Filed under: Rolls
December 8, 2022

Pistachio Cardamom Rolls

Inspired by the flavors of persian love cake, this cinnamon roll dough is made with brown sugar and fresh lemon zest. It wraps around a brown butter, cardamom and pistachio filling and is topped with a rose water and lemon glaze. 

5 from 2 votes
Yield: 12 large rolls
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Persian Love… Rolls? What is Persian Love??


‘Persian Love Cake’ comes from Yasmin Khan’s recipe from her book The Saffron Tales. Of the flavors of her very special cake she says, “of a Persian garden in the late spring, adorned with the floral scent of rose water and citrus, and decorated with bright green pistachios”. 


I’ve been a little obsessed with her cake for years and earlier this year created persian love cookies that incorporate the same flavors. There’s a voice in the back of my head saying this would make a great babka too but, let’s roll with these first!


Ok, truly these are amazing. The filling gets all sticky and caramel-like on the bottom, there’s lemon in the dough and in the glaze and along with the salty pistachios it comes together in this perfect cacophony of flavors. It reminds me a lot of baklava but then there’s nothing crispy here, just a super tender roll! 


Key Recipe Ingredients 

Flour: I use bread flour but you can also use all purpose. 

Milk powder: Also known as non-fat dry milk powder. You can also use buttermilk powder.

Oil: Any kind of flavorless oil will work here. 

Lemon: Rub your lemons while washing to remove any wax. Zest straight into the dough. Reserve the lemon because you’ll use the juice for the glaze. 

Pistachio: Pistachios should be toasted (so if you bought them raw, bake them on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes at 350 F). 

Rose water: Found in the ‘middle eastern’ section of the grocery store, or sometimes near the extracts and baking aisle. You can also use orange blossom water. 


Making persian love cinnamon rolls ahead of time 

Either the first or second rise can be done in the fridge; but you’ll need to give them room temperature rising time afterwards. The dough should be doubled in size after the first rise and should be puffy after the second. 


Before the rolls go into the oven you can be sure the second rise is complete by pressing the side of a roll with your finger; if it springs back quickly the dough needs more time. If it springs back very slowly and leaves an indentation, it’s ready. 


Special notes about this recipe 


Making the Roux: You’ll do this in a pot over the stove. It’s called a tangzhong and is a chinese technique used in japanese milk bread. 


Kneading the dough: This won’t knead for too long but you’ll want a stand mixer & a dough hook, it’ll come together in about 5-7 minutes but in a shaggy, sticky mess. Don’t add any more flour!  


Making the Filling: I like browning the butter for the filling but you can also just melt it. It’ll be looser (easier to spread). If you pour the sugar into the butter while it’s hot and mix it gets it melts it partially, giving it that caramel like taste. 


Glazing & Topping: The glaze can be made thicker with more powdered sugar, looser with more lemon juice. Adjust to your liking. 

Persian Love Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Persian Love Cinnamon Rolls

Persian love cake flavors baked into a cinnamon roll!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Rest Time: 3 hours
Yields: 12 large rolls
5 from 2 votes



  • 40g or ⅓ cup bread flour
  • 240g or 1 cup g water
  • 7g or 1 packet instant yeast
  • 60g or ¼ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons milk powder
  • 60g ¼ cup oil canola or any flavorless oil
  • Zest of 2-3 lemons
  • 100g or ½ cup brown sugar
  • 500g or 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 113g or ½ cup butter to brown
  • 210g or 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g or 1 cup shelled pistachios ground


  • 160g or 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Ground pistachios and rose petals


  • In a small pot, whisk together the flour and water for the roux. Cook over medium heat until thickened (it will be gloopy). Let cool just slightly.
  • Mix together the yeast and warm water, sprinkle a pinch of sugar on top and set aside for a couple minutes to foam.
  • Spoon the flour over the yeast mixture. Add the eggs, sugar, oil, lemon zest, powder and salt & vanilla. Add the cooled roux on top. Knead on medium speed until the dough mostly comes together, about 5 minutes, it will be a shapeless sticky ball. Set in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 2 hours at room temperature or until it has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling:

  • Brown the butter by cooking it in a saucepan until you can see brown bits at the bottom. Pour into a heatproof bowl. Add the sugar, cardamom and cinnamon and stir.
  • Grease the bottom of a 13x9” cake pan.
  • Once the dough is ready, punch it down and place on a floured surface. Roll it out until it’s about 20x13”. Spread the sugar filling over it and then sprinkle on the ground pistachios into an even layer.
  • Roll it up into a log and use unwaxed dental floss to slice rounds that are 1” tall. Arrange in the prepared pan leaving about 1.5 inches between each roll.
  • Cover with a tea towel and let rise for about 1 hour, until the dough leaves a small indentation and springs back slowly when pressed. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Bake for about 40 minutes, until dark golden all over.
  • To make the glaze: whisk all the ingredients together then pour over the rolls. Sprinkle with additional ground pistachios, dried rose petals and fresh lemon zest.

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Recipe Reviews

  1. Confirming you need to add the roux when adding ingredients to the yeast? I Don’t see in the steps, but caught it in the video .

    Excited to see how these turn out!

  2. Which bread flour measurement is supposed to be used, 500g or 40g? And is it possible to use regular milk instead of a powdered form? Thanks

    • 40g goes into the roux, the 500g goes into the dough (along with the roux after it has cooked). You can use milk instead of water and skip the powder but the rolls won’t be as soft.

  3. 5 stars
    Made these for Easter brunch and everyone loved them!! The filling is next level. The only thing is that I couldn’t find an oven temp on the recipe. I set it to 375 and watched them carefully, but what oven temp would you suggest for this?

  4. Oh my goodness, this looks like just the thing for the holidays. Sigh, these flavors are my *jam*.
    I love your blog and find much baking inspiration from it. Thank you for sharing all your recipes.