Allow me to introduce you to orange rolls, my family’s traditional Thanksgiving roll. We had them every Thanksgiving, but I don’t recall ever having them at any other time of the year, so now I strongly associate them with Turkey day. Orange rolls and salad are the only Thanksgiving foods I actually enjoy (literally), so it’s always a pleasure to make them and connect with my family traditions, and then to eat them in between reluctant bites of stuffing and mashed potatoes.

They’re a yeasted roll, and in general they’re not any more difficult than most breads or rolls…except when it comes to shaping them into knots. My very own hubby, a willing dishes-doer, salad-assembler, general sous-chef, and, might I add, brilliant PhD candidate, was bested by the orange rolls today.

“Steady, lad, keep ‘er steady…”
“Nooooooooo! I’ve lost another one!”

Any guesses as to which one he helped with? Bless his heart, he didn’t even mind when I re-did his rolls and sent him back to tackle the dishes. THAT’S the sign of a good hubby. By the way, this is what the knotted dough should look like:

And this is my orange roll army, all dressed up and ready to go.

I also made a truly amazing salad for Thanksgiving. I usually make a fennel-pomegranate salad, but this year I wanted to shake it up a little. So I grilled the fennel and added grilled persimmons and chopped hazelnuts. The dressing had orange juice, hazelnut oil, and a bit of garlic and mustard in addition to the usual vinegar and oil, and it was fabulous. It emulsified beautifully into a thick, flavorful sauce that I would have happily eaten plain.

I know Thanksgiving is over, but there’s no rule that says you can’t enjoy orange rolls and scrumptious salad the rest of the year! Read on for the recipes.

Orange Rolls

Course Dessert
Dessert Type Misc. Desserts
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 48
Calories 122 kcal
Author Elizabeth LaBau


Ingredients for rolls:

  • 1.5 cup milk scalded
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 square)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 1 grated rind of 1 orange
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 5-6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate

Ingredients for glaze:

  • 2 tbsp butter softened
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange juice concentrate
  • Light corn syrup (optional)


  1. Place butter, sugar and salt in a large bowl, pour hot milk on top and stir. Let the mixture cool to lukewarm (about 105 degrees). Add the yeast and let it dissolve and bubble, about 10 minutes. Gently stir in the remaining ingredients, adjusting flour as necessary. Turn out onto floured cutting board and knead into a ball. (At this point, my dough is always sticky, but I find that if I add enough flour to smooth it out, they're too dry at the end. So a sticky dough is fine). Place in a large greased bowl and let rise until doubled, about 2 hrs with regular yeast.
  2. To form rolls: Punch down risen dough. Flour hands well, pinch off a large walnut-sized piece of dough, roll into a "snake" about 6 inches long, and tie into a knot. (Rolls can also be made into regular balls, knots are just traditional in my family.) Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and let rise until doubled, about 45 min-1 hour. Bake at 400 degrees for 9-10 minutes.
  3. Mix all the glaze ingredients together with an electric mixer, adjusting the sugar and orange juice to preference: the glaze should be thin enough to spoon but not as thin as water. Drizzle completely over the rolls while they are still warm.