Make Ahead

Mamma's Orange Refrigerator Rolls

April 23, 2010
2 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 36 rolls
Author Notes

My great-grandmother, known to everyone in the family as Mamma, lived a long, healthy life in Alabama and passed away in her sleep at 90-something when I was just finishing college. She had an open door policy to anyone who wanted to come 'sit for a spell', and was known for hosting lots of family holidays and reunions at her home. I fell in love with these soft little orange rolls with orange glaze she would serve with her brunches. They just melted in my mouth. At some point along the way, my mom got the recipe and passed it onto me. The dough is made the night before and refrigerated overnight. After rolling it the next day, the orange filling is spread on it, rolled up and then sliced into small rolls. Warning: these are incredibly addictive! —TheWimpyVegetarian

Test Kitchen Notes

My family and I absolutely loved these orange rolls! They were very easy to make, with only about 5 minutes of active time the first night, and maybe 10 minutes to get them rolled, filled and cut the next morning. I made a half recipe and got about 15 small (normal-sized) rolls, but I was working with some old yeast, so that may have been the culprit. They baked up beautifully, in the time specified. We ate them fresh from the oven, but the few that were left were still soft and delicious at room temperature a few hours later. I can highly recommend this recipe, and it will become my new go-to sweet roll recipe. - MaryMaryCulinary —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Refrigerator Rolls
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1/4 cup shortening (I recommend butter-flavored shortening for the best flavor)
  • 3 ounces sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 packages dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (about 105° F, but don't go warmer than 115° F)
  • 1 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • Orange Filling and Glaze
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
  1. Refrigerator Rolls
  2. Boil 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan. Remove from the stove and add the butter and shortening and stir until melted. Add the sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm.
  3. In a large bowl, put in the 1/2 cup of warm water and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir to dissolve. Add the butter / sugar mixture and eggs to the dissolved yeast. Add 3 cups flour or enough to make a thick dough and mix thoroughly. Cover and put in the refrigerator overnite.
  4. About 2 to 2 1/2 hours before serving the rolls, turn the dough out onto a floured workspace, divide in half and roll each portion into a 12- x 8-inch rectangle.
  5. Spread the orange filling (recipe below) on the dough, dividing the filling between the 2 rectangles. Roll up each rectangle like a jelly roll and slice into 18 equal slices.
  6. Place the rolls in cupcake paper in muffin pans (which helps to hold the glaze when served) or use 3 greased 8- or 9-inch square baking pans. Let rolls rise for 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Preheat your oven to 375° F. Bake the rolls for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
  8. Drizzle glaze over warm rolls and serve.
  9. Note: Reserve a few for yourself in case they get completely eaten up by everyone before you sit down.
  1. Orange Filling and Glaze
  2. Stir together the softened butter, granulated sugar, and orange zest. Spread on the rolled-out dough rectangles.
  3. Mix together the confectioners sugar and orange juice. Drizzle over warm rolls fresh from the oven.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Camille D Poe
    Camille D Poe
  • jlriddell
  • MaryMaryCulinary
  • Lizthechef
  • AntoniaJames

33 Reviews

cindy November 11, 2023
I will def try these for xmas morning. Is there a way to prepare them the night before and refrigerate them, bring them out in the morning to rise and stick in the oven? Thank YOU.
Lynnmariecook November 11, 2023
I prepared all the way to cutting and putting in the pan and THEN refrigerated them over night. next morning, let come to room temp and rise (about one hour total) and then bake. Worked beautifully and so delicious! I have made these many times with all butter.
They also freeze nicely.
cindy November 13, 2023
Thank you! Can you freeze them after the step of cutting and putting in the pan? Then defrost in the fridge overnight?
Lynnmariecook November 13, 2023
I don’t see why not. I have done that with cinnamon rolls successfully.
cindy December 23, 2023
One more question. If I prepare them in one sitting and put in the fridge overnight, due I need to let the dough rise after the flour is added and before I roll?
Lynnmariecook December 23, 2023
No, you don’t Have to let the dough rise before you roll them out. I like to let the dough rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before rolling out. when you remove the rolls from the refrigerator the next morning, allow around 90 minutes for them to rise before baking. Hope all goes well!
cindy December 23, 2023
Lynnmariecook - you are the best. Happy holidays. :)
cpc September 17, 2019
I'm confused by the directions. The ingredients list calls for 1/2 cup water, which is boiled in the first step and mixed with the butter, etc. The second step calls for 1/2 cup warm water which is sprinkled with yeast and then the butter/water mix is added. Is this just a typo and there should be 1 cup of water?
Lynnmariecook September 18, 2019
I have made these many times. It is not a typo. There is a total of one cup water, divided. Just follow the specific directions for each half cup and you are on your way to deliciousness!
Ann November 17, 2018
I made this today for my husband and myself. OMG! I had three pans and we ate two! Wow! Way to good!
I do have a question on the amount of flour in the recipe. I used considerably more flour than what was called
for. Has this happened to anyone else? Since first time making this not quit sure. Any help would be great.
Thank you!
Carol S. September 19, 2019
One possibility is the difference in the brand of flour used. A good example is using regional brand White Lily (soft winter wheat) instead of a typical national brand such as Gold Medal. Another possibility is the method used to measure those cups of flour as each of the 3 methods results in a different amount (especially weight) of flour.
Camille D. June 4, 2018
I don't buy shortening it alright to use all butter in place of the shortening ...and if I do need to use shortening is the type I can get at health food market okay ? thank you Camille
Lynnmariecook June 4, 2018
Yes, I used all butter and they are delicious.
Camille D. June 4, 2018
Thanks ! I stopped buying shortening 20 years ago these look so delicious Camille
cynthia W. April 6, 2018
The recipe says 1 eggs. Is this a misprint? How many eggs does it actually take? Thanks.
Lynnmariecook June 4, 2018
I used 1 egg. Delicious rolls!
jlriddell April 1, 2018
Do those freeze well? I want to make them for transport to an out of town brunch party.
Susan P. April 1, 2018
Honestly, I eat them too fast to know the answer. However, looking closely at it, I don't see any problem with freezing them. If you do this, I'd love to hear back how it worked for you!
Lynnmariecook June 4, 2018
Sorry this is too late to help you but You can freeze these after they are baked and Warm them in 325 until thawed and rewarmed a bit.
Lynnmariecook March 23, 2011
I have made twice and they are fabulous! Don't hesitate to try these. I used all butter, as I do not buy shortening. The second time I made them, I prepared all the way to cutting and putting in the pan and THEN refrigerated them over night. next morning, let come to room temp and rise (about one hour total) and then bake. Worked very well both ways!
TheWimpyVegetarian March 24, 2011
Thanks so much Lynnmariecook! I really appreciate the feedback. And the reminder of this recipe. We have family visiting us this week, and these will be the perfect thing to make tomorrow for Friday morning breakfast! I'm really glad you like my Mamma's recipe so much!
MaryMaryCulinary December 19, 2010
I'm so glad I got to test these--they were super easy, and absolutely delicious! This will be my go-to morning sweet roll recipe from now on.
TheWimpyVegetarian December 19, 2010
I'm so glad you like them! This is a big favorite among all of Mamma's great-grandchildren, and now we have the 4th generation making them! Happy Holidays!
Lizthechef December 8, 2010
HOW DID I MISS THIS? Are you the baby here? I promise you that I, the scared-of-yeast baker, will be making these over the December holidays in honor of your Mamma. Thumbs up...You know how this kind of family recipe delights me.
Lizthechef December 8, 2010
ps We finally had our big navel orange tree pruned last spring and it is loaded with fruit. Oh, I love this recipe already !
Lizthechef December 8, 2010
And I will post a photo, unless you have one in the works...
TheWimpyVegetarian December 8, 2010
Thanks so much Liz. Yes, this was taken on my first birthday. The photo was gifted to me on my birthday last year by a cousin who had found it when she was going through a lot of old pictures. So embarassing, but I cried when I saw the picture. Another cousin emailed me this week that she's planning to make these rolls for the holidays this year for her husband and kids, so this recipe is still floating around the family, which is so beautiful. Mamma's mind was perfectly clear until the day she died and she loved to talk about life when she was a young girl in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Amazing. And now I REALLY feel old....:-) I do not have a picture in the works, and would love one. How nice to be able to make them with oranges from your own tree!!! So jealous!! Maybe I'll make these for the holidays again. It's been years since I've made them now. Such sweet memories. Thanks so much for your comments :-)
flip April 23, 2010
Yum. I want some now!
TheWimpyVegetarian April 23, 2010
So do I!! Thanks.
AntoniaJames April 23, 2010
Just wondering about the butter . . . 1 stick is usually a half cup, isn't it? Recipe looks sooo good. I make sticky (cinnamon) buns with a similar dough; the boys pounce on them, just like testkitchenette's grandfather. ;o)
TheWimpyVegetarian April 23, 2010
OOOOPS! Yes you're right. I halved the recipe for the dough and forgot to change that little note. I'll go do it right now thanks to your legal eyes!
testkitchenette April 23, 2010
My grandmother (from Ohio) made yeast rolls very similar to these. What wonderful memories reading your recipe brings me! They were my grandfather's favorites...he couldn't even wait for them to cool down before prying one out of the hot pan.
TheWimpyVegetarian April 23, 2010
Thanks testkitchenette! I completely relate to your grandfather's habit regarding these!