Nothing screams Fall like the smell of these Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls baking up in the oven! This Pumpkin Cinnamon Bun Recipe is easy and fun to whip up and makes the perfect Fall or Thanksgiving dessert!
With Thanksgiving and Halloween right around the corner, it’s hard to ignore the pumpkin flavoured EVERYTHING popping up all around me. You too? I mean, I’m really not complaining. There’s just something about those Fall vibes that makes me feel undeniably warm and cozy inside, especially when it comes to mandatory Fall baking. The words “I’m not really a baker” have left my mouth on several occasions. But, suddenly, around this time of year, all of that is forgotten and I somehow think I’m Martha Stewart. I whip up everything from pumpkin muffins and cookies to pancakes and lattés. It was only a matter of time before pumpkin cinnamon rolls joined the roster. And, ohhhhhh let me tell you, these babies are pumpkin spice cinnamon roll PERFECTION.
Cinnamon rolls might look super intimidating to make at first, especially if you too have found yourself uttering the words “I’m not a baker”. But trust me. Although a little more time consuming than your average cake or cookie, cinnamon rolls are so much easier to make than you might think. The best part about them is that once you’ve got the technique and method down pat, you can go crazy thinking of different ideas for the filling and topping. Ok, maybe there are two best parts. There’s nothing more satisfying than cutting into a freshly rolled log only to reveal the most perfect swirls. Essssspecially if you use a piece of dental floss to do it. Now you’re really channeling your inner Martha Stewart.
Whether you’re in charge of bringing the dessert to this year’s Thanksgiving feast or you just wanna join in on the pumpkin spice madness, these pumpkin cinnamon rolls with pumpkin cream cheese frosting check off alllllll the boxes. People might even go around mistaking you for that baker you swore up and down you weren’t 😉
WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO WHIP UP THIS PUMPKIN CINNAMON BUN RECIPE
This Pumpkin Cinnamon Bun recipe requires no fancy ingredients. Let’s get into them in a little bit more detail down below:
- Flour: For this pumpkin cinnamon bun recipe, I recommend using either all purpose flour or bread flour. Many professional bakers swear that using bread flour for cinnamon rolls is the best option because it has a higher protein content (it’s what I used for the rolls you see in these photos). However, if you don’t have any on hand, using plain ol’ all purpose flour is totally fine and you’ll still get great and fluffy results.
- Yeast: For the quickest rise time, use quick rise/instant yeast. You can also use active dry yeast if that’s all you have on hand. However, you’ll need to activate the yeast in the warm milk first and the cinnamon rolls will need a longer time to rise.
- Oil: Adds a soft texture to the cinnamon roll dough. I used avocado oil here. But you can use a different kind of oil, such as olive or vegetable, instead if you prefer. You can also use ghee or butter.
- Milk: Helps make these cinnamon pumpkin rolls moist, soft and fluffy. Also helps activate the yeast. I used almond milk here but any kind of milk will get the job done just fine.
- Butter: Adds flavour to both the cinnamon roll dough and the cream cheese frosting. Salted or unsalted butter will work fine in this recipe.
- Pumpkin Purée: Adds a bit of sweetness and a subtle pumpkin flavour to both the dough and the frosting. Makes these rolls moist, fluffy and light. Be sure to grab 100% pure canned pumpkin (pumpkin purée) and NOT pumpkin pie filling.
- Cream Cheese: The base and bulk of the frosting/glaze for these cinnamon pumpkin rolls. Keeps things light, airy and delicious.
- Maple Syrup: Adds the perfect touch of sweetness to the pumpkin frosting. If you don’t have any maple syrup on hand, you can use honey instead.
- Coconut Sugar: The base and bulk of the filling for these pumpkin cinnamon rolls. Provides the perfect level of sweetness, especially when mixed with the warm pumpkin spice flavours. An added bonus? It keeps these pumpkin cinnamon rolls refined sugar free! However, if you don’t have any coconut sugar on hand, feel free to use light or dark brown sugar instead. Sugar also plays an important role (or should I say “roll”) in activating the yeast to make the dough.
- Pumpkin Spice: Of course! Pumpkin spice fills these rolls with warm and cozy flavours that just scream Fall. For maximum flavour, we add it to both the dough and the frosting. Generally speaking, pumpkin spice is a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and allspice. You can use store bought or try making your own in under 5 minutes with my easy recipe for homemade pumpkin spice found HERE.
- Salt: Balances out the sweetness from the sugar and helps control the yeast.
HOW TO MAKE PUMPKIN CINNAMON ROLLS FROM SCRATCH (KEY TIPS)
You can find full instructions for how to make these Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns in the recipe card down below, but here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:
- Use a stand mixer with a dough hook if you have one. Sure, kneading dough by hand has been done before and will still give you good results. But a mixer just makes this process WAY easier, more efficient, way less sticky and way less time consuming.
- Use room temperature (softened) butter and cream cheese. There’s kinda no ifs, ands or buts about this one. If these ingredients aren’t soft, you’ll have a hell of a time working with them. The butter must be spreadable and the cream cheese smoothly blended for best results.
- Don’t overheat your milk. The warm milk plays a role in the rising of the yeast. Too hot and it will kill the yeast. Not hot enough and it won’t activate properly meaning the dough will take longer to rise. The perfect temperature for your milk to be before mixing it into the dough is around 110°F. Use a thermometer to check for accuracy or simply do the touch test using your finger. It should be warm to the touch but not burning hot.
- Flour your surface, the dough and the rolling pin to prevent it from sticking.
- Allow the cinnamon rolls to rise in a warm, dark place for best and quickest results. You can achieve this in a variety of simple ways if you don’t already have a warm house/kitchen. Use a dish towel to cover them (on top of the plastic wrap). Put them in an off oven with the oven light on. Raise the heat in a single room and allow them to rise in there. You know, get creative. EXTRA TIP: Although it may be a bit tempting, don’t skip or rush the rise time. These pumpkin
- Use (unflavoured) dental floss to cut your rolls. If you’ve ever seen a baking show or read a professional cinnamon roll recipe, you may have come across this method of cutting cinnamon rolls. Not only is it fun (just me?!) but it’s a good way to ensure clean cuts through the rolls without flattening or tearing the dough. Sure, use a knife if you don’t have any floss kicking around, but you’ll end up with slightly flatter rolls as you have to press down on the dough as you cut.
- Don’t overbake. I’m sure we can all agree that the best part about any cinnamon roll is that ooey, gooey, soft, tender and perfectly fluffy center. Overbaking your cinnamon rolls will take that all away and leave you with sad and dense rolls. Keep a close eye on them in the last 10 or so minutes of baking to avoid this from happening to you. EXTRA TIP: Keep in mind that the cinnamon rolls will continue baking on the hot tray as they cool. Slightly underbaking cinnamon rolls is always a good idea. cinnamon rolls don’t require all the time in the world but be sure to stay true to the time they do require or you’ll end up with hard and dense rolls instead of soft and fluffy ones.
- Let the cinnamon rolls cool slightly before glazing them with the cream cheese frosting. You don’t want the heat/steam from the dough to melt the butter or break the cream cheese.
- Like any good cinnamon roll, these pumpkin cinnamon rolls are best enjoyed warm! Enjoy freshly baked or pop in a microwave for 15-20 seconds to return them back to their oeey, gooey warm state.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Where I come from, there really isn’t much of a difference! Most people think of the same thing when they think of either a cinnamon roll or a cinnamon bun. Hence why I’ve pretty much used the two interchangeably throughout this post (don’t come at me!) But technically speaking, there are a few subtle but notable differences between the two. Cinnamon buns normally contain nuts (such as pecans) while traditional cinnamon rolls do not. And cinnamon buns normally have a sticky/toffee glaze rather than a cream cheese frosting you’d typically find on a cinnamon roll.
The first reason why your cinnamon buns came out hard is that you mixed in too much flour. The key to the perfect dough is to mix in the flour, a bit at a time, until a nice and soft dough forms. If you mix in too much flour, the dough will be dry and hard. Use your judgement, go slow and don’t overdo it.
Another reason why you could end up with hard cinnamon buns is that you baked them for too long. One of the best parts about cinnamon rolls is arguably their ooey, gooey, soft and fluffy centers you certainly won’t get if you over bake them. Every oven is different so keep an eye on them, especially in the last 10 minutes of baking. It’s ok to slightly under bake them as you have to remember that the residual heat from the pan will continue to bake them out of the oven as they cool.
All that white stuff is just a topping for the cinnamon rolls. An icing/glaze/frosting, if you will. There are many variations and options of how you can top cinnamon rolls and which ingredients to use when making your topping. Typical ingredients are icing sugar and cream cheese mixed with butter, spices and other ingredients.
Yes. One of the best parts about this pumpkin cinnamon bun recipe is that you can totally make them the day before and pop them in the fridge overnight. You can keep unbaked cinnamon rolls in the fridge for up to 24 hours. The important thing to remember is to remove them from the fridge, allow them to come to room temperature and fully rise before baking.
To bake these pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls the next day, simply follow the instructions in the recipe card down below up until step number 9 and skip the 30 minute rise time. Instead, pop them in the fridge overnight (or for up to 24 hours). Remove them from the fridge, allow them to come to room temperature and fully rise in a warm place (should take about 30-60 minutes). Then proceed with following the recipe card instructions for baking (number 10 and beyond).
You can store these fresh baked cinnamon rolls covered in plastic wrap or in an airtight container on the counter for 2 days but in the fridge for up to a week. Popping them in the microwave for 15-30 seconds will bring them back to their warm and gooey state and is highly recommended before eating.
You can also freeze these cinnamon rolls, frosted or unfrosted, for up to 4 months.
For the Dough
- 3.5 cups Bread Flour or All Purpose Flour
- 3/4 cup Warm (approx. 110°F) Almond Milk (or other milk of choice)
- 3/4 cup Pumpkin Purée (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
- 1/3 cup Avocado Oil
- 1/4 cup Coconut Sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp (or 1 packet) Quick Rise or Instant Yeast
- 1.5 tbsp Pumpkin Spice*
- 1 tsp Salt
For the Filling
- 3/4 cup Coconut Sugar
- 1/2 cup room temperature (softened) Butter
- 2 tsp Pumpkin Spice
For the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting
- 4 oz. (softened) Cream Cheese
- 1/2 cup Pumpkin Purée (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
- 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
- 1 tbsp (softened) Butter
- 1 tsp Pumpkin Spice
- Make the Filling: Combine the coconut sugar and pumpkin spice in a bowl and set aside until ready to use.
- Make the Dough: Add 2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast, pumpkin spice and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also do this part by hand, if you wish). Using a dough hook, mix until well combined.
- Add the warm milk, pumpkin purée and oil and blend until combined and smooth, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl, if needed.
- Knead in the remaining flour, a little at a time, until a nice and soft dough forms and it stops clinging to the edges of the bowl. Be careful not to add too much or your rolls will come out dry and hard. Use your hands to form it into a smooth circular ball, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for 5 minutes.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle some more flour on top. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a large rectangle (it doesn't have to be perfect but try and get it as even and stretched out as possible).
- Do your best to spread the softened butter all over the rolled out dough. I find the easiest way to do this is to cut it into very thin slices, lay them out evenly over the dough then use a knife or back of a spoon to gently spread them out. The butter doesn't have to cover every square inch of the dough, just do the best you can.
- Sprinkle the pumpkin sugar mixture evenly over top being sure to cover the entire surface.
- Starting with the long end of the rectangle, roll the dough into as tight of a log as you can get it. Once you've got your dough rolled into a log, use a knife or piece of unflavoured dental floss (highly recommend) to slice the rolls into 12 even pieces. I find the easiest way to do this is by cutting the log in half to start and then cutting each piece into 6 even rolls from there.
- Place the rolls on a greased and parchment lined 9x13 baking sheet (can also use a glass baking dish for this). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Set the oven rack to the center and preheat to 350°. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the edges are browned and golden and the centers slightly underbaked and gooey. Be careful not to overbake or your rolls will be hard and dense.
- Make the Frosting: In a bowl, blend the cream cheese, pumpkin purée, maple syrup, butter and pumpkin spice until well combined. Spread evenly over slightly cooled rolls. Enjoy!
Try using my easy homemade Pumpkin Spice for this recipe.
To bake these pumpkin cinnamon rolls the next day: Prepare the rolls up until step number 9 but skip the 30 minute rise time. Instead, place the covered tray in the fridge overnight (or for up to 24 hours). When ready to bake, remove the tray from the fridge and place it in a warm area. Allow the rolls to come to room temperature and fully rise (about 30-60 minutes) before continuing on with step number 10.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 373Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 266mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 2gSugar: 22gProtein: 9g
Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.
LOVE CINNAMON ROLLS? TRY MY BAKERY STYLE CINNAMON APPLE ROLLS NEXT!
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