Lemon Monkey Bread

Every monkey bread recipe I’ve ever seen is made with butter and brown sugar resulting in a caramel covered pull apart bread. This recipe intrigued me because of its main ingredient. Lemon. Lemon? Yes indeed. It is a bright fresh citrus bread drizzled with butter, lemony sugar and a sweet glaze. Lemon is so vibrant and clean. With the beautiful powdery snow around here lately, this monkey bread seemed a perfect complement to the fresh white landscape. This bread looks and tastes like you slaved away making it, in fact, it is so quick and easy you won’t believe it. But absolutely delicious.

This monkey bread is sweet and tart, moist and warm, crusty and soft all together. Ooooh it is so good.

The base for this sweet treat is Rhodes Dinner Rolls. Let them thaw until not frozen, but still cold.

Then, cut in half and place in a greased (I used butter) baking dish.

Drizzle with melted butter. Mmmmm. You know how I love butter.

Then we’re going to zest a lemon.

And mix that zest with some regular granulated sugar. Which infuses the sugar with the lemon flavor. Look at those gorgeous flecks of bright yellow lemon!

Sprinkle half the lemon sugar over the rolls and allow to rise until double. They are going to get nice and fluffy and the lemon sugar will essentially dissolve into the bread as it rises. Yum!

When all puffed up nicely, sprinkle the other half of your lemon sugar on top of the rolls and then bake.

Remove from the oven when nice and golden, slide out of the pan onto your serving platter and drizzle with a little lemon glaze.

Pull apart and enjoy!

Warm, crusty on the outside, soft and perfectly lemony on the inside! Dee-licious!

The lemon sugar gets a little caramelized with the lemon and is just amazing around the edges. Oh buddy. That’s the good stuff.

Print Recipe for Lemon Monkey Bread

Lemon Monkey Bread
(from Creations by Kara)

12 Rhodes dinner rolls, thawed but still cold
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

1. Cut rolls in half and place in a greased 9×13″ pan.
2. Drizzle with the melted butter.
3. Mix lemon zest and sugar together in a small bowl. Sprinkle HALF of the lemon sugar mixture over the rolls. Cover and let raise till doubled.
4. Sprinkle remaining sugar mixture on top. Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes. Remove from pan.
5. Combine glaze ingredients. Drizzle over rolls while still warm.

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235 thoughts on “Lemon Monkey Bread

  1. Mmmmmm….this looks so yummy! Thanks for sharing. Imagine all the other fruity options there are for monkey bread. You’ve opened up a whole new realm of fruity monkey bread goodness ;)

      • Correct. You need the frozen rolls that come in a bag. Not the heat and serve ones.

      • Thank you! I wonder why they are so hard to find (any brand)? Tried two grocery stores…I think people are looking for the easy way to make rolls these days. :) This looks sooo good that I will keep looking.

      • Not sure what stores are around you, but I’ve found them at Albertsons, Safeway and Walmart in the past. Good luck hunting!!

      • Go to Rhodes web site. I put in my zip code and it directed me to several places in my area.
        I found them at Walmart.

      • I made a monkey bread with Grand’s buttermilk biscuits. You use two cans, cut each biscuit into 4 pieces. Then proceed with the rest of these directions.

  2. I went shopping for the St. patrick’s Day Holiday I didn’t think my local grocery store had the rolls but it did so I’m going to give it a try

      • I made these!! They turned out just great and the family loved them now I have to make them for Easter Sunday before church. I’m going to have all of my kids at home! you know the older they get, the harder that gets! maybe a little sweet might be the just the right thing to do the trick…. Thanks again BakerLady

  3. I have a question — is there any other way to make a lemon sugar topping without using zest? I really really dislike the taste of lemon (or any citrus) zest. Any suggestions, I’m stumped.

    • I cannot think of another way to infuse the flavor of lemon into the sugar besides the zest. I don’t think an extract would work. If you aren’t a fan of the flavor of citrus though, these probably won’t be your cup of tea.

    • I think lemon flavoring (the type that is lemon oil cut with another oil) or just straight food-grade lemon essential oil (which is basically what the zest contributes) would work if you don’t like the zest.

    • How about True Lemon? I originally found it in the aisle with powdered drink mixes that you can simply open and pour into your bottle of water to flavor it. However, it can be used in baking too.

      The box says, “The essential lemon oils and juices are cold-pressed and crystallized to capture the the lemon’s flavor at the peak of freshness so True-Lemon always tastes like fresh squeezed lemons.” More info on it can be found at http://www.truecitrus.com.

      • Sounds like that might work really well. Give it a whirl and let me know how it goes!

    • Just use powdered sugar mixed with a tiny amount of milk…..obviously, you don’t want to make a lemon sugar topping if you dislike it. Try cinnamon and sugar instead. More like a traditional sweet roll.

    • I use lemon kool aid right from the envelope on anything that I really want a lemony flavor without the zest aftertaste.

      • What an excellent idea! Thanks for sharing your genius with the rest of us. :)

      • You could try using Country Time Lemonade or lemon Jell-O instead of the sugar, if you don’t like the lemon zest.

  4. This sounds great, but I don’t shop at Walmart. I usually make my rolls from scratch, so are these Rhodes rolls more like white bread or brioche? I normally aim at brioche, but I don’t put as many eggs in the dough… so they have a sweet undertone and they are light. Would that work with this?

    Another question…. when do you serve them? Is this a brunch item? If not, what is your favorite meal to serve them with?

    • You can get Rhodes rolls at any grocery store. Not just Walmart. Rhodes are just a light white bread roll if you bake them straight up. I served this monkey bread as a brunch/morning snack. They would be great at a ladies breakfast/brunch or for any kind of baby/bridal shower. They’re also great just as an afternoon snack.

  5. this look AMAZING! I LOVE lemon! but we don’t have those dinner rolls out here – is there a recipe for them somewhere so I can make my own?

  6. I am so going to make this tomorrow when I get off work. This is by far looking like something my co-workers would love.

  7. This looks great and I can’t wait to try. Could you tell me how many this would serve. I have a family of 7 and wonder if I need to make 2 pans.

    • I think it ended up being 3 rolls across and 5 (or 6) down in the pan. So, unless you think your family is going to eat more than 2/3 each, I would say one pan will suffice. But it’ll probably get licked clean.

  8. This lemon monkey bread sounds delicious! Have you tried making this recipe in a bundt pan? Do you think it would work? I’d love to make this dish but prefer the presentation of a traditional round monkey bread dish.

    • I haven’t made it in one, but I’m sure it would work great, just be sure to sprinkle the lemon sugar and butter all around like you would a traditional monkey bread. Let me know how it goes!

      • I made a few alterations – accidentally bought buttermilk rolls in the fridge section, quartered the rolls and tossed them w/ the lemon & sugar, doubled the recipe, and put it in a bundt pan. Aside from accidentally dumping the whole dish on the counter b/c I was trying to flip it with hot pads on… turning my beautiful bundt into a heap of lemony rolls, it was delicous! Thanks for your great recipe :)

      • Glad you could salvage it and got lemony deliciousness. When will someone create hotpads that fit like gloves? (sigh)

    • To make in a bundt pan cut the rolls in quarters. increase lemon sugar by half. you will have more surface to cover, requiring more lemon sugar. Also make sure you butter the pan well. Increase baking time 7 minutes, depending on your oven. Let sit 5 minutes then flip out on your favorite serving plate.

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  10. I made these tonight for an Easter dinner I’m having tomorrow with the in-laws. I couldn’t resist trying one and they were absolutely delicious. I was hesitant on putting the glaze on them because I didn’t really like the taste but am so glad I decided to put it on. It really pulled together the lemony taste. I will def be making these again soon!

    • I didn’t eat any cold – just nuked the leftovers in the microwave for a couple seconds before eating them. I think they’d be just fine at room temperature though.

  11. These were even better than I expected. So yummy they are addicting. My only issue was once bake how do you get them out of the pan without squisking them? They are so soft and moist when I tilted the pan to slide them out they kind of bunched up. I did not want to turn them upside down and loose the sugar on top and then try to flip them back over. This was the hardest part besides leaving them alone and not eating them all myself.

    • I slid a large spatula underneath and all around the edges to loosen them up, then slid/pushed them out of the pan onto a platter.

      • I did that and then just held a wire rack lightly and fliped turned out great!!

  12. i made these last night and WOW they were wonderful and so easy to make they just melt in your mouth and i can see why you would want to eat them warm. My husband isn’t really into sweets but i had him try one and i heard ummmmm these are really good so i guess if you haven’t made them yet you need to i am adding this to my list of very favorite things to eat
    thanks for sharing this recipe!! oh and did i mention they were really easy to make and the next time i make them i think i won’t cut the roll in half i want a bigger roll there that good!!

  13. These were absolutely delightful! I made a pan a few days ago just as the recipe states to do it. Then today, I changed it up a bit by using cream cheese in the glaze….3 oz. cream cheese, 3 or 4 T. Confectioner’s sugar, 2-3 T. milk and a little vanilla along with a little lemon zest if you like. I could eat these every day! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  14. These sound delish!. I usually make my monkey bread the easy way with refigerated bisquit dough. I think this would work by substituting the cinnamon sugar with the lemon sugar. This will be happening in my house this weekend. Oh yeah. Thanks for the great idea.

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  16. Yum! Made this with the biscuits ~ took it to work! HUGE hit! instead of using the bundt pan, I put 6 pieces of the dough into a muffin tin. Thanks for posting, this is a nice switch from the carmel monkey bread!

  17. I would like these to be ready to bake first thing in the morning. Is it possible to let them rise with the lemon and sugar in the fridge overnight? If not, any ideas?

    • I think another reader did that with success. I would make sure you have time to let them come to room temp about a half hour before baking though.

    • I make my monkey bread the night before. I use the frozen bread rolls right out of the package add the ingredients and bake in the morning. Beware, this will rise by morning so set in on something to catch overflows.

  18. I found the rolls in 36 pack at Walmart, thank you! If I bake them in a metal pan instead of glass, should I change the temp/time you gave? I am so excited, since I am no baker!!

    • I would just keep my eye on them during the last 5 minutes or so – if they start looking too brown, take them out. :) So glad you found the rolls!!

  19. I made lemon flavor last night and I tried orange today. OMG!!!! Both are soooo yummy I simply substituted orange zest and juice for the lemon. These little balls of citrusy goodness are just to good to resist.

    Thanks for the recipe!
    melanie

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  22. Well, I just saw this recipe/blog on a FB post. And although I didn’t read all the comments, the lady who didn’t like the zest….what about lemon koolaid? And just use biscuits in a can if you get desperate and don’t want to go hunt the frozen bread dough. That is how I first made traditional monkey bread when I was a child. Some of the lemon koolaide mixed with the same amt of sugar. Mix a little, taste it and see what happens…….And someone else might have just said this……….

  23. First off, I have made these and they are AMAZING!! BUT this time, If I was planning on making these the night before and baking in the morning…would that work?! Or would they go flat in the fridge? Help please!! :)

    • Here’s what I would do. Make them until step 3 and then put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, take them out about a half hour before you want to bake them and let them come to room temp. They should rise as they’re sitting out and be ready to bake. I’m guessing if you let them rise the night before they wouldn’t stay risen in the fridge.

  24. Absolutely wonderful! These will definitely be a regular item at our house from now on! I couldn’t find the frozen Rhodes rolls either so I used the Bridgeford brand that I always use to make rolls. I can’t imagine them being any better. I was also out of powdered sugar so I used cream, lemon juice and a little of the left over sugar mix and heated it up. Thank you so much!

  25. These were awesome! Can’t wait to make again. One question, would you store them in the fridge or just covered on the counter?

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  27. Never heard of anything other than regular monkey bread! This is seriously going to be baking in my home tonight! I’m sure the lemony sweet n’ tangy will so be worth this 107* weather and having the oven on. Thanks for this new twist on monkey bread!

  28. just pulled a pan of these out of the oven, mmmmm! my husband is jealous because hes at work all night so he doesnt get to enjoy them warm and fresh from the oven. bummer. cant guarantee there’ll even still be any left when he gets home tomorrow morning lol.

  29. I’ve made these with a lemon as written… I’ve made them with a beautiful Australian orange (because that’s what was in season and in stock at my local store) Oh, my! They are Deeelicous either way!! The package of Rhodes I used was a 36ct. … 3 pans of rolls! Yes, I had happy neighbors!! Next, I’m thinking LIME!! :-D

      • After making several pans using halved rolls, I tried quartering the dough. Tossed them in a big bowl with the melted butter till they were all coated then half the sugar/zest. (The butter sets up against the cold rolls (so toss quickly!)) I randomly put them in the pan to rise and finished as directed. I’ve found that as soon as the smaller size roll pieces start to brown its best to take them out of the oven. Otherwise, once cool, they tend to be a bit dry. …. These never last long enough to freeze “left overs”. What an awesome delicious recipe!!! And my neighbors still love to see me on their front porch with a pan in my hands!

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    • You want each roll to be about half the size of a normal dinner roll. Fill your bundt pan however you normally would for monkey bread and yes, the powdered sugar is just in the glaze.

      • Ok thx im going to mke them for the 1st time this eve for him. He loves lemon flavored cakes,pies,bread

  32. I seen this recipe and I had to try these! However,I love lemon but I had an orange on hand and decided that would be good as well! Lol so they are rising as I type, can’t wait! I use the Rhodes dinner rolls all the time for pepperoni rolls, hamburger sliders you name it…Thanks for sharing!

  33. Yummmmm taste just like a lemon donut. So delicious. Thank you for sharing. I made these for my birthday & ate a piece just after I put the glaze on. Partly because I didn’t want to wait. Haha! Thanks again :)

  34. Made Lemon Monkey Bread last week. They are FAB! Going to have them at Christmas for guests , along with cinnamon rolls. (Found a great recipe from A Pioneer Woman on the Food Network.) Love EASY and yummy recipes!! Thanks, I will be making these forever…..

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  37. Just wanted to share that I made these about two weeks ago for my family (5 of us) to eat after dinner. My plan was to have the rest for breakfast. We ate the entire 9×13 pan (except for the 4 that I gave fresh from the oven to my neighbor for loaning me her lemon zester when I couldn’t find mine)!! There were none for breakfast! :) AND, my kids have been asking and asking for me to make them again. So, there is no school today for MLK, Jr. Day…it is snowing like crazy out…and I have lemon monkey bread in the oven. Happy happy day! Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe!!!

  38. I soooooo love lemon! I be these would be good for a little snack treat with a tall glass of iced tea, especially in the summertime.

  39. I made half of lemon and half of orange. I didn’t bother make a glaze. It’s sweet enough. It’s so good!! Next time ill try lime! Mmmmm!!

  40. I just made these this morning…. Ohhh my goodness, they are SO delicious! Gooey, sticky, sweet citrus bread! What more can a girl ask for?!

  41. I made this tonight and it’s amazing. I made them for my coworkers to enjoy tomorrow morning but I’m afraid they won’t last the night at my house! Thanks for the recipe!

    • I have the same problem with making things for my husband to take to work. It’s always a challenge to keep my hands off for even one night!

  42. Hi, I live in Mexico and I can’t find the dinner rolls, what can i use instead, or do you have a recipe to make them from scratch?
    Greetings from Sunny Baja Sur!

  43. Eating now! Delish!! I wanted to enjoy this ASAP in the morning, so I let the dough rise overnight in the fridge. This morning I finished the recipe and baked. Worked perfectly. This is a keeper!

  44. These were amazing. My boys have a dairy allergy so I substituted the butter and still couldn’t believe how tasty they were. I also made another batch with real butter, made them, let them rise on the counter and put them in the fridge over night before baking in the morning. they still turned out heavenly!!! I’m about to try another batch with cinnamon sugar. thanks for such an easy and yummy recipe!!!

  45. Hi, I’ve been looking for the Rhodes dinner rolls, but can’t find them. I did find some Brigeford Parkerhouse dinner rolls. Do you think that will work? Thanks in advance! I’m hoping to make this for Easter brunch.

  46. I’m making these right now, for an Easter dessert. The sugar/lemon mixture is delicious, my daughter and I had to taste it before we sprinkled it on the dough :) Can’t wait to taste the finished dish!!

  47. It looks like you made these in a rectangle or square pan. I’ve made the usual monkey bread in a bundt pan before…do you think this would work in a bundt? I think it might look pretty!

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  50. They are rising now … I love anything citrus, especially lemon. Can’t wait to try them. Thanks for posting this recipe on Pinterest!

  51. these look so yummy! i never heard of rhodes dinner rolls, do you buy them or make them?
    if u make them yourself give us the recipe please!
    btw its my fist time visiting this website its awesome!

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    • I use a Chrome extension called Print Friendly & PDF so I can choose what I want to print – especially on photo heavy posts. I know just how you feel!

      • I’ve updated the blog post so now there is a pdf link just above the recipe! Hope that helps with printing out the deliciousness!

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  57. I love this recipe! My first time baking this, I used what I had. Instead of the rolls, I used pillsbury Grands biscuits. I cut the biscuits into quarters because they were so big and layered them around each other in a rounded baking pan. It came out looking like an ornate flower, and my family were so impressed! The time took a lot longer, but the monkey bread was still delicious!

  58. hi all, what a yummie recipes, i <3 Lemon but i´m from Europe i don´t know what Rhodes Dinner Rolls are ? can i make it by my self ? what are the ingredients ? thank´s for help – Anna

  59. This looks (and sounds!) Amazing! Typically when I make Monkey Bread, I use this premade pizza dough that they have at Market Basket. It has the perfect amount of yeastiness, and the texture is amazing. I think I’m going to try this recipe using that instead because it’s likely cheaper, and easier to find (for me anyways!) Also, with the icing they kind of remind me of hot crossed buns! Now I’m wondering how these would fare if I put bits of fruit in between the balls when they’re baking…Hmmm. Blackberry lemon monkey bread…

  60. These were amazing! The only tweek I did was changing the powdered sugar glaze from the lemon base to the milk/vanilla base. I really like lemon but after making the lemon glaze I felf it was too much lemon. The regular powdersuagr glaze was a great compliment to the lemon bread. It was delis! I will be making again very soon!

    • I do love a basic vanilla glaze. Bet that was super yummy. I can never get enough lemon. :) Glad you enjoyed them!

  61. These will be great for a Fathers Day Brunch I’m attending – I may even try to make them with coconut for my son in law. Thanks!!!

  62. Hi! Found you on Instagram, love this recipe! But I’m Italian, I don’t know Rhodes dinner rolls :( Do you think I can make them?

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  64. I used homemade bread dough (1 pound) to match the quantity of Rhodes’ rolls. I didn’t know how much zest a lemon created, so I used a couple heaping teaspoons of thawed, frozen zest. It was really important to remove the rolls from the pan as soon as it got pulled out of the oven. They started to stick to the pan as I was slow in pulling each one out. After glazing and cooling, they tasted amazing!

    • There’s a link that says “Print Recipe for” just above the recipe in the post – if you click on it, a PDF will open for you. Hope that helps!

  65. Please e-mail me more delicious recipes! I am a teacher and would like to bake again. I miss doing that due to my non-stop profession. I used to make my own children’s birthday cakes. I bought a small cake decorating set at IKEA a month ago as a promise to myself that I would bake this summer. All Stars baseball will finish on Wednesday of this week, and I will bake. I want to make some easy peanut butter fudge for my husband and my Dad (it’s my dad’s 81st birthday today) and bake cakes again. Thank you for your support! I’m 54 years young with 4 children and 3 grand babies. It’s time to teach the youngin’s how to bake in MiMi’s kitchen:)

  66. I just made this tonight, however I made a bread dough from scratch, let it rise, rolled it out flat, brushed it with butter and sprinkled it with the lemon sugar, rolled it into a log and cut it into pieces. Placed them in a springform tin and let it rise again. Brushed with butter and the last of the lemon sugar then baked. Yummy!!!

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    • Dana – just above each recipe is the text “print recipe for”. If you click on that, it will take you to an easily printable PDF. Hope that helps!

    • I’ve been adding the easier “print recipe for” PDF on my old recipes — haven’t gotten to them all, but the vast majority of the “most popular” recipes have it now. All my new posts have the links to PDF printable files.

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  72. The recipe looks delicious. I guess its not Monkey see~Monkey do. Everyone’s going to add or delete something but if done tastefully sure the end results will be great. I personally seem to like to do a twist on things whether lemon or other. I basically will do recipe as written except~ I’m going to put 12 frozen rolls in a pan as is (It will save trouble of cutting in half) & let them rise until desired size and then bake and wait…Will have delicious JUMBO HOT ROLLS.

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