In today’s post: Orange Rolls are similar to cinnamon rolls, but filled with a lovely orange filling instead of cinnamon. They’re heavenly soft, full of bright citrus flavor, and topped with an amazing orange cream cheese frosting. Step by step photos make it easy to follow this delicious recipe.
A few months ago a good friend of mine told me she’d used my favorite bread dough recipe to make orange rolls. I’d never actually made orange rolls before, but I figured it sounded like a good idea. But we were headed into the busy holiday season so I put it off until last week, when I finally gave it a try. And oh my, I can’t believe I hadn’t made these before: they turned out amazing. Like quite a bit better than I thought they would be. Who knew orange rolls were so delicious?
Related: Better than Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls
Why Is this recipe so good?
What makes these Homemade Orange Rolls quite so delicious?
- Well, they start with a dough that’s enriched with butter and egg and sugar so it turns out pillowy soft and just sweet enough – but the dough is still very easy to make and handle. No super sticky mess, I promise.
- The filling gets tons of orange flavor from orange zest, and then we add butter and sugar because, well, butter and sugar make everything better.
- Some orange roll recipes use a sweet orange glaze on top, but we’re sticking with my mom’s famous cream cheese frosting here. Of course, we amp it up with orange juice and a little extra orange zest.
Making Bread Dough
Now, if you’ve been on my site much before, you’re going to recognize the dough I use for these cinnamon rolls: it’s MY FAVORITE DINNER ROLL dough recipe. This is the same dough I use for dinner rolls, raspberry rolls, garlic breadsticks, cinnamon rolls, and more! It’s a beautiful enriched dough that results in pillowy soft rolls or breadsticks, but doesn’t require any ingredients you might not have on hand or any difficult prep (like heating milk to a certain temperature). You don’t even have to proof your yeast!
You just combine all the ingredients in a stand mixer and get things going. I even have a couple of step by step videos you can watch that will show you EXACTLY how to make this dough, including all my tips for ensuring it turns out amazing.
- If you’d like to see how to mix this dough in a Bosch mixer, visit the Homemade Bread post here
- If you’d like to see how to mix this dough in a KitchenAid mixer, visit the Dinner Rolls post here
Once you’re comfortable making bread dough, you’ll be ready to turn that dough into soft orange rolls rolls the everyone will love!
How to Make Orange Rolls
The process for making orange sweet rolls is the same as making cinnamon rolls, you’ll just use a different filling and a slightly different frosting. Because the process is the same, I’m including a quick video for cinnamon rolls here. Remember, the filling you see here is different than what you’ll use for orange rolls, but this video gives you a great overview of the whole process. Written instructions follow and the printable recipe card is at the end of the post!
Shape The Dough
Mix up the dough ingredients and knead as directed. Let the dough rise once for 60-90 minutes until nearly doubled in size. Then you’ll start shaping the dough as orange rolls.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Then roll out the dough into a large rectangle – about 14 x 20 inches is great. It’s ok to gently pull the dough into shape using your hands as you roll it out.
Add The Filling
You’ll fill the rolls with a mixture of butter, sugar, and orange zest. Soften the butter, then add the sugar and zest and mix in a small bowl until combined. It will make a soft paste, which you’ll spread evenly across your dough, all except for the top inch or two of dough, as shown. NOTE: I love how these rolls taste with a little sprinkle of cinnamon and cloves! I sprinkle about half a teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon of cloves over the filling.
Roll and Slice
Once the orange filling is spread across your dough, it’s time to roll it up into a log, starting from the bottom (which should be one of the long ends). Start by rolling the bottom inch or two up, working from one side to the other. Continue to roll a little at a time, working back and forth from side to side (you can see this in the video above). You want the roll to be somewhat tight so that the roll stays circular, so you can gently pull the dough toward you as you roll it up.
When you get all the way to the top, pinch the top edge gently to seal. Now you’ll have a log that’s about 20 inches long. I like to cut off the very end of each side of the log so that all my rolls are flat on the top and bottom, but that’s personal preference.
Use a knife to mark where you will slice for 12 equal rolls. Then you can either slice the rolls apart with a very sharp knife OR you can use a piece of thread or unflavored dental floss to cut the rolls. I prefer this method because it doesn’t squish the rolls. Pick up one end of the log and slide a piece of thread under it. Then criss cross the thread over the top of the log and pull on each end of the thread the slice through the log. You can see how I do this on the video above.
Rise and Bake
As you slice 12 even rolls, place them in a greased 9×13 inch baking dish to rise one more time before baking. Here’s what they look like before the second rise (plenty of space in between each roll):
And here’s what they look like after the second rise (nice and puffy, rolls are beginning to touch each other). Your second rise will take 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how warm it is in your house.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes until they are lightly brown on top and sound hollow if you tap on them. Baking times vary quite a bit, so you may need to bake yours a little longer or a minute shorter. If you’re unsure whether they are done, you can use a fork to gently pull the two middle rolls apart to see if the dough looks cooked and flaky. Here’s what they look like after baking:
Add Cream Cheese Frosting
While the orange rolls bake, mix up the orange cream cheese frosting. The frosting recipe makes a generous amount of frosting. If you want the frosting to melt into the rolls, add the frosting just a few minutes after they come out of the oven. If you prefer fluffy frosting that stays on top of your rolls, allow the rolls to cool before frosting and serving.
The rolls really are best warm, but they taste great cooled as well. Start to finish they take about 3 hours, unless it is cool in your house, in which case they could take up to 4 hours.
- 1 tablespoon Dry Active Yeast
- 1 cup Warm Water
- 2 tablespoons Butter softened
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 3 and 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 cup Butter softened
- 2/3 cup Sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons Orange Zest
- 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon optional
- 1/4 cup Butter softened
- 2 oz Cream Cheese softened
- 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2 cups Powdered Sugar
- 3 tablespoons Orange Juice
- 1 teaspoon Orange Zest for garnish, if desired
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- Place all dough ingredients (except 1/4 cup flour) into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low until combined.
- Turn mixer up and knead dough for 5-10 minutes, adding in the remaining 1/4 cup of flour (if you live in a humid climate you may need up to an additional 1/4 cup of flour). Knead until smooth and elastic. See note for more information.
- Turn dough out onto floured surface and form into a ball. Cover loosely with towel and allow to rise 60-90 minutes, until dough has doubled in size. (If you live in a dry climate, spray the dough with nonstick spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap before covering with a towel.)
- Punch dough down. Flour your work surface, then roll dough into a 14×20 inch rectangle.
- Stir together the filling ingredients to create a paste. Gently spread the paste over the dough, using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Spread until filling covers the dough except for an inch along the top.
- Starting from the bottom (which should be a long edge), roll the dough up into a log, rolling somewhat tightly. Cut off and discard ends if desired. Mark 12 even slices.
- Using a very sharp knife or a piece of thread, slice log into 12 pieces. Place in lightly greased 9×13 pan.
- Allow dough to rise about 45 minutes until rolls are puffed and touching each other. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake rolls approx 20-22 minutes until tops are golden brown and rolls sound hollow when tapped.
- Beat together frosting ingredients, making sure that butter and cream cheese are softened. I prefer the frosting fluffy and not pourable so when I spread it on top of warm rolls it doesn't completely melt to the bottom of the pan. If you prefer a runnier frosting you may use more orange juice.
- Allow rolls to cool about 10 minutes, then frost. Garnish with additional teaspoon of orange zest if desired. Store tightly covered at room temperature.