Lemon Sweet Rolls.

Fluffy & soft lemon sweet rolls covered in a simple lemon cream cheese frosting. These rolls use my quick sweet roll dough – only 1 rise!

Fluffy and soft Lemon Sweet Rolls topped with Cream Cheese Frosting. You will fall in love with their sunshine-sweet flavor!

Is there truly anything better than waking up to the smell of warm cinnamon rolls baking in the oven? No. At least that’s what I thought before I smelled the sunshine-sweet aroma wafting from my kitchen as these fluffy lemon rolls baked.

They’re springtime in a pan. Happiness in a fluffy spiral. Lemon cream cheese frosting, vanilla bean, lemon zest, and soft buttery dough all in one.

Move over Kevin, I think I’m in love with a sweet roll…

Fluffy and soft Lemon Sweet Rolls topped with Cream Cheese Frosting. You will fall in love with their sunshine-sweet flavor!

After a night out with friends last weekend, I woke up craving something carby. Kevin mentioned he could go for a giant cinnamon roll and… while I can ALWAYS go for a giant cinnamon roll, I had a better idea. Let’s use up all the lemons in the crisper drawer, the cream cheese sitting in the fridge, and my 1 vanilla bean leftover from a recent batch of very vanilla cupcakes.

Thus these Lemon Sweet Rolls + Buttery Lemon Vanilla Bean Filling + Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting were born. Geez, what a mouthful. A tasty mouthful.

If you are a yeast beginner, I have good news for you! These lemon sweet rolls use my quick-method sweet roll dough. You will find that the typical homemade dough recipe requires two rises. My favorite Raspberry Swirl Sweet Rolls require a first rise of about 1-2 hours. Then a second rise for another two hours. (But one bite of their fluffy dough and juicy middle and you’ll learn that the prep time is worth it!)

However, I have since developed a quicker dough recipe. A dough recipe with all the soft, fluffiness you’re craving but with only 1 quick rise time. Because of this shortcut, my homemade sweet roll dough is perfect for the baker who wants to learn how to work with yeast for the first time. Plus, it’s a perfect starting point for any sort of sweet roll you want to make… like sticky pecan, blueberry, cinnamon, and banana chocolate chip.

When it comes to sweet roll/cinnamon rolls, my secret weapon in the kitchen is Red Star Platinum Yeast. It is the only yeast that I use and I highly recommend it to anyone who asks. Why? Red Star Platinum takes the work out of bread making for you. Its careful formula strengthens your dough and makes working with yeast simple. And simple is always good, right? When it comes to baking – yes!

Fluffy and soft Lemon Sweet Rolls topped with Cream Cheese Frosting. You will fall in love with their sunshine-sweet flavor!

I ended up making two batches of these sweet rolls. The reason I made two batches was because I made them both differently. Testing and retesting is the only way I can develop the best of the best recipes. With my failed batch, I used my quick-method dough, but the filling is where I messed up. The filling didn’t have softened butter and not nearly enough lemon. It was like biting into a crispy sugar roll. Trust me, it wasn’t good.

Batch #2. What a success! You’ll begin with my quick-method dough. Whip it up, roll it out and top with the filling. My lemon sweet roll filling is made from lemon zest, sugar, and vanilla bean. Simply stir them all together until the mixture is sandy. The sugar will help the lemon zest excrete some liquid, so the mixture will be fairly moist. The vanilla bean is purely for flavor; a touch of vanilla extract may be used instead as noted below.

Spread softened butter all over the rolled out dough and top with the lemon sugar filling. Roll the dough up tightly, cut into rolls, arrange into your pan, and let rise for 60-90 minutes until doubled in size. Turn the oven on, sprinkle the rolls with a little more lemon zest and bake until they’re lightly browned. The fresh lemon scent is glorious at this point! Spring has sprung in your kitchen.

A few step-by-step visuals for you:

Fluffy and soft Lemon Sweet Rolls topped with Cream Cheese Frosting. You will fall in love with their sunshine-sweet flavor!

Spending a few extra dollars to buy a vanilla bean and using it in the filling is so worth it. Look at all the gorgeous vanilla specks in the interior of the fluffy lemon roll:

Fluffy and soft Lemon Sweet Rolls topped with Cream Cheese Frosting. You will fall in love with their sunshine-sweet flavor!

Smothering every crevice of these sweet rolls is a light lemon cream cheese frosting. It’s not heavy in the slightest, nor will it take away from the sweet roll itself. I personally cannot imagine a cinnamon roll/sweet roll without some sort of glaze or frosting!

The cream cheese frosting simply adds another burst of sweet lemon flavor.

What I love most about these lemon sweet rolls is that each bite isn’t too tart. You won’t find yourself puckering up your lips from an overpowering sour lemon flavor. Rather, they are just sweet enough and just zingy enough. Finding the perfect balance of sweet and tart is tricky when it comes to lemon baked goods, but you guys – this recipe nails it!

Fluffy and soft Lemon Sweet Rolls topped with Cream Cheese Frosting. You will fall in love with their sunshine-sweet flavor!

A couple of these rolls filled our cravings last weekend. And I’m happy that my freezer is stocked with some leftovers for when the craving hits again this weekend.

Who wants to come over for brunch?! I’ll serve some leftover Blueberries ‘n Cream Danish too. 

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Lemon Sweet Rolls

Fluffy & soft lemon sweet rolls covered in a simple lemon cream cheese frosting. These rolls use my quick cinnamon roll dough - only 1 rise!

Yield: 10-11 rolls

Ingredients:

Rolls

  • 2 and 3/4 cups (345g) all-purpose flour (careful not to overmeasure)
  • 3 Tablespoons (45g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package Red Star Platinum Yeast or any instant yeast (1 packet = 2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) water
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) milk*
  • 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons (40g) unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg

Filling

  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • zest of 2 medium lemons
  • seeds scraped from 1/2 of a vanilla bean (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 ounces (112g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners' sugar
  • juice of two medium lemons
  • extra lemon zest for garnish, optional

Directions:

  1. Make the dough: Set aside 1/2 cup of flour. In a large bowl, toss the 2 and 1/4 cups flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast together until evenly dispersed. Set aside.
  2. Heat the water, milk, and butter together in the microwave until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot to touch. About 115-120F degrees. Stir the butter mixture into the flour mixture. Add the egg and only enough of the reserved flour to make a soft dough. I only needed 1/3 cup, but you may need the full 1/2 cup. Dough will be ready when it gently pulls away from the side of the bowl and has an elastic consistency.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 3-4 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl (I used non-stick spray) and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling: In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla. Stir it around until the mixture becomes sandy. Some juices may be excreted from the lemon zest; that's ok.
  5. After the dough has sat for 10 minutes, roll it out into a 14x8 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spread the softened butter on top. Sprinkle the lemon sugar filling all over. Roll up the dough tightly. Cut into 10-11 even pieces and place in a lightly greased 9-inch round pan. I used a pie dish, lightly sprayed with nonstick spray. Sprinkle uncooked rolls with additional lemon zest at this point, if desired.
  6. Loosely cover the rolls with aluminum foil and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 60-90 minutes. Here is what I do: heat the oven to 200F degrees. Turn oven off. Place rolls inside oven and allow to rise.
  7. After the rolls have doubled in size, preheat the oven to 375F. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned. I covered the rolls with aluminum foil after 15 minutes to avoid heavy browning.
  8. Make the frosting: Right before serving, top your sweet rolls with the cream cheese frosting. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and beat on medium-high until creamy. Frost warm rolls and sprinkle with additional lemon zest, if desired.
  9. Rolls are best enjoyed the same day, but will remain fresh covered tightly for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

 

*I always use skim milk or 1%. Any milk fat will be fine.

*1 medium-size lemon = approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon zest = 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice

*Overnight: The dough may be made the night before through step 5. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and let rise, about 1 hour. 

*If you replace Red Star Platinum with regular active dry yeast, you rise time may be 50% longer.

© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

 

Try these favorite recipes next:

Blueberry Sweet Rolls with Lemon Glaze

Blueberry Sweet Rolls with Lemon Glaze

 

Homemade Orange Sweet Rolls

Copycat Pillsbury Orange Sweet Rolls. Gooey, fluffy, and dripping with orange glaze

 

Homemade Lemon Cupcakes

Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

 

 

Enjoy my new favorite breakfast!

Fluffy and soft Lemon Sweet Rolls topped with Cream Cheese Frosting. You will fall in love with their sunshine-sweet flavor!

 

   

102 Responses to “Lemon Sweet Rolls.”

  1. #
    61
    Molly Dposted March 15, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    This is my first time using yeast! I don’t know why I’ve been so intimidated by it (I felt this way about deep frying too, until I actually gave it a shot). I am looking forward to a delicious lemony treat tomorrow morning!

    Reply

  2. #
    62
    Nutmeg Nannyposted March 15, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    I can’t resist lemon! These rolls are perfection :)

    Reply

  3. #
    63
    Victoriaposted March 17, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I made these delicious lemon rolls on Saturday morning at my daughter’s house. They turned out great even though I made a mistake and forgot to add the egg while mixing.
    I then added the egg to the dough that was already mixed and thought it might be a flop. Everyone raved about them. My mistake did not seem to hurt a thing.. I liked the sweet dough better than any I have made before. Thank you for this great recipe!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on March 17th, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      I’ve forgotten the egg all together before too. Ooops! And mine did not turn out. Happy you remembered and added it in when you could, Victoria. And I’m even happier that everyone loved them! Thanks for reporting back :)

      Reply

  4. #
    64
    mariposted March 18, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Oh my goodness!!! My mouth is watering!! I have beeen craving something sweet with lemon….I think I just found it. These are beautiful!! The only problem is I scrolled down and seen the Blueberry Sweet Rolls w/ Lemon Glaze….decisions, decisions!! Your recipes are awesome!!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on March 18th, 2014 at 2:16 pm

      I have a hard time deciding between the two as well. I love the blueberry AND lemon rolls. Thanks Mari!

      Reply

  5. #
    65
    Cecretposted March 22, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Hi Sally-

    I made these last night for breakfast today. These rolls are amazing-and my ENTIRE Family of 5 loved them!! I was impressed at how easy the dough came together; I put them in my stand mixer and let the dough hook do the kneading for 3 minutes. Even rolling it out was easy. I made through step 5 last night and they doubled nicely this morning rising in a warm oven.

    Thank you for another great weekend breakfast recipe!!

    Reply

  6. #
    66
    Renee @ Awesome on $20posted March 22, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    These look beautiful. I think I’m in love!

    Reply

  7. #
    67
    Marie from Gposted March 29, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    We made these today and, wow, they were so so good! No complaints1 We´ll definitely make them again and again and again! Thank you!

    Reply

  8. #
    68
    Lovella Floresposted April 11, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Because i live so far away (Philippines) and don’t always have access to your blog, I’ve been asking the local bookstores when will they be selling your cookbook. I already tried baking the Chewy brown sugar cookies. It’s so easy to make and all the ingredients are available in our local store. My kids and their friends love it. I will try the carrot cup cake next to make my kids eat their veggies and still enjoy their cupcake cravings and since my husband gifted me with carrot cake on our anniversary last March, I wanted to make my own carrot cake with your easy to follow recipe…..i so love your recipes with your easy to follow instructions and tips….

    Reply

  9. #
    69
    Sylvanaposted April 18, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Oops,, added way too much lemon juice and now my filling is fluid.. Put it on the dough anyway. If it doesnt work out, that means another excuse to bake again ;)
    Just made the carrot cake, it’s cooling off right now.. about to make the frosting :)
    Tomorow the mini bites french toast!

    Reply

  10. #
    70
    Hayleyposted July 30, 2014 at 11:38 am

    I’m not really a fan of cream cheese, could I use softened butter into the frosting instead for more of a buttery lemon frosting?

    Reply

  11. #
    71
    Mateaposted August 16, 2014 at 11:11 am

    We’ve made cinnamon rolls, rolls stuffed with apples and peaches, and cheese rolls, but we haven’t tried lemons…yet!

    Reply

  12. #
    72
    Sarahposted August 24, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Sally,
    I’ve recently discovered your blog and felt inspired to try the raspberry swirl sweet rolls. I’ve never made anything like this before but, following your instructions, success, the best sweet rolls ever! I would like to make the lemon sweet rolls but I am in the UK and cannot find red star platinum yeast. Is there an alternative I could use or could I just follow the instructions for the raspberry swirl dough but use the lemon filling? I know this would take 2 rises but I’m sure that it would be worth the effort as I love anything with lemon and your lovely pictures really do inspire!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on August 25th, 2014 at 8:35 am

      Hey Sarah! Truly, any instant yeast will work just fine. And, if you’d like, you may make the raspberry swirl dough with this filling.

      Reply

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