{Quicker} Orange Cinnamon Rolls

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{Quicker} Orange Cinnamon Rolls | Kristine's Kitchen

It’s the weekend between Christmas and New Year’s, which in my house means lots of family time, a little relaxation, and lots of organizing and putting away of Christmas gifts. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope it was a very merry one, filled with plenty of family time and good food.

We had a quiet Christmas morning at home, sandwiched in between lots of time with our extended families. I love how magical the holiday season is when you can experience it through the eyes of your children. This year was the first year that Julia was excited to visit Santa and tell him what she wanted for Christmas. She was anxious to make sure that we placed our stockings by the fireplace on Christmas Eve, along with cookies and milk for Santa. In the morning, instead of getting out of bed by herself like she usually does, Julia called to me to be sure it was time to wake up- she didn’t want to risk waking up before Santa had time to visit!

My favorite William moment this Christmas was watching him open one of his presents, which came in a box that was bigger than he is. He spent at least 5 minutes-maybe 10- tearing off little pieces of wrapping paper, laying on top of the box, and climbing over it to unwrap all of the parts. It was priceless. Then, he was content to play with two toy cars and one small piece of ramp as Brad put together the big car ramp for him.

Once Christmas is over, I am always a little sad but I also look forward to the fresh start of the new year, a few more vacation days, and more time to spend with family and friends. Since we have a little extra time to relax on New Year’s, I like to make a special breakfast. These orange cinnamon rolls are a wonderful treat for a lazy morning.

{Quicker} Orange Cinnamon Rolls | Kristine's Kitchen

I’ve been wanting to make orange cinnamon rolls for a while, but couldn’t find a recipe that I liked.  I decided to adapt a recipe for regular cinnamon rolls by adding some orange zest to the dough and orange juice to the glaze to turn them into orange cinnamon rolls.

These rolls are called “quicker” because they don’t require as much rising time as typical cinnamon rolls. The recipe calls for more yeast than usual, so that the rolls only need one 30-minute rise before baking. The rolls can’t be called “quick” because they still take some time to prepare, but they are well worth it. While I cannot claim that these are healthy in any way, I did slightly reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe, and I think you could even reduce it a bit further and still have good results.

These orange cinnamon rolls are reminiscent of the ones that come in the can in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, but so much better because they are homemade. If you have a little time to spend in the kitchen one morning, I hope you will give these a try!

{Quicker} Orange Cinnamon Rolls | Kristine's Kitchen

{Quicker} Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Printable Recipe

Makes 8 cinnamon rolls


For the filling:

  • 2/3 cup packed (4 oz.) light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. (1 ¼ oz.) granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted*
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the dough:

  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk, at room temperature
  • 4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 ¾ cups (13 ¾ oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • Zest of 1 orange (about 1 tbsp.)
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, divided

For the glaze:

  • 1 ½ cups (6 oz.) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice


  1. Make the filling: Combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the 2 tbsp. melted butter and vanilla until the mixture resembles wet sand. Set aside.
  2. Make the dough: Butter a 9-inch round cake pan (a dark pan will ensure that the rolls will brown nicely) and set aside.
  3. Pour ¼ cup of the milk into a small bowl and microwave until it reaches 110 degrees, 15 to 20 seconds. Stir in the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let stand until mixture is bubbly, about 5 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, remaining 5 teaspoons sugar, and orange zest. Check the temperature of the remaining 1 cup milk. If it is not at room temperature, warm it for a few seconds in the microwave until it reaches 65 degrees. To the bowl with the flour, add the 1 cup milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and yeast mixture. Stir until a sticky dough forms and then transfer to a well-floured counter. Knead dough until a smooth ball forms, about 2 minutes.
  5. Roll the dough into a 12 by 9-inch rectangle, with the long side parallel to the counter edge. Brush dough with 2 tablespoons butter, leaving a ½-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture evenly over the buttered dough, and firmly press it down into the dough. Starting with the edge of dough closest to you, roll the dough up into a tight cylinder, using a bench scraper as needed to loosen the dough from the counter. Pinch the seam to seal.
  6. Place the cylinder seam side down and cut into 8 equal pieces. Place one roll in the center of the prepared pan and arrange the other 7 rolls in a circle around the center, seam sides facing in. Brush the tops of the rolls with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter and cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap. Let rolls rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in the middle position. Remove plastic wrap and bake rolls for 23 to 25 minutes, until the edges are well browned. Loosen the rolls from the side of the pan with a small knife and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert a large plate over the top of the pan and, using potholders, flip the rolls out onto the plate. Place a wire rack over the rolls and flip once more so that the rolls are right side up on the wire rack. Place the wire rack on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and let the rolls rest for 5 minutes more.
  8. Make the glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice until smooth. Drizzle glaze over rolls, spreading with a small spatula as needed. Serve rolls warm.

*You will need a total of 9 tablespoons melted butter for this recipe. It is easiest to melt all of the butter at once, and then place it in a liquid measuring cup to measure out as needed. Stir the melted butter before each use to redistribute the milk solids.

Source: Adapted from Cook’s Country magazine, October/November 2013

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