Does Pillsbury cinnamon roll icing have dairy?

Quick Answer

Pillsbury cinnamon roll icing does contain dairy ingredients. The main dairy ingredients in Pillsbury cinnamon roll icing are milk, cream, and butter. So people with milk allergies or who follow a vegan diet should avoid consuming Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and icing.

Ingredients in Pillsbury Cinnamon Roll Icing

Upon examining the ingredient list on a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls with icing, the main dairy-based ingredients are:

  • Milk
  • Cream
  • Butter (contains milk)

These dairy ingredients are present in both the cinnamon roll dough and the icing that comes with Pillsbury canned cinnamon rolls.

Milk and cream are used to provide moisture, tenderness, and a creamy texture to the cinnamon roll dough and icing. Butter is added for its rich flavor and ability to create a smooth, spreadable consistency for the icing.

Without these key dairy ingredients, the signature taste, texture, and appearance of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls would not be the same. Dairy components are integral to cinnamon roll recipes.

Why Dairy is Common in Cinnamon Rolls

There are a few reasons why milk, cream, and butter are almost universally used in homemade and commercial cinnamon roll recipes:

  • Tender, fluffy dough – The fat in milk, cream, and butter tenderizes the dough and allows more air bubbles to form, creating a softer texture.
  • Rich flavor – Butter provides a rich, full, velvety flavor that complements the sweetness of the filling.
  • Browning – The milk sugars lactose and galactose undergo browning reactions during baking, contributing to the golden brown exterior of the rolls.
  • Spreadable icing – Butter is solid when chilled but easily spreadable at room temperature, making it the perfect consistency for cinnamon roll icing.
  • Sheen and gloss – The fat in dairy products gives icing and dough a shiny, glossy appearance.

When you remove dairy components like milk, cream, and butter from a cinnamon roll recipe, it becomes much more difficult to achieve that classic tender, sweet cinnamon roll texture and flavor. The icing also suffers from the lack of dairy and risks becoming runny or hard versus spreadable.

Are There Any Dairy-Free Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls?

Unfortunately, Pillsbury does not offer any dairy-free canned cinnamon rolls or icing. All varieties of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, including their original, icing lovers, and kingsize rolls, contain milk, cream, and butter.

Pillsbury once made a dairy-free vegan cinnamon roll dough that was sold refrigerated in tubes, but this product has been discontinued.

So at this time, no Pillsbury canned cinnamon rolls are dairy-free. People avoiding dairy will need to opt for other brands of dairy-free cinnamon rolls, make homemade versions, or try Pillsbury crescent roll dough as a substitute for dairy-free cinnamon rolls.

Dairy-Free Cinnamon Roll Options

Here are some recommended dairy-free store-bought or homemade alternatives:

Store-Bought Dairy-Free Cinnamon Rolls

  • Immaculate Baking Company Vegan Sweet Rolls
  • Annie’s Homegrown Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
  • Enjoy Life Foods Soft Baked Mini Cookies Cinnamon Roll Flavor

Homemade Dairy-Free Cinnamon Rolls

Substitute dairy milk with non-dairy milk like almond, soy, or coconut milk. Use vegan butter or coconut oil in place of regular butter. And replace cream with full-fat canned coconut milk.

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

Pillsbury crescent roll dough or croissants can be used to create homemade dairy-free cinnamon rolls. The advantage is that most Pillsbury crescent roll varieties are dairy-free.

To make cinnamon rolls, simply roll out a tube of room temperature crescent roll dough into a rectangle. Spread with dairy-free butter and cinnamon sugar, then roll up and bake. Top with a dairy-free icing after cooling.

So while Pillsbury canned cinnamon rolls contain dairy, their crescent rolls offer a convenient shortcut for dairy-free and vegan cinnamon rolls. Be sure to check the label though, as some Pillsbury crescent roll flavors do contain milk ingredients.

Are There Any Health Risks from Dairy in Cinnamon Rolls?

For most people, the quantity of dairy in foods like cinnamon rolls does not pose any health risks. However, some individuals need to avoid dairy products.

Lactose Intolerance

People with lactose intolerance lack sufficient lactase enzymes to properly digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. This can cause abdominal discomfort, gas, bloating, and diarrhea after consuming dairy products. The level of lactose in cinnamon roll icing is unlikely to cause symptoms compared to drinking milk, but any dairy intake should be avoided.

Milk Allergy

An immune response triggered by the proteins in milk causes an allergic reaction in those with a milk allergy. Even small amounts of milk in cinnamon roll icing could potentially cause an allergic reaction.

Vegan Diet

Vegans avoid all foods containing any animal-derived ingredients, including dairy from cows. Trace dairy components like whey or casein in cinnamon roll icing would make them incompatible for a vegan diet.

So for those with dairy sensitivities or avoiding it in their diet, confirm the cinnamon rolls are completely dairy-free before eating.

Ingredient Lists to Check for Dairy

When evaluating any cinnamon roll product for hidden dairy ingredients, check the ingredient list carefully for these terms:

  • Milk
  • Cream
  • Butter
  • Whey
  • Casein
  • Curds
  • Milk solids
  • Milk powder
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt

Also look for partially hydrogenated oils, as these may contain dairy-derived whey protein concentrate. And “natural flavors” could theoretically contain dairy components.

Sticking to brands that are labeled “dairy-free” or “vegan” is the safest approach to avoid any hidden milk ingredients.

What About Icing Made from Powdered Sugar?

Some people assume powdered sugar is dairy-free. But traditional powdered sugar actually contains 3% corn starch to prevent caking and improve flowability.

So be sure to use a brand that is specifically labeled dairy-free or vegan. Major brands like Domino’s now offer dairy-free powdered sugar that uses tapioca starch instead of corn starch.

When making dairy-free cinnamon rolls, look for:

  • Vegan butter
  • Dairy-free milk (soy, almond, coconut, etc.)
  • Dairy-free powdered sugar

How to Tell if Cinnamon Rolls Contain Dairy When Dining Out

If enjoying cinnamon rolls at a bakery, cafe, or restaurant, don’t assume they are dairy-free. The best way to check is to:

  • Ask your server if the cinnamon rolls contain milk, cream, butter, or other dairy products
  • Request to see the ingredient list (if they have one)
  • Look for information on the menu or website indicating vegan or dairy-free options
  • Search online to see if other customers have inquired about dairy-free status
  • Call ahead to ask if uncertain

If no information is available, err on the side of caution and avoid it if dairy-free. Cross-contamination where rolls contact dairy products is also a possibility in kitchens.

Can You Make Dairy-Free Icing Using Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls?

While the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls themselves contain dairy, you may be able to make your own dairy-free icing using the following recipe:

Dairy-Free Cinnamon Roll Icing


  • 1 cup powdered sugar (dairy-free)
  • 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Whisk together powdered sugar, non-dairy milk, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  2. Add more milk 1 teaspoon at a time if thicker consistency is desired.
  3. Spread or drizzle over slightly cooled dairy-free cinnamon rolls.

Just keep in mind that while you can make separate dairy-free icing, the Pillsbury cinnamon roll dough itself will still contain milk and butter. So this isn’t an option for those with milk allergies.


In summary, standard Pillsbury canned cinnamon rolls and icing do contain milk, cream, and butter. The dairy ingredients are used to provide moisture, tenderness, flavor, and texture.

Pillsbury does not offer dairy-free or vegan canned cinnamon rolls. But their crescent roll dough can be adapted to make dairy-free cinnamon rolls at home. And you can create separate dairy-free icing using powdered sugar, non-dairy milk, and vanilla.

Always carefully check labels and ingredients to confirm dairy-free status if avoiding milk. And when in doubt at a restaurant or bakery, ask questions or avoid consuming if uncertain aboutHidden milk ingredients like whey can sometimes be present. Hopefully in the future, Pillsbury may expand to offer more dairy-free options to accommodate various dietary needs and preferences.

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