Orange Sweet Rolls Recipe

5 from 1 vote
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Orange Sweet Rolls are fluffy and gooey and dripping with an orange frosting. If you are a fan of cinnamon rolls you’re going to absolutely LOVE this version.

This post has been sponsored by Fleischmann’s Yeast®. Their Rapid Rise® Yeast is my favorite to use because it makes working with yeast so simple.

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Overhead shot of orange sweet rolls in a baking dish with one cut out of the corner

To me, nothing says comfort more than a cinnamon roll. They remind me of family gatherings, birthdays, cozy Saturday mornings, and best of all, the holidays. The memories I have around fresh homemade cinnamon rolls are why I love to make them all year long.

Now you all know me, and you know how much I love to make make different cinnamon roll flavors. Last year I made Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls that were such a huge hit, so this year I wanted to try another new flavor: Orange.

Oranges are in season this time of year; every December my neighbor brings me a huge bag. This year I’ll be making pans of Orange Sweet Rolls with that gift!

If you’re not familiar with making your own homemade sweet rolls, don’t worry, I’m going to show you step-by-step how to make them. You’re going to realize how easy it is to work with yeast and make your own orange rolls from scratch!

Note that this post is pretty wordy and photo-heavy because I’m showing you every step you need to make these from scratch, so if you’re looking for the recipe, hit that “jump to recipe” button at the top of the page.

Close up of an orange sweet roll on a white plate with yeast packets behind it

Making the Sweet Roll Dough

First we need to gather our ingredients. Making homemade cinnamon rolls has a few different parts, but all of the ingredients are easy to find. Let’s talk about the three different layers to this recipe:

  1. The Dough
  2. The Filling
  3. The Frosting

The dough for these rolls is a sweet and fluffy bread base. To make the dough you need wet and dry ingredients:

  • Flour, Sugar, Orange Zest, 2 packets of Fleischmann’s® Rapid Rise Yeast, Salt
  • Water, butter, egg
Instant yeast being poured into glass mixing bowl

Best Yeast for Orange Sweet Rolls

The beauty of using Fleischmann’s® Rapid Rise Yeast (as opposed to Active Dry) is that you don’t have to proof the yeast: you just whisk it in with the dry ingredients. This takes some of the guesswork out and shortens the prep time.

For more tips and tricks about working with yeast, be sure and read all about the basics here.

Glass mixing bowl with dry ingredients for sweet rolls

Simply add all the dry ingredients: sugar, yeast, some of the flour, orange zest, and salt to a large bowl. Whisk to combine them. Then it’s time to work with the wet ingredients.

The orange zest is one of the things that differentiates these rolls from regular cinnamon rolls; there’s a little bit of that orange flavor in every bite!

In this sweet roll dough, the water is going to activate the yeast, so it’s important that it gets to the correct temperature.

Add the water and butter to a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl and heat it in the microwave until it’s between 120°-130°F.

You have two ways of knowing the temperature:

  1. Think “hot bath water” OR
  2. Use an instant read thermometer to test the water. (This is my preferred method, you can find these thermometers online and they take the guesswork out of working with yeast.)
Melted butter in a liquid measuring cup with a pink thermometer taking the temperature

Then you’re going to add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients (add the hot water/butter mixture along with the egg).

Mixing the dough

You can use a stand mixer (or an electric mixer) if you have one, but I enjoy doing the work by hand. It’s really simple to stir the dough using an old-fashioned wooden spoon.

The key is to get it as mixed with as much flour as you need, but not too much. If you’re using a stand mixer, you can use the dough hook to knead the dough most of the way for you, but if you’re doing it by hand you’ll have to add flour as you’re kneading so it doesn’t stick.

Three photo process showing how to make the sweet roll dough.

Pay attention to the recipe when it comes to adding flour: it specifies that you’ll use 4 ½ to 5 cups of flour. Your original dry mixture starts with 2 cups, meaning during the mixing process you’ll add an additional 2 ½ to 3 cups of flour.

I usually use about 2 ½ cups to get it to a good mixture that’s a little sticky and then I use the rest of the flour to knead the dough. You don’t want to add too much flour or your rolls won’t be light and fluffy, so add just enough that the dough will come together during kneading and no longer stick to your hands or your surface.

I didn’t realize how much I’d love kneading dough until I start working with yeast more. It’s really cathartic and calming! Just knead your dough until it comes together in a ball and bounces back when you touch it with two fingers, about 8-10 minutes if you’re doing the whole process by hand.

Be sure to read about different kneading techniques here for more answers.

Overhead shot of dough being pressed in to with two fingers and instant yeast packet beside it

Resting and Filling the Rolls

Fleischmann’s® Rapid Rise® Yeast comes to the rescue again once the dough is done: it only needs to rest for 10 minutes before you can fill your rolls. This cuts down on the time it takes to make them significantly: only one major rise, at the end, before baking!

Just cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest while you prepare the filling.

Orange sweet roll dough rising on a wood cutting board with cinnamon sugar and melted butter in dishes

The filling is a simple one: melted butter and a brown sugar cinnamon mixture that will be sprinkled all over it. I love using brown sugar for a richer filling.

Simply roll your dough out to a large rectangle (about 10×15 or a bit larger).

Spread your melted butter all over the dough (I use a pastry brush but you can use a knife or your hands). Then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar filling all over and tightly roll up your rolls.

Three photos showing how to roll the cinnamon rolls and cut them before baking

Easy Cutting Tip

You can use a serrated knife to cut your rolls, but I love using my secret hack: dental floss!

Use unflavored dental floss to cut your rolls easily – no collapsing or sawing required. Just wrap the floss around the roll, cross and pull through. Easy peasy!

You can cut your rolls whatever size you like: the recipe calls for 12 but you could do 9 big rolls or 18 smaller ones.

Now is when we have to wait for rising: simply cover the rolls and let them rise until doubled in size, about an hour. Look how puffy and squishy they are!

Orange sweet rolls in a white baking dish before baking

Then bake them until they’re nice and golden brown. Once they come out of the oven it’s time to make the Orange Frosting to further pump up that orange flavor.

Orange Frosting for Cinnamon Rolls

The frosting just has a few ingredients: powdered sugar, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla. This is more of a pourable glaze than a buttercream frosting (if you prefer a cream cheese frosting or a buttercream, you can use one of those instead).

The recipe calls for 2-3 tablespoons of orange juice. Just start with 2 tablespoons and add more as you’d like to get the consistency you want. Use less juice for a thicker frosting and more for a thinner, more pourable icing.

Orange sweet rolls in a white baking dish with orange icing being poured over them

The smell of the frosting is incredible, especially once it hits the warm sweet rolls!

These are delicious warm or cold and are the perfect addition to any holiday table (or any table all year long!)

Close up of an orange sweet roll on a white plate with yeast packets behind it

Orange Sweet Rolls Tips & Tricks

I don’t have an instant read thermometer, what do I do?

Heat the water in 15 second increments until it’s very warm but not hot to the touch (think hot bathwater).

Can I make these with lemon?

Yes you can! Just substitute lemon zest and juice where I call for orange.

Can I use packaged orange juice?

Yes, if you can’t find oranges, use packaged juice, but it is important to have the zest as well for that punch of flavor.

How long do I have to knead the dough?

If you’re doing it by hand it can take 8-10 minutes for the dough to come together. Using a stand mixer will be much faster.

My dough didn’t rise! What happened?

Make sure to check the date on your yeast to make sure it isn’t expired. And make sure that you use the proper temperature water (if the water is too cold the yeast won’t activate; if it’s too hot it will kill it). That’s why I love using an instant read thermometer.

This recipe is adapted from Homemade Cinnamon Rolls on the Bread World website.

Other Favorite Yeast Recipes

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Orange Sweet Rolls Recipe

The BEST Homemade Orange Cinnamon Rolls! These Orange Sweet Rolls have a from scratch yeast dough with a sweet cinnamon filling and an orange icing. These are such a great easy homemade rolls!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Rise Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Yield 12 rolls
Serving Size 1 serving

Ingredients

Rolls

  • 4-½ to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of one orange
  • 2 packets Fleischmann's® RapidRise Yeast (4-½ tsp)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted

Frosting

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons orange juice
  • Zest 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Combine 2 cups flour, sugar, orange zest, dry yeast and salt in a large bowl and stir until blended.
  • Place water and butter in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup. Microwave on high in 15 second increments until very warm but not hot to the touch (120° to 130°F). It helps if you use an instant read thermometer to check the water temperature. Note: Butter won’t melt completely).
  • Add wet ingredients to flour mixture with egg.
  • Without a mixer: stir mixture with a wooden spoon until you can’t stir anymore, adding just enough flour so the dough will come to a ball, getting your hands in there once you can’t stir anymore.
  • With a mixer: Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in just enough remaining flour (about 1 cup) so that the dough will form into a ball.
  • Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic and dough springs back when lightly pressed with 2 fingers, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cover with a towel; let rest for 10 minutes.
  • For filling, combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Roll dough into a 15 x 10-inch rectangle using a rolling pin. Spread melted butter over dough stopping at least 1/2-inch from the edges on the long sides. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Beginning at long end of the rectangle, roll up tightly. Pinch seams to seal.
  • TIP: Use unflavored dental floss instead of a knife to cut rolls. Cut a long piece of floss. Slide floss under the roll; bring the ends up and cross over to cut each slice. Cut into 12 equal pieces.
  • Place, cut sides down, in greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour .
  • Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Cool on wire rack for at least 20 minutes.
  • Combine all frosting ingredients (start with 1 tablespoons juice and add more if needed) in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Spread over rolls.

Recipe Video

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 298kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 221mg | Potassium: 49mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 259IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate

Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword cinnamon roll, orange
Close up photo of one orange sweet roll on a white plate with yeast packets in background with recipe title on top

The BEST Homemade Orange Cinnamon Rolls! These Orange Sweet Rolls have a from scratch yeast dough with a sweet cinnamon filling and an orange icing. These are such a great easy homemade rolls!

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  1. Thank you, Dorothy! Another homerun! I made these per your instructions and they came out perfectly! YUMMY!! I offered some to my neighbor and they asked for more! YIKES!