Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

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I still remember the first time I ever made cinnamon rolls… I was about 17 or so and I was planning all the food for Christmas. I wanted nothing more than to make cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. This was quite the challenge for me at the time since I was completely unfamiliar with yeast breads and had no real idea how to form cinnamon rolls. In the end they baked up gooey and completely underdone. Everybody was so sweet about it though and ate them up happily despite the less than pleasant doughy-ness.

I’ve come a LONG way from that experience. I have baked a lot of yeast breads and have certainly gotten the cinnamon roll technique down. This year I decided to take things to a new level- Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. I see them all over the internet and my mouth has been watering for a while now. As soon as I saw them in my new favorite cookbook (“Baked: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients” by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito) I knew it was time.

I had two qualms with this recipe. First was the way the filling cooled. It seemed to almost harden and become chewy instead of staying nice and gooey. So I altered the filling recipe to reflect that of my favorite basic Cinnamon Roll recipe. I also thought the spices were a little off. But that could certainly just be my pregnancy taste buds… they’ve been running amuck my whole pregnancy. I didn’t change them in the written recipe because of that reason. Let me know what you think. Aside from that I thought these rolls were the perfect seasonal treat! They were soft and delicious, specially with the cream cheese frosting. You really can’t go wrong.

Here is a quick tutorial for those of you that are first time cinnamon roll makers:

Mix up the dough following the directions and the basic principles of yeast bread making.

Then place it in an oiled bowl, covered, to rise for about an hour or until double in size.

It should look nice and puffy like this when it’s ready.

Now it’s time to shape the rolls!

Sorry that I don’t have more pictures to follow this process- I dropped the ball with that.

Basically you just roll the dough out into a 20-by-10-inch rectangle. Spread the butter all around the dough and sprinkle with spice brown sugar up to about 1/2″ of one long side. Roll up the long side of the rectangle to form a tight log and place it seam side down. Slice the log into 12 equal pieces. 12 rolls fits perfectly into a 9-by-13-inch pan.

At this point you can either let them rise another hour before baking immediately or refrigerate overnight to bake in the morning. If you decide to bake them in the morning, be sure to let them come to room temperature for about 2 hours before baking.

Mmmmmm, I love a good warm, gooey cinnamon roll! Especially a spiced pumpkin one : D

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Cake
Cuisine American
Servings 12 rolls


For the Pumpkin Dough:

  • cup whole milk 110°F
  • 1 Tb instant dry yeast or one packet, 2¼ tsp active dry
  • 3½ to 4 cups bread flour all purpose works well too
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom or nutmeg
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 3 ounces 3/4 stick unsalted, melted butter (browned for something extra special)
  • cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

For the Cinnamon Filling:

  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • cup butter softened

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 2 Tb milk
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar sifted
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract optional


  • Butter one 10-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter the parchment.
  • For the Pumpkin Dough: Sprinkle yeast over milk in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook. If using instant yeast, proceed with recipe, if using active dry yeast let mixture stand 5 to 10 minutes or until foamy. While waiting, whisk together 3½ cups flour, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom in a separate bowl.
  • Whisk together remaining dough ingredients with yeast mixture. Add flour mixture and begin mixing on low until flour is incorporated. Increase speed to medium and knead until slightly sticky but soft, adding additional ½ cup flour if needed (dough will not pull away from sides of bowl, but will be tight and glutenous.)
  • Remove the dough from the bowl, carefully form it into large ball, smooth the top with your hands, and place it in a clean, lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 60 minutes until doubled in size.
  • For the Filling: In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, spices, and salt.
  • Assemble the Rolls: Dust a work surface with a sprinkling of flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large rectangle approximately 20 by 10 inches, spread on softened butter, and sprinkle the filling over the butter, leaving a ¼-inch border around the edges. Use the palms of your hands to press the filling lightly into the dough.
  • Roll up the long side of the rectangle to form a tight log and place it seam side down. Slice the log into ten 2-inch rolls. Place one roll in the center of the cake pan, then fill in the rest of the pan with the other rolls (alternately cut log into 12 and place evenly in 9 by 13-inch pan). Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter (if desired) or spray with nonstick spray, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside until the rolls have almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  • If you’re doing this the day before, you can skip the second rise in the pan and put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, leave them out for an hour or two to warm up and finish rising.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and position the oven rack in the center.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the tops of the rolls are browned. In order to pour your icing over still-warm rolls, prep all the frosting ingredients while the rolls are baking and put together the frosting (this will only take about 5 minutes) immediately after the rolls come out of the oven.
  • Make the Frosting: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and milk on medium speed until the mixture is lump-free. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, if using, and beat on medium-low speed until a smooth, fluid mixture forms.
  • Serve the Rolls: Invert the pan of rolls onto a serving plate or leave them in the pan for a rustic look. Pour the frosting over the warm rolls. It’s okay if a little bit of the frosting drips down the sides- it’s even encouraged. (Alternatively, use an offset spatula to apply the icing.) Serve immediately.


To simplify the spices, substitute 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice for the dough and 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice for the filling. For a fun twist on the frosting, use maple syrup to thin it out instead of milk.


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