Made with freshly roasted winter squash, these pumpkin cinnamon rolls go big on fall flavors with hints of brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Bake up a batch for the best fall weekend treat.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: The Perfect Fall Treat
I’m behind on my fall stuff. The giant spiders that usually lurk in the yard are still boxed up somewhere in the attic. My stoop, usually a loving tribute to decorative gourd season, has just three pumpkins.
The one area where I’ve achieved fall excellence is in my baking. Specifically, these pumpkin cinnamon rolls. They’re made with freshly baked pumpkin (actually, a mix of various winter squash), are luxuriously spiced, and topped with a tangy, just-sweet-enough icing that perfectly melts into all the crags and crevices.
Fresh Pumpkin Puree
These pumpkin cinnamon rolls start with a freshly baked squash – butternut, candy roaster, or orange kabocha squash, or pie pumpkins are all ideal for making a fresh puree. Just halve and seed the squash, rub with olive oil, cover with foil, and bake for an hour. You’ll have soft, scoopable pumpkin that’s ready for all your fall baking needs. Save leftover squash puree in the freezer for future bakes or add broth and make a velvety squash soup.
Can I Use Canned Pumpkin?
Yes! Fresh baked squash has a lighter texture and more vibrant flavor than the canned kind, but if you need to save time, canned pumpkin will be great! And just so we’re clear, canned “pumpkin” is usually made with butternut squash. Feel free to use winter squash and pumpkin interchangeably.
Making Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
There are a few steps to making cinnamon rolls. I’ve found it’s easiest to make them over the course of two days.
- Make the squash or pumpkin puree
- Make the dough and let it refrigerate overnight
- Roll out the dough, form the cinnamon rolls, and let them rise for 1 – 1 1/2 hours before baking and frosting.
Shortcuts and Flavor Swaps
Need a few shortcuts? Swap in canned pumpkin. The dough can also be made day-of. It needs a 2-hour rise, and once the rolls are assembled, they need to rise another 1 – 1 1/2 hours, for a total rise time of 3 – 3 1/2 hours.
For other flavor spins, consider swapping apple or pumpkin butter in places of the fresh or canned squash puree. And feel free to play with the spices – add more cinnamon or less. Use a pumpkin pie spice blend in place of the spices.
Made with freshly roasted winter squash, these pumpkin cinnamon rolls go big on fall flavors and have hints of brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Bake up a batch for the best fall weekend treat.
I learned everything I know about cinnamon rolls from Sarah Kieffer and this recipe is very loosely adapted from the recipe in her first book, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. If you love morning treats as much as I do, check out her new book, 100 Morning Treats as well.
- 1 medium butternut candy roaster, or orange kabocha squash, or pie pumpkin, halved and seeded
- Olive oil
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (426 g)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon each ground allspice, cloves, and nutmeg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt (reduce to 1 teaspoon for other salts)
- 3 large eggs room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup pumpkin or winter squash puree
- 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature, cut into 8 even slices
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon each ground allspice cloves, and nutmeg
- 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
If making your own winter squash puree, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rub halved, seeded squash all over with olive oil. Set on a parchment-lined baking sheet cut side down and cover tightly with foil. Bake for an hour or until squash is fork tender. Set aside to cool, then scoop soft squash into a container. Use within three days or freeze for future use.
To make the dough, butter a large mixing bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. In a small mixing bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin puree, and milk. With mixer on low, add the wet ingredients into the dry. Stop to scrape down sides with a silicone spatula as needed. Switch mixer to medium, add the butter pieces one at a time, and beat 1 minute. Scrape down the sides as needed. Use spatula to move dough to prepared bowl (it will be very sticky!)
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise 2 hours at room temperature. If you have the time, stretch dough every 30 minutes: pick up the dough’s edge and press it into the center, working your way around, repeating 4 - 5 times until the entire round has been reshaped. Repeat every 30 minutes for 2 hours to improve texture and knead dough.
After the 2 hour rise (with or without dough stretches), use dough right away or place in the fridge for up to 72 hours. Before rolling, allow cold dough to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and set aside.
For the filling, use a fork to mix all ingredients into a smooth paste.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12 x 16-inch rectangle. Press the dough out so it's an even thickness and square up the corners with a bench scraper. Spread the filling all over the dough, all the way up to the edges. Starting at a long edge, roll the dough tightly into a log. Slice into even quarters, and then cut those quarters into thirds, for 12 total rolls.
Set rolls in prepared baking dish, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise 1 - 1 1/2 hours or until rolls are nice and puffed up.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake cinnamon rolls 25 - 30 minutes or the rolls are puffed up and light golden on top.
While cinnamon rolls bake, make the icing. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat to combine the cream cheese and butter. Add confectioner's sugar and vanilla. Beat until soft and fluffy, about two minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
Spread the icing on the warm pumpkin cinnamon rolls and serve right away. Cinnamon rolls are best the day they're made, but will keep covered at room temp for 1 day. Reheat in a warm oven before serving.