Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

BrunchFavorite FallMake-aheadPumpkinRolls

It’s pumpkin spice season and that means Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls are on your weekend breakfast menu! In addition to being easy-to-make, fluffy, and delicious, these rolls use a whole can of pumpkin puree! It’s about time to make that kitchen smell like fall.

Photography Credit: Marta Rivera

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting are about to revolutionize the way you eat breakfast.

Sure, you could bake up a delicious batch of standard cinnamon rolls and I wouldn’t blame you, but it’s fall, and if you have a pumpkin lover in your life, these light, fluffy, pumpkin-spiced cinnamon rolls are the perfect weekend breakfast treat.

In addition to being pretty easy to make, this homemade pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe uses an entire can of pumpkin!

Too often, other recipes have left me holding an almost empty can of pumpkin puree, only to shove it into a food storage container and banish it to the Siberia that is the back corner of my fridge.

Not anymore! I’ve made sure every last little bit of that pumpkin goes into this breakfast roll; nary a teaspoon gets left in the can.

Between the flaky sweet dough and the substantially spiced pumpkin filling, you’re going to feel like a regular pumpkin puree economist or something like that. Get ready; you’re about to be a breakfast hero!

The Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls in a baking dish with one removed and set on a plate.

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MAKE PERFECT PUMPKIN CINNAMON ROLLS EVERY TIME!

These cinnamon rolls are made with enriched dough, which means there is fat in it. Typical cinnamon rolls made like this have butter and eggs. For this recipe, I replaced the egg with pumpkin puree, which helps to balance the moisture and weight of the dough. Here are some things to watch out for when you’re working with yeast and pumpkin in dough:

  • The humidity of your environment determines how much flour to add to the dough. I made this recipe on a day where the humidity registered 67 percent, which meant I had to add an additional 1/4 cup of flour. A couple of weeks later, the humidity was at 15 percent and I didn’t need that additional 1/4 cup of flour. In cases like this, feeling the dough is key. Soft and pliable is good. Sticky and loose, not so much.
  • Yeast is a living organism and if exposed to extreme temperatures, for example scalding hot milk, the yeast will die. If the yeast dies our dough won’t rise, ever. On the other hand, adding the yeast to tepid milk (110°F/43°C) is like submerging it in a bubble bath. It’ll be primed to do its best work and your dough will rise.
  • Time is also a factor when it comes to working with yeast. Let it rehydrate before adding it to your wet mix. If you’re really confident your yeast is alive and well, say you just used it to bake bread, then feel free to add the yeast to the flour and get to mixing. If, however, you haven’t used your yeast in a while, activating it in that warm milk prior to using it is important. It’s like insurance that lets you know the yeast will give rise to your dough and all of your work won’t be in vain.
  • Mix the yeast and a pinch of sugar into the milk. The sugar motivates the yeast to get to work. Can the yeast work without the sugar? Yes. Does it work better with it? Also, yes.

Overhead view of a table with Homemade Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls served on plates with coffee, a french press, and the remaining rolls above the plates.

HOW TO MAKE OVERNIGHT PUMPKIN CINNAMON ROLLS

I’m all about getting as much done the night before because I’m not a morning person.

To turn these pumpkin cinnamon rolls into overnight pumpkin cinnamon rolls, prepare the dough and allow it to rise as if you’re making the rolls that day.

After spreading the pumpkin-cinnamon filling on the rolled out dough, roll, slice, and arrange in the baking pan as instructed. Cover the pan of rolls with plastic wrap and refrigerate them overnight.

In the morning, about an hour before you plan to eat, pull the pan of rolls out of the fridge and place it in a cold oven. Allow the rolls to sit in the cold oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the plastic wrap, then turn on the oven.

Once the oven has reached the proper temperature, set the timer for 20 minutes. Check the rolls after 20 minutes—if they’re still pale, bake for five additional minutes, then remove the dish from the oven and frost as desired.

Homemade Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls set on a small plate with a fork to the left and a second plate behind.

HOW TO FREEZE PUMPKIN CINNAMON ROLLS

Freeze these cinnamon rolls after baking and before frosting them. Just allow the rolls to cool completely before transferring them to a freezer storage bag. They’ll keep in the freezer for two months. I do not recommend freezing the rolls before baking them.

You can also freeze the cream cheese frosting in this recipe. The texture won’t be exactly the same as when it’s first made. Previously frozen cream cheese frosting is grainier than frosting that was never frozen. The change is minimal, though, so when I have leftover frosting, I have no qualms about freezing it. Seal it in a freezer bag and it will keep for up to three months.

To thaw the frosting, I just throw it in the fridge for a few hours before mixing it on low speed until it’s smooth.

MORE BREAKFAST ROLL RECIPES!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

  • Prep time: 50 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Rising time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 rolls

To save time, feel free to use 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice blend in lieu of the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice in the dough, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice to replace the individual spices in the cinnamon-sugar mixture used in the filling.

 

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1 cup (250 ml) milk, warmed to 110°F/40°C
  • 1 tablespoon (8 g) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar, plus a pinch
  • 6 to 6 1/2 (775 g to 840g) cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
  • 1 1/2 (3 g) teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (6 g) kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 1/4 cup (290 g) pure pumpkin puree (save the remainder for the filling)
  • 4 tablespoons (55 g) unsalted butter, melted

For the pumpkin-cinnamon filling:

  • 4 tablespoons (55 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (125 g) pure pumpkin puree (or the remaining pumpkin in the can)
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces (225 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 to 4 cups (360-480 g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

1 Bloom the yeast: Add the yeast and a pinch of sugar to the warm milk and let it sit for 5 minutes. It will smell like bread and become foamy. (If the yeast doesn’t foam, it’s probably dead or the milk was too hot and you’ll need to repeat this step with new yeast.)

2 Combine the dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl add the flour, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Use a whisk to combine.

3 In the bowl of a stand mixer: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the pumpkin puree, and the butter on low speed, until the mixture is smooth and no large lumps of pumpkin remain.

Add 1 cup of the flour mixture and all of the yeast-milk mixture to the bowl. Blend these into the pumpkin mixture on low speed until it forms a batter. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and paddle.

4 Add the remaining flour and knead the dough: With the mixer on low speed, add 5 cups of flour. (You should still have 1/2 cup flour to the remaining to adjust the dough as needed).

Once the dough becomes too stiff to mix with the paddle attachment, switch to the dough hook attachment. Increase to the second speed (medium-low) and knead the dough for 10 minutes.

The bowl should gather into a ball on the mixer’s hook and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Alternatively, you can knead the dough by hand on a floured countertop for 10 minutes.

5 Adjust the dough if needed: If you notice that some of the dough looks wet and remains in a paste on the bottom of the bowl, add more flour one tablespoon at a time to stiffen it up.

Once the dough is fully kneaded, it should feel soft, pliable, and cool to the touch. The dough should not stick to your hands when you remove it from the bowl.

6 Allow the dough to rise: Once the dough has been kneaded, remove it from the bowl. Grease the inside of the bowl with pan spray or a small amount of butter, then return the dough back to the bowl. Turn the dough over so the greased side is now facing up. This keeps the dough from crusting over as it rises.

Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or with a piece of plastic wrap and put the bowl in a warm, draft-free area of your kitchen (my microwave is my go-to dough rising spot).

Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.

Dough for Homemade Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls in a white mixing bowl. Risen dough in a white mixing bowl to make the Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

7 Punch the dough down: Once the dough has risen, punch it down. After punching it down, cover the ball of dough with a clean towel and let the dough rest for 15 minutes on the countertop while you mix the pumpkin-cinnamon filling. Just clean the mixing bowl and make the filling in that.

8 Make the pumpkin-cinnamon filling: In a mixing bowl, add the softened butter. Using an electric hand mixer, blend the butter until it’s smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining pumpkin puree and the flour. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute, scraping down the bowl and beaters once during mixing. The pumpkin and flour should form a smooth spread with the butter.

In a separate bowl, use a whisk to combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice.

Pumpkin puree and butter in a mixing bowl to show how to make Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

9 Roll out and fill the pumpkin dough: On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll the pumpkin dough into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle of dough that measures 18 x 17-inches.

Spread the pumpkin-butter mixture over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch margin along one long side of the dough. This margin will allow you to seal the roll later.

Sprinkle the spiced-sugar mixture evenly over the part of the dough with pumpkin-butter.

Dough rolled out and getting filling spread over top for Homemade Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

10 Roll the dough: Starting with the longest side, roll the dough tightly from one end to the next. Pinch the roll to seal it and position it so that the seam is down.

11 Slice the rolls and rise again: Cut the log of pumpkin cinnamon dough into 1 1/2-inch slices. You should end up with 12 rolls.

Spray a 15 x 10 3/4-inch baking dish (or a 9x13-inch baking dish if you have it) with butter or non-stick cooking spray.

Arrange the rolls in the baking dish, making sure to leave 1/4 inch of space around each one to allow for room to rise.

Cover the baking dish with a clean kitchen towel or a piece of plastic wrap and set it in a warm, draft-free area in the kitchen. Allow the rolls to rise a second time, this time for 30 minutes.

Formed cinnamon rolls in a baking dish to show how to make Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

12 Preheat the oven: While the rolls are rising, preheat your oven to 350°F/177°C.

13 Bake the rolls: Once the rolls have risen a second time, they should puff up noticeably and fill the baking dish. Place uncovered in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and risen. Remove the dish from the oven and allow the rolls to cool for 10 minutes.

The Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls partially covered in a baking dish. Baked cinnamon rolls in a baking dish to show how to make Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

14 Make the cream cheese frosting: In a mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter and cream cheese. Beat together on low speed until smooth, or about 2 to 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beater.

Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Mix again on low speed for another 2 or 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beater once during the mixing time. Add the remaining powdered sugar if you prefer a thicker frosting. Use it as-is for thinner frosting.

Cream cheese frosting in a white bowl for homemade pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

15 Frost the pumpkin cinnamon rolls: After the rolls have cooled, slather the cream cheese frosting on the tops of each roll.

The Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls in a baking dish and being frosted with cream cheese frosting.

Store the baked, frosted rolls in the refrigerator for 3 days. Reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute to warm them.

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Marta Rivera

Marta Rivera is trained chef with over 20 years in the culinary field and the blogger behind Sense & Edibility. She graduated from the Baltimore International Culinary College with degrees in Culinary Arts and Classical Pastries. Her cookbook is Taste and See Cooks.

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4 Comments / Reviews

No ImagePumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. gigi

    Can I make this in a bread machine? Recipe is WAY too long for me

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Linda King

    I have a question on the overnight directions. Are you directing that the rolls stay in the oven as the oven is heating up and then bake for 20 minutes once the oven is at the correct temperature?

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A pan of Homemade Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls are being frosted.Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting