These lemon sweet rolls are quite possibly the best treat you could have for breakfast or dessert. Bright lemony citrus flavor throughout these rolls and smothered with a delightful gooey lemon cream cheese icing!

lemon sweet rolls in white baking dish with striped linen on the side

Many of you already know just how much I love me some lemons. I don’t know what it is exactly but for as long as I can remember, I truly love the flavor. The tart, sweet, make-you-pucker signature flavor that is the lemon, yasss. And it’s not even just lemon flavored food that I’m obsessed with, it can be anything, ha!

The other day I bought some lemon drop room spray from Home Goods (anyone else love this store?!) and it brought me so much joy. To me, lemon things have such a vibrant, fresh, and almost therapeutic smell. I’ve made tons of lemon cakes and savory eats but these lemon sweet rolls…Y’ALL! We’re gonna discuss.

black hand holding lemon sweet roll on small white plate

What Are Lemon Sweet Rolls?

So, lemon sweet rolls are pretty much *almost* identical to their cousin, the regular cinnamon roll. Although, there is no cinnamon or any other commonly found spices in these lemon rolls. I like to say: imagine a cinnamon roll running through a bunch of lemon trees…out comes these lemony rolls hehe!

Lemon Sweet Rolls Ingredients

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)

  • active-dry yeast
  • granulated sugar
  • whole milk
  • eggs
  • butter
  • vanilla extract
  • all-purpose flour
  • lemon zest
  • cream cheese
  • powdered sugar

These lemon sweet rolls are so tender, super fluffy, and have all the lemon flavor you could imagine! However, the lemon taste is not overwhelming at all. Enjoy these rolls for breakfast, at brunch, as a snack, or for dessert…anytime of day, these rolls are what you want. They’re the perfect ray of delicious sunshine.

lemon sweet rolls in white baking dish with a bite taken out of one roll

How To Make These Lemon Sweet Rolls

Making homemade rolls can be a little intimidating but I promise you, they’re easy to make! 💛

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer: combine yeast, warm milk, and sugar.
  2. Allow mixture to sit for a few minutes for yeast to activate.
  3. Add in eggs, melted butter, vanilla, lemon zest, and flour/salt.
  4. Then knead together until dough begins to form.
  5. Let dough rise in a warm environment until it doubles in size.
  6. Transfer dough out onto a floured surface and begin to roll out dough.
  7. Spread softened butter, sugar/salt, and lemon zest onto dough.
  8. Roll dough, cut into rolls, place them into a large baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Transfer to refrigerator (overnight) or let dough rise for a second time to bake rolls on the same-day.
  9. While lemon sweet rolls bake, make lemon cream cheese icing.

How To Make Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

Use a stand mixer/handheld electric mixer to combine cream cheese and softened butter. Next, add in powdered sugar and whole milk. Then add lemon zest. This lemon cream cheese icing is the perfect companion for these lemon rolls. Y’all, this icing is subtly sweet + nice and tangy thanks to the cream cheese flavor. With pops of gorgeous lemon zest thrown in there. Be sure to spread icing over rolls as soon as they come out. It melts beautifully onto the warm rolls and gets all into the nooks and crannies!

one lemon sweet roll on small white plate with lemon slices on the side

Do I Need A Stand Mixer?

So, the only reason I’d recommend a stand mixer is because the dough easily comes together with a dough hook attachment on the mixer for kneading. However, you could knead the dough together by hand if you do not have a stand mixer. This process just requires a little extra work on your part but still works!

Can I Use Instant Yeast?

Yes! Instant yeast aka rapid rise or highly active yeast, cuts down the amount of time that you need your dough to rise. Therefore, if using instant yeast, you only need for your dough to rise just once. Which means after you roll and cut the rolls, you could skip the second rise and just move directly to baking them.

Other Recipes You Might Enjoy

iced lemon sweet rolls with lemon slice on top

These lemon sweet rolls are so good, peeps. Seriously hoping you love ’em as much as me! ☺️

REMEMBER TO LEAVE A ⭐️STAR RATING⭐️AND TAG ME ON THE ‘GRAM IF YOU MAKE ANY OF MY RECIPES! I ALWAYS LOVE TO SEE IT WHEN YOU DO!

UNTIL NEXT TIME…LOVE AND BUTTER,

Q.

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black hand holding lemon sweet roll on small white plate

Lemon Sweet Rolls (The Best!)

  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 30m
  • Cook Time: 30m
  • Total Time: 1 hr
  • Yield: 812 rolls 1x
  • Category: Breakfast, Appetizers & Snacks
  • Method: Baking, Overnight
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These lemon sweet rolls are the best treat you could have for breakfast or dessert. Bright lemony citrus flavor throughout these rolls and smothered with a delightful gooey lemon cream cheese icing!


Ingredients

Scale

Yeast Dough

  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active-dry yeast
  • 1 cup whole milk, lightly warmed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of an entire lemon, about 1 tablespoon 
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • zest of an entire lemon, about 1 tablespoon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

  • 4 ounces cream cheese (brick-style), softened to room temperature 
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • zest of an entire lemon, about 1 tablespoon 

Instructions

Lemon Sweet Rolls:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer: add yeast, milk, and sugar. Let sit for 5-7 minutes to activate. Mixture will be bubbly and somewhat fragrant. Then add in eggs, butter, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Attach dough hook attachment to mixer and add in flour and salt.
  2. Knead/mix on medium-low speed until dough begins to come together. Add in more flour, a tablespoon at a time, only if needed to make sure dough does not stick to bowl. Knead dough until smooth but still soft, about 6-7 minutes. Alternatively, knead dough by hand if not using a stand mixer. 
  3. Shape the dough into a ball. Then butter (or use baking spray) a large bowl. Add the dough into bowl and turn to coat dough. Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
  4. Once dough has risen, punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out into a rectangle (about 14×9 inches) with the longer side facing you. Use a little extra flour if dough is sticking. Filling: spread the butter over the dough and then sprinkle sugar, lemon zest, and salt evenly over the dough leaving a 1 inch border at the top and bottom. 
  5. Roll up the dough into a log starting with the longest side furthest from you. Granulated sugar is loose so some may spill out, it’s okay. Just gather as much of it as you can back into the rolls. Pinch seams of dough to seal. Cut the log crosswise into 8 equal slices using a sharp knife.
  6. Butter/spray a 9×13 inch baking pan. Arrange the slices with the cut side up in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator overnight, 8-12 hours. Alternatively, to make rolls on the same-day, allow rolls to rise again in a warm environment for another 1-2 hours until puffy and then bake.
  7. Remove from refrigerator and let rolls sit out to reach room temperature for 1 – 2 hours, until puffy, before baking. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the plastic wrap and bake rolls until lightly golden brown, about 30 minutes. While lemon sweet rolls bake, prepare icing.
  8. Once rolls are done, immediately spread icing over rolls and serve. Enjoy!

Lemon Cream Cheese Icing:

  1. Beat butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add powdered sugar and slowly add in milk and then lemon zest. Mix until everything is fully incorporated.

Notes

1. For dough: place milk into a microwave-safe dish and warm milk in microwave for 1 minute.

2. This recipe can make more than 8 rolls if the rolls are cut smaller.

Keywords: breakfast, brunch, lemon, rolls