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Orange Rolls

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These soft, fluffy homemade orange rolls are filled with sticky cinnamon sugar flavored with real orange zest! They’re easy to make, quick to rise, and smothered in citrus cream cheese glaze.

Fluffy Homemade Orange Rolls (Quick Rise Recipe!)

Today’s recipe is an adaption of my 1-hour cinnamon roll recipe, this time inspired by the famous canned Pillsbury orange rolls. These homemade orange rolls are soft and doughy, filled with sweet orange zest, sugar, and spice. They’re a fun spin on classic cinnamon rolls, smothered with creamy homemade orange cream cheese frosting while they’re still warm from the oven. The best part? The dough is quick to rise, so you’ll have fluffy, gooey, citrus-scented cinnamon buns on the table in no time!

Why You’ll Love This Orange Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

  • A family favorite. Cinnamon buns are a holiday tradition in our house, whether it’s Christmas, Thanksgiving, or family get-togethers. This recipe takes my grandmother’s classic cinnamon roll recipe and fills it with a delightful orange flavor.
  • Warm homemade filling. The filling for this recipe is made from real orange zest, combined with sugar and warm, cozy cinnamon spice.
  • Tangy orange icing. The homemade cream cheese icing is sweet and tangy and bursting with fresh citrus. It should come with a warning! The frosting is finger-licking delicious and you’ll want to eat it by the spoonful.
  • Easy to make. Instant yeast speeds up this recipe so that you can have freshly baked orange cinnamon rolls ready in a couple of hours. There’s no need to wait for the dough to rise overnight.
Overhead view of assorted orange cinnamon rolls on a piece of parchment paper, next to orange wedges.

Ingredient Notes

Below are some notes on the important ingredients you’ll need to put a citrusy twist on homemade cinnamon buns. Remember to scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the full ingredients list and recipe instructions.

For the Dough

  • Milk – I recommend using whole milk, but 2% or 1% milk also works. Avoid skim milk.
  • Flour – Sifted through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps.
  • Instant Yeast – Also called rapid-rise yeast, this type of yeast doesn’t need to be activated beforehand. You can mix it right into the dough with the other ingredients.

For the Filling and Frosting

  • Sugar – You can use granulated sugar in the filling
  • Orange Zest – You should be able to get about 2-3 tablespoons of zest from one orange. You’ll need 1-2 oranges for this recipe, depending on the size.
  • Spices – Ground cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Cream Cheese – Full-fat cream cheese (the kind that comes in bricks), brought to room temperature to make the frosting.
  • Orange Juice – Zest the oranges before juicing them! You can also use bottled orange juice (ideally not from concentrate).
Ingredients for orange rolls.

How to Make Orange Rolls

There’s something so satisfying about making yeasted sweet rolls from scratch. The process, the smell coming from the oven, that first bite when the soft dough and ooey-gooey filling just melts away in your mouth. Heaven! Start by bringing together the easy cinnamon roll dough:

  • Combine the ingredients. Begin by dissolving sugar in warm milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients, including the yeast. Add in melted butter and the beaten egg, and stream the milk in gradually as the dough comes together.
  • Finish the dough. Beat the dough mixture for 5 minutes to form a ball. It’s fine if it’s still a little sticky.
  • Knead and roll. Gently knead the dough on a floured surface to get it soft and pliable. Afterward, roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about ¼” thick.

Fill and Bake the Rolls

Next, set your dough aside while you prepare your filling. You’ll need additional butter, this time at room temperature so that it’s easier to spread.

  • Make the filling. Set the dough aside while you prepare your filling. Use your fingers to work the orange zest into a bowl of sugar, to release the oils. After, stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt.
  • Fill the rolls. Spread your dough rectangle with softened butter, and sprinkle the sugar mixture generously over the top. After, roll the dough up into a tight log. Cut the logs into 12 even-sized rolls.
  • Rise. Arrange the orange rolls inside a greased baking pan, cover them with plastic wrap, and then place them in a warm spot to rise. After 60-90 minutes, the rolls should be doubled in size.
  • Bake. Bake the orange rolls at 375ºF for 20-24 minutes. Once they’re out of the oven, give the buns about 10 minutes to cool in the pan before you frost them.

Add the Frosting 

Finally, these gooey orange rolls are ready for icing!

  • Prepare the frosting. Beat softened cream cheese with melted butter, orange juice, zest, and vanilla. Afterward, beat in the powdered sugar.
  • Frost the rolls. While they’re still a bit warm, spread the orange frosting generously over the pan of orange rolls, and dig in!

Recipe Tips

The idea of making cinnamon rolls from scratch can seem intimidating, especially if you’re new to baking. But never fear! This recipe keeps the process quick and easy, and with a few tips, you’ll be biting into these home-baked rolls in no time:

  • Buy enough yeast. You’ll likely need 2 packets of yeast, or enough to make 1 tablespoon.
  • For more orange flavor, omit the cinnamon in the filling and use 3 tablespoons of orange zest instead.
  • Get clean cuts. Use unflavored dental floss or a lightweight fishing line to cut the rolls. It works like a charm! See below for details.
  • Make even-sized rolls. Once your dough is rolled into a log, cut the log in the center first, to make two halves. Cut the two halves in half again, to make 4. Finally, cut each quarter into three so that you’re left with 12 rolls.
  • If your cuts are slightly uneven, place the smaller rolls in the center of the baking dish and the larger rolls around the edges. This helps to lift the center rolls and gives the larger ones more heat, for even doneness.
  • Adapt the frosting consistency. For thicker frosting, add more powdered sugar, a little at a time. To thin out your frosting, add more orange juice.
  • Use the right pan. The best pan for cinnamon rolls is a glass or ceramic baking dish. Metal baking pans tend to brown the bottoms of the rolls much faster. If you’re using a metal pan, consider lining it with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

An orange roll lifted from a baking dish with a spatula.

Can I Make These Orange Rolls Without a Stand Mixer?

Yes! If you don’t own a stand mixer, don’t let that stop you from experiencing the joy that is warm-from-the-oven orange rolls. You can still bring the dough together with a spoon, and then knead it by hand until the flour is incorporated and the dough is less sticky. It takes a bit of elbow grease this way, but it’s totally worth the effort.

What’s the Best Way to Cut Cinnamon Rolls?

My trick to perfectly cut orange cinnamon rolls over the years? Dental floss! While you can use a sharp knife, I’ve found that floss is the best way to cut cinnamon roll dough without squishing it. Simply slip the floss under the log, position it where you want to cut, cross the ends of the floss, and pull each end in the opposite direction. This, combined with the right cutting order (see the tips section above) ensures clean, even-cut rolls.

An orange roll on a white plate next to a fork, with more rolls in a baking dish in the background.

What to Serve With Orange Sweet Rolls

These soft and gooey orange rolls are the ultimate breakfast treat. Serve them as a sweet addition to a brunch table alongside quiche florentine or broccoli cheddar quiche with bacon, and crispy lemon potatoes (and don’t forget the mimosas!). If you’re more into sweet breakfast ideas, serve your orange rolls next to banana bread or cinnamon pecan waffles with plenty of syrup.

Close up of an orange roll cut in half, with more rolls in the background.

Can I Make This Recipe Ahead?

If you’d like to get a headstart on your homemade orange rolls, I recommend following my overnight dough recipe, and then use the filling from this recipe. The difference between the base recipes for the dough is minimal, but it uses a different type of yeast. Cover the unbaked rolls are in the baking dish covered with plastic wrap. Instead of allowing the rolls to rise you’l refrigerate them overnight. You can also prepare the frosting in advance and keep it in the fridge.

When you’re ready to bake the following day, take the rolls out of the fridge and let them rise until doubled in size before baking. Meanwhile, let the frosting come to room temperature and then frost the buns as directed. See below for details on how to store the baked rolls.

Overhead view of an orange roll partially pulled apart on a white plate, next to a fork.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

  • To Store. I recommend storing these orange rolls without the icing whenever possible. Keep them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, and reheat them before adding the frosting. Keep frosted rolls in the fridge, or freeze them for longer storage (see below).
  • Reheat. Warm any leftover orange rolls in the microwave for 20 seconds or so before adding frosting.
  • Freeze. Let the baked, unfrosted rolls cool completely, and then store them in an airtight container or freezer bag. Thaw the orange rolls at room temperature, then reheat, frost, and enjoy.

More Easy Baking Ideas to Try

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Overhead close up view of glazed orange cinnamon rolls in a white ceramic baking dish.

Orange Rolls

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Rising Time: 90 minutes
  • Cook Time: 24 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 9 minutes
  • Yield: 12 rolls

Description

Make fluffy homemade orange rolls filled with cinnamon sugar and real orange zest. These sticky sweet rolls are quick to rise and smothered in citrusy cream cheese glaze.

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 1 cup (236ml) milk (whole milk preferred)
  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup (48g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons (435g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast

For the Filling

  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup (126g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg

For the Frosting

  • ½ cup (113g) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 12 tablespoons (15-30ml) orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Instructions

Prepare the Dough

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the milk for about 60 seconds until it reaches 110°F-120°F. Once heated, stir in the sugar until it’s dissolved. Melt the butter and cool.
  2. In a stand mixer, combine all the dry ingredients, including the yeast. Then add the melted butter, egg, and stream in the milk. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes until well combined.
  3. Increase the mixing speed to medium and continue beating for another 5 minutes. The dough should be in one large ball but may stick slightly to the sides of the bowl.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Gently knead until the dough is soft and pliable in one consistent ball. Use your hands and a rolling pin to press and roll the dough into a rectangle shape, about 14”×18” inches. It should be at least ¼-inch thick.

Make the Filling

  1. In a medium bowl combine the sugar and orange zest, rubbing the zest into the sugar with your fingers to macerate the zest and release the oils. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add in the salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and mix to combine.
  2. Spread the softened butter onto the dough leaving at least ½ -inch of the dough bare on one of the long edges, so you can seal it after it’s rolled. Distribute the sugar mixture evenly over the butter and press into the butter.
  3. Tightly roll the dough along the longer edge to form a log, and use the buttered edge to pinch it closed. Use a sharp knife or floss to cut the rolls into 12 even rolls.
  4. Place the rolls in a well-greased (or parchment paper-lined) 9”×13” pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot, until doubled in size, about 60-90 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the rolls for 20-24 minutes until the tops are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes, before adding the frosting.

Make the Frosting

  1. Beat the softened cream cheese until it’s free of lumps. Then add the melted butter, 1 tablespoon of orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Next, add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth and combined. If you prefer a thicker frosting, add additional powdered sugar 2 tablespoons at a time.
  2. To make it thinner, add additional orange juice 1-2 teaspoons at a time. Frost the rolls while they’re still warm and serve.

Notes

  • For 1 tablespoon of yeast, you’ll need 2 individual packets (2 1/4 tsp size).
  • For a more pronounced orange flavor, remove the cinnamon and increase the zest to 3 tablespoons in the filling.
  • Baking pans: I recommend using a glass or ceramic baking dish, as a metal baking dish will cause the bottoms of the rolls to brown faster.
  • Storing leftovers: Store the unfrosted rolls airtight at room temperature for up to 2 days or refrigerate for up to 4 days. To freeze the baked rolls, let them cool completely and then store the rolls in a freezer-safe container or bag.
  • Reheating: Individual cinnamon rolls can be reheated in the microwave for about 20 seconds.
Nutrition Information:
1
438
26.7 g
247.1 mg
21.5 g
56 g
1.6 g
6.2 g
71.4 mg
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American
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