Can You Substitute Milk for Heavy Cream in Cinnamon Rolls?

Cinnamon Rolls

Heavy cream is one of the most important parts of any cinnamon roll recipe, other than the ingredients that make up the rolls themselves. Heavy cream is vital in creating a decadent frosting that soaks into the dough and makes each bite taste heavenly. But suppose you are vegan or have any allergy to dairy products.

In that case, you may wonder if you can substitute milk for heavy cream in cinnamon rolls.

The answer depends on whether or not your cinnamon roll recipe calls for baking powder. Read on to learn more about substituting milk for heavy cream in cinnamon rolls and other baking recipes!

 Why do people use heavy cream in cinnamon rolls?

Suppose you are a baker and have ever made a cinnamon roll. In that case, you know that part of the process includes stirring a cinnamon and sugar mixture into softened butter. The butter, normally solid at room temperature, combines with the sugar mixture to create an almost oily paste that needs to be refrigerated until it is chilled before use. After this has been done, the heavy cream used will be difficult to pour and will go back into its natural state once exposed to air.


The secret ingredients of cinnamon are ground cinnamon and sugar. These ingredients need to be mixed with softened butter to form a greasy paste that can then be used to cover the dough as it’s rolled out in preparation for baking. 

With dairy products like milk or cream, it becomes difficult to get the mixture spread out on top of the dough because liquids don’t hold their shape as solids do. One should consider using whole milk instead of half-and-half or cream. 

To amp up cinnamon rolls’ decadence factor, Whole milk will make the dough easier to work with when rolling it out, as well as provide more moisture during baking (creating a soft interior).

Can you use milk instead of heavy cream for cinnamon rolls?

The effects of milk in rolls can be unpredictable. In some cases, the dough will turn out denser and more bread-like. Other times, the dough will become too wet and spread too much during baking.

There are a few things you can do to try to get a better result. One option is to reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by a few tablespoons.

The alternative for heavy cream can be evaporated milk or even half-and-half. Evaporated milk has no fat content and comes in condensed form, so it’s also possible to use evaporated skimmed milk, or 2% reduced fat instead.

It’s important not to replace all the cream with milk because then there won’t be enough fat in the dough, which makes it harder for it to rise properly.

The difference between heavy cream and milk cream and milk – one has fat while the other does not. So don’t use up all the cream before adding milk as it affects the rising of dough when butter is included as an ingredient.

Why are my cinnamon rolls dry?

Touching cinnamon rolls when baking can also cause them to be dry. Make sure to let the dough rise for an hour before using a pastry brush to coat it with butter and sugar. If you still have trouble with dry cinnamon rolls, try substituting milk instead of heavy cream.

To moisten dry cinnamon rolls, use milk instead of heavy cream. Use whole or reduced-fat (2%) milk for best results, but skim is acceptable if that’s all you have on hand. 

If you over-proof cinnamon rolls, they will not hold their shape as well as they should. The same goes for under-proofed cinnamon rolls; they won’t rise enough! The trick is to make sure your dough has risen for at least one hour before shaping it into individual pieces. Otherwise, your finished product will be too dense. 

The purpose of heavy cream in baking is usually to add richness and depth of flavor. For example, it’s used in certain cakes, cheesecakes, ice creams, whipped cream frostings, and other desserts. 

With this in mind, you can probably substitute milk for heavy cream when making recipes like french toast casserole or eggs benedict. Tons of recipes only call for milk – so experiment with variations until you find something you like!


Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite weekend treats, but they can be pretty high in fat and calories if you’re not careful. Heavy cream has more fat than milk, so using heavy cream in your cinnamon rolls would likely result in an excessively high-fat dessert.