These pumpkin cinnamon rolls are made using a pumpkin brioche dough rolled around pumpkin, butter, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spices. Topped with none other than a cream cheese frosting, the perfect fall brunch treat.
Why You’ll Love Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
- Making dough can be intimidating and it sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is. But I’ve really simplified it into steps that are EASY to follow.
- Homemade cinnamon rolls are super fluffy and there’s nothing like serving them warm and fresh. Of course, the center nuggets are super gooey and thanks to my new (not so secret) trick, you can make the whole bun extra gooey.
- You will really stun your friends at your friendsgiving party if you serve them these homemade pumpkin cinnamon rolls. They will find it hard to believe that you made them at home (my mom and husband sure did)!
If it’s autumn and you have pumpkin on your mind (and taste buds lol) you can also try my Pumpkin Streusel Muffins, Pumpkin Bread With Cream Cheese Icing, Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes and Upside Down Pecan Pumpkin Cake.
- Flour: I’ve made this dough with both bread flour and all purpose flour with no noticeable difference in the dough.
- I HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as flour is so often over measured.
- Yeast: I used one package of active dry yeast. That can also be subbed with instant yeast, just skip the activation step and mix it in with the rest of the ingredients. I still do both proofs with instant yeast, it’s just usually much quicker (about half the time).
- If you store your yeast in a jar instead of individual packages you can use a scant tablespoon of yeast. Also make sure to store the yeast in the fridge if it’s an open jar.
- Sugar: I used light brown sugar for the dough and filling and I used powdered sugar to make the cream cheese icing
- Water: this may seem weird since most people make brioche with milk. I have tested this SO MANY times both with milk and water and I found that water makes a much softer dough.
- Butter: I like to use salted butter but you can also use unsalted butter as well, just add an extra pinch of salt. Dairy free butter also works well.
- Eggs: make sure to use one room temperature large egg.
- Place it in hot water for a few minutes if it’s cold.
- Spices: I used ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice in my dough and filling recipe. If you have pumpkin pie spice:
- Use just 2 tsp for the dough.
- Use 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice + 1 Tbsp cinnamon for the filing
- Pumpkin Puree: I really like Libby’s, but any should work.
- Vanilla: I used just a bit of vanilla extract in the dough. I love vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste in icing but I didn’t have any so feel free to add that if you have any.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: I used this to make the dough and icing. It is my (not so secret) trick to extra gooey cinnamon rolls.
- Cream Cheese: I always use full-fat cream cheese. Make sure it’s room temperature so it mixes well with the powdered sugar.
Step 1: Place the yeast with half of the sugar and the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes, until the yeast starts to foam (SKIP IF USING INSTANT YEAST).
Step 2: Add the rest of the sugar, melted butter, egg and pumpkin puree, mixing until combined.
Step 3: Add the flour, salt and spices and mix until it comes together.
Step 4: Use the hook attachment to knead the dough for about 10 minutes, the dough should be soft but strong enough to stick to itself, not the bowl or your hand.
Step 5: Cover and let it proof for about 90 minutes in a warm environment (COULD BE HALF THIS TIME WITH INSTANT YEAST).
Step 1: Mix together the softened butter with the pumpkin puree.
Step 2: Add the brown sugar and spices and mix until it turns into a paste. Refrigerate while the dough is proofing so it’s not super soft and leaks out when you roll.
Step 1: Start by punching down the air and placing the dough onto a floured surface. Gently stretch it out into a rectangle with your hands then use a rolling pin to make it into a 12×16 inch rectangle (doesn’t have to be perfect or exact).
Step 2: Spread the filling evenly on top of the dough and roll the dough into a tight log.
Step 3: Roll and slice with a large serrated knife (I grease the knife between each slice) and place into your greased pan. Cover and allow to proof another 45 minutes. They will double in size.
Step 4: Drizzle heavy whipping cream in between the cinnamon rolls then bake for about 30 minutes for 12 rolls.
Step 5: Allow to cool for 15-30 minutes before frosting.
Cream Cheese Icing
Step 1: Combine the softened cream cheese with the powdered sugar, cream, salt and vanilla mixing until they’re well combined and then spread on top of the just slightly cooled rolls.
What kind of yeast to use for brioche dough
I wanted to do a whole separate section on this to explain how to use both active dry yeast and instant yeast in this recipe. I’ve made this recipe many many times with both types and both of them turn out amazing.
The recipe is written using active dry yeast because that’s what most people use. But if you want to substitute it for instant/rapid rise yeast, just skip the activation.
Active Dry Yeast
Active dry yeast needs to be activated. To do this, combine the warm water with the yeast and HALF of the sugar in a large cup. Mix it and let it rest for 10 minutes. The water should develop a thick layer of foam on top (see photo above).
If the yeast mixture doesn’t foam after at least 10-15 minutes, then the water was either too hot and killed the yeast or the yeast has expired. To be safe, make sure the water is lower than 120 °F (50 °C).
After the mixture has foamed, combine it with the rest of the ingredients and proceed to kneading.
If using instant yeast, skip activation.
Combine all the wet ingredients with the sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer, then add the flour, yeast and salt on top and mix until it comes together. Proceed the same way with the kneading.
How Long To Knead Brioche Dough
Kneading brioche can take anywhere from 5-15 minutes with a stand mixer or double/triple that by hand.
I like to use my Kitchen aid 5qt stand mixer with a hook attachment on speed 2. You can see in the images below how the dough looks when it first comes together vs. when I’m done kneading. It generally takes me about 10-12 minutes.
There’s a few markers I use to know when the dough is done kneading.
- The dough should form a ball around the hook attachment on the stand mixer and not stick to the sides of the bowl anymore. It may still stick to the bottom of the bowl a little but not all over the sides.
- The dough should also pass the windowpane test. The windowpane test is when you stretch a piece of the dough between your fingers until it’s thin enough to see light through before the dough tears.
If your dough is not passing any of these but is fairly close, that’s ok, just move on after kneading for 10-15 minutes.
If your dough is still really sticky and you can’t even touch it without it sticking to everything, add 2 more tablespoons of flour at a time, until your dough is able to be handled without sticking to your hand.
What Temperature To Proof Dough At?
You want to make sure your dough is proofing at a comfortable temperature. Generally, room temperature is fine but if it’s slightly warmer, you’ll get a much quicker rise.
Yeast dies at around 120F (50C) so make sure the temperature is lower than that. I recommend anywhere between 75F (24C) to 100F (38C).
The dough can also be proofed in the refrigerator. This is called a retarding proof because it really slows down the process. The Benefit of this is that you can just pop the dough in the fridge overnight and the dough will develop a stronger flavor if it proofs for longer.
You can refrigerate the dough overnight for the first proof or the second proof, just bring it back to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
How To Know When Dough Is Done Rising/Proofing
Rising and proofing are typically used interchangeably but the initial ‘resting time’ is actually the rising and the second ‘resting time’ is the proofing. The time needed for rising/proofing is dependent on the recipe and the environment.
Typically with instant yeast, you’re “allowed” to skip the first rise and just let the dough relax for just 10 minutes instead before shaping the dough. I prefer to still let it rise. It works both ways but I get a fluffier dough from letting it proof twice.
A general guideline is that the dough should double in size each time. It should also slowly spring back when you press on it, but also leave a small indent.
If the dough springs back quickly, then it needs more time to rise. If it doesn’t spring back at all, it may be over proofed and result in a flat, deflated bread.
How to assemble the rolls (different sizes)
Typically the dough gets stretched out to about a 12×16 inch rectangle. Spread the filling on top and then it gets rolled from short end to short end and you’re left with a shorter, thick log.
- You can get 12 good size cinnamon rolls from rolling it this way. Bake them for about 26-28 minutes.
- You can slice the log into 9 slightly larger cinnamon rolls instead. Bake these for about 30-32 minutes.
- If you want to make smaller rolls, roll the dough from long end to long end and you’ll end up with a longer, thinner log. Slice into about 18 rolls and bake for 18-22 minutes, depending on the size.
To get clean slices, you can use unflavored floss, thin twine or a large greased serrated knife.
*You can either spread the butter onto the dough and then top with a cinnamon sugar mixture OR you can mix together the softened butter with the cinnamon sugar mixture and then spread that all on top. Either way works fine!
What pan to bake the cinnamon rolls in
I prefer a cast iron pan or a metal pan. Ceramic and glass pans are ok too but they usually heat more unevenly and brown less.
- For 12 rolls I use my metal, 13″ round cast iron pan (3 rolls in the center, 9 around the edges), a 9x13x2 inch pan or one that is just slightly larger than that.
- You can also do 6 rolls in two smaller pans like I did below.
- For 9 larger cinnamon rolls, I like a 13 inch round cast iron pan but a regular pan also works and a 12 inch square pan will work fine too.
- For smaller rolls (18 or so) you can use any of the pans mentioned, just space them out to allow them to double in size, like I did in the pictures below.
Baking cinnamon rolls with heavy cream
Ok, if you’re on tiktok this won’t surprise you but to the rest of the world I think it’s quite weird lol. There was this pillsbury cinnamon roll hack where people added heavy cream to the pan of cinnamon roll dough before baking and they baked into giant clouds of cinnamon roll goodness.
So I tried it with my regular cinnamon roll recipe and LET ME TELL YOU, I am never going back. I will forever bake my cinnamon rolls in a heavy cream bath so that’s what I did here too. It’s quite simple, you just pour a little heavy cream, about half a cup, in the gaps between the proofed cinnamon rolls and bake for a few extra minutes.
What it does is basically make the whole cinnamon roll feel like that gorgeous center nugget we all can’t wait to get to. All I can say is thank you to the genius who came up with this and you’re welcome for sharing it with all the lovely people who read my little blog lol.
How to make cinnamon rolls overnight
Pumpkin cinnamon rolls can easily be prepped the night before and baked in the morning. After the dough is rolled and sliced and placed in the prepared pan, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and place them in the fridge or freezer. Refrigerate overnight or freeze for a couple of weeks and then bring to room temperature before baking.
From the fridge, it may take 1-2 hours to bring to room temperature (again, don’t want to overproof so don’t leave it out too long).
From the freezer it may take several hours, feel free to thaw it in the fridge overnight so it’s quicker.
Proceed with normal baking instructions (heavy cream goes in right before baking).
How to store pumpkin cinnamon rolls
All cinnamon rolls are best served fresh and warm. If they’re not served immediately, it’s best to
reserve the frosting and frost them before serving.
The rolls can stay in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days (unfrosted) and refrigerated for up to a week. When serving cinnamon rolls, reheat them in the microwave or the oven just until they’re warm and then frost.
If they are frosted and not eaten right away, refrigerate them and reheat them before serving, keeping in mind the frosting will melt and probably look separated but it will still taste good.
I recommend microwaving to reheat them or bake at a low temperature and keep an eye on it. I once placed them back in the oven at 350F after refrigerating overnight with the frosting and the frosting kind of toasted on there LOL it was like crisp on top and not pleasant so now I just use the microwave.
Thanks so much for reading today’s post, if you have any questions just comment down below.
If you make these pumpkin cinnamon rolls, I would love it if you left a star rating for it in the recipe card.
As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!
Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Recipe
- 1/2 cup (2oz/60mL) warm water
- 7 g 1 packet active dry yeast *see notes on how to use instant yeast
- 1/4 cup (50g) light brown sugar lightly packed
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1/2 cup (113g) salted butter melted
- 3/4 cup (180g) pumpkin puree *I like Libby's
- 3 1/2 cups (420g) bread flour OR all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon**
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 cup (4oz/118mL) heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup (56g) salted butter softened
- 2 Tbsp (30g) pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup (150g) light brown sugar lightly packed
- 1 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon***
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 6 oz (3/4 brick) cream cheese softened
- 1 1/2 cups (180g) powdered sugar spooned and leveled
- tiny pinch of salt
- 2 Tbsp (30mL) heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- Place the yeast with half of the sugar and the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes, until the yeast starts to foam.1/4 cup (50g) light brown sugar, 1/2 cup (2oz/60mL) warm water, 7 g 1 packet active dry yeast
- Add the rest of the sugar, melted butter, egg and pumpkin puree, mixing until they’re somewhat combined.1 large egg, 1/2 cup (113g) salted butter, 3/4 cup (180g) pumpkin puree
- Then add the flour, salt and spices and mix until it comes together.3 1/2 cups (420g) bread flour, 1 tsp fine sea salt, 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon**, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- Use the hook attachment to knead the dough for 5-10 minutes (10-15 minutes by hand), until the dough peels itself away from the edge of the bowl. When you lift the head of the stand mixer with the dough hook, you want the dough to stretch from the hook to the bowl and not tear right away.
- Cover and let it proof for about 90 minutes in a warm environment (75-100F/24-38C), until it’s doubled in size and fluffy.
- In a small bowl, mix together the softened butter with the pumpkin puree.2 Tbsp (30g) pumpkin puree, 1/4 cup (56g) salted butter
- Add the brown sugar and spices and mix until it turns into a paste. If it's not coming together, microwave it for 5-10 seconds. Try not to make it too soft or you'll need to refrigerate it again before spreading it on the dough. You need it to be a spreadable consistency but not liquid-y.3/4 cup (150g) light brown sugar, 1 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon***, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- Grease a 9x13x2 inch pan or a 12-13 inch round pan with butter, oil or baking spray (I use the wrapper of the butter and just wipe it around the pan).
- Shape the dough by punching down the air and placing it onto a floured surface. Stretch it out into a rectangle the best you can with your hands and then use a rolling pin to roll it out to about a 12×16 inch rectangle.
- Spread the filling evenly on top of the dough and roll the dough into a tight log, starting at one of the short ends.
- Once it's rolled up, I like to give it a good squeeze with both hands starting in the center and moving my hands outward as I release, to make the log as even as possible so each roll is the same size.
- Use a large serrated knife to slice into 9 or 12 rolls. Place into the prepared pan, cover and allow to proof in a warm environment for another 45 minutes, until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 350F/177C and then drizzle the heavy whipping cream in the gaps between the cinnamon rolls.1/2 cup (4oz/118mL) heavy whipping cream
- Bake for about 30 minutes (12 rolls) or 35 minutes (9 rolls) until the bread has darkened in color. I like to use a butter knife to push one of the rolls away from the other ones so I can see the bottom edge. It should be super soft and squishy but the bread should feel baked, not too raw/doughy.
- Allow the rolls to rest and cool for 15-30 minutes before frosting.
Cream Cheese Icing
- Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese with the powdered sugar, salt, cream and vanilla, until they're well combined.6 oz (3/4 brick) cream cheese, 1 1/2 cups (180g) powdered sugar, tiny pinch of salt, 1 tsp vanilla bean paste, 2 Tbsp (30mL) heavy whipping cream
- Spread the icing on top of the slightly cooled cinnamon rolls.
- *sub active dry yeast for instant yeast – skip activation, just mix all the ingredients together; proofing time will be about half for each.
- To make them smaller, roll the dough into a log starting on the long edge, making a long thin log – slice into 18 rolls and start checking for doneness around 14 minutes.
- **OR just 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- ***if you have pumpkin pie spice, you can just use 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice + 1 Tbsp cinnamon