This easy homemade orange rolls recipe is loaded with lots of fresh orange zest and orange juice. The orange rolls are soft and fluffy, and are seeping in smooth orange frosting.

A close up photo of homemade orange rolls covered in frosting.

What Are Orange Rolls?

Orange rolls are very similar to cinnamon rolls except the filling and frosting include fresh orange zest and fresh orange juice, giving it a beautiful citrus flavor.  

I have been making these rolls for years! It’s tradition in our house to have them Easter morning. It’s something we look forward to every year. These orange sweet rolls have orange zest and juice in the filling and the frosting, which really helps the orange flavor penetrate through. 

What makes this orange rolls recipe better than others?

This recipe doesn’t take all day! Because this sweet roll dough has at least 2 tablespoons of yeast, the dough rises fairly quickly. You don’t need to sit around waiting for the dough to rise.

Note: These rolls don’t taste “yeasty” at all. Just want to put those worries to rest! This is my favorite dough recipe, it’s really soft and tender. You’ll love it! Promise.

An orange roll on a plate.

Ingredients 

Dough

  • Warm water — This helps activate the yeast.
  • Buttermilk, room temperature — I recommend using buttermilk instead of a buttermilk substitute.
  • Granulated sugar — Adds the sweetness to the dough.
  • Melted butter — This helps create a sweet roll consistency and flavor to the dough.
  • Eggs — Eggs give volume, color and help bind the ingredients together.
  • Active dry yeast — This is a yeasted dough. The yeast is our main rising agent.
  • Salt — For flavor. It’s important not to put the salt in with the yeast as it’s activating because salt kills yeast. 
  • All-purpose flour — The amount will vary slightly depending on climate and elevation (see notes).

Filling

  • Butter, softened — Don’t use melted butter or else the filling will just seep out.
  • Granulated sugar — Adds more sweetness to our sweet orange rolls!
  • Orange zest — Zest of about 1 large orange. Having the juice and the zest will bring more flavor.
  • Fresh orange juice — I will just juice the oranges I have zested.

Orange Frosting

  • Butter, softened — Don’t use melted butter. This is a frosting, not a glaze.
  • Fresh orange juice — Amount will vary depending on how thin or thick the frosting is.
  • Orange zest — Gives a punchier orange flavor.
  • Powdered sugar — Using powdered sugar instead of granulated makes the frosting smooth.

How to Make Easy and Fluffy Orange Rolls

  1. Make the dough.
    Combine the water, buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, and yeast. Mix, then let this mixture sit for 10-15 minutes. The yeast should get really foamy and bubbly. This is a good sign! The yeast is active. 
Yeast proofing for Easy Homemade Orange Sweet Rolls.
  1. Add the remaining dough ingredients.
    Add the salt, eggs, and flour and mix for about 8-10 minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl, but still stick to the very base of the bowl. You may need to add more flour depending on your climate and elevation. Tip: for a heartier orange roll use a combination of all-purpose flour and bread flour (remember bread flour has a higher gluten strength and protein content). I’ve made these rolls using only all purpose flour, and again using half bread flour and half all purpose and they turn out great either way. 
  2. Let the dough rest.
    Once the dough has been made, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare the orange filling.
    While the dough is resting, combine the ingredients for the filling (granulated sugar, orange zest, and orange juice). 
Orange sugar mixture in preparation for making easy homemade orange sweet rolls.
  1. Roll out the dough.
    Spray a clean countertop with some cooking spray (I use Baker’s Joy –> my favorite!) and roll the dough into a 14×18-inch rectangle.
  2. Add filling.
    Using the back of a spoon, smear the softened butter over the top surface of the dough. Sprinkle the orange sugar filling evenly over the softened butter. 
Dough rolled out into a rectangular shape with softened butter spread over the surface.
Orange roll dough rolled out into a rectangle with orange sugar filling spread over the surface of the dough.
  1. Roll up and cut.
    Starting on the longer side, roll the dough into a log. The end result should be an 18-inch orange cinnamon roll log. Using floss, thread, or a serrated knife, cut into 12 rolls. Place the rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet, 3 rolls across and 4 rolls down.
Twelve slices of orange rolls.
  1. Let rise.
    Cover the orange rolls with plastic wrap and set them in a warm place to rise for 20 minutes. The rolls should be slightly puffy.
Easy homemade orange sweet rolls rolled into spirals and place on a baking sheet.
  1. Bake.
    Bake at 400°F for 20-24 minutes or until golden brown on top and cooked throughout. 
  2. Make the frosting.
    While the orange rolls are in the oven, make the frosting. Once they’ve finished baking, remove the rolls from the oven and frost the orange rolls while warm.
A baking sheet full of freshly baked orange rolls.

Recipe Tips

The dough recipe uses buttermilk, now I realize buttermilk isn’t a common kitchen staple, but I recommend using buttermilk for this recipe. If you’re in a bind, a buttermilk substitute will be fine.

Use softened butter rather than melted butter for the filling. Have you ever noticed when you use melted butter, the butter tends to seep out all over the pan as soon as you place the rolled sweet rolls on it? Using softened butter will prevent this from happening.

I always frost cinnamon rolls and orange rolls while they are warm. Doing this allows the frosting to seep into the nooks and crannies of the orange roll so that you have a generous amount of frosting in every bite!

Variations

Swap out the orange for raspberry to make raspberry swirl rolls. Try a raspberry jam or juice and strain raspberries for the filling. Use raspberry juice in place of orange juice. 

Storing

Store the orange rolls in an airtight container or bag in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can store these at room temperature for 2 days, but they’ll last longer in the fridge. I like to pop one in the microwave for a few seconds before eating it so it’s a bit warm and the frosting is soft.

Large orange rolls covered in frosting.

FAQs

Why do you spray your counter top rather than use flour? This is one of my tricks! Flour tends to dry out the dough and it doesn’t prevent sticking as well as cooking spray. Whenever I use cooking spray to roll out dough, I NEVER have any sticking issues. It’s amazing. Try it, you’ll be hooked.

If You Love This Recipe, Try These:

If you make this recipe and love it, I would be so grateful if you come back to leave a 5-star rating and review. It helps other people find my recipe easier. Thank you! ❤️

A close up photo of homemade orange rolls covered in frosting.
Print Review
5 from 2 votes

Orange Rolls

These orange rolls are the best! My family goes crazy for them!
Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 24 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 9 mins
Servings: 12 sweet rolls

Ingredients
 

Dough

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, room temp
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5-6 cups all-purpose flour - may need more depending on climate and elevation (see notes).

Filling

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest - zest of about 1 large orange
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

Orange Frosting

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons fresh orange juice - may need more to thin out the frosting
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups powdered sugar

Instructions
 

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the water, buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, and yeast. Mix. Let sit for 15 minutes. Add salt, eggs, and flour. Mix for 8-10 minutes. After mixing, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. 
  • In the meantime, prepare the filling. In a small bowl add the sugar, orange zest, and orange juice. Stir to combine.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a silicone baking mat or parchment paper on a baking sheet. Alternatively, you can spray the baking sheet with cooking spray. Spray your countertop with cooking spray ( I used Bakers Joy). Roll the dough into a 14"x18" rectangle. Using the back of a spoon, smear the softened butter over the top of the dough. Sprinkle the orange sugar filling evenly over the softened butter.
  • Starting with the long side, roll the dough into a log so that then resulting cinnamon roll measures 18" in length. Cut into 12 large rolls. Place the rolls onto the prepared baking sheet. 3 rolls across, and 4 rolls down. Lightly cover the orange rolls and set them in a warm place to rise for 20 minutes.
  • Bake for 20-24 minutes or until golden brown and cooked throughout.

Frosting

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand held mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, orange zest, and orange juice. Beat until smooth. If the frosting is too thick add orange juice a tablespoon at a time until it's a spreadable consistency.
  • When the orange rolls are finished baking, remove from the oven, and let them sit for 3 minutes or so. Frost the rolls when warm.
  • Best when served warm and eaten in the same day. However, you can store these in an airtight container for 2 days. 

Notes

You might need more flour than what’s stated in the recipe card. You want the dough to come away from the sides of the bowl, but still stick to the bowl at the very base. The dough should be tacky but not overly sticky. Climate and elevation play a role in how much flour you’ll need so add a tablespoon at a time until it reaches this desired consistency. 
You can play around with the kind of flour you use. Use a mix of bread flour and all purpose flour for a heartier orange roll. I’ve made this recipe using 100% all-purpose flour and other times using 50% bread flour and 50% all purpose flour. I get great results each time! 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 638kcal (32%)Carbohydrates: 115g (38%)Protein: 7g (14%)Fat: 16g (25%)Saturated Fat: 10g (50%)Cholesterol: 69mg (23%)Sodium: 454mg (19%)Potassium: 94mg (3%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 74g (82%)Vitamin A: 530IU (11%)Vitamin C: 0.8mg (1%)Calcium: 34mg (3%)Iron: 2.6mg (14%)
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
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This post was first published March 23, 2018 and was updated February 18, 2021 with more detailed instructions.