Zesty Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Out of all the breakfast foods, I think we can agree that cinnamon rolls are the most exciting. They’re one of the few things that can actually get people out of bed at 7AM, they make the house smell all sorts of delicious, and they’re filled with sugar then smothered in even more sugar. Super exciting stuff, folks.

However, there’s no denying that – start to finish – cinnamon rolls require a bit of time and that can seem pretty overwhelming for some people. The good news is that most of that time is spent waiting. Waiting for the yeast to proof, for the dough to double, for the rolls to rise, etc. And while you’re waiting you can do things like clean the kitchen, organize your storage closet, or relax on the couch with a good book and an oversized mug of coffee by your side.

I won’t judge you if you do the latter. Because you and I both know you deserve it for making cinnamon rolls.

These cinnamon rolls are a bit different than your run-of-the-mill sweet breakfast roll. I added orange zest to the dough and then I went and topped them with orange spiked icing that pairs perfectly with the sweet cinnamon filling. However, if you’re not into the idea of orange-flavored cinnamon rolls, simply omit the orange zest (from the dough) and replace the orange juice with non-dairy milk as well as the orange extract with vanilla extract (in the icing). If you don’t have coconut oil on hand, you can replace it with your favorite neutral flavored oil – canola, sunflower, etc. And considering we’re coming up on Easter, you should strongly consider adding these zesty rolls to your breakfast or brunch spread. They’d make a perfect addition, don’t you think?

Zesty Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 8-9 rolls


  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water, between 105-108˚F
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • Zest of one large orange (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons orange extract (optional)
  • 1/4 cup refined coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk, warm
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3- 3 1/4 cups unbleached flour


  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl; set aside. Add the water to a small bowl and lightly stir in the yeast; add a pinch of sugar and set aside until foamy (15-20 minutes). In a small mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, orange zest, orange extract (if using), oil, and non-dairy milk; set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, mix the salt and 3 cups of the flour until combined. Add the sugar and yeast mixtures then mix on medium-high speed until the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough isn’t pulling away, add up to 1/4 cup of flour (1 tablespoon at a time) until the dough is no longer sticking to the bowl. Continue to mix dough for 4-5 minutes, on medium-high speed, then transfer to prepared mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm area of your house for 1-2 hours. If the dough doesn’t rise much during this time, don’t worry.

Lightly oil a 9″ round or square baking pan; set aside. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough out into a 10X18 rectangle. Spread evenly with butter then cover with brown sugar and cinnamon. Starting at the long end, tightly (seriously, tightly) roll the dough into a log, then cut it into 8 or 9 even pieces (8 for a round pan and 9 for a square pan). Transfer the rolls to the prepared pan, leaving even spaces in between. Cover pan with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in size. Bake at 375˚F for 16-18 minutes. Allow to cool in pan.

While the rolls are cooling, prepare the icing by stirring together the sugar, orange juice, and orange extract. Spread over cooled cinnamon rolls and serve. You can store the cinnamon rolls in an air-tight container for up to two days.

Photo credit: Ashlae Warner