Oatmeal Raisin Rolls

There’s something so hearty and comforting about a bowl of warm, cinnamon raisin oatmeal.

But after making oatmeal raisin rolls, I may never make a bowl of cinnamon raisin oatmeal again. The oatmeal ante has been upped.

The oatmeal raisin rolls have a striking resemblance to cinnamon rolls with raisins, but because they’re made with whole-grain oats and use far less butter and sugar, I told myself they were a healthy cinnamon roll. Exactly.

The rolls combine my love of highly textured, really chewy, moist bread and pair those qualities with the rolls I can buy in the Dutch grocery stores when I’m in Aruba, known as muesli rolls. I didn’t set out to create muesli rolls prior to making these oatmeal rolls are instead they’re based on my recent Honey Dinner Rolls recipe, for which I have the highest and utmost praise. It will likely be my plain white dinner roll recipe forever, even though there’s nothing plain about them.

Since I love that recipe, and because I also adore oats, raisins, and cinnamon, I wanted to create a roll that combined the best of both worlds. The resulting rolls strongly resemble my beloved muesli rolls, which I spend most of the year dreaming about until the next time I’m in Aruba. The Dutch-influenced breads and pastries on the island are sinfully perfect and it’s a good thing I enjoy warm weather running.

Although traditional muesli rolls tend to have some nuts, flax, pumpkin, or sunflower seeds, or oats sprinkled on top, those toppings unfortunately tend to either fall off and lay loose in the bottom of the plastic bag the rolls are sold in, or it falls off all over my kitchen floor. My husband and child have a knack for getting more breadcrumbs on the floor than in their mouths. From a flavor and texture perspective, these rolls are spot on with my muesli memories, minus the messy topping that I don’t prefer stepping in anyway.

If puff pastry, croissants, and challah are on one end of the bread density spectrum, these rolls are on the other. They are not light and fluffy airy puffballs and instead have teeth-sinking density, with a high degree of texture and chew factor. Bread flour, which makes any dough chewier to begin with, used in conjunction with the oats and raisins, created a real chewy party, destined to give your jaw a workout.

The dough is lightly sweetened with honey and the plump juicy raisins distributed throughout are plentiful. I’ve had muesli rolls and bread that incorporate other types of dried fruit, including apricots or currants, and substituting your favorite dried fruit from dried mango to diced Medjool dates or dried apples would be lovely in these.

Both the honey used in the dough as well as from the honey-butter mixture that’s brushed on the rolls prior to baking lends a rich, buttery, and sweetly discernible flavor, which doesn’t get lost in the shuffle as I find can happen with baked goods sweetened with honey. It’s akin to topping the best bowl of cinnamon-raisin oatmeal of your life with a little drizzle of melted honey-butter before digging in.

The honey-butter brushed on top also helps the rolls achieve a glorious amber hue and the mixture that runs down the sides and pools in the bottom of the pan creates a gooey, rich, and almost caramelized layer at the base.

To make these rolls, I began with the same amounts of water, yeast, egg, honey, and canola oil used in the Honey Dinner Rolls.

Then, in addition to just using bread flour as I had previously, I also added whole-rolled oats, raisins, and cinnamon, which warmly yet gently spices the dough.  I was a bit concerned that the oatmeal and raisins would somehow impede the rise, but I had nothing to worry about. I used Red Star Platinum yeast and they rose like champs into big, puffy, beautiful mounds that filled up every inch of my baking pan.

The dough can be kneaded by hand or in a stand mixer and after kneading it’s allowed to rise for about two hours. After the first rise, punch the dough down and lightly knead it by hand for about one minute. Allow the dough to rest for about ten minutes before shaping it into rolls as this resting period helps the gluten to relax and the dough will be more cooperative when trying to form it into rolls. It’s a thick yet springy dough and has a bit of mind of it’s own, reminding me that bread dough is very much alive.

When I previously made the honey dinner rolls, I divided the dough into one dozen equal-sized pieces but with this recipe, I divided it into sixteen pieces because there was more dough volume. The oats and raisins really bulked it up and only making one dozen would have yielded ridiculously large rolls and sixteen pieces seemed more appropriate.

Both recipes are baked using a 9-by-13-inch pan, and although some of the rolls in the center were a tiny bit crowded, if given the choice I would still remake them in one pan, rather than using two pans, for less overall dishes and hassle. If you prefer perfectly round globes, you may consider baking them in two pans. But crowding isn’t all bad because some of those center-cut rolls are extra soft, tender, and moist and are the ones I reach for first. Center pieces trump edge pieces, always.

Be careful when baking your masterpieces because the honey-butter mixture will be prone to burning in the final minutes of baking, and these bake up fast, in just about fifteen minutes. I don’t even leave the kitchen after I put them into the oven.

I loved every bite of these chewy rolls, with their slightly firm and sweet tops from the honey-butter, contrasted with the soft and dense interior. The bits of oats and chunky raisins did a marvelous job of sticking to my teeth with each hearty bite. They’d be perfect to put on the Thanksgiving table, the Christmas brunch table, or on any Tuesday afternoon you need a carbtastic pick-me-up.

And as a happy accident, now I have a recipe that’s part whole-grain cinnamon roll and also one that emulates my beloved Aruban muesli rolls, no passport required.

Oatmeal Raisin Rolls - A healthier spin on cinnamon rolls, these soft & chewy rolls are made with healthy oats & brushed with honey!

Oatmeal Raisin Rolls
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Time investment includes the first rise of 2 hours, the punch down and resting time for 10 minutes, the second rise is 1 hour, and the baking time is 15 minutes. From start to finish, about 3½ hours. They are worth every minute - consider making a double batch and freezing half for later. These are fabulous hearty, chewy, and soft rolls, full of texture from the raisins and oats. They're lightly sweetened from honey in the dough and are then brushed with honey-butter prior to baking, which lends both a golden color to the rolls and infuses them with a subtle sweetness. The rolls can be made ahead of time - make a batch from start to finish, freeze the rolls, and pull them out as needed for dinner, brunch, snacks, a special meal, or holiday gathering.
Serves: 16 generously-sized rolls, one 9-by-13-inch pan
  • 1 cup water, warmed (120 to 130F for Red Star Platinum yeast, or 105 to 115F for most other yeast)
  • 2¼ teaspoons instant dry yeast (one ¼-ounce packet, I use Red Star Platinum)
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 3½ cups bread flour (I use King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned whole rolled oats (not quick cook or instant)
  • 1 cup raisins (combination of raisins, cranberries, currants, or other dried fruit may be used)
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  1. Add water to a glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl and heat on high power to warm it, about 30 seconds. Testing with a thermometer is highly recommended, but if testing with your finger, water should feel warm but not hot.
  2. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the water and sprinkle the yeast on top of it. Beat on low speed for about 10 seconds, just to combine; let mixture stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the egg, ¼ cup honey, oil, salt, and mix until well-combined, about 2 minutes on low to medium-low speed. Add 3 cups flour, oats, raisins, cinnamon, and beat until a dough forms. Scrape off any dough bits stuck to the paddle and remove the paddle attachment. Put on the dough hook.
  4. With the dough hook attached, turn mixer on low speed, and slowly sprinkle in remaining ½ cup of flour. Knead dough for about 8 to 10 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl and dough hook as necessary. Dough will be firm, smooth, not sticky, and elastic. Place mounded ball of dough in a lightly greased large bowl and cover with plasticwrap. Place mounded ball of dough in a cooking sprayed or lightly greased large bowl and cover with plasticwrap. Place bowl in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours. Tip - Preheating your oven for 1 minute to 400F, then shutting it off (make sure you shut it off), and quickly sliding the bowl in so the hot air doesn't escape is one way to create a warm environment; think 85 or 90F summer day warm environment. A cooler environment simply means dough will take longer to rise.
  5. After dough has risen and doubled, punch it down to release the air bubbles, and turn it out onto a Silpat or floured work surface. Knead for about 1 minute. Mound dough into a ball, place it back into the bowl, cover it, and allow it to rest and relax for about 10 minutes, making it easier to shape into rolls.
  6. Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking pan by lining it with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  7. Place dough on Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat or floured work surface, and using your hands, roll it into a long cylinder, about 16 inches in length. Divide the log into 16 uniformly-sized pieces with a dough cutter or sharp knife. Roll each piece into a ball, creating surface tension on the top of the ball by stretching the dough over itself a bit and pinch off the bottom, tucking the dough into itself. Place each piece into the prepared pan, seam side down, uniformly spaced, four rows of four. (Dough may also be rolled into just a simple 'plain ball', without pulling on the top surface of dough to create tension and not bothering to pinch off the bottom a bit, but I find they rise better and are fluffier if they're pinched off rather than just round dough globes)
  8. After all pieces are in the pan, cover it with plasticwrap and allow to dough to rise for about 1 hour, or until rolls are nearly doubled in size. While dough rises, preheat oven to 400F. A good place for this rise is placing baking pan on the stovetop while oven is preheating for the carryover warmth.
  9. Prepare honey-butter mixture by melting butter in a microwave-safe bowl on high power, about 1 minute. To the melted butter, add 2 tablespoons honey and stir to combine; set aside. After the rolls have risen and before baking, brush tops and sides of dough with the honey-butter mixture, getting into the sides and crevices and with a pastry brush. Bake rolls for about 15 minutes or until golden; they bake up very fast and watch them closely so the honey-butter mixture doesn't burn in this very hot oven. Allow rolls to cool before serving. Serve with Honey Butter or Cinnamon-Sugar Butter.
  10. Rolls may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to 4 days. Rolls also freeze very well and can be made from start to finish, cooled, and placed in a freezer-safe airtight container or a ziplock for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, unthaw them and if desired, immediately prior to serving warm them in a low oven (~175 to 200F) for a few minutes and just until warmed.
  11. Recipe adapted from Honey Dinner Rolls
I highly recommend Red Star Platinum Yeast and King Arthur Bread Flour because they gave great results.

The recipe can be made by hand and kneaded by hand, it will just take you a bit longer. I am unsure if this recipe can be made in a bread machine as I don't have one. I suspect the dough could also be baked in loaf pans; I'd use two 9-by-5 inch loaf pans, but I have not tried it.

The rolls can be made ahead of time, making them from start to finish, freezing the finished rolls, and can be unthawed prior to needing them, and if preferred warming them gently and briefly in a low oven for that just-baked taste is nice. Although I haven't tried it, I would guess that after the first rise of ninety minutes, and after the dough has been shaped into rolls and placed in the pan, you could cover the pan and refrigerate it overnight, and bake the rolls off the next morning.

Related Recipes:

Honey Dinner Rolls – These rolls inspired today’s recipe and they’re soft, light, fluffy, tender, moist and the dough has just enough chew to really sink my teeth into. They’re the absolute best white dinner rolls I’ve ever had and I will make this recipe over and over for years to come when I need white dinner rolls. Highly recommended for Thanksgiving, Christmas, holiday gatherings, brunches, or any day of the week

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread with Cinnamon Sugar Butter – If you’ve never made bread before, this is a goofproof, foolproof, no-knead recipe that’s perfect for the first-time bread maker. You’ll never have a need for storebought English muffins again, especially because this bread is spiked with cinnamon-sugar and raisins

Challah – Light, fluffy, soft, tender, crossiant-like, and the best challah I’ve ever had and extremely easy to make. Made using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking principles, this is a no-knead, goofproof, and effortless method to making bread and dough can be made in advance and stored for up to five days prior to baking it

Cinnamon Swirl Bread – As close to a cinnamon roll as a bread can get and still be called bread rather than dessert. Rich, sweet, and light. This bread is for the cinnamon lover’s and is abundantly flavored with cinnamon, which is used twice in the bread recipe, and again in the cinnamon-sugar butter I serve it with

Outback Steakhouse Wheat Bread {Copycat Recipe} – This recipe is based on my love of Outback’s bread and makes two small loaves of hearty, dense, wheat bread and is a dead-ringer in terms of flavor. The bread is ever-so-slightly sweetened and is infused with subtle hints of molasses and coco. Serve with honey butter for even more authenticity

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – Soft, chewy, tender and a timeless oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. I like to make them with a raisin medley, including golden raisins

Do you have a favorite recipe for oatmeal-raisin anything?

Feel free to link up your favorites because I love the combination of oatmeal-raisin anything.

In addition to the oatmeal-raisin recipe above, I made these No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Balls (vegan, GF) in the dark ages of my blog.

There’s Dark Rum Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, perfect for the adults at holiday parties because drinking your rum and eating it too (via cookies) is the best way.

These Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (No-Bake, Vegan, GF) use ample amounts of oats and chewy raisins and they’re my favorite chewy granola bar recipe because the results are very Chewy Quaker granola bar-like in about ten minutes at home and I can customize the ingredients.

Do you have a favorite bread or roll recipe?

I’m love hearing about favorite tried-and-true bread recipes or even ones you have your eye on, links welcome. I’m particularly interested in cinnamon roll recipes that promise to be ‘the best’, as they’re on my agenda but like chocolate chip cookie recipes, everyone seems to have their favorite.

Thanks for the Red Star Platinum Yeast Gift Basket Giveaway entries – winner announced next post

I just returned home from a whirlwind weekend in Barbados at the Food & Wine and Rum Festival and I’m going to try to post about it later this week

166 comments on “Oatmeal Raisin Rolls”

  1. Hi! I’ve made these and your honey dinner rolls several times but for some reason, a few times they didn’t rise, even though I did everything right. Well after a LOT of troubleshooting and baking more bread with different recipes, I realized it was the instant yeast. I don’t know if you meant to put active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, but instant yeast isn’t supposed to be proofed because it can lose all of its rapid rise properties in the proof and then the actual dough won’t rise, which has happened to me! I just thought you might want to clarify that in the recipe to save other people all the trouble and wasted ingredients I went through! Otherwise, it’s a great recipe and I love it!

    Rating: 4
    • Thanks for remaking this and doing lots of trouble shooting and sorry it didn’t come out perfectly for you at first.

      This recipe is from 2014 and I haven’t made it since, but I do know that I did intent at the time to write instant yeast, as indicated. There was a yeast you could buy then, called Red Star Platinum and it was amazing and it worked perfectly as written, but they’ve since discontinued that yeast.

      However, I haven’t ever had anyone else say they couldn’t get these to work with instant yeast…who knows. Yeast can be a mystery sometimes! But glad you ultimately had success with these!

  2. I’ve made this recipe several times and we always love it. This last time I substituted the raisens for craisens, dropped the cinnamon, substituted 1/2 cup orange juice for half of the water, and added the zest of 2 oranges to it. The base makes really good orange cranberry rolls.

    Rating: 5
  3. Hi! I just wanted to give some results of the substitutions I made on this recipe: I subbed out the water for almond “buttermilk” I wanted to get rid of in my fridge. I also used 1c of whole wheat pastry flour and 2.5 cups of plain AP flour. I used Fleshman’s active dry yeast (because that’s what was in my cupboard), and kneaded the dough by hand. They smelled AMAZING in the oven, but they didn’t get as big in my 9X13 pan on the second rise, even though I made sure they were in a warm place. I also found the flavor to be slightly bland. I will experienment with perhaps sifting the flour, or actually using bread flour next time to see if I could figure out which swap caused the lackluster second rise. All in all THANKS for this recipe! I was looking for something like this for an easy, not sugar-laden on-the-go breakfast :)

    Rating: 4
    • Whole wheat flour will never give you the same volume/expansion/rise that bread flour does so that’s probably why they were smaller than your pan and didn’t rise as much.

      You could also add additional salt to the dough, to taste, for more flavor. Even though between the honey, raisins, cinnamon I think they’re fine but we all have different tastes. Glad they were good overall.

  4. Can i use all purpose flour for these? I only have wholemeal/whole wheat bread flour and i think it might be a bit too grainy for these.

    • I have only used bread flour with this recipe and am not sure how AP will work. I agree that wholemeal/whole wheat bread flour would be a bit too grainy. Good luck with whatever you decide to go with.

  5. I do not know if my yeast was any good or not so my dough did not rise as much as I believe they should have. After 2hours it had not doubled in size so I still just punched it down and kneaded it; formed my rolls and then let it sit for another hour. I used Red Star regular active yeast. It had expired in April 2017…?
    Anyway, they came out tasting ok. I forgot to add the cinnamon into the dough?. I did add it later, into the honey butter mixture. So I got the cinnamon taste. They will replace my cinn. raisin bagels that I usually purchase every couple of months. All they need is a smattering of “I can’t believe it’s not butter” and they are good to go!

    • Yeast is one of those things that definitely loses its strength at the expiration date – sometimes even before. Surprised you had any luck at all but glad that these will replace your cinn raisin bagels!

  6. These rolls are excellent! As described, they’re soft and chewy with a hint of cinnamon. I followed the recipe exactly and used Red Star Platinum yeast. The dough came together quickly in the mixer. I kneaded by hand until it passed the windowpane test. It’s a moist, slightly tacky dough, but not sticky. My rolls were a bit larger than the ones pictured in the recipe. After punching down, I weighed the dough and divided it into 12 equal pieces, spacing them apart in a parchment paper-lined baking pan. They were touching after proofing so the sides of the baked buns were soft, not crusty. Definitely one of the best recipes for rolls that I’ve tried, and I’ve tried many!

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  14. I have made these biscuits about 5 times now. I eat one for breakfast daily. I leave out the butter to keep it a little  healthier. They work great with my no added sugar lifestyle. Thanks!

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad you love it so much that you keep re-making it! And that you’re able to leave out the butter, too! Thanks for LMK you love these as much as I do!

  15. Thank you! By the way, every recipe of yours that I have made has turned out great! Love your blog thanks for sharing your expertise ☺

  16. These look wonderful! Is it possible to use instant oatmeal if that’s all I have on hand?

    • Haven’t tried it that way and with bread recipes, generally speaking unless you’re an experienced bread maker, it’s better to stick exactly to the recipe, especially the first time around.

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  19. I made these yesterday and they turned out absolutely delicious. I didn’t have enough honey for in the dough, so I substituted with some molasses. Fantastic! Thank you!

  20. Averie, is it possible to make these rolls egg free?

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