Orange-Scented Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe by Diane St. Clair and Susan Reid

These soft, tender-rolls bake on top of a sweet glaze; invert them after baking and the molten glaze drips down over the surface. Orange zest in the filling adds a bright flavor, and the walnuts give the rolls a welcome crunch.

40 mins
20 to 23 mins
2 hrs 24 mins
12 rolls
Orange-Scented Cinnamon Rolls - select to zoom
Orange-Scented Cinnamon Rolls - select to zoom
Orange-Scented Cinnamon Rolls - select to zoom


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  1. To make the dough: Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl. Pour the warm water over the butter, then add the buttermilk, yeast, sugar, salt, and 4 cups of the flour. Mix until a soft dough forms.

  2. Knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes, adding more flour from the remaining 1/2 cup as needed to form a dough that's soft but not sticky. Cover the dough and let it rise for 45 minutes, or until doubled.

  3. To make the topping: Generously coat the inside of a 9" x 13" pan with the softened butter. Sprinkle the brown sugar and salt over the butter, then drizzle with honey or syrup.

  4. To make the filling: Combine the orange zest with the butter. Stir the cinnamon into the brown sugar.

  5. To assemble: On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a 10" x 16" rectangle. Spread the orange butter over the dough, leaving 1/2" on one of the long edges uncovered. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture and nuts over the butter. Roll the dough up toward the uncovered edge (the long way), pinching to seal.

  6. Cut the log into 12 rolls, and lay each one cut side up in the prepared baking dish. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes, while you preheat the oven to 400°F.

  7. Bake the rolls for 20 to 23 minutes, until the tops are evenly golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and let stand for 3 minutes before inverting the pan over a serving platter. Remove the pan, and if needed use a spatula to scrape out any remaining butter and sugar mixture, spreading it back onto the rolls.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Want fresh-baked, oven-warm buns in the morning? Prepare the buns through their rise in the pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Next day, allow the buns to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes before uncovering and baking; you may need to increase the baking time by a few minutes.

  • Neat way to slice a log of dough into buns? Use unflavored dental floss. Tie a loop around the log, then pull it tight directly over the spot where you want to slice. The floss will cut through the dough easily without squashing the log like a knife might. For step-by-step photos see our blog post, A simple trick for cinnamon rolls.