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. Hi Averie,

    Love your blog. When I have some free time I find myself going back and perusing your past recipes over and over :)
    BTW – King Arthur does make whole wheat pastry flour…although I usually buy it in bulk at either Winco or Whole Foods.

  2. Hi Averi,
    I made your cinnamon raisin English muffin bread yesterday. It was yummy! Today I tried your oatmeal cinnamon raisin muffins. Followed the recipe to the letter. Noticed the bread was kind of dry when it was kneading. Now after 2 hours it hasn’t risen very much. I know the yeast is good, as I used it yesterday. I didn’t kill the yeast because I used a thermometer to check the temp. Got any ideas to what could be wrong?

    • If you follow a bread recipe to the letter, you *could* have overfloured the dough. Dough should be somewhat moist; not so moist it doesn’t come together but not ‘kind of dry’ either. I suspect you added too much flour. Or that your yeast somehow didn’t activate properly and although they worked yesterday with the water you used then, temperature, etc…today’s batch could be a different story. Unlikely but it’s possible. I would say you added too much flour and the dough is so heavy it’s not rising well. I would still bake them and realize they will be dense :) And then next time, use less flour based on how your dough feels and looks that day.

  3. Thanks, Averi, I believe you are right. When adding the last cup of flour, I thought it was too much. They turned out somewhat dry and heavy….but still tasty. Can’t wait to try this recipe again! I will get it right. :)

    • Yes bread is such a delicate thing sometimes…even when I remake my own recipes, one day I may need 3 3/4 cup flour, another day I may need 4 1/2 cups. It’s dependent on weather, humidity, the other ingredients, etc. Glad you still baked them but yes, density happens with over-flouring. Plus with the oats, they will soak up alot of moisture and some brands will do that more than other brands. You could have had thirsty oats :)

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  5. I just made these today and OMG they are phenomenal!! I should have made a double batch like you said! I will next time!!!

  6. hi
    i love your blog n tried baking the raisin oat roll.
    im a first time baker and im not sure about
    how precise the rising duration should be cos
    my dough rise REALLY high n fast within 30 min instead
    of the recommended 1 hr. must i let it rise for an hr or will it be ok if i start
    baking them in the oven once they dbl in size?
    even if they were let to rise only for 30min? will it
    affect the end result?

    • Once the dough has doubled in size, it would have been fine to carry on with the rest of the recipe. Sounds like that happened in 30 mins not an hour for you. Nothing ‘bad’ will likely have happened if you let it go 1 hour. Sometimes in some recipes it can (it’s call over-proofing) but in these, I doubt it would be an issue. By now, you’ve likely baked them and hope you’re enjoying them!

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  9. Not suire if I am entering for the sweepstakes or not – new to this hwole thing. But I do love Pinterest and love to follow people’ ideas recipes and brainstorming. I would like to say that you have a great site and some wonderful thigns to view and re-create. Many thanks for all the time that you put into this site and the effort that you make to make it easy and enjoyable.

  10. These look fantastic! Did you measure the bread flour per King Arthur’s instructions by weight, or did you use a scoop? Trying to get it exactly right :-) One cup of bread flour is 4.25 ounces in King Arthur brand, but scooping it using yields me 5 ounces per cup.

    • I scooped it into a cup but I use a very light hand, and scantly fill my 1 cup measuring cup. With any bread making, less is usually more when it comes to flour. Add slowly, see how your dough looks, and the least amt of flour you can use to get the dough to combine, the lighter and less dense the rolls will be. Sounds like you’re an experienced bread-maker if you know the difference between scoops and scales, but I would err on the lower end of things. But really these rolls are very forgiving and not fussy, at all!

  11. Ok, Averie, help me out. I absolutely must make these, but I’m having trouble deciding what the best gluten-free flour substitue would be. Since pretty much every gluten-free bread I make is dense, I feel like this could be a winner. Just wanted to see if you had any thoughts.
    Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose is more of a bean based flour, right? That one might be better than say, rice flours or potato/tapioca starch?
    Thanks so much! Excited to try these!

  12. Oh, this sounds delicious. I love oatmeal with raisins and cinnamon, but sometimes do get board with the same old, same old – this would be a nice treat for a change of pace. :)

  13. Do you think I can I use coconut oil instead of canola oil?

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  16. Id love to make these but only have white whole wheat flour?? Will that still work? Still new to baking breads so excuse me if that is a dumb question :) TIA. These look heavenly and worth the investment on bread flour if necessary!

  17. I love these rolls! Just made them again today and thought I’d share that I used QuickRise yeast. I mixed it with the flour in the bowl of my mixer, then added warm water, followed by oil/honey/salt/egg mixture, followed by oats and raisins. I let the dough rest for a few minutes then shaped into rolls and only did one 40 minute rise in the pan. It really cut down on the overall time to make these and they turned out great!

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  20. Instead of letting the dough rise for the first 2hrs at room temperature, what do you think about putting it in the fridge for a night and letting it rise there? Would I need to let is rise for a bit before I put it in a cold environment or do you think 8hrs would be okay?

    • So basically you want to turn this into overnight dough. In that case, I personally would let it rise as directed, shape the rolls and get them into the pan, then cover the pan and put it in the fridge. I always hesitate to take fresh dough and then stick it right into the fridge. Sometimes that just slows the yeast down so much it never recovers; other times, it doesn’t. I don’t know exactly what would happen here with either method but you can read how I do my overnight cinn rolls and they’re my fave cinn rolls ever. LMK what you do and how it goes! https://www.averiecooks.com/2013/02/overnight-buttermilk-soft-and-fluffy-cinnamon-rolls.html

  21. I made these today and they are amazing! What a great recipe. I’ll be slathering some cream cheese on my next roll, yum! I love the texture, they are perfectly chewy yet soft and tender too thanks to the oatmeal. They remind me a bit of cinnamon rolls. Next time I might make this into a loaf so I can use it for french toast or bread pudding. Oh and for the person who asked, I weighed my bread flour according to King Arthur’s website which is 4.25 ounces per cup, so I used a total of 14.875 ounces bread flour for the recipe. It worked perfectly. Thanks for another great recipe!

    • Thanks for trying the rolls, April, and glad you loved them! They are a bit like cinnamon rolls, but heartier (and probably a bit healthier) and I love the idea of baking as a loaf and then using for French toast or bread pudding. Wow, that sounds so good! Thanks for the measurement info too – I’m sure that will help someone!

  22. So yummy! Just ate one slathered in honey butter and it was delicious! For those who may be interested I replaced 1 cup of the flour with white whole wheat and cut the total flour down to about 3 – 3 1/4 cups, and they were still a good texture. I figure some whole wheat is better than none. ;) Thanks Averie for another great recipe!

    • That’s great that you were able to work in some wheat (I like your some whole wheat is better than none theory) and yes, after adding whole wheat you were very smart to reduce the overall total amt of flour since wheat really needs moisture to rise and a looser dough with less flour was very smart! :)

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  25. I made these today and they are very, very good! I didn’t have raisins, so we had date cinnamon rolls instead. I planned on following the directions and using a butter topping, but then I read a comment about using cream cheese icing and you just can’t unsee an idea like that! I’ll be making these again. Thank you!

    • and you just can’t unsee an idea like that! <--- isn't that the trust :) I have so many of those, daily, while reading food blogs & sites! So glad these worked out great for you & I love dates and bet they were wonderful in the rolls!

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