Somethin' Pumpkin: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Several friends post on Facebook every time they see a new pumpkin product/recipe I should try. I credit my friend Whitney Erickson for helping me stumble upon this amazing recipe, which I'll copy here with my own small edits. Whitney, you're a saint.

YES, this was my first time ever making cinnamon rolls of any kind, and I'm so happy with how they turned out. I think I'll actually use this recipe annually for Thanksgiving or fall time in general. Yummy tradition. To make it more gooey, only bake it for 22-23 minutes, and make a little more filling with a little more butter brushed onto the dough when it's rolled out before baking. However, we were extremely happy with everything about it as-is. Justina and Robert also approved, hooray!

So, Mike and I actually made this together. :awesome husband points x10: It wasn't too difficult, and turned out SO TASTY. The original directions called for a stand mixer with a dough kneading attachment, but I went old-school and did it with my BARE HANDS. Take that. It felt much more satisfying. Our only concern was that when the dough was set aside to rise, it didn't. We even bought new yeast, and took "beginning" and "after an hour" photos to be sure. I was worried I'd missed something, but went ahead with the baking anyway. I'm glad I did because they were so worth it.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls


  • 6 T unsalted butter, to be divided
  • 1/2 c whole milk, warmed (but not over 116 degrees)
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or one yeast packet)
  • 3 1/2 c all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 1/4 c light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2/3 cpumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • Oil for coating rising bowl


  • 3/4 c light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp table salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 4 ounces  cream cheese, softened
  • 2 T milk or buttermilk
  • 2 c powdered sugar, sifted
  • Few drops vanilla extract (optional)

Make your dough:
1. Melt your butter. If you’re melting it in a little saucepan, you might as well brown it for extra flavor (it was my first time doing this and I'd say it's a great idea). Once the butter has melted, keep cooking it over medium heat for a few additional minutes. It will become hissy and sizzle a lot, then take on a nutty flavor as golden bits form at the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

2. Combine your warmed milk and yeast in a small bowl and set aside. After five to seven minutes, it should be a bit foamy (mine barely did it, so don't be too concerned as long as your yeast didn't expire). If it’s not, you might have some bad yeast and should start again with a newer packet.

3. In the bottom of the bowl of an electric mixer combine flour, sugars, salt and spices (mixing by hand is fine). Add just 1/4 cup (or two-thirds of; leave the rest for assembly) of your melted/browned butter and stir to combine. Add yeast-milk mixture, pumpkin and egg and mix combined. Switch mixer to a dough hook and run it for 5 minutes on low.

4. Scrape mixture into a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 1 hour in a draft-free place; it should just about double (mine didn't... but don't let that deter you).

5. While it is rising, line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans (8-inch round should work too, as does an 8-inch square) with parchment paper and butter the sides of the pan and the paper.

Assemble buns:
1. Scoop dough onto a very well floured surface and flour the top of it well. With a rolling pin, roll the dough to an approximately 16×11-inch rectangle. Brush reserved melted/browned butter over dough. Stir together remaining filling ingredients and sprinkle mixture evenly over dough. Starting on a longer side, roll the dough into a tight spiral. It’s going to make a mess because the dough is crazy soft and some stuff spills off the ends; don’t sweat it. It will all be delicious in the end.

2. Here’s how to cut cinnamon rolls without squishing their pretty spirals: With a sharp serrated knife, using absolutely no pressure whatsoever (only the weight of the blade should land on the dough) gently saw your log with a back-forth motion into approximately 1-inch sections. When a soft dough like this is rolled, it tends to grow longer, which means that you’ll have the option to either make more buns (say, 18 instead of 16) or just cut them a little larger (in generous inches).

3. Divide buns between two prepared pans. You can sprinkle any sugar that fell off onto the counter over them. Cover each pan with plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes.

4. If you’re doing this ahead of time, you can now put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, leave them out for an hour to warm up and finish rising.

5. 15 minutes before you’re ready to bake them, heat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, you can make the glaze. Beat your cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Drizzle in milk until you get the consistency you’re looking for, either thick enough to ice or thin enough to drizzle. Finish your buns: Remove the plastic and bake buns for 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pans onto a cooling rack, and when they're cooled to your liking, spread on the glaze and enjoy.

nom. nom. nom.

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