A wonderful alternative to cinnamon rolls, these sweet lemon sticky rolls are perfect for lemon lovers! A soft, pillowy roll is filled with a sweet yet tart filling and topped with the most amazing lemon cream cheese frosting. You’ll want to eat seconds and thirds!
My parents always taught me the importance of being a good neighbor. From early on, I always made a point to say hi to my neighbors and become friends with them. I’m proud to say that my neighbor from Delaware (whom I met when I was in 4th grade) still keeps in touch with me. He and his grown children live in Arizona, and we still send each other Christmas cards.
We moved to our current neighborhood almost 3 years ago and tried our best to be friendly with our neighbors. A few of them keep to themselves since they don’t have children around Addie’s age. Our newest neighbors moved in about a year ago, and they have two boys that are slightly older than our daughter. We’ve become friends with them, and I always try to share treats with their family.
During Mother’s Day weekend, I decided to make my own brunch. My husband was going to be traveling that day, so what better way to treat myself to a well-deserved meal? He and Addie played outside while I prepared these sticky rolls for my morning treat. I doubled the recipe and decide to gift some to my neighbor.
My neighbor had been attending lacrosse games all weekend and didn’t have the time to make breakfast on Mother’s Day because they were attending another lacrosse game. I gave her a batch of these sweet lemon rolls and a container of the lemon crease cheese frosting as her Mother’s Day present. She came over later that day to tell me how wonderful the rolls were. Her non-dessert eating husband even devoured a few rolls. She even told me that I’m slowly converting him to a dessert fan.
Addie and I scarfed down our rolls in record time. She and I both love cinnamon rolls, and these were reminiscent of those. I did find that the recipe for the filling made too much, so I recommend cutting that down. Also, I baked my rolls for only 20 minutes and they were already a bit too brown on top. So if you make these rolls, decrease the amount of filling and check on your oven about 15 minutes into baking so the rolls don’t burn.
These rolls are perfect for any motherly figure in your life – or for yourself!
Sweet lemon sticky rolls
- 3/4 cup warm milk about 100°F
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 lemon zested
- 4 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 lemon zested
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter very soft (I recommend cutting this down to 2 or 3 Tablespoons)
- 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup lemon juice from 2 lemons (I recommend cutting this down to the juice of 1 lemon)
Lemon cream cheese frosting
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
Make the dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the warm milk. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and allow it to rest for about 5-10 minutes or until it gets foamy. Add in the butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and 1 cup of the flour and mix on medium speed until everything is well incorporated and the dough is soft and sticky.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment and slowly add the remaining flour until you achieve a soft and pliable dough. It should be soft, stretchy but not sticky. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover (with a wet towel or plastic wrap). Allow to double in size, about 1 hour.
Make the filling
- While the dough is rising, add the sugar to the bowl of a clean stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl if using a handheld mixer). Add the lemon zest and gently rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips until all the zest is mixed in. You should get a fragrant lemon aroma. Add the butter, ginger and nutmeg and mix on medium speed until the butter is light and fluffy. Slowly drizzle in the lemon juice until the filling is creamy. Set aside.
Make the frosting
- In the bowl of a clean stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer), cream the lemon juice, zest and cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the powdered sugar until the frosting is smooth and creamy. If the frosting is too runny, add more powdered sugar. If it is too stiff, add more lemon juice or a bit of milk.
Assemble the rolls
- Generously grease or butter a 9"x13" pan and set aside. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a large (10"x15") rectangle.
- Add the filling to the middle of the dough and evenly spread it out. Leave about a 1" border around all sides. Starting on the longer end of the rectangle, roll it up, jelly-roll style, until you get a long cylinder. Make sure the roll is seam-side down.
- Cut the rolls into 12 even slices (a bench scraper is great for this) and place them into your prepared pan. At this point, you can refrigerate the rolls and bake them another day or bake immediately. If baking another day, allow the rolls to thaw for 30-60 minutes before baking.
- To bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the rolls turn a light golden brown. Mine baked for 20 minutes and were already brown, so check your rolls after 15 minutes.
- Allow the rolls to cool slightly before adding the frosting. If desired, top with additional lemon zest to serve.