Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

pumpkin cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing in a baking pan.

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These Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls are a fun twist on the classic, filled with brown sugar, cinnamon and come loaded with pecans and doused in a delicious cream cheese icing. They’re  fluffy, sweet and perfect for the holidays!

pumpkin cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing in a baking pan.

The Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

If you’re a fan of sweet and gooey cinnamon rolls then you’ll love these pumpkin cinnamon rolls. It’s the best kind of breakfast there is for this time of year,  full of pumpkin spices, pecans and cinnamon sugar goodness.

Pumpkin is a little powerhouse! It’s packed full of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. It’s a nutrient dense low calorie squash that deserves more love year round than just around holidays. So having said all that, you should feel good about eating these rolls.

a pumpkin cinnamon roll on a white plate.
overhead shot of ingredients needed to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls
  • Active dry yeast – If your yeast does not foam up after step #1, your yeast is dead and the rolls will not turn out. Buy a new jar or package and store it in the freezer so it’ll last longer.
  • Water – Some warm water for our yeast to bloom in. Be sure it’s warm not hot!
  • Sugar – We want a little bit of plain white granulated sugar to feed our yeast and some brown sugar to offer sweetness and caramel notes to our dough.
  • All-purpose flour – all-purpose flour works best for these rolls.
  • Salt – You can adjust the salt in this recipe to suit your own sodium preference. I wouldn’t leave it out, though. That touch of salt really brings out the buttery flavor.
  • Butter – Make sure you use unsalted! I only ever cook with unsalted butter so that I have full control of the salt content.
  • Pumpkin – We’re using both canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice today to create a lot of delicious and drool worthy dimension and flavor.
  • Sour cream – This will add richness, moisture and some tang to our rolls – don’t worry it won’t make your rolls taste like sour cream!
  • Sugar – Brown sugar again to carry through those caramel notes from our dough to our filling.
  • Spices – Cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice are all we need.
  • Butter – Unsalted so as to control the sodium content of our rolls.
  • Nuts – Roughly chopped pecans – feel free to sub these out for other nuts if you’d prefer!
overhead shot of ingredients needed to make cream cheese icing
  • Butter – unsalted butter is what you’ll want to use.
  • Powdered sugar – this is also known as icing sugar or confectioner’s sugar.
  • Cream cheese – at room temperature. I always use Philadelphia cream cheese.
  • Vanilla extract – just a bit to add a touch of vanilla in the icing.
  • Salt – a little bit is all you need to bring out all the flavors.

Making homemade cinnamon rolls is actually quite easy. However, you must make sure to activate your yeast properly and allow the dough the time it needs to rise. But other than that, not much skill is needed to make this simple pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe. 

process shots showing how to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

To begin, you need to activate the yeast to give the rolls rise! Add the water, yeast, and teaspoon of sugar to the bowl of your mixer and let it sit for about 10 minutes. When it’s ready it will be foamy. If it’s not, that means that your yeast is dead and you need new yeast. 

process shots showing how to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

When the yeast is ready, add the brown sugar, eggs, butter, sour cream, pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, salt, and flour to the bowl and mix until well incorporated. If the dough is too wet add more flour as necessary. When it’s done the dough should be fairly soft but should also come clean from the sides of the bowl. 

process shots showing how to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

Now, the dough needs time to rise. First, transfer the cinnamon roll dough to a well oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and then set it in a warm environment for about an hour or until it doubles in size. However, what I often do is turn my oven on to 200°F (93°C) for just 1 minute, then turn it off, and put the bowl with my dough in the oven. This speeds up the rising time.

process shots showing how to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

Once the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the oven. Then preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Then grab a 9×13-inch baking pan and set it aside. Now, mix the brown sugar together with the ground cinnamon and pumpkin spice in a small bowl. You want everything ready to go once the rolls are assembled. 

process shots showing how to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

Before you start rolling, gently punch the dough to deflate. Then place it on a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until it is about 24 inches long by 16 inches wide and ½ inch in thickness. Next, brush the dough with the melted butter and then spread the brown sugar mixture evenly all over the dough.

process shots showing how to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

Then top the brown sugar layer with the pecans. Now, working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom of the other edge tightly. It should look like a long swirled log when you are done rolling.

process shots showing how to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

Let’s form some pumpkin cinnamon rolls! To do this, very carefully cut the dough roll into 12 equal size rolls using a sharp knife or serrated knife. You can also use dental floss if you prefer. But the easiest way to cut rolls that are equal in size is to cut the long roll in half, then cut each half in half, and finally cut each quarter into 3 so you end up with 12 rolls in total.

process shots showing how to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

Then once they are cut, put the rolls into the baking sheet, wrap it with plastic wrap, and leave the rolls to rise for another 20 minutes or until doubled in size. 

freshly baked pumpkin cinnamon rolls in a baking dish.

With the rolls assembled, transfer the pan to the preheated and bake them for about 20 to 25 minutes. When done they should be golden brown.

process shots showing how to make cream cheese icing.

While the rolls are in the oven you can make the yummy cream cheese frosting. Just add all the icing ingredients to a large mixing bowl and then mix them together with an electric hand mixer until smooth and fluffy. 

pumpkin cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing in a baking pan.

First, allow the rolls to cool for about 5 minutes when they come out of the oven. Then drizzle them with the icing or spread it all over them with an offset spatula. Then serve and enjoy!

Prepare the rolls as stated up to the point where you put them in the baking pan. You do not need to let them rise a second time. Simply cover the pan with plastic wrap tightly and place it in the fridge. Allow the rolls to rest up to 14 hours before baking. When ready to bake, take the rolls out of the fridge an hour before, allowing them to come to room temperature. They will also rise and double in size during this time. Finish them by baking as instructed.

pumpkin cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing in a baking pan.

Your oven is a great tool for baking recipes like these that require allowing the dough to double in size. Preheating your oven to 200°F, or the lowest temperature it will heat to, will ensure that your oven is nice and warm at a good consistent temperature for your little pumpkin rolls in the making. It will also protect it from any breezes floating through the kitchen and will ensure your rolls turn out just like mine! Just make sure to turn off the oven before placing the dough in there.

Storing Leftovers

Just cover your pumpkin rolls in plastic wrap or in an airtight container and they will keep in the fridge for 3 – 5 days. I recommend storing it in the fridge and not out on your counter since our icing contains dairy.

Freezing

Prepare everything as stated in the recipe up until you place the rolls on the baking pan. Wrap the pan in two layers of plastic wrap. Freeze for 8 hours up to 6 weeks. The night before you want to bake the rolls, thaw them out in the refrigerator, still wrapped. They will thaw overnight.

Finish the rest of the steps to bake them and prepare the icing fresh!

pumpkin cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing in a baking pan.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Prep 30 minutes

Rising Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Cook 25 minutes

Total 2 hours 25 minutes

These Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls are a fun twist on the classic, filled with brown sugar, cinnamon and come loaded with pecans and doused in a delicious cream cheese icing. They’re  fluffy, sweet and perfect for the holidays!

Instructions 

Dough

  • Activate the yeast: In the bowl of your mixer add the water, yeast and the teaspoon of sugar, stir and let it sit for about 10 minutes until yeast has dissolved and it has become foamy.

  • Form the dough: Add the brown sugar, eggs, butter, sour cream, pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, salt and the flour and mix until well incorporated. Add additional flour as necessary. The dough should be fairly soft but should come clean from the side of the bowl when it’s done.

  • Rise: Butter or oil a large bowl and place the dough in there, cover it with foil and let sit in a warm place until it doubles in size, about an hour. Usually I turn the oven on to 200°F for 1 minute, then turn off the oven and place the bowl in the oven and let the dough rise in the warm oven, it speeds up the rising process. 

Assembly

  • Prep: After the dough has doubled in size, preheat the oven to 375°F. You will need 9×13-inch baking pan for this. Mix the brown sugar with the cinnamon and pumpkin spice.

  • Roll out the dough: Gently punch the dough to deflate it. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out so that it’s about 24 inches by 16 inches and about ½ inch in thickness. Brush the dough with the melted/softened butter and spread the brown sugar mixture evenly over the dough. Top with pecans. Working carefully from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge tightly.

  • Cut the rolls: Carefully cut the roll into 12 equal size rolls, so the easiest is to cut the roll in half then cut each half in half and then each quarter in 3 so you end up with 12 equal size rolls. Use either a sharp knife or floss to cut the rolls. Transfer the rolls onto the baking sheet, wrap with plastic wrap and let it rise for another 20 minutes until doubled in size.

Finnish

  • Bake: Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and bake until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

  • Make icing: While the rolls are baking make the icing by mixing all the icing ingredients and beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy and smooth. Allow the rolls to cool for about 5 minutes.

  • Finish: Drizzle the icing or spread it with a spatula over the rolls and serve.

Notes

  1. The above video is for cinnamon rolls but the technique to making these pumpkin cinnamon rolls is the same.
  2. To store, just cover your pumpkin rolls in plastic wrap or in an airtight container and they will keep in the fridge for 3 – 5 days. I recommend storing it in the fridge and not out on your counter since our icing contains dairy.
  3. To freeze, prepare everything as stated in the recipe up until you place the rolls on the baking pan. Wrap the pan in two layers of plastic wrap. Freeze for 8 hours up to 6 weeks. The night before you want to bake the rolls, thaw them out in the refrigerator, still wrapped. They will thaw overnight. Finish the rest of the steps to bake them and prepare the icing fresh!

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1rollCalories: 492kcal (25%)Carbohydrates: 60g (20%)Protein: 7g (14%)Fat: 26g (40%)Saturated Fat: 13g (81%)Cholesterol: 86mg (29%)Sodium: 267mg (12%)Potassium: 159mg (5%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 30g (33%)Vitamin A: 1466IU (29%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 52mg (5%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.

pumpkin cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing in a baking pan.

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