Soft and fluffy orange rolls are loaded with fresh orange flavor and slathered in cream cheese frosting! This special breakfast treat is a Christmas morning tradition in our house… but they’re so good we’ve started making them for Easter, Mother’s Day and sometimes, just because! Serve warm, straight from the baking dish!
Orange Cinnamon Rolls
Got a bag of oranges? Make orange rolls! Seriously… you won’t regret it!
When I was preggers with Remi, one of the biggest changes I experienced was an increased appetite for sweets! In particular, breakfast sweets! Morning after morning, I found myself craving chocolate croissants or sweet fluffy cinnamon sweet rolls! The chocolate croissant craving was easy to fix because we have a bakery in town that bakes them fresh every morning. But the orange rolls? That was a harder craving to curb. No bakery in our little town makes them… so you know what I had to do right? Bust out the oranges and bake them my dang self!
And I have zero regrets! After making these sweet orange rolls over a dozen times (I’m not kidding), I perfected the recipe enough to finally share with you guys! And I got to eat a dozen different cinnamon rolls in the process. Life is so sweet!
Make the Dough
To start, you’ll need to prep your pan! Be sure to lightly grease the sides and bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan with nonstick baking spray or butter. Note, that if you use a ceramic or glass pan, your rolls might take a little bit longer to bake than instructed. So pay attention to the sensory clues and if they get too brown on top, lightly tent the pan with foil!
Next, grab some active dry yeast and sprinkle it over warm water and set aside until the yeast has bubbled up! If it doesn’t bubble up, you’ll need to start again. Don’t use dead yeast or your rolls won’t rise!
Next, you’ll need your stand mixer! You’ll combine the flour, granulated sugar, ground cardamom, and salt and in the large bowl and use a whisk to combine. Don’t try to use the mixer for this, as it doesn’t do a good job reaching the bottom and evenly combining the ingredients.
In a separate bowl, whisk together your liquids, then add them, along with the active yeast mixture, to the dry ingredients and stir together to form a rough dough. Now you’ll attach the dough hook and secure your bowl to your stand mixer, ok? Then turn the mixer on and knead until the dough is still soft and silky!
Let it rise
This recipe requires 2 rises! First, you’ll cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour, or until it’s puffed up and doubled in size. Then you’ll roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, add the brown sugar butter filling, roll, slice, and arrange in the prepared pan. At this point you’ll cover with plastic wrap and let them rise another hour before baking! Then good news? They only take about 30 minutes to bake. Whew!
They’ll look like this upon cutting…
This after the second rise…
And like this when they come out of the oven!
Make the Frosting
While your rolls are rising, you’ll want to remove your cream cheese and butter from the fridge and let them come to room temperature! Otherwise they won’t blend smoothly…and no one wants clumpy cream cheese frosting! You’ll also need orange juice, salt, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar. I highly suggest sifting your confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl to avoid any clumps! Then you’ll put everything in a large bowl and combine until well blended. Definitely suggest using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer here! But if your cream cheese and butter are super soft, doing it with a whisk might be possible.
I love garnishing these sweet orange rolls with fresh orange zest! But this is totally optional! And only recommended if you’re serving these right away. Otherwise the orange zest can make the cream cheese frosting a little watery and the zest itself becomes clumpy. That being said… you should definitely serve these as soon as possible! Warm from the oven is ideal, but definitely within a few hours of baking them.
More Cinnamon Rolls Recipes:
- The Best Easy Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
- Salted Caramel Sticky Buns
- Triple Almond Cinnamon Buns
- Strawberry Rolls with Vanilla Glaze
- Butter Pecan Cinnamon Buns
Soft and Fluffy Orange Rolls
For the Orange Rolls:
- 2 (0.25 ounce) packages (14 g) active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup (113 ml) warm water between 115 and 120 degrees (F)
- 5 and 1/3 cups (640 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 cup (227 ml) whole milk
- 10 Tablespoons (141 g) unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk room temperature
For the Filling:
- 1 cup (213 g) light brown sugar packed
- 1 Tablespoon orange zest freshly grated
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter room temperature
For the Cream Cheese Icing:
- 4 ounces (113 g) full-fat cream cheese room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons (28 ml) orange juice freshly squeezed
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/4 cups (170 g) confectioners' sugar sifted
- orange zest finely grated, optional, for garnish
For the Orange Rolls:
- Lightly grease the sides and bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan with nonstick baking spray or butter and set aside until needed.
- Sprinkle the active dry yeast over the warm water and set aside for 10 minutes, or until the yeast has bubbled up.
- In the meantime, in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the flour, granulated sugar, salt, and ground cardamom and whisk well to combine (use a hand whisk here).
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter, vanilla extract, orange extract, egg, and egg yolk, beating until well combined.
- Add the wet ingredients, and the active yeast mixture, to the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, stir together to form a shaggy dough.
- Place the bowl on the stand mixer and attach the dough hook. Turn the mixer to medium-speed and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or the dough is still soft, silky, and pulling away from the edges of the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour, or until it’s puffed up and doubled in size.
For the Filling:
- In a medium bowl, add the brown sugar, orange zest, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cardamom, and ground allspice, and mix well to evenly combine.
- Cut the butter into small cubes and set aside until needed.
Assembly and Baking:
- Dust the counter lightly with flour. Scrape the dough out onto the counter and sprinkle the top of the dough with a little more flour. Gently, roll the dough into a rectangle about 22x16-inches wide.
- Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border around the edge. Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar mixture.
- Starting from the long edge closest to you, roll the dough into a log, jelly roll style, keeping it as tight as possible while rolling. (Note: The tighter the roll, the less filling that will leak out during baking.)
- Score the dough lightly into 12 equal pieces. Cut the dough at the score marks. The easiest way to do this is to slide a long piece of unflavored dental floss under the dough. Wrap it up around the score mark, and then pull the two sides tightly in opposite directions to pull the floss through the roll. Repeat for all rolls.
- Carefully arrange the rolls in the prepared pan, making four rows of three cinnamon rolls. Tightly cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 1 hour, or until the rolls have puffed up and are crowding the pan.
- 20 minutes before you plan on baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Remove the plastic wrap and bake in the preheated oven for another 30 to 35 minutes, or until puffed up, golden brown, and cooked through in the center (if the dough looks raw, keep baking for a few more minutes.).
- Remove the rolls from the oven and set aside to slightly cool as you make your cream cheese frosting.
For the Cream Cheese Icing:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the orange juice, vanilla and salt and beat until combined.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Once the ingredients are incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute, or until smooth and creamy.
- Slowly spread the warm rolls with the cream cheese frosting, sprinkle with orange zest, and serve warm.