Make these vegan Cranberry Orange Sweet Rolls for brunch this weekend! With no complicated steps, they’re your easy, tasty breakfast solution.
Cranberries are an interesting fruit, tasting less sweet than other berries and actually a bit bitter. But does that mean we can’t combine them with other ingredients to create a sweet and satisfying breakfast/dessert? Absolutely not. In fact, that’s exactly what we’re doing today.
It was the combination of many orange sweet roll recipe tests that led me to this recipe, which can only be described as a sweet tooth explosion in the fridge. Which like… obviously I’m not complaining about.
While I’d consider myself a can-bake-the-basics-with-my-eyes-closed pro (I’m talking simple brownies or cookies), I’ve always had an irrational fear of any baking requiring yeast/rising/putting my hard work into the hands of fate.
All of that is to say… these Cranberry Orange Sweet Rolls are pretty fool-proof.
“These look SO GOOD. I don’t bake nearly enough, and this recipe has me thinking that I need to start. Probably going to start with this one!” —Dana
How to make cranberry orange sweet rolls
Stick with me folks, as baking with yeast is a journey of its own! By carefully following the step-by-step instructions, you should find this to be a breeze.
Step 1: Activate the yeast
In a large bowl, heat 1 cup of almond milk and 3 tbsp of butter* in the microwave in 30 second intervals until the butter is melted and the mixture is warm to the touch (not hot). Then, add 1 7g-packet of instant yeast (rapid rise yeast) and 1 tbsp of sugar. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Once it has sat, the mixture should be frothy and bubbly.** Stir in ¼ tsp of salt and 1 tbsp of orange zest.
*You can use dairy-free butter for vegan rolls.
**If there is no frothing, the yeast might be dead. Try again with a new packet of yeast!
Step 2: Knead the dough
Stir 2 cups of all-purpose flour into the mixture, and then add more using a heaping tablespoon at a time. Do this until the dough forms a loose ball. Transfer the dough to a clean, floured surface and knead for about a minute, until you have a smooth ball. Aim to add as little extra flour as possible and use a pastry scraper to help knead the moist dough if necessary.
Place in a warm spot in the kitchen to rise until doubled in volume, about an hour.
Step 3: Create the cranberry filling
Meanwhile, blitz 2 cups of fresh or thawed cranberries and ½ cup of sugar in a food processor until the cranberries are roughly broken down. Pour out any excess juices.
Step 4: Assemble the rolls
On a floured sheet of parchment paper, roll the dough into a thin rectangle. It should be about 10 x 14 inches (25 x 35 cm). Spread the cranberry mixture evenly over the dough.
Step 5: Roll the dough
Gently and tightly roll the dough from the widest edge of the rectangle (it’s easiest to simply lift the parchment paper to roll the dough into an even cylinder). If needed, seal the seam with a touch of water.
Step 6: Cut the dough
To cut the rolls, a string of floss works best. Work a string under the rolls, and then cross your hands in opposite directions over the roll to make a clean cut. Each should be about 1 inch wide.
Step 7: Second rising
Place the rolls in a greased or parchment-lined baking tin.*** Create a dome over the pan with aluminum foil, and then allow the rolls to rise for 30 minutes while the oven preheats to 350°F (176°C).
***For a faster rise, I like to heat my oven just until it’s warm, then turn it off and set dough inside.
Step 8: Bake the rolls
Bake the rolls (still covered with the foil dome) for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 minutes until the rolls are golden brown on top.
Step 9: Create the icing
Finally, whisk together the icing ingredients. You will need 1½ cups of powdered sugar, 2 tbsp of orange juice, 2 tbsp of butter (can be dairy-free), and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Pour or spread the icing over the hot cinnamon rolls.
More sweet roll recipes you’ll love
Need more inspiration for Christmas morning recipes? Here are a few of our favorites:
- Special Day Cinnamon Rolls
- Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
- Easy Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
- Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 cup almond milk 236 mL
- 3 Tbsp butter can sub dairy-free, 42 g
- 1 7g-packet instant yeast aka rapid rise yeast
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp orange zest
- 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more as needed, 312g
- Oil for greasing bowl
- 2 cup fresh or thawed cranberries 195 g
- ½ cup sugar 100 g
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar 150 g
- 2 Tbsp orange juice
- 2 Tbsp melted butter can sub dairy-free, 28 g
- 1 tsp vanilla extract 5 mL
- Activate Yeast: In a large bowl, heat almond milk and butter in the microwave in 30 second intervals until butter is melted and mixture is warm to the touch (not hot). Add yeast and sugar, then allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Mixture should be frothy and bubbly.* Stir in salt and orange zest.
- Knead: Stir 2 cups of flour into the mixture, then add more flour, a heaping tablespoon at a time, until dough forms a loose ball. Transfer dough to a clean, floured surface and knead for about a minute, until you have a smooth ball. (Aim to add as little extra flour as possible, using a pastry scraper to help knead the moist dough if necessary.) Place in a warm spot in the kitchen to rise until doubled in volume, about an hour.
- Filling: Meanwhile, blitz cranberries and sugar in the food processor until cranberries are roughly broken down. Pour out any excess juices.
- Assemble: On a floured sheet o parchment paper, roll dough into a thin rectangle, about 10 x 14 inches (25 x 35 cm). Spread cranberry mixture evenly over dough.
- Roll: Gently and tightly roll the dough from the widest edge of the rectangle (it's easiest to simply lift the parchment paper to roll the dough into an even cylinder). If needed, seal the seam with a touch of water.
- Cut: To cut the rolls, a string of floss works best. Work a string of floss under the rolls. Cross your hands in opposite directions over the roll to make a clean cut. Each should be about 1 inch wide.
- Second Rise: Place rolls in a greased or parchment-lined baking tin***. Create a dome over the pan with aluminum foil, then allow rolls to rise for 30 minutes while oven preheats to 350°F (176°C).
- Bake: Bake, still covered with the foil dome, for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 10 minutes, until rolls are golden brown on top.
- Icing: Whisk together all icing ingredients. Pour or spread over hot cinnamon rolls.