These lemon rolls are lemon poppy seed cinnamon rolls! The dough is super soft and full of lemon and poppy seeds. It is filled with a butter/sugar/lemon filling with a lemon icing. The fresh lemon flavor and homemade rolls are the most refreshing way to start your day.
These lemon rolls are packed with lemon flavor because of the lemon juice and lemon zest in the dough and icing. These fluffy lemon rolls are even better than a regular cinnamon roll with the lemon and poppy seed flavor. I promise this is an amazing recipe and you will want these lemony rolls every day.
Why This Recipe Works
- Lemon flavor- These lemon rolls have a great lemon flavor from using both lemon juice and lemon zest in the dough and icing.
- Gooey cinnamon rolls- The best homemade cinnamon rolls are soft and gooey inside. These delicious lemon rolls deliver!
- Easy morning- This recipe has an overnight option so you can make your dough the night before and have fresh rolls the next day without all the hard work!
Here are some notes on the ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Unsalted butter- Pull the butter out 2 hours before using so it is softened.
- Milk- Use any milk and warm it to 110F. If too hot, it will kill the yeast. If too cool then it will dramatically slow the yeast down.
- Active dry yeast- I used 1 packet of yeast.
- Eggs- Pull the large eggs out 2 hours before baking. They also need to be lightly beaten before adding to the flour.
- Lemons- You can zest the fresh lemons and then juice them after for fresh lemon juice.
- Powdered sugar- Make sure this is sifted to get a smooth icing.
- Cream cheese- Pull this out 2 hours before baking to get to room temperature.
Step By Step Instructions -Dough and Filling
Here is how to make this lemon roll dough and lemon filling.
The dough is made with a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. If you don't have an electric mixer with dough hook see the making by hand instruction in the recipe notes.
STEP 1: Activate yeast. Heat the warm milk in the microwave for about 1 minute until it is 110°F. Sprinkle the yeast on top and set it aside for 10 minutes.
STEP 2: Knead butter. Sift the all purpose flour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar, salt and poppy seeds. Then, cut the butter into cubes and add them to the flour mixture. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to knead the butter and flour together until the butter clumps are the size of a pea.
STEP 3: Knead dough. Add the milk and yeast mixture, beaten eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Then, use the dough hook attachment and mix on low speed until a dough begins to form. Switch to medium speed and let it knead for 5 minutes.
STEP 4: First rise. Heat oven to 200°F. Meanwhile, spray a large bowl with nonstick spray and place the dough in. Cover it with a kitchen towel. When the preheated oven is ready turn it off and place the bowl in the oven with the door cracked open. Give it 1 hour rise time.
Tip: See the recipe notes for overnight instructions.
STEP 5: Beat butter. Use a small bowl and hand mixer to beat the butter for the filling until smooth.
STEP 6: Mix filling. Add the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and poppy seeds to the butter. Beat it until the filling is combined.
Step By Step Instructions - Assembly and Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
Here is how to assemble and bake the lemon rolls and lemon cream cheese frosting.
STEP 1: Roll dough. Roll the dough with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Create a rectangle ¼ inch thick.
STEP 2: Add filling and roll. Spread the filling over the dough with an offset spatula before rolling it into a tight log. Make sure to start rolling from the short side to get the most swirls.
STEP 3: Cut rolls. Slice the uneven ends off of the roll using a sharp serrated knife. Then, cut the log into 12 equal rolls using light sawing motions to avoid squishing it.
STEP 4: Second rise. Spray a 9X14 casserole pan or 9X13 baking pan with baking spray. Place the rolls in the pan and cover it with a towel. Let them rise for 20 minutes.
STEP 5: Bake. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Then, bake the rolls for 23-28 minutes. The tops should be lightly golden brown.
Start the icing before they finish baking.
STEP 6: Beat icing butter and cream cheese. Use a small bowl and hand mixer to beat the butter and cream cheese until it is smooth.
STEP 7: Mix icing. Add the powdered sugar and mix it in until smooth. Then, add the lemon zest, milk, and lemon juice and mix until smooth.
STEP 8: Frost rolls. When the rolls come out of the oven, immediately use a spoon to spread the icing over the hot rolls. It will melt into the warm rolls. The, top them with lemon zest and extra poppy seeds. Wait 5 minutes before serving.
Once you are done kneading the dough, place the dough in a large bowl sprayed with nonstick spray. Then, cover with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge overnight. It needs to chill for a max of 16 hours.
Then in the next morning, you can pull it out and roll up the cinnamon rolls. Then, let it rise for 1 hour instead of the 20 minutes.
The rolls rise best in a warm place. If your oven is busy, you can let the dough rise at room temperature as long as you don't have a cold house.
If you are eating just one, then reheat the rolls on a plate in the microwave for 20-30 seconds until warm. If you are reheating a whole tray, then preheat the oven to 350, and let it sit in the oven for 5 minutes or until hot.
Yes you can! Follow the instructions, but bake for only 10 minutes and chill. Then, you can bake the rest of the way (15-20 minutes) in the morning until hot.
Storing and Freezing
Store these lemon rolls in an airtight container in the fridge. Store up to 5 days. They are best when heated in the microwave until warm
These lemon rolls can be frozen in 2 ways.
- Freeze the rolled rolls. Freeze these up to 30 days. Let them thaw before baking. They won't rise as much, but will still work.
- Freeze the already baked rolls. Freeze these up to 30 days. Thaw for 1 hour before eating.
Other Cinnamon Roll Recipes To Try
- 1 cup Milk warmed to 110℉
- 2 ¼ teaspoon Active dry yeast 1 packet
- 2 Large eggs room temperature and lightly beaten
- 3 Large lemons zested
- 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
- 5 cups All-purpose flour
- ¼ cup White granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 ½ tablespoon Poppy Seeds
- 10 tablespoon Unsalted butter room temperature and cubed
- ½ cup Unsalted butter room temperature
- ¾ cup White granulated sugar
- 2 Lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon Poppy seeds
Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
- 4 tablespoon Unsalted butter room temperature
- 4 oz Cream cheese room temperature
- 1 cup Powdered sugar
- 1 Lemon zest
- 2 tablespoon Milk
- 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
- Lemon zest and poppy seeds for decoration
- This recipe uses a stand mixer with a dough hook, for making by hand instructions, see recipe notes. Heat the milk in the microwave until warmed to 110℉. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk. Let it sit for 10 minutes.1 cup Milk, 2 ¼ teaspoon Active dry yeast
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, salt, and poppy seeds. Add the cubed butter to the flour. Use a pastry kneader or your hands to knead the butter into the flour. The butter should be the size of a pea.5 cups All-purpose flour, ¼ cup White granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon Salt, 1 ½ tablespoon Poppy Seeds, 10 tablespoon Unsalted butter
- Add the milk/yeast, lightly beaten eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Mix on low speed until a dough starts to form. Switch to medium speed and knead for 5 minutes.2 Large eggs, 1 tablespoon Lemon juice, 3 Large lemons zested
- Preheat the oven to 200℉. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Place the dough into the bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and place in the oven. Turn off the oven and crack open the door and let it rise for 1 hour. For overnight instructions and see notes.
- In a small bowl using a hand mixer. Beat the butter until smooth. Add in the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and poppy seeds and beat until combined.½ cup Unsalted butter, ¾ cup White granulated sugar, 2 Lemon zest, 1 tablespoon Lemon juice, ½ tablespoon Poppy seeds
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a large rectangle. It should be ¼ inch thick.
- Spread the filling over the dough using an offset spatula. Roll the dough into a log starting on the short side.
- Use a serrated knife to cut off the uneven ends. Then, use lightly sawing motions to cut into even 12 rolls.
- Spray a 9X13 inch pan with baking nonstick spray. Place the 12 rolls into the pan. Cover with a towel and let rise for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375℉. Bake for 23-28 minutes until the rolls are lightly golden.
Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
- Start the icing before the rolls are done baking. In a small bowl using a hand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on high speed until smooth.4 tablespoon Unsalted butter, 4 oz Cream cheese
- Add in the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add in the lemon zest, milk, and lemon juice. Mix until smooth.1 cup Powdered sugar, 1 Lemon zest, 2 tablespoon Milk, 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
- Use a spoon and immediately spread the icing over the hot rolls. It will melt into the rolls. Top with lemon zest and more poppy seeds.Lemon zest and poppy seeds