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Orange zest and tart cranberries are tucked into every nook and cranny between pillowy soft rolls in this Cranberry Orange Pull-Apart Monkey Bread that will be a showstopper at any gathering, whether it's for breakfast, brunch, or dessert! Premade frozen dinner rolls make assembling this monkey bread recipe a snap!
I wish there was a smell feature to go with these photos because the delish scent of this citrus and cranberry easy overnight monkey bread is just heavenly. Every buttery bite of sweet-tart monkey bread just melts in your mouth and tastes like the holidays.
It's perfect as a festive dessert or for a holiday brunch, especially when served with a savory breakfast casserole.
Why This Recipe Works
- Every bit of soft frozen roll dough gets dunked in melted butter, rolled around in orange scented sugar, and then nestled into a bundt pan with fresh cranberries for this Cranberry Orange Pull-Apart Monkey Bread that is sure to delight your friends and family this holiday season.
- Kids love to help with this one. If they are old enough to use scissors, they can snip the partially thawed rolls in half or just roll the balls of dough in the citrus scented sugar if they are younger.
- Classic monkey bread is usually cinnamon and caramel flavored, but I wanted to incorporate some of my favorite holiday flavors or cranberries and orange.
- I always make this the night before and let it rise overnight so it's ready to pop in the oven the next morning.
- Cranberries: I love when fresh cranberries are in season! I always stock up on extra bags to stick in the freezer for using year round. You can use dried cranberries if the fresh or frozen ones aren't available, but they won't pack the same burst of tart cranberry flavor.
- Oranges: You'll need some fresh squeezed orange juice for the citrus glaze, and plenty of fresh orange zest for the sugar mixture. Be sure to zest the orange before you juice it.
- Frozen dinner rolls: You can find unbaked frozen dinner roll dough in the freezer section of your local grocery store. Don't let them thaw completely before cutting them into quarters and rolling in the orange zest and sugar mixture.
How to Make This Recipe
Cut 24 partially thawed frozen rolls in half to make the bites of this monkey bread more manageable. I find it's easiest to work with frozen roll dough when it is still frozen or partially frozen so it doesn't stick to itself.
Roll the dough in melted butter, then roll it in a mixture of granulated sugar and orange zest.
Gently toss 2 cups of coarsely chopped cranberries in with the balls of sugar covered dough, then transfer to a bundt cake pan that has been generously sprayed with cooking spray.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise overnight.
Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 45-50 minutes, covering with heavy duty foil during the last 20 minutes to prevent the top from browning too much.
While the cranberry orange monkey bread is baking, whisk together powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest in a bowl to make a simple glaze.
Immediately invert the monkey bread onto a serving plate. Drizzle with a simple citrus glaze made by whisking together powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest.
If you have never had monkey bread before, you have been missing out! Or maybe you just know it by one of its many pseudonyms such as monkey puzzle bread, sticky bread, Hungarian coffee cake, golden crown, golden dumpling coffee cake, pinch-me cake, or pluck-it cake. But the name monkey bread itself comes from the idea of this sweet treat being picked apart bit by bit, just like a monkey might tear apart its food.
Sure! If you want to make your dough from scratch, I recommend using my cinnamon roll dough. Just roll it out after the first rise and use a pizza cutter to cut it into small squares than can be used in place of the frozen rolls in this recipe. After rolling in the butter and citrus sugar, stick the bundt pan of rolls into the fridge to rise overnight since the dough won't be frozen to start out with.
- Don't be afraid to spray your bundt pan really well with cooking spray, then be sure to invert the pan right after baking while the filling is still molten and hot.
- If using frozen cranberries, make sure they are completely defrosted, then chop them up a bit (I just grab a paring knife and slice a bunch of them in half) and squeeze them to get rid of as much excess liquid as you can. I've made the mistake before of just throwing the frozen cranberries in and they released so much juice that my monkey bread completely fell apart.
- To glaze or not to glaze, that is the question. Is the glaze necessary? No, definitely not. There is enough sugar to balance the tartness of the cranberries and create a sticky-sweet coating around each bite of monkey bread. Do I love the extra glaze anyway? Absolutely. You are probably making this Cranberry Orange Pull-Apart Monkey Bread for the holidays or a special occasion. I say go for it.
More Sweet Breakfast Ideas You'll Love
- Deborah's Knotted Orange Sweet Rolls
- Glazed Apple Fritter Yeast Bread
- Homemade Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns
- The BEST Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Did you make this recipe? Let me know what you thought with a comment and star rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Cranberry Orange Pull-Apart Monkey Bread
Pull Apart Bread
- 24 frozen dinner rolls, frozen or only partially thawed
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup butter melted
- Zest of 1 ½ oranges
- 2 cups fresh cranberries chopped and squeezed to release excess juices
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 Tablespoons orange juice
- Zest of ½ orange
- Cut each roll in half and set aside. Generously spray the sides and bottom of a bundt pan with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and orange zest. Melt the butter in another bowl. Dip each piece of dough first in the melted butter and then in sugar zest mixture. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add the coarsely chopped cranberries to the bowl of sugar coated dough and toss to combine, then transfer to the prepared bundt pan. Cover lightly with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise overnight until the rolls are puffy and reaching the top of the bundt pan.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F, then bake the monkey bread for 45-50 minutes until the rolls in the center are cooked through. Cover with heavy duty aluminum foil for the last 20 minutes of baking to prevent the rolls on top from browning too much.
- Remove the monkey bread from the oven and immediately invert onto a large plate or serving platter. Whisk together the glaze ingredients and pour over the monkey bread while still hot, then serve for guests to pull apart while warm.
- Storage: Once the monkey bread has cooled completely, keep covered under plastic wrap or in an airtight container for 3-4 days at room temperature. Warm in the microwave for a few seconds before serving.
- Frozen cranberries: If using frozen cranberries, make sure they are completely defrosted, then chop and squeeze them to get rid of excess liquid.
- Adding nuts: Add ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts if you would like a little crunch!