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

164 comments on “Oatmeal Raisin Rolls”

  1. I love that these rolls are like a healthier version of cinnamon rolls. I love cinnamon rolls but the calories…not so much! Actually are these lower in calories? hehehe
    They look too delicious to be true!

  2. Beautiful! I love a nice chew to my rolls. And thanks for reminding me that I need to pick up some bread flour! :)

  3. Hey girl! Welcome back to Cali. You are truly becoming the baker queen. Give Averie some yeast and watch her go! Your bread baking skills are growing by leaps and bounds and you’re inspiring me in so many ways!
    I have been dealing with my word press move all week and it’s been fun (not really). I lost all of my pin counts (just like before with that daily meal fiasco) and some links got botched up, but they all seem to be working now. It’s tough not being in control of your blog while someone else does the work. I’m glad it happened on a “vacation” week. Anyway, I’m staying put at word press (I guess I’m not really officially with word press, I’m my own site not word press.com) Yaay! I do wish I had listened to you earlier and made the move in the beginning months of my blog, before I started getting real traffic. Oh well, at least I did it when it was just over a year, right?

    Jackie :)

    • Glad you are doing the migration now! You will look back in a year and be so happy you did it now, not then. The sooner the better! And sorry about everything you lost – I lost 100% of all my comments on 100% of all my posts spanning about an 18 mo timeframe. People leave nice things in the comments, useful links, they tell me they made something and alterations they made or their results and to lose those….ugh….

  4. You are on a roll with bread making!…so punny :P

    Seriously, I am drooling over these and your honey dinner rolls.

  5. These look like a wonderful combo of some of your previous bread recipes–oatmeal adds nice texture and “heartiness” for me! This is like a bowl of oatmeal baked up into a portable package. Perfect for eating on the run too–no spoon required! I took a look at those cookies you bookmarked and the frosting and cookie base is pretty much a dead ringer for mom’s cashew cookies. I have thought about just using cashew (or pecan) butter in place of the actual nuts in that recipe–should still be nutty without the chunks.

    • I was looking at that link, and there are others Ive seen on Pinterest floating around that are similar to that, and I’m going to do something with those, and soon here…I’m just not sure how/what exactly. I am going to avoid as many whole nuts as possible….we shall see…

      And this bread is so HEARTY! Yes, I feel real…’wholesome’ as I’m chewing on all those whole grains :)

  6. I love the depth of textures in these rolls! When I was in college, every morning I would eat a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel and a bowl of oatmeal on campus at 7 am before my day began. I love that combination of flavor and while I love cinnamon rolls, it is nice to have the raisin and cinnamon trump over a sweet frosting.

    I am set to make your honey rolls tomorrow for Thanksgiving. I always get nervous when I am getting ready to make a bread recipe I have not tried before. They look amazing and my family will love them, I know! Wish me luck! ;-)

    • They have so much depth & texture and I used to eat a cinn-raisin bagel with rock hard cream cheese every day in h.s. and college! And I loved it. And these trump those bagels by a million miles!

      Don’t be nervous about the rolls – they are foolpoof! Use your bread flour and good yeast and you know the drill from there. Keep me posted!

  7. I love oatmeal raisin anything and everything. The oatmeal cookies on my blog are still one of my favorite things I’ve made. I’ve never had oats in bread before. I bet it gives amazing texture. I would definitely love one of these for breakfast!

    • Oh you have to try oats in bread! It does give great texture and these are rolls, so it’s amplified b/c the oats are worked into the dough as a dry ingredient, rather than just dusted on top like many loaves of bread are with oats just sprinkled on.

  8. Gorgeous photos, Averie! Those rolls look absolutely perfect :)

  9. Oh yum!! I love anything with oats and raisins! I have to make these, just pinned them so I keep drooling over your gorgeous photo and make some for myself! :)

  10. What a lovely combination of flavors for a roll.

  11. Oh my! You are on a bread roll!! So to say! Your rolls looks so amazing!!!

  12. You know, you make pinning very time-consuming – I have to choose just one from among all these amazing pictures! :)

    Definitely making these. Have an amazing Thanksgiving Averie!

  13. You are really on a roll, here, Aver ie – sorry I couldn’t resist the pun. I think I can smell these all the way down Washington Street to my house…Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. These look so perfect for fall-yum!

  15. I’ve never made oatmeal raisin anything! Haha, but I really like oatmeal raisin stuff.

  16. There is a bit of a time investment here but I’m sure it’s so worth it! You know me and my obsession with rolls!

  17. These look amazing Averi! I will be making these soon!

  18. Pingback: love.life.eat of the week « love.life.eat

  19. Wauw! So shiny! As I scrolled down and read the delicious descriptions and process I became more and more convinced that this was going to be a near-future late Sunday morning treat with some heated soy milk, cinnamon , chia and linseed seeds drink of delight! I’m going to have to substitute the egg for the chia seeds, but otherwise this is lush and gloriously enticing.

    • If you make a vegan version, please LMK how they turn out! I honestly think you’ll be FINE without the egg. They are super dense and not a light and airy roll so the egg really isn’t there to keep them fluffy – more to just bind. I think chia will be just fine!

  20. Pingback: honey raisin buns and another year in passing… « love.life.eat

  21. Hi Averie,
    This is my first time commenting, but I must confess that I have been stalking your recipes for a few months now and love everything I’ve tried so far. Your Cranberry White Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Chip and Chunk cookie recipes made wonderful Christmas gifts for my son’s school teachers last week…So needless to say, I love your blog! I just made the Oatmeal Raisin Rolls recipe and it came out AMAZING!

    You mentioned you’ve never made these in a bread machine…so in case anyone wants to try Averie’s recipe, it works! I kept the recipe intact, I used the dough setting and then let it rise an additional hour. Then I split the dough into two loafs and left them to rise for an extra hour. Then I spread your honey butter topping and baked it for 35 mins. at 375. Success!

    Averie, Thank you so much for this blog!

    • Jessibel hi and thanks for reading, writing, and making my recipes! First, glad the white choc/cranberry & choc chip/chunk cookies were both hits. They are two faves of mine, too!

      And I am so glad to hear you just made these! I don’t have a bread machine but it’s nice to know the recipe works in it! And that you made the recipe into 2 loaves with the honey butter topping – oh yes, can’t forget that :)

      Please keep trying things as you have time and thanks for the feedback – I love to hear all the field reports!

  22. I had been wanting to try this recipe for soooo long and tonight I finally made them! I was so excited while making them and could not wait to taste them. When they were done, they looked exactly like yours! Yay me, right?! Yeah…that was until I bit into one. They tasted horrible, just horrible. What had gone wrong?! I was sooo upset. I followed the recipe just like it said and they even looked perfect, so why didn’t they taste perfect?! I pondered all night about it until finally, at 2:30a.m, it hit me! I used COCONUT OIL! That’s the only thing I did different in this recipe. So please , now I MUST know, is that what could’ve changed the flavor of my rolls? Does the type of oil used affect the flavor of these? I only have extra virgin olive oil in my house, would that work better instead? Please respond! I would love to try and make these again could’ve changed the flavor of my rolls? Does the type of oil used affect the flavor of these? I only have extra virgin olive oil in my house, would that work better instead? Please respond! I would love to try and make these again

    • Ok if the rolls rose, baked up perfectly, etc and all was well, up to the taste, I’m thinking that your oil went rancid. Or that your honey did. Something was spoiled because these rolls are a bit sweet, with just a lovely flavor. Nothing bad about them at all. And I actually think coconut oil is a fine oil to use; I don’t like olive oil in baked goods. I recommend canola or vegetable b/c it’s neutral-flavored. Go buy a 99 cent jar of oil! Start fresh with new oil, and new honey. Or maybe it was your oats? SNIFF everything, taste everything before it goes in. Something somewhere is bad/spoiled. Sour butter? I would start fresh with clean, new ingredients. There are so many things that could go wrong but I would suspect first and foremost, it’s the oil, then the honey.

      “Does the type of oil used affect the flavor of these?” <-- of course. I mean, if I put peanut oil in them, of course it would effect taste. As would coconut, olive, hemp, grapeseed. I always call for neutral oils. Just buy a small bit of new oil and try again! And write back and LMK how it goes!

      • Hmm..that’s interesting because all of my ingredients are practically new. I used the oil just the other day, I tasted the honey before pouring it in the mix, I used the oatmeal a couple of days ago, the flour is practically new, etc. Nothing seems to be spoiled! I think maybe the butter? Because when I tasted the honey butter, it was an alright taste.
        Oh and I wasn’t doubting your recipe! I’ve made recipes on here and have LOVED them. I’ll figure it out on my end and definitely let you know. Thanks for the help!

      • Good luck getting to the bottom of it. Sometimes food can react when in the presence of other foods; maybe the coconut oil reacted with say, the raisins. And they gave off a chemical that then reacted with the oats while baking (just hypothetical) and that created a strange taste. I just don’t know. I recommend trying the recipe exactly as written, with fresh ingredients, and I bet it’s going to be fine! But keep me posted and I knew you weren’t doubting the recipe, but thanks for saying that anyway!

  23. Sorry, had a little glitch in my last comment. Hole you understood the last part though!

  24. Pingback: Thick and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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