I’m not sure if this is an accurate memory of our Christmas mornings growing up or if it’s a chosen memory from a few certain years. Regardless of if it was an actual yearly tradition or not, my brother seemed to remember the same thing. A few years ago we spent Christmas with him and my sister in-law in California. Christmas morning my brother made orange rolls. I was beyond happy. Totally not expecting that as a breakfast treat. Delicious Pillsbury orange rolls. If you’ve never had them, you really should. Their cinnamon rolls don’t compare to these. They’re just so good. So very good. Soft, airy, just the right amount of a citrus flavor and a wonderful creamy orange glaze. Yum! Do I have your attention yet?

Well, when thinking about what items I wanted to make and share as Christmas treats I couldn’t get these wonderful little rolls out of my mind. I wanted to attempt to make my own version. I hoped to make some that would be a nice substitute to the store variety, that is unfortunately sometimes very hard to find. Last year I had to go to several stores before I found one that carried them! If you have a Shaws nearby, that’s where I finally found mine. If you can’t find them, this is a perfect substitute recipe.

What I ended up deciding on was a recipe found from another blogger. It’s an old recipe, not her own, saved from an old copy of the LA Times. After doing lots of searching, this was the only one that really fit what I was looking for. Others called for peculiar items that just didn’t fit what I wanted. Some weren’t orangey enough. This seemed just right. They’re easy, very light and fluffy and full of orange flavor. The best part about these is that you can make them the day before and just pop them in the oven that morning. That kind of planning ahead is perfect for Christmas morning or any other holiday when you don’t want to be slaving away in the kitchen. You want to be out relaxing with your family opening gifts on Christmas morning, or maybe you’re nursing a hangover from New Year’s Eve… there’s always a few in the bunch… this recipe will make your life easier and more enjoyable.

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Orange Rolls

Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 11 minutes
Yield: 12
Soft and fluffy homemade orange sweet rolls with orange glaze. A fun addition to any breakfast or brunch.


  • 2 1/4 tsp rapid rise or instant yeast
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C warm water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 C warm milk, heated to 115°F
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 C unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4-5 C all purpose flour
  • zest of 1/2 of an orange
  • 1 tsp orange juice

Filling Ingredients:

  • zest of remaining 1/2 orange
  • 1/4 C unsalted butter
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp orange juice
  • additional orange zest, optional


  • In a glass measuring cup, combine 1 tbsp granulated sugar, rapid rise (or instant) yeast and 1/2 cup warm water. The water should be warmer than room temp but not so hot you can't keep your finger in it (roughly 115-120°F). Let the yeast mixture sit for at least 5 minute or until it has puffed up substantially.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl or stand mixer, cream 1/2 cup sugar and softened butter together. Add eggs. Scrape bowl as needed or prior to each new addition. Add salt, orange juice, orange zest and 1/2 cup warm milk. Give a quick mix to combine. Slowly add 1 cup of flour at a time until you have put in at least 4 cups. I ended up putting a total of 4 1/2 cups in while mixing and an additional 1/2 cup while kneading, so 5 cups total. This can easily be different depending on your weather conditions so just pay attention to your dough. If it's still super sticky, you need more flour. Once you've hit the 4 1/2 cup mark, add 1/2 cup of flour at a time. When your dough has begun coming together, transfer to a lightly floured work station to knead by hand. Work in extra flour as needed.
  • Form a smooth ball, transfer to a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm location for at least an hour or doubled in size.
  • Prepare filling while dough is rising. Add all ingredients to a small bowl. Microwave until butter is melted, stir to combine ingredients. Set aside. Prepare a rectangular baking dish with spray. I like to use Pam for baking, it smells so good and of course works well too.
  • When dough is doubled in size, transfer to a lightly floured work space. Roll out into a large rectangle with a rolling pin.
  • Spread filling over dough, up to 1/2 inch from the edge.
  • Roll dough starting at one of the shorter ends. Carefully pinch and fold in the edges as you roll your dough into a log. Slice into 12 equal pieces with a serrated knife. Place pieces in prepared baking dish.
  • You can either choose to continue the rising and baking process now or continue in the morning. Cover and let rise in a warm location until doubled in size OR cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge overnight. The rolls will begin to expand slightly overnight. You can then either let them come to room temperature and have them rise slightly more or immediately pop them in the oven. I chose to have mine rise some more. This made for some enormous rolls, popping out of themselves because the dough had no place to go! So don't let them rise too much before baking.
  • Bake in a 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden.
  • Mix powdered sugar with 1tbsp orange juice at a time and optional orange zest - if you have it, use it ... if not, don't worry about it. I used about 2 1/2 tbsp orange juice overall. Use less or more depending on how thick or thin you want your icing. Drizzle over warm rolls or use a knife to spread over the entire batch.
  • If not eaten immediately, keep rolls tightly covered. Pop in the microwave to slightly reheat.
Did you make this recipe?I'd love to see it! Snap a picture and tag @bakedbyrachel on Instagram!
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American

Recipe adapted from Living My Dream