Ambrosia Cinnamon Rolls

Cozy and ultra-shareable, these would be a wonderful addition to a breakfast or brunch get together.

Ambrosia Cinnamon Rolls

Greg DuPree; Food Stylist: Ali Ramey; Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 45 mins

Ambrosia isn't the most Southern recipe. It is perhaps, though, the one that captures the uniqueness of vintage Southern dishes the most genuinely.

Ambrosia is one part fruit salad, one part parfait. Most ambrosia are made with fruits, usually orange, pineapple, and cherries. That's topped with coconut of some sort, flakes or chips typically. And to finish it off, maraschino cherries and marshmallows. Some ambrosia is then served with yogurt or a whipped, sweetened cheese.

Those flavors and fruits make it versatile and easily adaptable to all sorts of recipes. Over the years, we've turned ambrosia into cheesecake, cupcakes, bar cookies, macaroons, chocolate bark, a trifle, even a cocktail.

And now—cinnamon rolls.

These Ambrosia Cinnamon Rolls are pillowy soft and wrapped around a sweet filling laced with orange zest, warm spices, and pops of pineapple, maraschino cherry, toasted pecan, and coconut. The bottom bakes with a sugary sheen to it, while the creamy marshmallow glaze and colorful garnishes further drive home the ambrosia flavor.

It's not a lot more work to upgrade homemade cinnamon rolls to these fruit, zesty ones. You just need all the ingredient on hand, and then you can make some special a bit more sweet.



  • 3/4 cup warm whole milk (110ºF to 115ºF)

  • 1 (1/4-oz.) envelope active dry yeast

  • 4 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided

  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups (about 1 lb., 5 1/4 oz.) all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for work surface

  • 2 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from 2 to 3 large oranges) 

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • Cooking spray


  • 6 Tbsp. (3 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 Tbsp. grated orange zest (from 4 large oranges)

  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

  • 1/3 cup drained pineapple tidbits, plus more for garnish (from 1 [8-oz.] can)

  • 1/3 cup chopped drained and stemmed maraschino cherries, plus more for garnish (from 1 [13.5-oz.] jar)

  • 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut, plus more for garnish

  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans, plus more for garnish


  • 1 1/2 cups (about 6 oz.) powdered sugar

  • 1 cup (4 oz.) marshmallow cream (such as Jet-Puffed) (from 1 [7-oz.] jar)

  • 1/4 cup (2 oz.) unsalted butter, melted

  • 2 tsp. whole milk

  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1 orange, peeled and segmented, for garnish


  1. Prepare the Dough: Whisk together warm milk, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a medium bowl; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

  2. Place 4 1/2 cups of the flour, salt, and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add yeast mixture, orange juice, butter, egg, and vanilla; beat on low speed just until combined, about 15 seconds. Turn off mixer; switch to dough hook attachment. Beat at medium-low speed until a soft, tacky, elastic dough forms and dough begins to pull away from sides of bowl, 10 to 15 minutes, adding remaining 1/2 cup flour, 1 to 3 teaspoons at a time, as needed, if dough is too sticky.

    cinnamon rolls dough

    Greg DuPree; Food Stylist: Ali Ramey; Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

    Coat a large bowl with cooking spray; place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (75ºF) until dough is doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes.

  3. Grease a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.

  4. Prepare the Filling: Gently punch down Dough; roll Dough on a lightly floured surface into an 18- x 12-inch rectangle.

    dough on surface

    Greg DuPree; Food Stylist: Ali Ramey; Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

    Spread butter evenly over Dough using a small offset spatula, leaving a 1/2-inch border on 1 long side. Stir together sugar, orange zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl; sprinkle evenly over butter. Sprinkle evenly with pineapple, cherries, coconut, and pecans, pressing gently to adhere.

    cinnamon roll filling

    Greg DuPree; Food Stylist: Ali Ramey; Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

    Starting from long side without border, roll dough into a tight log, pinching seam to seal. Use a floured serrated knife (or dental floss) to cut log into 12 equal slices (about 1 1/2-inches thick). Arrange slices in prepared pan.

    cutting cinnamon rolls

    Greg DuPree; Food Stylist: Ali Ramey; Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

    Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (75ºF) until doubled in size, 30 to 60 minutes.

    cinnamon rolls after rising

    Greg DuPree; Food Stylist: Ali Ramey; Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  5. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown and cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile, prepare the Topping: Stir together powdered sugar, marshmallow cream, butter, milk, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth and combined.

  7. Let rolls cool in pan on a wire rack 20 minutes. Spread Topping over warm rolls; garnish with orange segments and additional pineapple, cherries, coconut, and pecans. Serve immediately.

    ambrosia cinnamon rolls without toppings

    Greg DuPree; Food Stylist: Ali Ramey; Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

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