Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls With Maple-Cream-Cheese Frosting Recipe

Overcome your fear of working with yeast by making these puffy, tender pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

From "Cooking With Pumpkin"
January 2015

  • You can substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour for chewier, heartier rolls.
    Photo by Averie Sunshine
  • “Cooking With Pumpkin,” by Averie Sunshine, provides 50 pumpkin recipes for anyone who wants to cook and bake with pumpkin year-round.
    Cover courtesy The Countryman Press

Total Hands-On Time: About 4 hours, with 2 dough risings

Preparation Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 20-25 min

Yield: 1 dozen generously sized rolls

Cooking With Pumpkin (The Countryman Press, 2014), by Averie Sunshine, contains 50 of Sunshine’s favorite pumpkin recipes, with an abundance of colorful images that will entice you to start cooking. This book goes beyond pumpkin pie and is filled with creative, fun and mouthwatering recipes from sweet to savory and everything in between. The following excerpt from “Breakfast Goodies: Breads, Muffins, and Pastries” is a recipe for pumpkin cinnamon rolls with maple-cream-cheese frosting.

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: Cooking With Pumpkin

If you’ve never worked with yeast before, have no fear. The number one kitchen fear my blog readers write to tell me about is working with yeast. But after they try their first loaf of bread or batch of cinnamon rolls, I get emails saying it wasn’t a big deal after all. I spell out the steps in detail here, to walk you through making the dough, rolling it up, and baking, so that you can enjoy one of these big, puffy, soft, tender rolls.

The rolls are packed with all the pumpkin flavor the dough will hold. While baking, the cinnamon-and-brown-sugar filling caramelizes and may seep out a bit, creating a sticky, gooey, wonderful caramel layer on the bottom of the rolls, which is why you should be sure to line your pan so cleanup is a breeze. The maple-cream-cheese frosting is good enough to eat with a spoon. Sweet, yet a bit tangy, and the perfect complement to the nicely spiced rolls.

When working with a yeast dough, there’s little active prep, but a good bit of downtime. The rolls rise twice; the first rise is about 2 hours, and the second rise is about 1 hour. Watch your dough, not the clock. Environments vary and so will the dough, depending on temperature, humidity, and variance in ingredients.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls With Maple-Cream-Cheese Frosting Recipe


• 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus up to 1/2 cup additional, as necessary (see note)
• 1/4-ounce packet instant dry yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
• 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/3 cup buttermilk
• 3/4 cup pumpkin purée
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into chunks
• 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
• 1 egg, at room temperature

Note: Bread baking is weather- and climate-dependent. You may need slightly more flour in humid climates or in the summer, and slightly less flour in dry climates or in the winter.

It’s possible to substitute bread flour for all-purpose. The rolls will be chewier, heartier, and less soft. You’ll likely need slightly less than 2-1/2 cups bread flour.

• 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

• 4 ounces cream cheese, softened (light is okay)
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
• 1/4 cup maple syrup
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• About 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (sift if particularly lumpy)


1. To make the rolls, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment (or use a large mixing bowl and wooden spoon), combine the 2-1/2 cups flour, yeast, sugars, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and cloves.

2. Heat buttermilk, pumpkin, butter, and oil in a medium microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute on high; whisk to combine. The mixture should be between 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 130 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the brand of yeast you’re using. If you don’t have a thermometer, err on the side of too cool rather than too hot so as not to kill the yeast.

3. Fold the pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Add the egg.

4. With your mixer on low speed, knead the dough for 5 to 7 minutes. This is a moist dough, but if it’s too soft and hasn’t combined, add up to 1/2 cup additional flour as necessary, so that it comes together into a shaggy mass. If preparing dough by hand, knead on a floured surface for about 10 minutes. Resist the urge to overflour the dough. A wetter, looser, moister, sticky dough produces softer and lighter rolls. The more flour added to the wet dough, the heavier and denser the rolls will be.

5. Coat a large mixing bowl with cooking spray. Using a spatula, turn dough out into bowl, turning dough once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place let rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

6. When dough is almost done rising, line a 9 by 13-inch pan or an 11 by 17-inch jellyroll pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.

7. Make the filling. In a small bowl, combine sugars, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice and stir; set aside. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 30 seconds on high; set aside.

8. After dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down and turn it out onto a floured surface. Knead it lightly for about 1 minute.

9. With a rolling pin, roll it into a 12 by 10-inch rectangle.

10. Drizzle the butter evenly over the dough. Use a spatula or pastry brush to help distribute the butter if necessary. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar filling evenly over the dough.

11. Roll up the dough into a long cylinder as tightly as possible. Using a sharp knife, bench scraper, or piece of unflavored and unwaxed dental floss, cut or pinch off 1 dozen evenly sized rounds. Place them in the prepared pan. Cover pan with piece of foil and place in a warm, draft-free place to rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.

12. In the last 15 minutes of rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. (If you’ve been using the oven as a rising place, remove pan before preheating.)

13. Bake rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown, domed, set, and springy to the touch. Allow rolls to cool in pan before serving. If frosting the rolls, it may be done while they’re still quite warm and fresh from the oven.

14. While the rolls bake, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a large mixing bowl and hand mixer), combine cream cheese, butter, maple syrup, and vanilla, and beat on medium-low speed for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and beat to incorporate. Slowly add additional sugar until desired frosting consistency is reached. Spread frosting liberally over warm rolls. Extra frosting will keep airtight in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.

15. Rolls are best eaten fresh, but will keep airtight for up to 4 days. Warm in the microwave for 15 seconds for that just-baked taste. Alternatively, unfrosted rolls may be frozen for up to 3 months, thawed at room temperature, and warmed gently and briefly in a low oven before serving.

Tip: For an overnight or make-ahead option, after placing the sliced dough into the pan and covering it, place pan in refrigerator for up to 18 hours. Before baking, allow dough to rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 90 minutes, or until nearly doubled, and bake as directed.

More Recipes from Cooking With Pumpkin

DIY Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe
Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Scotchies Recipe
Creamy Pumpkin-Pie Shortbread Crumble Bars Recipe

Reprinted with permission from Cooking With Pumpkin: Recipes That Go Beyond the Pie, by Averie Sunshine, and published by The Countryman Press, 2014. Purchase Cooking With Pumpkin from the GRIT store.

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