These Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls are packed with so much flavor! They are for true lemon lovers! These rolls are easy to make and come together pretty quickly. The cooked lemon filling is kind of like lemon caramel. The rolls are soft and tender. And the lemon glaze is perfectly sweet and tart! You can make this recipe with regular lemons but I love the slightly sweeter scent and flavor of Meyers.

meyer lemon sweet rolls with lemon zest and lemon glaze

Eric and I just got back from a trip to Cabo San Lucas. (We found insanely cheap plane tickets a few months ago.) Let me tell you, going to a resort when it’s only at about 1/3 capacity is the only way! It was our first time at a resort and I’m wondering if we should never do it again to preserve the memory of perfection.

meyer lemon rolls with lemon glaze

It was almost completely empty. I bet there were more staff there than vacationers. By the end of day one, we recognized the faces of every guest there. I have no idea how the resorts down there are staying afloat, because there is no way they are profitable right now. Come on vaccine!

overhead photo of meyer lemon rolls in a 9x3 inch pan with lemons on the side

Although it’s possible that they did profit from us in particular, since we don’t drink and therefore did not have any of the “free” alcohol. You should see the looks on people’s faces when they find this out. You can just see the cogs turning in their heads. “If you don’t drink, why are you even here??”

meyer lemon sweet rolls in a white pan

I will tell you why: Virgin Mango Mojitos are really delicious, the ocean is pretty, and the real kicker: the children stayed at home. (Thank you Mom, for taking them!!) Totally worth it. 

overhead close up photo of meyer lemon rolls with glaze

Before we left I made these sunshine-y Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls. They are like cinnamon rolls but with lemon! All the lemon and orange trees here in Sacramento are bursting with fruit right now. It’s been raining a lot lately, and every time it does there are blankets of citrus all over the neighborhood. Thanks to my friend Melissa for sharing these Meyers from her tree!

What is a Meyer lemon?

I used to think that a Meyer lemon was just another variety of lemon, and what’s all the fuss about really? But it’s not, it’s actually a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. The result is a lemon that is much sweeter, with an amazing scent. It’s not sweet enough to eat it like you would an orange. It can basically be swapped into any recipe where you need a lemon. It has a really unique flavor that you will notice right away.

Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls

When it comes to lemon desserts, I do not mess around. Go big or go home. These rolls are definitely for lemon lovers! Most recipes I see for lemon rolls call for cream cheese frosting. No thank you. Your creaminess is just muting my tart lemon. Get outta here cream cheese.

meyer lemon sweet roll on a plate with filling and glaze

Can you see in the photo above how dark the lemon filling is that has spilled onto the plate? That’s because it’s a cooked filling. Most lemon rolls just have you mix up some butter and sugar and zest for the filling. And that’s delicious, but not the next-level flavor I wanted for these rolls.

This filling is kind of like lemon caramel. It’s the most delicious thing. It has a deep, rich flavor, with just a tiny bitter note (from the lemon peel) that is enough to keep you interested but not overwhelmed.

meyer lemon sweet roll being lifted from a white pan

These rolls are a little different from your average cinnamon roll. I adapted the recipe from my One Hour Dinner Rolls. I love that recipe because the rolls are so light and soft, and really are done in one hour. It’s not feasible to get these Meyer lemon rolls done in one hour because of the cooked filling. It’s actually because of the more intensive filling steps that I wanted to use a quick one-hour recipe for the dough. Nobody wants to spend half the day in the kitchen! Although these rolls would kind of be worth it.

So instead of the traditional bread method of rise, shape, and rise again, instead we have only a half hour chill in the fridge (to make the dough more workable), shape, and then a 10 minute rest before going in the oven.

How to make Meyer lemon rolls from scratch

Start by making the dough.  This recipe doesn’t have a lot of flour in it. The more flour you add to any bread dough, the stiffer and more workable your dough will be (workable meaning easier to roll out), but the tougher your bread will be when it bakes. My goal when making bread is to add as little flour as possible to bring the dough together. It gets tricky when you need to handle the dough so much, as with cinnamon rolls or sweet rolls.

sweet roll dough in a bowl, the dough on a pastry cloth with hand kneading it

My solution to this on my recipe for The Fluffiest Cinnamon Rolls of Your Life is to use a brioche dough, which has even less flour than this recipe, and a different method of mixing the dough. It makes the softest, most melt in your mouth cinnamon rolls, but there is a 2-hour minimum chill step that is required. If you don’t chill the dough, it will be too soft to roll out, and especially too soft to slice into rolls.

Today’s Meyer lemon roll recipe is not quite a brioche dough, but it is quite minimal with the flour, meaning that it’s a pain to roll out. I’ve required a 30 minute chill before rolling out (which time you need to make the filling anyway, so it works nicely) but if you want to chill the dough even longer feel free. Even overnight would be fine. The colder your dough is when you roll it out, the easier it will be to slice your rolls.

meyer lemons on a cutting board, zested and halved

While the dough chills in the fridge, it’s time to zest and juice your lemons and take them for all they’ve got! I love to use a microplane grater for zesting, and an electric juicer for juicing. If you are a citrus lover, these are the two tools you need to make everything so much faster for making lemon treats!

The lemon filling ingredients are simple. Add some butter, sugar, and lemon juice to a medium pot.

sugar, butter, and lemon juice in a pot, the mixture boiling

Bring it to a boil, then let it bubble and simmer for about 8-10 minutes. The mixture will rise up in the pot once it reaches a boil. After several minutes, the mixture will be slightly thicker, like maple syrup consistency.

lemon filling in a pot, lemon filling in a pot in an ice bath

Then place the hot pot in an ice bath (a big bowl of ice water). This will cool the filling quickly and make it thicken nicely.

meyer lemon filling thickening in a pot

Just look at this gorgeous stuff. Try not to eat it all with a spoon.

adding zest to lemon filling in a pot, lifting with a spoon

Don’t forget to add in the zest. That’s where all the flavor is! Can you see on the right how thick it is after the ice bath?

lemon filling spread on dough for sweet rolls

Roll out your chilled dough. Work quickly! The colder the dough, the easier it is to slice. Dollop the filling onto the dough and use an offset spatula to spread it around to the edges.

rolled up lemon roll dough, slicing the dough

Roll it up and slice into 12 rolls. 30 minutes is not much time to chill. This dough is a little tricky to slice. Use a sharp serrated knife and work quickly. They may not be the most beautiful sweet rolls you’ve ever made, but we have more important things to worry about, like getting to eat them faster.

lemon rolls unbaked in a white dish, then baked

This recipe is heavy on the milk and eggs. This makes a rich and flavorful dough, and also means there is plenty of golden browning happening on the top as it cooks. Just look at this gorgeousness!

drizzling lemon glaze over lemon rolls

Top the rolls with a tart lemon glaze, and dig in! These rolls are so soft and lemony it will make you want to cry happy tears. And like I said, if you can’t get your hands on any Meyer lemons, this recipe will still work great (no changes) with regular lemons. Enjoy!

meyer lemon sweet roll with glaze being lifted on a spatula

More lemon recipes you are going to love!

More recipes that are a twist on cinnamon rolls!


Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Chill Time: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 12 rolls
These Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls are packed with so much flavor! They are for true lemon lovers! These rolls are easy to make and come together pretty quickly. The cooked lemon filling is kind of like lemon caramel. The rolls are soft and tender. And the lemon glaze is perfectly sweet and tart! You can make this recipe with regular lemons but I love the slightly sweeter scent and flavor of Meyers.


For the rolls

  • 6 tablespoons warm water
  • 3 tablespoons active dry yeast, yes, really!
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 6 tablespoons shortening, *I like butter-flavored
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 & 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled (divided)

For the filling

  • 3/4 cup butter, (1 and 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup Meyer lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • 3 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest

For the glaze

  • 3 tablespoons butter, very soft
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, or more or less to taste (divided)
  • 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest


  • Make the rolls: In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, add 6 tablespoons warm water. It should be nice and warm like a bath for a baby, not hot. (About 105-110 degrees F)
  • Stir in 3 tablespoons active dry yeast. Yes, really, 3 tablespoons. Add in 1/3 cup of the sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes and make sure it is getting bubbly! (If it is not bubbly at all, you killed your yeast, throw it out and start over)
  • In a large bowl or stand mixer, add the other 1/3 cup sugar, 6 tablespoons shortening, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 and 1/2 cups whole milk, 2 eggs, and 2 cups of the flour. Beat together.
  • Add in the bubbly yeast mixture and stir.
  • Add the remaining 3 cups of flour, one cup at a time. If you are using a stand mixer, switch now to the dough hook. Once all the flour is incorporated, knead by hand or with the dough hook for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. It is an VERY sticky dough. See photos.
  • Cover and let chill at least 30 minutes. You can also let it chill overnight.**
  • Make the filling. Take the time now to get all your zesting and juicing out of the way. We are gonna destroy these lemons and take them for all they've got!! You need a total of 1 and 1/2 cups juice (divided), and about 5 tablespoons zest (divided). Make sure you buy or pick at least 8-10 lemons to get all the zest you need. (1 lemon zested is definitely not a full tablespoon.) I like to use this microplane grater for zesting, and I love using this electric juicer.
  • In a medium saucepan, add 3/4 cup butter, 1 and 1/2 cups sugar, and 3/4 cup fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice. Set over medium high heat and stir until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Continue stirring until the mixture reaches a rapid boil, meaning there are bubbles all across the surface. The liquid will rise up in the pan. Lower the heat to medium so you don't burn your hands, but keep the mixture at this rolling boil. Stir for about 8-9 minutes. The mixture will lighten some and become a little syrupy.
  • Remove from heat. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl: add a bunch of ice and cold water. Place the hot pan in the bowl, making sure water doesn't get in the lemon mixture. Continue stirring every 1-2 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom that will start to solidify. See photos. Keep the pan in the ice water for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture is no longer scalding hot and has started to thicken significantly. See photos. When you remove it from the ice bath, it should still be slightly warm but very thick. Add in about 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest and stir. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x13 inch pan with butter or nonstick spray. Set aside.
  • Roll the chilled dough out into a large rectangle, about 18 x 22 inches; it doesn't have to be exact.
  • Use a spatula to dollop the lemon filling (which will be quite thick by now) into small sections all over the dough. This makes it easier to spread around on such a soft dough. Spread the filling to the edges and get it all covered.
  • Roll up the dough, rolling from the long edge of the rectangle. Seal the edges with your fingertips.
  • Use a very sharp serrated knife to slice into rolls. This is easier said than done! This dough is very soft. I usually slice off about an inch on each edge and discard (or bake separate), because the ends are small and don't have much filling.
  • Slice the log into 12 rolls. I cut the log in half, then cut each half in half, then cut each quarter of the log into 3 rolls. If you get too frustrated you could always put the dough in the freezer or fridge to chill for a few minutes. I didn't take that step because I don't care about slightly misshapen rolls. Just do your best and remember that they are going to taste amazing.
  • Place the rolls in the greased 9x13 inch pan.
  • Cover the pan with a tea towel and let the rolls rest for about 10 minutes. 
  • Bake at 375 for about 35-40 minutes. Because the lemon filling seeps into the dough, this recipe takes longer to bake than your average cinnamon roll. At about the 25 minute mark, cover your rolls with foil to prevent over browning. You will know the rolls are done when an instant read thermometer inserted into the center reads 190 degrees F. The top should be a deep golden brown. It is really hard to know if these are done without a thermometer, so I highly recommend one. If you don't have one, the only other thing I can recommend is taking the pan out of the oven and using a spatula to lift the edge of one roll. If the bottom of the rolls are golden, then they are cooked all the way through.
  • Take the rolls out of the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before adding the glaze.
  • Make the glaze. In a medium bowl, add 3 tablespoons very soft butter. You can put it in the microwave for a few seconds to move it along. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat together with a spatula or a hand mixer. Add 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice and stir. Add the rest of the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the glaze has reached a consistency and flavor you like. You can either add the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon zest directly to the glaze, or sprinkle the zest on top of the rolls when they come out of the oven. Reserve a bit of zest to garnish each serving, if you want that little pop of color.
  • Drizzle some or all of the glaze over the rolls. I like to save some of it for guests to add to their own servings, because not everyone likes excessive amounts of glaze like I do.
  • These rolls are best served warm; heat leftovers in the microwave.
  • Store rolls covered tightly on the counter for up to 3 days; after that put them in the fridge. These rolls are of course best served on the day they are made.


*You can replace the shortening with butter. But I prefer shortening because it makes the rolls softer. Shortening is 100% fat, butter is only about 80% fat. 
**If you chill overnight, place it in a VERY large bowl and cover well. This dough rises a lot over 8-12 hours!


Serving: 1roll | Calories: 670kcal | Carbohydrates: 110g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 542mg | Potassium: 153mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 68g | Vitamin A: 539IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Calories: 670
Keyword: Meyer Lemon, Rolls, sweet rolls
Did you make this? I'd love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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  1. 5 stars
    Omg…. soooooo good. This was my first time ever making anything like this. I’ve always wanted to try and do cinnamon rolls but never had the gusts. I got a bag of Meyer lemons from a friend’s tree so I wanted to try something new. When I read your recipe I said “yep, that’s the one.” Thank you for making it understandable and quite easy. Everyone has raved on how good they are…. one said its a slice of heaven. Thank you for this wonderful share ❤️

    1. Nikki!! Thank you so much for your positive review on this recipe!! I was beginning to think I was crazy haha! So happy the recipe worked out well for you (and you’re a first timer, too!) I’m so glad you got to enjoy your meyers. They are just so delicious right! Thanks again for coming back to comment, you are awesome :)

  2. Had same experience as Harriet. Wish I had read comments before making. This was batter, not dough even after chilling for over an hour at back of my refrigerator. Putting “puddles “ in my oven now. Hope they rise and taste good.  Don’t care about looks but recipe has something missing but I don’t know what 

    1. Hi Stephanie! Thank you for the feedback. I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you. i’ve made it pretty clear in the post (and you can see from the photos) that it is a VERY soft dough, and somewhat of a challenge to work into beautiful rolls. I have tested these again and again, and stand by the recipe as is. It is not a traditional lemon roll recipe, but it does work if instructions are followed carefully.

  3. First time trying one of your recipes and it was a FLOP. The dough was left in the fridge overnight and “poured” out of the bowl. Total waste of ingredients. However, the positive was the lemon filling. I will use it with my regular sweet dough recipe.

    1. I’m so sorry it didn’t work out for you Harriet! Your comment made me so nervous that I went and made these rolls again, just to double check :) I made them as cinnamon rolls but I was particularly paying attention to the dough. I made it, chilled it for 6 hours, rolled it out and shaped, then refrigerated the pan overnight and baked in the morning, straight from the fridge without bothering to rise. It worked perfectly. Maybe I didn’t do a sufficient job in the post explaining that yes, this dough is incredibly sticky and rather difficult to work with. It’s the price you pay for getting an incredibly rapid rise. The dough does indeed “pour” out of the bowl. Knead it a few times with some extra flour and work VERY quickly as you shape your rolls. The colder it is when you roll, the better. I hope this helps for next time and I’m so sorry you had a negative experience!

      1. Did you do all of the shaping and filling and put them in the fridge overnight? I’m hoping to do that so I don’t have to wake up super early to fill them. Thanks for the response!

        1. Hi Jules! Yes, you can let the dough rise for the first time in the fridge for a half hour or longer (longer is better). Then you can shape and store in the fridge covered overnight. I let them sit on the counter while I preheated the oven and then stuck them in the fridge. It worked great. Let me know how it goes!

    1. I’m so glad they turned out well Donna! That makes me so happy. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to review!

  4. Made these yesterday!!! So incredibly good!! Will make them again and again! Thanks for sharing this recipe!!

    1. I’m so happy to hear you loved the lemon rolls Silvia! Thank you for taking the time out of your day to review. That helps me out a ton!

  5. I have a question for my daughter, I gave her my favorite chocolate chip recipe. When I make them, they are thick, chewy and crispy . When she makes them they turn out flat. I’m not sure what shes doing wrong ??

    1. Hi Lynne! It’s hard to say because I don’t know your recipe, and baking is so particular that if I’m not there with her, I don’t know what went wrong. You can direct her to this 30 Minute Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe that has lots of great tips for the best cookies! Hope this helps!

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