Lemon Cinnamon Rolls
Adding fresh lemon to homemade cinnamon rolls is a great way to infuse a cozy classic with a little sunshine— perfect for transitioning to spring!
I have had such a hankering for warm gooey cinnamon rolls the last week or so. But with the return of warmer weather, blossoming trees and the official start of spring right around the corner, I’m also ready to move on from my go-to comforts of fall and winter. I want bright!, happy! flavors.
So what’s a gal to do?
Lemon to the rescue!
I took my standard cinnamon roll recipe and added a heavy dose of lemon zest to the filling and smothered the baked rolls in a sweet lemon icing. And in case you aren’t aware— lemon + cinnamon is a match made in heaven. These rolls are perfect for chilly spring mornings when you’re craving something cozy.
Want to prep your rolls the night before? No problem! Simply place the sliced rolls a baking pan and cover with plastic wrap, and let them do their final rise in the fridge overnight. The next morning, let them come to room temperature while your oven preheats, and then bake.
baking tip:The best way to slice cinnamon rolls
While you can certainly use a knife to slice a log of cinnamon roll dough into individual rolls, I find that it can result in squashed and lopsided rolls if your knife isn’t quite sharp enough.
My favorite way to slice cinnamon rolls is with unscented dental floss or clean thread. Measure out about 12-15 inches, slide it under your dough so that it’s centered, wrap it around the top and pull tight in one quick motion. The floss/thread should cut cleanly and easily right through the dough. Repeat at even intervals.
Lemon Cinnamon Rolls
For the dough:
- ¼ cup unsalted butter (60 grams)
- ¼ cup honey (85 grams)
- ⅔ cup whole milk (160 ml)
- 3-3 ½ all-purpose flour (360-420 grams)
- 1 packet active-dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoon, 7 grams)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
For the filling:
- ¼ cup unsalted butter , melted (60 grams)
- ⅓ cup packed light or dark brown sugar (70 grams)
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
For the glaze:
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar , sifted (340 grams)
- 2-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Zest of 1 lemon
To make cinnamon rolls:
- In a small saucepan set over medium low heat, warm the butter, honey and milk until butter is melted. Do not boil. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes, or until the temperature is between 120-130°F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine 1 ½ cups of the flour with the yeast and salt. Add the milk mixture and mix until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each. With the mixer on low, add the remaining flour ¼ cup at a time until dough clears the side of the bowl but is still slightly sticky to the touch. You may not need all 3 ½ cups of flour.
- Continue to knead the dough in the mixer until it is smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Gently punch down dough and knead a few times. Cover it with the plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prep the filling ingredients.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a long rectangle approximately 10x15 inches. Drizzle with the melted butter and sprinkle with the brown sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon. Starting with a long end, tightly roll up the dough into a long log. Use a sharp knife or unscented dental floss or thread to cut dough into 12 rolls.
- Place rolls in a greased 9x13-inch pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F.
- Bake lemon cinnamon rolls until golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly, then drizzle with glaze.
To make glaze:
- Whisk together the sifted powdered sugar with enough lemon juice to make a thick but pourable glaze. Stir in lemon zest.
15 Comments on “Lemon Cinnamon Rolls”
Lemon is my absolute favorite when it comes to baked goods. I tend to add it to everything and anything, I just love its bright flavor! But I have to admit I had never thought of lemon cinnamon rolls before. Lemon + cinnamon sounds new to me but I’m pretty curious to see how it turns out. Plus, when lemon’s involved, it simply can’t go wrong, right?!
love this fresh take on cinnamon rolls! these look lovely!
Okay, you’ve got me with this one. You know how people always say they’re making your recipe this weekend? Well, this one is happening!
I’ve too had a hankering for cinnamon rolls and I’ve actually never made them. I, like Heidi, am definitely making this soon. Love the combo, Annalise!
Lemon makes anything better in my book!! And your dental floss tip – making a mental note of that for next time. Thanks!!
Lemons always make me think spring, and I’m so happy that the snow is melting and the sun is shining. Lovely twist on tradition!
I was so not aware that lemon and cinnamon work well together! But now that I am, I am definitely actioning these rolls soon. They look so bright and flavorful!
Lemon and cinnamon, a wonderful combination I hadn’t thought of before!:)
Your tip on using dental floss is genius!! I always end up with squashed cinnamon rolls and then I fret and stress about how to photograph them! Thank you!! And this lemon version looks just perfect for spring, so fresh!
can’t wait to give this a try 🙂
I will try this recipe with lemon.
What gorgeous cinnamon rolls and what a great way to get some bright, happy flavors in the mix by adding all the lemon! This absolutely looks like a springtime favorite, and since I’ve been craving cinnamon rolls, I have no doubt this’ll make an appearance on our table sometime soon!
I haven’t worked much with yeast doughs before, and now I fear I’ve ruined my dough. I was confused as to whether I’m supposed to activate the yeast with warm water first, or rather let the warm milk mixture activate it once they are combined in the mixer. My dough isn’t rising. 🙁
The yeast is activated by the warm milk mixture as it’s all combined in the mixer. For this reason the milk mixture needs to be a little warmer than if you were activating the yeast in warm water – 120-130 degrees F instead of 110-120 degrees F. I always use a thermometer to make sure I have the right temp. It’s possible your milk wasn’t warm enough. Also, check to make sure your yeast is still good. And if your house is on the cold side, it could just be that your dough needs more time to rise. Without being with you in your kitchen it’s hard to know what went wrong, sorry! I hope this helps some. 🙂
Love it! A simple lemon twist to a old favorite. I have made it a few times now