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Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

For a spring take on the classic cinnamon roll, try this recipe for Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing.Their sweet and tangy taste is perfect for this time of year!

A bowl of lemons with lilacs in the background.

Creating This Lemon Rolls Recipe

Last week I had a few “I just had to” moments. First, I just had to buy 2 bags of Meyer Lemons when I saw them at the grocery store.

For those not familiar with Meyer Lemons, their defining characteristics are slightly rounder shape when compared with a regular lemon, a thin yellow-orange colored peel, and a sweeter taste than a traditional lemon.

They are thought to be a cross between an lemon and a mandarin. Can you see why I just had to buy them?

Then I saw this recipe for Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze. Sort of like a spring time version of a cinnamon roll, but without the cinnamon.

Yeah, I had to make those.

And then I remembered the Meyer Lemons and decided that not only was I going to make those rolls, but I was going to experiment with my new lemons.

I didn’t want the lemon rolls to be too sweet, so I included a bit of regular lemon zest and juice as well.

Just look at them. What isn’t to love?

This recipe for Meyer Lemon Sticky Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze has definitely earned a favored spot in our family!

Ingredients for Lemon Sweet Rolls

The lemon cinnamon rolls have three components: the lemon dough, lemon filling, and the cream cheese icing. To make the entire recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Yeast
  • Milk
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vanilla bean and vanilla extract
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Ground nutmeg and ginger
  • Regular lemons and Meyer lemons
  • Eggs
  • Brown sugar
  • Cream cheese
  • Powdered sugar

For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.

How to Make Lemon Sweet Rolls

Making the lemon sweet rolls with cream cheese icing takes some time, but the process is very straightforward.

  1. Make the dough: Combine the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and knead until an elastic, pliable dough forms.
  2. First rise: Spray the dough with non-stick spray (this prevents it from drying out) and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel. Let the dough sit out until doubled in size.
  3. Prepare the filling: While the dough is rising, whisk together the lemon sugar filling.
  4. Shape the rolls: On a floured surface, pat the dough out into a large yet still thick rectangle.
  5. Spread evenly with the softened butter, then sprinkle the lemon-sugar mixture over top.
  6. Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the top long end. Cut the long dough roll into 12 even rolls, and place them, cut side up, into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish.
  7. Second rise: Cover the rolls with a towel and let rise again until doubled in size.
  8. Bake and ice: After the rolls have risen, bake until lightly golden and top immediately with cream cheese icing.

The above is simply a quick summary of this recipe. Check out the free printable card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.

A lemon sweet roll on a white plate with blackberries.

Can I Use Regular Lemons in This Recipe?

Of course! If you don’t have any Meyer lemons on hand, you can make the lemon cinnamon rolls with regular lemons instead.

Can This Recipe Be Prepared in Advance?

Yes, after the dough has risen the first time and been cut into rolls, cover the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours before baking.

When you’re ready to bake the cinnamon rolls, place the baking dish on the counter for one hour and then bake them as instructed.

Tips for Making Lemon Rolls

  • I actually made a double batch of the lemon sweet rolls and froze half of them to enjoy later on, something I will definitely be doing again.
  • I recommend using full-fat, brick-style cream cheese to make the icing. It will result in a richer, thicker icing.
  • Once baked and glazed, you can store the cinnamon rolls at room temperature for up to three days. Note that they dry out over time.

More Lemon Breakfast Recipes:

Another favorite lemon breakfast recipe is this Blueberry Lemon Curd Coffee Cake. I love the bright flavors in the springtime!

This Lemon Blueberry Bread is studded with juicy blueberries and topped with a simple lemon drizzle. This is such a simple quick bread recipe!

I really enjoyed the texture that the shredded coconut combined with the poppy seeds offered in these Coconut Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins.

This Coconut Lemon Banana Bread is packed with tropical flavors that you’ll love!

Lemon Strawberry Scones can be enjoyed for breakfast, tea, or as a mid-day snack. So easy and delicious!

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Meyer Lemon Sticky Rolls

Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Rising Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

For a spring take on the classic cinnamon roll, try this recipe for Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing.Their sweet and tangy taste is perfect for this time of year!


Lemon Roll Dough

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk, warmed to about 100°F (or warm but not hot on your wrist)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds only
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 meyer lemon, zested
  • 2 eggs

Sticky Lemon Filling

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 meyer lemon, zested
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft

Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 meyer lemon, juiced and zested


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and let it sit for a couple minutes.
  2. With the mixer paddle, stir in the softened butter, sugar, vanilla, and one cup of the flour.
  3. Stir in the salt, nutmeg, and lemon zests.
  4. Stir in the eggs and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft yet sticky dough.
  5. Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and pliable.
  6. Spray the top of the dough with vegetable oil, and turn the dough over so it is coated in oil.
  7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and let the dough rise until nearly doubled - about an hour.
  8. In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the nutmeg and ginger, then work in the lemon zest with the tips of your fingers until the sugar resembles wet, soft sand. Stir in the lemon juice.
  9. Lightly grease a 13x9 inch baking dish with baking spray or butter.
  10. On a floured surface pat the dough out into a large yet still thick rectangle — about 10x15 inches.
  11. Spread evenly with the softened butter, then pour and spread the lemon-sugar mixture over top.
  12. Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the top long end. Cut the long dough roll into 12 even rolls, and place them, cut side up, in the prepared baking dish.
  13. Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise for an hour or until puffy and nearly doubled. (You can also refrigerate the rolls at this point. )
  14. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  15. When you are ready to bake the rolls, remove the pan from the fridge, and let them rise for an hour.)
  16. Heat the oven to 350°F. Place the risen rolls in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into a center roll reads 190°F.
  17. While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small food processor (or with a mixer, or a sturdy whisk), whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy.
  18. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and juice and blend until well combined. Add the powdered sugar and blend until smooth and creamy.
  19. When the rolls are done, smear them with the cream cheese glaze.
  20. Serve while warm.


adapted from The Kitchn

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Nutrition Information
Yield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 417Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 70mgSodium 143mgCarbohydrates 63gFiber 2gSugar 30gProtein 7g

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love it if you let me know what you think! Snap a photo and tag me on Instagram at @goodlifeeats with the hashtag #goodlifeeatsrecipes so I can see what you’re cooking up in YOUR kitchen!


Wednesday 14th of July 2010

I made these for my mother's birthday this morning - SHE LOVED THEM. I kicked up the filling by adding white chocolate chips, they were lovely.Thank you so much for sharing!!

Chocolate Freckles

Monday 5th of April 2010

I am totally craving these!!!! I also have a food blog!! We can share recipes!! :)

Tasty Eats At Home

Monday 5th of April 2010

I love lemony baked goods, and Meyer lemons? Well that's even more delicious! I wish I could find some without having to hunt for them. They're SO good.


Sunday 4th of April 2010

What a lovely spring twist on sticky rolls - they sound amazing! And congrats on your recipe featured in the Costco magazine! I saw it the other day and was like I "know" her :)


Saturday 3rd of April 2010

Oh my these look super yummy! Your photographs are absolutely stunning! Wow!!

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