pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls [recipe]

pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls

pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls

Disclaimer: I was planning to take MUCH better photos (you know, with actual bakeware and shots of the individual pillows of pumpkin-y goodness) but I’ve been so busy prepping and cooking for Thanksgiving, I didn’t have time to bake & photograph these pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls in all their beautiful, delicious glory.  So bear with the easy-to-transport foil tray and total lack of styling – I promise this recipe is worth making, even if I didn’t prove it to you with better photos!  I’ll re-shoot this next year, when the pumpkin spice craze kicks back in 😉

It only took 2 attempts to nail the ultimate pumpkin spice cinnamon roll recipe.  This is a little more involved than your typical cinnamon roll, but the pumpkin-packed result is well worth the extra effort.  While researching, I found that most pumpkin spice cinnamon roll recipes flavored either the filling OR the dough, but never both… which obviously wasn’t going to work for me.  As a pumpkin fiend, I wanted the dough AND the filling to taste like a pumpkin spice latte.  And also I wanted to use an entire 15 oz can of pumpkin because, really, who knows what to do with 1 leftover cup of pumpkin.  If you are trying to get rid of a half-used can of pumpkin, you could definitely make either the dough or the filling and have just a hint of  pumpkin flavor – I won’t hold it against you 😉

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls – Recipe & Notes

  • If you’re in a hurry, you CAN skip chilling the dough, but it will be much harder to roll out & cut
  • You can make the dough using a stand mixer & a dough hook, or by hand with a wooden spoon (and some elbow grease).  I had equal results with both methods.
  • This recipe uses active dry yeast because that is the easiest for me to find at my local supermarkets.  I have not tested it with instant yeast – if you do, let me know how it goes!
  • Cinnamon roll toppings are very personal – some like a thick smear of cream cheese frosting, others prefer a thin milk glaze.  I’ve provided a few variations – baker’s choice.  I like a slightly thinned our cream cheese frosting.
  • These rolls really benefit from a full cool – they’re much easier to serve and eat once the filling has had a chance to set up.  The flavor is also much more pronounced.  For this reason, I recommend waiting to frost or glaze until just before serving.

pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls

prep time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

cook time: 25 minutes

yield: 18


    For the Dough
  • 1/2 C Whole Milk
  • 1 Packet Active Dry Yeast (approximately 2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 1/2 C All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 C Bread Flour
  • 1/8 tsp Table Salt
  • 3 TBSP Butter
  • 1/3 C Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 C Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Clove
  • For the Filling
  • 1 TBSP Butter
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • Pinch of Ground Clove
  • The rest of the can of Pumpkin Puree
  • 3/4 C Dark Brown Sugar
  • For the Frosting
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, at room temperature
  • Powdered Sugar to taste (usually 1 C is a good starting point)
  • Whole Milk to taste
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Mise en place, and read this recipe all the way through
  2. For the Dough
  3. Heat 1/2 C whole milk to 110 degrees
  4. While constantly stirring the milk with a fork, sprinkle the yeast into the milk. The constant stirring will prevent the yeast from clumping together, which will prevent it from activating properly.
  5. The yeast should foam within 5 minutes and smell yeasty. If this doesn't happen, restart the process with a fresh packet of yeast.
  6. Whisk together the all purpose flour, bread flour, and table sat in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  7. Melt 3 TBSP butter with 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, and 1/8 tsp ground clove. You can do this in the microwave or in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  8. Transfer the melted butter and spice mixture to a large bowl and add the 1/2 C pumpkin puree and the 1/3 C dark brown sugar. Stir to combine.
  9. Whisk the egg into the milk and yeast mixture, then add it to the pumpkin mixture and whisk to combine.
  10. Switching to a wooden spoon (or dough hook if using a standing mixer), add all of the flour to the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Continue to stir (or let the mixer run) for 7 minutes to knead the dough and help the gluten develop.
  11. Generously oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to it. Cover with plastic wrap that has also been oiled, and let rise in a warm, draft free place for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
  12. Make the filling while the dough proofs (instructions below)
  13. After the dough has proofed for one hour, transfer to the fridge and let it chill for another 1-2 hours. Chilling the dough will make it much easier to roll out and slice.
  14. For the Filling
  15. In a small saucepan, melt 1 TBSP butter
  16. Add 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground clove. Cook until just fragrant
  17. Add the what's left of the 15 oz can (or box - 16 oz is ok!), and the 3/4 C dark brown sugar, to the saucepan. Stir to combine
  18. Let the filling simmer over medium heat until it begins to sputter - you should see big bubbles break the surface and then collapse into themselves.
  19. Transfer the filling to a heatproof bowl and let cool 10 minutes on the counter.
  20. Cover by pressing plastic wrap into the surface of the filling (to prevent a skin from forming) and refrigerate.
  21. For the frosting / glaze
  22. Combine the room temperature cream cheese and 1 C powdered sugar in a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and beat to combine.
  23. Continue adding powdered sugar in 1/2 C increments until the frosting is as sweet as you like it.
  24. Add vanilla, then add milk in 1 TBSP increments until the frosting is the desired consistence.
  25. If you prefer a thin glaze, whisk together milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar until the glaze is to your desired sweetness and consistency - do this right before you're ready to glaze the cinnamon rolls because it will set up quickly.
  26. To bake & assemble
  27. Generously flour a cutting board or clean surface - the dough is very soft and sticky, so you'll need a fair amount of flour to prevent it from sticking while rolling it out.
  28. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 14 inch tall by 20 inch wide rectangle (this is approximately the dimension of my favorite cutting board which makes it super easy to eyeball).
  29. Spread the cooled filling over the dough, leaving half an inch at the very top of the rectangle uncovered.
  30. Use your fingertips to start gently rolling the dough into a 20 inch log - roll towards the uncovered top edge. If the dough sticks to the board, use a small metal spatula like this to help release the dough and continue rolling.
  31. Once you get to the top, pinch the dough together to seal the log, and roll it over so that the seam is on the cutting board.
  32. Cut the log in half, then cut each half into thirds, and finally cut each third into thirds. You should have 18 perfectly equal cinnamon rolls.
  33. Transfer to two buttered 8x8 square pans, or slightly squish into one buttered 9x13 pan.
  34. Cover and let proof for an hour and a half to two hours, until the rolls are puffed and touching on all sides.
  35. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
  36. Set pan(s) on top of a wire rack and let cool completely.
  37. Glaze and serve. Enjoy!

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