle. Roll this out into a large rectangle, about 12" wide by 15" long.
- Spread the filling mixture over the surface of the dough leaving a small gap around the edges. (see note)
- Roll the dough into a tight log from the bottom to the top. Then using flavorless dental floss or a thin kitchen twine trim the uneven ends and divide the dough into 9 roughly equal rolls.
- Place the rolls in the lined baking pan and cover with a kitchen towel to proof for about 2 hours at room temperature, until doubled in size.
Instructions for Baking and Frosting
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175C/155C Fan).
- Add a splash of milk to the reserved egg yolk and beat together with a fork to make an egg wash. Brush this over the top of your proofed rolls.
- Bake these in the centre of your preheated oven for about 30 minutes until risen and golden.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes while you prepare the frosting.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, cream cheese, milk and almond extract until smooth.
- Spread the frosting over the top of the warm rolls. Then sprinkle with a mix of toasted and untoasted sweetened shredded coconut.