Indulge in the perfect balance of tangy and sweet with these Lemon Sweet Rolls! These fluffy and soft rolls are filled with a zesty lemon filling and topped with a cream cheese frosting that will have you coming back for seconds.
I love homemade cinnamon rolls, which are probably one of my favorite breakfast treats! So, naturally, I have to tinker with other variations and have come up with these orange cinnamon rolls and now these lemon sweet rolls.
They are a bright springy summery twist on the classic cinnamon roll. Basically, they are happiness in a pan, lol.
Reasons You Will Love These Lemon Sweet Rolls
- Make ahead friendly and freezer friendly!
- Uses easy-to-find ingredients
- Perfect for breakfast, brunch, or even dessert
- Soft, fluffy, and super delicious dough (that lemon zest puts it on a whole new level!)
- Perfect for cheering up friends and family
FLOUR: I prefer to use bread flour because it helps provide more structure but all-purpose flour will also work. I haven’t tried this recipe using gluten-free flour.
MILK: You can use any percent milk in this recipe. You can also use dairy-free milk as a replacement. However, whole milk will give you the softest dough.
EGGS: I haven’t tried this recipe with any kind of egg replacement.
YEAST: You can use active dry or instant yeast for this recipe. I like to proof my yeast first in warm milk to make sure it is active and good to use before continuing with the recipe.
LEMON JUICE AND ZEST
How To Make Lemon Sweet Rolls
STEP 1: Start by mixing the warm milk, sugar, and yeast together and let sit for 5 minutes. It should get nice and foamy (picture #1 above). If it doesn’t your yeast isn’t any good and you will need to start over with fresh yeast.
STEP 2: Add soft butter, half of the flour, salt, eggs, orange zest, and juice to the yeast mixture and mix by hand until combined (picture 2 above). Mix just until combined (picture 3) then add the remaining flour (picture 4) then mix on low speed for 5 minutes (picture 5). Cover and let rise in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size (picture 6).
STEP 3: Roll out the dough into a large rectangle (picture 1 above) then spread with soft butter (picture 2). Sprinkle with sugar filling (pictures 3 and 4). Roll up into a log (picture 5) then cut into 12 rolls (picture 6). Place in a baking pan and let rise until double in size.
STEP 4: Bake rolls. Cool while making frosting then frost while still warm for gooey cinnamon rolls.
No, but I do recommend using one as it does all of the kneading for you. If you prefer to knead this by hand do so for at least 10 minutes.
You can use instant or regular yeast for this recipe. Just be sure to proof your yeast first to make sure it is active before continuing.
Store tightly covered at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions:
MAKE AHEAD: Prepare rolls through step 3 in the recipe then cover and place in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Bake as directed.
FREEZING: Tightly cover baked and cooled rolls with heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and frost before serving. Another option is to bake the rolls for 10 minutes then remove and cool completely, cover, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then finish baking for 15-20 minutes.
Tips and Suggestions:
- It’s best to use a metal or glass baking pan. If you need to use a ceramic pan allow more baking time to finish the centers.
- If your rolls are browning too much before the centers can bake tent them with foil while baking.
- Instead of a cream cheese frosting use lemon curd to “frost” the rolls while still warm.
Lemon Sweet Rolls
LEMON ROLL DOUGH:
- 1 cup (240ml) warm milk
- ¼ cup (55g) granulated sugar
- 1 package (.25 ounces) or 2¼ teaspoon active dry or instant yeast
- 4 cups (620g) all-purpose or bread flour
- 4 tablespoons soft butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- zest and juice of 1 large lemon
- ½ cup (113g) very soft butter
- ½ cup (110g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (97.5g) packed brown sugar
- zest of 1 large lemon
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
- 4 ounces (113g) very soft cream cheese
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1½ cups (180g) confectioners sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the warm milk (100°F), sugar, and yeast. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. The mixture should be foamy. If it isn't your yeast isn't active and can't be used.
- Add ½ of the flour, butter, eggs, salt, zest, and lemon juice. Mix by hand just until combined. Add the remaining flour and mix until it becomes stiff. Place on stand mixer fitted with dough hook and knead on speed 1 or 2 for 5 minutes. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until double in size.
- Punch dough down and remove from the bowl. Roll into a 12×18 inch rectangle. Spread with soft butter. In a small bowl combine the sugars and zest. Sprinkle over the butter. Roll the dough to form an 18 inch log. Cut into 12 equal rolls. Place in a lightly greased 9×13 baking pan.
- Cover and allow to rise until double in size. Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool while making the frosting. Combine the cream cheese, confectioners sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth. Spread over warm rolls.
- Read the post for storage, freezing, and overnight instructions.