Lemon Sweet Rolls

These fluffy Lemon Sweet Rolls are filled with lemon sugar and topped with lemon cream cheese frosting. 

Lemon Sweet Rolls

When life throws you lemons, you make a large batch of lemon sweet rolls! This fresh spin on classic cinnamon rolls incorporates lemon in three ways.

First, there’s a hint of lemon zest in the yeasted dough. Second, a heavy dose of lemon zest is mixed into in the sugar filling. And for the grand finale, fresh squeezed lemon juice and additional lemon zest are whipped into the luscious cream cheese frosting.

Lemon Sweet Rolls

These lemon sweet rolls are soft, fluffy, and flavorful. They are best enjoyed warm or at room temperature they day they are baked.

However, leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat in the microwave or in a toaster oven to soften the bread. 

How to Make Lemon Sweet Rolls

How to make lemon sweet rolls:

This recipe uses instant yeast. However, you can use dry active yeast as well. Simply dissolve the dry active yeast in warm milk. Let sit for 5 to 7 minutes until bubbly and fragrant. Then proceed with the remaining ingredients.

The dough is very easy to work up and it doesn’t take much effort roll out. 

The filling for these lemon sweet rolls is a mixture of softened butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and a generous amount of finely grated lemon zest. For even more lemon flavor, you could add a tiny amount of lemon extract. But it’s not necessary. The lemon zest should impart enough lemon essence. 

The dough is rolled into a log and cut into 12 equal parts. As you can see in the image above, the cut rolls will look rather small in the baking pan. Don’t worry, they’ll puff up and expand during their quick rest.

At this point, you can either let the rolls rest before baking or store the assembled rolls in the fridge overnight for later use. 

Lemon Sweet Rolls ready for icing

As the lemon sweet rolls bake in the oven, the lemon sugar mixture will bubble and melt. Some of the lemon sugar mixture will caramelize at the bottom of the pan. While the lemon sugar mixture at the top will turn into a sweet crunchy bits!

While the rolls can be enjoyed sans frosting, I highly recommend the addition of the lemon cream cheese! 

Lemon Sweet Rolls

Lemon Sweet Rolls

These lemon sweet rolls are a combination of sweet and tangy, soft and crunchy, and bright and creamy. It’s a wonderful treat to serve for Easter or Mother’s Day! 

Not a fan of lemons? You can swap in orange, grapefruit, or lime! Or for a citrus explosion, do a mixture of different citrus zests! 

If you’re interested in more breakfast rolls and sweet buns, you might like this Cinnamon Swirl Bread or Raspberry Lemon Loaf. This Orange Almond Bostock or Pecan Sticky Buns are also delicious options!

 

Lemon Sweet Rolls

These fluffy Lemon Sweet Rolls are filled with lemon sugar and topped with lemon cream cheese frosting. 

DOUGH:

  • 1 cup warm milk, (110 degrees F)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, (at room temperature)

FILLING:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, (at room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

FROSTING:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, (at room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, (at room temperature)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

PREPARE THE DOUGH:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the milk, yeast, sugar, egg, egg yolk, salt, and lemon zest until smooth. Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer. Add in half the flour. Mix on slow speed until a dough starts to form. 

  2. Continue to mix on low speed adding the softened butter one tablespoon at a time. Add the remaining flour and mix on low speed until incorporated.

  3. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and cleans the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for one hour, or until doubled in volume.

PREPARE THE FILLING:

  1. In a medium bowl, use a sturdy rubber spatula to cream together the softened butter, sugar, brown sugar, lemon zest, and salt until smooth. Cover and set aside.

ASSEMBLE:

  1. Punch down the risen dough. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a 20×14-inch rectangle. Spread the filling over the dough.

  2. Starting at the long edge, roll the dough into a tight log. Slice the log into 12 equal parts and place in a greased 9×12-inch baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let the rolls rest at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. By this time, the rolls should be puffy.

  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the rolls for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown on top and the internal temperature of the rolls registers at least 185 degrees F. Allow the rolls to cool for 10 minutes before covering with frosting:

PREPARE THE FROSTING:

  1. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt. Mix until smooth. Spread over the lemon sweet rolls. If desired, garnish with additional grated lemon zest. 

  • These are best enjoyed warm or at room temperature the day they are baked.
  • Dough can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge overnight. Follow steps up to placing cut rolls in greased pan. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge overnight to slow down yeast. Before baking, allow rolls to sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour to reactivate yeast.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat in the microwave or toaster oven to soften bread.
  • If using active dry yeast: dissolve active dry yeast in warm milk. Let sit for 5-7 minutes until bubbly and fragrant. Then, proceed with instructions as written. 

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