I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve made cinnamon rolls (Or orange cinnamon rolls, in this case) in an attempt to curb a craving, only to be kind of let down. Homemade rolls never seem to have the soft pull-apart feel like their canned counterparts. Sure, we could go and just live our lives making cinnamon rolls from refrigerated tubes, but that’s not how we do things around here. So, in an attempt to create the ultimate from scratch, cinnamon roll, I got to work.

Like with all baked things, cinnamon rolls are no exemption when it comes to how gluten can interfere with texture and tenderness. It’s always a delicate dance between enough gluten for that little bit of chew and pull, and too much, making your baked goods turn tough. There is a very easy solution to this and it will probably surprise you. Potato. Yes, just a plain russet potato, peeled, boil, and mashed. The first thing that happens when you add potato to the dough, is the yeast can more easily bind to the potassium and it accelerates the rise. In the colder months of the year, my yeasted treats can use all the help they can get. A good rise is so important, especially when making cinnamon rolls. The next gift the potato offers is the slowing of gluten from forming. This leaves the final result more tender and hydrated. Alright, I’ll stop going on about the science behind it, but seriously, when you give this a try, you’re going to see a big difference.

I love the traditional cinnamon roll, but we would be missing out not to take advantage of citrus season! With the addition of orange, these rolls get a fresh and bright floral note that blends well with the cinnamon. The orange zest frosting wraps it all up quite nicely, and lt makes for a fun twist on a classic. If you have the time, start these rolls the night before, and let them have that 8-12 hour nap in the fridge. We are all better with a little rest, and if you simply cant wait, no worries. They will still be delicious.

Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Print Recipe
Course Breakfast
Keyword Brunch, Cinnamon rolls, Orange cinnamon rolls
Servings 12


  • Stand mixer
  • Hand mixer
  • 9×13 baking dish


Orange Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • 1 medium orange zested
  • 1 medium potato peeled and cubed
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (one standard package, 1/4 oz.)
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Orange Zest Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 Medium orange zested and juiced
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese softened
  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  • Butter a large glass bowl and set it aside.
  • Boil potato cubes until fork tender. Drain and mash until completely smooth. You can use a food mill or a ricer for this; however, a fork will work just fine. Set aside the mashed potatoes to cool slightly.
  • Warm the milk until just slightly, not too hot, or the yeast will be killed. 80-90 degrees.
  • Combine the milk, egg, yeast, sugar, zest, potato, and 3 1/2 cups of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, combine ingredients until a shaggy dough forms. if the dough seems too loose and wet, add the remaining 1/2 cup flour. Add hook attachment and knead in the mixer until smooth dough forms, about 15 minutes. Scraping down a few times to ensure now dry spots.
  • Transfer dough to the buttered bowl and let sit until it has doubled in size. I like to place the bowl in the oven with the oven light on. This helps the yeast, especially in the winter months. this should take about 1 1/2 hours.
  • While the dough is rising, butter a 9×13 in baking dish. I prefer to line mine with parchment for easy removal and clean up.


  • In a medium-size bowl combine butter, brown sugar, salt, orange zest, and cinnamon until smooth.
  • Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, about 18X12. Spread the filling on top of the dough. Starting with the long side facing you, roll the dough up, forming a log. Using a serrated knife, cut the log into 1 1/2 pieces.
  • Place the pieces into the prepared baking dish. At this point, you can refrigerate the rolls overnight (8-12 Hours) or allow them to rise again, until puffy to the touch. About an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the rolls for about 35 minutes.

Orange Zest cream cheese Frosting

  • While the rolls are cooking, combine the cream cheese, orange zest, vanilla, orange juice, salt, and powdered sugar, in a medium-sized bowl, and with a hand mixer, combine until smooth.
  • Once the rolls have completed baking and are evenly browned, allow them to cool for about 15 minutes.
  • Frost the rolls and serve immediately.

As always, If you give this a go leave a comment about how this turned out for you. If you post pictures on Instagram, make sure to tag me, I love to see your creations!

2 thoughts on “Orange Cinnamon Rolls with a Secret

  1. If you refrigerate overnight, do you take them out and bake right away or do you let them sit at room temperature for a while?

    1. Hey Cat, You want to let them sit out at room temperature and double in size before baking them off. Thank you for pointing this out! It looks like the instructions could use a wee bit of clarification!

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