Orange Rolls

Our Thanksgiving dinner would not be complete without orange rolls.

I also make Crescent Dinner Rolls 

Yes, we have two kinds of rolls with our dinner.  Tradition.  

I actually use the same dough recipe for the orange rolls that I use for the crescent rolls.  I double the batch of dough then use half of the dough for the crescent rolls and the other half for the orange rolls.

You could also use the dough recipe from Cheddar Cheese Rolls omitting the cheddar, of course. You could also use the dough recipe from Giant Cinnamon Twists.  Any of the dough recipes will work great.  You choose.

You will need 3 eggs, 1/2 cup butter, 3/4 cup milk,  1/2 cup sugar,  3/4 teaspoon salt and 4 1/2 - 5 cups of flour.

Oh my,  I almost forgot the yeast.  That would have been so bad!

Repeat after me....yeast is my friend...yeast is my friend....

The yeast will always be your friend as long as you don't kill it!  How do you kill it??  
You kill it by making the water too hot that you dissolve it in.  The water should be warm to the touch.  Not hot.  Just warm.  Not too cold that will make the yeast rise slower.  Warmer than a baby bottle.  About 110 degrees is safe.

I am using SAF-instant yeast.  You can use whatever yeast you have.  

Whisk the yeast into the warm water to dissolve.

In the bowl of a mixer add eggs.

Add the sugar.  My granddaughter is helping me out today.  She has been coloring with permanent markers as you can see.  She isn't allowed to color with permanent markers.  She told me that when I gave them to her.  Whatever!  Today she can!

Let me tell you one thing about adding sugar to eggs.  If you add the sugar on top if the eggs and do not mix it in, the sugar will start a process which begins to cook the eggs.  Not good.  So please start mixing at once.

Add the salt.

Mix the eggs, sugar and salt together quiet well.  I just let the mixer keep running on low at this point.  You can turn it off if you want.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter.

When the butter has completely melted and the butter starts to bubble, add the milk all at once.  Then immediately take off the heat.  You don't want to get the milk, butter mixture too hot because it will cook the eggs AND kill the yeast.  

With the mixer on low, add the milk and butter mixture.

Mix well.

Add the dissolved yeast.

Mix again.

Add the flour 1 cup at a time.

Mix well after each addition.

When you add the fourth cup of flour, let the mixer run for about 3-5 minutes.  Now I determine just how much more flour I will add.  NEVER let me repeat NEVER add more than 5 cups of flour.  In fact, I rarely add more than 4 1/2 cups of flour.  You don't want to dough to be stiff.  It needs to be very sticky.

One good way to tell if you have added enough flour is to look at the sides of the bowl.  Add flour just until the dough starts to pull away from the sides.  Remember the dough is very sticky.

I use a dough scraper to scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl and to form a ball of dough.

Here you can see how sticky the dough is.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight.

The rolls will need about 3-4 hours of rise time, so allow that time into your schedule.   Prepare the orange filling and remove the dough from the refrigerator.   The dough will have risen slightly.  Not quiet doubled in size, but close.

To make the rolls "orange" you will need the zest from one orange, juice from half of an orange, 1/2 cup butter (1 cube) and 1 cup sugar.

Butter 2 muffin tins.  Set aside.

Melt the butter and add to the sugar.

Add the zest.

Squeeze the juice from half of an orange.  I find that the liquid from the juice creates enough steam while baking to dissolve the sugar and makes a wonderful glaze on the bottom of the rolls.

Stir together.

It's kind of thin.  That's the reason I like using a cold refrigerated dough.  Because as soon as you start to spread this mixture it will solidify the butter making it easier to slice the rolls.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator.  I like to use my canvas to roll out my rolls.  Place the dough on a lightly floured surface.

Roll the dough into a rectangle about 13 x 22-inches.

Spread the butter, sugar mixture over the dough.

Spread the butter to within 1/2-inch of the edges.

Can you see how the butter thickened up from the cold dough.  This will be so much easier to roll and slice.

Beginning with the long end, roll the dough like you are making cinnamon rolls.

You should have a roll about 22-inches long.

I like to take a clean, dry pastry brush and brush off any remaining flour.  

Cut the dough in half.  You can eyeball it, but I have to pull out my grandmas quilting ruler because I'm not so good at eyeballing anything.

Then cut into fourths.

Cut each forth into six slices.  They are almost an inch wide.

Place the slices into prepared muffin pans.

I like to put the muffin pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  The orange goo in the middle has been know to spill over.  It can make one big mess of your oven and cookie sheet.  It makes clean up a breeze.

Cover the rolls and allow to rise until they have doubled in size.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until golden .

Immediately flip the rolls out of the pan.  I turn them out onto the baking sheet that has been lined with parchment.

Careful they are hot and the goo can burn like hot glue if you get in on your hands.  

The sugar melts and creates a glaze on the bottom of the rolls.  They are extremely buttery and divine.

Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day are not days to be on a diet.  I do not deprive myself of anything on those two days.  Why?  I'll be a good girl after the holidays.  

It's funny how most - ALL of our family traditions stem around food.  

Orange Rolls

¼ cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
3 eggs
½ cut butter
¾ cup milk
½ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
4 ½ - 5 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water, set aside for 5 minutes.  In a large mixing bowl mix together eggs, sugar, and salt.  Set aside.  

In a small saucepan, melt butter then add milk.  Slowly pour into egg mixture mixing all the time.  Add yeast mixture and 2 cups flour.  Mix until dough is smooth.  Add remaining flour 1 cup at a time.  Only use needed amount of flour to form a smooth yet sticky dough.  DO NOT ADD MORE THAN 5 CUPS OF FLOUR. Cover dough with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.  Place in refrigerator overnight. 

Orange filling:
1/2 cup butter – melted
1 cup sugar
Juice from 1/2 orange
Zest from 1 orange

To make the orange filling:  Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl and stir to blend. 

Butter or grease 2 muffin pans then set aside. Roll into a rectangle.  Spread the melted butter and orange mixture on the dough leaving ½-inch border around the sides.  Roll dough from the long end.  Cut roll into 24 slices and place in prepare muffin pans.  Allow to rise until double in size.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Immediate remove from oven and flip rolls out onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.  Allow all the orange glaze to drizzle over the rolls.

Print this recipe

Happy Thanksgiving.  


  1. Yum, these look GOOD--my family likes to make orange rolls on Christmas morning. mmm
    Oh--by the way, my name is Shaina White. I live in WA with my husband and 2 kids. I'm a runner and a reader. I went to SVU. I love peanut butter. My cousin-in-law-in-law (our husbands are cousins) is the kitchen-goddess Whitney Olsen. That's who told me about your decadent blog. I love your recipes. I have 2 food blogs that I check regularly, and yours is one of them! I've enjoyed your blog for more than 2 years now, and I've never commented or anything. So I thought I'd say hi and thanks, and tell you how heavenly that peach cranberry pie is. I just made it and ate a hot piece with ice cream on top. The resulting euphoria gave me courage to type you a little note of gratitude. :)

  2. I'm so thrilled to meet you, Shaina. I have always loved Whitney. She was good friends with my son during high school. She was kind enough to ask him to a dance and I'm certain it was the worst night of her life. Yet, she still speaks to me. She is a great resource...for anything! Thank you for commenting and reading my blog. Oh - I love running too.

  3. Beautiful Orange rolls, I want to come to your house for thanksgiving! I will be trying this recipe for sure, thanks!

  4. You little stinker, Janet . . . You make everything look too darn easy! These little babies look far too labor intensive for Thanksgiving Day?! You are my idol girl, seriously! Pick you up Monday AM... Wear your snowshoes!

  5. These look really beautiful, and so delicate. I'll be giving these a try. Thank you x

  6. This looks so orangy goodness janet..Totally heaven..Yummy..Enjoy thanksgiving dear..

    Hope you will upload pictures of that in ur next post..

  7. These are NOT too labor intensive for the big day especially if you make the dough the day before. Pshhh. YES!! I'm ready to get back to running...snow and all.

  8. Hellow Aarthi from India. I think I'd rather be eating an Eastern Indian feast instead of Turkey...really.

  9. Just a quick question, do we HAVE to refrigerate the dough overnight? Or can we leave it on the counter for a couple of hours to rise and then use it? :)

  10. Hi Cathy, this particular recipe is extremely sticky and does need to be refrigerated. But you could use the dough for the cheddar cheese rolls and let it rise on the counter top for about an hour. It is equally delicious.

  11. I made these tonight for an early Thanksgiving dinner with friends, they were a major hit! They were soooo absolutely delicious, I'm making them again next week for "real Thanksgiving."

  12. Wahoo. I'm so glad the rolls were a hit. How can they not be...right? Happy Thanksgiving.

  13. Hi Janet,

    They look wonderful! About how long did you allow them to rise after cutting them? Can't wait to try them!!

    Thank you


  14. Hi Jen, I probably let them rise for about 45 minutes. Touch them, if the feel like a marshmellow they are ready to bake. Happy Thanksgiving.

  15. After I successfully made a loaf of yeast bread, my dad has come up with the idea that I should make rolls and I think this will be a pretty good recipe to use!

  16. Thank you, Kathy. Your dad is right. This is an easy roll recipe to follow.
    Good luck. They should turn out great.

  17. Thank you Janet - wonderful recipe - reminds me of the orange rolls my Aunt used to make for all our holiday dinners. I will be bringing the tradition back into my family. My kids thank you!

  18. I hope they become a family favorite. We look forward to them every Thanksgiving. Thank you for your awesome comments.

  19. Just found this recipe after starting my batch of "crusty bread"!!! I can't wait to try this one.'s almost 4:30am and I should go to bed while my bed rises. LOVE this blog!!!


    1. This isn't as easy as the crusty bread, but so worth the effort. I hope you love them both.

  20. How much yeast and water do you use? I can't see it anywhere???

    1. 1 tablespoon yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water. It's in the written recipe. I hope this helps.

  21. The recipe calls for instant yeast...can you use active dry yeast? Is there a difference?

  22. Dry active yeast works great.

  23. Hi, we tried this orange rolls of yours :) and those were so good, thanks for the recipe!!!

    1. You made my day. Thank you so much.

    2. Here is a picture :) We also tried cinnamon twists, also great!!!!

    3. Beautiful orange rolls! Thank you so much for sending a link to the photo. Perfection.

    4. Thanks, I am so happy I found your blog! So many beautifull recipes and everyone can understand them. Thanks for being here, I will be testing many more!!!

    5. Thank you so much. I hope you keep coming back.

  24. Found you through Pinterest...I'm dying to make these. I'm already drooling looking at your pictures.

  25. Hi! looks divine! Could you make and freeze these and defrost and bake as you need them? Thanks so dearly x

    1. HI Milly, Yes you can freeze these rolls. Just allow 4-6 hours of thawing and rising time depending upon the temperature in your home. They work just great!

  26. Hello! I love this recipe and have it saved as one of my go-to's when I'm itching for homemade bread.

    But both times I've made them, I could never get the sauce to thicken up when spreading it on the cold dough- - super frustrating and messy when rolling it up and cutting into pieces. The rolls still turn out delicious but I end up having to spoon the sauce over the rolls before putting them into the oven and there's not really any sauce inside the rolls.

    Do you have any advice or fixes? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jessica, I have had the exact same thing happen. You can just soften the butter then beat in the sugar, zest and juice and spread it on the dough or you can let the butter mixture cool to a point that it is solidifying more. Any of these two should do the trick.

  27. Hi Janet, I love your blog. It is a daily must read for me. Thank you for sharing your recipes and advice. I have a question. I am traveling to a family member's house this Thanksgiving and am making the dinner rolls. Can these be served at room temperature? I would much rather bake them at home, let them cool, and then pack them for travel. Thanks!

    1. Yes you can make them in advance. I have even frozen them. Thaw in covered. They also warm well in a 300 degree F oven. Just place on a baking sheet for about 7 min. Happy Thanksgiving.

  28. hi, im Fotini from Greece, i ve made the rolls this evening but they are mostly like bread than cake, not so soft.Sorry to ask but is the photo of your rolls, real? The color of mines is dark even though i covered them in the oven.And the orange filling seemed to much, i used the half of it.Wanna make the receip again but dont know where i was wrong.I just love the rolls of your photo..

    1. Hi Fontini, Yes, the photo's are real. The rolls are a bread type not a cake. I don't retouch my photos because I want to show how the food really looks after being prepared. Ovens vary so you may have to lower the temperature just a bit. I use a lot of filling because I like the rolls to be very gooey. You can cut the recipe is half for the filling if you prefer. Let me know if you have any more trouble. So happy to hear from Greece.

  29. Can I use another flavor other than orange?

    1. Sure, why not? You can use cinnamon/sugar, lemon, whatever flavor you love.