ancestor story

Grandma Peterson’s Orange Rolls

yummmmm!  Grandma’s Orange Rolls


Don’t those look delicious?

They are a family favorite!  My Grandma would make these beauties every Thanksgiving.  Now I do too.  My family loves them!

On Thanksgiving day, I tweeted that picture up there with these words:

“The best part of Thanksgiving! Grandma’s orange rolls. Miss her. So glad she always had me help her. ❤️

A few people tweeted back asking for the recipe.  Of course, I am happy to share!

I typed it up today in FamilySearchRecipes.  Twice.  The first time I accidentally swiped back before I hit save.  Grrr!  So the second time, I typed it up in Google Drive and pasted it into FamilySearch.  Much better.

You can view the recipe on FamilySearch here.  But I’ll add it below as well.  After a picture of my lovely, orange-roll-making, Grandma, along with my Grandpa.  ❤️


Ronald and Margaret Peterson
Ronald & Margaret Peterson


Grandma Peterson’s Orange Rolls

Grandma Mary Margaret Ellis Peterson would bake the most delicious orange rolls every Thanksgiving.  They are a family favorite! As a young, fairly newly married wife and mother, she tasted these rolls at a shower she attended with her sisters-in-law, Janice and Marilyn.  They all loved the rolls, got the recipe, and started making them. Over the years Grandma apparently adjusted the recipe. I loved helping her make these delicious rolls when I would visit her over Thanksgiving.

Begin making the rolls about 5 hours before you plan to serve them.  One batch yields about 36 rolls. I typically double the batch for 72.  I will include the filling recipe Grandma used, but I double that recipe for a single batch of rolls or quadruple it for a double batch of rolls.  The handwritten recipe seen attached to this is the copy I wrote out years ago the first time I made orange rolls myself. Aunt Shauna shared the recipe with me.


In mixer start the yeast (if you are worried about how to do this, google yeast starts for more detailed instructions):

  • 2 yeast packets or 4-½ tsp yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup warm milk

Let sit in mixer bowl for a minute.

Add 3 to 3-½ cups flour (never more than 3-½), mix until soft and spongy, not runny.

Cover with a few kitchen towels until doubled – about 1 hour.

In another bowl, beat until creamy:

  • 6 Tbsps Butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1-½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs

Add this to the dough, mix.  Add 3 to 3-½ cups of flour.  Mix until it’s an elastic dough.  The dough should be a little bit sticky.

Transfer dough to a huge, sprayed container.  Place container on a folded bath towel and cover with a few kitchen towels.  Keep that dough nice and warm. Raise until doubled – about an hour.

While dough raises, mix filling.  I will list Grandma’s original recipe for filling.  I only use butter and I double it for a single batch of rolls or quadruple it for a double batch of rolls.

Beat and Cream:

  • ½ cube butter
  • 1 Tbsp margarine or Crisco (I replace this with butter)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Zest of 2 oranges

Portion filling into 2 portions (4 if making a double batch).

Use sprayed, serrated knife to slice dough in half (or quarters if making a double batch).  On a sprayed kitchen counter, place one portion of dough and roll into a large, thing oblong about as long as a large baking sheet but not quite as wide.  Spread one portion of filling evenly across the dough. Roll the dough tightly from the long side so that you have a long skinny roll. Slice dough into one-inch (or slightly larger) rolls and place on large, sprayed baking sheet.

Grandma would cut the dough with unflavored dental floss or thick quilting thread.  Aunt Shauna uses a knife. I prefer to use some of Grandma’s thick quilting thread. If using thread, lift the end of the roll, slide the thread to the desired position, pass the thread across the top of the roll making an x, pull thread in opposite directions to make the cut.  This works best with two people, one to lift, one to cut, first person places each roll on the baking sheet. Fill baking sheet well – if using a large baking sheet (13” x 18”), place rolls in four columns with five or six rows. You want the rolls to raise and squish together so they bake into a nice large group.  They are softer this way.

Place baking sheets on folded bath towels, cover with a few kitchen towels to keep those rolls nice and warm while they raise again.  Let raise about 45 minutes or so – longer is fine.

Bake 15-20 minutes at 350º.  15 minutes for one sheet is usually perfect in my oven.



I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with family and yummy food!  xoxo




20 thoughts on “Grandma Peterson’s Orange Rolls”

    1. Haha! I hear that. I’m not usually a baker. My husband makes cookies and I maybe make them once or twice a year. Orange rolls seem to be my exception and only on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter (but not always all three). 😉

  1. Family recipes are so precious. I come from a family where no-one seemed much good at cooking. I’m hoping to start a new trend and am saving my recipes in the hope the boychild will make them and pass them on. 😀

    1. I agree! Family recipes are very precious. My Dad said several times during Thanksgiving, “Ahhh, a taste of my childhood.” That made it worth every bit of effort.

      Good job on preserving your own legacy! I’m sure you son will appreciate it one day. ❤️

    1. Yes – the perfect word, YUM!

      Sorry to be so slow to respond, I hurt my back and it’s been a beast to recover from. But I’m starting to feel normal-ish. ❤️

        1. Nothing too exciting, I just twisted a bit wrong reaching for something. The real problem though is that I sit on the floor too much and let my back curve out so I was doomed and didn’t know it. No surgery, thankfully physical therapy has been working. 🙂

  2. Your orange filling sounds delicious, Amberly. My Grandma Dempsey made yeast rolls for Thanksgiving and Christmas or whenever she had special company for dinner. My Mom, who is a great cook, had problems with the dough not rising and gave up on making them. So far, knock on wood, mine have always turned out even when I forgot the egg and added it last. This year for Christmas Eve I’ll be teaching our son to make them in his new kitchen.

    1. Thank you, Cathy. It is pretty tasty. How fun to be passing on your family’s roll recipe to your son – and in his own kitchen!!! Does he live close to you? ❤️

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