These Healthier Hummingbird Cinnamon Rolls taste like the classic Southern spice cake in a lower-sugar, whole-grain breakfast pastry.

Recipe & Photography by Jamie Vespa, MS, RD

  1. Pour 1 cup warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle 1 packet instant dry yeast Let stand 5 minutes.
  2. Next, add 2 room temperature eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter that has been melted, and 2 tsp pure vanilla extract; use the paddle hook to beat until combined.
  3. Switch to dough hook and add 4¼ cups white whole-wheat flour and 1 tsp kosher salt. Start on low speed and increase to medium. Knead dough in the standing mixer until a large ball is formed and the dough is mostly smooth, about 5 minutes. If the dough seems too tacky and is not forming a ball, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time until a smooth ball is formed. Grease a large bowl and place the dough inside.
  4. Cover the bowl with a towel and put the bowl in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the filling by combining 1 cup chopped pecans, 1/2 canned crushed pineapple that has been drained and patted dry, 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, 3 tbsp Soom Silan, and 2 tbsp ground cinnamon in a bowl; stir in combine.
  6. Once dough has risen, gently punch the dough to release the gas and transfer dough to a floured work surface. Roll the dough into an 18×12” rectangle, about ¼ inch thick. Spread filling evenly over dough and roll up jelly-roll style. Slice into 12 equal sized rolls and place into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Cover and let rise again for 30 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F. Bake cinnamon rolls until golden brown, about 20 to 23 minutes.
  8. While the rolls bake, prepare frosting by beating 4 oz softened Neufchâtel chees (light cream cheese), ¾ cup powdered sugar, and 1 tbsp pineapple juice until blended. Spread over tops of cinnamon rolls. Sprinkle chopped pecans