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.
Make the frosting. While the rolls cool, beat the cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl or food processor until it reaches a smooth, creamy consistency.
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.