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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman

Italian Cinnamon Rolls

60 MINPrep Time
30 MINCook Time
by Giada De Laurentiis
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman
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These cinnamon rolls are a play on traditional Pane di Pasqua, aka Italian Easter Bread! Pane Di Pasqua is a classic Easter treat in Italian culture. It's a sweet, fluffy yeast bread that's typically formed into a wreath and studded with colorful eggs as a centerpiece. There are different variations all over Italy — some that are even savory with sausage! — but the sweet version is the most common.
Giada fondly remembers this treat from her childhood, and this is her spin on it in the form of cinnamon rolls. Her recipe calls on the traditional flavors of Pane Di Pasqua: anise and orange. Don't worry if anise isn't your thing, as the flavor mellows as it bakes and melds perfectly with the cinnamon and citrus.
The best part? You can assemble these rolls completely ahead of time! Just store them in the refrigerator until Easter morning and pop them in the oven before your brunch. They'll puff up impossibly fluffy and golden brown, needing just a generous drizzle of orange glaze.

Italian Cinnamon Rolls



Prep Time

60 minutes

Cook Time

30 minutes




Giada De Laurentiis

Image of Italian Cinnamon Rolls


    For the dough:

  • 2 envelopes (4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast)
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  • 5 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground anise seed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick melted unsalted butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (at room temperature)
  • For The Filling:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon orange zest (from 1 orange)
  • 1 teaspoon ground anise
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • For The Icing:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice


  1. Sprinkle the active dry yeast over the warm water. Allow it to sit for 2 minutes or until it becomes creamy and starts to bubble.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer combine the flour, anise seed, salt and sugar. Stir together with a rubber spatula. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, egg yolks, vanilla and heavy cream. Add the wet ingredients and the active yeast to the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, stir together to form a rough dough. Place on the mixer with a dough hook and kneed for 10 minutes or until the dough pull away from the sides but is still soft and silky. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to double in size, about 1 hour.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the brown sugar, lemon zest, orange zest, anise and cinnamon. Dust the counter lightly with flour. Pour the dough out on to the surface and dust the top of the dough with more flour. Gently, roll the dough in to a rectangle about 22 inches by 15 inches and a 1/3 inch thick. Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough leaving a 1/4 inch boarder around the edge. Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar mixture. Starting at the end closest to you, begin rolling the dough away from you. Moisten the far edge with a little water and seal. You should have a log that looks like a pinwheel on the sides. Cut the log into 12 (2 inch) rolls.
  4. Butter the inside of a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish. Place the rolls in the pan and allow to double in size, about 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Bake the rolls for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. Allow to cool slightly while preparing the glaze.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and orange juice. Drizzle the glaze over the rolls and serve warm.



Nutrition Serving Size
per serving
Amount/Serving % Daily Value
83 grams
6 grams
12 grams
Saturated Fat
7 grams
56 milligrams
207 milligrams
2 grams
40 grams
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nut free

3 reviews & comments

  • Author's avatar image
    Mary Cisiewski - Jun 09

    Can this be converted into gluten free?

  • Author's avatar image
    Chace Wolff - Jun 09

    I made these for our Easter brunch, sooooo good! I did not have ground Anise, so I substituted Cardamom instead. Amazing flavor with the orange and lemon zest and Oh so fluffy in texture. They rose in the pan over night and were absolutely perfect. Thank you Giada for another great recipe!

  • Author's avatar image
    Rosalie Gonzales - Jun 09

    Hi Giada. Still have to try your recipe but I'm super excited doing it soon. I'm really looking forward to tasting it with the ground anise addition. Will give update. Thank you for sharing and continue to do so.

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