Soft, buttery rolls made with orange zest and a citrus glaze make these Knotted Orange Sweet Rolls the perfect choice for Easter brunch or Easter dinner!

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!

orange rolls on white plates with sliced and whole oranges

My sister-in-law, Deborah, has been one of my biggest supporters since I started House of Nash Eats, so when she texted me a couple weeks ago to say that she thought her grandma's Knotted Orange Sweet Rolls might be good for this blog and would I like the recipe?, my answer was a definite, "Yes please!".

I've had these before when she has made them at our in-laws' house and these knotted little beauties are soft and light and brushed with a sweet orange glaze that make them extra special. But I had forgotten how absolutely incredible they are until I made them again this past Sunday when we had friends over for dinner.

a baking sheet with knotted sweet rolls and orange slices in the background

When the Mr. and I started dating, I was introduced to Deborah, Paul's younger brother's girlfriend. She was "waiting" for Dave (the younger brother) who had just left to serve a two-year mission for our church and Deborah and I quickly became friends and even ended up taking some classes together at BYU.

She did the super competitive accounting program there, so she's basically brilliant and insanely talented.

Deborah is all sorts of amazing in general and I'm really lucky to have her for a sister-in-law, especially since she does things like learns all about photography and then gets me hooked on it. So now we geek out over photography projects and camera stuff whenever we are together (or over texts whenever we are not since they are in Colorado and we are in California).

Anyway, Deobrah's recommendation alone is enough to try these stunning little showstoppers. (And besides, I'm a sucker for warm, fresh rolls if you remember this Cheesy Garlic Mozzarella Swirl Rolls I posted about last year!)  

And seriously, these gorgeous, citrusy knots are just amazing! And so pretty and festive looking with bright little spots of fresh orange zest in the rolls and the glaze that goes on top.

white plates of orange sweet knot rolls and sliced oranges

Just the scent of the orange zest and the freshly baked, buttery rolls is enough to start anybody drooling. But then you go and top the fluffy, light knots with a citrus glaze and it's practically impossible not to tear into the rolls before the glaze has a chance to set.

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.

Knotted orange sweet rolls are 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.

With orange in season right now, this is the perfect time to give them a try! They are perfect for Easter dinner and look absolutely beautiful piled up on a plate on the table.

But I know Deborah's family makes them at Thanksgiving and Christmas and for church functions where they are asked to bring rolls so really these are something special that you can (and should!) enjoy all year long.

a baking sheet with knotted sweet rolls covered in glaze

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.

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 and 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.

glazed orange sweet rolls on a baking sheet

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 knotted got all stretched out before I realized I should start shaping them on the counter, but I just did a couple extra knots and scrunched them together and they looked fine.

two knotted orange sweet rolls with orange slices on a white plate

Deborah gave me the brilliant idea of making a double batch and setting some of the rolls aside unglazed for the next morning. Then you can just pop them in the oven to warm up for a few minutes, then glaze them and have them for breakfast.

If you have leftover glazed rolls from the night before, they are still delicious but the glaze starts to soak into the rolls overnight and they aren't quite as amazing as when the glaze is fresh, so definitely hold a few unglazed rolls in reserve with some of the extra glaze if you don't think all of the rolls will be eaten right away.

two white plates with orange sweet rolls and sliced oranges on a blue background

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Deborah's Knotted Orange Sweet Rolls

4.94 from 32 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 24 rolls
Soft, buttery rolls made with orange zest and a citrus glaze make these Knotted Orange Sweet Rolls the perfect choice for Easter brunch or Easter dinner!  

Ingredients
  

Orange Rolls

  • 4 Tablespoons sugar divided
  • 2 Tablespoons yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 ⅓ cups scalded whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons orange zest
  • ½ cup butter melted

Orange Glaze

  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon orange zest
  • 2-3 Tablespoons orange juice

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 181kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 191mg | Sugar: 10g
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. These look so. stinking. good. So good that I'm highly considering a second breakfast right now. Need to try these soon!

  2. I love fresh homemade bread. These would be perfect with my morning coffee, or afternoon tea. A great brunch item too. You can never go wrong with delicious fresh baked goodness any time of day.

  3. What gorgeous little rolls! They look lovely and soft and I can just imagine how delicious they must taste!

  4. Your knotted orange sweet rolls look so delicious. I like how you suggest making a double batch so you can glaze and bake them the next day, I would love these gorgeous rolls for breakfast with a pot of coffee.

  5. Love making dough, there is something just so satisfying about it. You're little knotted rolls look delicious and the perfect weekend breakfast treat.

  6. I love baking with orange. Love a good roll too! This would be so nice with an afternoon coffee and a book. 🙂

  7. I can't wait to make these. i know the kids are going to absolutely adore them. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Woah, these look awesome! I'd definitely serve this up for brunch, orrr just eat them all by my self. With no regrets! lol

  9. 5 stars
    oh man, you've got me drooling over here! I'm not one to make baked sweets very often, but sometimes the husband shows up with his own baked goodies from the store. And orange rolls are just about the best things ever. I bet these are even more amazing!

  10. 5 stars
    I love sweet rolls anyway I can get them. These look beautiful I will try to make them as beautiful as yours either way I know I will love them.

  11. 5 stars
    You had me at orange, but oh my these are lovely. I love sweet bread, but these take it to the next level. Perfect for a brunch, or tea with girlfriends.

  12. 5 stars
    These rolls sound so delicious. Sweet rolls are a weakness of mine, and the orange in these make them sound perfect! Can't wait to try these out!

  13. 5 stars
    These sweet roll sound so good, nothing beats homemade bread, would love a few with my cup of tea right now. Will make a few for the family next Sunday!

  14. 5 stars
    I'd like to extend an invitation to you and Devborah to be my next door neighbors. I think it would be fair to have one of you on each side of me. OH-MA-GAWD -- these rolls look amazing. Perfect for Easter or Valentine's Day, or Christmas, or 4th of July -- or anytime you want something wow-za and fabulous. I am making these. And there are a few homes for sale in lovely downtown Boca Raton if you're interested...

  15. 5 stars
    These knots sound incredible! I like the glaze. I bet they are reminiscent of glazed donuts. Great tip on leaving a few knots unglazed for the next day! And what a lovely story and sentiment about your sister-in-law. It's amazing how people become family and friends like that. I wish I had someone to talk photography like that.

  16. 5 stars
    Oh these are the BEST recipes! The ones that have been created in the family and crafted over generations! Thank you for sharing with us!

  17. 5 stars
    I'm probably a weirdo but I can't stand orange juice but put orange into baked goods and I'm going back for seconds! These knotted rolls look simple, delicious and elegant. I will be making them for Easter and probably a few times before that too, because I'm already craving them!,

  18. 5 stars
    What a sweet story behind these knots. They look amazing and even better with fond memories. Thank you for the tip about heating up the next day and glaze right before serving. This is a game changer since our mornings are quite lazy;) Thanks for sharing this! My Dave went to BYU too:)

  19. 5 stars
    These look amazing! I made cinnamon rolls for the first time in my life back in October. So. Maybe I can brave these adorable little knots of goodness. I always doubt my baking skills, but I haven't butchered a recipe yet. (Yet.) I love the idea of having an orange-glazed pastry in the morning, too. It just sounds invigorating.

  20. 5 stars
    These look so so good, and perfect for the dismal weather we are having here in London. I crave citrus in the winter, am sure it is my body telling me to eat more vitamin C. Off to try knotting my next batch of dough.

  21. 5 stars
    Yum, these sound amazing Amy! I love that the dough is made from scratch, and I am all over everything citrus right now seeing as my orange tree is in over-production mode. I think I foresee these becoming a feature on our treat menu soon 🙂

  22. 5 stars
    These are some of the prettiest rolls I've seen! These would be so beautiful for a bread basket at a spring brunch. I don't think I've ever had sweet rolls with orange, and after reading your beautiful descriptions of the flavors, I think I've been seriously missing out. I like the idea of saving a few unglazed overnight to glaze and enjoy the next day. I often find with glazed baked goods that the texture isn't quite the same the next morning, so what a great way to get some more mileage out of the batch!