Starbucks-Style Gluten Free Morning Buns

Starbucks-Style Gluten Free Morning Buns

If you love cinnamon buns, you’ll love these gluten free morning buns! Soft tender yeasted buns filled with cinnamon sugar, they’re just like the morning buns at Starbucks—but safely gluten free.

Morning buns on a white plate being glazed I don’t know about you, but I didn’t feel like staring at morning buns longingly in the glass case at Starbucks for one. more. minute. Everyone has their limit!

A close up of morning buns on white surface

In that very glass case at Starbucks, their morning buns are sprinkled with what looks like a glaze, and then some sugar crystals. But I have always thought that they really called out for a vanilla cream cheese glaze. So I went for it.

Lemon zest and sugar in a wooden bowl on wooden surface

Whenever possible, if I am adding citrus zest to a recipe that also has granulated sugar, I really like to process the zest with the sugar before adding it. It releases allll of the essential oils in the zest right into the sugar, and you never, ever have to be bothered with big pieces of zest showing up in a tender bite of morning bun.

If you love cinnamon buns, you'll love these gluten free morning buns! Soft tender yeasted buns filled with cinnamon sugar, they're just like the morning buns at Starbucks—but safely gluten free. Here's how!

If you think these little buns are hard to make, remember the gluten free braided Nutella bread. So many of you have told me on Facebook and by email that you feared the braided bread, but you jumped in with both feet—and found sweet success. It’s easy! Just trust the process. Trust me! I’ve got your back.

Morning buns before and after being baked

They really are so pretty that it’s almost a shame to cover them with that glaze…

Morning bun on a white plate

But I did it anyway! And if you make these for Mother’s Day, you win. If someone else makes these for Mother’s Day and you get to just sit and enjoy one, you hit the jackpot!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 8 buns


Zest of 1 orange

1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar

3 cups (420 g) Gluten Free Bread Flour*, plus more for sprinkling

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon (3 g) instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon (3 g) kosher salt

2/3 cup (5 1/3 fluid ounces) warm milk (about 95°F)

2 eggs (120 g, out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup (164 g) packed light brown sugar, mixed with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Egg wash, for brushing (1 egg + 1 tablespoon water, beaten well)

1 cup (115 g) confectioners’ sugar

2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean (can replace with 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)

Warm water by the half-teaspoon, as necessary


  1. 1 cup (140 g) Gluten Free Bread Flour, as discussed more fully on pages 8 to 10 of GFOAS Bakes Bread, contains 100 grams Mock Better Batter all purpose gluten free flour (or Better Batter itself) + 25 grams whey protein isolate (I use NOW Foods brand) + 15 grams Expandex modified tapioca starch.
  2. For a calculator that helps you build the flour without math, please see my Gluten Free Flour page.
  3. If you would like to use Ultratex 3 in place of Expandex, please see #6 on my Resources page for instructions.


  • In a blender or food processor, place the orange zest and sugar, and process until combined and very fragrant. In the bowl of your stand mixer, place the flour, cream of tartar, ground cinnamon and instant yeast, and use a handheld whisk to combine well. Add the salt and whisk to combine well. Add the sugar with the orange zest, and then the milk, eggs and butter, and mix on low speed with the dough hook until combined. Raise the mixer speed to medium and knead for about 5 minutes. The dough is a lovely, smooth, enriched dough. It climbs up the dough hook during kneading but remains intact and smooth. Spray a silicone spatula lightly with cooking oil spray, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl or proofing bucket large enough for the dough to rise to double its size, spray the top of the dough with cooking oil spray, and cover with an oiled piece of plastic wrap (or the oiled top to your proofing bucket). Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days.**

    **Note: If you prefer, you may make and use this dough on the same day. It will not be as easy to handle, however, but you can work with it. To use the dough the same day it is made, after making the dough, set the covered dough to rise in a warm, draft-free environment to allow it to rise to double its size (about 1 hour). Once it has doubled, place it in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or until it is chilled. This will make it much easier to handle. Then, continue with the rest of the recipe instructions.

  • Preparing the dough for shaping. On baking day, line a large rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper, and set it aside. Turn out the chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface and, using the scrape and fold kneading method and using a very light touch, sprinkle the dough with more flour and knead it lightly, sprinkling with flour when necessary to prevent it from sticking, scrape the dough off the floured surface with a floured bench scraper, then fold it over on itself. Repeat scraping and folding until the dough has become smoother. Do not overwork the dough or you will incorporate too much flour and it will not rise properly.

  • Shaping/filling the dough + the final rise. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into two equal portions. Cover one lightly with a moist tea towel to prevent it from drying out while you shape the other. Pat the remaining half of dough into a thick rectangle (about 1 inch thick), and transfer to a lightly greased piece of unbleached parchment paper. On the parchment paper, roll out the dough into a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick, and 8-inches wide x 10-inches high, sprinkling very lightly with more bread flour as necessary to prevent the rolling pin from sticking to the top of the dough. Dust off any excess flour from the surface of the rectangle facing up, and brush the melted butter in an even layer on top, covering the entire surface. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture for the filling in an even layer on top of the melted butter, and press gently to help the sugar mixture adhere to the dough. Using a pizza or pastry cutter or a very sharp knife and starting at a short side, slice the rectangle into 4 equal strips, each 2-inches wide (and 10-inches long). Starting at a short side, roll each strip into a tight coil. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, placing each coil of dough 3-inches apart from the others. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough, making 4 more coils. Using the palm of your hand, press down firmly on each coil, one a time, until it is compressed into a flat disk, about 1-inch high. Cover the baking sheet with a piece of oiled plastic wrap, and place in warm, draft-free location to rise only until the buns are just beginning to swell (about 30 minutes, but it could be more if your rising environment is particularly cold and/or dry). Do not overproof.

  • Bake. As the dough is in its final rise, preheat your oven to 350°F. Once the dough has finished rising, uncover it, brush the surface of each bun evenly with the egg wash, and place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until the buns are lightly golden brown all over. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

  • Make the glaze. In a small bowl, place about 1/2 cup  of the confectioners’ sugar and the cream cheese, and mix well. The mixture will be thick. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla seeds, and mix well to combine. The mixture should be smooth and thickly pourable. Add warm water by the half-teaspoonful as necessary to reach the desired consistency. It is easier to thin than to thicken icing, so proceed carefully. Spread the vanilla glaze on the cooled buns and serve at room temperature.

  • Adapted from the recipe for Cinnamon Rolls on page 166 of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread.



P.S. If you haven’t yet, please pick up your copy of Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread! Let’s show the world what gluten free can really do!

Comments are closed.

  • Chalalah
    May 11, 2014 at 3:35 AM

    I just want to say, I made these and they tasted very good, but they didn’t rise so much and were kind of heavy. Maybe a little too much orange zest, too? But my family and I liked them a lot.

    • May 11, 2014 at 8:25 AM

      Chalalah, when made as directed, these buns are not at all heavy. If they didn’t rise much, please remember that learning to bake yeast bread is a process. You likely didn’t allow them long enough to rise. The rising time is always an estimate as it is very environment-dependent. I recommend you read through the Bread FAQs here on the blog, and if you made any substitutions look there as well. The amount of citrus zest is very much a matter of personal taste and will vary from person to person.

  • Chalalah
    May 9, 2014 at 6:17 AM

    Eating one right now. Yum!

  • Diane Decker
    May 5, 2014 at 8:06 PM

    These rolls look a lot like kolaches, which are very traditional Czech rolls with various fillings in a depression in the center. They are ubiquitous to this area, which was settled by Czech immigrants well over a hundred years ago. They rejoice in their heritage, which is celebrated at Czech Days in August. I have a large collection of filling recipes, along with a few dough recipes. I will make these as soon as my ingredients arrive and let you know how close they are. Maybe I can send some filling recipes your way. Surely I can’t be the only person in the US who is celiac and craves kolaches! Always looking for ways to draw in the readers.

    • Jennifer
      May 6, 2014 at 2:49 AM

      Diane, what part of the country are you in?

      We’re 100% Czech on my dads side of the family and these look nothing like the kolaches we make in Texas. For ours you pinch off a piece of dough and shape it like you’re making a dinner roll…then press them down in the center and fill with prunes (or other fillings) then top with posypka and bake.

      I made them for Christmas using Nicole’s bread flour blend and have made them at least once a month since. Her flour blend works really really well. (I don’t ever pimp my blog on other blogs but I have pictures of them on there…Christmas post.)

      I’m not doubting your version at all just interested in what part the country makes them this way. :)

      • Diane Decker
        May 6, 2014 at 3:33 AM

        I didn’t express myself very well, did I? I meant the dough looks like something you could use to make kolaches. You are right, that is not how they do them in Wilber Nebraska. I am not Czech, but am as addicted to kolaches as everyone else. I have been looking for the right dough and this one reminded me of the way it looks. I would love to hear more about which recipe you used. I’m thinking Czech days in Wilber might be more fun if I can have kolaches. My favorite fillings are strawberry and pineapple, which are in no way traditional. However, my creative brain took off. What if you made the rolls like Nicole did, with the kolache filling rolled up on the inside? Basically kolache-cinnamon roll-ish buns.. Since I’m not Czech, I can mess with tradition. Just won’t call them kolache. Message me on Facebook if you have more to discuss. Love to meet people who love to bake.

        • Jennifer
          May 6, 2014 at 5:49 PM

          Diane, I sent you a message on facebook. :) (It said it would be in your ‘other’ folder since we’re not friends.) Do you make your fruit filling really thick? If you do it would probably hold up to rolling like these. I could see my prune filling holding up to rolling but not apricot or figs since they’re much more runny. I think they’d end up a big mess. (Hypothetically of course since my fam would disinherit me if I tried this :) )

          Nicole, sorry for taking this so off track. The whole reason I stopped by the comments yesterday was to tell you that I’ve finally figured out a way to use the Ultratex 8 I ordered when we were having such a hard time getting Expandex. I’ve been using it in the Tortilla recipe. 1 tsp per cup (which is consistently weighing 2g on my scale). It’s working like a dream. I was having such a hard time getting tortillas to work where they would roll without breaking. I’d given up and just went to making what I was calling yeasted tortillas since I could get those to roll. Before I threw out the U8 I decided to give it one last try in tortillas. I use your simple flour blend for the flour (the white rice / tap / pot / xan blend) and just subtract 2g for the U8. To explain how important I consider a tortilla…I grew up South Texas / live in South East Texas now…we can buy fresh homemade tortillas in our convenience stores. My little local grocery store makes them fresh while you watch. Shopping is pure torture because you can smell them from the parking lot. Thank you again for this bread book that makes living in this gluten – full world a whole lot easier. :)

    • Jennifer
      May 6, 2014 at 2:51 AM

      I apologize, Diane. I see now where you mentioned the fruit filled center. I missed that in my first read thru and was just curious as to where they make kolaches that look like cinnamon rolls. :)

  • Maat
    May 5, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    Do you know if the company that produces Expandex uses Aluminum in the process. Some Tapioca starch that is modified uses that metal and I can’t seem to find an answer. Since you are a big promoter of this product maybe the company will answer you inquiry. Thanks for any help, Gluten Intolerance is a bitch because now I am sensitive to Aluminum among
    other common food Poisons.

    • May 5, 2014 at 9:08 PM

      I honestly have no idea, Maat. You should be able to contact them directly and get the answer to your question.

  • Ruthe
    May 5, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    Good afternoon Nicole. I just cleaned the kitchen and came straight to the computer to give you my everlasting thanks and a great big hug. If ever you feel down concerning this blog, please know you are an angel to many of us out here. I just made the flour tortillas from your book ‘GFOAS Bakes Bread’ and ate one while another was frying. My husband came into the kitchen and asked if I was okay. “Sure, why?” “You look like you’re having a religious experience!” I don’t mean to get all mushy on you, but I have a serious girl crush on you. This seventy year old thanks you!!

    • May 5, 2014 at 9:07 PM

      Ruthe that sounds wonderful! Go on and get mushy! A good tortilla can do that to a person. :)

  • Ann Stewart
    May 5, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    Hello… I am wondering if the Expandex & Ultratexis GMO free? Is there a substitute for them?

    • May 5, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      I honestly don’t know, Ann. I recommend you contact the companies themselves for that sort of information. And no, there is no substitute.

  • Michelle
    May 5, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    I need to make your mojito recipe again! They are so good, and the mint in my side yard is really nice right now. I may make tacos with cabbage, cotija cheese, green sauce and crema for Cinco de Mayo, but I want to learn how to make sopes the way the woman at the Salvadorean restaurant does- the store-bought ones are gross. I didn’t realize the Starbucks morning buns have orange….mmmmm….. orange cinnamon buns are my favorite. Thanks for this recipe!

  • Lucy
    May 5, 2014 at 10:05 AM

    Yummy! I know that these would be a hit in our home! As you know less chocolate is good…lol! I have strange girls. Since I bake less chocolate these days I don’t miss it soooo much :)
    Thanks Nicole and Happy Cinco de Mayo!

  • Jennifer S.
    May 5, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    These look fabulous. What are you serving your family today for Cinco de Mayo? We are having burritos with your cheese wraps tonight. yum!

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