Are Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

October 5, 2023

Identifying whether Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls are vegan or not is a challenging task.

This difficulty arises when processed foods have long lists of unidentifiable — and unpronounceable — ingredients that the layperson couldn’t possibly begin to translate.

However, this article aims to uncover the truth and provide you, the reader, with valuable information to support your compassionate, vegan lifestyle.

Are Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls Vegan?

No, Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls are not vegan. The product contains ingredients like modified whey and cream cheese, which are derived from dairy. Additionally, the presence of natural and artificial flavors raises concerns as their sources can sometimes be animal-derived. The sugar, as well, may not be 100% vegan because refined sugar is often processed with bone char.

Are Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls Cruelty-Free?

No, Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls are not cruelty-free. Palm oil contributes to habitat destruction, which directly harms wildlife. It’s not considered cruelty-free by the vast majority of vegans.

Moreover, the presence of GMO ingredients, such as corn syrup, sugar, dextrose, xanthan gum, and cornstarch, means that they have been tested on animals.

The cinnamon rolls also contain artificial food coloring, though we can’t quite work out why that’s necessary. Synthetic food coloring is tested on animals. It’s not cruelty-free.

What Are Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls Made Of?

Pillsbury Grands! Cinnamon Rolls with Cinnabon Cream Cheese Icing are made of the following ingredients:

  • Enriched flour bleached (wheat flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Palm and soybean oil
  • Dextrose
  • Wheat starch
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Baking powder (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate)
  • Hydrogenated palm oil
  • Vital wheat gluten
  • Cinnamon
  • Modified whey
  • Fractionated palm kernel oil
  • Salt
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Potassium chloride
  • Sodium stearoyl lactylate
  • Mono and diglycerides
  • Sodium alginate
  • Sunflower lecithin
  • Natural and artificial flavor
  • Molasses
  • Polysorbate 60
  • Brown sugar
  • Potassium sorbate and TBHQ (preservatives)
  • L-Cysteine hydrochloride
  • Corn starch
  • Yellow 5
  • Corn syrup
  • Red 40

Enriched Flour Bleached (wheat flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)

This is wheat flour that has been fortified with vitamins and minerals. It’s primarily used to give structure to the cinnamon rolls. It’s vegan because it’s derived from wheat.


Water is a basic ingredient and is vegan.


Sugar sweetens the rolls. However, some sugar can be processed with bone char, making it non-vegan. It’s unclear in this case.

Palm and Soybean Oil

Used for texture and moisture. While plant-based, their production can harm habitats, and soybean oil is often GMO.


A sugar derived from plants, usually corn, dextrose is vegan but GMO.

Wheat Starch

Derived from wheat and used as a thickener, wheat starch is vegan.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

HFCS is a sweetener made from corn. It’s vegan, but its production can be environmentally taxing, and it’s GMO.

Baking Powder (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate)

Baking powder is a leavening agent that helps the rolls rise. All components are vegan.

Hydrogenated Palm Oil and Fractionated Palm Oil

Fractionated palm oil is a form of palm oil where certain parts are removed. Similarly, hydrogenated palm oil is a type of fat that gives texture to the rolls. While it’s plant based, palm oil production leads to deforestation and habitat loss.

Vital Wheat Gluten

This is a natural protein found in wheat. It provides elasticity and strength to baked goods. It’s vegan.


Cinnamon is a spice derived from the bark of cinnamon trees. It’s vegan and adds the characteristic flavor to the rolls.

Modified Whey

Derived from milk, whey is a by-product of cheese production. It’s not vegan.


Salt is a mineral used for flavoring. It’s vegan.

Corn Syrup Solids

A sweetener derived from corn, corn syrup solids are vegan but GMO.

Potassium Chloride

This is a salt substitute. It’s vegan.

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate

A synthetic compound used as an emulsifier, this ingredient can be derived from lactic acid, which can be vegan or non-vegan depending on the source. It’s unclear in this case.

Mono and Diglycerides

Fatty acid derivatives used as emulsifiers, their sources can be either plant or animal. Without specific information, their vegan status is uncertain.

Sodium Alginate

Derived from brown seaweed and used as a thickener, this ingredient is vegan.

Sunflower Lecithin

An emulsifier derived from sunflowers, sunflower lecithin is vegan.

Natural and Artificial Flavor

Flavors are just flavoring agents, though their exact sources can vary, and without specifics, it’s hard to determine their vegan status.


A by-product of sugar production, molasses is probably vegan.

Polysorbate 60

This is an emulsifier often derived from palm oil or sugarcane. It’s vegan but can have environmental concerns due to palm oil.

Brown Sugar

Sugar combined with molasses, brown sugar’s vegan status can be uncertain if processed with bone char.

Potassium Sorbate and TBHQ (preservatives)

These are chemicals used to extend shelf life. Both are vegan.

L-Cysteine Hydrochloride

This is an amino acid that can be derived from feathers or human hair, so it’s not always vegan, and there’s usually no way to tell.

Corn Starch

Derived from corn and used as a thickener, corn starch is vegan but GMO.

Yellow 5

A synthetic dye, Yellow 5 is vegan but routinely tested on animals.

Corn Syrup

A sweetener derived from corn, corn syrup is vegan but GMO.

Red 40

A synthetic dye, Red 40 is vegan but, like Yellow 5, tested on animals.

Product Variations

Are Pillsbury Grands! Cinnamon Rolls with Strawberry & Cream Flavored Icing Vegan?

No, these cinnamon rolls with icing contain milk products. They are not safe for vegan consumption.

Are Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Cinnamon Rolls With Original Icing Vegan?

No, these cinnamon rolls with icing contain milk products. They are not safe for vegan consumption.

Are Limited Edition Pillsbury Grands! Cinnamon Rolls with Peaches & Cream Flavored Icing Vegan?

No, these cinnamon rolls with icing contain milk products. They are not safe for vegan consumption.

Vegan Alternatives to Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls

Whether you’re seeking vegan-friendly cinnamon rolls for allergies or ethics, or just trying to eat healthier food, there are a few products available: 

Additionally, many health food stores carry vegan-friendly cinnamon rolls, and there are countless recipes online for homemade vegan cinnamon rolls using ingredients like vegan butter and dairy-free cream cheese icing. Try this popular recipe from Tasty.


Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, while delicious, are neither vegan nor cruelty-free.

The presence of dairy-derived ingredients and the potential environmental impact of some components make it a less-than-ideal choice for those committed to a vegan lifestyle.

Fortunately, there are a number of vegan-friendly alternative brands available for those who crave the sweet taste of cinnamon rolls without compromising their values.