Orange Sweet Rolls

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These Orange Cinnamon Rolls are fluffy, pull apart sweet rolls made with fresh orange juice, zest, and the perfect orange glaze. If you’re a fan of Pillsbury’s orange rolls, you’re going to LOVE this homemade version!

We’ve included step by step photos to walk you through the whole process, as well as make ahead and freezer instructions, so you can wake up to an incredibly special breakfast!

Puffy Soft Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Spatula lifting an orange roll from a casserole dish.

We here at NeighborFood take our recipe development seriously, especially if it involves remaking a childhood favorite.

Mr. NeighborFood grew up eating Pillsbury’s canned orange rolls for holidays and weekend breakfasts. With warm cinnamon and a sweet citrus glaze, they’re synonymous with cozy Christmas mornings, and all the excitement and wonder that comes with them.

So even if they taste a bit like chemicals, they also taste like childhood and nostalgia, and happy memories, and that’s a high bar to match, even for a homemade recipe.

It was with a great amount of respect and just a little bit of trepidation that I set out to make a homemade version of these beloved orange cinnamon rolls. I wanted to make something that called to mind all the sweetness of the original, but with a soft, yeasted dough and a glaze bursting with fresh orange flavor.

Friends, I think we’ve done it. These are it. Gooey and cinnamony in the centers, soft and puffy on the outside, and all smothered in a bright citrusy glaze.

Now, are these as easy as popping open a can? Hahaha, no.

But are they better than the can? Unequivocally, yes. Even the Mr. agrees, and he was always going to be a hard sell.

Turns out, all that extra time spent rolling the dough, slathering it with cinnamon and butter, and patiently waiting for it to rise make these Orange Cinnamon Rolls taste a lot like LOVE.

What Makes these Orange Cinnamon Rolls So Spectacular

Our go-to overnight cinnamon rolls recipe calls for bread flour, which makes for a sturdier, chewier roll. While I love that recipe, I wanted these orange rolls to be a little lighter and suuuuuper fluffy. We’re talking dinner roll fluffy.

To accomplish this, I took a page from our Butterhorn Rolls recipe, and made three simple changes:

  • Subbed milk for water for increased tenderness and flavor
  • Added an extra egg for more lift and max puffiness
  • Used all purpose flour instead of bread flour for a tender and soft orange roll

Finally, let’s discuss the glaze. We wanted to mimic the glaze on Pillsbury’s orange rolls, which forms an irresistible crackly crust as it melts and cools into all the crevices of the warm rolls. Our glaze has this same crackly crust, but tastes a million times better, thanks to fresh squeezed orange juice, melted butter, and vanilla extract.

Ingredients Needed + Substitutions

Ingredients to make orange rolls arranged in prep bowls on a white marble background.
  • Milk– I prefer using 2% or whole milk. You’ll want it to be warm, but not hot. Aim for between 105 and 115 degrees.
  • Active Dry Yeast– You can use instant or fast acting yeast instead. These will lesson the rise time by 10-15 minutes.
  • Oranges– We’re using fresh, whole oranges and lots of them! You’ll need 3-4 oranges for the juice, plus the zest of two of the oranges.
  • Butter– Butter is getting a triple workout, used in the dough, filling, and glaze of this recipe.
  • Eggs– Eggs add moisture and lift to the orange rolls.
  • Brown and granulated sugar– I use a mix of sugars in the dough and filling.
  • Cinnamon
  • Flour– As discussed earlier, I use all purpose flour for these rolls. If you prefer a chewier roll, you can sub half bread flour for the all purpose flour.
  • Powdered sugar– I prefer a simple powdered sugar glaze for these, as it really allows the orange flavor to shine. If you prefer a cream cheese frosting, you can use the one from our Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

How to Make Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Make the Orange Sweet Roll Dough

Step 1: In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the warm milk and sprinkle with yeast. Allow the yeast to dissolve for a few minutes or until a light foam begins to form around the edges, then whisk to dissolve.

Yeast being dissolved in warm milk.

Step 2: Whisk in the orange zest, juice, butter, eggs, salt, and sugar until well combined.

Eggs, butter, and sugar being stirred into yeast and milk.

Step 3: Slowly add the flour, a cup at a time, stirring with a spatula after each addition. At 4 cups, check to see how sticky your dough is. The dough should feel tacky, but it shouldn’t cling to your finger. If needed, add more flour until the dough is just barely tacky and springs back when touched.

Yeasted orange roll dough in a mixing bowl.

Step 4: Place the bowl on the electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Knead on medium speed for 6-7 minutes, or until it is smooth and beginning to pull away from the edges of the bowl.

Orange roll dough in an electric mixing bowl with the dough hook.

Step 5: Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and cover loosely with greased plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, or 1-1.5 hours.

Orange cinnamon roll dough in a white bowl, before rising.

Make the filling and orange glaze:

Step 6: In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugars, cinnamon, and cardamom. Set aside.

Cinnamon, sugar, and melted butter in a glass mixing bowl.

Step 7: In another medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, orange juice, orange zest, butter, and vanilla extract. You can make the glaze thicker or thinner based on your preferences by adding more orange juice.

Orange glaze with orange zest and fresh juice.

Roll and Bake the Orange Rolls

Step 8: Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan with a neutral cooking spray. Sprinkle a work surface (I like these baking mats with measurements) lightly with flour. Turn the risen dough out onto the work surface and sprinkle the top with flour as well. Gently roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 11 inches in size.

Step 9: Spread the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the rectangle.

Step 10: Begin to roll the dough tightly over the filling, starting on the long end. Score the dough into 12 equal sized slices. (Sometimes I cut off the very ends of the log if they’re much thinner than the rest of the log).

Orange dough rolled over cinnamon sugar filling.

Step 11: Slide a piece of unflavored dental floss underneath the roll along each score mark, pull the two ends of the floss together to cut the dough. Place each piece of dough into the greased pan.

Log of orange cinnamon rolls being cut into individual pieces.

Step 12: Cover the pan with a tea towel and let rest in a warm place until puffed, about 30-45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Step 13: Remove the tea towel, and cover the pan with foil. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from the foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until rolls are golden brown on the edges, but still light and puffy in the center.

Freshly baked orange rolls in a white casserole dish.

Step 14: Pour the orange glaze over the rolls and serve warm. You might have a little extra glaze, depending on how much glaze you prefer. You can save it and let people add it to individual rolls or use it as a fruit dip.

Orange glazed being poured on a tray of freshly baked orange rolls.

Tips for Success

  • First, don’t stress! You can do this.
  • Second, don’t worry about the rolls looking perfect. This is a soft dough, and it’s almost impossible to get perfectly even and equal sized rolls. You can see mine are a little wonky! This doesn’t effect the taste at all, and is part of the joy of homemade cinnamon rolls.
  • I have tried many different techniques for slicing cinnamon rolls, including a bread knife, a pizza cutter, and a bench scraper. I find the floss technique is the easiest and results in the least squishing/misshaping of the rolls. However, if you don’t have unflavored floss or don’t want to mess with it, my next preferred method is a sharp bread knife.
  • This glaze will be thick at room temperature, but loosens up when heated. If it thickens too much to pour while the cinnamon rolls cook, just microwave it for 10 seconds before pouring.
  • If you prefer for the glaze to sit on top of the rolls rather than sink through the cracks, spread it on after the rolls have cooled.
Casserole of orange cinnamon rolls topped with orange glaze and orange zest.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Leftover orange cinnamon rolls should be stored, covered tightly, at room temperature. They’ll keep for several days, but they’re best served within 48 hours.

  • To reheat individual cinnamon rolls, loosely wrap them in a damp paper towel and heat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds until glaze is slightly melty. The damp paper towel keeps the orange rolls nice and gooey.
  • To reheat a whole (or partial) pan of orange rolls, preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Place a cup of water in a shallow pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Place the rolls on a middle rack and heat for 10-15 minutes, or until warmed through.
Orange sweet roll being lifted from a casserole dish.

How to Make Orange Rolls Ahead of Time

To make these rolls ahead of time, follow the steps through rolling and slicing the dough. Once the dough is in the pans, cover them with saran wrap and place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, take the rolls out, and allow them to rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes, or until puffed. Bake as usual.

Orange cinnamon roll on a yellow plate.

How to Freeze Orange Rolls

My preferred methods for freezing cinnamon rolls are either parbaked or after fully baked.

  • To freeze parbaked orange rolls: Make the rolls completely, but only bake for about 15 minutes, or until the rolls are puffed, but have very little browning. Allow to cool completely, then double wrap in saran wrap or place in a freezer bag and freeze. Thaw the rolls overnight in the fridge, then bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the rolls are browned. Frost as usual.
  • To freeze fully baked rolls: Bake and frost the rolls as usual. Cool completely. Double wrap in saran wrap or place in a freezer bag and freeze. Thaw rolls overnight in the fridge. Reheat individual rolls in a damp paper towel in the microwave and serve.

Note: Cinnamon rolls are best used within 1 month of freezing.

More of Our Favorite Holiday Breakfasts

Nothing says it’s a special occasion quite like waking up to a gourmet breakfast. Here are a few more of our favorite ways to kick off a holiday morning!

Spatula lifting an orange roll from a casserole dish.

Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Soft and gooey Orange Cinnamon Rolls are so much better than the can! With a puffy yeasted dough, cinnamon sugar filling, and sweet orange glaze, these warm orange rolls are the perfect way to kick off a holiday celebration!

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • ¾ cup warm milk, between 105 and 115 degrees
  • 1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 ½ cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling

For the filling:

  • ½ cup (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 Tablespoons orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

For the dough:

  1. Add the warm milk to the bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle with yeast. Let the yeast dissolve for a few minutes or until a light foam begins to form around the edges, then whisk to dissolve completely.
  2. Whisk in the orange zest, juice, butter, eggs, salt, and sugar until well combined.
  3. Slowly add the flour, a cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula after each addition. At 4 cups, check to see how sticky your dough is. The dough should feel tacky, but it shouldn't cling to your finger. If needed, add more flour until the dough is just barely tacky and springs back when touched.
  4. Place the bowl on the electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Knead on medium speed for 6-7 minutes, or until it is smooth and beginning to pull away from the edges of the bowl.
  5. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and cover loosely with greased plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, or about 1-1.5 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling and glaze:

  1. For the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugars, cinnamon, and cardamom. Set aside.
  2. For the glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, orange juice, orange zest, butter, vanilla extract, and salt. If you'd like the mixture to be a bit thinner, add additional orange juice until you've reached the desired consistency. We like it to be thick but pourable.

To assemble:

  1. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan with a neutral cooking spray.
  2. Sprinkle a work surface generously with flour, then turn the risen dough out onto it. Sprinkle the top of the dough with additional flour. Gently roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 11 inches in size.
  3. Spread the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the rectangle. Begin to roll the dough tightly over the filling, starting on the long end. If the ends are very thin or much smaller in size than the remaining dough, cut off a small amount of each end.
  4. Score the dough with a knife so it's divided into 12 equal slices. Slide a piece of unflavored dental floss underneath the roll along each score mark, then pull the two ends of the floss together to cut the dough. Nestle each roll, cinnamon swirl up, into the prepared pan.
  5. Cover the pan with a tea towel and let rest in a warm place until puffed, about 30-45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Remove the tea towel, and cover the pan with foil. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from the foil and bake for an additional 5-8 minutes or until rolls are golden brown on the edges, but still light and puffy in the center.
  7. Pour the glaze evenly over the rolls and serve warm. You might have a little extra glaze, depending on how much glaze you prefer. You can save it and let people add it to individual rolls or use it as a fruit dip.

Notes

If the glaze becomes too thick to pour while the rolls are baking, just microwave it for ten seconds.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 373Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 231mgCarbohydrates: 77gFiber: 2gSugar: 39gProtein: 7g

Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.

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20 Comments

  1. orange rolls out of the can were one of my very favorite treats as a kid. I live in Australia now and that treat isn’t available now…apple and raisin scrolls just don’t hit the same sweet spot! I can’t wait to try these out this weekend! Will they rise well enough if I leave them in the fridge overnight?

  2. These take me back to grade school summer mornings with Pillsbury orange rolls and the Price is Right! You deserve the significant other award of the year, by the way. What a special treat for the Mr.!

  3. I love cinnamon Orange Rolls!! My mother used to make these for us all the time as kids (though out of a can…) Thanks for the recipe. I will be trying this out ASAP!! Also, this was my first time stopping by your blog and I love it!! Amazing pictures!!!! Something for me to aspire to!

    1. Awesome! Thank you so much for stopping by. It’s been a long road with my photography and I’ve still got a long way to go. It’s been a fun learning experience though. I hope you love these as much as we did!

  4. Courtney!!! You must really really really really really love your man 😉 Just like how I really really really really really love these orange sweet rolls and all of your fabulous, gorgeous step-by-step photos. Orange sweet rolls have been on my must-bake list for the past two years. It’s about time I get my butt moving into the kitchen to make these! Yours look glorious!

  5. Gosh, I’d love to receive some lovin’ via these gorgeous fluffy sweet rolls, Courney. The mister really is a lucky man! And aren’t Sally’s recipes the absolute best? Guess I need to keep racking up brownie–er, cinnamon roll–points with you so I can coax you into sending me a batch 😉

  6. Yeast rolls are definitely a labor of love. But they’re always worth it in the end! These are beauties! I’m sure the Mr. was super happy that you made these…though now, there’s probably no going back to that can…

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