These pumpkin cinnamon rolls are perfectly soft and chewy and topped with a heavenly maple cream cheese frosting. Easy to make and ready to go in just around 1 hour!
Last week, I made my annual pilgrimage across Barcelona to the American import store here to bring home a season’s worth of my favorite nostalgic fall ingredient — canned pumpkin purée.
It’s one of those classic American ingredients that’s nearly impossible to find here in Europe. (Fresh baking pumpkins are pretty hard to track down in Barcelona too.) So as soon as the import store announced that they had received their first shipment this season, I hightailed it across town to call dibs on a bag full of cans to bring home. And to celebrate, Barclay and I decided to make a big batch of these for brunch the next day.
Our favorite pumpkin cinnamon rolls. ♡
This recipe is basically just a simple twist on my favorite 1-hour cinnamon rolls recipe, made with lots of extra pumpkin purée and pumpkin spice added to the dough, plus a generous pour of maple syrup stirred into the cream cheese frosting for some extra fall vibes. The rolls bake up to be perfectly soft and chewy and lightly golden on top. And oh my goodness, they are just outrageously delicious. We shared them with a bunch of friends over the weekend and everyone couldn’t stop raving about them (and probably would have polished off a second pan, had I made more, lol).
The great news for all of us is that they are super quick and easy to make as well! The dough only needs for a few short rise times, which allows this entire recipe to come together from start to finish in around an hour. And I’ve included options below for how to make the dough either with a stand mixer, if you happen to have one, or how to knead the dough completely by hand.
If you love pumpkin as much as I do, I think you are going to love this one. So track down some pumpkin purée (hopefully it’s easier to find where you are!) and let’s make some pumpkin cinnamon rolls together!
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls Ingredients:
Here are the ingredients that you will need to make this pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe:
Milk: I just used 2% cow’s milk for this recipe, but you could use skim or whole milk. Or alternately, you could use a plain plant-based milk, such as oat milk or almond milk.
Butter: We will add butter both to the cinnamon roll dough as well as the cinnamon filling. I recommend going ahead and setting the butter out on the counter at least an hour beforehand so that it will be softened.
Instant yeast: I recommend using instant yeast to help these rolls rise more quickly.
Flour: I have only tested this recipe with standard all-purpose flour.
Granulated (white) sugar: Which we will use both in the dough and the cinnamon filling.
Brown sugar: Which we will use in the cinnamon filling.
Ground cinnamon: Which we will use in the cinnamon filling.
Pumpkin pie spice: Which we will also use in the dough, the cinnamon filling and the frosting. I typically make my own homemade pumpkin pie spice, but you can also use a store-bought mix if you prefer.
Salt: Just a pinch to bring out all of these good flavors.
Pumpkin purée: I used canned pumpkin purée (not canned pumpkin pie filling), but you are welcome to use homemade purée if you prefer.
Egg: To serve as the binder for our cinnamon roll dough.
Maple cream cheese frosting: Made from a blend of cream cheese, softened butter, vanilla extract, powdered sugar and maple syrup.
How To Make These Cinnamon Rolls:
Full instructions are included in the recipe below, but here’s a quick overview of how to make these cinnamon rolls:
Heat the milk and butter. This first step is the only picky one in the recipe, because the temperature of the milk and melted butter needs to be heated to around 110°F, in order to properly activate the yeast. It should feel warm but not hot to the touch, but I recommend measuring the temperature with a cooking thermometer just to be sure. (If the mixture overheats, just wait a few minutes for it to cool!)
Combine dry ingredients. Meanwhile, whisk together 3 cups of the flour (not all of the flour), granulated sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a separate medium bowl until combined.
Mix the dough. I’ve included instructions below for how to either mix and knead the dough in a stand mixer or completely by hand. We will combine the dough ingredients in steps, stir until smooth (adding extra flour if needed), and knead either by hand or with the mixture for about 5 minutes. Then we will transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 10.
Mix the cinnamon-sugar filling. While the dough rests, we’ll whisk all of the filling dry ingredients (everything minus the butter) together until combined.
Roll out the dough. Then once the dough is ready, it’s time to form these cinnamon rolls! First, we will roll out the dough evenly into a rectangle. (I typically make mine about 10 x 15-inches, but you can make yours larger or smaller depending on how many twists you prefer.) Next we’ll spread the butter evenly over the dough, sprinkle the cinnamon filling evenly on top, and give it a little pat so that it’s pressed down into the butter.
Roll up the dough. Then beginning at the 15-inch edge, we will rightly roll up the dough until it is completely sealed. Then as you can see above, I always like to use a piece of dental floss to slice the dough into rounds because it cuts so much more cleanly than a knife (and doesn’t smoosh the rolls or smear the filling). I recommend slicing off and discarding the half or so inch of dough on each end first, since the ends typically don’t have much filling. Then from there, slice the dough into a dozen rounds.
Let the dough rise. Place each of the cut cinnamon rolls into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish, cover and let rise for about 25 minutes while your oven preheats.
Make the frosting. And while the dough is rising, I recommend going ahead and making your maple cream cheese frosting, which can be done by simply whisking all of the ingredients together.
Bake. Once the rolls have risen, we’ll uncover the dish and bake for 15-20 minutes, followed by a brief 5 minutes of cooling on a wire rack.
Frost. Then finally, drizzle the rolls with lots of that heavenly frosting, serve and enjoy!
Here are a few more options for how you could customize these pumpkin cinnamon rolls:
Add nuts: Feel free to sprinkle some finely-chopped almonds, walnuts, or pecans over the cinnamon-sugar mixture, before rolling up the dough.
Add dried fruit: Similarly, you could also sprinkle some raisins or dried cranberries over the cinnamon-sugar mixture, before rolling up the dough.
Use a different icing: If you prefer more of a basic icing without cream cheese, you can instead simply whisk together 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 teaspoonvanilla extract, 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1–2 tablespoons milk until smooth.
More Favorite Pumpkin Recipes:
Looking for some more pumpkin recipes to make this season? Here are some of my faves:
Heat the milk and butter. Combine milk and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high for 1 minute, then remove and stir to help melt and dissolve the butter. Continue heating in 20 second intervals, pausing after each to stir, until the butter is melted and the milk is warm but not hot to the touch. (I recommend measuring the temperature with a cooking thermometer. It should be around 110°F.) If the mixture is too hot, it can kill the yeast, so just wait a few minutes until it reaches the correct temperature.
Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 cups of the flour (not all of the flour), granulated sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt until combined.
Mix the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer* fitted with the dough-hook attachment, add the warm milk mixture and sprinkle the yeast on top, then give the mixture a brief stir. Add the flour mixture, pumpkin purée and egg, and beat on medium-low speed until combined. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough begins to form a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. (The dough will still be moist and slightly sticky though.) Continue beating for 5 minutes on medium-low speed. Remove dough and form it into a ball with your hands. Place the dough ball in a greased bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Mix the cinnamon-sugar filling. While the dough rests, make your filling by whisking together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice together in a small mixing bowl until combined.
Roll out the dough. Once the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured work surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 10 x 15 inches in size. (If you want all of the edges to be even, you can use a pizza slicer to cut the dough into an even rectangle.) Use a knife or an offset spatula to spread 1/4 cup of softened butter (for the cinnamon filling) out evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Sprinkle the dough evenly with the cinnamon and sugar mixture, and gently pat it down into the butter.
Roll up the dough. Beginning at the 15-inch edge, tightly roll up the dough and give the final seam a little pinch so that it seals. Use a piece of dental floss* or a knife to slice off the two ends of the roll (just 1/2-inch or so on each end, since the ends typically don’t have as much cinnamon and sugar filling, which you can discard) so that the ends are even. Cut the remaining dough into 12 equal rounds.
Let the dough rise. Place each of the cut cinnamon rolls into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Cover the dish with a damp towel, and leave it in a warm place to rise for 25 minutes. Heat the oven to 350°F.
Make the frosting. While the dough is rising, whisk the maple cream cheese frosting ingredients together in a mixing bowl until smooth. If the frosting seems too thick, add in an extra tablespoon of milk at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. If it is too thin, add in extra powdered sugar.
Bake. Once the rolls have risen, uncover the dish and place it on the center rack of the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the rolls are golden and cooked through. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and let the rolls cool for at least 5 minutes.
Frost. Drizzle or spread with the maple cream cheese frosting, serve warm and enjoy!
Option To Make The Dough By Hand: If you do not have an electric stand mixer with a dough attachment, you can simply stir the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes.
Dental Floss Dough-Cutting: Simply break off a piece of floss about 12 inches long. Then carefully slide the floss under the dough to the exact location you want to “cut”. Pull the ends of the floss up and cross over the top of the dough. Then give the floss a gentle tug to cut all the way through the dough. (See the video above for a visual.) This is the best method I’ve found to make a clean slice through the dough — although the standard knife method still works too.