Vanilla Lemon Sweet Rolls

Oh boy did I fall in love  😀

I never thought that something like this would happen. You know as you get older and you’ve experienced many different things and tasted many different things, you tend to think that you know what you like and what you don’t like. You feel like you know what’s good and what’s not, there’s not much that can surprise you…at least this is what I thought but no. No no no, I was wrong. So incredibly wrong. I thought I knew what I liked but then these sweet heaven rolls came along.

And I was whirl winded into sweet lemony bliss 🙂

Perfectly zesty, literally lip smacking deliciousness. I never knew how good vanilla and lemon go together! It’s like a match made in heaven. And all rolled up in a beautifully fluffy and soft, buttery rich, dough and finished with a tangy lemon cream cheese glaze. It’s a dream I tell you. A big, sweet pillowy dream.

I don’t know why it took me so long to make these rolls but I’m so glad I finally did! Let me stop stalling and get started with these tasty vanilla lemon pillows.

I started by using my favourite quick and fail proof cinnamon roll dough, I needed something ‘like right now’ so I didn’t have the patience to wait for 2 rises and went from there. As the dough was resting, I made the filling.

Oh sweet heaven vanilla lemon *ha I’m a poet 😂* sugar! This filling has the most amazing smell that you’ll smell in the entire universe. I’m not kidding, I went round the whole family making them all smell it and even contemplated making some sort of potpourri (yes!) and wondered why there aren’t any candles that smell like this.

Okay please excuse my weirdness. Back to the lemon rolls, after the filling was done, honestly don’t leave out the vanilla, beans, paste or extract just make sure it’s there because it complements the lemon so well, I rolled out the dough as normal and smeared some butter all across it. Butter, vanilla and lemon, you just know from now how insane this is going to be.

Continue making the rolls, sprinkle the filling, rolling and slicing and let them rise in a warm oven. This is my favourite cheat for speeding up rising doughs.

Cook em up, slather em with a silky, lemony glaze and be prepared to be taken away on a rainbow to the clouds and sleeping in the sunlight.

Because that’s exactly what these rolls are, sunshine in a sweet roll 💛

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Vanilla Lemon Sweet Rolls

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Recipe by Linda @thedutchbaker

9 – 12

Sweet Rolls
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  • 1/4 cup (60mls) warm water

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (90mls) milk

  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups (250 – 300gms) flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • For the filling
  • 3 tablespoons softened butter

  • 1/2 cup (100gms) sugar

  • Zest of two lemons*

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

  • Pinch of salt, 1/8 teaspoon

  • For the glaze
  • 2 oz cream cheese

  • 1 cup (125gms) icing sugar

  • 2 – 3 tablespoons lemon juice


  • In a large bowl, add water, yeast and sugar and rest for about 5 minutes until thickened. In a separate bowl whisk together flour and salt and set aside.
  • To the yeast/water mix add the milk, egg, vanilla and butter whisk until well combined. The butter won’t mix in completely and will stay a bit piece-y, that’s okay.
  • Add the flour in 1/2 cup increments until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes if using a mixer attached with a dough hook or 10 minutes by hand until a smooth, elastic and sticky dough forms. Add more flour as needed but try not to add too much, the dough needs to be sticky or else you’ll end up with a dense roll. Cover dough in an oiled bowl and rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.
  • Add the lemon zest to the sugar and rub them together using your fingers until all the sugar is zested. It’s okay if the sugars becomes slightly wet and clumpy from the lemon juice. Add the vanilla and stir until combined.
  • Preheat the oven to the lowest temperature and then start rolling out the dough into a 12 × 8 inch rectangle. Spread the butter across the dough and sprinkle the lemon sugar evenly on top. Use your rolling pin to roll on top if the filling horizontally then vertically, this helps push the filling into the dough making the rolls more saucy.
    Starting from the longer side, roll into a tight log and then cut into 9 or 12 pieces depending on how big you want them. I recommend using a serrated knife for cutting the rolls.
  • Place rolls on a lightly floured baking tray and cover with plastic wrap. Place rolls in the oven then turn off the heat after closing the door. The warm air inside helps speed up the rising process. Rise for 60 to 90 minutes until rolls are puffy.
  • Remove rolls from the oven and heat oven to 180C. Sprinkle lemon zest on top if desired and bake rolls for 15 to 18 minutes until cooked through and golden brown. Spread glaze on top of rolls as soon as they’re out of the oven.
  • For the glaze
  • Whisk cream cheese and icing sugar together until smooth. Add enough lemon juice until desired consistency is reached. Spread across warm rolls and sprinkle some lemon zest on top if desired. Serve warm.
  • Store rolls in an air tight container for 3 to 4 days.


  • *1 lemon = 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice and about 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest.
  • Recipe by the dutch baker.

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  1. The cinnamon rolls look so yummy! I love the idea of adding lemon. 🙂

    1. Hi Ellie 😊 yes do try! Leave out the cinnamon and just zest some sugar with lemon and you’ll be in for a treat! 🙂 thanks so much for the sweet comment xx

  2. They look fantastic Linda so cushiony (is that a word? ) and soft like you want to bite right into them. Yummy factor 10!

    1. Ohhh cushiony 😄 i love that word! Ill always be using that now! Thanks so much, they are wonderfully soft and fluffy, the flavours are lovely 😀 thanks so much for your sweet comment xx

  3. OMG what a great spin on the traditional rolls!! I love it
    It reminds me of a french cake that I miss very much: brioche chinoise.
    Thanks for sharing, I will give it a try

    1. Ohh that cake sounds lovely Sophie 😄 thank you so much! These were so delicious i loved them 😊 i hope you do try and enjoy them too 💛 thanks so much for your sweet comment 😄

  4. crystarlia says:

    I’m usually not a fan of lemon, but I really want to try these!

    1. I’m not really a fan of lemon either, I actually really dislike most citrusy desserts but because this is lemon sugar it works out so wonderful, not bitter in the slightest and a very nice flavour with the vanilla. I hope you do try them 😊 thanks so much for your lovely comment 😄

  5. Hmmmmm these sound really good. A nice twist with the lemon 🙂 x

    1. Thanks Lynne 😊 these are so delicious! I absolutely loved them 😄

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