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A Better-For-You Version of Grammy’s Caramel Rolls

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Is there anything better than the taste of something delicious your grammy used to make? 

We love a good family recipe here at WOT, and when we asked you all to send us your family recipes for Easter, this one from Emily Jilg stood out! BUT, since we love a better-for-you version of anything around here, we asked Emily to create this recipe with some healthier ingredients and what she came up with was amazing. Enjoy this recipe!

My Grammy was one of the most stubborn, determined, and lovely ladies I’ve ever met.  I like to say she was a feminist without realizing was a feminist!

She accomplished many things in her life and was one of the most independent people I knew. One memory that I knew I could keep alive was her cooking and baking. Grammy kept a box of recipes at all times. Filled with some funny 1960s recipes but then also filled with some of her famous creations, including her infamous Caramel Rolls (original recipe here).

Grammy’s recipe card!

If you knew Jean Hauck, you knew about her Caramel Rolls. People treated them as gold! And when you walked in the door and saw the tin foil on the counter, you knew you were lucky enough to get one! The sweet and soft roll mixed with a little cinnamon sugar filling and the unmistakable caramel and pecan topping is a memory that will forever be in my heart. So I decided, I HAVE to make them.

I made the healthy version of the Caramel Rolls and they came out so spectacular! I’m very happy with them! I was able to make them dairy-free, refined sugar-free, and used coconut oil instead of butter and shortening. Also, I added an option to use walnuts instead of pecans since walnuts are rich in healthy omega fatty acids.

And Grammy, I promise to keep this tradition so alive and continue to pass this down from generation to generation.

For my Grammy. With love + salt.

Emily Jilg
Emily Jilg Co

A Better-For-You Version of Grammy's Caramel Rolls

Author Emily Jilg


  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup oat milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
Topping (split ingredients between 2 load pans)
  • 6 tbsp maple syrup
  • 6 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans or walnuts


  • First, combine 1 package of yeast, 1 cup of whole wheat. flour, 1/4 cup coconut sugar and salt in a mix bowl. Then melt 1/4 cup of coconut oil, with 1 cup of oat milk and 1/4 cup of water.
  • Once the coconut oil has melted and the mixture has warmed up, add to the dry ingredients. It is important the wet ingredients to not exceed 120º because it could kill the yeast!
  • Once added, beat on medium for 2 minutes. Then add in 1 beaten egg and another 1/2 cup of wholewheat flour and beat on high for 1 minute.
  • Guess what? Now add more flour! Hey there’s a method to this! Gradually add 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour on low speed until it begins to form a soft dough.
  • Brush the dough with some soft coconut oil, cover with a towel and place in a warm place for two hours or until it has doubled in size.
  • After about 2 hours, take the dough from its warm and cozy spot and punch the dough. Yes, punch it down in the center and lay onto a floured surface.
  • Cut the dough in half and roll out to 3/8 inch and a 12 in” X 8 in” rectangle. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Now time to add your filling!
  • Brush the melted coconut oil all over the two rectangles of dough. Then add the coconut sugar and cinnamon mixture, sprinkling all over dough rectangles.
Now time to roll it all up.
  • My Grammy specifically used the term, “Roll in jelly roll like fashion”. Roll until you get a 12 inch cinnamon sugar log. Then carefully cut into 8 equal pieces. They should be 11/2 inches each.
  • Once the rolls are ready to go, prepare your “caramel topping” inside the pan.
  • Equally divide the maple syrup and honey in each pan. Add the pecans or walnuts to both pans.
  • Place the 8 rolls into one pan and the other 8 rolls into the other. Cover and place in a warm spot for 1 hour.
  • After 1 hour, the rolls should have risen again. Bake in the oven at 375º for 25 minutes.
  • Take the rolls out and immediately invert them onto a wire rack with towel underneath. The reason you’ll want to invert these quickly is so the caramel topping sticks onto the rolls!
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by Camila Alves McConaughey