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Sticky Orange Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

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Soft, fluffy yeast dough is swirled around a sticky orange and cardamom filling and topped with a tangy cream cheese glaze for these sticky orange rolls. Make them for a special weekend breakfast or a holiday brunch!

White baking dish filled with baked and glazed orange rolls.

I used to be totally afraid of baking with yeast.

Ok, well, maybe it wasn’t a full-fledged fear, but it was definitely a source of some minor kitchen anxiety. 

Whenever I would bake with yeast, I was alway second-guessing myself. Is my liquid

the right temp? Did I use the right yeast? Has the dough actually doubled in size? 

I know I’m not the only one who has felt this before. I have finally overcome my fears and enjoy making recipes like garlic knots, English muffin bread, and sweet rolls

So if you’re a little bit afraid of working with yeast, don’t panic. I’m going to walk you through making these sticky orange rolls so you can feel confident making them for your family.

Two white plates holding sticky orange rolls, with a small pitcher of orange glaze in the background.

Fluffy Orange Rolls with Tangy Cream Cheese Glaze

I was first inspired to make these sticky orange rolls years ago after my friend Katie from Good Life Eats made meyer lemon sweet rolls. I decided to make a similar version with my favorite form of citrus: oranges!

These orange rolls have a soft and fluffy dough that is lightly flavored with cardamom and orange zest. This dough is wrapped around a sticky orange filling that is also flavored with brown sugar, cardamom, and ginger.

As the rolls bake, the orange filling soaks into the bottom of the rolls, making them something of a cross between cinnamon rolls with heavy cream and pecan sticky buns

The entire pan gets topped off with a tangy orange cream cheese glaze. Yep, that’s right, there’s orange juice and/or zest in every part of these rolls!

Serve these sticky orange rolls for Easter or Mother’s Day brunch, or simply make them any time you want a delicious weekend breakfast!

Hands pulling apart a sticky orange roll.

How to Make These Orange Rolls

This recipe has three different components, but I promise that they aren’t super hard or time consuming to make. Most of the time is hands-off while the rolls rise, and I’ll even walk you through the option to make them the night before and bake them the next morning.

Key ingredients

Most of the ingredients for these sticky orange rolls are pretty standard for cinnamon rolls and are likely things you already have in your pantry or fridge. 

I do want to highlight a handful of key ingredients, though:

Active dry yeast: This recipe uses 1 envelope of active dry yeast (equal to 2 ¼ teaspoons if you have a jar instead of packets of yeast). Make sure you get active dry yeast, not instant yeast.

Ground cardamom: Cardamom is a spice in the ginger family and is so delicious with orange. You can find ground cardamom in the spice aisle of your grocery store. It’s also delicious in cardamom tea loaf or plum crisp.

Ground ginger: Since cardamom is in the ginger family, you can probably guess that the two spices pair well together! A bit of ground ginger adds a bit of a special something to the sticky orange filling.

Oranges: Of course the star ingredient here is oranges! You’ll need 4 oranges to get all of the zest and juice called for in the recipe. I highly recommend squeezing fresh juice from your zested oranges, but you can use bottled orange juice if you really need to.

Sticky orange roll ingredients arranged on a marble countertop.

Helpful resources

Making this recipe

Start by making the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes.

Using the paddle attachment, stir in the softened butter, sugar, vanilla, and 1 cup of the flour. Mix until well combined.

Stir in the salt, cardamom, and orange zest, then add the eggs and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft, yet sticky, dough. 

Switch over to the dough hook attachment and knead on low speed for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Lightly coat the dough in vegetable oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled (this will take about an hour).

While the dough rises, make the filling. Mix the sugars with the cardamom and ginger, then work in the orange zest with your fingertips. Stir in the orange juice. Set aside.

Sticky orange filling in a glass mixing bowl.

Once the dough has risen, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a 10×15-inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough, then spread half of the orange filling over the dough.

Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the long end. Some of the orange filling will leak out and things will get messy – this is ok!

Cut the roll into 12 even pieces and place them, cut-side up, in a grease 13×9-inch baking dish. Spoon the remaining orange filling over the rolls.

At this point, I like to use a bench scraper to scoop up any of the filling that leaked out while rolling the dough and add it to the pan, too. No reason to leave that flavor behind!

Cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and let them rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until puffy and nearly doubled. Preheat the oven while the rolls rise.

Bake the rolls for 35 minutes, or until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center reads 190°F.

Spread the baked orange rolls with the cream cheese glaze and serve warm.

Orange cream cheese glaze in a white mixing bowl.

Overnight Instructions

If you don’t want to make the rolls and bake them before breakfast, I don’t blame you.

I really like assembling these sticky orange rolls the night before, letting them do their second rise in the refrigerator overnight, and baking them the next morning. 

After all, this really cuts down on the amount of stuff I have to do before I have even had my coffee.

Overhead view of glazed sticky orange rolls in a white baking dish, set on a wire cooling rack.

To turn these orange rolls into overnight sweet rolls, make the dough and filling and assemble the rolls as instructed.

Cover the pan of rolls with plastic wrap. Instead of letting them rise in a warm place, place the pan in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to bake the rolls the next morning, remove the pan from the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes while the oven preheats.

Bake the orange rolls as directed.

White baking dish of orange rolls with a roll removed from the corner of the pan.

Recipe FAQs

I don’t like cream cheese frosting. Is there a different glaze I can use?

Absolutely. If cream cheese glaze isn’t your thing, try using the powdered sugar glaze from my overnight cinnamon rolls, substituting the milk for orange juice.

How should you store these orange rolls?

If you are using the cream cheese glaze, store the rolls in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If using a powdered sugar glaze, store them covered at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Pop the orange rolls in the microwave for about 30 seconds to warm them through and take the chill of the refrigerator off of them.

Can you freeze these sweet rolls?

Absolutely. Let the rolls cool completely, then cut them apart and wrap them in plastic wrap. Place them in an airtight container or zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to a month.

To enjoy one of the orange rolls, unwrap it and microwave it for 30-60 seconds to thaw and warm it through.

How do you know how warm the milk for the dough should be?

You want the milk used in the dough to be warm enough to activate (ie, wake up) the yeast, but not so hot that it kills the yeast.

If you have an instant-read thermometer, the milk should be between 100-110°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, it should feel warm but not hot to the inside of your wrist.

Sticky orange roll cut in half and arranged on a white plate.
Plated orange roll topped with cream cheese glaze.

Sticky Orange Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

Soft, fluffy yeast dough is swirled around a sticky orange and cardamom filling and topped with a tangy cream cheese glaze for these sticky orange rolls. Make them for a special weekend breakfast or a holiday brunch!
5 from 2 votes
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Rise Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 12 rolls

Ingredients 

Orange Roll Dough:

  • ¾ cup milk warmed to about 100°F or warm but not hot on the inside of your wrist
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast 2 ¼ teaspoons
  • ½ cup unsalted butter very soft
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 to 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Zest of 2 medium oranges
  • 2 eggs

Sticky Orange Filling:

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Zest of 1 medium orange
  • 4 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter very soft

Orange Cream Cheese Glaze:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 medium orange
  • 4 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Make the dough:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and let it sit for a few minutes. Using the paddle attachment, stir in the softened butter, sugar, vanilla, and one cup of the flour until well combined. Stir in the salt, cardamom, and orange zest. Add in the eggs and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft yet sticky dough. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and pliable. Spray the top of the dough with vegetable oil, and turn the dough over so it is coated in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until nearly doubled, about an hour.

Make the filling:

  • In a small bowl, mix the sugars with the cardamom and ginger, then work in the orange zest with the tips of your fingers until the sugar resembles wet, soft sand. Stir in the orange juice.

Make the rolls:

  • Lightly grease a 13×9-inch baking dish with baking spray or butter. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10×15 inches. Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough, then pour and spread half of the orange-sugar mixture over the top, leaving about 1 inch around the edges. Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the bottom long end. This will get messy, as some of the orange filling will leak out – that’s ok.
  • Cut the roll into 12 even pieces and place them, cut side up, in the prepared baking dish. Spoon the rest of the orange filling over the top of the rolls. (If desired, use a bench scraper to scoop up any of the filling that leaked out while rolling and cutting the rolls and add that to the pan as well.)
  • Lightly cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let them rise for an hour or until puffy and nearly doubled. (You can also refrigerate the rolls at this point. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to bake the rolls, remove the pan from the fridge, and let them come to room temperature for about 30 minutes while the oven preheats.)
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the rolls in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until golden on top and a thermometer inserted into a center roll reads 190°F.
  • While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. In a medium bowl with an electric hand mixer, whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, orange zest, and juice and blend until well combined. Add the powdered sugar and blend until smooth and creamy.
  • When the rolls are done, spread them with the cream cheese glaze. Serve while warm.

Notes

Store leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
Helpful resources:
Recipe adapted from The Kitchn via Good Life Eats

Nutrition

Serving: 1roll | Calories: 469kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 149mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 539IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 2mg
The default measuring system on My Baking Addiction is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided as a courtesy; please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.
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Recipe Rating




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Melanie

Thursday 16th of May 2013

made these for mother's day and they were a hit! delicious and natural orange flavor was outstanding!

diana de salazar

Thursday 12th of July 2012

mmmm, delicious!!

Chels

Wednesday 16th of May 2012

I want this in my belly, right now!

Tickled Red

Wednesday 16th of May 2012

Ooo...wish my guys had made these for me on Mother's Day :D I love anything orange.

Baker Street

Tuesday 15th of May 2012

These sounds insanely delicious! I love anything cream cheese. I must must try these over the weekend. :)

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