These Orange Rolls mix up with ease and are so delicious for breakfast, brunch, snack, or dessert. The orange zest and vanilla extract give the rolls a Creamsicle-type boost.
You can bake these Orange Rolls right away or stash them in the freezer to bake later, making them the perfect freezer meal to tuck away for company or special occasions. They’re super tasty with a cup of coffee and are a good sweet treat to accompany Sausage Egg Hash Brown Casserole at breakfast or brunch.
I’m not sure I could be more smitten with this easy Orange Roll recipe than I already am. When I was a child I considered homemade cinnamon rolls an elusive thing. And the Pillsbury Orange Rolls? Well, they might have been unicorns. How do you do that?
Turns out homemade sweet rolls are not difficult to make. In fact, they are super easy. And delicious. And amazing, especially if you add an orange and make Orange Rolls.
Why Make This
They’re big! When you make Jumbo Orange Rolls you are telling your people you love them with big red heart emoji eyes.
They’re more natural than the can. You get to control the ingredients and avoid every number of red, yellow, and blue dyes when you bake your own Orange Rolls as opposed to popping open a can of Pillsbury rolls.
Orange Rolls are delicious! Seriously, so good. These Orange Rolls are good any time of day, but they are particularly welcome at breakfast alongside your regular eggs, bacon, and coffee. They are delicious as a sweet treat on their own with a hot cuppa, in the morning, at coffee break, or in the afternoon. They are good after dinner!
Pro tip: Orange Rolls are super fun at Thanksgiving when you can use them for Cinnamon Roll Turkeys.
Here’s what you need to make homemade Orange Rolls:
yeast – You’ll want live, active yeast. I like to get a big brick of SAF Yeast from Costco. I store some in a small jar in the fridge and the rest in the freezer. You can use a packet of yeast if that’s what you normally buy.
butter – This Orange Roll recipe calls for butter which I love for the flavor, but you can use margarine or a plant-based butter if you prefer. You’ll need one stick for the dough and a second for the filling.
milk – I use dairy milk, the higher the fat, the richer the Orange Roll dough. You can use a plant-based milk as well.
eggs – Two large eggs add texture to the dough. You don’t really want to omit them. That said, I’ve made rolls without eggs. The Orange Roll dough won’t be as tender without them, but still delicious.
sugar – You’ll need granulated sugar in the dough, brown sugar in the filling, and powdered sugar in the glaze. If you run out, remember you can make your own brown sugar as well as you can make powdered sugar.
flour – I use unbleached, all-purpose or bread flour for Orange Rolls. If you prefer more whole grains, be sure to try Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls and add orange zest as we do here.
salt – Please don’t forget the salt in this dough. It makes a huge difference to the texture and flavor of the Orange Rolls.
orange zest and orange juice – For the best Orange Rolls, use fresh orange zest and juice, but you can use dried zest and bottled juice if you’re in a pinch. Fresh is best, though. You can also substitute lime, lemon, or grapefruit if that’s all you got, for a different kind of cinnamon roll.
cinnamon – I love the cinnamon and orange combo, but you can also use pumpkin or apple pie spice, as well as a combination of ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon.
vanilla extract – Vanilla extract adds to the creamsicle vibe of Orange Rolls. Don’t leave it out. It’s a great flavor pairing.
Don’t be intimidated by the process of making this yeast dough for Orange Rolls. It’s not as difficult as you fear. That said, if you’re a beginner, you might want to first try making a dough recipe in a bread machine and perfect your shaping skills. Then move on to making Orange Roll dough by hand or in the stand mixer.
If you choose to make the dough in a bread machine: move the slider on the recipe card to make a smaller batch of dough, as this recipe won’t fit in a bread machine as is.
Making the dough
Here’s how to make the dough by hand or in a stand mixer:
In a mixing bowl, place the warm water and yeast. Allow this to sit for five minutes to “proof”. The yeast will bubble and foam.
Add the other ingredients and stir. If you’re making the dough by hand, just use a wooden spatula until a shaggy dough forms. If you’re using a stand mixer, use the dough hook.
If you’re making the dough by hand, you’ll have to transfer that shaggy dough to a floured work surface and knead it a few times until it becomes smooth.
Once you’ve got a smooth dough, you’ll let it rise for about an hour or until doubled in bulk.
Shaping the rolls
At that point, flour your work surface, soften some butter, and mix up some brown sugar and cinnamon. Get the rolling pin, your baking sheet, and your unflavored dental floss. Yes, really.
Roll out the dough into a very large rectangle. Mine covered my cutting board and measured about 16×22-inches. Spread the softened butter all over the dough, leaving a one inch border on one of the long sides. Next spread the cinnamon-sugar mixture all over.
Starting on a long side, roll up the dough into a spiral; pinch the outer edge into the roll to seal.
Thanks to a brilliant tip from my friend Amy, I use unflavored dental floss to cut the rolls. This helps them retain their circle shape and prevents the rolls from squashing flat. I store the dental floss in a kitchen drawer just for this purpose.
Because I like to make each roll ginormous and about the same size as the others, I cut off the uneven ends and bake those separately. Then I cut the main section into twelve thick chunks.
Place the rolls evenly on a greased or lined baking baking sheet and let them rise for about 30 minutes. When they are done rising, they may look pretty puffy. This is good.
Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden.
Glazing the rolls
Meanwhile, you can prepare the glaze. Combine the powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest in a small bowl. I’ve found that a wooden spoon helps work out any lumps in the sugar. I have no idea why this works, but it does.
Once the rolls are baked, cool them on a rack but glaze them while they’re still a bit warm.
I’ve learned that some people like lots of glaze and others like a little. To please the masses, I often leave a bowl of icing next to the pan of baked rolls so that each person can do the glazing himself.
Freezing cinnamon or orange rolls is best done prior to baking. Prepare the rolls but instead of letting the sliced rolls rise, place the tray of rolls in the freezer. Once they are frozen firm, remove them from the tray and bag them in a labeled, ziptop freezer bag and immediately stash the bag in the freezer.
To serve: remove as many rolls from the bag as you wish to bake and place them on a greased or lined baking sheet. Allow the rolls to thaw and rise until doubled in bulk. Then proceed with the baking instructions.
You can also freeze leftover baked rolls, however their texture is not as fluffy and luscious as freshly baked.
FAQs & Recipe Costs
Orange Rolls are sweet rolls infused with orange zest and cinnamon, rolled similarly to a cinnamon roll and topped with an orange glaze. Some versions contain cream cheese and others do not.
You can freeze orange rolls baked or unbaked. If baked, cool them completely on a rack, wrap well, label, and store in the freezer. If unbaked, as soon as the rolls are assembled and sliced, place them in a pan, cover, label, and freeze. To bake: thaw overnight and bake according to the directions.
Knowing how much it costs you to prepare a recipe can help you decide if it’s the type of recipe to make regularly or one you might want to save for special occasions. Let’s crunch some numbers and see how this recipe pencils out.
- yeast – $0.50
- milk – $0.25
- butter – $1.99
- eggs – $0.30
- granulated sugar – $0.08
- salt – $0.01
- flour – $1.54
- orange – $0.50
- vanilla extract – $0.25
- brown sugar – $0.27
- cinnamon – $0.10
- powdered sugar – $0.12
Shopped at a mid-range grocery store at non-sale prices, the ingredients for this recipe for a dozen jumbo orange rolls costs $5.91 or $0.49 each!
By contrast, canned, large cinnamon rolls at the same store cost $4.99 for five or $1.00 each. A baked roll from Cinnabon will run you $6.49 for one! Clearly, homemade is the way to go.
How to save even more
There are ways to get the price of this recipe down even further:
Buy in bulk – Buying yeast and flour in bulk will reduce the cost of both these ingredients.
Shop the sales – Picking up butter, eggs, and oranges on sale will also bring down the cost.
Make your own – Making your own vanilla extract will help you save on many of your baking recipes.
Tell us what you think!
We love to hear your experiences with Good Cheap Eats. Click the STARS on the recipe card or leave a STARRED comment to let us know what you think of the recipe.
- 1/2 cup water , warmed
- 4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cup milk , warmed
- 1/2 cup butter melted
- 2 egg beaten
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 7 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 orange juiced and zested
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup butter softened
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cup powdered sugar
To make the dough in a stand mixer:
- In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, place the water and the yeast. Stir to combine. Allow the yeast to proof for five minutes. It will start to foam and bubble.
- Add the milk, 1/2 cup melted butter, eggs, sugar, salt, 1 teaspoon orange zest, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and the flour to the bowl. Mix with the dough hook until the dough clears the sides of the pan and forms an elastic dough ball. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice.
To make the dough by hand:
- In a large mixing bowl, place the water and the yeast. Stir to combine. Allow the yeast to proof for five minutes. It will start to foam and bubble.
- Add the milk, 1/2 cup melted butter, eggs, sugar, salt, 1 teaspoon orange zest, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and the flour to the bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.
- Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for several minutes until a smooth dough forms.
Once the dough ball is formed:
- Place the dough in a greased bowl and allow it to rest in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about one hour.
When the dough is ready:
- Lightly flour a large work surface. Place the dough on the floured surface and roll it out into a rectangle, about 16×22 inches. Spread the softened butter all over the dough, leaving a one inch border on one of the long sides. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread the cinnamon-sugar mixture all over the butter.
- Starting at a long edge, roll the dough into a tight spiral. Seal the outer edge by pinching it into the roll.
- Using unflavored dental floss or a sharp knife, cut off the uneven ends and bake those separately. Cut the main section into twelve thick chunks.
- Grease a large sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. Place the rolls evenly in the pan. Let them rise for about 30 minutes.
- About ten minutes into the rise time, preheat the oven to 350°. After this second rise, bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.
- Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Combine the powdered sugar with 1 teaspoon orange zest and 2 tablespoons orange juice.
- When the rolls are done baking, place the pan on a rack to cool. Apply the glaze when the rolls are still warm.
This post was originally published on April 26, 2015. It has been updated for content and clarity.