This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Lemon Sweet Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing ~ a lightly sweet, soft yeast roll with a lemon infused dough, and a sweet lemon filling, topped with a lemony cream cheese icing. Weekend baking at it’s best!
I tend to be very mono-chromatic, especially in my clothing choices and home decor. No bold prints or frilly layers with stripes and dots. Lately I seem to be stuck on lemon yellow – but only in the kitchen! This is what happens when you buy too many lemons when all you needed was a few. Our local grocery store sells the pretty lemons in a package big enough to keep you busy for the whole week! Bulk citrus is always the better deal, so when you’ve got lemons … you make lemon everything!
I was thinking how nice it would be if I could share the aroma of these rolls with you, while they’re baking in the oven. Sort of like Smell-O-Vision! No seriously – it’s a real thing! Back in the day, they experimented with releasing odors into movie theaters so the viewers could smell what was happening. I just thought they piped in the smell of fresh made popcorn myself! I doubt we’ll be able to smell blog-food in our lifetime – but who knows.
I adore baking, and especially love working with yeast. It’s absolutely magical!
I’ve had these Lemon Sweet Rolls on my mind for a long time and finally pulled it together. What a treat! You may be surprised to know they’re not overly sweet. You could increase the sugar in the filling if you like, or add more sugar to the icing. Overall, they’re mildly sweet and perfect with a cup of tea.
The recipe makes 12 big fat rolls so be sure to have a few friends handy to help eat them up! The rolls can be baked in two 9-inch round or square pans, or a 13×9-inch pan as I did here.
Spread icing on the slightly warm rolls and you’ll be in lemon heaven! The fork in the picture is just for show. I love to unroll the spiral a little at a time, devouring it as I go. I’m kicking myself about now for giving away all the extras.
Don’t forget to PIN to your favorite baking board!
Lemon Sweet Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
For the sweet rolls:
- ½ cup whole milk
- Lemon peel from 1 lemon
- ¼ ounce package Active Dry Yeast
- ½ cup warm water (about 95℉ on an instant read thermometer)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- vegetable oil (for oiling the clean bowl)
For the lemon filling:
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- zest of 1 lemon
For the lemon cream cheese icing:
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- juice of 1 lemon (more or less as needed for desired consistency)
For the sweet rolls:
- Remove the peel from 1 lemon using a vegetable peeler (try not to get the bitter white pith under the peel.) Place the lemon peel and milk in a small saucepan. Heat the milk until it's a little steamy, but do not boil! Set aside to steep.
- In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Set aside for 15 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the sugar, ⅓ cup melted butter, salt and the egg. Strain the milk into the bowl removing and discarding the lemon peel. Blend the mixture by hand using a spoon or spatula until combined. Add two cups of the flour and turn the mixer on low. Blend until all the flour is incorporated. Add the yeast/water mixture and continue mixing until incorporated. Add 1 more cup of flour and continue to mix until blended. Finally, add the remaining ½ cup of flour to make a soft dough that's just a little sticky. Turn the mixer on medium-low and knead for 5 minutes or until you have a smooth dough. Add a tablespoon of flour if needed to help clean the sides of the bowl. Don't add too much flour or the rolls will be dry.
- Place the dough in a clean, well oiled bowl and turn to coat the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and move to a warm location free from drafts. (I use my microwave as a proofing oven with the task light on for warmth.) Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
- While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Combine ⅓ cup of softened butter, ⅓ cup of granulated sugar and the juice and zest from 1 lemon. Mix until well blended. Set aside.
- Grease or butter two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans or one 13x9-inch baking pan. Set aside.
- When the dough has doubled in size gently punch it down and turn out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a 15 by 10-inch rectangle. Spread the filling all over the dough leaving a ½-inch border on the 15-inch side. Roll the dough up beginning on the 15-inch side with filling. Roll the dough somewhat tight, tucking and rolling as you go. Lightly dampen the ½-inch edge with water using your finger. Pinch the seam to seal. Cut the roll in half, then each half in half again. Cut each one-forth section into 3 equal size rolls. Place the rolls cut side up in the prepared pan(s).
- Move the rolls to a warm location free from drafts and allow them to rise for 45 to 60 minutes or until doubled in size and puffy. Preheat oven to 350℉.
- Bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes or until nicely browned.
- Mix the icing ingredients together and spread on warm rolls. Serve immediately. Refrigerate leftover rolls.
- Rolls are best eaten the day they are made but will keep in the refrigerator for 1 or two days.
- Dough recipe adapted from Paula Dean
Here are a few more sweet roll recipes you might like!
- Apple Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Cider Glaze
- Cranberry Swirl Buns
- Cinnamon Sugar Sweet Rolls ~ from Seasons & Suppers
- Blueberry Sweet Rolls with Lemon Glaze ~ from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Check out a few of our favorite kitchen tools used for these sweet rolls: (Each photo is clickable for more information)
The small print: If you decide to purchase something at Amazon after following my affiliate link, I receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, which I use to pay for web hosting and services for this blog.
Thanks so much for stopping by!