Cream Cheese Pull Apart Rolls with a tangy and bright orange cream cheese filling and a zesty lemon glaze are the perfect sweet and tart treat for breakfast or tea.
It’s hard to have a bad day if it starts with a fresh-from-the-oven buttery and soft homemade rolls. And when that roll is surround with tangy citrus cream cheese filling, topped with citrus sugar, and drizzled with a sweet lemon glaze, all the better!
These delicious cream cheese pull apart rolls are easy to make, thanks to premade dough, and are always a crowd-pleaser. I’m sharing them just in time for Easter so your family can start off the holiday on a sweet and creamy note. This recipe is a fun twist on more traditional hot cross buns.
This is a family favorite recipe that is slightly adapted from a 1999 Cooking Light recipe. My family would be disappointed if I didn’t make these for Easter morning.
How to Make Fluffy Cream Cheese Rolls
Note that this recipe makes two 9-inch cake pans of rolls. You’ll cut the 18 rolls in half and divide the halves between two pans. Then top them with dried cranberries, cream cheese filling, and orange sugar for a crisp and sweet topping.
When arranging the halves in the pans, they will not completely cover the bottom of your pans. This is fine. As the rolls rise they will fill in any space. In particular, the rolls will expand quite a bit during the second rise and even more while baking.
Overnight Method: The recipe also includes an overnight method so you can get the rolls started the night before you want to serve them.
Cream Cheese Orange Filling
Before whipping up the tangy cream cheese mixture, make sure your cream cheese and egg are at room temperature. If you start with cold cream cheese, you may end up with tiny lumps in your mixture that will not cream together with the other ingredients.
The citrus in this recipe adds the perfect amount of brightness and tang to cut through rich cream cheese.
You can buy one lemon and one orange for the recipe. This will get you both the zest and orange and lemon juice needed. I recommend zesting your lemon and orange before juicing it. It is hard to zest a flimsy juiceless orange.
Sugar & Citrus Zest Mixture
Mixing the zest into the sugar will help release the flavor of the zest. A trick to maximize the citrus flavor is to roll the zest and sugar mixture between your fingers to release even more of the zest flavor.
Glazing Cream Cheese Pull-Apart Rolls
While the rolls bake and cool, you can make the simple two-ingredient lemon glaze to drizzle on top. The ingredients for this simple glaze blend together easily with a whisk or a fork.
If you’re not using the glaze immediately, place a damp paper towel over the bowl so the surface doesn’t crust over. If you have a dry home (forced air heat, etc.) you may need to dampen the towel a few times.
Serving Homemade Citrus Cream Cheese Pull Apart Rolls
Serve these fluffy citrus rolls warm and with extra glaze if you’d like. You can unmold the rolls, as shown above, onto a platter once the rolls have cooled for 15 minutes, but I generally serve them right from the cake pan.
If you end up with leftovers, store them in an airtight container on the counter. To serve, gently reheat the rolls in the microwave to soften a bit.
More Homemade Roll Recipes
There are more fluffy and sweet roll recipes where this came from! Try these treats next:
- Easy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls are a classic breakfast indulgence with sticky cinnamon filling and bright white glaze.
- Lion House Rolls are fluffy dinner rolls that are perfect with jam and butter or alongside a savory soup.
- Cranberry Citrus Cream Cheese Sweet Rolls are an easy from-scratch version of these cream cheese pull apart rolls with a buttery yeasted dough.
Citrus Cream Cheese Pull Apart Rolls
- 1 25- ounce package frozen roll dough*
- Cooking spray
- ¼ cup butter or margarine — melted
- ½ cup sweetened dried cranberries — such as Craisins OR ½ cup dried apricots — chopped
- 1 cup granulated sugar — divided
- 8 ounces regular or ⅓-less-fat cream cheese softened
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
- 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Thaw roll dough at room temperature 30 – 60 minutes until rolls are easy to cut in half.
- Cut rolls in half. Place 18 halves, cut sides down, in the bottom of each of 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray. Brush butter evenly over rolls. Cover; let rise in a warm place (85º), free from drafts, 30 minutes.
- Sprinkle with dried cranberries. In a mixing bowl, add ¼ cup granulated sugar and cream cheese and beat at low speed of a mixer until smooth. Add orange juice and egg and beat until well blended. Pour cream cheese mixture evenly over rolls.
- Cover and let rise 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- Combine ¾ cup granulated sugar, and rinds in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over rolls.
- Bake at 350º for 20 minutes. Cover with foil. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until rolls in the center are done. Remove from oven; cool 15 minutes.
- Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle over rolls.
Tried this recipe on a whim, and it’s delicious! Thought it might be a little sweet when I first read thru it but it’s the perfect balance. Served from the pan made it easypeasy!
These sound amazing. With just my husband & I, I might make 1 pan for Easter. Even then I’ll share with friends. He won’t want to share, but we need to watch our weight. When I head north in about a month I have a big family who’ll appreciate this.
Thanks Sherry – enjoy!
I’ve made these a couple of times, I did the overnight version and In a bundt pan, absolutely delicious!
Thanks Lori! We had them again for Easter.
I have a question abou the recipe. It says place 24 cut rolls in each of two round pans. Do 24 half-rolls fit in one pan? Does that mean there are 48 pieces of dough- 24 in each? Sirry I’m so confused. I haven’t made these yet- making today and they look delicious!!
Hi Bonnie – they are so delicious. I’m making them today as well. 24 half rolls do fit in one pan – the Rhodes rolls I use are not big. If you’re using the big Texas size rolls, you won’t be able to fit that many in the pan. The original recipe calls for 24, but I usually only use 18 rolls total, so 18 half rolls per pan so they have more room to rise in the pan and none of the topping spills over the side.
bravo for a great recipe made for Easter am were very moist
i did cheat a bit an made a copycat Hawaiian roll recipe since had pineapple juice in which i used part oj for a change also used oj for glaze an was very nice
i made a large pan an 2 small pans so froze one
Hi Kathy – I like the idea of using homemade Hawaiian rolls in this recipe. Thanks for sharing! Glad you enjoyed them.
love the toppings but wonder can one use homemade sweet roll dough ? sure be easier for me
Yes I’ve made them with homemade roll dough before and they’re even better.
Maureen | Orgasmic Chef
Those rolls look like a party for breakfast. What a great way to celebrate Easter morning!
The link to your favorite dinner roll recipe is not active..???
Good looking recipe.
These were the best things EVERRRRRRR! Such a perfect recipe
Asiya @ Chocolate and Chillies
Popping over from Taste and Tell where I read about these rolls and they do look amazing! Can’t wait to give them a try!
Hi! Thanks for popping in. Definitely give them a try. It’s one of the few recipes that I make over and over again.
Thanks so much for sending me this link. I LOVE sweet rolls but rarely make them. I need more visitors to come stay with me so I can have an excuse to make these!
Oh my, these look and sound delicious. I should make these for my mom- I know she'd love them!
I love the sound of these Barbara and they look so gooey and good (just how you’d want a pullapart to be!)
I love any kind of pull-aparts, and these sound especially good!
Big Boys Oven
looks so amazingly good! must be delicious