These Orange Rolls are light, fluffy and loaded with lots of fresh orange zest and orange juice in the filling and the frosting. We love making these orange sweet rolls every year for Easter morning! My kids look forward to them every year and always say they taste better than Pillsbury orange rolls!
For some more delicious sweet rolls and sweet bread recipes, be sure to check out my large, bakery-style Cinnamon Rolls and my Mini Cinnamon Rolls! Monkey Bread is also a fun sweet roll recipe that is great for sharing as it’s a pull-apart bread.
Why This Recipe Works
- Better than pillsbury orange rolls! These homemade orange rolls are better than the Pillsbury orange rolls! They are light, fluffy, and taste much fresher than the store bought. Trust me when I say that you’ll love these! Plus, they don’t take much longer to make from scratch.
- Quick rise time. This homemade orange rolls recipe only takes a total of 30 minutes to rise! This is because we use 2.5 tablespoons of yeast. But don’t worry! I’ve tried this recipe over and over again to get the perfect balance of yeast so that you don’t get a yeast flavor but the rise time is cut shorter! This recipe is the perfect combination.
- Warm Water: This helps activate the yeast. Make sure the water is warm and not just room temperature or slightly warm. You want it warm enough that it can stay warm while it sits and activates the yeast.
- Buttermilk: Be sure to use room temperature buttermilk so it can incorporate into the dough better. I recommend using buttermilk instead of a buttermilk substitute.
- Active Dry Yeast: The difference between active yeast and instant yeast is that active yeast needs to be combined with water to be activated. Instant yeast can be added directly without activation.
- Salt: Do not put the salt in with the yeast while it’s activating because salt kills yeast. We want the yeast to activate before adding the salt. Typically recipes will instruct that you put the warm water and yeast with some sugar which helps the activation.
- Flour: The amount you end up using will vary slightly depending on climate and elevation (see notes).
- Butter: While the dough also uses butter, let’s talk just about the butter for the filling right now. You don’t want to use melted butter for the filing. You want the butter to just be room temperature so you can spread it onto the dough. If you use melted, the filling will seep out while baking. The butter for the frosting also shouldn’t be melted! It’s a frosting, not a glaze.
- Orange Zest & Orange Juice: Having both the juice and the zest will bring more flavor.
- 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. Then 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.
- Let the dough rest. Once the dough has been made, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Make the orange roll filling. While the dough is resting, combine the ingredients for the filling (granulated sugar, orange zest, and orange juice).
- Roll out the dough. Spray a clean countertop with some cooking spray (I use Baker’s Joy. It’s my favorite!) and roll the dough into a 14×18-inch rectangle.
- Add the 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.
- Roll up and cut. Starting on the longer side, roll the dough into a log. The end result should be an 18-inch orange 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.
- Let rise. Cover the orange sweet rolls with plastic wrap and set them in a warm place to rise for 20 minutes. The rolls should be slightly puffy.
- Bake. Bake at 400°F for 20-24 minutes or until golden brown on top and cooked throughout.
- Make the frosting. While the rolls are in the oven, make the frosting. Once they’ve finished baking, remove the rolls from the oven. Let the orange rolls sit for 5-10 minutes to cool down a bit, then frost them while warm and in the pan.
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!
Use softened butter rather than melted butter for the filling. 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 (but not hot). 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!
Variation: Swap out the orange for raspberry to make raspberry sweet rolls. Try a raspberry jam or juice and strain raspberries for the filling. Use raspberry juice in place of orange juice.
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.
Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing
Store the orange rolls in an airtight container or bag at room temperature for 2 days or in the fridge for up to 4 days.
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.
To freeze, wrap each roll completely and tightly in plastic wrap then store in an airtight container or Ziplock bag in the freezer for up to 1 month. Let thaw in the fridge overnight for best results.
To make them ahead of time, make the recipe up to the second rise and cover the rolls on the baking sheet and store them in the fridge overnight. They’ll slowly rise in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge and let come to room temperature (let them sit for about 30-60 minutes) and then uncover and bake.
Think orange cinnamon rolls! It’s essentially like a cinnamon rolls recipe except the filling and frosting include fresh orange zest and fresh orange juice instead of cinnamon.
Using cooking spray 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!
Yes you can! You can freeze the baked orange rolls. See my section Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing above for that. I’ve never tried freezing the dough, but you could try if you’d like. If you give it a shot, I recommend freezing them after they are filled, rolled, and cut. Wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container. Let thaw in the fridge overnight, place on the pan and let rise. In theory this should work, but my disclaimer is that I haven’t tried it personally with this recipe. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!
Yes you can. It will just take a bit longer to get the dough to incorporate, but you can make it by hand if you’d prefer.
I recommend making these on a baking sheet. These are pretty large homemade orange rolls, so keep that in mind if you want to use a muffin tin. If you do want to use a muffin tin, I would cut them smaller to fit better. It will produce more rolls since they are smaller. Note: Bake time would vary.
- 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).
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.