Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Happy April Fool’s Day!  I hope you weren’t fooled yet today.  I have played plenty of April Fool’s jokes over the years, but I have played plenty of April Fool’s jokes over the years, but didn’t do anything this year.  April 1st snuck up on me!  Anyway… no joking around here, I promise.  This recipe is 100% real!

Over the weekend I had planned to make cinnamon rolls to bring to an Easter brunch.  I was all set to make these browned butter cinnamon rolls (browned butter makes everything better, right?), but then Syracuse made the final four (!!), and I got that sudden urge to incorporate something celebratory, and well, orange, into the rolls…

Browned butter cinnamon rolls, meet orange sweet rolls!

OrangeCinnamon Rolls

Oh goodness.  I rarely bake with yeast, but every time that I do, I realize I need to do it more often.  I mean, it really isn’t that much more work — just extra idle time while the dough rising!

The recipe I followed said these could be made in 90 minutes, which is much quicker than most cinnamon roll recipes I’ve ever come into contact with.  In the end, I think mine probably took just over 100 minutes, including rising and baking time… not bad!

Orange Cinnamon Rolls LBBakes

To make the cinnamon rolls “orange,” I simply added orange zest to the filling, and then made an icing with fresh squeezed orange juice and more zest.

You can certainly taste the orange here, but it’s not like you’re biting into an orange.  It’s just the perfect marriage of orange sweet rolls and cinnamon rolls!  Needless to say, this recipe is a keeper. 🙂

Orange Cinnamon Roll

[print_this]Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Can’t decide between cinnamon rolls and orange sweet rolls?  No problem!  These cinnamon rolls have a burst of orange flavor in the filling and icing, giving them a refreshing twist on traditional cinnamon rolls.  

Makes 15 rolls

Prep time: 40 minutes (plus ~45 minutes rising time)

Cook time (rolls): 20 minutes


  • 3/4 cup milk (any kind, cow’s, almond, soy, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large egg


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar


  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 4 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice

Before starting the dough, make your filling and icing.  In a medium saucepan, brown the stick of butter over medium heat.  Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, combine the zest of one orange with the cinnamon, granulated sugar, and brown sugar; stir until mixed well.  Once the butter has browned, reserve 2 tablespoons of it (for the icing).  Pour the remaining butter into the cinnamon mixture, stirring until mixed well.  Set aside.

For the icing: In a small mixing bowl, stir the reserved 2 tablespoons browned butter, orange juice, powdered sugar, and remaining orange zest.  Whisk until smooth.  Set aside.

For the dough: In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat until it boils.  Immediately remove the pan from heat and stir in the butter, until melted.  Allow it to cool to lukewarm.

In a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), stir the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt until mixed.  Once the milk has cooled slightly, add it to the dry ingredients, along with the water and egg; mix until combined.  At this point, the dough will be very stiff.  Use your hands to mix the dough if necessary.  Once it is combined, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead, about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and springy (i.e., springs back when pressed).  Cover the dough with a damp towel and allow the dough to rise, about 15 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle, 15 inches by 10 inches.  Spread the filling mixture over the dough, pressing it into the dough.  Starting at a long end, roll the dough up tightly into a log; pinch the ends to seal.  Use a sharp knife to cut the log into 15 rolls, each 1 inch thick.  Place the rolls in a 13×9 inch baking pan.  Cover the pan with a damp towel; set then pan in a warm place*, and allow to rise about 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake the rolls about 20 minutes, or until they are light golden brown.  Allow the rolls to cool about 10 minutes before pouring the glaze over the rolls.  For storage, keep the rolls in an airtight container (they should stay fresh a couple days).  Extra rolls can be frozen (wrap individually in aluminum foil and place in a  freezer bag).

*I placed my pan on the stovetop while preheating my oven.  If your kitchen is particularly warm though, you can probably just leave the pan on the counter to rise.

Recipe adapted from The Baker Chick.[/print_this]


14 thoughts on “Orange Cinnamon Rolls”

    1. Such a good combo, you’re right. I almost did a regular orange sweet roll, but then thought, might as well do a cinnamon/orange roll!

  1. My parents used to purchase the canned orange cinnamon rolls from the grocery for Saturday mornings at our house. Every week. … My sister and I still cringe when we think about it because we kind of OD’d on them.

    HOWEVER, these rolls look absolutely delightful, and I’m willing to bet (even though I’m not a betting woman) that they taste a zillion times better than the store-bought kind. And I’ve pinned the recipe so I can give it a go and hopefully once and for all get over my weirdness with this breakfast.

    Here’s to Syracuse being in the Final Four and for that inspiring a treat! I’ll be rooting for them tomorrow, as they are the only team I chose in the Final Four who made it that far. 🙂

    1. Hi Lindsay, if you leave them to rise overnight, I would do it on the counter, not in the refrigerator — they should be rising in someplace semi-warm!

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