These sticky swirly sweet banana cinnamon rolls are healthier, simpler, and sweeter than any ordinary cinnamon roll, and made in the oven with only fruit!
There are a lot of fruits I miss from my week at the Woodstock Fruit Festival. The sweet juice-drippy mangoes. The perfectly petite strawberry papayas. The hot pink pitayas that I suspect will never show up in any grocery store around here (especially since spell check doesn’t even believe ‘pitaya’ is a word). But there is one fruity sweet snack I miss most of all…
Banana Cinnamon Rolls! And when I mentioned them many of you seemed pretty eager to try them too, so I am finally sharing that recipe. Although I must say I will miss the delicious job of recipe testing these.
Fortunately dates, bananas, and cinnamon are neither exotic nor elusive ingredients. However, these bread-less buns are typically a raw recipe made in the dehydrator. But I don’t have a dehydrator, so I experimented with another way…
The oven. It’s the oven obviously. There is no other secret magical banana-drying method or anything, at least not the I know about. But rather than use the oven like a mock dehydrator at it’s lowest setting and have to wait forever for your sticky swirly rolls, I experimented until I found the highest possible temp that would still dry them out but not actually bake or burn them. Higher temperature = faster cook time = snacking sooner!
And I actually found the texture preferable with this method too–not as gooey need-twelve-napkins messy. You can pick up and eat these little banana bundles with grace.
It’s still a low and slow process that will take a few hours, but most of that time is just waiting while the oven does it’s work. The actual ingredients and assembly is very easy, and you really only need 3 ingredients! You could add vanilla or salt to the date filling. Or you could add raisins on top like they did at the festival. But honestly I just love them the simple banana + date + cinnamon way.
The trickiest part of the whole process is slicing the bananas lengthwise. If you’ve never tried to do that, trust me it’s much harder than it sounds. They have a tendency to break and mush everywhere.
A few tips…
– Use spotty but not overripe bananas. Bruises and mushy spots make it almost impossible.
– Slice each banana into 3 strips. In the video I attempted 4, but since then I have found that 3 is much more doable and actually makes for a sturdier cinnamon roll.
– Leave half of the peeling on and slice it in the peeling. It is easier to hold this way and gives the banana some support.
– The straighter the banana the better.
– If they do break, save those shorter strips. You can piece them together and roll them up inside larger ones.
These Banana Cinnamon Rolls are naturally SO sweet from the combination of candy-like dates and concentrated banana sugars. If you like those two fruits, you will love them. Better than any baked bread-style cinnamon roll will ever be if you ask me!
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Banana Cinnamon Rolls
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 180 minutes
- Total Time: 200 minutes
- Yield: 10 -12 rolls 1x
- 4 spotty bananas
- 1 cup Medjool dates (about 12)
- 1/2 cup water
- Optional: 1 tsp vanilla and/or a pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 250F
- Slice the bananas lengthwise into 3 strips each (see tips in the post and watch the video for technique).
- Lay out the slices on 2 baking trays lined with parchment paper. Do not overcrowd. I recommend 6 slices per tray. If you have any smaller strips that broke, lay them out too.
- Bake for 1 hour at 250F.
- Remove from the oven and let them cool for 15-20 mins.
- Gently run a finger or dull knife under each slice to release it from the pan. Flip them over so the side with more moisture is facing upwards.
- Blend all the ingredients for the date paste.
- Spread about 1 tablespoon of date paste down the length of a banana slice. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll.
- Repeat with the remaining slices. You can roll the shorter pieces inside the longer strips.
- Arrange all the rolls on one lined pan.
- Return them to the oven for 1.5-2 hours at 250F.
- Remove from the oven. Allow to cool. Eat immediately or refrigerate for a firmer consistency. Keep leftovers in the fridge.
Demeter | Beaming Baker says
Okay, but I miss those fruits with ya! Just hearing you describe them makes me SO hungry for ALL the fruits. I’d say you’ve lived up to your blog title (something that always manages to tickle my fancy). 😉 To spellcheck, I say, fugettaboutit. Yep, I just threw an autocorrect-hungry term at it. SO there! But onto this recipe: OMG. Natalie, it’s so creative and amazing!! I’ve got to try making these for my mom! She absolutely loves dates and bananas. Plus, she totally loves eating with grace. Just sayin’. So can we add these to the list of magically awesome treats you’ll make me when we have our retreat (yes, it’s escalated to a retreat already). xo
Haha oh yeah this is a FF recipe all the way–dates and bananas and basically nothing else! Sorry banana haters? Well if your mom is a banana and date lover AND she’s also graceful I need to meet her! She sounds spectacular, although I could’ve guessed that from all your stories even without this new knowledge 🙂 Oh and thanks for the autocorrect bait, spellcheck will go for you “fugettaboutit” and leave my poor little “pitaya” alone. As long as the retreat is in some serene tropical spot I am 110% with ya 😉 xoxo
Vicki Henderson says
I saw the discussion about a banana slicer. Would an egg slicer work?
Hmm I havne’t tried it, but since you need to slice them lengthwise I’m not sure it would be big enough…
Aimee | Wallflower Kitchen says
How is this possible!? Are you a wizard? These are magic <3
The Vegan 8 says
I nearly DIED laughing at your comment “It’s the oven obviously”. I don’t know why I found that so funny, but I can’t stop laughing…the way you led up to it in the paragraph before like….I found another way…. then BOOM! It’s the oven, hahahaha! Ok, maybe I had too many chocolate chips earlier, lol.
Anywaysss….this is such a creative way to make a “cinnamon roll”….obviously a much different taste, but holy moly what a wonderful idea. I just wish I liked bananas and dates, darnit! Maybe I can make them for Olivia! I love how incredibly simple it is too. I could totally see how you’d need perfect bananas too or yes, it could get quite mushy sloppy, then hey, you could turn it into nice cream, so it would still work no matter what!
Such a fantastic idea girl!!
Hahahaha well now I’m laughing at your laughing at my silliness lol. I like to be direct, ya know 😀 And chocolate chip giddy-ness can only be a good thing I think! Yes calling it a cinnamon roll is a bit of a stretch really, but you know how the raw/vegan peeps are–everything in air quotes. This would most certainly not be your cup of tea, but I do love that you are the one thinking in terms of nicecream possibilities 😀 I was trying to brainstorm other fruits to try it with but I’ve got nothing right now. I love super simple stuff like this though, so I’ll probably keep letting my mind work on that one. Thank you!!
Coolest thing ever, Natalie! So impressed with your creativity!
Aww thank you! The whole concept isn’t my idea, just my variation on it 🙂
Faith VanderMolen says
Ah, I’ve been wanting to make these ever since I got my dehydrator! It needs to happen now after drooling over your photos!
Do it! Do it! Do it! I’m amazed you have a dehydrator all the way over there. But they are so delicious, I think you would love them 🙂
Kaila @ Healthy Helper Blog says
These are not what I expected at all and you totally BLEW MY MIND with them! I am so excited to try these and I LOVE how easy they are! I have a dehydrator….do you think they’d work in there?
Yeah put that machine to good use! They would totally work in a dehydrator, although I can’t tell you exact times. My guess is about 2-3 hours before rolling and then 3-4 after.
Such a different and inspiring recipe! Got me some bananas and dates…can’t wait to try this. Also love your blog!!
Yay! I hope you love them too 🙂 And thank you!
Anjali @ Vegetarian Gastronomy says
wow! just wow…ok now you’ve really done it Natalie. These look amazing. and I mean amazing. So easy, healthy, and such a fun way to use bananas! my kids would go crazy for these! (so would I haha). Love that you recreated these and made them even better it sounds! I was so intrigued when i heard about them the first time, but i don’t have a dehydrator either so this method is perfect. Need to try soon! And btw…I’m obsessed with your videos. Love them!
As if I needed another way to use up bananas lol 😀 You should see my dining room table, it is pretty much just a banana ripening zone at this point. Between nicecream, smoothies, and now my obsession with these little guys I just can’t ever have enough. They are very kid friendly (as usual with my favorite recipes ha) but with so many banana lovers in your family one batch would be gone so fast! That is the worst part about “dehydrator” recipes. Oh thank you! My camera was so date-caramel covered after this one 😀
I was actually laughing so hard at that comment by The Vegan 8 haha….yes the oven is like magic if your head is all stuck in 100% raw dehydrator land. Hmmm, for those non banana lovers (are you out there?) I suspect sliced mango/pear/apple may work….apple especially, since making apple + date “rolls” is a thing too 😀 using super-soft mango or pear will probably result in the closest texture match
Lol her comment cracked me up too 😀 That’s true, after being fully raw for a while a baked anything would be pretty magical. Oooh thank you for so many wonderful variation ideas! I was thinking apples too somehow, plus the combo of apples and dates is so delicious. Mango + date sounds a little weird, but mango with a coconut filling would be amazing! The tricky part would be getting the slices long enough to roll. I’m definitely going to experiment with it 🙂
Ashley Madden says
Natalie these look divine! OMG, I want a dozen so I can eat all of them lol.
Haha I totally know what you mean! I just made a double batch yesterday–can’t get enough 🙂 Thanks Ashley!
Oh my gosh, Natalie, this is brilliant!!! I thought cinnamon rolls were perfect the way they are but you just made me reconsider 🙂
Thanks Lucie! Oh the regular ones are still perfect, these are just funky and different and perfect in a different fruitier way 😀
Audrey @ Unconventional Baker says
Teehee. These are kind of making me think there is a purpose to those silly banana slicers people sell out there after all ? .. Only I think someone needs to invent a length-wise slicer so everyone can make these rolls. That might redeem all those silly infomercial products somewhat ? Or maybe they need to hire you to come up with an irresistible dessert (like this) — guaranteed sales right there ?
These look amazing!
I thought of those ridiculous gadgets too while doing this! Yes something like the avocado slicer but for bananas–it would be perfect for this recipe. And probably only this recipe lol 😀
This is such a cool recipe Nat! Brilliant idea. I’ll definitely have to try it out.
Thanks Jess! I think I’ve remade this one more than any other in months–so good 🙂
Renee Davis says
Thank u SO much for this recipe as I was just wondering if I cud do something w a whole bunch of bananas on counter before having to toss them. I eat Paleo so using dates pushed carb count way too high. My variation was to create my own paste filling using 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce, 1 tbsp cinnamon, dash of nutmeg, 1 tbsp hydrolyzed collagen gelatin for protein and 2 tsp psyllium husk for a dash of fiber. They turned out great in the oven! So grateful for the creativity of all the food bloggers who generously share their work! Wud send a pix but don’t see how to attach one.
Hi Renee!! Wow that is so creative for the filling, thank you for sharing! I am very intrigued to try it your way now. They aren’t exactly a low carb treat lol, but definitely a good way to put to use those ripe bananas 🙂 Happy that you loved them and thanks for the feedback!
how do we make the date past. lol
Just blend the dates and water in a high speed blender until it’s smooth. I have a really thorough video tutorial here if you want: https://www.feastingonfruit.com/date-paste/
I ate all of them myself :).
Ha yes that’s how it usually goes for me with this recipe too 😀 So glad you liked them!
Yep #sorrynotsorry applies 🙂
Pamela @ Nutritiontohealyourself says
Just brilliant! I am loving your site, so creative and delicious.
Oh thank you Pamela, that means a lot 🙂
Yummy, I made this last year in the dehydrator, so maybe I will try them in the oven! Great blog post and youtube video! Thanks for being a wonderful and choosing cruel-free lifestyle! Your so awesome!
They taste just like the dehydrator ones, just one less appliance to have around 🙂 Thanks for the kind words Lori, hope you are having a wonderful weekend!
Made these today with a couple tweaks and my, my do these taste exactly like banana ques! To my fellow Filos out there, you probably know what I’m talking about 😉
Downside is they don’t exactly give off cinnamon roll vibes. Or at least to me. Nevertheless, thank you for sharing this recipe because damn did I miss having banana cues! I avoided buying from our kind street vendors but only because I was paranoid on gluten contamination. That being said, I will definitely be making these again :—)
Hi Keana! I’ve never heard of a banana cue, but I just looked it up and I can totally see where they taste quite similar. I didn’t come up with the idea to call the “cinnamon rolls”, they are based on a raw/dehydrated version I had at a fruit festival, but you are right they are nothing similar to a baked bread type roll. Just their own unique thing 🙂 I am so happy you liked them and thanks for the feedback!
So yummy and easy. A healthy alternative to using up bananas!
Banana bread is pretty good, but I love these little guys too!
Could I do these in silicone baking cups or will they not dry out enough?
They will probably take a little bit longer that way as the heat can’t get to all sides. It will still work, but I’d recommend a sheet pan 🙂
Hi there! I was wondering how you got your date paste to be so glossy and pretty? I used Medjool Dates, the juice big ones, pureed it with 1/2 cup of water and some vanilla and the pinch of salt as it said – but my date paste is light brown and not so shiny and “see through” like yours, looks more like pureed banana. Any idea why that is???
Hmm what brand of dates were you using? That’s really the only variable I can think of😕
Hello! First of all, I’m on love with your recipes! My family and I are challenging ourselves to go sugar-free as much as possible, but my husband and kids gave a very sweet tooth as we say 🙂 your blog is a life-savour!
I was wondering if instead of slicing the bananas on the length, I could juste cut slice them regularly and then make one tier if bananas, one tier of date puree and another of bananas for the final cooking step?
Long live autocorrect, I meant “Thanks” 😉
I am so happy you are enjoying the recipes Audree, and lots of luck to you guys with that challenge! Hmm so are you talking like a little banana/date paste/more banana sandwich? That could work! But they still need to be little individual stacks otherwise they won’t dry out properly. Hope that makes sense!
These are so great! They only lasted 24 hours in our house as you definitely can’t eat just one 😀
Haha I usually find one batch = one serving with these too😆 So happy you loved them!
how many calories for one of these?
Hi! Do you have any suggestions for substituting dates? Can’t go to the grocery store until a week from now…quarantine life! Thx!!
I feel you! Raisins or dried figs would work, do you have either of those?
I don’t have raisins either 🙁 What do you think about honey, or maybe maple syrup?
I think either will just melt out and make a sticky puddle-y mess while they bake😬
I made this for my family tonight and it was a hit! I was worried about the bananas not holding up but they rolled perfectly. Next time I’m going to add chopped pecans to the date paste!
YAY!! I am so glad they worked out, a little tricky to make but so sweet and tasty when they do😋 I love that idea, let me know how it goes!