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!

orange rolls on white plates with sliced and whole oranges
Table of Contents
  1. What You'll Need
  2. How to Make Orange Rolls
  3. Tips for Success
  4. FAQ's
  5. Storage and Reheating
  6. Can I Freeze This Recipe?
  7. Substitutions and Variations
  8. More Bread Recipes
  9. Deborah's Knotted Orange Sweet Rolls Recipe
  10. More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series

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 BreadEasy 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.

Orange Rolls

  • Sugar
  • Yeast - If you don't have active dry yeast, you can use rapid rise yeast instead
  • Scalded whole milk
  • Eggs
  • Salt
  • All-purpose flour
  • Orange zest
  • Butter melted

Orange Glaze

  • Powdered sugar
  • Orange zest
  • Orange juice
a baking sheet with knotted sweet rolls and orange slices in the background

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.

white plates of orange sweet knot rolls and sliced oranges

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.

a baking sheet with knotted sweet rolls covered in glaze

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.

FAQ's

Why scalded milk?

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.

Can I shape these like cinnamon rolls?

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.

glazed orange sweet rolls on a baking sheet

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.

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

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

More Bread Recipes

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.

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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 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

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.

Notes

  • 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.

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!

More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series

Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • IdahoIllinoisIndianaIowa • KansasKentuckyLouisiana • MaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMontanaNew YorkOregonPuerto RicoSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTexasUtahWisconsin

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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!