Warm, fluffy, and dripping with simple orange glaze, these Homemade Orange Rolls are the perfect addition to any holiday dinner or brunch. But don't wait until the holidays to make them - they're so delicious you'll want to enjoy them every day!
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My sister-in-law, Deborah, shared her grandma's orange roll recipe with me so I could share them here on the blog. These citrus rolls are soft, fluffy, and brushed with a sweet orange glaze that makes them extra special. We love them with ham for Easter or Christmas dinner or as a special breakfast or brunch addition, but they can really be enjoyed all year round.
Just the scent of orange zest and freshly baked, buttery rolls is enough to start anybody drooling. It's practically impossible not to tear into the rolls before the glaze has a chance to set. Plus, the dough can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge overnight, so they're perfect for a busy holiday morning.
This sweet roll recipe is one of those easy-fancy recipes that are perfect for holidays or parties because they look impressive all twisted into knots but they don't take much time and aren't hard to make at all.
Oranges are such a fun, bright ingredient to use for both cooking and baking! Some of our other favorite recipes featuring oranges are Cranberry Orange Bread, Easy Orange Pomegranate Salad, or The BEST Orange Chicken!
What You'll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Yeast - If you don't have active dry yeast, you can use rapid rise yeast instead
- Scalded whole milk
- All-purpose flour
- Orange zest
- Butter melted
- Powdered sugar
- Orange zest
- Orange juice
How to Make Orange Rolls
Prepare. In a small bowl, combine warm water, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and the yeast and allow to proof until foamy, about five minutes. Meanwhile, scald the milk and stir in the other 2 tablespoons of sugar and the salt.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs, then slowly add the scalded milk while stirring to temper the egg. Combine with the yeast mixture when the milk has cooled a bit.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the milk and yeast mixture with 2 cups of the flour and the orange zest and mix for 2 minutes, until smooth.
Switch to the dough hook attachment and continue adding flour, 1 cup at a time, kneading until a smooth, soft dough is formed, about 5 minutes. Place dough in a large bowl that has been greased and tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap.
Let the dough rise in a warm place or at room temperature for one hour or until doubled in size.
Cook. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half, then roll out one-half of the dough into a 12x7-inch rectangle. Cut into 12 1-inch strips and dip each strip in melted butter.
Shape into knots and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough, then let the rolls rise for 15-30 minutes.
Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
Finish. Make the glaze by combining ingredients and whisking until smooth. Brush glaze on each roll with a pastry brush.
To shape the rolls, you actually cut out 1-inch by 7-inch strips, then dip them in melted butter and loop the ends around each other to form a loose knot in the middle of the strip. Then you tuck the loose ends of the knot under the roll and set it on a baking sheet before moving on to the next roll.
I recommend shaping them on a clean surface rather than holding the strips of dough in the air while twisting the ends around each other. Gravity takes a toll on the soft dough when you are trying to tie up the knot. Your strip of dough will stretch longer and longer as you attempt to knot it if you are holding it up. Whereas leaving it flat on the counter makes it a bit easier to tie into more or a perfect bow shape.
Tips for Success
Here's how to make sure your homemade orange rolls recipe turns out perfect!
- You could skip the glaze if you just want more of a traditional dinner roll that has only subtle orange flavor from the zest of an orange or two. But honestly, they are perfection with the glaze on top.
- If you don't want to knot them, you could also use a muffin tin and simply roll three small balls of dough and place them in each muffin cup for cloverleaf shaped orange rolls.
- The great thing about knotted rolls is that even if yours seem like they are turning out wonky and less then perfect, nobody is really going to notice or care because they bake up just fine into lovely, twisted rolls. The first few rolls I make usually get stretched out before I realized I should start shaping them on the counter but if you scrunch them together they will look just fine.
The roll dough is made with scalded milk, which makes them extra wonderful! After proofing the yeast and kneading in the flour, the rolls get a rise until doubled in size.
Yes! You can roll them up like cinnamon rolls and bake them in a 9x13" pan instead if you don't want to knot them. You don't have to include a cinnamon roll filling, but you could if you wanted to.
Storage and Reheating
If you have leftover glazed rolls from the night before, they are still delicious, but the glaze starts to soak into the rolls overnight.
When this happens, the rolls are still good, but not quite as amazing as when the glaze is fresh, so we recommend holding a few unglazed rolls in reserve with some extra glaze if you think some of the rolls will be not be eaten right away.
To reheat, place rolls on a baking sheet and warm in a 350 degree F oven until warmed through, about 5-10 minutes.
To reheat frozen rolls, let them thaw on the counter, then warm them as directed above.
Can I Freeze This Recipe?
Yes, you can freeze the dough for these fluffy orange rolls! After you form the rolls and place them on the baking sheet, cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze them for up to 2 months.
When ready to bake, let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then let rise for 30 minutes before baking as directed. You may need to add a few minutes to the baking time if they are coming straight from the freezer.
The glaze will also keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, so feel free to make it ahead of time. Then, just whisk it together again before using it.
Substitutions and Variations
- Swap out the fresh orange zest for a different citrus fruit instead of the orange (lemon juice and zest, lime, grapefruit, etc.)
- Add some fresh herbs like chopped basil or rosemary to the dough for a savory flavor (orange and basil go particularly well together).
- Mix in some dried fruit or nuts to the dough before shaping it into rolls
- Top with my cream cheese frosting instead of the glaze for an extra decadent treat!
- Top with some orange marmalade for an extra burst of flavor
- For a fun twist, add some chopped fresh cranberries or diced dried apricots to the dough
- Add some ground cinnamon to the dough for orange cinnamon rolls
More Bread Recipes
- Homemade Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns
- Soft Homemade Potato Rolls
- Sweet Molasses Brown Bread
- Homemade French Bread
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and 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.
Deborah's Knotted Orange Sweet Rolls
- 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
- 2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 ⅓ cups whole milk, scalded
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 5 cups all-purpose flour (625g)
- 2 Tablespoons orange zest
- ½ cup salted butter, melted
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon orange zest
- 2-3 Tablespoons orange juice
- In a small bowl, combine warm water, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and the yeast and allow to proof until foamy, about five minutes. Meanwhile, scald the milk and stir in the other 2 tablespoons of sugar and the salt.
- Beat eggs in a small bowl, then slowly add the scalded milk while stirring to temper the egg. Combine with yeast mixture when the milk has cooled a bit.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the milk and yeast mixture with 2 cups of the flour and the orange zest and mix for 2 minutes, until smooth. Switch to the dough hook and continue adding flour, 1 cup at a time, kneading until a smooth, soft dough is formed, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
- Let the dough rise for one hour or until doubled in size. Divide dough in half, then roll out one half of the dough into a 12x7-inch rectangle. Cut into 12 1-inch strips and dip each strip in melted butter. Shape into knots and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough, then let rolls rise 15-30 minutes.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
- Make glaze by combining ingredients and whisking until smooth. Brush glaze on each roll with a pastry brush.
- To reheat, place rolls on a baking sheet and warm in a 350 degree F oven until warmed through, about 5-10 minutes.
- To reheat frozen rolls, let them thaw on the counter, then warm them as directed above.
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