Ultimate Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
My Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls are a festive spin on the classic! With spirals of pumpkin-y dough, a spiced brown sugar filling, and a slathering of cream cheese frosting, your fall isn’t complete without making a batch of these cinnamon rolls!
No one’s ever going to turn down a warm, freshly-baked cinnamon roll, but when you give them an upgrade by adding pumpkin and pumpkin spice, they’ll disappear as soon as you finish frosting them! I highly recommend making a batch for the lazy morning after Thanksgiving, but they’re equally fitting for a special weekend breakfast, or a brunch get-together with family and friends.
These pumpkin cinnamon rolls are also an excellent baking project for kids to help with. Younger kiddos will have fun sprinkling the pumpkin spice and brown sugar filling onto the dough and smearing the cream cheese frosting over the warm cinnamon rolls; older kids can help with the kneading, rolling, and slicing.
And, of course, everyone in the family will enjoy eating these up!
What You’ll Need
While the ingredient list looks long, most of these items are things you probably have on hand, especially if you bake regularly!
For the dough:
- Milk – I recommend using whole milk; the fat yields a more tender end-product.
- Instant rise yeast – Be sure to use instant rise yeast, not active dry. They work differently!
- Eggs – Take the eggs out of the fridge 30 to 45 minutes before you’re ready to start the recipe so they can come to room temperature.
- Pumpkin puree – If you use canned pumpkin puree, you’ll have some left to use up. Make Pumpkin Cranberry Apple Steel Cut Oats to go with your cinnamon rolls!
- Corn starch
- Pumpkin pie spice – Here’s how to make your own pumpkin pie spice!
- Unsalted Butter – This should also be at room temperature.
For the filling:
- Brown sugar
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Unsalted Butter – This butter needs to be at room temperature too!
For the cream cheese frosting:
- Cream cheese – Set the cream cheese on the counter so it can also come to room temperature. This makes it easier to whip up into a creamy frosting.
- Vanilla extract – While vanilla is the classic flavor for cream cheese frosting, you can switch things up and use maple extract for something different.
- Powdered sugar
How to Make Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
This recipe is easy to make, but it does take time, which means you need to do some planning! You’ll need a block of about 5 hours to prep and bake these cinnamon rolls.
Activate the yeast. Whisk together the warm milk and yeast in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, then whisk in the eggs and pumpkin puree. Let sit for about 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
Start the dough mixture. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine 4 ¼ cups of flour, cornstarch, pumpkin spice, sugar, and salt. Turn the mixer to low and pour the warm milk and yeast mixture into the bowl. Mix just until the dough starts to come together, about 1 minute.
Finish the dough. Increase the mixer speed to medium, then add the softened butter a tablespoon at a time. Continue mixing until the dough forms a smooth ball and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough appears to be too sticky, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour a tablespoon at a time.
Knead. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until it forms a smooth, round ball. Transfer the dough ball into a large bowl coated with non-stick cooking spray. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rise in a warm place away from drafts until it has doubled in size. This should take about an hour.
Make the filling mixture. Whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and salt in a small mixing bowl.
Roll out the dough. Place the ball of dough onto your lightly floured work surface and roll it into a 15×20-inch rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough, and sprinkle the filling mixture over the top.
Form the cinnamon rolls. Starting at the top, roll the dough into a log. When you get to the end, pinch to create a sealed seam. Use unwaxed, unflavored dental floss or a sharp chef’s knife to cut the dough into 12 even rolls. Transfer them to a 13”x9” baking pan coated in nonstick cooking spray.
Let the rolls rise. Cover the baking pan with plastic wrap and let the cinnamon rolls rise in a warm place until they’ve doubled in size, about 1 hour. Just before the rolls are finished rising, preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Bake. Remove the plastic wrap and place the baking pan in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the rolls are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
Frost. Slather your pumpkin cinnamon rolls with the cream cheese frosting, then serve.
Tips for Success
If you’ve never made cinnamon rolls before, these tips will help make sure they’re perfect!
- Warming the milk. The milk needs to be 110ºF for this recipe. If you don’t have a thermometer, just know that 110º is warm, not hot. You don’t even need to bring it to a simmer for it to reach this temperature.
- No stand mixer? You can make the dough with a mixing bowl and wooden spoon instead. Just be careful not to over-mix, or the dough will be tough!
- Rolling the dough. When you’re rolling the dough into a log, you need to make sure it’s tight, without any gaps or holes. This keeps the filling in place when you cut the rolls and ensures a nice shape!
How to Store
Because of the cream cheese frosting, pumpkin cinnamon rolls need to be refrigerated. Transfer them to an airtight container or cover them in the baking dish with plastic. You can take them out and let them come to room temperature for a few minutes before serving, or warm them up in the microwave.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Pumpkin cinnamon rolls freeze beautifully! If you want to freeze a whole batch, I recommend freezing the cinnamon rolls unbaked, letting them thaw in the fridge, and then baking according to the instructions above. You can either make the frosting the day you plan on serving or make that in advance too; the frosting can be frozen in a zip-top bag, then thawed in the refrigerator.
If you’re freezing leftovers, place them on a plate or baking sheet and and put them in the freezer. Once the frosting is frozen through completely, wrap the the cinnamon rolls in plastic wrap or place them in a freezer bag. When you’re ready to thaw, place the cinnamon rolls uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. This keeps the frosting from sticking to the plastic!
Either way you freeze these rolls, use them within 2 months.
With their spirals of fluffy dough, pumpkin spice brown sugar filling, and a slathering of cream cheese frosting, your fall isn’t complete without making these festive Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls!
- 3/4 cup Milk, whole milk preferred, heated to 110 degrees
- 2 1/4 tsp Instant Rise Yeast (1 packet)
- 3 Eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup Pumpkin Puree
- 4 1/4 – 4 1/2 cup Flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/4 cup Corn Starch
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt
- 12 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces and softened
- 1 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 4 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 Tbsp Milk, whole milk preferred
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
For the Dough –
In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together the heated milk and yeast. Then whisk in the eggs and pumpkin puree. Allow the yeast to activate for at least five minutes. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, mix 4 ¼ cups flour, cornstarch, pumpkin spice, sugar, and salt until it is combined. With the mixer on low, pour the warm milk and yeast mixture into the bowl until the dough starts to come together, about 1 minute.
Increase the speed to medium and add the butter one tablespoon at a time. Wait until the butter is mixed in before adding more. Continue to mix the dough until the dough forms a smooth ball, and it pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl cleanly. If the dough is still sticky and not pulling away from the sides, add in the remaining ¼ cup of flour to the dough, one tablespoon at a time.
Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead the dough until it forms a smooth, round ball. Place the dough into a lightly non-stick sprayed bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
For the Filling –
In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and salt. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, into a 15”x20” rectangle. Spread the softened butter over the dough, and sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the top.
Starting at the top, roll the dough into a tight roll. Pinch the end of the dough to create a sealed seam. Using unwaxed plain dental floss, or a very sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 even cinnamon rolls. Transfer them, cut side up, to a non-stick sprayed 13”x9” baking pan. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
To Bake –
While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, or food processor, beat together the cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar until it is smooth. Set aside until ready to spread on rolls.
Remove the plastic wrap from the rolls, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until they are deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Spread the cream cheese frosting on top of the warm rolls, and serve.
Keywords: pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls, homemade cinnamon rolls, breakfast baking