Orange Sweet Rolls

These zesty Orange Sweet Rolls are infused with the ultimate citrus flavor, and topped with a sweet orange glaze. You’ll fall in love with these light and tasty rolls.

I love to experiment with our classic Cinnamon Rolls, and add various ingredients to create new sweet roll flavors! These Orange Sweet Rolls are one of our favorites, but we also love Tropical Cinnamon Rolls and Maple Pecan Cinnamon Rolls.

Orange Sweet Roll on a white plate with a spoon

Zesty and Flavor Packed!

The other day I promised myself I’d get in the kitchen and make these orange sweet rolls. They’re a favorite and I’ve made them a few times without sharing, so I thought I’d change that! These rolls are packed full of orange juice & zest and are bursting with amazing flavor!

The recipe is pretty standard, with the exception of adding freshly squeezed orange juice and zest into the dough. It’s a little trick I learned to help infuse these rolls with maximum flavor. I also kept my standard cinnamon roll filling but added lots of grated zest to it. Such a great idea- it makes these rolls burst with citrusy goodness!

Then of course there’s the glaze, it’s also got zest in it. I mean how could I not put some orange in it?! Call me crazy, but the more the merrier, right? With a husband from Florida (whose family is in citrus) and myself being from California, it just makes sense!

Sweet Rolls on a baking sheet

How to Make Orange Rolls

DOUGH. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 2¾ c. flour and salt. Then in a small microwave safe bowl (or glass measuring cup), combine the sugar, butter, orange juice and orange zest.

Heat in the microwave until the mixture is warm (about 1 minute on HIGH in my microwave). Then heat the milk in a small bowl until warm or 110 degrees (about 20 seconds on HIGH in my microwave). Make sure it’s not too hot (so it doesn’t kill the yeast) or too cold (or the yeast won’t bloom).

Add the yeast and proof for 3-5 minutes, it may take a bit longer. With mixing speed on low, add the liquids, then the egg, mix until a soft and sticky dough forms.

KNEAD. If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and set on the lowest mixing setting for 5 minutes or until the dough becomes elastic (you may need to add a little bit of flour, but do not exceed 1/4 c.) or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 3-4 minutes.

RISE. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Turn oven OFF and place dough in, allow to rise until doubled in size (usually about 1 hour).

FILL. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it measures a 16×9 inch rectangle. Prepare the filling by combining all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl except for the butter and zest. Spread the butter over the top of the rolled dough, then cover with the filling and sprinkle with zest.

Tip: If you want to get fancy like I did, you can even add some cranberries to them. Just puree them for a few seconds in a food processor (or chop them finely) and spread them over the brown sugar.

CUT. Tightly roll the dough and cut into 12 portions (I like to use dental floss for this). I also cut it in half, then fourths etc. that way my pieces are all uniform in size.

RISE AGAIN. Place the rolls into a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish or a half sheet pan (you can also use parchment paper underneath to prevent sticking or a baking mat) and gently press a piece of aluminum foil or a clean towel over top. Turn your oven on to 200 degrees, then turn OFF your oven and place the covered rolls inside to rise. My rolls took 45 minutes to double in size, but they could take up to 1 hour.

BAKE. Remove the rolls from the oven and turn ON your oven to 350 degrees. Once heated, bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes or until the centers are lightly golden brown in color. Tip: To prevent over-browning you may need to cover the rolls with foil half way through baking.

Sweet Rolls with cranberry filling

The Orange Glaze

Remove the rolls from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

BEAT. While rolls are cooling, prepare the frosting by combining all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and beating by hand (with a whisk) or with a hand mixer until it’s nice and smooth.

POUR. Pour over the tops of the rolls, spread until the glaze forms a thin layer. Let cool for a few more minutes and then enjoy!

Pouring glaze onto Orange Sweet Rolls

Additional Tips + Storing

Can you use orange marmalade? We like the combo of cinnamon and orange zest. You can mix in a tablespoon or so of orange marmalade to add that extra flavor if you feel that it needs that extra zip.

What kind of orange to use for zest? Navel oranges are great for zesting but valencia oranges are great for juicing. You can either get some of each type of orange, or just choose one and go with it, it won’t make a huge difference.

Make Ahead: You can make them the night before, and place them in the refrigerator after they are done rising for the second time. Keep them tightly covered in the fridge until the next morning. Then, uncover the rolls and bake like normal. This is an awesome option if you don’t have time in the morning for the rising process.

Keep cooked orange sweet rolls STORED in the fridge until you’re ready to reheat them. You can either reheat them in the oven at about 350 degrees for about 10 minutes with a piece of foil on top so that they don’t brown anymore, or heat them in the microwave.

You can also FREEZE your orange sweet rolls baked or unbaked.

  • Unbaked: You can either freeze your rolls right after forming them, or let them go through the first rise and then freeze them. Either way place them in a disposable foil container with a secure lid. Place them in the freezer for up to a month before letting them thaw completely and baking them. If you leave them for more than a month the yeast has trouble rising. 
  • Baked: baked sweet rolls, after they have completely cooled, only last about 5-6 weeks in the freezer.

Orange Roll on a plate with a fork

For more sweet breakfast options, try:

Orange Sweet Rolls

Orange Rolls Recipe

These zesty Orange Sweet Rolls are infused with the ultimate citrus flavor, and topped with a sweet orange glaze. You'll fall in love with these light and tasty rolls.
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Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 2 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 2 hrs 50 mins
Servings: 12 rolls
Calories: 290kcal
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4-3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup orange juice - freshly squeezed, from 2 medium oranges
  • 1/2 orange - zested
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 pkg yeast
  • 1 egg
For the Filling
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup butter - room temperature
  • 1 orange - zested
For the Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter - melted
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 orange - zested

Instructions

  • In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 2¾ c. flour and salt.
  • In a small microwave safe bowl (or glass measuring cup), combine the sugar, butter, orange juice and orange zest. Heat in the microwave until the mixture is warm (about 1 minute on HIGH in my microwave). Then heat the milk in a small bowl until warm or 110 degrees (about 20 seconds on HIGH in my microwave). Add the yeast and proof for 3-5 minutes. With mixing speed on low, add the liquids, then the egg, mix until a soft and sticky dough forms.
  • If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and set on the lowest mixing setting for 5 minutes or until the dough becomes elastic (you may need to add a little bit of flour, but do not exceed 1/4 c.) or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 3-4 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Turn oven OFF and place dough in, allow to rise until doubled in size (usually about 1 hour).
  • Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it measures a 16x9 inch rectangle. Prepare the filling by combining all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl except for the butter and zest. Spread the butter over the top of the rolled dough, then cover with the filling and sprinkle with zest. Tightly roll the dough and cut into 12 portions. I like to use dental floss for this... I also cut it in half, then fourths etc. That way my pieces are all uniform in size.
  • Place the rolls into a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish or a half sheet pan (you can also use parchment paper underneath to prevent sticking or a baking mat) and gently press a piece of aluminum foil or a clean towel over top. Turn your oven on to 200 degrees, then turn OFF your oven and place the covered rolls inside to rise. My rolls took 45 minutes to double in size, but they could take up to 1 hour.
  • Remove the rolls from the oven and turn ON your oven to 350 degrees. Once heated, bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes or until the centers are lightly golden brown in color. To prevent over-browning you may need to cover the rolls with foil half way through baking.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before frosting. While rolls are cooling, prepare the frosting by combining all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and beating by hand or with a hand mixer until smooth. Spread over the tops of the rolls and garnish with additional zest, if desired.

Notes

-Fresh or frozen cranberries can easily be added to the filling. I'd suggest chopping them finely or processing them in a food processor. Just spread them over top along with the orange zest.

Nutrition

Serving: 12g | Calories: 290kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 273mg | Potassium: 120mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 334IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 2mg