The Christmas holiday is rapidly approaching.  Are you ready?  I’m honestly a bit nervous about how our first Christmas without Dad will be.  I know it’s going to be hard, but it will be good to be with family so we can all support each other and lean on each other.  We’re hosting at our house, and planning on keeping things very low maintenance.  That’s how it has always been in our family anyway.  This has never been a big food holiday for us.  We’re too busy enjoying the giving and receiving of gifts and just spending a lazy day with each other.  Food has always been more of an afterthought.

If you’re having guests in your home for a holiday breakfast or brunch, these cranberry orange cinnamon rolls would be an ideal option.  The rolls are made and assembled in advance and then refrigerated until you are ready to bake them.  The cranberry and orange flavors with a hint of spice are just right for the holiday season.  I love the way the tart cranberries contrast with the sweet cinnamon-sugar mixture, and the orange provides a bright accent.  I used a simple orange flavored glaze, though I think a spiced glaze like the one from these pumpkin scones would also be wonderful.  If you are a fan of more of the browned crust portion of the cinnamon roll you can proof and bake them on a baking sheet – the rolls will spread out a bit more than rise up, leaving more surface area exposed to the oven.  If you’re more fond of the soft pull-apart seams, try proofing and baking in a dish like a 9 x 13 or something similar so they have nowhere to go but up.

Today’s holiday giveaway is an awesome gift set from Grafton Village Cheese Co.  Visit the giveaway page to learn more and enter!


For the dough:
6½ tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
5½ tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. orange zest
3½ cups bread flour
2 tsp. instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 cup plus 2-4 tbsp. whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature

For the filling:
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
Dash of grated nutmeg
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

For the glaze:
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
6-7 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. orange zest


  • 01

    In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the sugar, salt and butter on medium-high speed until smooth.  Mix in the egg and orange zest until incorporated.  Mix in the flour, yeast and milk until a dough forms.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed, about 8 minutes until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky.  (You may need to add a little extra flour or liquid to achieve this texture.)  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

  • 02

    Mist a work surface with spray oil.  Roll it out into a rectangle with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the dough with flour if needed to keep itf from sticking (about 12 x 14 inches for larger rolls or 9 x 18 inches for smaller rolls).  Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and spices in a small bowl and mix to blend.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the surface of the dough.  Sprinkle the berries over the top evenly of the dough.  Starting with the wide edge, roll up the dough into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon sugar spiral as you roll.  Pinch the seam shut, and with the seam side down, slice the log into your desired number of rolls.  Transfer them to a baking sheet or baking dish lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, placing the rolls about ½-1 inch apart.

  • 03

    Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 75-90 minutes, until the rolls have grown into each other and have nearly doubled in size.  At this point, the rolls can also be covered and retarded in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.  Pull the pan out of the refrigerator 3-4 hours before baking to let the dough proof.

  • 04

    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool in the baking pan or dish about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.  Whisk together the glaze ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth and then drizzle over the top of the cinnamon rolls.  Let cool at least 15-20 minutes before serving.


  • These look amazing! I’m thinking of hosting a Christmas event just to make them.

  • Not only do these sound delicious but they look stunning!

  • Susan in England

    Those look fantastic! I hope you Christmas goes well- the ‘firsts’ after someone dies are always the hardest. Best wishes xx

  • Oh honey – you know he’ll be with you guys! These look delish.

  • Aimee

    These look amazing! I cannot wait to make them.
    I cannot imagine how difficult this holiday will be for your famil y but I will be keeping you all in my thoughts.

  • Mellyb10

    The first Christmas without my mom was hard, but we all shared our memories and Christmas stories. We also have a special ornament for her. I’ll think peaceful thoughts for you on Sunday.

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    This is such a delicious sounding combination! Love it!

  • Appleandspice

    Oh yum these look amazing, especially with those bursting fresh cranberries.

  • Beth

    And now I think I need to have a New Year’s brunch to make these for… YUM!

  • debbie c.

    Annie, you are probably anticipating this question…but can I use all-purpose flour? These look so good and I’d love to make them with what I have, if possible…

  • Carolyn Ciesla

    First time commenter, long time reader here. This is my first Christmas without my dad too (he passed about 4 days before yours) and to say I’m nervous is a HUGE understatement. But we’ll make it through, one foot in front of the other.

    (I tried sending you a message through your contact form but I’m afraid it never went through. But I wanted to let you know that at least one other person out here in the ether is going through the exact same thing.)

  • Carolyn Ciesla

    Ok! Comment attempt take 2! (apologies if this shows up twice)

    First time commenter, long time reader. This is my first Christmas without my dad too (he passed 4, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. But we’ll make it through, one foot in front of the other.

    [I tried to send you a message a few days ago via the form but I think it didn’t go through. I just wanted to let you know that there’s at least one other person out in the ether going through the same thing and sending you virtual hugs.]

  • beckiswholelife

    These look delish – I love the combo of oranges and cranberry…on a cinnamon roll even better. I am definitely a soft seams person, too.

    Enjoy the holidays. I was in your shoes 10 years ago exactly and the best way to get through is just by enjoying your family…that is what he would want.

  • Anonymous

    Please see the FAQ page.

  • Kelsey

    These look gorgeous and so delicious, Annie. I think they’d be perfect for nibbling with some coffee or mimosas after the joy of watching your kiddos open presents.

  • These look beautiful and seasonal! Best wishes to you and your family this Christmas.

  • How timely! I am planning cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast. The cranberries add a festive touch. What a sweet addition. Thanks!

  • Can someone tell me how to modify the directions if you don’t have an electric mixer? I have a hand-held, and I’m wondering how to go about working or kneading the dough….

  • Ashlea Taylor

    These look amazing! What a perfect breakfast for Christmas morning… going to have to go grocery shopping…

  • jabmorris

    These look so delicious!

  • Lisa

    I will definitely be making these for Christmas! One thing I wanted to point out, I was reading through your directions and it says they can be “covered and retarded” for 2 days. I’m thinking you meant covered and stored?

  • These look awesome – I love cranberry and orange together. Also, I have those votive holders – C&B? :-)

  • These look absolutely gorgeous– I love the colors, the styling, and the presentation as always! With the orange juice, this cinnamon roll looks like the perfect breakfast to me!

  • Anonymous

    No, I mean what it says. “Retarded” is a term used in reference to yeast doughs, which means to slow the rise.

  • Oh yum! These sound fabulous! I just love cinnamon rolls!! Or should I say cranberry orange cinnamon rolls. The combination of orange and cranberry are my favorite!

  • I just wanted to say my thoughts are with you and your family this holiday season. My mom just died this past Friday. She was always the guiding hand with the holidays so it will be hard without her. I hope you find joy, peace and solace with your family.

  • Russianmomcooks

    They look delicious!

  • Chantelle Falk

    I am having great difficulties printing the recipes. The print friendly link just gives me blank pages (though the preview shows the recipe fine) plus if I just try to print from this blog posting, it doesn’t work either. Any suggestions? I really want to make this recipe but not if I have to write it all out first. :)

  • These are so pretty. Sounds so good too with the orange and cranberries. Love that they can be made ahead of time.

  • subgirl

    huh. the ingredients didn’t show up in the email version, but they’re here.

  • Anonymous

    Amy, I am so, so sorry to hear that. You’ll be in my thoughts as well.

  • Thia

    These look soooo good. I can’t wait to try them. And I don’t know how I missed the pumpkin scones post. They’re difinitely going at the top of my to-make list.

  • Anonymous

    It’s likely an issue with your particular browser. What web browser are you using?

  • Danielle

    These ended up great; although the dough never really seemed to rise. Everyone loved them and the cran-orange combo? Delish!

  • Danielle

    I used A-P flour…they didn’t seem to rise like they should but they tasted great!

  • Anonymous

    The type of flour shouldn’t affect the rise. It was likely an issue with your yeast (too warm, too cool, or just needed to let it rise longer). Glad they still tasted good!

  • sweetsugarbelle

    Just have to say…stunning photos!

  • Jnbee

    I love your blog! But, can I ask, what has happened to the “printer friendly” recipes?

  • Anonymous

    They are still print friendly, it’s simply a separate button at the bottom of the post.

  • Made these last year and they were a HUGE hit with my family. Had to pop over and confirm what I needed to make them again this year. :) Hope you all did okay this weekend Annie and thanks again for another great recipe!

  • annieseats

    Glad to hear it! We’ll definitely be making them again this year as well.

    And thank you. It has been a difficult week to be sure, but we are doing okay.

  • Brenda Steffen

    Oh my goodness… I can’t wait to make these. I did a quick search for cranberries (having extra in the freezer) and look what popped up. Your recipes are divine. Thanks for making my kitchen a happier place.

  • Making them for year 3 as I type…I’d say it’s a tradition at this point!

  • Miranda Dargitz

    Delicious!! I used the Artisan Bread in Five brioche dough with your filling and icing. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!