Homemade orange sweet rolls! A soft dough is twisted up with a delectable buttery orange filling, and drizzled with a sweet orange glaze. Yum!

Have you ever had a homemade orange sweet roll? It’s basically like a cinnamon roll…subbing out the sweet cinnamon filling for a delicious buttery orange filling. 

Taking bite out of homemade orange sweet roll.

They tend to get over shadowed by the beloved cinnamon roll, but they deserve a chance in the spotlight – they are so good! Like, I forget how good they are until I make them and then I wonder why I’m not making them weekly. 

Orange sweet rolls were a staple of my childhood. My mom made them all the time, and they have become a huge favorite with my family, too.

Baked homemade orange sweet rolls on sheet pan with frosting.

One of the reasons orange rolls are so unique, at least for us, is because of the way they are shaped.

Instead of the classic spiral shape (like a good, well-behaved cinnamon roll), I employ a quick and easy twist trick, and I swear I’m not being dramatic, but they taste better as twists than they do as spirals. 

For the purposes of this post, I’m showing you how to twist them AND I’m showing you how they look if they’re shaped like a traditional cinnamon roll. 

Old vs. New

And for those perceptive readers, yes, I already have an orange roll recipe hanging out in the archives. It’s wonderful!

But over the years, I’ve started making the dough completely differently, altered the filling just slightly, and vastly improved the icing. I’ve left that old recipe right where it is for you die-hard fans. Today’s recipe is new and improved and the only way I make them anymore! 

Spiral rolled homemade orange sweet roll.

The dough is the luxurious, perfect dough from this small batch cinnamon rolls recipe. It is soft and amazing and so easy to work with. 

It should hold its shape while still being soft and stretchy.

Small batch cinnamon roll recipe dough mixed in Kitchenaid.

The filling for these orange sweet rolls is simply:

  • softened butter
  • granulated sugar
  • lots of fresh orange zest

There really is no substitution for the fresh orange zest. It’s what makes these homemade orange sweet rolls so ridiculously good! 

Filling for homemade orange sweet rolls stirred together.

After the dough rises, roll it out just like you would for cinnamon rolls and spread the zesty orange filling (that smells…and ahem, tastes…amazing) evenly on top. 

Orange filling spread on sweet dough for homemade orange sweet rolls.

Roll up the dough tightly without stretching the dough. Stretching the dough can leave huge gaps in the rolls as they bake.

Seal the seam and roll the log so the seam is on the bottom. 

Cut the dough into 12 equal-ish pieces. 

Log of orange sweet rolls sliced into circles.

How to shape homemade orange sweet rolls

Option 1: Like I mentioned above, you can place those cut pieces of dough right into a greased 9X13-inch pan just like if you were making every day cinnamon rolls. 

This is not wrong. But, if you want to up your orange sweet rolls game, ditch tradition and go with the twist. 

Unrisen homemade orange sweet rolls.
Top down view of risen sweet rolls ready to bake.

Option 2: take each cut piece of orange roll (you cut the log just the same as you would for regular cinnamon rolls) and stretch it into an oval.

This is going to feel wrong and super counter intuitive to making picture perfect sweet rolls. Just trust me, ok? I have never led you astray before, and I won’t today either.

Once the dough is stretched, stretch it a little more. And then simply give it one twist in the center.

It’s ok if the filling decides to kind of squeeze out. Try to be gentle and loving. And then just scrape any oozy filling back on top of the twisted roll. 

How to shape homemade orange sweet rolls into a twist shape.

Place the orange sweet roll twists on a parchment lined sheet pan and let them rise, covered, until super puffy and nearly doubled. 

Risen homemade orange sweet rolls.

Bake the rolls, no matter the shape, for 18-22 minutes until just very lightly golden brown on top. 

The filling tends to leak out a bit more with the twist shape, but it makes for delicious scrapings (and there’s still plenty of filling inside of the rolls). 

Baked but unfrosted homemade orange sweet rolls on sheet pan.

Once the rolls have cooled for five or so minutes, frost with the icing (or use the glaze from this recipe). 

And try not to eat the whole pan. Not even kidding.

Just try to imagine: soft, fluffy rolls oozing with orange zest + butter + sugar and then slathered with that best-ever, super creamy frosting?? There really are not words. 

Baked and frosted homemade orange sweet rolls in twist shape.

I wish you could smell and taste the deliciousness of these homemade orange sweet rolls. They are crazy good. And a staple around the Easter holiday for us.

My family agrees (and wants me to tell you) that while cinnamon rolls are delicious and always a good choice, there is something about orange sweet rolls that sets them apart into a unique rock star level that just cannot be matched. 

My 16-year old wasn’t eating sweets when I made these a few weeks ago. He saw me typing up the post and literally got on his knees and begged me to make them for him tomorrow now that he’s eating sweets again.

I told him I would but only if he helps. The fact that he agreed (he kind of despises “wasting” time in the kitchen right now) means they must really be worth it. 🙂

Homemade orange sweet roll on white plate.

How to make these orange rolls ahead of time

This post on making cinnamon rolls ahead of time applies perfectly to any sweet roll…like these orange rolls! 

One Year Ago: Honey Lime Chicken or Pork Enchiladas
Two Years Ago: Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
Three Years Ago: Simple Weeknight Greek Chicken Burritos {or Wraps!}
Four Years Ago: Amazing Cinnamon Chip Scones {Best Basic Scone Recipe}
Five Years Ago: My Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies
Six Years Ago: Lemon Drop Sugar Cookie Bars
Seven Years Ago: Smothered Chicken with Mushroom Gravy 
Eight Years Ago: Spring Penne Pasta with Light Butter Sauce

spiral rolled homemade orange sweet roll

Homemade Orange Sweet Rolls

4.80 stars (82 ratings)



  • 1 cup milk (see note)
  • ¼ cup (57 g) salted butter
  • ¼ cup (53 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast (see note)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 to 4 cups (426 to 568 g) all-purpose flour (see note)


  • ½ cup (113 g) salted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup (159 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh orange zest, from about 2-3 medium oranges


  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) salted butter, softened
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream, can sub in fresh orange juice
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh orange zest, or more!
  • 1 ¼ cups (143 g) powdered sugar


  • For the dough, heat the milk in a medium saucepan until the milk is scalded (which is basically heating it until right before it simmers – it will start steaming and little bubbles will form around the edge of the pan; you can also do this in the microwave). Pour the milk into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or you can do this by hand with a large bowl and wooden spoon).
  • Add the butter, sugar and salt. Mix until the butter is melted and let the mixture cool until warm but not hot. Add the yeast and egg and mix until combined.
  • Gradually add the flour until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. The exact amount will depend on the temperature, humidity and how you measure flour. I usually end up with right around 3 1/2 cups of flour. The dough should be soft and just slightly sticky without leaving a lot of residue on your fingers. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it rise until doubled, about an hour.
  • Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl until well-combined.
  • Roll or pat the dough into about a 14X10-inch rectangle. Evenly spread the orange filling mixture over the rectangle of dough.
  • Starting with one long end, roll up the cinnamon rolls as tightly as possible without stretching the dough, pinching the seam lightly to seal.
  • Using a serrated knife, cut the log into 12 even pieces, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick (I find it’s easiest to do this by cutting it in half and then cutting each half into six pieces).
  • The dough can be placed in a greased 9X13-inch pan just like traditional cinnamon rolls (3 across, 4 down). OR for an amazing twist shape (it’s how I always make them), take each piece of dough, stretch it out into a long oval shape and give it one twist in the middle (see pictures in the post for a visual). Place the rolls on a parchment lined half sheet pan (3 across, 4 down).
  • Let the rolls rise, covered, until puffy and nearly doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the rolls for about 18-22 minutes until only very slightly golden on top.
  • While they cool (or before), prepare the icing by adding the cream cheese and butter to a medium bowl. Whip with a handheld (or stand) mixer until creamy. Add the salt, milk or cream, and orange zest. Mix again. Add the powdered sugar and whip until light and creamy. Spread the slightly warm rolls evenly with the icing.
  • Serve immediately or let cool completely and serve at room temperature (or warm lightly before serving).


Milk: I prefer using whole milk or 2% milk in this recipe.
Yeast: If you don’t have instant yeast and want to use active dry yeast, use the same amount and dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup water with a pinch of sugar. If doing this, you may need to add a bit more flour during mixing.
Flour Amount: Don’t worry so much about the exact amount of flour called for in the recipe and instead judge the dough by the feel of it. It should be soft and smooth and stretchy without leaving an overly sticky residue on your fingers. Elevation, humidity, exact temperature of the milk, how we each measure flour – all of these things can affect the precise flour amount, so don’t worry if you have to add a bit more or less than the recipe calls for.
Make-Ahead: this post details how to make sweet rolls ahead of time.
Serving: 1 roll, Calories: 418kcal, Carbohydrates: 55g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 65mg, Sodium: 277mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 30g

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (a new and improved version from this older orange rolls recipe)