Made with pumpkin in the dough and filled with a gooey pumpkin spice cinnamon swirl, these pumpkin cinnamon rolls hit the spot on chilly fall mornings. They’re topped with maple cinnamon cream cheese icing and you can choose other frosting options if desired! (See right above the recipe for details.) If you’d like to get started ahead of time, use our overnight or freezing instructions below.
These aren’t just classic cinnamon rolls with pumpkin spice in the filling. Rather, these are pumpkin cinnamon rolls with real pumpkin IN the dough. Unraveling each soft and flaky pumpkin coil and tasting the melty pumpkin spices inside is the definition of fall breakfast bliss!
Why You’ll Love These Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
- Soft and fluffy
- Real pumpkin in the yeasted dough
- Filled with warm and cozy fall spices
- Topped with maple cream cheese icing
- Perfect for crisp fall mornings
- Total comfort food
Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Dough
This is a rich dough, which means that it’s prepared with fat like milk, butter, and an egg. Rich doughs make soft breads such as monkey bread, regular cinnamon rolls, and cinnamon roll cake. Lean doughs, on the other hand, are made without much fat and produce crusty bread such as artisan bread, bagels, and pizza dough.
You need 9 ingredients for pumpkin cinnamon roll dough:
- Milk: Liquid activates the yeast. Nondairy or low fat milks are fine, but whole milk produces phenomenal flavor and texture.
- Butter: Butter promises a flavorful dough.
- Pumpkin: Pumpkin puree adds real pumpkin flavor and lots of moisture for incredibly soft rolls. It’s also a very heavy ingredient which weighs down the dough, so we go light on the butter (which can also weigh down dough).
- Sugar: Sugar feeds the yeast, increases its activity, and tenderizes the dough. I used to make these rolls with brown sugar in the dough, but regular white sugar doesn’t weigh down the dough as much. (I find the rolls are a bit fluffier using white granulated sugar.) We still use brown sugar in the filling, though.
- Nutmeg: A pinch of ground nutmeg enhances the pumpkin flavor and adds a little something extra to these pumpkin cinnamon rolls.
- Salt: You can’t make flavorful bread without salt!
- Egg: 1 egg provides structure and flavor.
- Yeast: You can use active dry yeast or instant yeast. I recommend Red Star Platinum Superior Baking Yeast, which is an instant yeast blended with natural dough improvers.
- Flour: All-purpose flour is the structure of the dough.
Notice That There is No Cinnamon IN the Dough
Did you know that cinnamon can inhibit yeast activity in dough? This spice can limit dough’s ability to rise, but you’d have to use quite a lot of cinnamon in order for that to happen. Still, with pumpkin being such a heavy ingredient that also weighs down the dough, we skip the cinnamon simply because we don’t want another ingredient holding down the dough’s rise. Nutmeg adds wonderful wonderful flavor to the dough and don’t worry, there’s PLENTY of cinnamon in the filling!
Overview: How to Make Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
- Make & knead the dough. The dough will be very soft. Place the dough into a greased bowl and turn the dough around in the bowl so all sides of the dough are coated.
- 1st rise. Cover the dough and let it rise.
- Make the pumpkin spice filling. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and spices.
- Add the filling & slice into rolls. Roll the dough out into a 10×14 inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter and sprinkle brown sugar filling evenly on top. Roll it up tightly and use a sharp knife to cut into 10-12 pieces. Arrange rolls into your greased pan.
- 2nd rise. Let the shaped rolls rise. This rise is shorter than the 1st.
- Bake. Cover them with aluminum foil after 15 minutes to prevent over-browning.
- Make the icing and spread onto warm cinnamon rolls.
By the way, if you love all of these flavors together, you’ll definitely enjoy sinking your teeth into this pumpkin French toast casserole. What a breakfast!
Toppings for Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
I love topping these cinnamon rolls with maple cinnamon cream cheese icing– just 5 ingredients: cream cheese, maple syrup, milk, sifted confectioners’ sugar, and cinnamon. So simple yet so good! Feel free to skip the cinnamon in the icing if desired. You could also try plain cream cheese icing from these regular cinnamon rolls, maple icing from my maple cinnamon rolls, caramel icing from my apple cinnamon rolls, or vanilla icing.
Soft pumpkin cinnamon rolls filled with a gooey cinnamon swirl and topped with maple cream cheese icing.
- 1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk*
- 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (120g) canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 and 1/4 teaspoons (7g) instant or active dry yeast (1 standard packet, see note)
- 2 and 2/3 cups (335g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), plus more as needed for hands and work surface
- 6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Maple Cream Cheese Icing
- 4 oz (114g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 3 Tablespoons (45ml) pure maple syrup
- 1 Tablespoons (15ml) whole milk*
- 2/3 cup (80g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- optional: 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Make the dough: Warm the milk and butter together over the stove or in the microwave. Warm the two together until the butter is *just* melted. You want the mixture lukewarm (105°F (41°C)-115°F (46°C)), not scorching hot. Set aside. Whisk the pumpkin puree, sugar, nutmeg, and salt together in a large bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer. Whisk in the warmed milk/butter, egg, and yeast until combined. Using the dough hook or paddle attachment on low speed or mixing by hand using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix in 1 cup of flour. Mix for 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add 1 and 2/3 cups more flour and beat for 1 more minute.
- Knead the dough: Keep the dough in the mixer and beat on low speed for an additional 3 minutes or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 3 minutes.
- 1st Rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or use nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 2 hours or until double in size. (I always let it rise on the counter and it takes about 2 hours. For a tiny reduction in rise time, see my answer to Where Should Dough Rise? in my Baking with Yeast Guide.)
- Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square or round baking dish, 9×13 inch baking dish, or 11×7 inch baking dish. This recipe yields 10-12 rolls and they can fit into any of those size pans.
- Roll out the dough: Punch down the dough to release the air. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 10×14 inch rectangle. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick. If the dough keeps shrinking as you roll it out, stop what you’re doing, cover it lightly, and let it rest for 10 minutes to relax the gluten. When you return to the dough, it should stretch out much easier.
- Add the filling: Spread softened butter evenly on top of the rolled-out dough. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and spices into a small bowl. Sprinkle all over the top. Roll it up tightly. Using a very sharp knife, cut into 10-12 even rolls. Arrange rolls in the prepared pan.
- 2nd Rise: Cover the rolls tightly and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Or use the overnight option below.)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Bake rolls for about 22-28 minutes or until they are lightly browned on top. After about 15 minutes, tent a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pan to prevent the tops from browning too quickly and baking unevenly. Remove pan from the oven and place pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes as you make the icing.
- Make the icing: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the softened cream cheese in a medium bowl on medium speed until smooth. Add the maple syrup and milk and beat on high until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar (and cinnamon, if using) and beat on medium speed until creamy. Spread on warm cinnamon rolls.
- Cover leftover frosted or unfrosted rolls tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Overnight Instructions: Prepare the rolls through step 6. Instead of allowing the cut rolls to rise in a warm environment in step 7, place the pan in the refrigerator and allow the rolls to rest for up to 14 hours before baking. When it’s time to bake the next day, bring the rolls to room temperature and rise for 1 hour on the counter, or until almost doubled in size. Then bake as directed.
- Freezing Instructions: Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up before enjoying. You can also freeze the unbaked rolls and here’s how: bake the rolls in step 9 for only about 10 minutes. Cool completely, and then cover tightly and freeze. To serve, take the rolls out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Once thawed, finish baking them for about 15-20 minutes.
- Milk: For super soft rolls, I recommend whole milk. Nondairy or lower fat milks work too, but the rolls may not taste as rich and fluffy.
- Yeast: You can use active dry or instant yeast in this recipe. Follow all of the same instructions. If using active dry yeast, the rise times are usually *slightly* longer, but not much. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
- Spices in Filling: If needed, you can use 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice in the filling. The pumpkin pie spice replaces the nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cloves.
Keywords: pumpkin cinnamon rolls