Pillow-y soft and spiced with all the fall goodness, this pumpkin cinnamon rolls recipe delivers a classic breakfast favorite with an autumnal twist that’ll have you swooning! Check out the step-by-step recipe below to learn how you can make these at home.
How to make pumpkin rolls
The distinctive smell of cinnamon and nutmeg, mixed with pumpkin, will let anyone who’s present know that it’s undeniably autumn. I just love that about baking.
It gives you a sense of tradition, nostalgia, and happiness all throughout the process.
These pumpkin cinnamon rolls were adapted from the recipe posted on the blog Inspired by Charm.
They’re surprisingly airy for dough that’s got pumpkin in it. Pumpkin tends to make foods dense. I also made sure to use a light hand when handling the dough, favoring a sticky dough that was a bit tricky to work with.
The less flour you use, the lighter your rolls will be.
This pumpkin cinnamon rolls recipe has 3 parts to it: the dough, the filling, and the maple icing.
The pumpkin dough is first created and laid to rest for an hour and a half of rising time. It’s then gently rolled out and buttered.
FYI, I give one of my favorite tips below in the recipe card for helping dough rise in a comfy, cozy place it likes. Basically, I turn on my oven’s warm setting for 30 seconds, then turn the oven back off. I then place my covered bowl of dough in this warm, draft-free environment.
This is particularly helpful if you live in a very cold environment, where even the kitchen counter can be too cool of an environment for you dough to rise in. This usually results in the dough taking really long to double in size like it should.
The second part of this recipe comprises of the filling, which is a combination of white sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon all mixed together. This mixture then gets sprinkled onto the buttered dough, just like a classic cinnamon rolls recipe.
The dough is then rolled up, sliced into individual size rolls, baked, and then cooled before it’s topped with a maple-flavored icing.
The result is what I imagine angels in Heaven eat during the fall season: pure, divine, pumpkin-y goodness.
Tools for making pumpkin cinnamon rolls at home
If you’ve never made a cinnamon rolls recipe at home, you should know that the dough is often very moist and sticky.
I use the pastry mat for all my baking needs, as it’s the easiest and cleanest way to work with dough on your counter without having the dough stick horribly to the surface, or having to go back and heavy-duty scrub the counter with a soapy sponge.
Instead, you’ll find that the pastry mat is incredibly easy to swipe over with your sponge and simply swipe dry with a paper towel. Then I just fold the mat up and stick it in my baking cabinet.
The other perk of using a pastry mat is that it offers marked measurements on the mat, which makes it really easy to follow a recipe like this, where a particular measurement for the size of your rolled out dough is dictated.
As for the bench scraper, it’s awesome for sticky doughs like this pumpkin cinnamon rolls recipe, as it provides a smooth, sharp edge with valuable surface area, making it easy to nudge the dough free from your pastry mat and lift the dough up.
Even if you’re typically not one to bake, a bench scraper is awesome for scooping up your chopped ingredients off your cutting board (as opposed to your knife; don’t use your knife to do this like most people do as it really dulls and hurts your knife over time!).
for the dough
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water, 105°F - 110°F
- 1/2 cup steaming milk
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 egg
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
for the filling
- 5-6 tbsp softened butter, divided
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
for the icing
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp maple flavoring
Make the dough
- Get started on the dough by first adding the yeast to a small bowl along with the warmed water. Let this mixture rest for 10 minutes, until foamy.
- While you wait for the yeast, to the bowl of a stand mixer, pour in the hot milk, white sugar, melted butter, salt, pumpkin puree, and spices. Mix on medium speed to combine. Then, as the mixer is running on low speed, add in the egg, then raise the speed to medium to combine everything together. Alternatively, you can do all of this in a large mixing bowl with a whisk. You just want to be sure that your ingredients in the bowl aren't too hot by the time you add the egg in as there's a greater chance of it curdling with you manually, hand-mixing things.
- Next, add in 2 cups of the all-purpose flour and give the batter a mix until it's all incorporated. At this point, it sort of looks like muffin batter. Your yeast mixture should be ready, so you'll want to add that in now along with the remaining 2 1/2 cups of flour. If you're using a stand mixer, use the hook attachment to knead the dough for 5 minutes. Otherwise, stir everything together with a wooden spoon and use a well-floured surface and well-floured hands to knead the dough for a few minutes by hand.
- Grease a large bowl, then place the dough into the bowl. The dough will be super sticky; this is normal. Cover the bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap. Turn on your oven's Warm Setting for 30 seconds, then turn the oven off. Place the bowl of dough in this warm, draft-free environment for up to 1 1/2 hours (until the dough is nearly doubled in size.
Creating the filling
- Mix the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together in a bowl until it's all well-blended together. Have about 1/4 cup of softened butter ready to go by your side, along with a pastry brush.
Shape and divide the rolls
- Once the dough is ready, prepare your counter space by adding a generous amount of flour. Flour your hands, then use a spoon or rubber spatula to gently pry the dough out onto the floured surface. Sprinkle flour on the dough, then grab a rolling pin and roll the dough out into a rectangle that's approximately 12 inches by 16 inches long.
- Grab the 1/4 cup of softened butter and using a brush to smear long strokes of butter all over the dough. Then take a spoon and sprinkle about 3/4 of the sugar mixture all over the dough, sprinkling all the way to the edges.
- Grab the long side of the dough that is opposite of you and use a typewriter-like motion to gently roll the dough towards you, moving from left to right, then right ot left until you end up with a long log, seam-side face down. This is where a bench scraper (aka pastry cutter) can be really helpful in helping you lift the sticky dough off the mat as you go.
- Brush a 13 x 9 inch pan with a tablespoon of the softened butter. Then, use the bench scraper (or a sharp knife) to cut the dough log into 8 pieces (the end pieces are always a little smaller). Transfer the pieces to the buttered pan, lining up the rolls into two columns of 4.
- Melt the remaining butter, then brush this all over the top of the rolls. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on the top of the rolls, then cover the pan loosely with a light kitchen towel for 20 minutes.
Bake the rolls
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. When the 20 minutes are up, place the pan of rolls into the oven on the middle rack and bake them for approximately 35 minutes, until they're nice and golden (give the rolls a tap, and if you hear a hollow sound, they should be ready).
- Let the rolls cool in the pan until they're just barely warm before adding icing (otherwise the icing dissolves). To make the icing, simply whisk the powdered sugar with the maple flavoring and water until it's smooth. Simply pour the icing all over the top and serve!