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hot cross cinnamon rolls in a baking pan

Hot Cross Cinnamon Rolls

  • Author: Stephanie
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 rolls 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American


If you love hot cross buns and cinnamon rolls, get ready for this mashup to blow your mind. These sweet, swirly buns are flavored with orange, raisins and cranberries and topped with an orange-kissed icing for a breakfast or brunch treat that’s as perfect for Easter as it is for any other morning.



For the rolls:

  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, currants or more raisins

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

For the icing:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla, divided


  1. First, make the rolls: In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour, sugar, yeast, salt, allspice and nutmeg until well-combined. 
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat milk and melt 4 tablespoons butter until mixture is around 120°-130°F. Whisk eggs into hot milk mixture (be quick so the eggs do not start to cook), then pour mixture into bowl with flour mixture. 
  3. Using a spatula or paddle attachment in stand mixer, stir mixture on low speed until dough comes together. Add orange zest, raisins and cranberries; knead into dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, OR in stand mixer with dough hook attachment on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover dough on counter or in bowl with plastic wrap or a towel; let rest 10 minutes.
  4. Next, top with the filling: Turn rested dough onto a lightly floured surface; use a rolling pin to roll dough into a 20×14-inch rectangle. Use an offset spatula to spread 1/2 cup softened butter on top of dough, all the way to the edges; sprinkle evenly with brown sugar and cinnamon. Starting at the long side closest to you, tightly roll up dough into a log; pinch seam and place log on counter seam side-down. Use a serrated knife to gently saw dough into 12 equal rolls.
  5. Spray bottom and sides of a 13×9-inch baking pan with cooking spray; line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Arrange rolls spaced evenly apart in pan. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel; allow to rise at room temperature 1 hour.
  6. Heat oven to 350°F. Uncover rolls and bake on center rack of oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until tops of rolls are a deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the rolls reads at least 190°F (this is how you’ll know they’re baked through without being able to see the centers). Remove rolls from oven; set on a cooling rack.
  7. Finally, make the icing: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 cup orange juice and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Spread icing over tops of still-warm rolls. Allow rolls to cool completely. In the same small bowl, whisk together remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons orange juice and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Use a piping bag or a resealable plastic food-storage bag to pipe icing in cross shapes on top of fully-cooled rolls. Serve immediately.
  8. Rolls are best served the day they are made, but you can store leftover rolls covered tightly with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 days.


  • Recipe adapted from The Foodess.
  • If you don’t want to pipe crosses on top of the buns, feel free to leave them out or use the extra icing to spread on top of warm rolls.

Keywords: orange cinnamon rolls, hot cross bun dough, orange icing, cinnamon raisin dough, Easter brunch recipe