Vegan Five-spice Rolls

Bet you’ve never seen rolls this spice-y. These five-spice rolls are a fun, fusional take on classic cinnamon rolls! And of course, they’re vegan, but no less fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

As you likely already know, traditional cinnamon rolls are, well, filled with cinnamon. Since five-spice is a mixture of spices (specifically star anise, cinnamon, fennel seeds, Sichuan peppercorns, and cloves) that contains cinnamon, I figured I had to give it a try.

How does it taste, you might ask? To me, these five-spice rolls taste very similar to traditional cinnamon rolls but with an extra complexity from the additional spices. Cinnamon is a rather dominant flavor in five-spice and that characteristic shines through. The black sesame glaze is a nice touch as well. It’s not too sweet and adds a roasted, nutty dimension to the rolls.

The fluffy interior is encased by a crusty, toasted exterior ā€” talk about perfect textural contrast!

Vegan Five-spice Rolls

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by George L. Course: DessertCuisine: Chinese, AmericanDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time



Five-spice rolls ā€” a fun, fusional take on classic cinnamon rolls. And of course, they’re vegan, but no less fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside.


  • Dough
  • 3 cup 3 (420 g) all purpose flour

  • 1 cup 1 (240 g) unsweetened non-dairy milk, I used oat milk

  • 2 tablespoons 2 sugar

  • 2.25 teaspoon 2.25 instant yeast

  • 1 teaspoon 1 fine sea salt

  • 3 tablespoons 3 vegan butter, softened at room temperature

  • Filling
  • 2 tablespoons 2 vegan butter, melted

  • 2 tablespoons 2 ground five-spice

  • 2 tablespoons 2 brown sugar

  • Black Sesame Glaze
  • 1 tablespoon 1 black tahini or black sesame paste

  • 2 tablespoons 2 maple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon 1 non-dairy milk, I used oat milk


  • Make the Dough: In a large bowl, combine all purpose flour, instant yeast, and salt. Incorporate in the plant-based milk and vegan butter until a rough dough forms. If you find that the dough is still too dry, add in additional milk one tablespoon at a time and continue to incorporate. Using floured hands, knead the dough inside the bowl for about 10 minutes. As you knead the dough, try to clean off any remaining flour and mixture that were stuck to the sides of the bowl. Once the dough is smooth, form it into a ball (at this point I like to lift up the dough and sprinkle a little bit more flour on the bottom to prevent sticking). Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let it rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in volume.
  • Prepare the Filling: In a small dish, melt the vegan butter (1 minute in the microwave is good). In a separate dish, combine the five-spice and brown sugar.
  • Prepare the Black Sesame Glaze: In a small dish, simply whisk together the black sesame paste, maple syrup, and non-dairy milk.
  • Make the Rolls: Once the dough has risen, push the air bubbles out and move it onto a large floured surface. Roll the dough out into a large rectangular with even thickness of about 0.5-0.6 centimeters (around 0.2 inches). Once rolled out, bush throughout the surface of the dough with melted vegan butter, and sprinkle on the five-spice sugar mixture evenly. Starting from one end, roll the dough up lengthwise and place it seam side down. Cut up the rolled up dough into 8-10 rolls (I did 8) with a serrated knife. If you do not have a serrated knife, a regular knife works as well. Be sure to flour the knife and use a sawing motion to slowly saw through the dough ā€” if you cut directly down, the layers will be smooshed up together.
  • Bake the Rolls: Place the rolls into a rectangular baking pan (lined with parchment paper) with ample space between one another. Cover with a towel and let rest for another 30 minutes. This resting step is highly recommended, but if you’re in a hurry, not resting won’t ruin the rolls either. While the rolls are resting, pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees C (375 degrees F). Bake the rolls for around 23-26 minutes, or until slightly golden-brown.
  • Glaze the Rolls: While the rolls are still warm, use a small spoon to drizzle on the black sesame glaze. Let cool for a bit before you pull them apart and dig in.

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