Lemon Sugar Rolls with Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing…the perfect brunch rolls for the spring and summer months ahead. Soft buttery dough swirled with sweet lemon sugar then generously topped with creamy vanilla cream cheese icing. There’s nothing not to love about these lemony rolls, every bite is melt in your mouth delicious. These rolls are a great make-ahead breakfast or a special brunch item for any upcoming occasions. Eat these warm…with plenty of that icing smeared on top – trust me.
Happy Good Friday guys! Whether you celebrate Easter or not, the holiday always gives me the feeling that spring has really arrived. After spending the last week in California, I am so ready for warmer days and sunshine. Of course, it’s not exactly eighty degrees (but it is sunny) back home in Colorado, but the quick trip has definitely inspired some fresh spring recipes.
And possibly a vacation to Florida. I’m really dreaming of that right now, which you all might have guessed from my recent stories about my Nonnie. She just always makes me think of Easter and vacations spent in Florida. I miss them so much!
Anyway, as I write this I am in the airport headed home (Wednesday night). But come Friday (when you see this) I’ll be home. I’m sure it will feel nice…even if it is cold. And we still have spring and Easter to think about this weekend, so that’s nice. And that kind of brings me to these sweet rolls.
More times than not, when it comes to breakfast recipes, I sway towards something with cinnamon-sugar. Usually something like cinnamon rolls or a Dutch baby, which we all know I love. But I’ve never created a sweet roll that didn’t have cinnamon…or chocolate.
However, I love using lemon as a key flavor in sweet recipes. So I thought these sweet lemon rolls would be perfect for this weekend!!
And while my Nonnie didn’t bake many sweet rolls, she loved brunch just as much as my mom and I. She would order a stack of waffles with maple on top or pancakes. Guess we know where I got my love of sweets from!!
Here are the details.
While these rolls seem a little fancy, I promise you they are the easiest to make. You can even make them the night before, so they’re great for entertaining!
To make the dough, simply mix flour with a bit of yeast, warm milk, and honey. You’ll want to let this mix proof until it’s foamy on top and smells like bread. And then the remaining ingredients go into the mixing bowl. I love to use a pinch of cardamom in the dough, which helps to highlight the lemony, vanilla flavors throughout the rolls.
While the rolls rise, mix up the filling. It’s simply granulated sugar and lemon…yes, lemon sugar! If you have any vanilla beans lying around, the vanilla beans mixed with the sugar will make these rolls just that much more delicious!
Once the dough has doubled in size, roll the dough out, spread with butter, then top with the lemon sugar. Roll the dough up into a log, cut it into rolls, and place them onto a baking dish. Now you can either let the rolls rest, get puffy, and then bake. Or you can keep the rolls in the fridge overnight to rise and bake in the morning. Either option works, it just depends when you’d like to enjoy your rolls.
While the rolls bake…
Mix up the cream cheese icing, which is reason enough to make these rolls. If you grew up eating classic cinnamon rolls, this icing is going to be your favorite. You’ll want to beat the cream cheese together with the powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla.
As the rolls bake, the kitchen will fill with the sweet lemony smells, it’s like spring, but in a very sweet way.
When you pull the rolls out of the oven, slather on that icing while they are still warm. The icing melts over the rolls and everything becomes the gooiest mess, which is exactly what you want!
The rolls kind of just melt in your mouth. The bread is soft and buttery, but the swirl of lemon sugar is the real special touch. And of course, the icing is just the finishing touch these rolls need to make them over the top delicious. Even little Asher, who is a hard-core cinnamon roll purist loves these! She said, “please make them on Sunday”!!
Looking for other spring brunch recipes? Here are some of my favorites:
Lastly, if you make these Lemon Sugar Rolls with Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Lemon Sugar Rolls with Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing
Servings: 12 rolls
Calories Per Serving: 470 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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- 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup warm whole milk
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 1/2 - 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted
- 2-3 tablespoons lemon zest
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons salted butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing
- 1. To make the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the milk, yeast, and honey. Let sit 5-10 minutes, until bubbly on top. Add 3 ½ cups flour, the cardamom, salt, eggs, melted butter, and 1 tablespoon lemon zest. Using the dough hook, mix until the flour is completely incorporated, about 4-5 minutes. If the dough seems sticky, add the remaining ½ cup of flour.2. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.3. To make the filling. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and the remaining 1-2 tablespoons lemon zest. Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with parchment. 4. Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Turn out the dough, punch it down, and roll it into a rectangle about 10 x 16 inches. Spread 6 tablespoons softened butter evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the lemon sugar evenly over the butter and lightly push into the butter. Starting with the long edge closest to you, carefully roll the dough into a log, keeping it fairly tight as you go. When you reach the edge, pinch along the edge to seal. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 12-16 rolls. Place the rolls in the prepared baking dish. Cover and let rise 20-30 minutes or transfer to the fridge to rise overnight (see notes).5. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.6. Meanwhile, make the icing. Beat together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until light and creamy.7. Spread the icing over the warm rolls. Serve warm and enjoy!
Overnight Rising: Cover the rolls and transfer to the fridge to rise overnight. In the morning, remove the rolls from the fridge and let come to room temp while the oven preheats. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. To Make Gluten Free: Use an equal amount of your favorite gluten free flour blend in place of the all-purpose flour. I recommend Cup4Cup gluten free flour.