Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls You’ll Ever Eat
A couple of years back I set out to create something truly epic and sweet for #AKPumpkinWeek and WOW it turned out amazing. I basically infused pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice into soft, fluffy pumpkin cinnamon rolls that will have your family and friends begging for the recipe.
One of my favorite things to do is take on a baking project because not only is it a creative, hands-on activity that I really have to focus on, but also because the end result makes me incredibly proud. Proud that I baked something so beautiful and delicious, and proud to share my love of baking with family and friends. Anyone else feel the same?
If not, you’re about to get all the feels from these pumpkin cinnamon rolls with brown sugar cinnamon swirls and an icing so good you’ll want to bathe in it. Yeah, I said it.
This pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe is a twist on my very, very famous cinnamon rolls (seriously they’re better than Cinnabon!) and I cannot wait for you to try them.
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Ingredients in pumpkin cinnamon rolls
We’re using the real deal bread flour, butter and sugar in this pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe. Trust me when I say to make the recipe as-is for the perfect, fluffy rolls! Here’s what you’ll need to make them:
- Milk: whole, 2% or almond milk will all work in this recipe.
- Granulated sugar: I use granulated sugar to sweeten the cinnamon rolls and to help activate the yeast.
- Brown sugar: personally, I love using dark brown sugar for more robust molasses-sweet flavor in those swirls, but light brown sugar will work.
- Quick rise yeast: use quick rise or instant yeast in this recipe to help the cinnamon rolls rise faster. You can also use active dry yeast, but the cinnamon rolls may take slightly longer to rise.
- Pumpkin puree: the true star of the show. The pumpkin puree not only gives the cinnamon rolls a sweet flavor, but also adds the perfect amount of moisture, resulting in fluffy, perfect pumpkin cinnamon rolls. Learn how to make your own pumpkin puree here!
- Butter: the one and only. I prefer to use salted butter but unsalted is great too. You’ll need it for both the dough and the glaze.
- Egg: this recipe calls for 1 egg, but I’ll also include how to make these vegan in the note section of the recipe
- Bread flour: to help keep these pumpkin cinnamon rolls soft, fluffy and airy, we’re using bread flour, which has a higher protein level to help lighten the cinnamon roll texture. The higher amounts of protein help to produce more gluten, which gives cinnamon roll their chewy, soft texture.
- Spices: you’ll need pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon.
- Salt: cinnamon rolls made without salt tastes very plain and in addition, salt also helps to control yeast in cinnamon roll recipes so don’t skip it.
- For the maple cream cheese icing: cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and pure maple syrup. You can also add a pinch of salt, if you want to do a salty maple cream cheese icing (omg).
Can I make them vegan or dairy free?
Great news! This pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe can easily be made vegan or dairy free.
To make vegan pumpkin cinnamon rolls: simply leave the egg out of the recipe and add 3-4 tablespoons more pumpkin puree to the dough. You’ll also need to make sure to use almond milk, vegan butter, and vegan cream cheese in the recipe.
Which yeast is best for cinnamon rolls + how to know when yeast is activated
I get this question all the time in my famous cinnamon roll recipe and can understand why it may be confusing to know if your yeast is activated. First, it’s important to know that there are two types of yeast to choose from.
- Active dry yeast: this type of yeast must be dissolved in liquid, or also what’s known as being “proofed” before it’s added to the rest of the dough ingredients.
- Instant yeast: this type is also known as quick rise yeast (this is the brand I use and love!). That’s what we are using for this pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe. It can be added to the dough without proofing required so you don’t need to sit and watch the yeast to make sure it bubbles. However, I still like to dissolve it in a little bit of milk and sugar to help get it started!
Regardless of which yeast you’re using, it’s essential that you add it to warm milk that’s between 105 and 115 degrees F. More on this below! You can also add a little sugar with either yeast to help it get activated.
How to measure flour for cinnamon rolls
Technically you should use a scale to measure flour, but this is real life and not everyone is going to own a scale, plus there’s really no problem if you don’t have one because most yeast breads and rolls can be very forgiving. Learning how to measure flour properly will ensure success. Get all of my tips and tricks here, but here are the basics:
- Dip a flour scoop or large spoon into the container of flour and scoop the flour into your dry measuring cup. Do NOT pack the flour or shake the measuring cup so that the flour settles. We want some air in the flour (it’s nature’s leavener).
- Once you have filled the measuring cup to the top with the flour you’ve spooned in, take the edge of the four scoop of the flat edge of a knife and level the cup. That’s it!
Tips for making the best pumpkin cinnamon rolls:
- Don’t overheat your milk. It should be between 105-115 degrees F. Anything hotter is likely to kill the yeast, which means the cinnamon rolls will not rise. A simple tip is to dip your finger in the milk — it should feel warm similar to warm bath water but not HOT. If you warmed it up too much, simply wait a few minutes until it cools down enough to touch.
- Make sure to use room temperature butter for the filling: a lot of recipes call for using melted butter in the filling, but that will cause the filling to leak out before baking. Room temperature butter is best!
- Rub the brown sugar into the butter: after you spread out the softened butter, it’s important to rub the brown sugar into the butter.
- Use a room temperature egg in the dough: if you use a cold egg, there’s a chance it could affect the yeast or mix with the melted butter and cause it to coagulate.
- Use bread flour: bread flour is available at most grocery stores and it makes ALL the difference in achieving softer, fluffy pumpkin cinnamon rolls. JUST TRUST ME.
- Make sure you flour your work surface and the rolling pin: this is to prevent the cinnamon rolls from sticking the surface or to the rolling pin.
Tools you’ll need to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls from scratch
- Stand mixer. You’ll want to use the dough hook on your stand mixer to easily knead the dough before rolling it out. Don’t have a stand mixer? No worries! You can also knead the dough by hand.
- Wooden spoon. I recommend mixing your dough together with a wooden spoon.
- Rolling pin. For rolling out that beautiful dough. Pro tip: if you don’t have a rolling pin you can also flour up a wine bottle!
- Serrated knife. Using a serrated knife will help you cut the cinnamon rolls out after you roll the dough up. You can also use floss.
- 9×9 inch pan. I recommend using a 9×9 inch baking pan or 9-inch circular pan so that the cinnamon rolls fit well and bake properly.
How to make overnight pumpkin cinnamon rolls
After placing the rolls into the greased pan (in step 7), simply cover them immediately with plastic wrap, place them in the fridge overnight, and then bake them in the morning as directed. I like to bring my cinnamon rolls to room temperature first by leaving them on the counter for 30 minutes before baking, then preheating the oven so they will rise for about 45 minutes total (this is known as the second rise).
Feel free to store your pumpkin cinnamon rolls covered at room temp for 1-2 days, then transfer them to the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Simply reheat them in the microwave to get them soft again!
How to freeze pumpkin cinnamon rolls
You can absolutely freeze these delicious pumpkin cinnamon rolls and there are several ways to do it.
- To freeze before baking: the dough should be frozen after the first rise and the roll and cut. When you are ready to bake, let the dough thaw in the fridge — preferably overnight, then put in a warm spot for 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking to activate the second rise. Bake cinnamon rolls as directed.
- To freeze after baking: allow the cinnamon rolls to come to room temperature after baking, then you can choose to either freeze the entire pan, making sure they are well wrapped or covered in an airtight container, or you can choose to freeze individual cinnamon rolls. When ready to eat, defrost the cinnamon rolls at room temperature, then warm in the oven at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or you can warm them up individually in the microwave for 20-30 seconds (once defrosted). I prefer to freeze them before they are iced, and then frost them when ready to eat. The icing is also freezer-friendly.
More pumpkin recipes to try
Get all of my delicious pumpkin recipes here!
I cannot wait to see you guys whip up these pumpkin cinnamon rolls! If you’re interested, feel free to jam out to my pumpkin cinnamon roll playlist while you bake these!
If you make these pumpkin cinnamon rolls please leave a comment & a rating so I know how you liked them. Enjoy, xo!
This post was originally published on October 12th, 2019, and republished on October 18th, 2022.
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