The Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

The last time I made pumpkin cinnamon rolls was Fall 2012 when I was writing Cooking With Pumpkin.

Last fall I made Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls, but was beyond overdue for pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

The Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls -  Super soft, fluffy, and topped with a cream cheese glaze! Move over Cinnabon, these are better!!

And these are the best pumpkin cinnamon rolls I’ve ever made. I prefer these over Cinnabon, and that’s a big statement coming from a former Cinnabon junkie.

They’re soft, light, fluffy and there’s just enough pumpkin flavor to notice, but not so much that it overwhelms the inherent beauty of classic cinnamon rolls. Topped with cream cheese glaze, they’re totally irresistible.

MY OTHER RECIPES

The Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls -  Super soft, fluffy, and topped with a cream cheese glaze! Move over Cinnabon, these are better!!

I have a habit of donating most of what I bake after my family has a bite or a piece since we don’t need entire cakes, multiple pans of bars, and dozens of cookies, every week. My daughter asked, “Mom, how many of these did you make?” And I said an entire pan and she said, “Good, don’t donate any of them!”

She said they’re the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever made and that the center bites are the best because they’re so soft and juicy. I agree.

The Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls -  Super soft, fluffy, and topped with a cream cheese glaze! Move over Cinnabon, these are better!!

I used my current favorite yeast roll recipe as the jumping off point and worked in pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and plenty of cinnamon and brown sugar. I love this recipe too but it makes quite a hearty amount and we just don’t need all those rolls.

The dough is buttermilk-based, and although I’ve made non-buttermilk sweet rolls, for the softest, lightest, and most tender rolls, I swear by buttermilk. Between the buttermilk, butter, and egg, the dough rises beautifully and it’s my favorite dough base.

The Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls -  Super soft, fluffy, and topped with a cream cheese glaze! Move over Cinnabon, these are better!!

There’s an option to make the rolls as overnight rolls. Start the dough at night, roll and shape it, and refrigerate the coiled rolls until you’re ready to bake the next morning. That way you don’t have to get up at 5am to have these ready with your first cup of coffee.

The glaze is a simple glaze of cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and a splash of cream. It makes more than the average person may want on their rolls, but it keeps for weeks in the fridge. I’m a dip, glaze, and frosting-aholic, and can never have too much. I keep a little cup on the side of my plate so I can double-dip.

The Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls -  Super soft, fluffy, and topped with a cream cheese glaze! Move over Cinnabon, these are better!!

The glaze soaks into the nooks and crannies and adds even more moisture and softness.

Total gooey, cinnamon-and-sugary, juicy perfection. Center bites make me absolutely weak in the knees.

The Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls -  Super soft, fluffy, and topped with a cream cheese glaze! Move over Cinnabon, these are better!!

Definitely my new favorite cinnamon rolls.

Worth every last bit of cardio.

The Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls -  Super soft, fluffy, and topped with a cream cheese glaze! Move over Cinnabon, these are better!!

The Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

The recipe looks long, but I’ve written every last detail so the rolls turn out perfectly for you. Read the recipe at least twice before starting, and the only unique item is in Step 15, unwaxed dental floss. Very helpful for not squishing the rolls and making clean cuts. They’re the best pumpkin cinnamon roll – soft, light, fluffy and there’s just enough pumpkin flavor to notice, but not so much that it overwhelms the inherent beauty of classic cinnamon rolls. Topped with cream cheese glaze, they’re totally irresistible. The dough is buttermilk-based, and for the softest, lightest, and most tender rolls, I swear by buttermilk. There’s an option to make as overnight rolls. Start the dough at night, roll and shape it, and refrigerate the coiled rolls until you’re ready to bake the next morning. The glaze soaks into the nooks and crannies and adds even more moisture and softness. Total gooey, cinnamon-and-sugary, juicy perfection.

Ingredients:

Dough
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast (one 1/4-ounce packet, I use Red Star Platinum)
pinch salt, to taste
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg, lightly whisked

Filling
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 of 1 stick), very soft – let it sit out while dough rises
1 to 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
2+ tablespoons cinnamon (I used 3+)

Cream Cheese Glaze
4 ounces brick-style cream cheese (lite is okay), softened – let it sit out on the second rise or while rolls bake
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
pinch salt, optional and to taste (helps balance the sweetness)
about 3 to 4 tablespoons half-and-half or cream, or as needed for consistency

Directions:

  1. Dough – To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or use a large mixing bowl and wooden spoon and your hands), add 3 1/4 cups flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, yeast, salt; set aside.
  2. In 2-cup glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl, and the butter and heat to melt, about 1 minute on high power.
  3. Add buttermilk and pumpkin to melted butter and warm to temperature, about 45 seconds on high power in the microwave. (Based on the type of yeast used, temperatures will vary. Red Star Platinum yeast calls for warmer temperatures than most, 120 to 130F; other brands and yeast call for much lower temperatures, about 95 to 105F. Heat the mixture according to manufacturer’s recommendations on the packaging. Taking the temperature with a digital thermometer is highly recommended, but if you’re not, make sure the milk is warm, not hot. Err on the cooler rather than hotter side so you don’t kill the yeast.) If the milk separates or gets a little funny looking after being warmed, whisk it to smooth it out.
  4. Add butter-buttermilk-pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients in mixing bowl.
  5. In a small bowl, crack and lightly whisk the egg, and add egg to mixing bowl.
  6. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to knead dough for about 7 minutes (about 7 to 10 minutes by hand using a wooden spoon and then switching to your hands). 3 1/4 cups of flour and 7 minutes is perfect for me, but if after 5 minutes your dough is very sloppy, wet, and won’t come together, add up to 1/4 cup flour, or as needed until it does come together. However, the more flour added, the denser and heavier the rolls will be; wetter dough is preferred to overly dry. If dough is dry or crumbly, drizzle in buttermilk until it comes together.
  7. Remove dough from the mixing bowl, spray a large bowl with cooking spray, place the dough in the bowl, and flip it over once so it’s lightly oiled on both top and bottom.
  8. Cover bowl with plasticwrap (spray it with cooking spray in case dough rises high enough to touch it) and place bowl in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or doubled in size. I keep my bowl inside a powered-off oven that I preheated for 1 minute to 400F, then it’s powered off. Do not, repeat do not, keep the oven on. The pre-heated, warm oven creates a nice 85F-ish environment, ideal for yeast. If your rising spot is cold, rising will likely take longer than 2 1/2 hours.
  9. While dough rises, line a 9×13-inch aluminum pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  10. Rolling Out the Dough – After dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Turn dough out onto a Silpat or floured countertop. With a rolling pin, roll it out to about 26-by-13-inches. Use the 13-inch side of the 9-x13 pan to eyeball it, no need use a ruler.
  11. Filling – Using a knife or spatula, evenly spread butter over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch bare margin.
  12. Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar and then the cinnamon over the top, and lightly pat it down with your fingertips to help it adhere.
  13. Slicing the Dough – Starting with a long edge (the 26-inch side), roll the dough into a tightly wound log, with the seam side down.
  14. Using a knife, make small hash marks about 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart (yields 20 to 24 rolls); or make bigger rolls and yield 12 to 16. Hash marks create less guesswork once you start slicing and things get messier and harder to eyeball where to slice; the hash marks are nice place-markers.
  15. Use plain, unwaxed dental floss to slice the rolls. I highly recommend slicing the rolls with floss, not knives. Floss does not squish or compact the log like knives do. Visual here.
  16. Arrange the rolls in the prepared pan (I made 5 rows of 4 or 5 rolls across, and not all rows have same number of rolls; crowding is okay). Cover with plastic wrap.
  17. Make Straight Through – Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until the rolls have nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  18. Or…Make as Overnight Rolls – Don’t let rolls rise after they’ve been sliced and placed in covered pan. Place pan in refrigerator for up to 16 hours. Before baking, let the rolls rise at room temperature until they have nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  19. Baking –For either version, bake at 375F for about 15 to 17 minutes, or until lightly golden on top and cooked through (ovens, dough, and climates vary and so will baking duration, but 1 to 2 minutes matters in this recipe). Watch rolls like a hawk and don’t overbake or they won’t taste nearly as good. At 15 1/2 minutes my rolls were barely done and on the doughy side but I prefer this because it reminds me of Cinnabons; if you like less doughy rolls, bake longer.
  20. Cream Cheese Glaze – In a medium bowl, add cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, optional salt, 3 tablespoons cream, and whisk or beat with a handheld electric mixer until smooth and combined. Add cream as needed until desired consistency is reached.
  21. Evenly pour glaze over rolls, lightly spreading with a spatula as necessary.
  22. Serve immediately. Rolls are best warm and fresh, but will keep airtight at room temp for up to 4 days; reheat in micro for about 5 seconds to re-soften or as desired. I am comfortable keeping glazed rolls at room temp and do not recommend storing them in the fridge because they will dry out. Rolls can be made and baked to completion, and then frozen for up to 6 months; unthaw and glaze immediately prior to serving. I recommend baking them from start to finish and then freezing, rather than trying to freeze unbaked dough, if you want to make in bulk in advance.

Adapted from The Best Glazed Orange Sweet Rolls and Overnight Buttermilk Soft and Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls

Only Eats

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115 comments on “The Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls”

  1. I rushed to the shop today only to discover that there were NO pumpkins! A joke, or what? Will have to wait to try this recipe out!

    • I used canned pumpkin puree, just so you know, and if you have that available, go with that rather than cooking down and pureeing your own pumpkins! Way easier if it’s available in your area!

  2. Man, it is a good thing we adopted an active dog…. because I’m making these tonight, after the hubby leaves for work, and baking them in the morning, so they’re nice and fresh when he comes home. :-)

  3. These look divine. I’m surprised your first rise says 2-2.5 hours. Does the weight of the pumpkin make these much slower to rise than a more traditional dough? I ask because that is about 2x my usual rise time. I’d hate to leave them to rise and have the dough get away from me. Thanks for any insight you can offer. We will definitely be having these soon!

    • Yes 2 to 2.5 hours is correct for me, my dough, my climate. I find that if I rush that first rise, I never achieve the really light, fluffy, tender rolls I covet. For almost all of my cinnamon rolls, the Orange Rolls that I based these on, I always go at least 2 hours, and usually about 2:15. And yes the pumpkin does weight it down some. I also don’t over-flour my dough so the less flour, the more time it takes to sort of ‘get big and puffy’ since there’s less available gluten. But do what you think is common-sense for your situation since you sound like an experience bread maker!

  4. Do you have any idea how difficult you make my life? I’m a lifetime Weight Watchers member and I weigh in monthly–which, with recipes like this, is NOT an easy feat!

  5. Mmm. These would be the perfect company to my morning cup of coffee!

  6. These look wonderful! They make me just want to indulge!

  7. These are absolutely stunning Averie! What a breakfast (or dessert), but I like it for breakfast better! Pinned :) Hope you are having a great weekend!

  8. These look totally dreamy, Averie!!

  9. Lately I’ve been craving cinnamon rolls and these look incredible! I totally want to wake up to one of these with my morning coffee :D Need to star lacing up my running shoes now for these babies! For some reason, running is easier when you can come home to something like these ;)

  10. Averie – these look A-MAZING. I am doing some baking to bring into work and am thinking about these! If I were to use 2 smaller pans (rather than 1 9×13 – easier for me to bring with me in the morning & leave some at home!) what would you suggest? Any thoughts on baking times or pan sizes that would work?
    Looking forward to hearing back from you!
    Love your recipes! :)

  11. Oh, Averie. It’s no secret anymore: you’re my favorite blogger ever. From your gorgeous, stunningly perfect photography to your expert, perfectly-executed and delicious recipes, you’re the one. If you ever want another spouse, I’m your girl. I’m excellent at doing dishes and vacuuming. Also, I’ll let you buy all the Anthro dishes your heart desires!

    In exchange, can I please just go to town on a pan of these rolls? Kthanks :)

    • Girl I wish you lived closer. I donate so much food every day. Every day I make something, there’s another pan of bars (minus a couple pieces), cakes, cookies, etc. that go out the door! I need to be able to fit in my clothes and my family too :) But I’d love to share and love all your sweet comments today!! You’re the best!! xoxox

  12. These are awesome, Avery! I’ll take 293847329428935.

  13. My dough rose beautifully! I was so excited. I tried the overnight option and my rolls will not rise this morning :( I’m tired of waiting and I’m going to bake them anyway. I’m sure they’ll still taste good but won’t be quite as big and beautiful. What do you think went wrong?

    • Hmmm, I’m thinking that maybe your fridge was very cold? and something happened overnight? I really have never had this happen to me.

      Generally when I pull my overnight rolls out from the fridge the next morning (I make 99% of all cinnamon rolls or sweet rolls using an overnight option b/c I cannot get up so early to start things!) but normally they’re ‘busting at the seams’, super puffy and continued to rise in the fridge overnight and then on the counter for another hour or so they rise more.

      I have a feeling that once baked, these probably will puff up for you. And by now you’ve baked them so LMK how it went!

  14. Can I use dark brown sugar instead of light?
    And will milk and vinegar work for the buttermilk?

  15. I followed instructions to a T! 400° is way too hot for the dough. I set it to 400° and turned it off, placed my dough inside and 2 hours later, the dough was runny (because it was starting to cook!) and an absolute mess! Was 400° a typo? I’m so sad, especially because I made 2 batches.

    • You’re literally supposed to put the pan inside the oven, turn the oven on for 1 minute and 1 minute only, and shut it off. That’s it. Just to create a nice warm and toasty place since most people’s kitchens are rather chilly this time of year. But in the future, if you’d like to allow the dough to rise on the counter, do it that way. Do whatever is easiest and will give you the best results. If you really only did keep in on to 400F for 1 minute and hours later you feel your bread was actually starting to cook, then your oven is very unique and not like any I’ve ever had. Thanks for trying the recipe.

  16. That is a huge fallacy in your recipe. Why do you say in your recipe to preheat your oven to 400°?! That’s insane. I should have trusted my better judgement after reading through your recipe multiple times, as you suggested. Preheating the oven to 400° then turning it off and placing the dough inside is a recipe for disaster! The oven stays way too hot to entertaining a tender rise of dough. You could have worded it exactly as you did in your reply to my first comment. I would suggest rewording to say, “set your oven to 100° then turn it off and place your dough inside.” Leave the word 400° out of the discription as it caused me major confusion.

    • I really don’t think I could have been any clearer in how I wrote step 8: ….preheated for 1 minute to 400F, then it’s powered off. Do not, repeat do not, keep the oven on…

      “Cover bowl with plasticwrap (spray it with cooking spray in case dough rises high enough to touch it) and place bowl in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or doubled in size. I keep my bowl inside a powered-off oven that I preheated for 1 minute to 400F, then it’s powered off. Do not, repeat do not, keep the oven on. The pre-heated, warm oven creates a nice 85F-ish environment, ideal for yeast. If your rising spot is cold, rising will likely take longer than 2 1/2 hours.”

      I’m sorry you were confused. Lots of people have had amazing success with this recipe, even first-time bread makers. Thanks for trying the recipe.

  17. Amazing post! I was wondering, would it be better if I was making these 2 days ahead of time to refrigerate or freeze the rolls until it’s time to bake? Thanks and love your site!

    • With this yeast recipe you really cannot let it sit 2 days without baking. There is an overnight option, which is as long as I would let it go before baking it off or the dough could ‘over-proof’, collapse, not recommended. I also don’t recommend freezing the unbaked dough.

  18. I’m making these tomorrow! But I think I’m going to add chocolate chips to mine! Thanks for this awesome recipe!

  19. hello. I tried the pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe and followed the instructions for rising the dough in the over. I preheated the oven, turned off and placed the bowl in. The plastic wrap melted and the dough had actually started baking instead of rising. Any tips on what I did wrong? Thank you!

  20. I’ve made several yeast recipes before and they were disasters, so I was a bit skeptical to try another one. But this recipe sounded too good to pass up and when I read the detailed instructions, I thought I would give it a try. I bought the red star platinum yeast, King Arthur flour, and even a digital thermometer to check the temperature of the: 1) microwaved warm butter liquid and 2) oven prior to the first rise to make sure the temperature was not too warm. 

    The result: PHENOMENAL!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you Averie for helping me make my FIRST ever successful yeast recipe!!!!! Your very detailed instructions turned this skeptic into a believer and my husband couldn’t believe his eyes when I told him everything was made from scratch. He was too busy devouring them! I shared the rolls with my neighbors, and they couldn’t stop eating them too! I cannot wait to try your other recipes and share your delicious food with others :) 

    Keep up the good work!!

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! I am so glad! And cinnamon rolls are not an ‘easy’ first time yeast recipe just because there’s rolling, there’s a filling, etc. It’s not like a simple dinner roll or loaf of bread so I am very happy FOR you! I think the combination of the right ingredients and tools and my detailed instructions and everything aligned!

  21. Just made these and have them in the refrigerator for the overnight method – bringing them for my staff pot luck tomorrow :) thanks for sharing the recipe! So excited and hoping they’ll be a big hit!

  22. Hi there!

    Can you shed some light on the oven rising method? Do you preheat your oven til it reaches 400 then turn it off or do you actually just start preheating for only 1 min and then turn the oven off? One min just doesn’t seem like enough time yet 400 is way too high.

    Thanks!

  23. Would this dough work using a bread machine on the dough cycle? That’s how I typically make my cinnamon roll dough, just because I hate waiting. I was just wondering if it would work for this recipe?  
    Thanks for your delicious recipes– your cream cheese chocolate chip cookies are the BEST! I will never make chocolate chip cookies any other way again! 🍪

  24. Thank you for this detailed recipe! They looked delicious. but unfortunately mine turned out dense. :( I followed the recipe to a tee. Any suggestions for why mine may have been dense (versus light and fluffy) when I followed every step? Any help is appreciated!

    Thank you!

    • Yeast recipes sometimes take a bit of trial and error. I would say that density could be due to over-adding flour (the least you can get away with, the better), the type of yeast used, the climate, how well the dough was kneaded…just lots of variables. I swear by King Arthur flour and Red Star Platinum Yeast. Really makes a difference in my results as does not adding too much flour :)

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