Orange Rolls with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting are the perfect breakfast rolls to make for spring. Whether for Mother’s Day, Easter, or any other occasion, this sweet roll recipe is sure to impress your guests!
After cooking my favorite comfort foods all winter, I’m ready to make the switch to lighter meals. With a fresh citrusy filling, these light and easy orange rolls make me think of spring. They are wonderful right out of the oven or add the optional whipped cream cheese frosting.
As much as I love classic Cinnamon Rolls, it’s fun to change things up and try something different. Instead of using traditional cinnamon in this recipe, I swapped it out for cardamom. It adds an unexpected spicy-sweet zing to the bread rolls that everyone raves about.
Yeast breads aren’t as intimidating as you may think. Although they require a few steps, most of the prep work is done while the dough is rising. The taste of fluffy rolls made from scratch is well worth the effort.
Why you’ll love Orange Sweet Rolls
- The tender, soft yeast dough is melt-in-your mouth delicious.
- Tangy-sweet orange zest complements citrusy cardamom.
- Golden brown mini rolls are perfect to serve with other sweet breakfast recipes.
- A slather of whipped cream cheese frosting is the perfect topping.
- You can make the dough the day before and refrigerate it overnight.
What you’ll need
For the cinnamon roll dough
- Yeast – The recipe calls for active yeast, but you can substitute instant yeast it will work just as well.
- Butter – Remove the butter from the fridge 30-60 minutes before using so it has time to come to room temperature.
- Egg Yolk – The fat from the yolk gives the dough an extra-rich flavor and tender texture.
- Orange Juice – Any orange juice will work, but using fresh-squeezed will improve the flavor even more. If using chilled juice, warm it to room temperature to help activate the yeast.
- Pantry items – Sugar, flour and salt
For the easy orange filling
- Orange zest – If you’re using fresh orange juice for the sweet dough, zest the oranges before juicing.
- Cardamom – You can find ground cardamom in the spice aisle of most grocery stores. Green cardamom is the most common variety. You can substitute vanilla paste for cardamom.
- Butter – Bring it to room temperature before using so it’s easier to spread.
- Pantry staples – Sugar and salt
For the fluffy cream cheese frosting
- Cream cheese – Chilled cream cheese takes about 30-60 minutes to soften to room temperature.
- Butter – Adding butter to the cream cheese makes the frosting creamier and richer.
- Powdered sugar – This produces fluffy, velvety frosting — the perfect consistency for spreading on the rolls.
- Milk – Whole milk will make a richer frosting, but skim or 1% work as well.
- Pantry items – Vanilla extract and salt
How to make Sweet Orange Rolls
Step 1: Start with the cinnamon roll dough. Add warm water to the yeast with just a little sugar. Let it rest until it looks foamy.
Step 2: Beat the egg yolk, orange juice, butter, salt and some sugar and add the flour and yeast mixture.
Step 3: Knead with the dough hook attachment and let rise in a warm place.
Step 4: While the dough is rising, make the filling. Add the butter, sugar, orange zest, cardamom and salt to a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for about three minutes, until fluffy.
Step 5: Once the dough has risen, place it on a floured surface to roll into a rectangle shape.
Step 6: Spread the filling over the rectangle.
Step 7: Starting on the long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Cut the cylinder into 12 equal slices using a sharp knife or dental floss. Place each piece of dough in greased muffin tins. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
Pro Tip: To make orange rolls ahead of time, complete steps 1-7. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the fridge and let them double in size before baking.
Step 8: Bake the rolls until golden.
Step 9: For the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter, add powdered sugar, vanilla and a little milk. Spread over the cooled rolls before serving.
How do I make sure my sweet rolls will rise?
Yeast rises better when it’s warm, so using room temperature ingredients is a must. Your yeast should look foamy or bubbly after 5-10 minutes of letting it sit in the orange juice and sugar. If it doesn’t, check the expiration date. You may find you need fresher yeast.
Place the cinnamon roll dough in a warm place to rise. If it’s a cold day, find a sunny spot in your kitchen to place the pans of rolls. Or you can preheat your oven for a couple of minutes, then turn it off before placing the dough inside.
My favorite way is to boil some water in the microwave and then place the dough in the warm microwave to rise.
What to serve for breakfast for Easter or Mother’s Day
Orange cardamom bread rolls are the perfect sweet treat for Easter, Mother’s Day, or any special gathering. If you’re looking for other spring breakfast ideas to serve with your rolls, here are a few of my favorites:
FAQs and tips for making Orange Cardamom Rolls
Alabama gets credit for the creation of the orange roll. Exactly where and when they were originally made is up for debate. Some say orange cinnamon rolls were first served at a restaurant called All Steak in Cullman, Alabama in the 1960s.
The sweet bread became even more famous with the introduction of Pillsbury Orange Rolls in the 1970s. The refrigerated tubes of dough are a popular way to make an easy and quick breakfast. But in my opinion, the homemade version always tastes so much better.
Often used for baking and cooking in Sweden and India, Cardamom has a warm, sweet, citrusy-herbal flavor. Because it’s a strong spice, you only need a pinch to add great flavor to the rolls. Cardamom makes another appearance in this scrumptious Peaches and Cream Pie.
The easiest way to zest an orange is to use a Microplane or box grater. Drag the orange over the holes in the grater, making sure to remove only the orange part of the skin. The white part, called pith, is too bitter to use.
If you don’t have a grater, you can use a vegetable peeler to take off wide strips. Once again, avoid the white pith. Then use a sharp knife to mince the strips into small pieces that resemble the size of zest from a grater.
If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, cinnamon rolls will still taste fresh after a few days at room temperature. Store them in an airtight container for best results.
If you want to store them for longer than a few days, the best method is to freeze them. After the baked rolls have cooled, place in a plastic Ziploc bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, thaw and reheat in the oven at 250º for about 15 minutes. Once warmed, you can add frosting if you choose.
You can hardly tell the difference between freshly baked and frozen sweet rolls as long as you keep them covered air-tight in the freezer.
First, make sure the cream cheese and butter are both softened to room temperature. Whether making frosting or filling, softening helps create a smooth and creamy finished product.
Whip the frosting until it starts to look fluffy and thick, but don’t over mix. Over-mixing can lead to runny icing that will not stick to your rolls. If this happens to you, add more powdered sugar to the mixture, a little at a time, until the frosting thickens back up.Carrot Cake Cookies and Banana Bread are two other delicious desserts with sweet cream cheese filling.
More favorite sweet dough recipes
Hawaiian Rolls are great to use for ham sandwiches
Caramel cream cheese icing tops Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Soft and gooey Dollywood Cinnamon Bread is a favorite breakfast treat
Fresh Peach Coffee Cake has loads of crumbly, crunchy streusel
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Orange Sweet Rolls
- ½ cup butter room temp
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- pinch cardamom
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast 1 envelope
- 2 tablespoons sugar divided
- 1 egg yolk lightly beaten
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons butter melted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ⅔ cups flour
- 4 ounces cream cheese room temp
- 4 tablespoons butter room temp
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- pinch salt
- ROLLS: Add yeast to 3 tablespoons of warm water in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and let sit until foamy, about 5-10 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg yolk, orange juice, butter, salt and 1 tablespoon sugar. Add flour and yeast mixture. With the dough hook attachment knead for about 5 minutes. The dough will be sticky.
- Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until double about 45 minutes.
- FILLING: Beat butter, sugar, orange zest, salt and cardamom with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
- Roll dough onto a floured surface into a rectangle that is about an ⅛ of an inch thick (about 15 x 10 inches). Spread filling leaving a ½ inch border. Starting on a. Long side, roll into a tight cylinder. Cut into 12 equal slices. Place cut side up in the muffin tin. Cover and let rise fro 30 minutes, or chill overnight. (If chilling overnight, let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours before baking)
- Preheat oven to 350º. Bake until lightly browned on top, 15-18 minutes. Let cool slightly for about 5 minutes before removing.
- FROSTING: With a hand mixer beat cream cheese and butter until combined. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and salt. Add milk as needed to get the consistency you want. Spread over rolls before serving.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- Make sure the water is just warm and not hot.
- You can replace cardamom with vanilla paste.
- Make sure you remove from the pan after about 5 minutes or they will be very hard to remove.
- These are delicious on their own without frosting.
- You can add some orange zest to the top for even more citrus flavor.
- You can refrigerate the dough overnight after it has been placed in the muffin tins. Let come to room temperature before baking.