Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Other than warm, fresh chocolate chip cookies, very little can top warm, fresh, homemade rolls.

And rolls made with pumpkin and honey butter are even better.

The rolls are easy to make and are ready from start to finish in under 2 hours. Not bad at all for a yeast recipe.

They’re soft, slightly chewy, and the pumpkin keeps them moist and adds just enough tooth-sinking density.

The scents of pumpkin, spices, honey, and bread baking that waft thorough the house are positively intoxicating.

Sure beats lighting a pumpkin-scented candle.

I purposely designed this recipe for singles, smaller families, or for the average weeknight dinner when you don’t need dozens and dozens of rolls. I cringe when I see 4 to 7 cup of flour recipes. This has just over 2 cups and serves a family, not an army. Any extras freeze nicely. Not that I think you’ll have any.

I’m sure you can double the recipe if you need more, although I haven’t tried.

The entire batch fits on the plates shown below.

Normally I don’t do step-by-step photos because frankly, they’re a pain. Stop, start, wash hands, pick up camera. Do the next step, get dirty, wash hands, pick up camera; repeat. Then edit all the photos.

But I was feeling generous and I want the photos to convince you these rolls are do-able, even if you’ve never worked with yeast.

Let’s Make Rolls

Add milk and 2 tablespoons of butter to a measuring cup. Zap it for about 45 seconds in the micro and stir until the butter melts.

Top it off with pumpkin puree, 1 egg, and whisk together.

In muffin making, this would be the wet ingredients that you’d pour over the dry. Same concept here.

Heat it for another 15 seconds, just to get it nice and toasty. This doesn’t make the mixture hot, but ensures the mixture is warm enough to activate the yeast. This is a rare yeast recipe that I never even took out my thermometer. In general with yeast and liquid, if it’s ever too hot that you can’t comfortably stick your finger in it, wait a minute or two until you can or you’ll kill the yeast.

Set mixture aside.

Get out your flour and yeast. I only bake with King Arthur All-Purpose and sometimes King Arthur Bread Flour. Bread flour will lend a chewier, thicker, denser result, more like a bagel. I wanted to keep these rolls softer and fluffier and opted for all-purpose.

I strongly recommend KA flour because the protein levels are generally slightly higher than in other brands. In baking, this lends more structure, translating to puffier cookies, stronger cakes, and better rising bread.  Cheap flour is cheap flour. Spend an extra two bucks for good flour. The results are worth it.

I only bake with Red Star Platinum Yeast. It’s the best yeast I’ve ever tried and it never lets me down. If you’re new to bread-making or working with yeast, consider this yeast your insurance against goofs because it’s very forgiving. Since it’s an instant yeast, you don’t have to proof it (let it stand with warm liquids for 10 minutes or until foamy). You simply add it with the rest of your dry ingredients.

If you are an experienced bread maker, you’re going to love the extra puff and oven-spring you get with the Platinum. Your baked goods will rise higher and faster than you’re used to. So well worth the extra buck compared to other yeasts.

In a mixing bowl, add the flour, yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar (must-have, it’s the yeast’s food source), 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, and 1 teaspoon nutmeg. Sounds like a lot of spices, but it’s not.

Pumpkin puree and flour are both insanely bland and need to be jazzed up with spices.

I did not add salt because I am very sodium-sensitive but if you’d like to add a pinch, feel free.

Knead the dough for 5 to 8 minutes. I used my stand mixer, but you can do it by hand.

You really want to develop the gluten. Pumpkin is dense and heavy and will weigh down the dough and by kneading it thoroughly, you create gluten formation, which helps the bread rise better and not stay dense.

I could have gotten away with 2 cups flour, but I used 2 1/4 cups. Over-flouring the dough is a no-no because it creates dense, thick bread that’s not light and fluffy. But for the sake of knowing that without a doubt this recipe will work in other climates, I went up to 2 1/4 cups.

You can see this dough is not sticky or gloppy at all. It’s a dream dough to work with. Nice and smooth.

Put it in a bowl, cover with plasticwrap, and place in a warm, draft-free place until it nearly doubles in size. For me, this is the inside of my oven (powered off) and took 45 minutes.

Do not go by the clock. Go by how your dough looks.

If it takes longer, it means your house is cold or the yeast is just being pokey. That’s life. Wait until your dough has nearly doubled  before moving on.

45 minutes later, we’ve doubled in size.

Look at that big puffball. When I punched it down, it sounded like air being let out of a helium balloon. I love that sound. Means the yeast worked and the dough is alive.

Shape it into rolls. I made 8. I could have made 9 or 1o because 8 made very hearty-sized rolls. My husband wasn’t complaining though.

Put them in a pan and wait until they’ve nearly doubled in size, likely about 30 to 45 minutes.

Before baking, brush them with equal parts melted butter and honey. Whatever is left over, reserve to brush on after baking. They’re little sponges and will happily absorb it.

Look at these big, golden, glistening buns.

They’re soft, fluffy, and just chewy enough.

The pumpkin flavor, while present, is not overly strong. If you know someone who’s on the fence about pumpkin or have a family where some people love it, but others are just so-so, these are the perfect compromise.

They give the pumpkin lovers a taste of their favorite orange-colored food group, while not alienating those who don’t love in-your-face pumpkin flavor.

I’d like to call them ‘Honey Butter Gently-Flavored-With-Pumpkin Dinner Rolls’.

In the recipe section, I built in a make-ahead/overnight option. However, they’re so fast to make, I don’t know if you’ll need the make-ahead option, but it can save an hour on baking day.

I haven’t tried freezing unbaked dough, but most baked bread freezes beautifully.

I hope the recipe comes in handy for your fall baking, Thanksgiving dinner table, and holiday parties. Or for dinner rolls any old night of the week just because.

It’s my new go-to pumpkin dinner roll recipe after playing around with many others over the years. Enjoy.

Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

These rolls are soft, slightly chewy, and the pumpkin puree keeps them moist and adds just enough tooth-sinking density. The pumpkin flavor is present, but not overly so, making them a perfect choice for those who may not love bold pumpkin flavors. The honey-butter adds sweetness and helps keep them soft and moist. They’re a fairly fast yeast recipe to make because the dough rises like a champ, and they’re ready from start to finish in under 2 hours. It’s a smooth, easy dough to work with and not at all sticky. The recipe makes a modest batch of rolls, nice for singles or small families and extras freeze beautifully.They’re great for week nights when you want fresh dinner rolls, but don’t need dozens. I’ve built in a make ahead option, see step 12. Enjoy them at your next fall holiday gathering. It’s my new go-to pumpkin dinner roll recipe after trying many over the years.

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1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (bread flour may be substituted; rolls will be firmer and chewier rather than softer and fluffier; you may only need 2 cups bread flour)
2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast (one 1/4-ounce packet, I use Red Star Platinum)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin  pie spice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste

Honey Butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons honey
Tip: Combine equal parts softened butter (not melted) and honey, and whisk together until fluffy and combined for serving with the rolls


  1. Dough – Add milk to a 2-cup microwave-safe measuring cup, or microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Add butter and heat on high power to melt butter, about 45 seconds. Stir until butter has melted smoothly into the milk.
  3. Add the egg, pumpkin puree, and whisk to combine.
  4. Return measuring cup to microwave and heat for about 15 seconds to warm mixture up. This will help to activate the yeast; set aside briefly.
  5. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or large mixing bowl for hand kneading, add the remaining dough ingredients, thorough optional salt.
  6. Pour wet pumpkin-milk mixture over the dry ingredients.
  7. Turn mixer to low speed, and knead for 5 to 8 minutes, or until dough is smooth and has come together. This is not a sticky dough and if your dough is sticky, tacky, or gloppy, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is no longer sticky. I doubt you will need to add any, because I could have made this recipe with 2 cups flour, but went up to 2 1/4. Don’t over-flour your dough because it creates rolls that are dense and heavy.
  8. Turn dough out into a mixing bowl that’s been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Flip dough over once so both sides are lightly greased, and cover bowl with plasticwrap.
  9. Place bowl in a warm, draft-free environment until dough has nearly doubled in bulk, about 45 to 60 minutes. Do not go by time elapsed on the clock. Wait until dough has nearly doubled in size, and if it takes longer than an hour, that’s fine.
  10. Punch dough down and turn it out onto a nonstick surface. I spray my counter with cooking spray and don’t even need to add flour.
  11. Divide dough into 8 to 12 equally-sized portions, rolling each portion into a ball. I made 8 rolls and they were very generously sized. I would aim for 9 to 10 rolls. They may look skimp now but don’t worry, they rise and swell very nicely.
  12. Place dough balls into a foil-lined and cooking sprayed 9-inch square pan. If you would like to use an overnight or make-ahead option, after you get the rolls into the pan and covered with foil, place pan in fridge. When ready to bake, pick up with the next step below, making sure to allow the dough to come to room temp and rise nicely; it could take longer than the 45 minutes indicated below since dough is coming right out of a cold fridge.
  13. Cover pan with a sheet of foil, place pan in a warm, draft-free environment until dough has nearly doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. In the last minutes of rising, preheat oven to 375F.
  14. Honey Butter – Melt butter in small microwave-safe bowl, about 45 seconds on high power.
  15. Add the honey and stir to combine.
  16. Before baking, generously brush dough with honey butter; reserve any extra and brush it on after baking.
  17. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until puffed, golden, domed, cooked through, and when tapped, the rolls should sound hollow. Allow rolls to cool in pan until they’re cool enough to handle before serving. Rolls will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 4 days. Heat in microwave for 5 to 10 seconds as necessary to recreate the just-baked taste and to soften. Finished (baked) rolls will keep airtight in the freezer for up to 6 months. I have not tried freezing this dough in the unbaked state but you could likely freeze it after step 12 and upon thawing, pick up with step 13; however I haven’t tried. Nor have I tried doubling the recipe, but I imagine that would be fine. Bake in a 9×13 pan or similar.
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Thanks for the entries in the Margaritaville Fiji Frozen Concoction Maker Giveaway ($350 Value) and the Mamma Chia Gift Pack Giveaway ($50 value)

What’s your favorite dinner roll or bread recipe?