Orange Cinnamon Rolls
Desserts | Published Mar 15, 2023 | Updated Mar 15, 2023 | By Tawnie
Say hello to the best sweet, pillowy and soft Orange Cinnamon Rolls.
Orange pairs exceptionally well with cinnamon. It’s like a spicy & sweet combination you never knew you loved. And it all comes together to make these ultra soft, buttery, citrus-filled cinnamon rolls with an orange-spiked glaze on top.
What else do I even really need to say?! Just look at these photos and you’ll start to drool!
If you’re a fan of adding fruit into cinnamon rolls, you’ll have to try my Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls and if that doesn’t suite your needs I have these Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with a Brown Butter Frosting that are always a total crowd-pleaser, especially around the holiday season.
Table of contents
I know what you’re thinking…cinnamon rolls take for-ev-er to make! A little patience is involved since the dough has to rise. BUT I have the easiest directions and overnight directions for you as well (see recipe card notes). The overnight option is my favorite because all you’ll have to do is make the dough, roll, slice them and pop in the fridge. Then when you want your cinnamon rolls in the morning you can bake them as directed and get ready for an ooey-gooey treat.
Reasons why these Cinnamon Rolls work:
- First of all, they TASTE AMAZING
- They’re comforting and just oh-so cozy with the most pillowy interior.
- They turn out perfectly every.single.time.
- Deliciously soft & fluffy!
- The dough is easy to work with
- Full of orange flavors and orange zest in every bite
- Are you convinced? It’s a must-bake recipe that will fill your home with the best scents!
For the ingredient measurements and entire recipe, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the blog post where the recipe card is located.
- Bread flour: I’ve found bread flour yields a moist and soft roll compared to all-purpose flour. This is due to the liquid bread flour can absorb. I highly recommend bread flour, but all-purpose will work OK if you’re in a bind!
- Active dry yeast: Using active dry yeast makes the rise time a little bit longer (~20 minutes). But good news is, you can use instant yeast too and follow the directions the same!
- Orange zest: before you juice your oranges, zest em’! We’ll use this zest in the cinnamon/sugar filling for the cinnamon rolls.
- Orange juice: this recipe really comes to life when using freshly squeezed orange juice. I love this citrus juicer to help speed up the process of juicing oranges and citrus.
- Egg: be sure to use a room temperature egg. 1 egg + 1 yolk is all you’ll need!
- Milk: Whole milk works best for this recipe since fat adds a rich mouth-reel. But 2% will also work fine!
- Sugar and Brown sugar: I used granulated white sugar to feed the yeast and activate the dough. And then you’ll need both granulated and brown sugar for the cinnamon/sugar filling. Dark or light brown sugar work well, although I usually opt for using dark brown.
- Heavy cream: you’ll need some heavy cream to pour over the cinnamon rolls prior to baking. This is a yummy secret to keep your cinnamon rolls soft and gooey and quite possibly my favorite cinnamon roll hack!
Step by Step Directions
For the full recipe instructions, scroll down to the bottom of the blog post to the recipe card.
- Make the dough in a stand mixer. It’s so easy, the machine does all the work for you! You’ll need the flat beater attachment and the dough hook attachment. I haven’t tested this recipe without a stand mixer.
- First rise: grease a large bowl with baking spray and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning it to coat each side with spray (or you can use oil). Cover with a plastic wrap and a warm kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. It may take more or less time depending on the humidity and temperature in your environment.
- Make the brown sugar/orange zest filling by combining the ingredients together in a medium sized mixing bowl.
- Roll the dough out on a clean, well floured surface, and roll into a large rectangle.
- Spread the delicious brown sugar orange zest filling from edge to edge on the dough.
- Slice the rolls, you should get 9 rolls and place in a greased 9×9 inch pan.
- Second rise: Cover with plastic wrap and a warm kitchen towel and rise again for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
- Bake and make glaze. Let the rolls cool ~5-10 minutes before adding the glaze & enjoy warm.
Expert Tips and Variations
- My #1 tip: When warming the butter and milk, be sure not to exceed 115°F. The milk should not be too hot because if the milk being added into yeast gets too hot (120°F+) it can kill the yeast and your dough won’t rise and that is really upsetting when taking the time to making cinnamon rolls. The sweet spot is 105°F-115°F so 110°F always works perfectly! In active dry yeast, the cells are alive but dormant because of the lack of moisture. So, when mixed with the warm milk (105°F- 115°F) the cells become active. This process is commonly known as “activating the yeast.”
- To heat the milk, you can simply microwave the milk and butter for 30-45 seconds or heat in a small saucepan on the stove. If using the stove, it will only take a minute so don’t walk away!
- Use room temperature eggs because yeast likes a warm environment.
- Knead the dough in the stand mixer just until the dough is pulling away from the sides of your mixer, but is tacky (not sticky) to the touch. Around 8-9 minutes is the sweet spot.
- Be sure to oil the bowl the dough is in for the first rise. It can help the dough rise higher!
- When rolling out the dough, flour your work surface generously so the dough doesn’t stick.
- Line the 9×9 inch pan with parchment paper if you want so it’s easier to clean the pan if any filling oozes out.
- Instead of a glaze, you can add a cream cheese frosting. This cream cheese frosting from these pumpkin cinnamon rolls is delicious.
- Add chopped nuts or raisins to the brown sugar filling.
Yes! To make these so they sit in your fridge overnight and you can bake in the morning, after you place the sliced rolls into the greased pan, immediately cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. In the morning, let the cinnamon rolls come to room temperature for at least 30-45 minutes, pour the warmed heavy cream on top and bake as directed.
Yes! I recommend keeping the frosting on the side if you plan the freeze them. Allow them to cool completely, cover tightly with plastic wrap or in an airtight container. When ready to eat, defrost at room temperature then heat in the oven or in the microwave.
A 9-inch circular cake pan will work, too!
I’ve found bread flour yields a moist and soft roll compared to all-purpose flour. This is due to the liquid bread flour can absorb. I highly recommend bread flour, but all-purpose will work OK if you’re in a bind!
Covered on the counter for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Pop in the microwave for ~15 seconds to reheat or in the oven at 350°F for 5-10 minutes or until warm and gooey again.
This is a yummy secret to keep your cinnamon rolls soft and gooey! You’ll pour it on right before baking.
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Orange Cinnamon Rolls
For the dough
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1, .25 oz. package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
- 1/2 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg, room temp
- 1 large egg yolk, room temp
- 3 cups bread flour, spooned leveled, plus more for dusting
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
For the filling
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temp
- 1 Tbsp. orange zest
For the glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 Tbsp. orange juice
- Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan just until it reaches 105°F-115°F. It should be lukewarm so this won't take long at all. Or you can simply microwave it for 30-45 seconds. If milk gets too hot, it will kill the yeast and oh em gee we don't want that!
- Pour the milk/butter mixture into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and sprinkle the yeast on top.
- Then add in the orange juice, sugar, egg, and yolk. Mix on medium-low just until combined.
- Add the flour and salt and mix again just until combined. (we’ll use the heavy cream later on).
- Add the dough hook and with the mixer still on medium-low speed, knead the dough for ~8 minutes. Knead just until the dough is pulling away from the sides of your mixer, but is tacky (not sticky) to the touch.
- Grease a medium sized mixing bowl with baking spray or oil and place the dough in the bowl, turn once to grease the top too. Cover with plastic wrap & a warm clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for 1 ½ hours – 2 hours. The dough should almost double in size.
- Grease a 9×9 inch pan with baking spray (9 inch cake pan works well, too.). You can line with parchment paper to catch any filling that may ooze out if desired.
- Combine the ingredients together for the filling in a medium sized mixing bowl until smooth.
- Roll out the dough. Turn out the dough onto a well floured work surface. Roll the dough into a large rectangle, spread the brown sugar filling all over the dough. Leave a small margin on the edges so you can roll, but I pretty much spread it all the way to the edge!
- Roll the dough up tightly, slice with a sharp knife or use the floss method and arrange the rolls in the prepared pan. (You’ll have 9 rolls). Cover tightly with plastic wrap and a warm kitchen towel and allow to rise again for 30 minutes –1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Warm the heavy cream in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, just until lukewarm to the touch. Pour the cream over the cinnamon rolls right before you put in the oven. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until cinnamon rolls are lightly browned on top and reach an internal temperature of 190°F. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Stir together ingredients for the glaze and drizzle over the tops before serving. Garnish with more orange zest on top if desired. ENJOY!
- Overnight instructions: After you place the sliced rolls into the greased pan, immediately cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. In the morning, let the cinnamon rolls come to room temperature for at least 30-45 minutes, pour the warmed heavy cream on top and bake as directed.
- Storage: Covered on the counter for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Pop in the microwave for ~15 seconds to reheat or in the oven at 350°F for 5-10 minutes or until warm and gooey again.
Hi, I’m Tawnie!
Welcome to my tiny “korner” on the Internet! I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who loves cookies as much as kale. (OK, maybe I like cookies a little bit more but shh, don’t tell anyone). I am so glad you’re here! Follow along for hassle free, realistic and approachable recipes.More about Tawnie