These Vegan Cranberry Orange Sticky Buns are the perfect excuse to use up any leftover cranberry sauce during the Holidays. They are truly the best cranberry orange sweet rolls that are soft, fluffy, and perfect for brunch or dessert!
*Recipe originally shared November 2018 and updated November 2021*
I may love baking vegan cookies, but my other baking obsession is making vegan sweet rolls. While my most popular sweet roll recipes continue to be my Vegan Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls & Matcha Cinnamon Rolls, these cranberry rolls are definitely the most popular recipe come Winter.
With a sweet orange dough and a homemade cranberry sauce filling, they are truly a decadent way to celebrate the Holidays!
How to make cranberry orange sweet rolls
Orange dough ingredients:
Make the orange dough
- First, activate the yeast: If the yeast froths up in 5-10 minutes in your warmed milk, it is active! If it does, discard and use a different packet. It's important to use warm milk because if the milk is too hot it can actually kill the yeast.
- Whisk in wet ingredients. This includes the melted vegan butter, sugar, orange juice, and vanilla bean paste.
- Gradually add flour, salt, & mix into shaggy dough. This can be done in a bowl or in a standing mixer. Once all the flour is incorporated into the dough, it's time to knead it.
- Knead the dough. I used a standing mixer to knead the dough, but kneading by hand also works. The dough will be fully kneaded when it is elastic and no longer super sticky. This means it can be stretched without ripping apart as enough gluten has been formed.
- The first rise. After the dough is done being kneaded, it's time for the first rise. Add the dough to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise about 1 hour until doubled in size.
Cranberry filling ingredients:
Make the cranberry filling
While the dough is going through the first rise, make the homemade cranberry sauce filling.
- Whisk water & cornstarch. AKA make a cornstarch slurry. Whisking the cornstarch into the water before it is heated assures that the cornstarch doesn't clump up when heated.
- Add remaining ingredients. This includes the cranberries (fresh or frozen works), sugar, orange juice, and vanilla.
- Cook until thickened. Turn up the heat and bring everything to a simmer. Cook until the cranberries burst open, releasing their juices, and the mixture begins to thicken.
- Let filling cool. This will help it thicken and also make it easier to add to the dough.
Add cranberry filling to dough
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and add it to a well-floured surface.
- Roll out the dough. Add the dough to a well-floured surface and roll it into a ½-inch thick rectangle. Don't make it too thin or it will be very hard to roll the dough.
- Add the filling. Then, add the cooled cranberry filling to the dough, making sure to leave a border along the edges.
- Roll dough into log. From the long edge, roll the dough into a log. Make sure to pinch together the dough ends to seal the roll together.
- Cut into slices. Use a very sharp knife or dental floss to cut the rolls into 10 even pieces.
P.S- Using flour on your surface and on your rolling pin will make it so vegan orange roll dough doesn't stick when you are trying to roll it into a log. I like using parchment paper or a Marble Pastry Board.
Let cranberry orange rolls rest for a second rise
Add the cranberry sweet rolls to a greased baking pan, cover them with plastic wrap, and let them rise in the fridge overnight.
You can't have good dough without the first rise, but the second rise after shaping the dough is where the magic happens. The yeast has time to eat more sugar and the dough develops a better flavor and a finer texture.
This cranberry orange roll recipe calls for an overnight rise in the fridge, however, the dough can also rest for 1 hour in a warm place for similar results.
Bake the cranberry orange buns
Add the rolls to the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until they are cooked throughout. Then, let cool and get ready to glaze!
How to make an orange icing
While it's entirely optional, these vegan cranberry rolls taste amazing with orange icing on top. Luckily, it only requires 3 ingredients including powdered sugar, fresh orange juice, and orange zest.
Add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk together until a thick glaze forms. Then, add the icing to the cranberry sweet rolls before enjoying!
FAQ & Tips:
Yes! While I used active dried yeast, instant yeast also works in this recipe. If using instant yeast, you can skip the step of blooming the yeast in the warmed milk and instead add the yeast to the bowl when adding the other dry ingredients.
Unfortunately, this recipe will not work with any flour alternatives. The gluten formation is very important for the structure of this dough and, without it, the dough will not stay together well or have the right texture.
Sticky buns can be stored in a closed container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. I like to separate each roll and then store them between layers of parchment paper for the best results.
In conclusion, if you are on the hunt for the perfect Vegan Thanksgiving breakfast recipe using leftovers- let these Vegan Cranberry Orange Sticky Buns be it! There's nothing quite like vegan orange rolls filled with a juicy cranberry filling.
Truly makes the best vegan cranberry dessert to highlight the best fruit of the season and is a great dessert or brunch to make and share with others. Enjoy!
More delicious vegan sweetbreads for the Holiday season
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Vegan Cranberry Orange Rolls
Vegan Orange Bun Dough
- ¾ cup warm oat/almond milk
- 2 ¼ teaspoon dry active yeast about 1 packet yeast
- ½ cup melted vegan butter
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- ½ Tablespoon orange zest about ½ orange, zested
- 3 ½-3 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup water
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 ½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
Making the dough
- Begin by adding your warmed oat milk and yeast to a large mixing bowl. Let sit for 3-5 minutes to make sure the yeast is activated. You will be able to tell if it's bubbling. If using instant yeast, you can skip this step and add the yeast directly to the mix with the flour and salt.
- Next, add the melted vegan butter, sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla to the large mixing bowl and whisk together to combine.
- Mix the salt into the bowl of flour and then begin to gradually add the flour/salt mixture to the bowl of wet ingredients about ½-1 cup at a time. Start with 3 ½ cups of flour and add up to 3 ¾ cups if the dough is still too sticky.
- Once all the flour has been added in, knead the dough. If using a standing mixer, switch the attachment to the bread hook and knead for 5-10 minutes until elastic. If you are kneading by hand, knead on a lightly floured surface for 10-15 minutes or until the dough is elastic and significantly less sticky. The dough is done being kneaded once it can be stretched without easily tearing and is smooth and tacky but not sticky.
- Form the dough into a large ball and place it in a well oiled bowl. Cover and place the bowl of dough in a warm place to rise for 1-2 hours until the dough has doubled in size. I like to test my dough by "poking" it with a finger. If it doesn't bounce back and stays indented, it is ready. It is also important to not “overproof” the dough as it can turn sour from the yeast turning the sugar into alcohol, so do not let the dough sit too long.
Making the cranberry filling
- While the dough is rising, make the cranberry filling. Please note that you'll want to make this at least 30 minutes before you are ready to roll the buns so the filling has time to cool and thicken.
- First, whisk together the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl to form a slurry. Then, add 1 cup of the cranberries, ½ cup of the sugar, the cornstarch water slurry, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla bean paste/extract from the cranberry filling ingredients to a small saucepan. Make sure to set aside the remaining ½ cup of cranberries and ¼ cup of sugar for later.
- Stir the ingredients together and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes until all the cranberries have burst open and released their juices. Stir and cook 1 more minute.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool. Once cooled, add in the additional ½ cup of additional fresh cranberries remaining. You will save the additional ¼ cup of sugar under the filling ingredients for later.
Forming the buns
- Once the dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a well-floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a ½ inch thick rectangle.
- Use a spatula to spread the cranberry filling evenly over the dough, leaving a ¼ inch border around the outside of the dough. Pour the additional ¼ cup of sugar set aside from the filling ingredients on top of the cranberry filling.
- Starting from the longer end of the dough, roll the dough into a log. Make sure to tuck the filling and large cranberries as you go so no filling escapes. Seal the dough ends together by pinching the dough together.
- Cut off the ends of the dough and discard. Use a very sharp knife to cut the dough log into 10 evenly sized slices. Add the slices to a buttered/ well oiled 10" pan or cast iron skillet. Cover the buns with plastic wrap (or similar material) and place in the fridge to rise overnight. The dough can also be left to sit in a warm place for an additional hour if you'd like to bake the buns sooner.
Baking the buns & making the glaze
- In the morning, remove the buns from the fridge and preheat the oven to 350F.
- Once preheated, add the buns to the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until just slightly browned on top and cooked all the way through. I like to test if my buns are done by sticking a toothpick into the middle bun. If no raw dough comes off the toothpick, the buns should be cooked!
- Remove the cooked buns from the oven and set aside to cool.
Make the orange icing
- While the buns are cooling, make the orange icing by adding the powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest from the glaze ingredients to a medium bowl and whisking until a thick but smooth glaze is formed. If you want a thinner glaze, you can add more orange juice or even a tsp of almond milk, however, a thick glaze works best.
- Pour the glaze over the slightly cooled buns and serve immediately. Enjoy!
- Cooked buns will keep in a closed container in the fridge for up to 3-5 days and in the freezer for up to 1 month. However, they will need to be reheated for optimal taste. You can microwave them, but I recommend turning your oven to 200F and cooking the buns for 10-15 minutes until warmed throughout for the best texture.
- If desired, you can replace my homemade cranberry sauce with a mix of store-bought cranberry sauce and fresh cranberries.
- This recipe does not work with gluten-free flour.
- To make this recipe refined sugar-free, just substitute cane sugar for coconut sugar or maple sugar (must be granulated).
Can you use Cranberry sauce for the filling instead of fresh/frozen cranberries?
Maybe! I haven't tried it but it could work 🙂
I couldn't find fresh or frozen cranberries so ended up substituting cranberry sauce in lieu of the cranberries, cornstarch and sugar, then sprinkled only 1/8 cup of sugar over the cranberry spread. It turned out perfect. Wonderful recipe!
Thanks for sharing your substitutions and glad you enjoyed them!
I'm looking forward to make these! How should I adjust this recipe if I want to bake it in a 9x13 pan-which would yield 12 buns?
If the buns are smaller and baked in a pan where they will spread more, I would guess this will affect the baking time and they will likely bake faster. However, I'm not totally sure the exact time so I'd just keep an eye on them after 20 minutes.