Sweet Orange Sugar Rolls

If you are looking for a sweet roll recipe that is perfect for breakfast our brunch, give these orange sugar rolls a try. They have a springy feel and use ingredients available at any time of year. They are soft, fluffy, and have a delicious crunchy orange sugar on top. They would be perfect for a Mother’s Day brunch or a special breakfast.

orange sugar rolls on plate with blueberries in background

Orange rolls for any time of day

These rolls are a sweet and fluffy treat for any time of day. Most people would probably serve them for breakfast or brunch, but we also eat them as a sweet dinner roll. They evolved from a monkey bread recipe in one of my favorite bread books. Their fluffiness is delightful, and because it is a rich dough, the leftovers will keep for a few days for you to snack on.

This recipe went through a few changes until I was happy with it: changing the pull-apart bread to individual rolls and changing the wet and sticky glaze to a crunchy orange sugar. The dough recipe is a great, versatile dough for cinnamon rolls and other sweet breads.

A few things to keep in mind as you make this recipe:

The dough has a lot of sugar and dairy, which means it will be slower to rise. I let mine rise for the first rise for almost 2 hours.

It is very important that the rolls cook through, so check their doneness with a cake tester. They are covered in butter and therefore take a little longer than the average roll. Doughy rolls are gross. This might mean your edges over-brown. You can eat them yourself.

You could try a variation with lemon zest instead of orange, or mixing a little cinnamon in instead.

You can serve these directly out of the pan if you prefer.. I do not like the idea of people touching everything, so I pull them apart to be served individually. They are good either warm or at room temperature.

Recipe and video

orange sugar roll with bite

Orange Sugar Rolls

These soft and sweet rolls are perfect for a special brunch.  They are light and fluffy with a sugary crunch.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
rising time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Serving Size 16 rolls



  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons softened butter unsalted
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt (reduce to 3/4 teaspoon if using salted butter)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast SAF brand

Orange Sugar Topping

  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange rind


  •  Combine dough ingredients and knead into a smooth, soft dough using stand mixer or bread machine.  This is a sticky dough and will seem overly wet at first, but will tighten up as kneading goes on.  If it seems excessively sticky, add flour a teaspoon at a time.
  • Allow dough to rise, covered, in a warm place.  It may take up to 2 hours for it to double in bulk as the dough is so rich.
  • After dough has risen, remove from bowl and cut into 16 pieces of a relatively equal size.  Roll into balls.
  • Using some of the butter that will be used for the topping, brush a shallow and wide baking pan such as a pie dish to keep the bread from sticking.   
  • Combine the orange rind and sugar and sprinkle a small amount on the bottom of the buttered dish.  Place the rolls inside.
  • Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.  Halfway through the rising time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • When rolls look puffy, drizzle the remaining melted butter on top and then sprinkle the orange sugar on.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until the tops have browned and dough is completely cooked through.  




If you would like to make the evening before and serve at breakfast, allow the dough to do its FIRST rise overnight in the refrigerator.  You will still need to shape the rolls and do the topping the morning of.  

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    1. Yes great idea! I always do bunny shaped rolls for that so I am going to try doing these in the bunny shape. ????