Lemon Sweet Rolls

Lemon Sweet Rolls - single roll separated overhead

May 10, 2024

Mother’s Day in the U.S. is this Sunday, May 12th and these sweet rolls will be a perfect addition to your celebratory breakfast or brunch table. These rolls contain a lovely lemony swirl filling and are topped with a creamy, lightly lemon-scented cream cheese frosting. Served warm, they are sure to be a big hit.

Lemon Sweet Rolls - single roll with blueberries

Sweet roll elements

These lemon sweet rolls are made with the same dough as our cinnamon rolls – a dough that’s easy to work with and only requires one rise.

The filling starts with a layer of a softened butter. It is topped with a mixture of sugar, lemon zest, and a little lemon juice – basically a sparkling lemon sand that is sprinkled over the butter.

The crowning feature of these rolls is a cream cheese frosting that drapes the warm rolls in lemon-scented goodness.

Lemon Sweet Rolls - single roll separated

Serving and storage

These rolls are best served warm so plan accordingly if you’re making them for breakfast. Leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator and warmed in the microwave for 15-20 seconds (not too long or the frosting will melt and run off).

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Lemon Sweet Rolls - single roll separated

Lemon Sweet Rolls

  • Author: She’s Almost Always Hungry
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 18 1x


These sweet rolls are filled with a bright, lemony filling and topped with a lemon-scented cream cheese frosting. They are perfect for breakfast or brunch or even for your morning coffee break.



For the dough

3½ cups to 4½ cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 packages active dry yeast

1 cup milk

½ cup water

¼ cup butter

For the filling

Zest from 2 lemons plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice

¾ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup unsalted butter, softened

For the frosting

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon lemon juice (juice of ½ lemon)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt


To make the dough

Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray then line with parchment paper, allowing a 1-2” overhang to allow for easy removal of the rolls from the pan. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine 1½ cups flour, sugar, salt, and dry yeast.

Combine the milk, water, and butter and heat until very warm, about 120˚ F. (I put everything into a Pyrex measuring cup and heat the mixture slowly in the microwave.)

Gradually add the warm liquid to the dry ingredients. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally.

Add ½ cup flour and beat on high speed for 2 minutes.

Add in additional flour, ½ cup at a time, until a soft dough is formed. You may not need all the flour or you may need a little more. Add enough so the dough isn’t wet and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl and turn dough to grease top. Cover and place in a warm place to rise for 15 minutes. (I warm the oven to about 150˚ F and let the dough rise in the oven.)

To make the filling

While the dough is rising, combine the lemon zest and juice in a medium bowl. Add the granulated sugar. Use your hands to rub the zest into the sugar and lemon juice. Mixture should be crumbly, not wet enough for the sugar to dissolve.

To assemble

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. After the 15-minute rise, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Roll out to a 10″ x 18″ rectangle.

Spread the dough with the softened butter then sprinkle evenly with the lemon-sugar mixture.

Roll the dough lengthwise like a jelly roll. Pinch the seam together.

With the seam side down, cut into 18-1″ slices. Place the rolls, cut side up in the pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

To make the frosting

While the rolls bake, make the frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese with the paddle attachment in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy and smooth. Add the lemon juice and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar and salt and beat until combined.*

While the rolls are still warm (not hot), spread the tops with the frosting. Serve warm.


*You can sift the powdered sugar to avoid lumps but I just whip the frosting until everything is dissolved and well-incorporated.

  • Prep Time: 50 minutes
  • Inactive Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Breads, Breakfast
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1 roll
  • Calories: 278.55
  • Sugar: 17.91 g.
  • Sodium: 209.23 mg.
  • Fat: 13.18 g.
  • Saturated Fat: 8.05 g.
  • Carbohydrates: 37.09 g.
  • Fiber: 0.88 g.
  • Protein: 3.77 g.
  • Cholesterol: 35.11 mg.

Keywords: lemon, cream cheese

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