Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

with cream cheese icing

Thanksgiving is next week, everyone! Sound the alarms. Every year, Kramer and I host an “orphan” Thanksgiving, inviting over our friends who, like us, aren’t going home for the holiday. I love our gatherings and this year is going to be the biggest yet, with 13 people. Granted, I live in a 700 square foot apartment in Brooklyn, but I think that the more people that come by, the better. It’s going to be a ton of fun and I can’t wait. Mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing (or dressing…I guess), pie, more pie, other pies…it’s going to be a feast. I actually looked at my list of things to prep and work on in the days leading up to and on the official holiday, and I was surprised to find out that the work seems much more manageable than even last year, where we only had 6 or 7 people over. Everyone’s bringing a dish, though, so that makes things much easier. More importantly, though, both of my brothers are coming for Thanksgiving and staying for a few days after. Kramer and I have big plans, boys, big plans indeed. Those plans mostly involve going to Benihana’s at some point for some holiday cheer, but I digress (have you seen their cocktail menu? Do yourself a favor and look at it). Get ready, Dane and Wyatt, because your next Blue Ocean Punch Bowl is on me.

Pumpkin Cinnamon RollsJust look at that icing, people.

This is yet another example of what Kramer and I did during Hurricane Sandy late last month. This is also an example of why New Yorkers gained “the Sandy seven” AKA the seven pounds everyone gained gorging themselves on non-perishable and other junk food while we all waited for the storm to pass. Well, instead of going through pints of ice cream, Kramer and I made cinnamon rolls. And not just any cinnamon rolls: pumpkin cinnamon rolls. The pumpkin flavor is prevalent, but not overwhelming, and the gooey cinnamon-sugar filling holds everything together, while the cream cheese icing is a rich and delicious topping. Kramer and I stayed up late making these, then enjoyed them warm, fresh from the oven. We also enjoyed them cold the next morning, then enjoyed them again after warming them up in the oven later that afternoon. We probably enjoyed them too much and for too long for just two people, but hey, the city was in shambles and we needed to fulfill our emotional-eating void. That’s a good excuse, right? Whatever, don’t tell me what to do. I’m not judging you. I’ll just take my Blue Ocean Punch Bowl and my pumpkin cinnamon rolls and be on my way, thank you very much. While these make great comfort-during-a-hurricane-food, they would also be perfect for brunch on the day of or the day after Thanksgiving (shopping fuel), as well as a dessert after the big meal. You can make them ahead of time, so there’s no reason not to make these, and believe me, they’re much easier than they sound. I used to steer clear of yeast doughs, but honestly, as long as you remember that the dough needs time to proof and rise, it’s not that scary at all. Plus everyone, and I mean everyone, loves cinnamon rolls, and ’tis the season to go crazy with pumpkin flavored stuff, so I really hope you’ll make these for the ones you love this Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
First, make your dough, then let it rise before rolling it out into a rectangle and covering it in your butter and cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
When you roll the dough up into buns, be sure to dust off any flour as you go.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Cut your rolls into equal sized pieces. You can eyeball it or, like me, you can use a ruler.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Brush with your remaining butter, then set aside to rise once more, until the rolls have doubled in size.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Now you just need to cover ’em in icing.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Serve these warm, fresh out of the oven. You can also store them at room temperature, lightly covered, for 24 hours, then reheat them in the same pan at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or so.

4.5 from 2 reviews
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12 cinnamon rolls
Soft and sweet pumpkin cinnamon rolls with a gooey cream cheese icing.
For the Dough:
  • 3½ cups bread flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3 ounces (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅔ cup pumpkin puree
For the Cinnamon Filling:
  • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ounce (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
For Assembly:
  • 1 ounce (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the Cream Cheese Icing:
  • 2 ounces (about ¼ cup) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons well-shaken buttermilk (or just regular milk)
  • 1¼ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  1. For the Dough:
  2. Butter a 10-inch round springform pan (or a regular 10-inch cake pan) very well, then line the bottom with a round of parchment paper to keep the rolls from sticking.
  3. In the bowl of your mixer, whisk together the flour, sugars, yeast, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. Add in the butter and mix until well incorporated, about 1 minute. Add in the milk and egg and mix on low speed until well combined. Add in the pumpkin puree and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes - the dough will become light orange in color, soft, and sticky.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and gently form it into a large ball. Smooth the top with your hands, and place it in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest of 30 minutes.
  5. Stir together the sugars, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Add in the melted butter and stir until combined.
  6. Dust your work surface lightly with flour, then flour your hands and your rolling pin. Turn the dough out onto your work surface, and roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 20 by 10 inches. Brush the dough with half of your butter, then sprinkle the filling over the butter and press down on it lightly, being sure to leave a ¼-inch perimeter around your dough so that all the filling doesn't fall out as you roll it up.
  7. Use the palms of your hands to roll the dough up on its long side as tightly as you can without tearing the dough. Place it seam side down, then slice the roll into 1.5 to 2-inch rolls. Place one roll in the center of your cake pan, then the rest circling around it. I had made slightly smaller rolls, so I had about 3 rolls in the center of my pan - don't worry about overcrowding, they'll be fine!
  8. Brush the rolls with the remaining melted butter, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside until they have almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  9. When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the rolls for about 30 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned. It is best to prep the icing while the rolls bake so that you can drizzle it over the warm cinnamon rolls (instructions found below).
  10. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the cream cheese and milk on medium speed until the mixture is free of any clumps. Add in the sugar and beat on medium-low until the icing is smooth. Set aside until ready to drizzle over the warm rolls.

21 Responses

  1. I would probably eat 4 of those gooey rolls in the first sitting. My “Sandy two” would definitely escalate to a “Sandy seven” but it would be so worth it.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Wow these look incredible! I don’t have a mixer and this is the stuff that makes me want one so bad.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Follow up comment: I sent these to my mom and she is dying to make them so when I’m home for Christmas I get to use her mixer! I’ll let you know how we like them. :)

  4. Molly says:

    These look delicious. I would like to eat one right now. I’ve never made homemade yeast anything but I want to give it a go. Perhaps I should start here…

  5. Loren says:

    Oh my goodness… That sounds absolutely amazing.

    Loren @ Lasting Impressions

  6. These look and sound insanely good! I love the NY Seven analogy to Sandy…Freshman 15 all over again :)

    Love that shot of the long long being wrapped and rolled and stuffed!

    I just made challah and am on such a bread kick. I need these!

  7. Oh my, these look good. And your Thanksgiving tradition sounds so sweet!

  8. Deb says:

    What a perfect recipe for Thanksgiving morning! If we finish eating the whole pan will we have room for pie after dinner? I just may find out! Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Those are the perfect shopping fuel. Baking with yeast dough is so much fun and so rewarding. It sounds like a lovely Thanksgiving tradition you have going. I hope you enjoy the holiday :)

  10. You are correct- everyone does love cinnamon buns, but especially me. My extreme love for them just might be why I have not yet attempted to make them- I feel like I’d be setting myself up for disappointment. But all of your word and pictures seriously are getting to me, and I just might try this recipe. YUM they look amazing!

  11. Online RSA says:

    Wow! That’s awesomely good and delicious! Thanks for sharing those photos on how to do it.

  12. I need to make this next week!!!! so delish looking.

  13. Abrey says:

    I tried making this but was having some issues with the dough not rising properly. Otherwise it looked and smelled beautiful.

    Anything that I could have done wrong?

    • Sydney says:

      Hmm – was it really cold in your house? Mine didn’t necessarily rise as much as I had hoped while proofing (because it was 60 degrees in my apartment), but they baked up just fine.

  14. I hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving! And these pumpkin cinnamon rolls look pure sinful! I wish I had seen this before the big day so I could’ve made this for dessert – oh well, more of an excuse to make it for Christmas dinner, and every other day of the year :)

  15. katie weatherford says:

    looks great for this years Autumn season. Question: You don’t knead this dough at all? Made many cinnamon rolls, but always kneaded the dough like regular bread making. Thanks for responding! Peace and grace, Katie

  16. Kris Romans says:

    would you cut these and put them in the pan and then freeze? (if making the Monday before Thanksgiving to have Thanksgiving morning?)

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